Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Peterborough 1/2 as a guide.

I participated in the peterborough 1/2 IM this year as a guide for Ryan Van Praet a PC (physically challenged - blind) athlete from Chattam.

This was an exciting opportunity for me.  I have done many things in this sport of triathlon and nothing quite like this.  It was a true team effort.

Ryan has competed in triathlon for many years and has raced at all distance including a couple attempts at IM.  This was his first race as a PC athlete.  His vision has gotten to a point where he can't race by himself.

We had practiced on the tandem a few times, but we had yet to swim or run together.

The morning of peterborough we got set up in transition.  The OAT and subaru guys were excellent at helping us get set up in transition.  They had to make a whole new category for him to race in.  

The swim was going to be interesting as we were tethered together and it was a mass start.  We took a concervative line and waited for the majority of the field to go.  I think this was a bit of a mistake as we then had to pass a ton of slow swimmers.  This was difficult.  The swimmers in the middle/back of the pack have trouble swimming straight.  So I ended up acting as a bodyguard for most of the swim.  We probably took a few extra minutes because of this.  It ended up ok though.  It was an interesting practice.  I think in NYC we will be more aggressive.

We got out of the water and took our wetsuits off.  The run to transition is a little long so it was tough navigating our way there.  An easy transition and we were off on the bike.  Having a relatively slow swim, but both of us being good cyclists meant that we were moving quite a lot faster than the rest of the riders around us.  We were flying.  The tandem is an interesting experience.  You really need to learn how to communicate well.  I needed to vocalize everything, from bumps in the road, to turns, to when either of us wanted to coast.  

Things were feeling good on the tough bike course.  We were getting lots of interesting comments and stares as we flew by many cyclists.  

The biggest problem with the tandem is that it is a rough ride.  Your butt gets really sore.  We ended up coasting a lot on hills on the way back to try and relieve some pressure on our rears.  

We finished up the bike a lot closer to the front of the pack than we started.  We had passed atleast a hundred athletes.

T2 was a bit faster.  We headed out on the run.  It heads through the park and soccer fields.  This was a challenging section for Ryan as he can't see anything in low light.  I really had to let him know about every dip on the course.  Once we were onto the roads it was easier.  They are smoother and we were able to pick up the pace.  This was a challenging course for Ryan as he is from the flattest part of this province.  Peterborough is a hilly course on the bike and run.  I live in this terrain so it is second nature to me.  He did really well considering this.

We managed to pick a solid pace and hold it.  Ryan told me not to tell him splits or where we were on the run course.  This was fun, because I knew that we were way in front of our goal of going 5:30.  He didn't.  He thought we were on pace for the goal.  I said nothing until we hit the finishing straight when I told him the time.  Ryan did a roll accross the finish line in honour of his father who passed from ALS and in support of the Blazeman foundation which he is very active with.

We finished in 5:11.  This was a great time for us and way infront of our goal.  We were very conservative early on so this is a great confidence builder going into the PC champs in NYC.  

I had a blast, and am really looking forward to racing in New York and next year possibly at the Ironman distance.

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