There’s something about Canada. I tend to race well there, to thoroughly enjoy myself on the course.
The trend continued on Saturday when I had what I think may have been one of my best race performances ever. I’m not quite sure how I settled down so quickly. Mark wondered when exactly I would be having my nutty because he hadn’t seen it. (Which is a good sign for many, many reasons). Something clicked. The nerves were reinterpreted as excitement. In the morning, when I had the scared feeling, I asked myself what it was that I was scared of? What did I fear?
It wasn’t the distances. It wasn’t the events. Heck, I knew I could swim. I had no fear of that.
What was it then?
I had a slight performance fear. I was afraid of not being fast enough. (Fast enough for what or whom I’m not quite sure). Afraid of not measuring up to some sort of standard which I had not even defined in my head. But then I thought of some of the triathletes I know, the ones who do the sport because they love it and enjoy it. They never podium. They never really care if they do or if they don’t. And they are some of the best athletes to be around.
So I decided to put my performance fears aside and just go have fun.
Part of my fun was deciding that reality was for suckers and I was going to create my own fantasy land. In my fantasy land I would create “goal times” which I had no idea if I could actually accomplish. This differed from my previous method of determining what my goal time in a race would be which would be to undersell my ability and hope that I’d do better than my low-ball estimate.
So, I decided I would do the 750 meter swim in 20 minutes, the 30K bike in 55 minutes and the 7.5K run in 42 minutes.
Not crazy times for most people, but a bit of stretch when it came to me, or at least what I think I”m capable of.
The Welland Triathlon is a perfect course. The swim is in a recreational waterway, an off-shoot of the Welland Canal, and about as flat and calm as open water can be. The bike is flat, flat flat. The run is along the canal trail, which is nicely paved, well marked and includes a few slight rolling inclines with just enough grade to keep you honest.
With a smile on my face, I finished the tri in 2:04:57 — good enough for fifth in my age group out of 17 women. That could very well be my first top-5 finish in a tri.
My swim? 20:11. My bike? 55:14. My run? 43:35.
That, my friends, is not too bad a day.
Maybe there is something about leaving our notions of reality behind. When we look at what it is we really fear and name it out loud, suddenly it doesn’t have as much a hold on us as we once thought.
Full race report tomorrow! A few pictures to hold you over.