I've been to Redman for the 70.3 twice now, but this year I didn't plan to race. I just planned to support my training buddy's first Iron-distance effort. He's pretty much been training for 2 years, since he had to defer last year with an injury, but there was no way I was going to miss it.
As is usually the case, when I decide not to do something, I turn around and do something anyway. This was the year of the Club Championships, so they offered Sprint and Olympic distance races the day after the 70.3 & 140.6 races. I needed a workout anyway, so figured I'll just do the Sprint for fun.
Nothing is ever for really JUST for "fun" though right? We all have those super secret goals in our head we never speak out loud because they have no basis. Although my training had been inconsistent since July, I still wanted to do well -- realizing of course I really didn't deserve to do well; I had not put the time in. See? No basis.
Anyway, spectating the day before would have me on my feet running around and my day started early, having breakfast with Amy, at Beverly's, at 3:30 am. I volunteered for transition (A great way to have access to your friends racing and still help out!) and later Chris, Lisa and I worked the Swim exit. One-by-one Mike, Ed, Kim, Terry, Cheryl, Christine, T, Amy and Erin finished their swims and headed off on their bikes. We watched for them at the turnaround and were ready to man the BAM tent on the run after everyone passed to transitioned. Amy and I had made signs for those running -- it was great and everyone got a good laugh out of them! I was so excited for everyone... but you know what that kind of excitement leads to, right? By the time Mike D. crossed the finish line I was overwhelmed and now completely full-up on race day BuzZzZzZ. If there had been internet access nearby I probably would have signed up for something... anything! I was so proud of the Hombre -- you'd have thought he was my Son!
I was very thankful everyone finished well and I was able to get to bed 11ish. I fell asleep, visualizing how I wanted my race day to go, but not before I crossed the finish :)
Now it's my race day and I was all excited inside. I woke at 3:45 and this time Amy came with me for Breakfast! What a trooper after finishing her Aquabike, but she felt great!
Setting up transition was uneventful. I really felt like I was missing stuff, but wasn't. I went for a warm-up run up on the levy. It was dark and quiet. Nice. I got my wetsuit on (yeah, for Sprint -- everyone was wearing them) and migrated to the start. Every time we talked about finishers the night before I would get all teary-eyed. It was ridiculous! I really had no idea how the day was going to go.
My swim was so-so. I really couldn't find my groove until a half-way through the 750m swim. It just seemed like I was always on top of someone for a while and I just couldn't get around. I made the long dash to transition, running the whole way and left on the bike (a 2 loop course of 7 miles).
I was quite surprised how good my legs felt! Usually it takes me a couple miles to get my bike legs, so I was pretty excited and I was keeping good cadence/speed. We rode the levy out to the city roads and there were a couple of small rollers. The longest climb being about a 1/4 mile up Lake Hefner Rd. Mile 5 is where I screwed myself. I shifted gears to navigate the climb, but I shifted the front/back rings too closely together and I dropped my chain. Not just a pop-it-back-on-and-go drop. This was a how-the-heck-didt-that-happen? drop! The chain looked like it had jumped the crank! It was totally wrapped around when the big ring mounts and it was all jammed up in the guide. I tried for 5 minutes to fix it, hoping SAG would come by, but no luck. My hands were black... decided to keep moving uphill, walking my bike and hoping SAG would come.
Remember "See Jill Run?" Well, "Watch SAG come." "Watch SAG go." They never stopped. :(
I continue to walk my bike up the 1/4 mile climb. Another rider stops me and asks if I have an Allen wrench, holding his pedal in his hand. I said, "If you can fix this (pointing to my chain) then I have a wrench for you." He tries to fix it while I dig the Allen out of my tool bag. He couldn't get it to budge either. I gave him the wrench to fix his pedal and he was on his way -- one of us should have a good race! I played with my chain a little longer thinking SAG would have to come by and redeem themselves. As I neared the top of the hill I saw them and waved them down with my blackened, greasy hands! I thought they were going to stop at the entrance to the park, "Yay!"
No. They kept going.
I got to the entrance to the park, still 3/4 mile to transition, but at least I could run with my bike now.
I make my way to transition and didn't cross the mat. I asked one of the volunteers to get me a bike guy. After more time passed the bike guy finally came out and was able to get it unjammed. He said, "don't use the little ring... it will probably happen again." "Thanks", I said, and was on my way.
I was so frustrated about the SAG thing, but I knew I had to let it go -- but crap I was mad! That's when I started thinking it's a freakin' sign that I shouldn't be racing this year! It seems like it's always been something at every race! And truly I had no one else to blame but me for my Operator Error! Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
So it was just me and the hybrids out there on the course now while "Princess" and I finished our 2nd loop. I never thought once to bag the race, because of something that Hombre said the day before while he was in T2. I asked him how he was doing. I just wanted a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down"... would have settled for a "neutral thumb" too. I knew something wasn't completely right and that all was not 100%. All he said was "It's manageable."
I thought, this WAS manageable. If this happened during my Ironman race one day, would I quit? Heck no!
I finished the 2nd loop, headed into T2 and out on the run. I admit I was still a bit angry, and we all now think anger is my motivation. I finally saw Amy on the course! Someone I could vent to! Blurted out some inappropriate language referring to the SAG services, then immediately apologized to everyone around Amy. Threw my water bottle down and kept running.
Anyone who knows me, knows that running is not a strength of mine. I try, and I have improved, but my running is just a means to the Finish. I felt good though. Even though I knew I had completely missed out on placing, losing 40 minutes on the bike, I realized I could have my best 5k run... at a tri, or solo 5k ever! On my run I saw women who reminded me of me when I started my first tri 100+lbs. ago. I was grateful for what I am now able to do and it brought me to a more positive place in my head. I encouraged everyone out there and really had a good time. These were the folks who were really going to work hard for their finish.
I did Finish with my best 5K ever and negative split my run; I didn't finish last either. Yeah, I was a little happy.
I was still ticked at SAG though. Haha!
I crossed the Finish all happy-pretty. Evidently they ran out of medals right after I got mine. I remembered those athletes still out there and what my first medal meant to me, and I gave it back so they could give it to someone else after me. To my surprise they gave me a Redman tech shirt to replace the medal. Sweet. I sat and waited, watching the later finishers and congratulating them :)
Every race, good or bad, teaches you something you should remember. The biggest loss of the day is missing that lesson.
And yeah, while I know it might seem over-the-top to write a race report about a Sprint tri, I learned a ton that day. The most valuable lessons don't always come with the most perfectly executed races. The most valuable races are the ones where you have to be flexible and manage adversity.
Anyone up for a Swim, Bike, Walk-up-hill, Run, Bike, Run Crazy Brick?