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The Summer Canada Games
Standing on the wharf, after being introduced with a run-down from where the other competitors were waiting, I could not tell what emotion(s) I was experiencing. This was it; I was at the C Games about to start the biggest race of my whole life. I’d been training for this day --this moment-- for as long as I could remember. The realization of being here had only just started to kick in. With my right knee bent in front, left one back, I was frozen in the moment. I drew incredibly deep into myself the moments before the start. So nervous; people watching; loads of cameras; super nervous. “I am the youngest in the first triathlon ever in C Games”, I repeated to myself. Man, was I freaking out, but so psyched to be there. Okay I said to myself, only coming up with a strategy now. Be the first in the water, dive shallow, sprint, then let the others pass and catch the drag off them for as long as possible. Perfect. You have the plan. You can do it! Oh my goodness, I’m at C Games, this has to be a dream. Holy crow, don’t mess up. “On your marks!” the megaphone announced. My toes curled on the edge of the dock. Everyone was now lined up. I took a deep breath held it in, my heart racing. The horn blew.
Bam! As a million things raced through my mind, two things happened; I did a perfect dive being first in, and my heart stopped for what seemed like a very long moment. People passed me and I thought of all the times I’d gotten up at five am to drag my body over to the pool. 5:50 am I’m stretching on the pool deck at the Indoor Pool. Walk over to the shallow end jump in and push off. Working hard and pushing myself ‘to be my best. ’ I was now heading on my way back to the dock finishing the loop, going to the last buoy. I had it in sight, now I was just focusing on keeping in a straight line kicking like crazy. And 1,2,3 breath and look forward. 1,2 look 3,4, breathe. Going on for the rest of this rapid time-consuming 750m. I was now approaching the ramp up to the wharf. The ramp was the tricky part. Thinking back to the day before when I had practised this, it had not gone well. Don’t trip, just get up and quick step till transition. I reached the ramp, grabbed the finger holds in the front, got my feet placed under me and went a couple more holds. Let my arms swing. I was running now on the flat deck my toes hurt. I had clumsily knocked them under, while getting up, hadn’t noticed at the time, but oh well.
As I approached the transition zone I tried to think of what order to do everything. I had now peeled off my cap and goggles and was fighting to get seaweed off. As I came in, I simultaneously put on my helmet and slipped my feet in my bike shoes. Then quick I snapped my helmet and bent down then snapped both shoes at the same time. Started running with my bike, crossed the line and then, jumped on my bike. Clipped my right foot in, and then started pedaling. About twenty meters away, at the first turn I clipped my other foot in and spun my legs like crazy, climbing the ‘incline’.
Elizabeth, my ski coach always said that when we came to a hill to climb. She would say ‘ That’s not a hill, it’s a slight incline!’ This always helped get my butt in gear”
I was over the ‘incline’ now, going down. Three times around this bike course I told myself. As a very nervously went down on my aero-bars. That’s when I looked around and noticed loads of people watching, that threw me off balance, swerving me to the left, though I very hastily recovered. I was still just trekking along pedaling away, not worrying about keeping an even pace. This was pretty much give ‘er all. At the turn around point it was a sharp 360°. Which had me worried, because if you didn’t slow or if you hadn’t judged the corner right you’d end up in bales of hard hay? I slowed right down as I approached and just made the turn, stupidly coming very close to the edge of a hay bale at the end of the turn. Pick up the speed, pick up the speed.
At this point it was sinking in a little more that I was at C Games. I now was done my first bike loop, going past the big crowd again and circling back around. Ok same pace as the last one. Keep it up. More and more during the bike course I was really starting to realize I was there doing my big race. Second 360°, yep no problem. On my way back in on this second loop thoughts of being here, keep popping in my mind. The big rally coming over on the bus. Arriving and seeing all the differences in the size of people from different provinces and trying to guess what sport they played. I was passing the crowd again and now heading for my final loop. Keep it up, same pace, it’s going to hurt but… big whoop.
Opening ceremonies was something that had got me ready and excited. Walking around to the front of the arena and there, in front of me was Steven Harper. How cool is that!! Holy jumpin’s, that can’t be my heart skipped a beat, this is the guy who is the face of our country! In a trance, I somehow got to the other side of my row and shook his hand. “Good job” he said. Then to my surprise, the Governor General, Michael Jean, was not even ten meters away. “ Good Luck” she said. Wow that did not just happen. Wait it did, that’s amazing!
I’m at C Games. It sunk in. It really just hit me like a little jolt of extra energy. I was now trying my hardest, all my stress released, no longer worried about making it or training after this. I was just giving it my all.
I pushed myself on the way back to the dismount. A bit slower than my first laps, but still the same effort. My legs were shaky getting off the bike, it was a clumsy dismount, even for me, but it was fast. Running with my bike I hung it up in its appropriate spot. I switched my bike shoes for sneakers, whipped off my helmet and took a long sip of Gatorade.
I pushed myself out of the transition zone, running hard. My leg had that feeling of power that was being trapped inside and needed more determination to me set free. I had 5 laps to do. On my third lap my legs were really starting to feel it. The third lap was the toughest, somehow I made it though. I was thinking about what it would be like to not finish the race, then thought that can’t happen. Fourth lap I was back on pace. Pushing hard but knowing that this was it the third and finally stage of the race. When I came back for the fifth lap I was pushing it like crazy kick it in another gear! 1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2 ect…! The last lap was long and enjoyable. Getting the euphoric high off the energy I was putting forth.
I saw the finish in front of me, about 600 meters away. In about 100 meters I’m going to make my sprint. Wow was that ever a fast 100 meters, now I was giving everything left I had. My legs were draining, collar bone killing me and the 38° weather not helping me get to that line. Those final moments crossing the line were going in slow motion, I was analyzing everything. Then I crossed the finish line. This unexplainable feeling came over me when I stopped. I took me a good eight or nine step after crossing the line to stop. Then it was as if this warm electrical wave crept through me, coming from my back. It started at my middle and hit head and toes at the same time. I was now dizzy and extremely exhausted, but sooo happy I could cry. So excited, still nervous, lots of people watching me in the crowd. Seeing my Mum and hugging my team mates. Most of all I was indescribably proud of myself! This had, at first, been unimaginable, then a dream. Then a dream with possibility, then a distant goal, then a realistic goal, and now, finally, a reality.
In retrospect, the biggest thing I learned from this is that when you accomplish a challenge you set for yourself, the satisfaction is, unquestionably, the greatest prize one can ever receive.