Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ryan's Peterborough Report (from swimbikerunryan.blogspot.com)

Mission Accomplished--"Hey isn't that cheating?"

"Hey, isn't that cheating?"

"No fair..."

"Oh man, 4 legs, you guys look great.."

"Hey, that's drafting..."

All of the above were utterances during my first paratriathlon last Sunday in Peterborough. ALL were said in joking fashion and great supportive manner, by fellow athletes. All were said on the bike as we rolled, seemingly "cheatinginly easy" past them up and down the steep rollers of the Peterborough 1/2 Ironman. A 2 km swim, followed by a 85 km bike ride (which is supposed to be 90), followed by a hilly 21.1km half marathon run. This was my 5th half Ironman of my career, my third time back to Peterborough, but my first paratriathlon--a new beginning.

Today i want to give you a brief (hopefully) recap of the days events; last week i gave you a taste of what the mood surrounding the event was like. The fact that i was a beginner, for the second time... As mentioned this was my third time back to this race, but standing race morning on the shore with 500 other athletes, tethered to my guide Syd...this felt much different. All pre-race buildup and preparation was much the same as any other race i've done, but as i said, standing tethered with our 4 foot bungee cord between us--Syd and I were embarking on something very new to both of us. Syd standing 2 inches taller then me, is a imposing figure, and made me feel that he gave the air of "stay out of our way" to the rest of the gang. This was comforting, heading into the water which was the most stressful for me. Swimming is not usually stressful, i love the beat and bang and push and shove of an open water swim; but not this day when i was very worried that i would snag somebody in our line, injure, drown or in a mild case just REALLY tick them off. Therefore the 2km swim i must admit was the most stressful swim i have ever done in my entire life, far trumping any Ironman mass start with 4 times as many people. My stress and fears were unfounded though, as we never snagged a single person, Syd was a perfect body guard as he is an amazing swimmer, and we managed out effort in a slow and uncomfortable 38:45. Uncomfortable because i can swim a good bit faster, and Syd must've been taking a nap, as this was far below his pace...but safety was the key.

Through transition and onto the bike---we had ridden the previous week together, and i trusted Syd had a handle literally and figuratively on the bike situation, so i was relieved and comforted to get out in my element (the bike) even if it was on the back of our Griffen tandem rocket!
Rolling smoothly and to much crowd support, out of T1, dressed in our matching Rudy Project helmets and matching TEAM RUNNING FREE uniforms (an awesome running store in the GTA that become my newest sponsor, and has been sponsoring Syd and his wife for a while).. Syd and i settled into a easy pace. Our goal was to take it slow until halfway then drop the hammer. We kept a methodical pace until the halfway point, passing everyone in sight (see above for comments recieved along the way). To my surprise the support was amazing, and truth be told i did feel guilty passing people with such ease, as this would not happen quite so smoothly if i were riding on my own. However, we rolled past a couple hundred people and made our way to the pointy end of the field. By half way, we were both feeling ok, but our "undersides" and my lower back, were both feeling the harshness that is a tandem bike ride. You feel ever bump, and every vibration--and we are riding probably the nicest tandem bike ever made! On that way back, we found ourselves quite alone...the leaders were ahead, but most others were behind, and we just rolled along, more in silence due to our upped effort. We were both relieved to get off the bike at the end, giving our bodies a break from the slightly uncomfortable ride. 2:29:00 later, with an average of 34 km/h, we arrived to a fairly empty T2.

Not having been totally trained for this event, and suffering a bit of an injury, my goal was to run as much of the half marathon as possible, and just see how it went. I really didn't have any specific time goals for the whole day, so it was just a matter of plugging away. During the first very shady section, Syd ran in front of me (where the pictures were taken), and i followed along like a good little puppy dog:) When out onto the open road, we ran side by side, Syd pointing out any road flaws, pylons, etc. This will take some more practice, but really all went well. I am pleased to say i managed to run the entire 21km (only impressive due to the fact the hills were killing me)...it is so hard running hills when you don't run them around here. We pushed harder the last 4-6 km, i was suffering, and Syd was cruising. He lives and trains on those hills, so this was simple for him. Pushing really hard the last 2km, we turned into the park, Syd and i grabbed hands, turned the final corner to the finish where Syd raised our hands in victory, saw the clock read 5:11:xx (which was my second fastest half Ironman ever), i dropped, rolled for ALS....and that was that.

Even thought the bike course was short, it was still a fast enough race for me..i was very pleased with the effort and very thankful to Syd for his help. This guy lives and breathes triathlon (even more then I), and his presence and help that day really helped me out. Our next adventure is in two weeks in New York City, with an Olympic distance triathlin which happens to be the USA National Paraytriathlon Championships. This will give me a good idea of where i stand in terms of others in my category (as I was the only visually impaired athlete in Peterborough). I am looking forward to the new experience and the new tandem career. It isn't the same as going alone, but it is still suprisingly, familiarly, satisfying.
A huge congratulations to local fellow C-K athletes Jason Ramboer who absolutely hammered his first half Ironman in a 4:41 time, Brennan his brother in the half Duathlon, Helen Robertson of Chatham in a very respectable time, and Helen's daughter Helinka who also had a solid day.

So off to training i go, getting ready for the fast and furious NYC triathlon! Thanks to Running Free for the great gear, Rudy Project, Syd, my wife, Smith's Cycle, and everyone who's help got me to the starting line of my new career. And thanks CKDP for letting me tell my story, my hope for Sunday was to turn some heads, and get some people thinking.....No matter what your abilities, set that goal, and go for it, and NEVER underestimate somebody based on their age, sex, religion, disability or athletic ability; for as soon as you do this, is the time they will leave you in a cloud of dust.


Cliff said...


I did the same race. That's an awesome job you are helping him through the race.

ShirleyPerly said...

Thanks for sharing your stories. Always inspiring to hear about vision impaired triathletes competing and get both sides. Man, I'd be so happy to swim 1.2 mi in 38 min, let alone finish in 5:10. Maybe when I go blind I'll ask Syd if he'll be my guide (my vision is terrible but "unfortunately" correctable ;-)

Syd Trefiak said...

Hah. It was a lot of fun. Something different from the everyday triathlon thing. I was actually able to enjoy the race a lot more from this experience.