Friday, March 11, 2011

Race Season Begins


Had more of the competitors know that the vast majority of “The largest indoor triathlon in North America” was indeed held outdoors, I believe more sweaters, knitted scarves and leg warmers would have been seen in the transition area. No portion of the Sprint triathlon is indoors. Less than 3% (by distance) of the Olympic is indoors. I really don’t know where they find these misleading people for the UBC REC promotions department. Or the course measurement department for that matter.

The race gave many athletes their first real assessment of their fitness for the year. For some it was an early season reminder to get back on a training plan, for others this single race would have to represent the entire season. No rain overnight, no flats or major bike mishaps to report and no lack of Power Bar products in the club office would seem to indicate that the race was an overall success.

The fastest times for the day in the Olympic were posted by Brendan (2:18:08), Vince (2:19:30) and Max (2:28:59). This of course excludes all the non-UBC triathlon club members whose performances were rather mundane and certainly not worth writing about. Brendan had the fastest bike time of the day (1:10) and the minute that he gained on Vince here would decide the race. The run would only help him improve his lead. Brendan stealthily snuck into an earlier heat so that his competition would have no time to react to his lightning fast transitions and rather quick overall pace.


With only a single slice of toast to rely on as real food for the day, and no one near him in his heat; Vince raced rather well. With only a handful of Power Bar energy bites to nourish him during his 6 hours on campus before the start of his heat; Vince certainly earned the bagels and bananas at the finish line. Max was under the impression that Bratwurst was also being served at the finish, and the thought of such a delicacy powered him to a 39:46 10k. Max was doubly disappointed to discover that not only were no delicious sausages to be had, he actually had to run 10.5k to get there. I’m going to donate the rusty 6 foot tape measure in my garage to UBC REC, surely it will prove to be both a more precise and accurate instrument then what has been previously used to measure the course.

On the ladies side, Victoria won the race outright, no need to exclude all the times posted by unimportant non-club members. Her 2:39:20 is a full 17 minutes faster than she can cover the same distance when competing in two Olympic triathlons on the same day. A beautiful new teal Bianchi can’t hurt either.


Stephanie Flynn was next in 2:45:29, and would later learn with some frustration that being third overall is worth nothing. First and Second place get fabulous prizes but there is nothing left over for third place to get even a head nod. The fastest women’s swim time also gets no acknowledgement. But fear not, Stephanie, I am putting a trophy together using parts from a discarded shopping cart I found on Wreck beach. I will bring it to the next practice, and I assure you it is a far greater reward than a gift certificate to a bike shop or a crown of the finest olive branches.

Stephanie Urness was the next finisher from the club, in 2:53.30. While finishing both the bike and run close to a minute ahead of Ms. Flynn, a surprising upset in the pool left Ms. Urness with nearly 10 minutes to make up before even getting her helmet on. I don’t mean to overanalyze either of the girls’ performances, they both had a great race.

Not everything ran entirely smoothly. Despite painstaking efforts to create an elaborate duct tape framework that was structurally sound and deserving of any architects approval, Kellen still had to put his shoes on the old fashioned way. Lauren is awarded the coveted longest T1 prize. Bike in hand, realizing her gloves were still in her wet bag, Lauren did what we all would have done. Re-racked the bike, ran to the Aquatic Center, dug through a bin filled to the brim with other competitors’ wet bags and eventually found the forgotten gloves. Which leads to some question as to why we are all racing so early in the year as to make facing the chilly temperatures without gloves seem to be an unthinkable option.

Ben realized the folly of buying a tri suit that is anything but skin tight. Each push off the wall threatened to have the lifeguard call campus security with a report of indecent exposure. Eddy dealt with some painful, cramping legs on the run, I thought I might need to drag him from the finish to the Tri club office and begin comparison shopping amongst the different manufacturers of crutches. He should learn from Dylan, if your legs hurt (eg. shin splints),keep running and the painful sensation will subside for the last 5km.



For the sprint, Barry’s 1:08:15 brought him within 45 seconds of the overall winner. Had he not been hampered by the weight of his electrodynamics textbook, Barry almost certainly would have won the race. He did however, manage to get through two chapters while on the bike. Transition 1 was especially difficult; pulling the textbook out of its protective plastic casing took longer than his own clothing change. Drew (1:21:51) and I (1:15:36) had the next fastest times amongst UBC triathlon club members.

Karin Olafson took first among the club's female members in 1:26:19, while Keely Hammond was close behind, coming in under the 1:27 mark with a second to spare. Sherry Gu took third, close on their heels in 1:27:21. They train together, they race together, they all finished within a minute of each other. Also of note, these placings hold if we look at the current standings after four events in the Spring Fling. ((Karin, the Keely, then Sherry just 63 points behind). All three are closely matched and surely make great training partners.

It took me until a few minutes before the start of the Sprint to realize that I didn't quite fit in with my heat. I was placed in the heat not by swim time but because the earliest heat of the day would give me the most time to rest before the start of Olympic later that morning. Looking around the room it soon became apparent that no one was under 50, few were under 200 pounds, and a good many appeared as if they had been strolling through the Student's Union building and had mistakenly entered the package pickup line instead of the queue at Pie R Squared.

When we had to line up according to race number, mine was 2063 and everyone else was in the 2200’s. The lady who was previously at the front of the line was very much relieved, “Oh, I’m glad you’re going first, I was a little nervous, I’m just in this race because my sister is doing it”. If any of my fellow competitors from heat 2a) every stumble upon this post, please know that you were all lovely people, I enjoyed the competition and you have the bodies of gods. That being said, as I looked down the line, sizing up my competitors, I knew I had pretty good chances of being alone out on the bike course.

One man had struggled into a Tri suit (with the help of a gallon of Vaseline and a half dozen assistants I am sure) and I feared that the fabric might not hold together until the start of the swim, let alone the entire race. One man had seemingly found a vintage 1880’s full body, woollen swim costume at a local thrift store. Not a Speedo in sight. I realized I might not have anyone to draft off of.


I was the first to enter the outdoor pool for the day. A crowd had assembled, and being in first and feeling the need to keep up appearances, I attempted a flip turn in the shallow end right next to the timing table. I came up with the lane rope squarely between my shoulder blades. I assure you, no more flip turns were attempted for the remaining 600 meters. I was first on the bike. I was first one out on the run course. Since the first Olympic heat was still in the pool, I was the first to pass the volunteers controlling traffic and setting up the aid stations.

I made it my personal duty to say good morning to every one. I heard numerous shouts of encouragement, “you’re in the lead” and “the next guy is nowhere in sight”. Twice I was asked what I had eaten for breakfast. This was my Champs Elysées, an individual time trial course set up just for me. In short, if you ever need a massive ego boost, enter the 25:00/500m swim heat at your next local triathlon.


Kellen was unsatisfied with the catering company that he had hired to provide a post-race meal for his birthday. The bagels and bananas supplied fell short of the cupcakes, fondue fountain and cocktail bar that were promised. To compensate, Kellen rented out a private karaoke room at the J lounge to celebrate not only the fact that he was born an even multiple of 365 days ago, but the successful race as well. Most club members were proven to be more talented on the bike or in the pool than with a microphone, but the evening was enjoyed by all none the less.

1 comment:

Johnson said...

Excellent reporting!