Fun end of summer race, complete with age group medals!


Well, that was a great last race of summer! My daughter and I did the “try a tri” and the “do a du” with the Chatham Kent YMCA over the weekend.

She did the try-a-tri and I did the duathlon.

We chose that event after the “try a tri” that wasn’t for three reasons:

  1. It’s for a great cause, the Y’s Strong Kids Campaign: “The YMCA Strong Kids Campaign helps ensure no child is left out and every family who needs financial assistance has access to YMCA facilities and programs.”
  2. It’s held in a nearby provincial park with available camping spots and so it seemed like a great chance to combine family camping with some running, biking, swimming.
  3. And I heard from a close friend and relative that it was a warm, friendly, supportive environment.

The camping worked out really well. We camped at the park the night before which made it all very relaxing. I got do a loop of the bike course before it opened. I find driving stressful and so it was really nice to wake up at the race site. We did the same thing in Kincardine (though we stayed in a hotel) and I liked it then too.

In the morning we went over to early register, get numbers etc, and watch some of the kids’ races. The down side was wandering around all morning with my age as of Dec 31, 2013 written on the back of my right calf in large black letters. I took off the ankle bracelet/chip timer for fear of accidentally setting off the timer and having the longest run time ever!

I love the kids’ events. The youngest age group was 5-7. There was even a bike with training wheels.

Gathering for the adult event in the afternoon, it was clear that this would be fun. I’m nervous sometimes racing in mixed events but the men were really friendly and helpful. Mostly they weren’t aspiring serious triathletes but rather soccer and hockey playing guys who’d been talked into it by their partners. The women were mostly runners, as usual, of a pretty good range of ages. The oldest was in her sixties. And there was lots of nervous laughter and jokes at the start of the race.

After the race briefing, my daughter and I separated as they started the duathlon 15 minutes before the try-a-tri.

In retrospect I’m glad I didn’t see the start of her race. There were big waves and a lot of chop and they ended up doing a half dozen rescues. I did get nervous hearing all the volunteers’ radios announce each time a swimmer was rescued but a woman at the finish made me feel better when she said she’d seen her out on the bike course.

I shouldn’t worry. She’s a serious swimmer and a lifeguard but mothers worry. Chatting at the end she said they were practically swarmed with lifeguards in the water, one in sight at all times, at least a dozen in the water plus two on each of the two boats. The lifeguards were giving people advice on how to swim parallel to the beach in big waves. That’s what people mean when they talk about a supportive first time race environment. By the end, for the last swimmers, they pretty much had a 1-1 guard-swimmer ratio.

Also, worth noting is that she did the entire thing barefoot and came 3rd in her age group.

My performance was a Sam classic. I was last (yep, dead last) out of everyone doing the duathlon at the end of the first run and  then I had fun passing a lot of people on the bike. I had the 4th fastest bike time out of 24 men and women. Whee!

To be fair, it was my sort of bike course, a 5 km box with flat roads. I like corners and I like flat.  On the first go round I had volunteers yelling at me to slow down for the corners but no yelling after that, once they realized I was fine cornering at speed. (For tips read Cornering at speed. Main bit of advice, don’t break in the corner, slow down first if you need to and accelerate out of the turn.)

Of course, I got passed by a lot of people on the second run and in the end I came second in my age group (out of five) but as my daughter reminded me, I was also the oldest in my age group. Ouch! A good thing about age groups though is that I’ll be happy to count as 50 for next summer’s races. Age group
medals feel a bit deceptive as I was in the bottom third of all the finishers. But so too were all the people my age. Maybe that’s just life and it’s okay. I think I’ll think on this a bit and blog about age group awards some time.

I did a few things differently this time around. I bought speed laces for my running shoes so no fussing with laces. I remembered not to take my helmet off until my bike was on the rack ( a triathlon rule). And I deliberately ran at my pace–SLOW–for the first run. It was hard being last when I knew I could pass people but I also knew I’d be able to run fast by the end if I didn’t go too hard at the start.

All good choices.

It was a lovely event and we’d definitely do it again. Waves aside it was a pretty friendly swim course. And the organizers were so cheerful, supportive, and helpful.

What would we change? Two things:

  1. Our usual gripe: There was no vegetarian food at the barbecue after. “The buns are vegetarian,” said one of the volunteers helpfully.
  2. Although it was fun getting up on a podium and having people cheer when we got our age group medals, we like it when everyone gets a medal. So does Tracy and you can read why here.

We camped the next night too so we could relax with friends and family after. In the morning we walked down the beach to watch the longer distance triathlon that was held the next day. Day 1 was kids’ races and beginners. Day 2 was time for the serious triathletes. It was really exciting seeing them start and then watching them run out of the water in their wetsuits.

We’re scheming and aspiring for next year!

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