I had been itching to race! So when I saw that there was a new 70.3 event in Providence, Rhode Island, I was pretty eager to make it happen. During those long computrainer rides in my basement and the subsequent channel surfing during those rides, I had watched a television show called “Providence”. It seemed like a beautiful little area and so, based on a television show that was likely shot in Hollywood, the tickets were booked and off we went.
We flew into Boston and then drove to Providence. En route, we stopped at the Saucony/Striderite headquarters for a visit to meet some of the shoe designers who have been working on a super duper special shoe for me to sample.
Onward to Providence, we settled in and got to know the race course. It is not often that I venture out of my comfort zone to an entirely new race environment and so I had a bit of course familiarization to do. This is a point to point race which is a logistical challenge since the swim takes place about 35 miles from the bike to run transition (and my hotel and comfortable bed!!). But it was worth the drive because the swim was in the gorgeous ocean off of Narrangansett and the ride then meandered along the coastline and through the country towns all the way back to Providence. The ride was breathtaking – literally and figuratively – very scenic with some challenging rolling terrain. The run was out and back in downtown Providence from the State Capitol building to Brown University and up and down this HUGE hill twice.
The 6 a.m. race start meant a very early wake-up call in order to drive to the race start but in reality it was not much different from me driving from the Hilton Waikoloa to Kona on the morning of the Hawaii Ironman. In fact, the drive was a nice little breather before the super stimulation of the race venue.
I had a decent swim and exited the water about 3:30 down on swim speedster and fellow Canadian, Jen Coombs and about 2 minutes down on Andrea Fisher. I felt great on the bike and rode hard. I loved the hills and that was where I made up most of my time on the leaders. I caught Jen during the hilly section – she had been overtaken by Andrea – and then I caught Andrea around the 45 mile mark going up the biggest hill on the course. The last 10 miles were a bit dodgy for a ‘safety-first’ athlete like me. We rode through the outskirts of Providence and I was a bit unnerved by the vehicles and the turns. Seeing a turn sign at 40 kph with brake lights of the stopped cars ahead is much different than seeing an approaching turn at 30 kph while training on my country roads of Caledon. Andrea rode much more aggressively so I was quite happy to have her retake the lead while I feathered my brakes and rode a bit more according to my skill and comfort level.
Onto the run, I felt light and fast. I caught Andrea in the first mile and continued to run hard. I loved running up the monster hill – there were many spectators and that was a nice distraction from the effort. I wanted to run as fast as I could since ultimately every day is a training day for my key Ironman races.
Finishing in front of the State Capitol and winning my first major race of 2008 was very special. While reaching every start and finish line is a victory, capping off a day which felt fast and smooth and mentally effortless with a ‘1st place’ is a super victory. And this win is shared by every single person who helped me get to the start line – starting with my beautiful Dave and ending with the person who challenged me to do a triathlon back in 1989.
Thank you for your support!