Friday, June 14, 2013

WTF??? Early season mishaps and Qualification

Early Season recap… ugh...
My father has done 17 Ironman races and therefore has been invited to race Kona this year. I was considering taking a break from Kona and try some different things. When he was accepted to Kona I really wanted to race there with him however as he is the guy who got me into this crazy sport way back in the early 90’s.

I went and raced at California which went well but there were no Kona spots this year there. So that eliminated my normal qualification procedure. I was able to get my Vegas spot there and while I was beaten by two guys who were just better than me that day, I dealt with bad blisters on my run for over 10 miles which definitely hurt my performance. It was great fun though and I hope to go back next year.

Onto St. Croix which was my first of three opportunities this season to qualify. I HATE the feeling of chasing spots and usually do not see great things come from that situation but as this was my first official attempt I didn’t feel I was in chase mode yet, just I have to get this done mode. St. Croix is a daunting task and while I didn’t need the Kona spot there last year, I was able to race fast enough to pass one on so I had some confidence going in. I had to deal with the likes of Pedro and Sami but usually there are three spots so was feeling good about my chances.

I had a great swim, was feeling awesome on the bike, and then heard that awful sound of air rushing out of my tire at mile 8… I was out. I tried to fix it but it just didn’t happen. Somehow I had taken a front clincher from our garage and a rear tubular. I didn’t even think to check as we never have had clincher race wheels but the new set Trek had sent were in fact clinchers. So even if I had a spare it wouldn’t have helped.
Enter Chase mode…

I frantically called all my contacts to try to get in Honu. My next chance was Eagleman but with Sami also flatting at St. Croix I knew he would be there, and I also knew Mike Gadzinski would be a formidable competitor too and wanted as many 70.3 chances as possible trying to avoid doing Lake Placid if at all possible. No luck getting into Honu so I was off to race Eagleman where even on a good day, you can be beaten by guys who are really fast.
Eagleman was an interesting trip because it was the first time I had brought my daughter with me to a race. She is 9 years old and wanted to do a trip with me. I was excited but also knew it would add another level of stress to the weekend of trying to qualify. I did what anyone would do and recruited my mom for help.

We met in Washington DC so we could tour the city a bit before the race. Thanks to the help of Joe Lotus that was amazing. We tried to take in a lot of sites but I was also stressed about saving my legs, but then decided the experience with my mom and daughter was worth the exchange.
We left for the race site Friday afternoon and in another day of constant rain sat in the car for almost 6 hours to drive 70 miles!!!! It was the worst traffic jam I have ever experienced. I remained calm though and just went with the flow.

Sat I finally unpacked the bike and took it out for a test ride warm up brick. I was caught in a down pour and within the ride my bike complete stopped shifting!!! I have been asked to test the new Campy EPS electronic and I knew this was bad as not too many people have spare parts for it or even know how to work on it yet. I spent the better part of 5 hours on the phone with people trying to decipher what the issue was. It literally came down to my holding all the wires in my hand and a tech from Campy saying “cut that wire, but make sure you do not cut the other one or you are screwed”… It was like a movie trying to disarm a bomb except all the wires were the same color.
I cut the right one and restored shifting to the rear derailleur but only from the brake lever. So I did the race with basically two gears because while the bike did shift for me when asked I was never sure if it would shift again.

I felt good on the bike, but not great. No doubt the travel, stress and tourism had some effect but I just was happy to be racing again. I backed off the last few miles tied to take care of any bathroom issues on the bike so I could hit t2 quick
T2 was quick except for we were all COVERED in mud. After 5 days of rain the transition area was a swamp. I decided to take an extra in to wipe off all the mud and put on socks. I think it was a smart move but I did spend an extra 2 min in transition which cost me at least one spot.

My run felt like the bike, strong the entire time, but not snappy. I was very happy with it though because Scott and I had just done a podcast talking about pain tolerance and how we all have a sport where that may need to be reset. I kept telling myself I am capable of more than I think I am, and keep pushing. Even through cramps, and twitchy legs I managed to put together a very solid run.
I rounded the last corner of the race feeling very “satisfied”. I told myself no matter how this shakes out, I'm proud of myself for overcoming all the BS and pushing through issues that could have derailed me.

I ended up 14th overall, 5th amateur and 3rd in my age group... how about that for a competitive age group!? There were of course only 2 spots…. My luck had finally changed when Mike said he wasn’t going and I would be in! Thank you Mike for that again!
After a good meal and a drive back to DC we saw the White House only to realize my mom had forgotten her wallet back at the race and I had another 3 hours of driving ahead of me that night. The hits just kept coming that weekend. J