Défi de L'Île de Montréal
128 km on inline skates
Hi everyone and thanks to the whole organisation for that fantastic day. I've been enjoying all the stories of people who took part in the Défi, so here's mine...
Friday night I call my girlfriend to go see a movie, I get the answering-machine. She calls back later to say she's resting because next day she's going to skate the Défi. I tell her I'm interested, I'll call you when I get back from the cinema.
I'm really interested in doing it, but I haven't skated in 3 weeks and I suspect I'll be getting to bed pretty late, but since I love skating and I've been wanting to do the Défi for the last 2 years, I say to myself, let's go for it this year, just for fun.
Saturday morning, 5h00, Martine picks me up (which lets me get another half-hour of sleep). 5h30 after registering, as I leave the Auditorium I notice some women putting on their skates and just for a joke I say, "Hey, didn't I forget something -- MY SKATES?" Everybody laughs, but when I get back to the truck it suddenly hits me, I really did leave my skates at home! Martine says you're not getting out of it like that, let's go get them (I live on the South Shore, I was thinking I'd rather get a taxi and just go home and sleep). I thought I'd left my skates just outside the house, so I was afraid somebody might have taken them though there aren't many people around at that hour of the morning. We get to my place, no skates outside, I go inside... phew, there they are. So with a high-speed drive there and back we ended up starting the race a little late...
The first few kilometers were intoxicating, there's something magic about the darkness that makes you forget the passage of time, and since we'd started late, nobody passed us, but we passed quite a few, which was very encouraging. But after barely 20 km I started getting incredible cramps in the front of my thighs. I said to Martine, "don't wait for me," I knew I'd just slow her down. I was actually thinking to myself that I'd put up with the pain till the first checkpoint, then drop out. I slowed down quite a bit and skated more upright instead of bent over the way I usually do. Then I decided I wouldn't drop out until the second checkpoint, I was going slower and slower, not passing people anymore, in fact they were passing me. Finally I managed to hide from the wind behind a beautiful blonde with grey-blue eyes (actually I'm not sure about the color of her eyes because I was behind all the time). That helped me to recover a little, and my cramps eased off. I have to thank her because I don't know if I could have finished otherwise. I was so wrapped up in my troubles that I didn't even ask her name, but I'm she knows she'll recognize herself in this story.
After the second checkpoint I was alone again. Most of the time I didn't have any pain anymore, but I wondered if I'd gone off the course because for nearly an hour I didn't see anyone. I kept looking for those little yellow arrows...
Checkpoint three at last, and that's when I decide -- halfway there, might as well continue! Then checkpoint four, which came up surprisingly fast. It was 11h50, I still had 6 hours to finish the last 28 km, I could actually go sleep in the park for an hour, but there was somebody already doing that so I went on. I decided to push harder, but there wasn't much energy in my stroke and the cramps came back thanks to having to work against the wind. By then I kind of appreciated the red lights. And at 2h16 I finished at last, making a time of 8:16; I was pretty happy.
The moral of this story: preparation is really important. If I'd been properly prepared I would have had a better finishing time and a lot less pain to get it. For me the day was more of a moral test than a physical one. But one thing for sure, next year I won't have any trouble at all to beat my record! I look forward to seeing everyone again at the starting line next year (this time I won't forget my skates).
P.S. Congratulations to Martine for finishing in 6:46 with 4-wheel skates, in spite of starting late thanks to me. Imagine what you'll do in 2002 with speedskates and starting on time...