For all those who read my Boilermaker race recap you know I was dealing with a couple injuries. It would be my first injuries in 3 years of competition. I don’t know if it was a slight tear or just a strain of my lower left calf muscle but it was painful along with a bruised heel on the same leg. At the time the calf injury happened I didn’t think I’d be able to compete at Delta, heck I didn’t even think I’d be able to do the 15k I was warming up for. Some thought that maybe I should just skip it and rest. I can’t say I didn’t consider it. I don’t get paid to do this and my life wouldn’t change one bit if I didn’t do it. But I love to compete and I rested up during the week and recovered enough to feel comfortable continuing my plan to do the race.
The transition area for this race opened early at 5:45am. Because I wanted to get a good spot out on the bike-out side of transition that meant I needed to be there early. So I had to get up at 5am to get dressed and make the 25 minute drive to the park. Once up and out of bed I tested my calf and it felt OK but I was going to wear my calf compression sleeves just to give them more stability. Compression sleeves are great because they reduce muscle vibration which is something I’ll need with a sore calf. My heel was still a little sore but I was sure I could manage the pain it would give me because I’ve raced with sore heels before. I got to the park at about 6am. By the time I got my bike out of the car, wheels put on and over to transition all the good spots on the end of the racks were taken but I did get an OK spot close to where I wanted.
I got a good start on the swim; I got my head down and had a nice spot to get into my stroke without interference from any other swimmer. That didn’t last for long as I was either bumping into someone or someone was bumping into me! The worst is when someone is hitting your feet. That really slows me down as it throws off my rhythm and makes my back end sink a bit. It seemed like the whole swim I was either getting bumped or doing some bumping. I was constantly adjusting to get on a different line but still trying to maintain my target path towards the next buoy. The first half of the swim went by quick. The second half was probably a little slower for me but I still felt like I had one of my faster swim times. I had one guy swim directly across my path and I had to check up which meant some lost precious seconds. I don’t know where the heck he was going because he wasn’t swimming in the direction of the shore! My first big test of my calf was going to be running out of the water and over to transition. I swam until my hand hit the bottom then I took it a little easy standing up just to make sure I didn’t step awkwardly on a rock and twist something but I felt OK getting to my feet and running. So I ran out of the water and up the beach to transition.
I got to my bike with no issues but I felt like I took a little longer getting my wetsuit off. It didn’t slide off my legs as easily as it normally does because I had calf sleeves on. But once I got it off I threw on my helmet, clip it and was off running out of transition and my calf and heel were OK. Things were going great up to this point.
As I was running up to the bike mounting line 3 other guys were ahead of me and they all stopped on the line to mount their bikes. I was doing a running mount as my shoes were already clipped on my pedals. They almost had the area completely blocked but there was one small spot to sneak through so I leaned the bike to the side and squeezed through. I ran and jumped on my bike (this was going to be great as I’d already be past 3 riders). I put my foot on top of my right shoe then went to put my foot on my left when I noticed that it was now spinning on my pedal. The rubber band holding it had come loose. I got it to stop spinning with my foot then got it upright so I could put my foot on it. While I was doing that my right foot came off my right shoe and now it was spinning. Because I was still rolling with momentum my right shoe hit the ground with a thud. I looked down to put my foot on it and it was gone. The ground had popped it off my pedal. I stopped the bike, got off and rolled it backwards to get my shoe. I ran with it in my hand and jumped back on the bike. Now my left shoe was spinning again. It hit the ground with a thud. I looked down and it was gone! I had to stop the bike again but this time it was a little further back so I had to turn the bike around and go back and get it. I picked it up, turned the bike around then ran and jumped back on the bike (I can’t tell you how many times I said in my head, WTF). Now I had both shoes in my left hand and was pedaling with my bare feet on my clips. Somehow I managed to figure out what I needed to do to get my shoes on then clipped in after never having this happen to me before. It was surprising to me how easy it was. I started thinking to myself this just might be a better way to mount the bike…lol. I caught most of the guys that past me before I got out of the park. However I couldn’t pass them right away because there was a slight bottleneck at the turn leading out of the park. After that I said “see ya”, and I got on the gas and just went by them. After that my ride was uneventful. I caught and passed more guy’s and was able to count and see what place I was in by counting the riders who had already made the turn and was heading back to the park. I was in about 27th or 28th place. I had 2 riders go by me but I was able to make those positions back up by passing other riders. Once I got back to the park I really backed it down. I took the time to get my breathing under control, took my feet out of my shoes then got ready for calf test number two…the barefooted running dismount. The same dismount that I injured my heel doing in my last triathlon. Now you would think that I would have decided not to do it. Well I did, I was originally just going to unclip with my shoes on and stop and run with them on. But I was feeling good and I wanted to do what I was comfortable with. Besides, I’d already lost a bunch of time on my bike mount fiasco! So I did the dismount but at a slower speed. The calf felt OK and so did my heel.
I got my bike racked quickly then took my helmet off then put my running shoes on. I didn’t get my right shoe on smoothly but the left shoe went on great. I have a new pair of shoes that I’ve only worn a couple times…they are awesome to run in with no socks. I grabbed my race belt with my bib on it and took off.
My legs felt OK but I didn’t want to push it early so I settled into a comfortable 8:30 min pace. I knew I’d probably get past going that slow but I wasn’t going to push it. After about 1.5 miles I decided to speed up. My calf was feeling tight with a dull pain in it but otherwise I was OK to continue the pace I was on. With about a half mile to go my heel was starting to ache a little but nothing that was going to slow me down. I finished the run with a moderate sprint…just to make sure I was ready to go if someone tried to pass me. I actually had a decent run with an average 7:27 min pace. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that considering how slow I was going initially.
I finished the race in 1:12:11, 25th place overall out of 195, 3rd in my age group. PR’d my previous year best time by over 2 minutes. Take away the injuries and the shoe mishap and I’m sure I would have gone under 70 minutes! This gives me a lot of confidence going into my next race in about 4 weeks. For now, it’s time to rest up and get healthy!!!