When I finally did arrive at the hotel in Niteroi, Brazil (just outside Rio) all became clear. I was in heaven. It was blissfully warm, the salt from the ocean permeated the air, there were people out everywhere. I was immediately brought back to days past when I lived in Buenos Aires Argentina. It felt like I came out of a winter cocoon in London Ontario and once again was alive! I had only 2 1/2 days in Brazil though so I really had to make the most of it.
I met Rachael and Gabrielle Edwards whom I was racing with for "Team Canada". They were the youngest competitors by far but had maturity to handle the whole experience like pros. Saturday, the day before the race, we went to the ocean to have a quick swim. We stood on the edge of the ocean and looked up in the distance to see the infamous Jesus looking down from his perch. If that is not awesome I am not sure what is! We practised our starts and did one leg draining run exit on the soft white sand. We were miles away from winter jackets, layering our bodies with cloths, having our lungs freeze on a cold run. For Gab and Rachael it was a 60 degree difference in temperature. They had prepared for Brazil with steaming bathroom trainer rides... oh Canadians are a hearty bunch!
The afternoon was spent having a delicious Brazilian buffet lunch - rice and beans. Then we had an opportunity to ride the 0.6 km circuit. Yup - try doing that 6 times. If you didn't have bike handling skills, good luck. Honestly I was hopping on my new Specialized bike - I am still very much in the honeymoon period and wondering if it could get any better. Ryder (my bike) is amazing and I am sure our relationship will only get stronger with time!
The race was FUN. There was absolutely no pressure on any of the athletes and because GloboTV had paid for absolutely everything, everyone just seemed to be super stoked to be there and do what they love. Don't get me wrong - we were all out there to win but it was in a fantastic competitive spirit. I wish all races could be like this one. The format of the race was a super super sprint x3. The time between races was based on what GloboTV had for commercial breaks. Each race took about 15 minutes to complete. My first race was a little sloppy as I didn't buckle my helmet properly on the first try having to stop and fumble with it before leaving T1. I came back though on the bike to capture 4th. Gabrielle had a stellar first race placing 3rd. The next two races kept getting better for me. No more fumbles in transition and I took 3rd and then 2nd. Gabrielle and Rachael did awesome putting everything they had out there. It was enough to capture 2nd place as a team. I was super happy and proud of us.
The FAST Triathlon in Brazil is a huge event. After the race we were treated to full celebrity status signing t-shirts, scrap paper, giving away our swim caps, our disposable timing chips.. I have also never had so many pictures taken of me in my life. It was just fun.
The afternoon was spent going to an incredible beach with our fantastic and beautiful Argentine competitors and Jorge (lone and lucky guy!). It was awesome to be speaking in spanish again, sucking on a frozen coconut milk stick and wading in the ocean without a care in the world. I celebrated the 2nd place finish with a Quilmes and laughed freely. Oh South America how I have missed you.
And so went my weekend trip to Brazil. It makes me super excited for the season and racing. The work in between is hard but oh so worth it. And so it goes. Back onto the trainer until I get back to my beloved Austin. Soon. Very soon.