#MSCBracebridge: Something Bigger Than Myself

The Journey Continues

This race season has been quite the whirlwind! Rewinding a few paces back, in the still- wintry month of March when I was just starting to plan my race calendar, many would agree that I was pretty ambitious then. My partner, Jordan and I naturally have ongoing discussions about our life choices (mainly pertaining to training and racing) and always arrive at the same familiar, great big question: why do we keep doing this?

It’s hard to believe that this is only my second season of racing and I know that I still have a long way to go to reach my peak. I’ve decided on three “A races” this season:

  1. Ironman 70.3 Muskoka
  2. ITU Standard Duathlon MultiSport World Championships
  3. Niagara Falls Barrelman Bike/Run.

Keeping these three at the forefront of my training, I’ve added “B races” where I could practice “the essentials” (i.e. pacing, transition, and nutrition) to prepare for my A races.

On August 12/13, MultiSport Canada held the 4th race of its series in Bracebridge, Ontario. This was also the weekend of the “Du-The-Double” Duathlon Challenge, and the international distance duathlon qualification race for the 2018 ITU MultiSport World Championships in Denmark. Needless to say, it was a pretty significant race weekend. As tempting as it was for me to race both days with guns blazing (sprint distance on Saturday and international distance on Sunday), my goal was easily not to “go hard or go home”.

The field was decorated with the fastest duathletes in Ontario and it was really hard not to push myself outside of my boundaries. Having cycled from Toronto to Montréal (bikerally.org) the weekend before and doing a back-to-back duathlon race for the first time, I knew that I was going to treat my races this weekend to “tune up” for my upcoming A race in Penticton, which is happening in just a weeks time.

Two races in one weekend; definitely a new challenge for me, but this determined duathlete is ready to go out there, stay focused, and just have fun.

 

Uplifting, from start to finish

We had arrived in Bracebridge on the Friday and stayed there for the weekend. As Jordan, Trevor, and I were taking our bikes into our hotel, we bumped into two friendly ladies who started asking us about our bikes. We learned that mother and daughter, Debbie and Samantha, were also staying that weekend in Bracebridge to compete in their first triathlon race on Saturday with MultiSport Canada’s Give-It-A-Tri. We would see them again the next day for their big debut!

I participated in the sprint duathlon on Saturday with the intention of practicing my T1 and T2. After chatting with fellow MultiSport Ambassador, Matt Straatman, and saying hello to Rob at the BLADE Carbon Wheels tent, I proceeded to the start line. I had a solid 5km run at 3:53/km and a very smooth transition into the bike, where I biked comfortably at 30.29kph (new bike, new shoes, new race F2C nutrition!). After a very graceful flying dismount (proud moment!), I ran into T2 with a nagging feeling in my calves… both were starting to seize! It took the duration of the second run at 4:25/km to shake off the feeling and the race was over before I could rev up my engine again. I finished 10th OA, and 3rd in M20-29.

After my race, I found Sharon (the amazing volunteer coordinator!) to volunteer for the rest of the day. The skies opened up and it started to pour intermittently as the Give-It-A-Tri athletes were starting their race. All I could think about was how much harder we would need to cheer for the triathletes to brighten up their race experience! I walked up to the bike mount line (Jordan and Trevor also volunteered with me!) where I took my post with the Triathlon Ontario Official to ensure athletes mounted their bikes past the mount line.

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Athletes mount just past the line!

It was incredible to see so many first time triathletes across all age groups participating in this weekend’s Give-It-A-Tri. Many were smiling and all were appreciative of the support the volunteers were providing throughout the race. We saw both Samantha and Debbie prior to the race start and they seemed more excited than nervous for their first race! Samantha mounted her bike with a smiling face and Debbie a few minutes after. Both seemed to be having the time of their lives! After seeing them off on the bike, I ran to the finisher’s chute to provide water to all the finishers and congratulate them all for a great race!

Volunteering for the Give-It-A-Tri event quickly became the highlight of my weekend!

I had the opportunity to catch up with Samantha a few days after her race to ask about her experience.

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Debbie [L] and Samantha [R]. They were incredible this weekend!
[D] What was your main reason for participating in the MultiSport Canada Triathlon Series’ Give-It-A-Tri this weekend in Bracebridge?

[S] I love finding new ways to get active outdoors and challenging my fitness. This event was an opportunity for my Mom and myself to do just that, while also enjoying ourselves in Bracebridge for the weekend.

[D] What did you enjoy the most about racing with MultiSport Canada?

[S] We loved the venue and the people! We got to see how beautiful Bracebridge is, and we felt comfortable with the terrain for our first race. The welcoming environment of people made our first race feel like we belonged from the start. We had met three very friendly participants of MultiSport Canada the night before the event, who were staying at our hotel. They helped us decide about wearing our wetsuits, gave us tips and tricks before the race and overall made us feel very welcome to the triathlon community. During the race they stayed onsite cheering on the participants and all three of their smiles truly made us feel supported and confident through our first triathlon experience. We met numerous other MultiSport employees and athletes who were all full of advice before the race, encouragement during the race, and long conversations to follow. Overall, the race day was an uplifting event start to finish.

[D] It must have been very cool to race your first triathlon together with your mom! Share some of the main highlights from both your races. Did you learn anything new about yourselves this weekend?

[S] After finishing my own race I joined my Mom to help her through her running portion. Being able to run side-by-side through the finish-line together with both of us smiling ear-to-ear was an amazing feeling. We learnt that we are able to push ourselves on our own to find our edge during the race. However, we also can push each other to succeed.

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[D] What was your overall impression of the race experience with MultiSport Canada Triathlon Series?

[S] Overall, we absolutely loved the experience!!!! Both my Mom and I left the event in such a positive mood. The event was extremely organized, all of the staff/volunteers were helpful and friendly. Oh, and my mom is obsessed with her MultiSport Canada hat… Hahahah, she hadn’t taken it off after the race until about 10pm that night 🙂

I couldn’t have said it better myself! Samantha’s words truly capture what it’s like to race with MultiSport Canada. It was truly inspiring to witness their race experience from beginning to end, and to see both of them beaming with pride after their race. I can’t help but return to the question of “why do we keep doing this?” that I had posted in the beginning of my post. It’s because no matter what your reason is for racing, you will always find someone out there whose reasons are far greater than yours.

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pictures courtesy of Samantha.

With a brand new perspective

 

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Trevor, Kirill, me and Jordan

The next day, the three of us returned to the race site with a new friend. Kirill had driven all the way from Toronto to see us race! This would be my second race of the weekend and Jordan and Trevor’s time to shine in the olympic distance triathlon. It was a beautiful, sunny day and all the excitement from Saturday’s events has evidently carried over. It was time for me to practice my nutrition in the international distance duathlon event. F2C nutrition has given me a refreshing way to approach race day nutrition and I am officially in love with their products.

 

Regardless of all the typical race day logistics that were going through my head, I still remember Samantha and Debbie’s race experiences. They reminded me of the positive impact encouragement can make in someone else’s race. I wish I could give you the run down of the specifics from my race but at that point, while I was racing, none of the specifics mattered to me anymore. I made it my goal to cheer on my fellow athletes during my race and the race was over before I knew it! I surprised myself upon realizing that I finished 14th OA, and 2nd in M20-29.

I proceeded to volunteer both in transition and finisher’s chute with my fellow ambassadors, Daniel Clarke and Ryan Dockman, handing out water and medals to the finishers. I’ve never had so much fun racing and volunteering at any race. It was remarkable to see first hand what great sportsmanship and camaraderie can do and how they can empower athletes to achieve their goals.

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As I recover from this weekend and prepare for my race in Penticton, I will take with me the lessons I learned this weekend in Bracebridge. I hope that everyone reading my post will consider signing up for the Toronto Island Race, in support of SickKids, this coming weekend with MultiSport Canada Triathlon Series, either as an athlete or volunteer (or both!), and experience for yourself the fun, safe, and the incredibly supportive atmosphere that John Salt and the MultiSport Canada team provide at every race.

Toronto Island Women’s Triathlon, August 19

Toronto Island Triathlon/Duathlon, August 20

Thank you for sharing my race experiences with me and until next time!

Next stop: 2017 ITU MultiSport World Championships, Penticton, BC.

 

race pictures courtesy of Jordan and Kirill.

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