off-road gold

On Sunday, I did my first triathlon in a year and a half, and my first off-road triathlon ever. I pretty much got pregnant right around IRONMAN Argentina in December 2017, and so coasted into 2018 with nary a finish line in sight. My goals went from sub-4 hour marathons to finding Vancouver’s best muffin and crushing a blue ski run.

There was exercise, sure, but for the first time in ages, there was no real purpose to it beyond general health and well-being. There was nothing to quantify but fresh air, conversation, and insightful podcasts.

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I joke that getting pregnant saved me from signing up for another IRONMAN. I did eight of the darn things in five years; I was scared of who I was without training for one in my life. But there was War and Peace to read! Kimchi and sourdough bread to make! Mountains to climb and languages to learn! Over the years, their glitter proved to be no match for the way IRONMAN training made me feel, day in and day out, whether my races themselves lead me to pots-o’-gold or a puddle of spilled milk.

On Sunday, I found a pot of gold with my name on it.IMG_4406

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The days leading up to the inaugural Whistler X Triathlon were busy with work, family, baking muffins for the volunteers, and volunteering myself with set up. There’s something about your friendly neighborhood sprint races, however (which this race was in every sense), is that they are so low-key. I almost forgot that “race logistics” could be reduced to packing a backpack and riding down to the race in 10 minutes. I forgot that you could do a race where “race nutrition” consisted of breakfast and a sip of Gatorade on the run. I forgot that a swim start could feel like jumping in a lake with 80 of your training buddies. NBD all the way.

Two days before the race I realized that most of my race gear—bags, quick laces, onesies (a term borrowed from fellow mountain mama Christine, who also raced)—was buried in our storage locker beneath art supplies and boxes of cookbooks. Thankfully this wasn’t my first rodeo and I didn’t stress. A pair of old tri shorts I’d relegated to trainer rides and a running T would do just fine.

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I also learned that the shocks on my beloved new (to me) bike were shot. Thankfully, James and I are similar in height and with a quick pedal swap—this newbie is still riding flats—his cushy 29er was mine for the day. I told myself I had to finish in under 2 hours or it would turn into a pumpkin.

The Juneuary we’d been having broke to the kind of morning that only happens in the mountains: sunlight bouncing between the lake and bright white remaining alpine snow to create pure magic. Having Felix, my 9-month-old, at one of my triathlons for the first time was a huge highlight. The music, the smell of wet, trampled grass, the spandex and whirring wheels turned Lost Lake Beach into something that felt strangely familiar to me.

Whistler X Triathlon. Photo by Scott Robarts

Whistler X Triathlon. Photo by Scott Robarts

It sounds dramatic, but in a way, I was home.

I swam the 750 meters in under 10 minutes, struggled into my biking clothes in T2 (where was my onesie?!) and was off on the course I’d practiced pretty much exclusively since deciding to do this event. (I hadn’t touched my road bike in months. My tri bike? Still in the bike bag in the—you guessed it, storage locker.) The Lost Lake trails had been the perfect crash course in singletrack and made for a perfect race. Peaches en Regalia, White Gold Traverse, Fountain of Love—in less than two months, I became intimate with every rock, root, and bridge on those trails.

I dismounted with a smile after 50 minutes of pure fun, ready to hit the 5 km run (pure hills!) through Whistler’s shady, lush forests. I felt like a beginner again.

Whistler X Triathlon. Photo by Scott Robarts

Whistler X Triathlon. Photo by Scott Robarts

I wasn’t fast, but I felt strong. I was suddenly in love with mountain biking, trail running, Whistler, and life. (Always the goal of racing.) I pranced out of the forest towards the finish with the spring in my step only a finish arch and a giant digital clock inspires. I hung out for hours, chatting with new friends, filling up on chips and orange slices, and cheering through awards. I proudly collected a medal for placing first in my (likely tiny) age group, and then called James for a pick-up. It was time to celebrate him.

Kudos to James for volunteering and being a single parent for the morning ON HIS BIRTHDAY. (Who does that?!?).

Can I do it again next year?

One thought on “off-road gold

  1. June 16, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Must have felt sooooo good, Jen!!