It had been quite a few years since I’ve raced on the Eastern Shore so I was excited to head to Cambridge last weekend for the USAT Duathlon Long Course National Championship. I can’t say I was feeling mentally prepared for such an event in the week leading up to it, but I was hoping that after I arrived at the race site Saturday to pick up my packet, that “race mentality” would kick in. However, like at most packet pick-ups, those pre-race nerves set in. But I think I was too drained to even let that get to me. I headed back to my mom’s house for the evening to relax and prepare for what the next day had in store for me.
My mom and I left at 4:30 am Sunday morning – she is quite a trooper getting up that early to come watch me race! It was great to catch up with her on the ride down and the conversation helped to keep my stress level low. I had realized that morning that I forgot to bring socks. No big deal – I race tris without socks. But once I was setting up in transition I felt some urgency in locating a pair of socks to race in. Just at that moment I found my friend Jocelyn, who not only came to my rescue with a pair of socks, but even gave me a choice of socks 😉 You ROCK Jocelyn – and you have a new pair of Powerman Alabama socks coming next time I see you!
It was a Team USA reunion in Cambridge, and my nerves quickly settled as I realized I was just lucky to be there with such awesome competitors, and I was going to enjoy the race! I went for a short pre-race warm-up run and felt ready to go. The women’s wave was 2nd to go off, and as we gathered at the start we were chatting away when all of a sudden Vig says “3…2…1…GO!!” None of us had even toed the line so we shot out of there like a cannon! I led the charge briefly before I was passed by someone I didn’t recognize. This woman had a chiseled body, perfect running form, and an effortless stride. I felt it was best not to go with her – just race my race 😉 At the turn-around I felt confident I could hold my 2nd place position going into T1, although the distance was already wearing on me. I got a little re-charge when I passed long-time friend RV, who said as I went by: “it’s your fault I’m here! 6 years ago you talked me into this and it’s changed my life for the better!” And that’s what it’s all about – spreading the passion of the sport! RV you are a great athlete with an even greater spirit, and I’m honored to have been a part of your journey!
They do not have a run split for me, but my 10k was somewhere between 37:46 (WOW) and 39:01. I hopped on the bike and made my way out to see how far I could ride before the inevitable pass by Gail! Sure enough she wasn’t far behind and I cheered for her to catch the woman up front. I was feeling great on the bike out – only to realize at the turn-around it was due to the wind helping us! The trip back in was pretty rough, and I just couldn’t wait to start lap 2! The great thing about a 2-loop out-and-back course is that you get to see where your competition is the whole time. Starting the 2nd lap I knew that if I could just hold my pace, I could come in off the bike in 3rd place. Coming into that last turn-around, I was expecting to see Gail in the lead. She made me smile when I saw her, right on the 1st female’s heels, and she gave me that look of “who the heck is this girl I’m chasing?” She did catch her before the end of the bike – just as I knew she would. Kudos to you Gail – I bow to your bike prowess!!
I was about 6 miles from T2, and just pushing as hard as I could to finish that bike and get back out on the run. And that’s when it happened… I don’t know if it was a small gust of wind, or I just wasn’t paying enough attention for a brief moment – it was probably a combination of the two… All of a sudden I see, and hit, and ledge in the road and before I could even react, my bike and I were airborne! I came down on my left side and skidded a few feet down the road. My bike, still attached to me by one foot, landed on the drive-train side. I think I looked like a pretzel, as I took a few seconds to absorb what just happened, and threw my head back in disappointment only to be reminded that I was wearing an aero helmet! I quickly got up and assessed the damage. My elbow was cut open and bleeding pretty bad, but nothing was sticking out of it. My hip was hurting but my shorts saved me from too much road rash there. A couple small cuts in my hand and the other elbow and that was it – I was okay! Next was the bike – I lifted the rear wheel to check the pedaling/shifting – it seemed fine. I’m still in this! I hop on the bike, and quickly realize that the front tire is flat. No problem – luckily I crammed the Vittoria pit stop into my bento box (see, they’re good for something). I start to fill the front tire and before long the stuff was spraying out the side of the tire. That’s when I knew my day was done… Nothing left to do but start the long walk down a very lonesome road!
Not long after that the next female passed me, then the next, then the next. I was pretty bummed to be out of the race, but even more upset that my poor mom would be back in transition looking for me! But on the plus side I got to cheer for many friends as they rode by! Almost every single athlete who saw me offered me a tube, CO2 – and just help in general. Some even slowed up to a stop to see how they could assist me! It’s awesome to be a part of such a caring and selfless community! After what seemed like 3 endless miles, a pickup truck pulled over in front of me and stopped. I could tell by the bike laying in the bed of the truck, that I was being saved! Rick (or it may have been Rich…) was on his way to church when he found the first guy walking along the same desolate road. As he helped me load my bike he said “I hope I don’t come across any more of you – I’m outta room!” I was extremely gracious to him for saving me another 45 minutes of walking. When we arrived Vig helped with my bike and I quickly went to find my mom, who sure enough was pacing around and looking quite worried. From there I hit the med tent to get my wounds cleaned up, and turned in my chip, before finding as many of my friends as I could to congratulate them. I was happy to see nothing but smiling faces – everyone had an amazing race and awesome results! Congrats to all of you!
Lesson learned? FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS! That should be standard for any race right? Or anytime you’re on the bike period! It just shows you the importance of being in the moment at all time. All I have is scabs and bruises – I was pretty lucky! In fact, I take this as a positive sign that my bones are pretty strong right now 😉 As for the bike…there is a crack in the carbon rim of the front wheel, and some scuffs on the bars, etc. (sorry baby), but overall it survived its first, and hopefully last, crash! That makes DNF #3 for me in my career, and although everyone wants to finish their race, I’m still grateful every time I get to start one!
Safe riding everyone!