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Race Result

Racer: Aaron Schwartzbard
Race: Esprit Triathlon
Date: Saturday, September 18, 2004
Location: Montreal, --
Race Type: Triathlon - Ironman
Age Group: Male 25 - 29
Time: 10:37:08
Overall Place: 11 / 70
Age Group Place: 2 / 4
Comment: Windy and chilly - 1:04:48 / 4:42 / 6:17:11 / 2:18 / 3:08:10

Race Report:

After Placid this year, a friend from Ottawa convinced a few of us to come up to Montreal for the Esprit Triathlon. I flew in to Ottawa on Thursday night, and Joanne (the one who convinced us to do the race) and Andy (to whom jo affectionately refers as her Man-Bitch) picked me up. Friday, jo and I drove to Montreal. Andy (who would be chief spectator) arrived later. Terry (aka, uncle terry, unka skari, etc) and Krista (aka, Schep (for those of you who did IMUSA this year, yes this is the schep of "touch schep's underwear for good luck" fame)) arrived later still, having driven up from Boston.

Saturday morning, we arrived at the race site a good 20 minutes before the start of the race. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the Esprit race, it deserved some explanation. There are actually a bunch of races during the day. Esprit is the IM distance race. There's also the Demi-Esprit (half IM), an olympic distance race, a sprint distance race, and collegiate championships (oly distance). Races start through the day (up to late afternoon), and all the races use the same course. "How is that possible," you ask? The race is in Montreal. Actually, it's on a small man-made island in the St. Lawrence river. The swim is in the Olympic rowing basin, which is kinda like a swimming pool, but it's 50 meters wide, and 2000 meters long. Spectators can literally walk along the side, and watch you swim the whole way. And since it's a rowing basin, there are lines under water to follow (like at Placid, but without the crowds to fight). The swim for the Esprit is a two lap dealy. After the second lap, you run up to the transition area, right in front of the boat house, grab your bike, and enter the Formula-1 Race Track that is literally right next to the rowing basin.

The track has very nice road conditions. One side (next to the rowing basin) is mostly straight and flat, and the other side has a few twists and turns, with some short, shallow rises and declines (1-2% grade at most). Since it's a closed course, you don't have to stay to the right. Riders spread out across the road (about three lanes wide), and you are permitted to ride with other people (side by side). People from different races are entering and exiting the course all day, and that keeps it interesting and fun. For the Esprit, it's 41 times around the track. (It's 20, nine and four for the demi, olympic and sprint races, respectively.) Then back to the transition area.

The run starts with a short (50-ish meters) out and back, then it's nine times around the olympic basin. It's especially cool when you're running down one side of the basin --- look to your right, and you see people starting the swim for one of the races, look to your left, and see people on the track, riding their loop-dee-loops, look ahead and behind, and see folks running.

The day started with a temperature of about 50 degrees F (~10 or 11 C), and got up to the low or mid 60s when the sun was out (~16C). It would have been really nice if it hadn't been for the wind. We had pretty steady wind throughout the day. There weren't more than a few times during the day when I was warm. On the bike and run, one side of the course was into the wind. The bike was more sheltered, but making the turn into the wind on the run was pretty awful. You knew that life would suck for the next 2000 meters.

My only concern for my race was the swim. I kinda messed up my shoulder during Great Eastern (more precisely, during a FALL at Great Eastern (even more precisely, during the LANDING of a fall at Great Eastern)). I hadn't swum for two and a half weeks, and my shoulder was still bugging me. I worried that I'd be doing 2.4 miles of one-arm drill. With only about 70 people doing the Esprit, the field thinned out pretty quickly on the swim. Within 30 meters, I was by myself. I didn't know if I was fast or slow. I could only do a sort of half pull with my left arm due to my shoulder, but otherwise, I felt fine. About a minute or two before finishing the first loop, I looked over to see the Demi-Esprit racers starting. Since they start 30 minutes after the Esprit, that meant I had a 32-ish minute first loop. That's within acceptable operating parameters. The second loop was a little more exciting, since I felt like I was flying along, as I moved my way up through the slower half IM racers.

T1 was most un-hurried. I wasn't really in race mode yet. That's good, since I had some trouble with my wetsuit. I couldn't quite work my left should to get it off. When I finally did get it off, I decided that this would be a day for a lot of clothing on the bike.

Not much to report about the bike. It was a nice ride, but I never had much power. The first loop seemed to be just a bit over nine minutes. No worries, I'm just getting warmed up. Next loop, same thing. And after that, and after that... I never got any faster and I never got any slower. Occasionally, I'd have a slightly faster or slower loop, but I think that was due more to variability in the wind than anything else. Six loops in 56 minutes. I lost count of my loops (they have timing mats by the "hairpin turn," and they keep track of your loops for you, but unless you ask, they only tell you when you're on your last loop), but every time another 56 minutes passed, I was back on track. It wasn't my fastest or slowest IM ride, but since it was a flat course, I think I gotta call it my worst IM bike performance. Six-friggin-seventeen. Sure, I haven't been riding much (uhh, 39 miles total in the three weeks preceding this race), but how is that possible? I mean, not that I expected anything blazing fast, but I had a weak ride at Placid (a MUCH more difficult course), and I was only eight minutes faster here.

Oh well, it's only 112 miles. Then the fun... The marathon. I started with 19 minute laps around the basin, but settled into 20 minute laps. That'd give me a three hour marathon. I would have expected some folks --- maybe someone in the sprint race? --- to give me a run for my money. But no one was moving at a similar speed, and no one passed me. Making the turn into the wind every lap, I started to debate when I'd begin taking walking breaks. When the wind was at my back, I'd think, "Homey don't need no walking breaks!" The last couple laps, I did end up walking a little, and I did a few 22-23 minute laps. Of course there were the mental games. "This is lap six... Finish this, then lap seven is my last 'junk' lap. I'll run lap eight to get the arm band that signifies the last lap. Then lap nine is the victory lap."

During lap nine, I was passed by a couple of women in the collegiate champs. They were flying. And, I hope you'll forgive me for saying, but there are worse folks to watch going by, if'n you know what I mean.

Anyhoo, it was all good clean fun. I suppose I got a new IM PR. And I had the fastest run split (by about nine minutes). Aside from the Ben & Jerry repeats on Sunday, that's the whole story. Any question? Class dismissed.