Going into the last race of the season I knew the training was going well and my motivation and focus were high. I was looking to celebrate my health with a passionate effort in the finale to the 2013 triathlon season.
2 days prior to the triathlon; Friday Night Cruise to the Beach
Jerry was a restaurant manager at one of the Downtown Oceanside pizza joints but tonight he had off. He loved to work on cars and he had just spent the afternoon fixing up his old classic. With the night still young and the sun warming rays on full display he thought he would cruise over to the beach. With no traffic it is just a 5 to 10 min drive but with the fine weather on a Friday night the cars lined up and all the car engines sat idle with irritated drivers. Jerry turned up his radio to a little Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody and tried to work with the confines of sitting while dancing. His car shifted from his movement and three little drops of oil fell from his engine and gushed into the pavement.
I was thrilled when Lifetime decided to have their championship race along the Pacific Ocean in sunny California. One of my favorite places to race is California because the races and the settings are usually awesome and also destinations for vacations, it’s easy to get to from Idaho, and going west one time zone has it’s bonuses. It was also exciting to have a mild to cool temperature race in late October.
Being able to bring my wife to a race, while the grandparents watched the kids was a win for everyone. We were also fortunate to be staying with close friends and having time to reconnect with them enjoying some of the finer pleasures that southern California has to offer. Life was flowing and in tune to the music of life. The stage was set for the body and mind to soar.
Race morning conditions were outstanding. A bit cold but when you work your body to its max in an endurance event, you heat up quickly.
The water was cool and felt awesome in the sleek, fast, and comfortable Aqua Sphere Phantom. As usual in the Lifetime series there were a dozen or more excellent swimmers in the field. When the gun went off my body responded well and I stayed aggressive in a line with all the leaders. You find your flow and float on the energy that is presented to you just like a Pelican gliding the seas. I kept the pace on, wanting to stay as close to the front as possible. For the first time in a long while I used my kick (a mainstay in college) to accelerate when needed.
Suddenly, we were covered in fog and seeing more than a few feet became impossible. Luckily, being close to the lead stand up paddle boarder helped. Albeit, he didn’t take the best tangents and we zigged and zagged a bit.
I came out of the water a breath away from the leaders in excellent position. Even more exciting than that was how strong I felt in what can be the toughest part of the race…running to T1 after the swim with a bunch of crazy fast, I’m gonna rip your heart out, triathletes that are gung-ho to make their competitors suffer.
T1 was just slightly off but my positioning was so good that it hardly registered as a problem.
I was giddy with excitement as I started the bike at the front of the race.
The first 2 miles were a slow; take your time, tricky corners, speed bumps and tunnel kind of miles. I had scouted this section of the course earlier that morning and knew exactly what was coming and where best to ride. Going up an on-ramp to the highway I stood up and passed all the riders except for Cam Dye. I could not have drawn up a better race situation.
Entering the highway section and just completing the portion that I had scouted earlier that morning, I knew it was time to go. I began the process of moving left to pass the leader and some words of encouragement were bubbling up in my mouth. I was about to say to Cam something like, “Here we go…” The words never came out of my mouth. The next thing I knew, I was sliding across 10 feet of pavement in my bathing suit. JEEERRRYYYYYY! The whole time I was sliding I just wanted it to stop so I could get back on my bike already! As soon as the skin and carbon scratching ceased a singular focus to get back up to speed took over. I got back on the bike and pedaled air. The chain had fallen. I immediately got off, grabbed the chain, lifted the back wheel and turned the crank to line up the drive train and chain. Voila. I was back in business.
The crash took me by surprise, no warning, just BAM. The marine layer that came in had mixed with Jerry’s oil spill and I rode over it at the moment I was accelerating; the rear wheel skidded and I hit the deck in an instant. It is the first wreck in a triathlon for me. Jerry! Of course Jerry is just my way of making fun of my misfortune but it makes everything feel better when you shout out an exasperated, “Jerrrrrrry!”
I felt most of the impact on my right hip as it hammered the ground. I felt fine but I knew that was due to being in a race and being in shock. As I was working on getting back up to speed and taking stock of the condition of the bike I noticed a whole lot of blood coming out of my right arm. On further inspection I noticed a deep ‘bullet hole’ with torn flesh. It was oozing blood and I could take my HR just from looking at it. I slowed then stopped to check my arm and assess the bleeding. For the first time doubt crept in. Should I keep racing, can I keep racing? I hesitated on what to do next, the seconds were ticking by and the race I had set the stage for was slipping away.
At that moment I made the right decision to call it a day. It was very difficult to come to terms with what had just happened. I was much more hurt by the fact that my race and season were over than the injuries I was dealing with. I was full of emotions, powerful, disbelieving feelings. The disappointment swept over me, I accepted it. Then, I did my best to get on with the day. “Jerrrry!?” The rest of our stay in San Diego was awesome.
A lost opportunity. However, it is exciting to know the training is working well because the race up to the point of the crash was outstanding. Now I’ll have to wait a good 5 months before setting the stage for another primed performance. As hungry as I am to maintain fitness, I know that letting it wane will help sling shot my fitness when I need it most.
Thank you, Lifetime, for a wonderful race series…see you in 2014.
Dreaming about the next time I’ll be in this situation