The morning of the big race dawned beautifully – although we were up far before dawn! The advantage of doing a local race, however, is that it was only 5:49 when I got out of bed, instead of the 4 am or earlier we would have done if we had needed to drive to a race further afield!
We did our morning routine – lots of carbs for Trevor and my usual (don’t-mess-with-it-on-race-day!) morning process for me.
We went through our checklists and out to the car that we had fully packed the night before. We drove down to Centennial Beach in Barrie and arrived in time to take the very first parking spot closest to the end of transition where we had been told to set up, just as the sun popped over the horizon illuminating the Bay in beautiful hues of pink and dusky purple. Perfection!
Our support crew – Jen and Kara – arrived a few minutes later, ready to help us unload and set up. There are a lot of things to track to get us set up, so we really appreciated their help! In the end we were able to corral everything into a Swim Tub (with dinghy, battery-operated pump, spare batteries, tow rope and harness, wetsuit, life jacket, goggles, spare goggles, glasses case, sunscreen, and baseball cap for me), a Transition Tub (with the chocks for my chair, a towel, Trevor’s bike shoes, both of our helmets, my lateral and neck supports, Trevor’s sunglasses, Trevor’s running shoes and baseball cap, baby powder for dusting the insides of both pairs of shoes with, and all of our nutrition and hydration supplies). Then there was Trevor’s bike, my racing chair (with front wheel and bike attachment), bike stand, bike pump and my regular wheelchair. Which is a lot of things to move and set up and keep track of – especially when I essentially can’t do much to help.
Transition was set to close by 8:00, so we had an hour and a half to set everything up, talk our crew through all of the steps of what we needed them to do, go through body marking and pick up our timing chip (which Trevor wears to avoid interference from my chair), and go to the bathroom three times! We also had to meet up with our film crew, as the goal was to get lots of good footage to use for our ‘how-to’ video (if you’re interested in the project, by the way, we’d love your support – check out our GoFundMe page for more information!)
Once transition closed we headed down to the water to do some stretching, pump up the dinghy and begin to get ready for our start.
We had originally been told we would start around 9:25, so we were caught a little off-guard when the swim official came up to us just after 9:00 and told us we would be starting at 9:15. A quick dash to the bathroom left us with about 15 seconds to spare between getting me into the boat and starting off – something we definitely need to improve on for next time, but we will get there!
Apparently we weren’t the only ones surprised by this, because the assisted blind athlete completely missed the accessible start and had to slot in to a later swim start. That meant that we were out on the course on our own for the first five minutes, which was beautiful and calm.
Five minutes after we started, the horn sounded for the first main wave of swimmers – the under 25 men. These are some of the fastest swimmers on the course, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise when the first swimmer overtook us just before we rounded the halfway point. Another three swimmers came by about 50 meters later and a couple more passed us just before we got to the swim exit, but I was incredibly pleased with our time in the water! Our actual swim time (according to Strava) was about 16 minutes.
Trevor unclipped the harness, hoisted me out of the dinghy and into a fireman’s carry to run the short distance up the sandy beach to the boardwalk where my regular wheelchair was waiting with a team member. Our other team member grabbed the dinghy and moved it up to the grass, and then both of them sprinted after us to the transition zone. Our official swim time (including this run up to transition) was listed as 18:49.2, which we were quite pleased with.
T1 went incredibly smoothly. Trevor transferred me into my chair, then proceeded to get out of his wetsuit, get his bike shoes, helmet and sunglasses on, and take his bike out of the bike mount while Jen and Kara did up my straps, inserted my supports and got my helmet on. We were off again within moments (my best guess is that transition itself took us less than two minutes including the run to the mount point, based on the Strava information I was able to gather, but it would be nice if we had full transition stats).
Out on the bike, Trevor’s legs were still very floppy for the first half of the first loop, and he was struggling to find his breath, but we were still rolling with a faster average speed than we’d ever managed in training, as the course conditions were perfect for us! By the time we got to the first turn around, Trevor was able to catch his breath and I could feel us speeding up – our average speed topping 22 km/hour, which was still dreadfully slow compared to our competitors but the best we have ever managed, and our 43.9 km/hour max speed was simply stunning! What was incredible was that we managed to hold that pace average very steadily for the entire bike leg, coming back into transition in just 49:40!
T2 was always going to be a little slower than T1. Changing the bike attachment for the front wheel is a persnickety task, and one that Trevor wanted to do himself, to make sure that we were safe for the run. So while Jen and Kara could help take my helmet off and find my baseball cap, as well as passing pieces back and forth to Trevor and holding his bike, there was only so much that they were able to do to speed up the actual transition of the chair. Based on the difference between Strava times and Sportsstat times, it would appear that our T2 transition was about 4 minutes even, so still quite reasonable for what we had planned!
Out on the run, Trevor seemed to find a new gear. I think this is still his favourite discipline, and it’s certainly the one we’ve had the most chance to practice with. We started off flying at a 4:54 pace, and for the first time in the race we were passing other people instead of just being passed! I was a little worried, in fact, that we had gone out too hard and that Trevor might crack, but although we slowed slightly, we still managed to crack our previous 5K best time, coming in with a run time of 24:22!
What a race!
As I was saying on Wednesday, our goal for this race was to break my previous time of 1:58:09. But I did admit that I wouldn’t mind if we went a little faster than that! Well, the race results are in, and I couldn’t be happier! We did the race in 01:36:54.8!
I think I have a few more blog posts in me as I reflect back on this race over the next few days, but this seems a good place to press ‘pause’.
If you haven’t already watched and shared our video on social media or visited our GoFundMe page, and shared it with your friends, we would love your support. Our first goal is to create a ‘how-to’ video for other physically challenged individuals who want to participate in triathlon to make it more accessible. And our second goal is to raise enough money to purchase myTeamTriumph Canada their first bike/run chair, to enable others in Southern Ontario to participate in #accessibletriathlon!