Thursday, February 8, 2018

Race 2 Already? Tri-The-Oval 6 Winter Triathlon 2018

February in Halifax means one thing, Tri-the-Oval. And this was year six. More on that later.

Traditionally this also means that horrific weather is on the way, and some brave souls hit the Halifax Commons to prove they are tough and crazy. But what's that? This year the weather was going to be good?

Race morning and we hit a lull between crazy super col the day before and a snow/rain combo to come later that evening. Instead of braving the elements, we showed up to a nice -2C, low wind and dry sidewalks. While there was a hope for a snow shoe this year instead of a run, we weren't tht lcky, and the Commons was a little bare.

So this race is a 5km Skate, 6km Mountain Bike Ride, 4.5km run done in the middle of Halifax. And it is quaintly referred to as the best race that everyone forgets to enter.

We showed up and MC was back (after a year off with good reason) to lead our intrepid group.

 The race briefing was important as the course evolves every year based on conditions. This year the skate was the same (of course), the bike was a combo of paved paths (with some icy bits) and a trek over some bumpy frozen ground (including a hill), and the run was on the sidewalks around the exterior. This was probably the fastest course we have had yet.

  The athletes began to gather at the start line for the skate. James gave us the briefing and soon we were on our way. The ice was perfect. Smooth, low wind, just great. I quickly moved into second to hang with Adam, last year's winner. He is a pretty fast skater and biker, so I knew I had to hang as close as possible to be able to get within striking distance for the run. I stuck with him, but by lap 7 or so I had drifted back a bit.

Ron zoomed through at this point, using his cross country ski powers to show us a thing or two. Eventually I heard my name called for final lap and was relieved. Adam and Ron were mere seconds ahead of me, and I joined them in Transition 1.

A quick switch to  my sneakers (I chose my Salomon trail shoes with low lugs for this day) and I went for my bike. We had to run the bike down a little ramp before the mount line. I had to keep pushing the pace even here though to keep the gap to Adam as small as possible. 

Alas, as I started the ride, Adam pulled out. His hip let him down and that really sucks. I really wanted to crush his dreams on the run and I think my bike was going to be enough to keep up.

As it was, I still had to catch Ron. Within the end of the first lap I managed to sneak by him and pushed the pace. The bike was fun, zooming around the Commons, avoiding ice, tight corners, the "hill". My little Norco loaner that Sportwheels prepped for me was great. Nimble and fast. This course was all about bursts of speed and handling. 

Soon my name was called again, and my 6 laps were done. I zoomed toward Transition 2. 

A quick dismount, bike rack, helmet removal and I was off, though I just about missed the entrance to the run. 

I had a decent lead by this time, and I know that I was probably the fastest runner there, so I could have done a reasonable effort, but this was a race, and darn I wanted to win it with best effort.

Lap 1 of 3 was done at a 3:44 pace, and I felt good. This was probably the best I have felt running off the bike in a long time, and I hope that translates to good things come this summer. 

In the end I managed a 3:51min/km pace for the course. I certainly slowed on that last lap, but this would have translated to a low 19 min 5K time off the bike, and that was nice to see.

At the finish line I was greeted with Java Blend Coffee and great cookies made by Scott, the man that came from behind to claim second with a great run of his own. This as my first win in 6 years of trying, and while the field was small, I was really happy to have accomplished this. Size of field does not diminish effort.

Part of me dreads this race coming up in the middle of winter, but then I remember that this keeps winter interesting and that every single year,  I have a blast (and cookies). So bring it.

Oh and thanks Ron, for keeping up with me for 6 years as the only other fool to head out and hit the ice (well one year it was an ice water mix). This year we won beer! And thanks organizers for keeping this going.

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