If I had to pick one race that stands out as my big “eye opening” race that brought me into Elite triathlon, I don’t think I could. It was more of a combination of minor events that paved the pathway to where I am now. I could go on for pages about each race teaching me something new but I’m going to break it down into 3 key races.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Saunders Subaru Victoria Triathlon 2013
This was my first official year in triathlon. I came into this year with just one race under my belt and a lot of bloated self confidence. I thought because I spent the winter doing a small amount of training I had morphed into an endurance machine. Boy was I painfully wrong. I got absolutely destroyed. The biggest shock to me was barely finishing the bike leg of this sprint triathlon and hearing the announcer call out the first finisher to cross the line… before I even started my run. I was baffled at how fast these guys were and it completely destroyed me. I always look back at this race as the moment I was slapped in the face with reality. I was so new to this sport and it was humbling to watch these guys and girls absolutely crush me. Without the slightest clue of what professional racing was, I assumed the top athletes here had to be professionals.
Living Sky Triathlon 2015
Two years after my initial shock of this sport I decided to try and qualify for the 2016 Age Group World Championships. To do so, I needed a top 2 finish in my age group at the living sky triathlon in Saskatoon. At this point, I viewed Age Group Worlds as the pinnacle of triathlon achievement (still no idea what professional triathlon was). A friend of mine had qualified the year before and watching him talk about being on “Team Canada” made me really want to go for it. I had no idea there was a difference between being on the age group team and being on the Olympic team. Living Sky was the first race that I actually did quite well in. I finished first in my age group and snagged that beloved worlds spot. I was so excited to automatically qualify and secure my spot to Cozumel World Championships. I look back at this race as my first step into competitive racing. This race got me interested in what elite racing was and this entire new world of ITU draft legal racing, which was completely foreign to me at this point. I was still far from being at what I would call a competitive level, but it was what first peaked my interest.
Ironman 70.3 Hawaii
My first and only 70.3 that I’ve ever done was pretty much a disaster. I signed up to this race on a whim when a friend of mine guilted me into entering. I hadn’t done anything close to these distances in training. This race was a smorgasbord of rookie mistakes that I needed to learn the hard way, but I won’t talk about every little mistake I made in this race but rather why this race was a mistake to do in general. I didn’t have a coach at this point and this was before I really knew what short course racing was. When I started in triathlon, IRONMAN was the only thing I really knew about it, and I think this is a common problem with a lot of new triathletes. I was “coached” through a triathlon training book that my friend was using, and I really didn’t have any accountability to finish workouts or to even start them. I didn’t put the work in and I paid for it in a big way. This race not only showed me that you have to put in the work to do well but it also showed my how jumping into long distance racing can be a big mistake for new triathletes.
Even though I technically started triathlon back in 2012, I don’t consider my triathlon “career” officially starting until I jumped head first into it. In 2015 I got a coach, qualified for worlds, and dedicated myself to being better everyday. Looking back at my chubby, slow, over-confident past self, I am proud with where I am today. I didn’t start this sport until I was almost 20, and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. I’ve learnt a lot in this sport over my many mistakes and hiccups and honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way. In my opinion, the best way to learn is to fail.