Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Horrific Comedy of Errors in a Very Fun Race Weekend

Sometimes, you run the perfect race.

Sometimes, you don't.

Sometimes, you have fun but don't perform nearly as well as you should have.

Sometimes, you just completely show up unprepared and fail miserably.

And sometimes, just sometimes, everything that can possibly go wrong goes wrong and you just say "Screw it" and do your best and enjoy yourself anyway.

Last weekend was more of the latter, but a bunch of other factors mixed in as well.

It all started on Saturday with the long course bike tour for a Cinco De Mayo race weekend my friend (who doubles as my brother-in-law and triathlon training partner) were doing.

To detail out this race, one must understand how horrifically undertrained I've been lately.  A couple of factors come into play for this.  For one, my wife and I had our first child in early March.  Finding pockets of time to train with a screaming baby in the house is next to impossible, and besides - why would ANYONE want to train when you have something THIS CUTE to play/cuddle with?

I've never been so much happier not to train :)
 The fact is, you can't.  I've been training during my lunch break and trying my best to get another hour at night.  Weekends - I do my best to get all my training done before mommy and the baby wake up - but it's difficult.  Especially since I'm barely getting enough sleep as it is and the weekend is my only chance to catch up a bit.

So, there's that.  Then, on top of that, I've also been dealing with kidney stones - which will cripple any training one can do (along with everything else).

Anyway, those are my built in excuses before the race even starts, but didn't really have any effect on the race other than keeping me from achieving a personal best or anything.

So my training partner and I show up to the bike course with our time trial bikes expecting to do a "duo pace line" and crush the course.  Now, by "crush" we actually mean "just go pretty fast" (we had no intentions of blowing everyone away at the course, and the "bike tour" wasn't even a timed race anyway).  Our wave goes off and away we go.  We're off to the side of the main pack of normal "fun ride" riders - which included everything from guys on $12,000 road bikes to people on mountain bikes they bought the day before at WalMart.  We're passing mostly everyone and just zooming along - averaging a crisp 21 mph (more downhill, less uphill on a somewhat hilly course).  Around mile 30 or so - it happened.

POP!  *wiggle wiggle, slow down, hop off the bike*  Crap, a flat tire.  No biggy - my training buddy is carrying the flat kit and we're good to go.  So I rip off the tire off.  Tube on.  Everything going smooth - we're operating like a NASCAR crew.  I'm feeling proud.  On goes the CO2.
Hmmmmmmmm.  Musta been a dud CO2 cartridge. Try the next one.  PSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSH.
Um...ok.  Must be a dude tube.  Undo everything, grab a new tube, everything back on.
Really?  Screw it.  Just hand me the hand-pump and I'll get enough air in it until we get to the aid station.
*pumppumppumppump*  nothing.  Are you kidding me?  This tube is a dud too.  Hand me another one.
Uh.....what other one?  I only brought two.
Ugh.  *face palm and I slowly start to cry to myself*
So now we're looking like the three stooges on the side of the road (even though there is only two of us) as we wait for the race assistance crew to come save us.  Which, by the way, was excellent.  I'd like to take a moment to commend the folks from JAX Bicycle Shop who were absolutely stellar in their response to helping people out.  Super friendly guys and the way they handled things will definite assure that I will be making a purchase from them in the future (that, and the $10 gift card that came in our race packet).

Anyway, they got us back up and running - but not before we spent nearly half an hour on the sidelines getting passed by every legit rider racing, multiple mountain bikes, multiple people in the "I'm just casually riding my bike to lose weight" crowd, etc.  It was embarrassing.  We just kept telling ourselves "It's not a race, It's not a race" but that didn't have any effect.  As soon as we were back on the road, we started cranking it to the point where we were almost going out in a full on time trial.  Our goal was to pass as many people as possible to try to "save face" (we're extremely vain people - obviously lol).

In doing so, my training partner bombed a hill to make a light (he made the light) and I had second thoughts and felt as if I couldn't make it - so I stopped.  So I'm behind a light as he is finishing his left turn and I yell to him to let him know I'm behind the light.  He looks back at me to acknowledge that....
...and promptly runs into a curb going 30 miles per hour or so.

It was a horrific thing to see.  His bike flew up into the air (with him on it) and does a sort of sideways front flip.  The back tire goes up into the air, twists around and lands (in an upright position)before he falls flat on his butt.  The whole intersection saw this and a couple of drivers started waving me through so I could go help him.  I do and, amazingly, he has a couple of scrapes and bruises and one scratch on his spokes and that's it.  It literally look like he died from that, but he was fine.

We finish the race afterwards - but kind of took it easy for the rest of the ride.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum managing to survive a casual bike tour.
So that was day one.  Day two had a half marathon that was associated with the weekend event that, when I signed up for it, I was planning on PRing.  My half marathon PR is 1:18 and I knew, with my aforementioned lack of training, that 1:18 just wasn't going to happen for me.  Still, I planned to go as hard as I could and see what happened.

Well, we arrived "late" on the course.  The marathon gun went off at 7:00 am, and we pulled into the parking lot (which is at the mall across the street from the race) at 6:58.  The national anthem was being sung as we got out of our car so we jogged over to the start and was in the very, very, very back of 600 runners or so participating in the race.

Crap.  Gun goes off and I hang around and wait for mostly everyone to shuffle through the starting line before deciding to take off and just swing wide around everyone.  I kept a 5:40 pace for the first 4 miles or so when my series of woes started to haunt me on my run.

Around mile 4, I'm cooking right along when WHACK! - a bug flies into my eye.  My hand goes up to swipe it away and then I feel a stinging sensation.  I start laughing incredulously as I'm in complete disbelief that I just got stung in the eye by a bee.  I pull out the stinger and shove it into my shirt pocket (hoping to keep it as a memoir for later, but it fell out).  My eye is watering and I'm rubbing the crap out of it trying to get ride of little miscellaneous bee parts, so it must have looked weird to see me running at a pretty crisp pace with one eye shut and rubbing it.

Eventually, the eye opened up and stopped watering, but was in a bit of pain throughout the rest of the race. To top that off, my shoes started digging into my achilles.  No idea why (I've run longer distances in these same shoes before) but now I have bloody ankles started to change my stride to compensate for the stinging sensation of my heels being dug into by my shoes.  At that point, combined with my legs starting to feel the strain of running at a pace that they weren't trained for, I decided to slow it down and just "finish" the race.

Ended up with a 7:00 min/mile average and a time of 1:31 - 4 minutes off the podium for my age group - but in the top 15 overall.

All in all, a good weekend.  I don't know what to take from it other than that it is what it is.  Sometimes things are out of your hands and sometimes you just gotta tough through them.

In any case, here's another pic of my baby boy (which is probably far more interesting than the rest of this blog post):

My wife is an extremely creative person.