Monday, March 4, 2013

Desert International Triathlon - Race Story

I finished.

And slower than last year (which might seem crazy since I bonked so bad last year.)

But... my race took another path this year.  I am going to let the photos tell the story.  Not only did Jeff, Anna and I have a great family weekend for this "destination race," I had a very special race.  I hope you enjoy the ride...

Start... family weekend away.  At the top of the grade leading into Palm Desert,
we stop to check out a viewpoint... yes... I am holding onto Anna so she
doesn't get any closer to the rail... looks like my phobia of heights and
spiders will pass onto her...
All Anna wanted to do was go swim in our
resort pool... but I had to pick up my registration
materials.  Looks like a horrible place for
a race... ;-)
We got Anna into one of the (11) pools/spas at our resort and she LOVED IT!
Seriously, in the desert, what else do you do but get in the water...
even in March... it was in the 80's!
We had a nice and relaxing night at our resort before the race.  I made a sausage, artichoke and pasta dinner, Jeff adjusted my bike, I finished packing my race bag and we got to sleep... at least I tried to sleep!

4AM the alarm went off.  Time to get up... get dressed... check the bag... hope to use the restroom... make breakfast... and get the family up and dressed and out the door.  This year, since it would be 3 hours before I started, I opted to start drinking Gaterade first thing and eat a banana, and eat my traditional bagel, cream cheese, ham, avocado, tomato and mozerella after I set up my transition area.

As I was setting up, Jeff and Anna were watching the sunrise...
Blinding orange bike cover...check!
Pulling on the wetsuit and ready to race... CHECK!
I am a good swimmer, so I have learned to start at
the front of my pack.  (1) minute to go!!!

My group starting... out of about 100 gals, yes... I like to be at the front
of the pack! 
My races are always family events... Anna
having fun rolling down a hilll as I swim...
I started the bike and within about 1/2 mile, there were (2) crashes.  I rode by them and I noticed that there were a few other racers there with the injured racer.  I rode a about 1/2 mile further and saw the ambulances and fire trucks racing up toward the injured racers.  As I was watching all of this, I started thinking to myself... what if I saw a crash right in front of me... I have been training for months for this race and am in line to podium... what would I do if someone actually crashed right in front of me? 
I saw several more crash scenes during the bike... and each time, there were a few other racers with the crash victim.  I mentally noted there was support for each of these racers, and again wondered what I would do, knowing full well that crashing on the bike is one of my all time fears...
Bike in... I'm starting to realize that the new training trend of,
"More intensity, less miles" DOES NOT work for me!  I ended up
with a slower bike time than last year... (huh?)
The run was 2 laps... and I was hurting!  Because the run is not on the street,
for this race, we are allowed to use our music.  I have spent the past two
weeks uploading new tunes to really get me going on the run, and it really
helped me for the first lap... until just before I finished the first lap.  All of
a sudden, it started acting weird and wasn't playing at all.  I made a quick
decision to ditch the Ipod when I reached Jeff and finish the final lap
on my own... racing is half training and half mental prep, so when I
had planned to have my music inspire me to the finish, making the choice
to drop it was HUGE!

I started my second lap of the run... 3.1 miles to run and I was done.  I was a bit off my goal pace, but I was on pace to cut atleast 10 minutes off last year's time.  About 1/2 mile into my last lap, I heard two racers behind me... one was saying that he had crashed on the bike... the other said that his injuries were bad and he should stop and see the medic... the injured racer said that he had a decision to make at the crash... "stop and cry about it or finish the race"... and he was still running.  At this point, I turned around and congratulated the injured racer for his decision.  (If I had still had my headphones on, I would have never heard this conversation.) 

A few minutes later, the injured racer caught up to me.  We started chatting and I was doing my best to pump him up and tell him he would finish the race.  Then he told me about his crash and showed me his injuries.  This was his first International Distance Triathlon at 58 years old... as he was getting into his aerobars, the left bar collapsed and he went down.  His left palm was totally shredded and he was bleeding from bad road rash on his right knee and elbow.  He asked me if he could run with me because he said he needed help to finish the race.  He was really struggling and of course I said, "yes." 

Within about 30 paces, he stopped to walk... and he looked at me... to see if I would stop, too.

Going on without Chris wasn't an option.  We spent the next 30-40 minutes walking and sometimes jogging through the course.  He told me about his family and his wife, and I shared my story with him.  I'm smiling just thinking of these (3) miles...

We seperated as I finished the race and he was heading into his final lap of the run. 

... my finish... but I couldn't breath as I was telling Jeff about Chris...
I watched Chris finish his final lap and Jeff waited with me while we waited
for Chris to come in.  I saw him come around the final bend and ran out to
meet him... and ran with him to the final stretch... and we watched him
finish the race... 4:23 for his first international... after crashing... he
still crossed that line... and went straight to the medics.
Sometimes, your finish time doesn't matter.
THIS was one of those time.
Chris, I will see you at next year's race.  You told me as we walked/ran together
that I inspired you... no... you inspired me!  See you next year, my friend!

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