Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Days Leading up to Challenge St. Andrews

The Journey takes us to Canada for a half-iron distance race on July 6, 2014.

Thursday July 3: Off to Vacationland! 
Three days before race day.

Webb: By all estimates, it was going to take us 6 hours to drive from Boston to St Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. We decided we would break the drive in half by visiting Elle's mom in Maine. We had a nice visit marked by a gift of beer (Trap Stacker by Monhegan Brewing Co.), the first of many appearances of salmon at a meal and a visit by her neighbor Ginger, who brought a gift of ginger from her garden. All of these things are true.

Friday July 4th: Happy Birthday America! Hello Canada!
Two days before race day.

Elle: It had finally arrived. I've been excited about this trip ever since we first met Tressa & Scott, the race managers, at the Boston Triathlon Expo over a year ago. And here we were. Driving to Canada. And driving. And driving. And driving. Sadly, no moose sightings.

We finally arrived at the border and it was eerily quiet. It was 2-o'clock in the afternoon, and not a single car in sight. So we just pulled right up to the gate. There was definitely a race happening, right? We even asked the border patrol guy if he had seen any other cars with bikes on them, and he said, "Nope, you're the first today." But then as we pulled away, we saw another vehicle heading our way with a sick triathlon bike on it. I said to Webb, "Look! That's someone going to the race, for sure." At which point Webb took a look at the car and said, "Um, I'm pretty sure that's Nate. I know that bike." Nate, as in my coach and our South End neighbor. Really? What are the odds?!? So Nate & family pulled in behind us on the highway. And then I sent him a text: "Nate, if you keep drafting off us you're going to have to serve a penalty."

Webb: That's triathlon racing humor. (Note: Nate was responsible and did not see the text until he arrived at the hotel.)

Elle: Less than 30km later we drove into St. Andrews, a beautiful peninsula that runs south into the Bay of Fundy. We took a right at Tim Horton's junction, much to Webb's delight.

Webb: I do enjoy visiting Tim's.

Elle: The Algonquin Resort is beautiful. I was so excited. There were triathletes, bikes, and sponsors everywhere. It was great. We had an hour before the Simon Whitfield talk, so we checked in, registered for the race, and checked out the Expo. We started to head over for the talk, but, d'oh! Apparently we were in a different time zone and thus had just missed Simon Whitfield. Bummer! Instead we ended up talking to Ryan and Sarah from Hammer Nutrition-Canada. They were in a big, pimped-out Hammer RV they had been driving on their tour through Canada, and this was their biggest event. We headed back to the expo (I needed to pick up some Body Glide) and checked out the Ganong Chocolate booth. We learned some interesting history about the company and the chocolate. And, hey, free chocolate!

Mmmm, butter
After the expo we went down to Water Street, a quaint area full of shops, restaurants and other attractions. We had dinner at Harbour Front. Um, the fish was good. There were other athletes there, and just about everywhere you went. The town isn't big, so we were running into triathletes everywhere, and they were usually pretty easy to spot. After dinner we returned to the resort and relaxed in the grand hall/lobby/lounge area, a beautiful space with comfy couches and chairs, a piano player, and a host of board games to choose from. There was a Scrabble board set up on one of the tables, so we sat there to play. Just as were were settling in, who walks by but Rinny & TO. Triathlon royalty. I was star struck. They were heading out to the porch with drinks in hand. Everyone was having a good time! Just as we started the game, a couple walked up and asked to join. Of course we said, 'Sure!'
Then who walks by, but Karen Smyers. Of couse. We said 'hello' and had a quick chat about whether or not Webb's new triathlon suit was race legal for Tri Canada/ITU rules. Turns out it was. So we drank, played, and chatted with our new Scrabble friends (Cameron and Kirsten) for quite some time. Long enough for Karen to walk by some time later and say, "Are you guys still drinking?"

Saturday July 5th: Arthur.
The day before race day.

Webb: I awoke early Saturday morning. Elle, one of the great sleepers of our or any era was not going to get up. I grabbed the iPad mini and my headphones to kill sometime with Netflix. The wifi was not cooperating at all. Eventually I walked into the bathroom and flipped the light switch. Nothing. I looked outside through the rain spattered window and saw the wind bending trees. Hurricane Arthur was here and the power had gone out.

Creepy, dark, hotel hallway
We all knew we were at least close to Arthur's track. The question was how close. The race organizers had already postponed the sprint triathlon from Saturday to Sunday to run concurrently with the long course race. I opened our door and stepped out into the near pitch blackness of the hotel hallway. Yep, power was definitely out. I returned to the room and slowly became stir crazy while Elle slept peacefully, unawares. I decided to go down to the lobby to see what was what. I peered into the darkness looking for twins and tricycles. Not seeing any, I worked my way down to the quiet bustle on the first floor. Surprisingly the hotel staff pulled together a nice buffet of fruit, granola and various breads and were setting up for scrambled eggs and crêpes. I'm not sure how they cooked them. Probably sterno fuel and patience. After eating breakfast and socializing with the Buttricks and other stranded triathletes I went up to rouse Elle.

Elle: The next morning was a little rough. As I was sleeping off drinks from the night before, a
The downed trees, responsible
for the hotel power outage
hurricane was ravaging the coast of Canada, taking down trees and power lines with it. And resulting in a loss of power for the resort, along with most of the town and whole region. Now it was an adventure! The staff finally set up candles in the long, dark hallways of the hotel, while most people congregated in the grand hall area. Everyone was playing board games and cards while the piano player just played on. It seriously felt like we were in some strange movie mix-up of "The Titanic" and "The Shining". The storm raged outside, dashing any pre-race swim/bike/run plans. But we were all in it together, so NO ONE got to workout. Webb and I jumped in the car to drive the bike course. What a mess. There was tree carnage everywhere. We went to a neighboring town, St. Stephen, to a diner for some lunch, which apparently everyone else was doing, because the diner was among the few places with power.

Webb: The diner may have been the only place with a working generator because it was mad busy. The menu did not have many appetizing options for this pescatarian. Despite most pre-race nutrition advice, I opted for the plate of ruffage. How long could it take to get a plate of raw vegetables? About an hour when an entire town is crammed into the same diner.

Elle: Later we returned to Water Street to have dinner at the Red Herring. As we were sitting there, another couple walked in, clearly there for the race. The man had on a Sufferfest shirt. We raised a glass to him and waited until after dinner to introduce ourselves: Sufferlandrian's unite! Richard and Jane had traveled from Nova Scotia to do the race. And it turns out that Richard was not only a Sufferlandrian,
he had done Sufferfestukah with us! The Sufferlandrian community is a tight one, for sure.

We got back to the hotel room to get ready for the next day, putting all the race number stickers where they belonged, packing our transition bags, and applying race number tattoos. Which I'm usually pretty good at doing. But in the rush, I applied my leg tattoo upside-down. Classy!