Buffalo, NY (5/22/16)
I wasn’t sure I was going to do a race recap on this one because it’s kind of a hard pill to swallow but in the spirit of all I do…it’s a learning experience. I got DQ for the first time in a triathlon. I made a mistake on the run and went left when I should have gone right…but let me start from the beginning.
The race venue was 3 hours away and things kicked off at 5:45 AM so there was no way to get up and drive in the morning so that meant I had to get a room for the night. I got on the road at about 1 pm and an hour into the drive I realized I left my bike computer wheel sensor. I wasn’t going to turn around to get it but I really needed it. My computer tells me vital information like speed, cadence, power and average speed (all very important to me). I remember that there was a bike shop in Buffalo near where I was headed so I was crossing my fingers and hoping that they would still be open by the time I got there on a Saturday evening and have what I needed. After getting to Buffalo and finding the bike shop they had exactly what I needed…and it only cost me $7…score…lol. I needed a backup anyway. I’ve forgotten it before because of switching wheels. I finally got to the motel and you know the phrase “you get what you pay for”, oh goodness, I should have spent the extra $30 and got a better place! Oh well, nothing I can do about it now, I just have to get through the night. The plan was to get to bed early knowing I always wake up before I need to on race day. But first I had to get some dinner so I ordered a steak for pickup at Applebee’s. I picked the food up and got back to the hotel and as luck would have it, no utensils to eat with. So I walked down to the motel office and they had plastic knives and forks…cool. Well it was a struggle to cut that steak with that little plastic knife…and it had to have been the worst steak I’ve ever gotten from an Applebee’s (very bland). But I needed to get it in me knowing I wouldn’t be able to eat anything in the morning (race nerves turn off my appetite). While wrestling with the steak with the plastic knife the fork broke…lol. I said forget cutting it and just jabbed it with the fork (what was left of it) and just ate it like it was a shish kabob!
After I got done eating I had to put some lock tight on my valve extender for my rear wheel. I have extenders because the tube valve isn’t long enough too extended out of the 80mm clincher. I couldn’t get a proper tire pressure reading on it when I pumped it up because of air leakage during pumping. So I unscrewed the extender then put the lock tight on the threads. As I was feeding the extender back inside the hole it hit the valve and let the air out of the tire. I didn’t think it was a big deal; I could just tighten it back on to the valve stem but for some reason it wouldn’t grab the threads to get it back on. After about a half hour trying to get it back on I started to panic. I knew I was going to have to remove the tire to get it back on but I didn’t have anything with me to take it off. It was 8:30pm and I knew that bike shop had to be closed. So I jumped in the car and went to the Walgreens that was down the street to see what I could find. I bought a package of screw drivers and duct tape. I wrapped the tips of the screwdrivers with the duct tape so they wouldn’t pinch the tube and put some tape on the rim to help protect them. It took awhile but I finally got the tire off. I put the extender back on the valve and put the tube back in the tire. As luck would have it, I pinched the tube putting the tire back on…I put 2 holes in it to be exact. Well you might be thinking; he’s screwed with no back tire…well not so much because I brought my old wheels with me. I just didn’t want to use them. I didn’t really need the front tire so I decided to pull the tube from it. After letting the air out I could tell it was going to be much easier to remove because it wasn’t as tight. I pulled the tube then went to remove the extender from the bad tube and the valve came off with it. I couldn’t get them to separate…the lock tight had setup and I couldn’t get it to break free. The pieces were just too small to get a good grip. So I put some tape on the valve, bit down on it and got it to break free. I put more lock tight on the extender, put it on the good tube then put it in the wheel and got the tire on. Pumped it up and put it back on the bike…finally! Now it was after 10pm and I had to get to bed knowing I was getting up at 4:30am. All these issues meant a miss opportunity to check out the race course ahead of time. Oh, I forgot to mention, I chipped my tooth biting down on that valve…one more thing I’ll end up paying for.
After getting up and getting ready to leave I felt rested. I thought I needed to drop the room key off so I went to office and ended up waking the manager up. I gave him the key and he said I could have left it. After I pulled out of the lot I realized I left my water bottle in the mini-fridge. So I turned around and went back to the office…sorry dude I had to wake you up again…lol. It only took about a half hour to get to the venue. I felt surprisingly rested and calm the whole time leading up to the start of the race. This part was actually running smoothly. I got to chat it up with quite a few people while getting ready for the race to get started. It was still chilly out at 5:30am and I knew it wasn’t going to warm up much by race time. I wasn’t looking forward to getting out on the bike being wet in a sleeveless tri-suit but I was sure I could tough it out!
This was a 400 meter swim in a 50 meter pool. I only got 1 lap for a warm up and for some reason it felt weird. I don’t know if it was the length of the pool or the weird looking bottom of the pool but I was ready to get things going. They were sending us 2 at a time on opposite ends of the pool in 30 second intervals. I was #34 which meant I’d be the 17th person to go on the right side of the pool. Swim down and back then cross under the rope and repeat till you complete 8 laps ending up in the middle of the pool. Because of the high walls someone was to help me get out of the pool but the lady was talking to someone and didn’t see me trying to get out. I was halfway out before she noticed me and reached over to grab my hand. From there it was a short run across the pool deck to an open door. I ran out the door and around the building and across the street to the transition area. It was still chilly at about 7:30am and after coming out of the pool it made it seem much colder. By the time I got to the transition area my feet were freezing!
I got to the bike and put on my helmet and for some odd reason I started to put on my running shoes (that was a screw up). I only got my foot halfway in before I realized what I was doing then took it back off. Then I kind of just stood there for a bit to figure out what I was doing finally realizing I had everything I needed so I could just go because my bike shoes were already on the pedals.
This was one of the bumpiest courses I’ve ever been on. I hopped on the bike with my feet on top of my shoes and got going quickly. I slipped my feet in my shoes then got on the gas. I thought I’d be really cold but it wasn’t bad at all. There were lots of turns on this course and because of where I started plenty of people to pass. I got to this one section where I had to cross over a bridge. I think it might have been a draw bridge because it was made up of those metal grates. That was a little scary as the bike felt a little unsettled on it. And the vibration from it was no fun either. I got passed by one guy then I passed him back. When I passed him he said OK, you can lead some. I passed over an overpass and wasn’t sure which way to go so I hesitated and he went back by me. He said OK, I’ll lead some then looked back and asked me what was my name…I told him and asked him his. That’s when I realized he was one of the guys I was talking to in the transition area. I was determined not to let him get away but I started to lose ground on him because I was getting off the gas on some of the turns. We went through a really bad section of road that at one point vibrated my hands so much I hit my lever and took my chain off the big ring. That cost me a bit of time and I fell behind that guy a lot but after that I decided to hit the turns faster and make my move to catch up. We had made the loop to head back to the transition area and I was able to catch back up to him with about a mile to go. I decided not to try passing him so as not to tire my legs ahead of the run. I had to pass back over the draw bridge on the way back but this time I had to turn a little bit because I had to pass a rider on it. That was very scary as I could feel the front end loosing traction on it. It also forced me to hit a metal plate on which also scared me thinking I’d blow a tire. Shortly after that we made the final turn heading into transition and I just had enough time to slip my feet out of my shoes. My dismount was perfect but my feet were still cold and felt a little numb.
I ran in and racked the bike, took off my helmet then had a hard time getting my shoes on. This was my first time using them in a race and they didn’t allow me to slide them on as easy as I hopped with semi wet feet. I finally got them on then grabbed my race belt and hat and headed out. Unfortunately I was going the wrong way but they quickly told me so I turned and headed out the right way. The guy I came in with was long gone so I knew I lost a lot of time.
My feet were numb and my heart rate was elevated but I felt like I was running OK. I took a look at my watch a few times and my pace was fluctuating between 6:30 and 7:00. I was OK with that as it would give me time to get my HR down. I passed a few guys and one guy passed me. The guys that were ahead of me were already headed back the other way. I made a turn around a building and ended up on a cobblestone road (I remember this road from the bike…it sucked). I could really feel them with my feet still cold and numb so I quickly got up on the sidewalk. After about a mile and a half my feet finally warmed up and it felt like the temps were warmer as the sun started to peak through the clouds. I was ready to drop my pace! As I turned the corner of another building I could see a guy standing at the end of the block. He yelled out something then he made a slight gesture to his left than a bigger gesture to his right. So when I got to him I turned left…I felt good and was ready to speed up when all of a sudden a guy passed me. Young guy moving pretty good. He gapped me a bit then we made a turn around another building and I could see that this was the final stretch to the finish. I hit the jets and caught that guy and passed right by him with a sprint to the finish!!!
I looked at the clock heading across the line and it said 1 hour 12 minutes. Initially I felt disappointed because I wanted to run under 1:10 but I knew with all my mistakes it probably wouldn’t happen. I took a look at my watch and it said 1:04 witch puzzled me. Then I realized it was a staggered start! That’s when I said to myself “NO WAY” I did that in 1:04…”NO WAY” I kept saying to myself. Well guys started coming in that I saw ahead of me during the run. That’s when I realized that I must have missed the loop on the run. I went from a high to a low just like that. I went to look at the timesheet and it had me in 3rd place. It’s was kind of nice to see my name there but I knew it was coming off as I would end up being disqualified. It was my entire fault; I should always know where I’m going. I don’t know exactly how fast I could have run that second loop but I’m estimating about 9.5 minutes which would have given me a time of 1:13 which would have put me in about 15th place, 3rd in my age group…eliminate the other mistakes and lack of course knowledge and it could have been a top 10 finish. I’ll chalk it up as more lessons learned and get ready for my next race in 2 weeks!
Always strive to do your best!!!