My Own Mini-Triathlon

On Saturday, I participated in a couple of activities that fall close to the category of Elan’s Silly summer fun. But they also supported causes dear to my heart.

Swim: the day started with a 3.2 km swim as a swim angel for my friend Sarah from my master’s swim club at Bring on the Bay, an annual swim in the Ottawa River that raises funds for Easter Seals. This year, there were 651 swimmers. Swim angels are “buddies” for swimmers with anxiety, disabilities, or medical issues who want someone with them in case they need support.

This year about 20 of us were paired with a swimmer. A few more people act as “sweeps” available in case someone swimming alone needs assistance. It’s a great program and I benefitted from it years ago when I was anxious about cramping up following foot surgery.

Me in a white cap, multicoloured goggles and a swimsuit, with Sarah, who is wearing a red cap, black goggles and a wetsuit.
Swimmers heading out into the river with their angels. Two of the sailboats, a kayak and SUP that mark the route and provide support are in the background. Sara and I are in the front of the group, on the left, closest to the green channel marker.

Sarah did great! She is actually a bit faster than me, but this was only her second open water swim and she had never swum this distance. She’s a musician, so my job was to be her metronome. I set the pace and she drafted behind me until we got close to the end. Then she moved up beside me so we could finish together. I was a good metronome: we finished within 3 minutes of the time I had predicted.

Bike: this was pretty straightforward as I biked to and from Bluesfest, a 10-day long series of concerts in Ottawa. Even though I have lived here for nearly 40 years and have been a commuter cyclist for 20, I’m still learning new ways to get around. My friend Florence showed me a couple of changes to the route I would have taken, which minimized car contact. 12 km done and dusted.

Run: technically walk, but 9.6 km worth of walk according to my phone app. This was the silly fun part. I’m a member of Bike Ottawa, a group that advocates for safe infrastructure for all people who bike. Every year at Bluesfest, volunteers run a free bike parking service to encourage people to bike to the venue rather than driving a car. This year, they parked their 100,000th bike. Any donations received are split between Bike Ottawa and Blues in the Schools.

The volunteers were a mixed group from teens through to seniors. The supervisors were dressed up in all sorts of bling for visibility. It works just like a car valet service, except we weren’t allowed to ride the bikes. We did get to admire some beauties though.

This was an incredibly smooth operation, but there was a LOT of wheeling bikes to their designated spots and retrieving them for their owners at the end of the night. We cleared out roughly 800 bikes, scooters and skateboards in about half an hour after the last concert ended.

A field filled with orange construction horseshoes, with hundreds of bike leaning up against them. A few volunteers in blue shirts are walking more bikes to their designated spot.

At their base, none of these activities was really silly, though I thought they were a lot of fun. So, because I can’t figure out any other excuse to share, here is a photo of my friend Gwendolyn and I, just after winning the teacup obstacle race at a friend’s 40th birthday party. The race involved running around a tree and then shooting a croquet ball through a hoop while holding a teacup full of water. Then you were blindfolded and turned around five times before being guided by your partner to pour your water into a container. The winning team was the one with the most water after each person had gone through the course.

Two white women, wearing flowered dresses and hats are standing in a trees park. One is blindfolded and holding a croquet mallet and ball. The other holds a teacup.

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