K-Town Tri Weekend: Here We Come

After planning for so long, it’s a bit funny to have a race just looming right ahead. But suddenly it’s Thursday –and on Saturday morning, we head to Kingston for my ‘A’ Race, the duathlon at the Multi-Sport Canada Kingston Triathlon.

The Sprint Duathlon at Niagara was a good tune-up race a couple weeks ago. My mind wasn’t in the right place heading into the race, but I still felt good  about my performance overall, especially on the bike, where I regained some focus, and on the first run, where I matched my Guelph Lake I 5i50 sprint speeds, proving to myself that it wasn’t a fluke. Now if only I could match my sprints from last August!

I had some renewed IT band issues for two weeks before the race, so couldn’t ride much leading up to it, but the rest apparently did wonders — as I felt fresher, physically, than I have yet this season. Unfortunately, the funk didn’t fully clear, and I found myself questioning a few times during the runs exactly why I race, and why I am not getting better at it. More on that another time.

In the week and a half since, I have had some good recovery workouts. Unfortunately I also had a big collision at hockey this Monday night that has my back and tailbone screaming. I’ll be attempting a short run tonight and a moderate bike ride tomorrow to prove to myself that I can gallop and hold aero position long enough to race. I am hopeful, as time also continues to heal, as does Arnica — and a lot of time with my physio yesterday. Heck, there’s always Advil on race day. Wouldn’t be the first time.

And in addition to the race itself, I’m looking forward to a weekend in my hometown. Kingston is a gorgeous city at any time of year, but especially at the height of summer. Good friends Alex and Carsten are meeting us there, so Carsten can do the long-distance triathlon, and it’ll be the first time I get to see a friend in competition, even if we are in different events.

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Kingston Triathlon set-up for 2015. Looking forward to seeing this in person, at last! (Photo by Multi Sport Canada)

Right now, it feels a bit “normal” in terms of race lead-up, but I suspect by Saturday night and Sunday morning I’ll be feeling fairly nostalgic, and fairly emotionally charged.

Never, in my adolescence, when the Kingston Triathlon was gaining its footing as an iconic event in multisport, did I imagine I’d be a competitor there. Racing along the waterfront downtown, and out the Lasalle Causeway and Highway 2 by the same places I spent a lot of time with highschool friends will bring a lot of familiar turf in an entirely new context. Pretty exciting.

If last year’s race results are any indication, it’s a fast course, raced by some fast people. The distances are a bit odd, and with a 4km first run I will have to work hard to get the pacing right, especially in order to save something for the 7km final run. Given that I hate running so much, this will be a real challenge. I’ll try to keep up with the middle of the pack, as usual, and also try to enjoy the experience for what it is.

What it is, I have to say, is entirely cool. And given that the last few races have been tough mentally, I’m looking forward to having a positive to focus on.

You don’t have to feel good to race well, as I’ve quoted before (not my quote, so don’t be too impressed). But it sure is more fun to race when you do feel good — both mentally and physically. I’m prepared to let the weekend at the Kingston Tri be an uplifting one, no matter the race outcome.

 

 

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RIP, Du-Dog

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Du-Dog, resting up in the hotel before my Niagara race in 2014. That’s a Queen-size bed. He was a King-size presence in our lives.

On July 2, at a very early hour in the morning, the McKnapps bid a sorrowful goodbye to our gentle giant, Findley. At nine and a half years old, Findley was ill enough that we had to make the tough call that further intervention would have been strictly for our sake, and not for his.

Findley was our best companion, resident comedian and truly a Great Dane extraordinaire. In his prime, he went everywhere we did — hotels, family visits, cottages, friend’s houses, stores and banks, you name it. Visitors to our house would be greeted with a carefully chosen toy, every time — picture a 130 pound dog rooting through his toy basket to pick just the right stuffy to give whoever came in, whether they were a friend, family, or gruff contractor. He was so used to being commented on in the street that we realized he was answering to the word “beautiful” as if it was his name.

As a well-behaved and well-socialized dog, Findley also came along to many of my races — and after I finished each one, I’d expand my race belt, strap it around his 44″ chest, and he would wear my bib on his back, walking around the site as Du-Dog.

But for every good moment a dog brings you — and there are so very many wonderful and rich moments — in the end, you have to endure the one very worst moment as you say goodbye. It’s heart-wrenching and painful and terrible, even though it’s the right thing to do.

Now, after almost a decade living with this great Great Dane, and just two weeks without, we’re still missing every tail whip, every snore and grumble, every jingle of the collar and tags, every flap of the ears, and every goofy gallop around the back yard.

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Handsome and famous like a rock-star, but camera-shy, always. Findley refuses to cooperate for a post-race photo at Orillia, August 2015.

I’m slated to race the sprint duathlon this Sunday at Niagara. The last time I did this course was in 2014. It was just my second race, and Findley came with us, as he had for my first, at Guelph Lake. Though Grimsby is just an hour from home, we stayed overnight at a nearby hotel, where Findley had his own bed to relax on. It was good he rested up for race day — a day where he was possibly one of the most popular attractions on site.

So now we return to Niagara, but without our companion. To be honest, if I hadn’t registered already there’s no way I’d sign up now. My heart is still heavy and my mind just isn’t ready for the intensity of a race. It doesn’t help that physically, my legs are strained and my IT band is causing me a lot of grief, even after a layoff. But I signed up in June, and I will race.

Just, sadly, without my Du-Dog.

RIP, Findley. You were a very good dog.