... that is how I can characterize this season. Compared to last year I've had it all - overuse injury earlier in the season that put me out of run training for over 60 days. I managed to have pretty serious crash on the bike just about two weeks before being able to resume running, luckily nothing broken. Just lots of bruises and some deep scars that are still healing. Due to all this I had few DNS races and one intentional DNF in Jerseyman where I pulled out right after good swim and great bike leg. I came back to racing few weeks ago in Providence, RI in the Ironman 70.3 where I had pretty good showing. My swim was not the best, mostly due to misreading the current, but bike was pretty good and on the run I managed to survive and not blow up. It was pretty big accomplishment considering the longest run leading into the race was 8 miles and I had been running for little over 3 weeks. So today I was ready to increase the effort and have another good race. Well it was not to be.
The day started pretty well - nice weather, little hot but not unbearable. Water was too warm for wetsuit, but that did not bother me. If anything it makes transition faster and everyone swims w/o one. I did my pre-race routine, chatted with my enmu peers and went for a short warmup swim. Water was really nice - not too hot, but warm enough not to make you feel chilly. I was ready. We lined up just few minutes before 8am and right at 8 we were sent off. On the way to the first buoy there was some fighting for positions and feet, but nothing that would shake me up. I just kept pushing and sighting. I wanted to make this a good one. The first half of the swim was pretty good. Visibility was not too good, but I managed to avoid being kicked (just barely few times) and I did not let the pullers from the back to shake my determination. If anything they realized that I have feet and can kick. Second loop was shorter than the first one and while I lost the feet I was drafting I was doing pretty good. From the last buoy I started kicking little more to help with transition to upright position and I was out of water few seconds short of 22 minutes. Pretty good for this course and I was pleased with it.
The T1 was fast since all I had to do was put on my helmet and go. I got into my bike shoes in the first kilometer or so once I got moving and passed the curvy part of the road. I felt pretty good on the bike and shortly settled into my rhythm. All was going well until I got to the first short climb where I shifted to easier gear which dropped my chain. I cursed something in my native language, stopped and thought I'm losing few seconds. Well not quite - the chain was looped around the inside of the chainring axle and also outside on the axle on the pedal side. God knows how that happened. Gently releasing the chain helped it after a while. I cleaned my hands on the wet grass and jumped back on my bike. Ready to go. At this point I lost about 3 minutes - nothing I can not make up on this course I thought. I started climbing the hill and bam - the chain kept skipping. I shifted to easier gear, adjusted front derailer position, skipping. Shifted to harder gear, still skipping. I went another few hundred meters and when the chain kept skipping I decided to go back to transition. I had spare set of wheels, but no spare chain or bike. So that was it for me for today.
I'm quite disappointed since I was doing real well and felt like I could have good race. After I packed all my stuff in the car Erica took me for a short run to calm down and chat a bit. We cheered on the other half riders as they were finishing their first loop. It was fun to see people racing and cheer them on. But next time I'm bringing spare bike to the race for cases like this one.
I'm hoping this was the last one of the little and big incidents that seem to have converged into this season. Well I'll just continue to roll with the punches and keep coming back for more. I'm ready to have a good race workout in our bi-weekly Grin and Bear It Wednesday race. Bring it on!