Christine Walsh competed in last weekends ITU World championships in Edmonton. In her hilarious race report, Chris explains how challenging triathlon can be – even just getting to the start line. Congratulations on your accomplishment Chris, and good luck in IM England next summer.
What not to do when you ITU, as requested by the pres, M. Dorio
It’s long, detailed and boring and if you want the denouement I finished the race. Yahoo!
Since I had not yet adjusted to Mountain Time (just returned to Calgary on Sunday) I work up early in the morning on Wednesday and thought I would head to the race. After my 3 hour drive to Edmonton I arrived at one of the host hotels 8:45 am and said, “I am ready to be epic”—all the signs in Edmonton (and the hotel) were plastered with the “it’s going to be epic” slogan for the race. The clerk gave me a look that I believed was usually reserved for the Saturday night inebriates. After I pointed to the sign “its’ going no be epic” she nonplussed said check in was 3:00 and said try at 12:00.
Undaunted I headed to register for the race at city hall. Mission accomplished and you know that swagger, I am a triathlete going to do a big race, I was rocking it until I noticed about a meter or so of toilet paper was streaming from my ironman shorts. Then off to pick up the special package reserved for the Alberta triathletes (I have dual citizenship—Alberta triathlon socks and hat signed by Simon Whitfield and some letter that probably says I am amazing—hey it’s the Alberta advantage—we gotta’ get something for surviving all that cold) at the race venue, sorry parking just closed. You will have to try later. Well I guess I will head out to the Canadian Team hotel and do the course familiarization. Of course I was late and didn’t realize this was actually a ride not a chat about the course. Back to the hotel where I could now check-in and met with a PhD student – my usual combining business with pleasure.
Then headed to the group swim following the GPS to the wrong destination, when I finally got there the swim was over. So swam 15 minutes by myself. Then met up with Gail Burgess at the host hotel for a lovely chat before I went to the Team Canada group ride. Gail reminded me about everything I would need to check my bike in the following day—was rather surprising to me although, same as last year—can I still blame it on Ironman brain? Of course during the ride it rained with massive lightening. Quick return to the hotel to drop of my bike and off to the airport to pick up my parents (apparently both won’t fit in the car). Of course this all takes much longer for me than the typical person and I think my GPS lady was getting rather frustrated with me and has probably never uttered the phrase make a U turn so many times. At one point I am on a major road facing the wrong way with about 20 cars wishing to proceed.
Next day check in my bike and was mentioning to Gail that its nice not to have to think of any nutrition since it is a sprint, she corrected me and suggested I buy something. Of course I have no money so Gail ended up buying me some gels and it cost her $50. Gail’s story. . . and I think by now she is done with me so heads home. Off I go to check in the bike and my helmet doesn’t pass muster, apparently a rather large crack. Now I am in search of a vendor with helmets and after finding one I say you must sell me a helmet and I have no way of paying for it but I have ID. He did, one fit, sort of, so I am done. Stop home take my parents out for dinner, buy food return home and now no cell phone (lost forever I believe—was two weeks old—man this sport is expensive). So now I will be really lost because Ms. GPS has abandoned me.
This morning (Friday, race morning) I wake up at 2:45 (not on purpose) did I mention I was sharing the room with my parents and they were very much engaged in snoring? Drive around the hotel parking lot looking for some triathletes to pick up hoping for some good karma. I saw some members of the Mexican team walking down the street—they had missed their ride, so we drove together, they providing piloting service. This was also payback for the Mexican team who helped put my bike together last year.
Got to transition to find my odometer wasn’t synching. Saw Claudia and Paul Hutchinson—Claudia was rocking the down-filled jacket good idea since it was so cold—me nadda. Tried to take my bike out to the bike mechanics but the officials said no. Asked around for an official who said yes. Hmm bike mechanics weren’t there and the ‘information’ people had no idea when they would be there. When they arrived about 20 minutes later, I made my query and one mechanic responded have you done a ‘hard resent’. Huh? So he said I guess that means. ‘no’ he said and he would be with me when they “were finished setting up”. I asked when the ETA on that might be and he said 9:00, which coincidently was when transition was closing. When I mentioned the timing issue he reiterated “when they were finished setting up”. After some time it was fixed and now I could be assured that I was not going fast enough during the bike.
Zipper on the knapsack they gave us broke off. Chatting with Gail at the beach, who would tell me when to muster for the swim because of course I don’t have a watch with me and if I did it would probably still be Austrian time or Ontario time or some other time that would just mix me up anyway.
The great thing about the swim start was hanging out with Claudia, we also chatted with Lynn, a friend from the UoC club—who is taking my bike to Calgary since it was either my bike or my parents who could fit in my tiny car and no one was offering to transport my parents. Off to the swim, which went ok, it felt rather lonely without a couple of thousand other folks vying for the same route. Out of the water and onto the bike—bigish hill to start, thanks Greg and the Wednesday morning hill gang. Of course Claudia and Paul passed me like I was standing still. Loved the bike, fast and over fast. Onto the run, which seemed to take forever—particularly since I had no watch and had absolutely no idea what time it was or where on the course I was (didn’t make the run familiarization event—and really my thought is you have to run it anyway, sometimes best not to know), no km markings. And Lisa, who was a TCoBer last year was the best ever cheerer—she was everywhere.
Then I am done, not exactly what I was hoping for—hard to train fast after getting stuck in ironman mode. Well you gotta’ love this sport the dayish before the race I always say not another one, when I am one the course I am in the flow and when done, hell yes let’s do it again. Thanks everyone for your well wishes means a lot to have friends like you. Best thing about this triathlon thing is the friends thank for all my TCoB triathletes for your training and friendship, thanks to my ITU gang, Paul, Claudia, Gail and Lisa, thanks to Greg for putting up with my incessant questions (none about the ITU, did I mention I am still in ironman mode?) and thanks to my parents for watching—this was the first race my dad has ever seen me do and he rocked the walker.
So it’s 11:30 pm after a long day. Goodnight and see y’all soon.