(Photo courtesy of Lindsey Cook)
“It’s like deja vu, all over again.” (Yogi Berra) And quite frankly, even while I was in pain during the race and for a few days later, I would have gladly taken that yesterday. But instead, this happened….
After arriving at Pleasant Prairie at 4:30AM, we ggot the bike set up and went for a test ride. It was a little uncomfortable doing all of this in the dark when I couldn’t see much of anything. But this is one of the many places where complete trust in your guide comes into play. I knew it would all be fine, and it was.
With the bike set, we went into and set up transition and got pumped to rock the Tri. And then the rain and thunder came… An hour later, the Triathlon became a Duathlon (Run/Bike/Bun)I realize that this killed the race for a few people that were the swim part of a relay team, but I saw a LOT of people leaving. One of the main things of being a triathlete is that you have to be flexible — conditions won’t be perfect but you’ve still got to roll with the punches.
I’ll admit that I’m not a strong runner, so going from a Triathlon to a Duathlon wasn’t what I wanted to hear. But I was still optimistic for the day since we still had the bike. We started as a group, and it seemed to go well. We made it about half way around the lake before the 2nd group started.
I was feeling good as we made it to the bike. And it went well until we took a hard left turn on a wet surface. This was the point where the back tire went from a slow leak to flat. When it happened, my immediate reaction was “we are not giving up”. So we started walking the tandem back to the RecPlex, passing a set of course marshals soon after it happened. They asked us if we needed the assistance of the van (aka getting pulled from the race); our response was ‘hell no, we’re walking it back’. I wanted to reply more emphatically, but profanity is a USAT violation, so I left it with that.
After about 5 minutes of walking the tandem, Keri and another team member passed by us. Thankfully, Keri had a flat kit so we thought all was good. Lindsey fixed the flat, and all seemed well. That was until we took the next turn and the tire went flat AGAIN. That meant there was something within the tire, and rubber coming off of it confirmed that thought. So all we could do was walk it in about 3.5 miles. During that walk, Lindsey and I had a chance to talk and get to know each other better. And during that walk, we had a lot of people asking if we needed help and sharing words of encouragement.
When we finally made it back to transition, we had been out on the bike course for two hours. After getting changed back into run gear, we headed out for our 5K run. After about the first half mile, my body was just done. My right side hurt so much that I couldn’t even jog, not even after stretching it out. I think that was because of the extended walk back with the tandem. So we walked the rest of the way back. There was a lot of encouragement for us on the run, and even more surprisingly a big cheering crowd at the finish line. Lindsey said that a lot of those were people who had seen us walking the bike back. Very, very cool that they stuck around until we finished.
So as you can see, what was expected to be a great day went south. And while I could have made it much shorter than the 3:30 I was out on the course, that wasn’t happening. Put simply, I don’t believe in DNFs —
1) I’ve got too much pride to ever tap out.
2) I’ve got too much respect for my teammates and the Dare2Tri organization to do so
We all have struggles out on the course, it’s how you deal with them that defines you. I found out after the race that one of my teammates (Eris) had gotten a flat as well and rode back 10 miles on it so their race could keep going.
Naperville is the next planned race, but I may add another before. I’d like a ‘do over’ for this race. Not because it went badly as a Duathlon, but because it went from a Triathlon to a Duathlon. We’ll see what I can put together. And regardless of when it is, I plan to have a seat bag with a flat kit in it.
Thanks so much to the RecPlex for a great day, Dare2Tri for all of their support and Lindsey Cook for guiding me!