The triathlon I didn’t know I wanted to do: Winterlude Triathlon

Remember that time when I went to San Francisco and didn’t realize there was a half-marathon I could have/should have registered for the very weekend I was there? Remember that time when I learned there was an 8K run in Amsterdam while we were in Europe so I planned a stop in Amsterdam, just a little out of the way?

Now I’m planning a weekend in Ottawa, the opening weekend of Winterlude and what do I learn about but the Winterlude Triathlon. What ensued was one really tense Thursday where I wanted nothing more than to register and know that it would all work out! I was so tired at the end of Thursday. And so distressed.

These were the barriers to entry:

  • Being in town that weekend – Done – the last time I was in Ottawa was in May 2007 (a race weekend but I didn’t rue missing that one so much, at the time), so it took nearly seven years and while I really liked it in May, I’ve also always wanted to check out Winterlude.
  • Registration fee – No problem – thanks to a supportive fitness allowance at work
  • Competency in the three sports – It’s there – So, I haven’t skated in a few years and I cross-country skiied just once in my life (snowshoed more recently) and I’ve run somewhat recently…
  • Logistics of preparation – Um… – I don’t own skates or skis and travelling across the country; it would required not only coordinating rentals that weekend but picking up the equipment and dropping them off at the transition points.
  • Practical execution – Um… – I try to avoid training outdoors in Vancouver and fancy that my gear in layers would be adequate for an Ottawa winter activity; the reality is, I might freeze.
  • Being selfish – Um… – Just earlier in the weekend, a girlfriend in Toronto and I nailed things down by booking flights to Ottawa and are free to get excited as humanly possibly about our first girls’ trip since we met 14 years ago; registering for a Saturday triathlon would ruin Friday night and potentially Saturday night as well.

Doing a triathlon is that “next step” after running, as if marathoning isn’t enough and the ability to participate in a triathlon is one of the incentives to finally learn how to ride a bicycle. But I don’t honestly seeing myself cycling at a racing speed. When you look for “winter triathlons” not many consist of the three sports of the Winterlude Triathlon: skate, cross-country ski and run. Many still have cycling instead of one of the winter sports. In a quick search, for Canada, there is just the Winterlude Triathlon in Ottawa and the Mammoet Edmonton Winter Triathlon that has skate, cross-country ski and run. I seriously would have scheduled for the next month brush up skate and ski sessions.

The skate portion is on the frozen Rideau Canal and approximately 8 km. It is not a groomed skating rink and promises to be rocky and I would seed myself at the back of the “mass start”. The FAQ warns that if you fall, to pull your arms around your body. It’s a gruesome thought the FAQ did not delve into if you did get caught down on the ice. Some people have nice and sharp speed skates! I would merely have to get over being a sissy, daunted by the rough ice and find my pace that is swift enough and efficient.

The ski portion takes place in a park groomed for cross-country skiing. When I cross-country skiied once back in high school (and subsequently decided to ski), I learned that my ability to skate really helped. The danger is that I would be woefully inefficiently on the 8 km course and waste energy I need for the last leg.

The run portion is back on the canal and thus on ice with a portion on snow in a park. I think crampons (that I have never before worn) would be a good idea. While 5 km is not hard, it follows the ski portion that could wipe me out.

The fastest time was around 1:20 and the average was 1:40. I scrolled to the bottom of the results list to see how much company I would have around the 2:00 mark. ;)

It wasn’t until Friday when I finally got to vent to NPY about this burning desire to register, how this darned item dropped into my Ottawa Bucket List when I thought I had cleared it. Of course, level-headed as he is, he did not advise me to find a way to race next year. But he said we could do it together and I know it won’t happen for years, but I’m holding him to that!

On this day..