Sorry, this is a long one.... and it starts the night before the race.
I arrived on Friday evening at my brother's house in NJ. The plan was to clean and lube my chain, and then go for a quick ride to get my legs loose from the drive. However, I noticed that my back tire was flat -- maybe the intense heat during the drive caused it to expand just a bit too much and explode? Anyway, I pulled out my spare tube and proceeded with the tube changing process. Mind you, I am TERRIBLE at this, mostly because I never practice. Thirty minutes later, after two tries (I pinched one side on the first try), I emerged from the process both sweaty and covered in bike grease. But relieved that the process was complete.
Not so fast! I pump up the tube, and..... there's a leak. Great. My only spare, and it's 8pm. While my brother gets on the Internet to find an open sporting goods store, I take off the tire and this time examine it closely. Ummm... perhaps I should not be using a tire with cracking all over the place and seams that are starting to split? I think the last time I looked closely at my tires was 2000 miles ago when I bought them. And, one of the cracks goes all the way through, while probably means that the leak on my spare was actually a pinch flat caused by the crack.
FRIDAY NIGHT.... STILL
Hit up Dick's Sporting Goods, and buy three tubes (just in case). One of them is a fancy "holes will seal themself via this fancy green goo!" tube. Not sure whether the technology works, but I figure I can use all the help I can get. I get home, and install the fancy tube, making sure to first cover the crack on the inside of the tire with a dollar bill. It works, and I start pumping up the tube....
... until it gets to 100 psi and explodes. Well, this is nice. It blew a hole right next to the stem (at least it wasn't another pinch flat), and now there is green goo all over my tire. Lovely.
At this point I am concerned that three spare tubes was not enough, seeing as how I have already lost three tubes TODAY. Thankfully this saga had a happy ending, because my next tube actually went on successfully, with no leaks.
Got to bed around midnight, at least thankful that this tire drama did not occur on race morning.
SATURDAY -- RACE DAY
Getting ready for the swim start, and I put on my timing chip. Hmmm... this timing chip strap must be made for someone with an ankle the size of a tree trunk, because there is so much extra velcro hanging off the end, and only an inch of velcro that is actually doing anything. I loosen it up a bit, so that there is a bit more velcro holding the chip on, even though it is now a bit loose on my ankle. (Note the foreshadowing here.)
Into the water for the swim start. I usually start at the back of the swim, so that when the good swimmers take off, I'm left with a few other slowpokes. Not in this case. I'm reminded of the fact that 60% of the competitors are first-timers when I look around and see that nearly everyone is trying to start at the back with me.
Horn sounds, and we are off! This turns out to be the most brutal swim start I have experienced. So many people kicking you, running into you from the side (because they are not sighting and are swimming crooked), hitting you with their huge breastroke kicks, and in general just not being relaxed at all. Someone gives a huge kick right to my chip, and I'm thinking OH MY GOD... my chip is about to fall off. Perfect.
My kicks are now worse than usual, because with every kick I'm wondering: Is this the kick that will send my timing chip into the lake? Should I just stop and try to readjust it underwater? I forge ahead.
I emerged from the swim with my chip intact (victory!), and began the bike leg. Less drama this time... no flats or mechanical difficulties, and also no excitement due to the relatively boring bike course. About a mile from the finish, I guy I have just passed is apparently not paying attention, and drifts to within a few inches of clipping my tire. I yell at him "HEY!! WATCH OUT!!!" Clearly I am on edge a little bit.
It is ridiculously hot. Somehow I manage to insert drama into a simple run course by throwing water into my face with such force that I almost lost a contact lens. I wish I was kidding.
Glad to be done. Disappointing times in all three legs, though I still managed to finish in the top 15%. (Again: lots of new triathletes.)
Not my favorite race experience, but at least I learned a few lessons:
- Inspect your tires every now and again.
- Practice changing a tire every now and again.
- Carry more spare tubes than you think you need.
- Buy your own timing chip strap.
Thanks for reading!
Nice race report, Kevin! And congrats on getting through your race despite all the drama. I've done the "almost lost a contact due to splashing myself too hard with water" too. Good times...not. Well, congrats again on the finish and way to look at it as a learning experience.
P.S. Did you know that you're almost famous? You're in the background of a picture in this month's Triathlon Life magazine. You're running in the background behind Dhani Jones, the NFL star they were featuring in the article. Way to represent DC Tri!
Thanks Sandy. And I had no idea about the photo!! I haven't received my copy yet, but I just logged into the digital edition and checked it out. Very cool :)
Great & entertaining race report! Thanks for sharing.