This was the first year the Whistler Ironman Triathlon did an Ironman 70.3. In the past they put on the Ironman Canada which I never did. I watched it, but never raced it. So this year I found out they were adding the 70.3. Half the full Ironman distance.
Debbie, my training partner, told me about the new event. And she wanted to race it. And she asked me to race it with her – and of course I said yes.
The race fit our schedule, mostly. There were sacrifices. There always are. Among them, we gave up going to the Tragically Hip concert. But when race day arrived we were ready. And we were excited to race.
Sunday morning of race day was beautiful. We woke up in the dark. We had to be to the lake by 6am. But then we had to wait. The Ironman swimmers went first so we didn’t start until 8:45.
Waiting can be hard. For me. I don’t like waiting at the best of times.
Waiting to start a race is a fascinating moment of calm where time can speed up and slow down simultaneously. You want the race to begin, but you are also wishing for more time to be ready.
It was cold that morning, so we waited in our wetsuits. We’re used to it. Our wetsuits were still dry and warm and nice.
We were nervous. It’s normal. You’re trying to relax and breathe deep and visualize the race. Some people laugh and talk while they’re waiting. We tend to get away from the people and find a quiet place to sit down. We weren’t talking a lot. It’s a quiet nervousness.
For a lot of triathletes the swim compounds the nervousness. I’m that way. Waiting for a running race to start is a little different. But water is water and it can be intimidating with all of the other athletes fighting for their space, their water, their air.
It’s a relief to wait with a training partner. We sweat together and we train together. We’ve been friends for a few years. There’s a solidarity waiting for the race to start with someone you respect and who knows you.
The preparation is done. The work is done. I’m always grateful to start a race. Grateful for my health. Grateful for the people in my life that support my training.
While I wait, I remind myself that we’ve done all the planning we can. We know the distance. We know how many calories we need. We know what heart rate we can sustain. We know how to execute.
But. Anything can happen on race day.
And the funny thing about triathlon is that while we train as a team, we race as individuals.
So even though Debbie and I started together, we finished at different times. Our solidarity may have been broken by time, but we were out there together, separately. Supported by those who love us and support us. That, in the end, is what makes triathlon such a special sport. That, in the end, is what makes us train for the next one.