Tuesday, June 14, 2011

First Time For Everything

This past Sunday I had my fastest time ever for an Olympic Triathlon. But more on that later.

A few of us BRA Triathletes decided to sign up for a triathlon in Clermont, Florida. There were two options. The half Ironman or the Olympic distance. I chose the Olympic distance because I did not feel like running 13.1 miles in the Florida heat. Plus I told B.o.b. that I would do the Olympic if she signed up. And there was a $25 off coupon which made the entry fee a low $60 compared to $160 for St Anthony's. Can't beat that for an Olympic distance. A lot of good things going....so far.

My Ironman training has been moving right along and I felt this triathlon would be a good indicator of just where I am.

On the Friday before the race I decided to buy a new chain for my tri bike. The current chain was at least three years old. I got my chain and was told by the bike shop mechanic that they are easy to put on. Just make sure it is the same length as the old chain. I was also given a handy dandy chain tool. Here goes nothing.

I remove the old chain with ease. Hold it up to the new chain and see that the new one is much longer. I would need to remove some links from the new one. I also noticed that the old one's links don't match up to the new one. The old one has stretched. I had to count the links of the old one and make sure the new one was the same amount. I put the new chain on the bike carefully following the instructions provided. Test ride in the neighborhood and all sounded great. A quieter ride than what I had been used to. Should make for a faster bike because I was also going to use some disc wheels this time.

I headed over to Clermont on Saturday with B.o.b., Speedy Jan, Sweaty Steve, Tish and Casey. Checked in and then drove the course. This was to benefit B.o.b. who is still bike skittish. I had assured her prior to her signing up that the bike course was just a little hilly but no BIG deal. I kind of fibbed a little knowing that she would still be able to do it once it was put before her.

I got a good nights sleep and felt fresh and rested. I just had a good mental attitude for this race for some reason. There was not a large field of competitors. Nine in my age group compared to 300 or so for St Anthony's.

This was a lake swim and there was little to no wind. Flat water. Nice. All males started together. I felt good during the swim. Nice pace. Had problems sighting the buoys but would later find out that I wasn't the only one doing this. Seconds over 27 minutes. Not my fastest but pretty good. Felt even better when I saw a lot of bikes still on the bike racks.

I headed out on the ride. About 3-4 miles in to the ride I turn on to the first of the two big hills for this course. As I start to climb, I look up and see B.o.b. standing next to her bike off to the side of the road. This was about half way up the hill. My first thought is that she had a flat tire and was waiting for someone to assist her. I then remembered that I did not give her the flat tire class that she had requested. No big deal. I would help her fix her flat and then be on my way.

I got off my bike and started walking up to her. She then started walking down towards me. I yelled out asking if she had a flat. She said no and said that she can't get up the hill and was quiting. My first thought was, "are you #@%$^&# kidding me. You were almost to the top. Walk your bike up the hill."

I am not walking my bike up that hill only to do it again for 25 more miles.

I then reminded her that there is only one more hill and she can walk the bike up the hill. It is no big deal to walk your bike. I have done it before and will do it with you now.

Well what about your race.

I don't care. I will catch who ever passes me. This race is more important for you than it is me. Now turn your ass around and walk your bike up this hill. You are not going to QUIT this race. You are not a QUITTER.

I just can't do it John. You don't understand.

Yes you can. TURN YOUR ASS AROUND AND WALK YOUR BIKE UP TO THE TOP OF THIS HILL. Oh and you might want to gear down to an easier gear on the front and it won't be so damn hard.

She gets to the top of the hill. Gets back on her bike and off she goes. In the right direction. Seems her and this Dolly friend still have some work to do.

I get on my bike just before the hill crest and notice that my chain is making a funny sound. I think nothing of it at the time. I fly by B.o.b. and think that I don't have to look back. I will see her on the bike turnarounds and then at the finish.

Now to the next big hill. This hill is a little longer than the first one. I start to debate on whether I needed to post up at the bottom and glare at someone as they pass by just to make sure there were no indecisions. And also see if she was in the right gear. I figure she will be okay because she didn't want me manhandling her again.

Just as I start the climb, my chain comes off the front ring. I unclip and put the chain back on. I start going again and get about another 25 yards when the chain gets jammed up in the rear derailer. I get off the bike and try to fix the chain.

Just then I notice someone just easy pedalling up the hill with a big ass grin. She asks if I needed any help and I said I would be okay. I also reminded her of what a difference the right gear makes. I then start to think, was she just testing me and our friendship when I saw her at that first hill because she looked awfully comfortable going up this hill.

I then discover that my chain has broken. No fixing this. 5-6 miles in to the race and I am done. I calmly lean my bike again a sign post. Take off my shoes and helmet and then sit down on the sidewalk waiting for a ride. My race is over just 56 minutes in to it. My first ever DNF in the 16+ years I have been doing triathlons. The good thing is that there was not going to be two BRA DNF's.

I spent the next hour and a half riding in a Ryder truck helping deliver water and ice to the water stops. I changed a flat back tire for a woman that was doing the Half with over 20 miles to go. I also helped a guy with his flat tire. He later had another flat and had to quit.

I look back on this race as a learning lesson. Don't make any mechanical changes to your bike two days before a race. Don't let your friends down when they need you most no matter how mad they get at you. Help others even when you can't be helped. And don't sweat the small stuff when there is nothing you can do about it. I could have gotten angry about the chain. Cussed and been pissed all day but that would not have changed a thing. Now I would have been pissed had it been 5 miles in to the race I have in October. Oh boy let me tell you.