Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Another Day at the Races

On Saturday, I competed in my second Echo Challenge, a fund raiser for our local YMCA to help disadvantaged kids go to summer camp and many other important programs run by the Y. Our team finished much better this year, placing 11th of 19 teams. That's not bad, considering we finished last in 2007 and many of the teams are comprised of 20 year old athletes.

Conditions were ideal this year: warm (about 24 C or 75 F) and little wind. The lake was like glass, which was much easier on the swimmers (last year, swimmers had a hard time catching a breath in the meter-high waves). Our swimmer finished ahead of last year's pace, in 13th. Our hill runner did great, finishing in the fastest time, which was tough considering both the competition and the fact that the leg was lengthened by about a kilometer this year.

I was a little nervous about this year's bike ride. On Wednesday, I was doing some hills to train for the event and a combination of new shoes and pedals (the click-in kind, which I've only used once before) and someone in a truck cutting me off on a gravel road up a hill resulted in a nasty crash. I had a lot of gravel-embedded road rash on my right forearm, leg, and back, but the worst part was my shoulder; I landed on my right shoulder and although it didn't hurt much then, by the time I got home it was agony. I got x-rays Thursday morning and fortunately nothing was broken or separated, so it was just soft tissue damage. It was a little better by Saturday morning but still very sore and tight. Fortunately, cycling is all lower body, so I was hoping it wouldn't be too much of a factor. I also have a dark purple bruise the size of a football on my right hip, but there's no pain, so I wasn't worried about it.

This year, I decided to use a road bike rather than a mountain bike and it made a huge difference. It wasn't a very fancy bike -- a $149 no-name brand -- but the lighter frame and much smaller tires really helped. (I did not, however, use the new shoes and pedals.) The other big difference was no head-wind this year. As a result, I felt like I was flying through the race. I passed three other cyclists like they were standing still and felt so strong I didn't even shift down on most of the hills. As they did last year, Peggy, Nick, and friends cheered me on at the start of my leg, drove ahead and cheered me on again, but couldn't beat me to the finish line because of traffic on the narrow, hilly road.

Here's a shot of me just starting off, with my son Nick chasing me:


I finished the 9.45 km race in 16:29, an average of over 34 kph, which I figured was pretty good for an old banged-up guy. It turns out that was the second fastest time of the day, which I was extremely happy about, considering the number of 20 year olds in the race. The only humbling thing was the fastest cyclist finished over a minute ahead of me, and he was in his 60s! He's a serious cyclist, though, with an $8,000 carbon fibre bike and a body that looks like he's made of steel, but he's in my sights for next year.

Here's Nick and I after the race:


Our swimmer from last year was our runner in the 6 km run this year, and he fared much better in this event, finishing 14th. Our canoeists also did much better this year (considering they swamped the canoe last year, they couldn't have done worse), also finishing 14th for their leg.

Echo Challenge raised over $25,000 for the YMCA this year, up significantly from last year. It felt great to have fun, engage my competitive side, and do something worthwhile for the community. I can't wait for next year!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the race. I was glad to see your final time as I was SURE that Nicky was getting ready to pass you by in the first picture. Tracey

Anonymous said...

Well done Doug!

Have a great weekend.


Garry "from Brandon, MB" Bettle