Victoria 70.3 – Courage

He who is not courageous to take risks accomplish nothing in life.

– Muhammed Ali

Nothing in life gives me more butterflies than the days leading up to a big endurance event– especially the first triathlon of the year.   It seemed like it took this long for the first triathlon of the year to arrive:

During my 10-month hiatus from racing any triathlon, it gave me a lot of time to think of why I’ve stuck with this sport for a decade. While the competitiveness at races definitely motivates me, I’ve found the key to longevity in this sport is to 1) have fun, 2) don’t take myself too seriously, 3) enjoy training and the lifestyle, and 4) show off my hard work on race day.  The moment it starts feeling a job or chore, I know I need a break.  Triathlon, for me, is just a very passionate hobby.

I channeled my nervous energy with my partner in crime – my wife, Becca.

The lead up to Ironman Canada last year could be described in two words — a shit show.  It was Becca’s first Ironman and it was my first time helping someone with their race preparation while also racing.  We were two nervous train-wrecks beforehand, with lots of crying, arguing, fighting, and both even contemplated abandoning the race altogether.  At the end of the day, it turned out to be a very positive and memorable day.  Results and times soon fade, but helping Becca run down her age group and finishing hand-in-hand across the finish line with the person I love… that was a game changer and life-changing experience.  Whoever stole my transition bag… thank you.

From that moment on, Becca and I have been great teammates, best friends, and benefit from each other’s company.  Sure, we have our moments and complain (mostly in regards to swimming), but we both share the same Jedi mindset. We simply enjoy the multisport lifestyle.  It’s been fun mentoring and coaching her in her early triathlon journey as she’s made some remarkable gains. The force is very strong with this one.

Compared to to our Whistler experience, our prep and travel to Victoria was easy.  We took the Black Ball ferry from Port Angeles.  I did not see any black (nor blue) balls, however.

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Our Victoria trip did not seem like it was “all about the race.”  We did many non-triathlon things beforehand which I felt benefited both of us.  It kept us fresh and loose before the big day.

Thrift store shopping at the #1 store in the nation…

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Cotton candy ice cream sugar highs:

Mini-golf (Becca’s putting game was… horrendous):

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Our entire experience, from our AirBNB, to cramming in as many sightseeing opportunities as possible, to racing the 70.3, it was the most fun I had on a race-cation in a long time.

Before every race, I go to my quiet place, visualize, close my eyes, and envision every aspect of my race.  Triathlon can be very intimidating.  Shit, it still intimidates me after a decade in the sport.  No matter how many I do, big race or small, I can never shake that nervous feeling.  But, it’s this feeling that drives me to keep coming back. It takes courage to toe the line, but when I’m waiting for the gun to sound and witness all the other like-minded athletes surrounding me, I know it’s time to do work. It’s game time.

I ran into my long lost friend, Joe – he is very special.

Joe

I also ran into Bronica, Fresh and Loose co-founders and pro athletes. I love them for their nonchalant attitudes and not taking themselves too seriously– something I feel is lacking in many people at these races.  They showed us their pro porta-potties (which I was not allowed to use), pro bike racks (as a non-AWA participant my rack was on the complete opposite end), and pro early-bike check out privileges (don’t even get me started).  Everything about being pro just seemed so … pro.

All jokes aside, I’ve known Brian since I started the sport and he’s always been someone I’ve enjoyed racing. Unfortunately he went pro so I cannot hang onto his feet anymore. Thanks a lot jackass.

Between swimming in our Masters group and getting unlimited open water swim sessions from our own backyard, there was no excuse for me to not have a good swim.  This view from our own front porch will never get old.

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The Victoria swim course was very straight forward, one-loop, and didn’t require a ton of sighting.  Most Ironman events are also self-seeded wave starts based off predicted swim times, so it’s much more pleasant in regards to avoiding congestion and swimming with athletes of similar speeds.  I found feet right away and hung on to a group for the majority of the swim.  I had a big smile on my face coming out of the water as I looked at the clock and saw I had beat my personal best 70.3 swim by nearly two minutes.  It was a great way to start out the day.

Swim- 9th age group/61st overall

The bike course was also only one-loop so it was felt like I had most of the course to myself.  It contained many small rollers and some punchy climbs, but nothing too outrageous.  There were a lot of 90-degree turns and winding roads so it favored cyclists with good handling skills.  It was rolling and technical just enough to weed out the wheel suckers and huge packs I typically encounter on flatter courses.

For me, these races are not all about the bike.   Something about finishing the day off strong with a fast run, and avoiding the “walk of shame” is way better than bragging about a bike split at the end of the day.  I kept reminding myself that it’s not a bike race.  I stayed within myself on the bike, never rode like a jackass, and stayed smooth, strong, and consistent throughout the entire bike leg.

Becca and I entering T2:

Bike split – 8th age group/48th overall

The run course was two loops on a trail around the lake.  Although much of the surface was uneven and some parts were even a little technical, the shade from surrounding trees throughout much of the course was a pleasant surprise.

I felt strong and peppy the entire run.  No one passed me and I ran alone for much of the first loop.  It’s been a while since I had this feeling in a triathlon race, where I felt like I was floating and passing everyone in sight.  I felt in control the entire way.

Run split – 2nd age group/ 17th overall

Truth is, Becca and I performed to the best of our abilities on this day.  We train hard, we set high expectations for ourselves, and we do our best to execute on race day.  We both finished on the podium and although we have things to work on, none of our improvements areas came as a big surprise. I had one of the fastest runs of the day, but lost way too much time on the bike.  I need to find that fine-line of how hard I can bike and still produce a solid run split. Becca lost too much time in the water for the win, but her hard work in the pool is very evident and she was a contender the entire day.  Her performance at this sold-out race opened many eyes.

Our lone podium pic.  We seem to always miss awards due to our post race napping and drinking problems.IMG_0355

Thank you Michelle for the post race flowers and card!

Fast or slow, front-of-the-pack or back, pro or amateur…  it takes a lot of courage lining up at the start line for a triathlon.  But, it’s this courage that builds and reveals true character.  As Mark Allen said, “Until you face your fears, you don’t move to the other side, where you find your power.” Triathlon teaches me this very valuable life lesson and it’s this reason alone that’ll never make this sport old.

Next up, CDA 70.3… then Whistler full for some payback.

EK/BK

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Categories: Race Report, Races

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One Comment on “Victoria 70.3 – Courage”

  1. June 27, 2019 at 9:06 am #

    Nice work, Elliot! Good job getting back at it!

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