I have never been one to put much stock in using positive energy for a race. I have always believed that preparation and training overcomes the mental part of it.
I think, after this race, I may have to reconsider.
As Jennifer and I stood on the beach, after getting a warm up swim in for about 10 minutes, waiting for the first wave to get going, I didn’t feel right. Something was off. I looked at Jennifer and said “this is not going to be a good day. Something doesn’t feel right.”
She, as she always does, said “you have done this many times, get your mind-set, and just go do it.”
I need to listen to her more I think, because I entered the water with Wave 3 feeling like it was going to be bad, and as the universe is known to do, it provided me with what I expected. A very challenging race both physically and mentally.
The swim was actually going pretty well until about 100 yards in I smelled and tasted diesel. They had, as one of their rescue boats, a motorized john boat along with the usually kayaks. This was obviously leaking fuel right through the swim course. This is not going to kill you, but when you are like me and have throat damage from previous illnesses, anything foreign can cause my nerves in there to tighten my throat up and make it harder to get air in. This is something I have dealt with since starting to race, so it wasn’t anything I was concerned about. I mentally made myself go a bit slower so I would not have to breathe harder. This was working well … until …
I made the final turn to shore, about 150 yards or so out, when the wave behind me caught up. This is the problem with slowing down. I normally do get caught by the faster swimmers in the next wave, but now I got caught by the entire wave, and the lake was already choppy due to the wind, so adding to that the bumping and fighting I got a nice mouthful of water.
And immediately started coughing and trying to breathe. To the point I had to wave for the kayak. Holding on for a minute or so helped, and I waited until the majority of the wave went by me, then headed back out, and immediately got another mouthful and had to hold on once more. Twice in one race. Twice in one race of only 400 meters.
I knew my race was already going to be challenging at that point, but my bike has been strong recently so I was pretty sure I could make up the three minutes I lost, so go it in my head that I would push as hard as I could on the bike and not worry about the run afterward. This is a mental thing I have been working on during a race. Not worrying about what was next, only what I was doing at the moment, especially in these short sprint races.
It was going so well. My speed was up, faster than I was in #2, and my heart rate was doing OK once I got over the initial climbs at the start. I was cruising along the lake road, in the 16-17 mph range, and was noticing that there were a lot of people on the side of the road with flats. You usually see one or two, but by mile 5 I had already seen 4, and as usual I ask each of them as I come up if they need help. The answer is normally “no”, but as I came up on #5 I yelled out “you OK?” and she yelled back “I blew out my CO2 cartridge”. I stopped and asked if she needed one, which she did, so I got off my bike and got one for her and handed it over. The crowd was pretty thick at this point so I had my bike off the road as I stood on the shoulder, threw one leg over and clip in my right as I waiting for a clearing.
“Oh My God!” I heard and the next thing I knew I was thrown onto the grass. A young man, I would guess 12-13, was not paying attention and had slammed into me. I was lying there, my bike under me and his on top of my with his handlebars in my front spokes, unable to get my left leg free. I was reaching for him, asking if he was OK, and trying to pull him off the road. The person I stopped for ran over, and two more riders stopped. One got him over to the side and onto his back as the other one helped my untangle myself. I pulled his bike up and it looked OK except for the handlebars being skewed, so I grabbed it and straightened them for him, not sure if he was going to be able to keep going or not. I then grabbed my bike just as Jennifer caught up to me (and I am sure freaking out when she saw it was me in this group of people with bikes all over the place) and everything seemed OK, so once I made sure the kid was being taken care of I took off again.
I have to say that this kid immediately said it was his fault and that he was not paying attention, asked me if I was OK and if my bike was OK, and kept apologizing for ruining my race. I told him to not worry about it, I needed a rest anyway. :-). Turns out he had a broken wrist but I am sure he will be back as soon as he can be back.
Nothing seemed to be hurting much during the ride at first, but the further I went I could feel my hip and thigh tightening up. I ended up walking most of the last climb when a shoot pain started happening in my hip and I could get power (though the car in front of me on the downhill leading up to the climb that caused me to ride my brake didn’t help either).
I finished the bike about 13 minutes slower than in #2, which means I was definitely ahead of pace before the chaos. Oh well. It happens. I felt reasonably OK when heading out to the run. I normally plan on walking the first portion so I was OK for a while, but when I started to try to run I felt the pain in my hip and thigh immediately. So I resigned myself to walking the entire thing, as fast as I could, and just get through it. The odd thing is that my run portion was faster than last time, even though I walked all of it. Odd.
As far as time goes, by far my worst sprint ever, in 2:32:15. One has to wonder though, if it was my fault? Did I being a negative energy to the race and bring some of this on myself? I fight Jennifer on this a lot, but we had a long chat before I drove home and I am starting to think she may be on to something. I finished DFL, not the first time I have finished that badly, but I am going to do my damnedest for it to be the last DFL I ever have. I have one more race in this series this year, on September 12th, and only two more triathlons other than that left. Time to make some improvements.
Chalk this one up to just another learning experience.