HOW YULIANA BECAME A TRIATHLETE. TWICE.

The Idea

I am sure, every time anyone goes to watch a sporting event, they get that feeling of “hey, I should do one of these!” No matter what sport it is and no matter how athletic you are, but after you see a hockey game live, you will go buy set of gloves and head out to your driveway.

Now you can only imagine how predictable my athletic future was, since there were few summers when  I went to see my husband’s races almost every weekend. It was only matter of time before I got borrowed  all the necessary gear and signed up for a race.

I did hesitate for few years, prior to actually  doing a race. Since I  always had a doctor’s note that freed me  from most of the phys.ed classes, I would not say I was the most athletic type. I did not swim, biked or ran.But I was still going to tri … try….

I could do it

I will tell you, and probably in more than one post, what I had to do to get to that start line. but right now, I will skip it all. The only thing I will tell you, is that one day I knew for sure – I was going to do it.

It was a weekend before the Guelph Lake I race. I wanted to try out the course before the big day to get the necessary confidence boost or chicken out all together.

So we packed our bags, jumped in the car and set off for the future race site 1 hour away from home. As we got on the highway, it started raining lightly but we kept going. No one will cancel a race over few rain drops, I knew that from my spectator experience.

When we got to the park, gate attendant only raised her eyebrows and sold  us tickets, asking few times if we were sure we wanted to visit in this weather. By then, it was pouring, and our pretend race organizers cancelled the swim, since even my common sense kicks in every once in awhile.

There, soaked and cold, changing back into my relatively dry “travelling” clothes next to a spider hanging off the ceiling of a sketchy campground change room, I knew, I am going to race and I am going to enjoy it.

Two race weekends

Just because two of  the only triathlon races that I ever did are the Subaru’s Guelph Lake I and Guelph Lake II, I really think that I can just review both them as one.  So basically, both of the races are taking place at the same  park and running along exact same course a year after year. In a Try-a-Tri that I competed in you are required to swim for 375 meters, bike for 10 kilometers and then run for 2.5. Personally, I think It is a great beginners race.

You are almost always guaranteed to have a great weather, since the first race takes place in the middle of July and the second on the Labour Day weekend, which is the first weekend of September. Both of the times it is warm, and in all the years of Alex racing, they only cancelled the swim once, because the water was too rough and unsafe (we did have an early fall that year). On the other hand, most of the summers, both of the races are just before and after the heat wave that we get every year in Ontario. So, unless the famous Global warming messes something else next year, you should enjoy the weather in these races.

swimSwim portion of the race is pretty straight forward. You wear a wetsuit, jump in the water when the gun goes off, and always keep orange buoys on your right. It’s a U shape course and you come back on the shore 375 m later just to find an uphill run to the transition.

The hill, is famous among the triathletes. And from what I heard, it does not matter how good you are, or at what level you are competing, it is still painful to climb up. But there is no way around, and it is the only logical way to put the transition zone at.

Finally, once you get to your bike, you are out on the ride portion of the race. It is “there and back” 10 kilometers course, and once you get out of the park, you get to ride all the length of
bikethe Watson Road and then turn around and come back. Unfortunately, city of Guelph, did major repaving project couple of years ago, but skipped that road
completely. So keep an eye out for all the bumps and potholes.

Other than the sad condition of the street, bike portion has only 1 major hill, and as a bonus, it is one of those that is more of a dip, than a hill. It is equal on both sides, so you get a good climb going and coming back as well. You do get to gain some speed rolling down, before having to work hard on the way up. So if you are a bit more comfortable with picking up the speed on the bike than I am, you will like it. Just remember about the holes.

runAnd once you are back at the transition, you get to run. At this point your legs are numb and you feel like stopping (or at least that is what happened to me). You have 2.5 kilometers run ahead of you. Once again, you get to go “far-far-away” and come back. It is probably 1 km out, 1 – back and about 500 meters to the finish line. And there are a lot of hills again.

They are not too steep, and personally I found it even helpful, because I got to run downhill and walked up. So this worked out. Last few hundred meters until the finish line are also a downhill, and a steep one. That way, no matter how slow you are for the whole race, you look fast finishing it.

Would I do it again?

After all, it was good experience both times.The only advice I can give you, is that even if the race takes place in the afternoon, don’t bother coming to the park earlier. First of all, there is a sprint race in the morning, and they will not let you in the park unless you come before its start (very-very early), and if you come too early, then you will be tired by the time it is your turn to compete.

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