Belews Mishap

My attempts at being more prepared and less fly by the seat of my pants in racing this year don’t seem to be working.  My attempts at being a big girl and handling basic stuff on my bike don’t seem to be working either.  I am considering going back to being haphazard and dropping my bike off at the shop for everything (yes, everything, like changing wheels and oiling my chain).  Sigh….

Anyway, I signed up for Belews sprint this weekend as an attempt to replace my big fat 0 in the series for my DNF at White Lake Half.  Although a sprint would hardly constitute a justified replacement, it was the only other race on the calendar since White Lake that fit my schedule that I wasn’t already doing as part of my 5.  Having missed a lot of the bigger “world series of Charlotte” races this year with family travel and such, it was the best I could do.  Not seeing a ton of super competitive names on the registration gave me hopes I would fare well in this race.

My sister and I arrived at the site about an hour before the race with plenty of time.  The first mishap occurred not 10 minutes after arriving when I attempted to pump my front tire and the “cap”  to my nozzle broke off and jammed in the pump.  Nice.  And I didn’t have a spare tube with me.  *($#)  Fortunately the tire stayed inflated as this same thing happen to my sister at LKN, except her tire went flat.  However, I was kinda worried this may happen mid-ride so I figured I’d get it changed.  I also don’t have a “crack pipe” needed to pump my tire with the disk on, and I figured the bike mechanics tent could help me out as they have in previous races.

Well, I think Setup events needs to be a bit more selective on the bike mechanic they select for their races, though I’m sure there aren’t an abundance of bike shops proximate to Stokesdale, NC.  The first thing this guy said to me was “I’m just warning you, I’m not that familiar with these fancy triathlon bikes”.  Well, um, ok – you’re at a triathlon, I thought, but kept that to myself and explained what I needed.  Not only did the bike mechanic not have any extra tubes (none, zero, nada), he had never heard of the crack pipe/extender I was referring to so obviously didn’t have one of those either.  Off to a great start.

So I headed to rack my bike with no fresh air in my tires and a broken nozzle on the front tire saying a little prayer that it wouldn’t go flat on the ride.  Not really ideal.

My mom came to the race and it was awesome to hang with her and Dawn before the swim start.

Swim:  14:25 – 24/111 (moving up in the world!) J

I was seeded 8th and felt comfortable with my spot.  I didn’t wear my speedsuit at this race as it seems that the 4 times I’ve worn it have been the absolute 4 worst swims of my life.  Granted, it’s probably because I wear the speedsuit in non-wetsuit legal races hence why I’m always slug-slow, but I figured I’d give it a shot without.

I like the time trial start of this race because it doesn’t allow for frustration in my head when the entire pack swims away from me with the mass start.  I also liked that you can see the whole course from the shore and the turns were all to the right.  All good signs for me.

I set out at a pretty good pace and was able to stay on the feet of the guy who started with me for the first 100 meters or so.  After that, I was pretty much on my own and did a great job navigating the first two turn buoys.  I actually felt I was swimming hard, as you should in a sprint.  I think one of my biggest problems with swimming in sprints and Olympics is that I tend to “settle in” and get too comfortable swimming aerobically.  I don’t bike or run aerobically so I’m not sure why I swim that way, but I’m working on this.  I passed the one girl who started ahead of me in the water and that felt good.  Like…me, I passed someone, in the SWIM!  WOOO HOOOO.  I’ll conveniently fail to mention how many people passed me.

When I made the turn at the 2nd buoy for the last 200 meters to the finish though, I was literally blind.  Since my first season of racing, I have never stopped and breast stroked or stopped dead in my tracks to see where I was going in a race.  Until then.  I was absolutely blind?  For the whole 200 meters.  Fortunately some people were passing me so I was able to use them to get to the shore, but I really couldn’t see even see the flailing man until I was literally standing up and out of the water.  I’m not sure what the hell was up with that – combo of sun, foggy, pretty darkly tinted goggles?  Didn’t seem many other people were having as hard as of a time as I was.  Go figure.

I knew my swim time would be better than some recent previous, but I also knew it would still be slow given the last 200 meters being a disaster and falling twice on the slimy rocks at the exit.  Like falling down and screaming like a girl.  Twice.  Embarrassing.  Nonetheless, my swim was over 2 min faster than 3 weeks ago at Lake Norman, which doesn’t say much, but at least at this point I hadn’t lost the whole race in the water.

T1: 1:00 – 7th

Nothing to report.  In and out as quick as I could…and the first female out of transition!  J

Bike:  44:06 – 19th   (I’m embarrassed to have this # associated with my name on the bike results)

37:11 according to my Garmin which auto pauses when you stop.

So this is when the real fun started.  Hop on bike and head up the hill out of T1.  Hit the button on my Di2 to take off one additional gear to get up the hill.  Chain jumps over my big cassette ring, and jam itself into the little space between my disk and my cassette.  At this point, I nearly wreck because I’m clipped in and stopped on an incline.  In an attempt to avoid wrecking, I somehow get a nice cut up shin.  I tried to remain calm and pull my chain out but it was stuck really bad.  I played around with it for a few minutes as like 50 people ran out of transition passed me but I couldn’t get it out.  I didn’t know what else to do at that point so I hopped on and rolled back down the hill to turn in my chip and call it a day.  Lord knows the bike mechanic would have been worthless!  Outside of transition, I decided to give it one more shot and it somehow had come loose and I was able to put it back on.

In all honesty, the only reason I decided to continue the race was so I could get a workout in.  I took off up the hill, but I can’t lie it was tough to motivate to totally crush myself as you need to in a sprint when you’re like 5, 6, 7 minutes down on the people you’re racing against.  My cassette was still rattling and nothing felt right, but I went with it anyway.  I did the best I could to ride hard, but this course seems hard to get in a rhythm.  It’s long false flats and inclines, with no real “hills” or descents – kinda one of those courses you just grind it out the whole time.  I never felt like I was going very fast (and I felt the same way at the Olympic in April) but I did manage to pass at least a dozen or so dudes with dignity. J  Before the race I was worried that this was only a 14 mile bike course – during the race, I was thankful.

T2 –  1:03 – 6th

Nothing to report here, really.

Run: 22:20 – 6th

Well, if I was having a hard time motivating to ride hard after the debacle, I had a really hard time motivating to run hard.  Especially since I saw the female leaders running about ¼ mile out of transition already as I was just coming in.  Frustrating.  The course is not flat, it’s a lot like the bike course with some long, steady grinders.  These are not my specialty.  Otherwise, I just did what I could to finish with a moderately respectable run time.

Total:  1:23:52 – 9th

1:15:59 according to my Garmin.  😦

It’s crazy to think that after four YEARS of racing there is still so much to learn, but it seems I walk away from every race learning something.

There is a long drawn out reason that I won’t get in to of why my chain did a hop, skip and a jump over my cassette.  It is [technically] my fault, though I didn’t realize it at the time.  I’m trying to be accepting that there are going to be trials and tribulations that come along with my big girl pants of maintaining my bike myself, it’s just frustrating when they happen in a race.  I’m hoping to have most all of these kinks worked out before New Zealand because I would hate to fly across the world for a race to have something like this happen.

That said, mechanical issues happen – they are often times totally out of our control and how we deal with them is the only thing that is in our control.  I am pleased with myself for going out and continuing to race, and race modestly hard, despite the circumstances.  The easiest thing to do would have been turn in my chip as I originally started to do (when I legitimately thought I couldn’t fix my chain) and DNF due to the mechanical.  It also would have been easy to turn in my chip even after I “fixed” my chain out of sheer desire to not post bad results, which in all honesty, was tempting.  Whether that makes me a bad sport, a sore loser, whatever you may think, it’s the truth.

I’m also happy that as far as my training goes, I’m in the best short distance shape of my life.  Hopefully my swim will improve so that I don’t continue to out-right lose races in the water.  I feel confident as I head to worlds that I am physically capable of having a decent result, as long as everything comes together that day.  I’m hoping all of these mishaps will be out of my system before I toe the line on October 22nd!

That was the longest ~18 mile race update of my life.

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