The Cottage Triathlons

For many years, prior to every midsummer festival in Finland, I would complete my own “Cottage Triathlon” to deserve the weekend’s festivities (three pretty hectic days). Every year, the journey would consist of approximately 3 km of swim, 130 km of bike ride, and a 33 km run. Year by year the distance could vary slightly and every year the bike-to-run transition involved delicious soup, fantastic cake, and coffee at my uncle’s home in Salo. In addition, I was always lucky to have some of my friends join me for portions of the ride or run as well to lift my spirits and share some laughs. In most years, the journey was relatively smooth (though of course painful) and straightforward, though with the few following interesting exceptions:

  • One year, one night prior to the midsummer triathlon, I was abruptly informed by my father that a storm was heading towards the cottage, and it would hit the route by the afternoon the next day. I was told, if I were to make it, I’d have to leave immediately. Therefore, I hung up the phone, left the party, dressed up, got on a bike (no swimming on this occasion), and started to cycle at 11pm. Around 2 am in darkness, I got lost, which added an extra hour to my journey, which was obviously “not great”. The most memorable moment, however, was around 3 am, when I officially became a Disney princess. On my side, rabbits were jumping, birds were chirping as they flew around the bike and a deer ran alongside me. Somehow, they knew I needed them and with their support, I finished the long journey with a smile.

  • In one year, time was once again against me. This time, I was landing from Chicago, where I was working at the time and most pressingly, I was landing on midsummer eve itself. In short, I was already behind my race schedule by the time I landed. What did I do? I asked my support crew to bring the bicycle to the airport. I had naturally replaced the swim with the flight and after finishing the flight stage of the race, I proceeded by changing into my cycling gear in the arrivals area (trust me, I did think of wearing race gear under my clothes during the flight, but decided that the saved seconds weren’t worth the long-distance discomfort. Nonetheless, it would have been interesting to try and wear a tri-suit under my formal attire on a plane). Overall, the airport transition was successful, and I completed the bike and run section of the triathlon with a heavy jet lag adding to the experience.

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