I was excited to race another “local” sprint triathlon as they are usually the most fun and I love racing with people I know. Fellow local pro Patrick Parish joined my dad and me for the ride down to Iowa. We were able to cram two bikes, all our racing gear and an extra body (Patrick) in the back of the car. Having a guest in the car was great for conversation and as always having a chauffeur was great for napping the second half of the ride, thanks Greg!
After arriving in Iowa we picked up our packets, dropped Patrick at his hotel, checked into ours, had some dinner and got to bed nice and early. Thank goodness for earplugs because our hotel was filled with young softball and baseball teams that were quite rowdy, that is until the fire alarm went off just after 11pm. Luckily they had an intercom system in each room to say it was a false alarm and we could stay in our rooms. That’s the second hotel fire alarm for Greg and I in less than a year! The rest of the night I was pretty restless and was just waiting for my alarm to sound.
I got to the race site bright and early so I’d have plenty of time to wake up, stretch out, warm up and of course enjoy my coffee! Gear West teammate Suzie Fox was also racing and joined me in transition pretty early on. Just over two weeks getting back into workouts after being very sick, I didn’t have high expectations for the race. I had my first run speed workout a few days before and a couple solid bike workouts which were sub-par, so I knew it was going to be tough. The course was fairly straight forward: out and back with rolling hills for the bike and a mostly out and back run with a couple miles of hills.
The elites and relays started first with an in water start, there was a junior tri club racing so the first heat was full of young athletes. I took off in the lead and was able to break for clean water right away. A couple young fast swimmers were swimming fairly wide so they didn’t pass me until we were swimming back towards shore. I was wearing my new 2015 Helix for the first time and was surprised that it actually feels more comfortable than the last version. I didn’t think this was possible! It’s also pink, which I love! My swim felt pretty solid, I didn’t feel as tired as I did at pigman, and according to my Garmin it was right on at .5 miles.
Running to transition the two young boys smoked me and I definitely was tired at this point. I forget to get my cap and goggles off while running so unfortunately I did that after getting out of my wetsuit. I set out on the bike wanting to push it as hard as I could. I could see my watts still weren’t where they should be but I pushed it as hard as I could. There were a few men out in front of me so it was great motivation trying to real them in. There were a few solid climbs on the course so I was hoping my legs would still be OK for the run with the little run training I had done over the past weeks. With a mile to go I knew I had a really good chance of breaking the course record so I pushed it back to T2.
I got out of my shoes before reaching the parking lot where T2 was. I wanted to maintain my speed to the dismount line as much as possible. About 200 meters from dismount I suddenly saw something large and bright blue right in front of me. There was no time to react, a teenage boy had stepped immediately in front of my bike. In that quarter-second I knew I was going down. After hitting the ground I got up quickly, I looked at myself and saw I was bleeding but I was going to finish. I looked around for my things, I lost a shoe so once I gathered that I was ready to run my bike to dismount but my bike wouldn’t roll. I wasn’t about to examine my bike so I picked it up over my shoulder and awkwardly hobbled it barefoot to the dismount line. I thought about leaving it at the side of transition but I knew that would incur a penalty or DQ so I got the bike to my rack at the far end of transition. I had issues racking because it wouldn’t roll into place but finally got my bike racked, helmet off and shoes on. Running out of T2 Greg was asking if I was OK, I just said “I don’t know?”
Starting my run I looked at my watch and knew I needed to run around 21 minutes to still break the record so I was in OK shape. I did a quick assessment of my body, knee bleeding, elbow bleeding, something up with my hip but my tri suit wasn’t ripped open, my foot wasn’t great but overall no pain preventing me from continuing. The adrenaline and frustration from the crash kept me moving forward. The heat and humidity had risen and there was no protection from the sun so conditions weren’t pleasant. Right after the half way turn around Patrick blazed by me and soon after I saw Suzie had raced her way into second and was pushing hard. This helped motivate me even more to the finish. Not a great run but I was happy that I could run and finish with a win. Patrick finished third overall for the men and Suzie was second for the women, a solid day for Minnesota in Iowa!
Post-race I was able to asses my bike and my body. For the bike, the chain was stuck in the crank which was preventing it from rolling, otherwise the drivetrain appeared to be in good shape and the Di2 appeared to be working fine. The front wheel had moved out of alignment but there appeared to be no damage there either. The fall tore through the bar tape on my left handle bar of the cockpit, scratching up the carbon pretty good. I had my bike inspected back in MN by the professionals at Gear West to make sure there were no subtle cracks, etc. and that it would still be safe to ride. I was happy to hear that I’d be good to go. I do plan on replacing the cockpit because it’s not the most comfortable holding onto scratched carbon, not a cheap replacement!
Onto my body. Obviously I was able to get up and run so nothing was broken. The top of my left foot was scratched open in a few places near my toes, it swelled a bit and turned black and blue, luckily it still fit in my shoe. My left knee cap was scratched up pretty good and both knees were bruised all around. My left hip was scratched and bruised but I’m so glad it didn’t rip through my tri suit! My quads had big bruises; they must have hit the cockpit somehow. My left elbow took the brunt of things and it was torn open pretty good, it still has yet to fully close up thanks to Tegaderm so it doesn’t scab over. You can see a ring of black and blue around my entire elbow and a few dark black spots on the joint. Finally a few scraps on the shoulders but very minor. After the race I pulled up my Garmin file to see my speed before the crash. I was going about 20mph so I’m very lucky to have so few injuries (same goes for the boy that I hit, he ran off before I got up). I was sore all over for a couple days, in the most random spots, like my obliques and my armpits to my elbow. I have to say I’ve been really nervous about crashing, since up until this I had only done the awkward standing-in-place fall where I lost my balance clipping in, and slowly fell over on my bike. I guess the silver lining is getting my first crash out of the way so I can be a little less nervous about it.
Thanks for reading, happy and safe training…. and spectating!