June 23rd, 2012 was an important date on my calendar. Not because I was worried about how much sleep I was going to get the night before the Welland half iron triathlon, but because my sister Gloria was signed up for her first ever triathlon. She was competing in the give-it-a-tri. Over the past year, Glo had been sending me random text messages here and there “I just ran 1.5kms” “I just swam for 400m straight” “I just did my first brick, my legs were sooo heavy on the run” etc etc etc. Eventually these messages were turning into “I just ran 6k and felt awesome” “I just swam 1500m” “I just did a full give-it-a-tri at the YMCA running around during transitions and getting funny looks from people” that last one was one of my favourites.
I knew Glo was getting serious about doing some triathlons when she started using Taryn’s (my gfs) bike this spring and refused to give it back until June 24th! I was super excited to have my sister join “Team Pickering” and I tried to help her out with some pointers and a couple of coached training sessions. 2 weeks before Welland we met in Binbrook and did an open water swim / family day at the beach, upon which Gloria followed up the swim with a bike and run. She was ready!
The night before Gloria’s race, we made sure he had her checklist of typical equipment ready. Saturday morning, Taryn and I drove to Welland and Taryn set herself up in the Recharge with Milk Zone with her massage tent as she now provides post race massages at most of the MSC events. I met with Glo in the parking lot and helped her go through the registration, transition set up and final race day preparations. The clock struck 10:10am and it was time to head down to the water for the pre-race announcements and then of course the quick warm-up / line up of many many first time triathletes. The Welland race is a time trial start format, so it is very common to see a long line of nail biting nervous looking people waiting for the inevitable plunge! I like to say hi to as many people as I can and assist them in whichever way possible. One time I helped a man put on his wetsuit as he was forcing his legs through the arm sleeves in despair wondering why it was so difficult.
I was probably more nervous than Gloria was. But at the same time I was having fun, taking pictures, saying hello to many familiar faces and just enjoying the fact that I was not racing on this day.
Glo stepped into the water, worked her way around the starting dock and Jason Vurma counted her down to her start. Her swim started of really well, she stuck to the plan and paced herself out towards the first turn buoy as we had discussed and planned for her strategy. If she was feeling good at the half way point of the swim, she could pick up the pace and go a little harder back into the swim exit. After a few nail biting moments, I saw Glo come out of the water looking strong and she ran her way up to the transition area to change for the 10k bike. I did the entire 400m run beside her with my camera in her face running and cheering like a mad man….quite the experience. I think Gloria sped up to get away from me!
The one thing you have to remember when doing your first triathlon is to put on your helmet first before unracking your bike. I am yet to see anyone actually get disqualified for this in a give-it-a-tri but I have seen a few people get a stern warning. Luckily, Gloria remembered, and did everything without a hitch. I ran around to the mount/dismount line, so as she was off on the bike, I was there yelling and cheering yet again! It was a lot of fun to be a spectator. After 20ish minutes I headed back over to transition and by the time I had walked over, Gloria had just pulled into the dismount area.
She did a quick change in transition and headed out for the 2.5km run. By this point the sun was out in full force and it was blazingly hot out there. Thankfully the half iron was nowhere near this hot the following day. As per my usual routine, I followed her as far as I could, slapping around in my flip flops, deaking small children, spectators and hurdling random dogs as I tried to get that perfect picture of Gloria doing her run.
As fate would have it, I never quite got that perfect picture of Gloria running, in fact the best that I could do was get a shot of her running away from me as you see above. I did however manage to get her finishing on video!
Congratulation Gloria on a great first triathlon! Perhaps another Team Pickering trip will be on the horizon soon.