Last weekend I traveled down to Phoenix to close out the 2012 season at Ironman Arizona. I have finished off many seasons by racing in Florida, but I decided to race in AZ this year to give me a little more time following Ironman Wisconsin in September. The weather in Boulder was remarkably warm and dry this fall and I hardly had any challenges getting ready for a race this late in the year. Race Day:
The swim started in fairly uneventful fashion. I missed the front group, but I was following the lead of a strong swimmer that was moving up nicely as we were approaching the turnaround. Unfortunately, I lost contact at that point and was solo for a long time. I eventually bridged up to Thomas Gerlach in the last 10 minutes or so and we came into T1 together.
As ran through T1 I pulled my helmet out of my bag put in on my head and came to find that the buckles on the strap had completely broken off. I ran up to my bike and sat on the ground and proceeded to try and fix it. With a clear head, I might have been able to do something, but in this case I was sitting there for 2-3 minutes trying to find a way to put this thing together. Eventually I ripped some tape off my bike and tried to tie it together so that I could get out of transition.
I got out and started riding and within a few miles it had fallen apart. I pulled over to try to fix it again, but I quickly realized there was nothing I could do about it on the side of the road. I decided to try and ride up to the next aid station and see if there was something I could do there.
A few miles later I got the to aid station and rode straight to one of the supply trucks. I asked someone if they could see if there was any tape lying around. Someone found some duct tape and she did a solid job of taping the straps together well enough for me to continue. This proved to finally be the fix, but I had lost a lot of time in the process of finally finding a pretty simple solution.
I had a hard time getting myself back into the right headspace once I got back out onto the road. All this happened within the first 10 miles of the bike and I think that made it all the more challenging for me to deal with mentally. Prior to a race, I go through a lot of scenarios (flats, lost nutrition, crashes, etc) in my head and I know exactly what to do, but I was missing this one.
The remainder of the bike was a struggle for me. I did feel 'off', but its hard to know whether that is truly how I felt, or whether that is simply what I found myself focusing on. Racing is always uncomfortable, but if you are focusing on RACING, you keep your mind where it needs to be and the discomfort is managed.
I finished up the bike and headed out onto the run. I can't say I was super excited about running 26 miles at this point, but I know what it feels like to drop out of a race (by choice) and that feels worse to me than a subpar race. I just kept it ticking over and managed to move up about 10 places or so by the end of the day to finish 11th Overall.
I know it sounds cliche, but sometimes the day really is about finishing. It is frustrating to not be able to transfer success in preparation to success on race day, but its part of the process.
Happy Thanksgiving and Offseason to everyone out there.