There is a saying in boxing, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face." Well, this week, I guess you can say I took several punches to the face.
I had the week planned out, everything would be set for my first race. Travel is set, car rental, hotel, training. This had been planned for several months. Well, everything started to go off schedule a week out from the race.
When I was about 8 I had my four bottom front teeth knocked out by the crossing card on my way home. My brother Jake (who is 2 years older), was teasing the crossing guard (the girl and my brother were in the same class), probably because that is what boys do at that age with girls they like. Well, she did not like it swung the crossing poll at her, he ducked and I took it in the face. Big mess. Well, I have crowns on my bottom teeth that recently need to be replaced. I have temps on that popped off on Saturday, so I had to move my schedule and training around so that I can get them bonded back on. If that was it, I would be fine.
Then came Wednesday. I woke up at 4:30 for work (I had morning PT with the students and it was my turn to be at work early so we had coverage) and I was not feeling the best. On my way to work, on a road that is just nothing but farm land, I was going 53 in a 40. Now this stretch of road for some reason goes from 35 outside the town, to 40, to 50 then back down to 40. Well, I speed up to early and lights started to flash. I was pulled over and received a speeding ticket. Not a problem, my fault, but in Illinois, they take your drivers license as bond and your ticket is to act as your drivers license. Not a big deal if I am flying as I have a government issued ID card for work and a passport, I need to rent a car. Some car rental places will take that, some don't. So Wednesday was spent trying to find out if the car rental would take the ticket as license or if they would freak out that I just got a speeding ticket, never mind its my first ticket in 8 years. After about 40 min of being on the phone with no one being able to help me and being transferred about 20 times, I still had no answer. So I was able to get ahold of the station and they said I could pay my bond at the station and to stop by after 2:30. So I stopped back at 4:00 and no one had the key for the bond box. They told me to stop by the next day between 6:30-10:30 and see the captain. I went home, packed for the race and I was there at 6:25 am Thursday morning and payed my bond and got my licence.
Thing would have been ok from there, but now I am coughing and coughing some stuff up. Not a good sign. But I was on my flight and off to Orlando. No problems getting there, my rental or the hotel, or so I would thought. I had called on Wednesday to tell the hotel a package would be coming. It was my racing suit and ITU rules are very specific on sponsor, where your name goes, country designation, etc. So if I don't have this suit I don't race. The hotel said they would be waiting for the package.
On Friday I wake up and I am not feeling better. I go to the race site and do my warm up and check out the course. OK, not bad, really shallow water for a long way. Shallow as in this may be more of a run then a swim. I leave the race site and I get an email from my girlfriend who looked up the tracking number of my package and she tells me the package was refused by the hotel. They said I had already left! WHAT?!?! This is not good. The rest of the day is spent on the phone talking with Fed Ex and emailing Champion systems (they are a sponsor and who made me my suit). I told Fed Ex the importance of the suit and Ashley at Champion Systems was working from there end. With out the work of Fed Ex and Ashley at Champion Systems, I don't know what I would have done. With the work of Champion Systems and Fed Ex the suit would be delivered race morning between 9- 10 am. My race is at 1:30. After having some choice words with the hotel, I laid in bed the rest of the day and tried to get rest. I was not feeling well and this was not helping. Again, no uniform, no race.
I wake up Saturday and I sound more like Barry White then myself. I take my time getting up, get in a hot shower to try and get ride of some of the congestion. It helps at first, but not much. I am thinking that maybe I should pull myself from the race, but I can't bring myself to do it. I have worked to hard to get here. Even if I can't finish, I will start it. I start packing my stuff and prepping to leave for the race. at 9:30 the suit arrives. I try it on, it fits great. No problems, so I feel a bit better. Then at 10:00 it was out the door for the race site.
I arrive at the site and go through the check in process. They inspect my bike, its legal, they check my suit, it meets all the regulations (they also takea photo of it so you can't change into a different suit during the race). Then its time to check in my bike in transition, set up and start warming up. I quick ez run to loosen up the legs, some drills, etc. I feel loose, ok, but I don't want to do to much, I still don't feel great. Then off to the lake to do a swim warm up. I feel ok in the water, loose, not to bad. Then its time to line up for the start and before you know it the gun goes off.
The swim was a 750 meter swim and I bet we ran or dolphin dived half of it, it was that shallow. It was crasy. 70 guys running, dolphin diving, fighting for position. I took a kick to the chin (I was worded my teeth would be knocked loose), we hit the fist bouy and it became so crowded I was swimming up other swimmers backs, I was started to think swimmers might try to go over me and drown me. Arms and legs are everywhere. Then it was swimming back in and dolphin diving and running again, and I did not feel good. I felt drained. Not a good sign, but I just told myself to keep going.
I made so many mistakes in that swim. I did not fight for position and as I result, I was toward the back. To many rookie mistakes. I hit transition and I was soon on the bike. But this is draft legal and I was in no man's land. There was a group in front and riders behind me. I tried to charge to catch the riders in front, but they are a pack working together and I was feeling exhausted, I had nothing in my legs. Being sick just zapped my energy. After trying to catch them, I realized it was not going to happen. I saw that a group had formed up behind me and eased up a bit to let them catch me. It was five riders and when they came by, I jumped on. We started to work together and shortly we had caught one single rider and the pack of 3 that I was trying to catch earlier by myself. Catching the main field was not going to happen. There was a pack of about 25, 15 and 10 in front of us. Not enough time. But we pushed it anyway.
We came into transition and I was off the bike and into my running shoes and the first thing I wanted to do was walk. Needless to say, this is not how I pictured my first race going. I am lucky this was a sprint and not an Olympic distance. It was only a 5K run, so I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Some runners from my group felt better and took off, others were not as strong and feel off the back. I just ran, not fast, but I just ran. Not to help matters, my timing chip shifted down on my ankle and I could feel it digging in to my skin. I knew it was rubbing it raw, but I was not stopping, I was not walking. Not my first pro race. I am gutting this out. I am here and I worked hard to get here. No stopping. I finally get to the finish and feel beat. I look down at my left ankle and my shoe is just caked with blood from the timing chip. Well, just chalk that up to another mistake. I usually put body glide on there and I didn't. This is the result.
After seeing medical and getting some fluids in, I packed my bike off and headed to the airport. On the drive, I started to get the chills and really started to feel bad. But I made it, checked in, got some food and more fluids and just rested. Then my flight was delayed! Oh well. What can I do about it. Just like everything, take it all in stride.
Not what I had I thought it would be and I made a lot of mistakes. But I learned a lot about draft legal races. I have to fight more on the swim and be there to get those large packs on the bike. And of course, being healthly would help. But as my brother told me, it was my welcome to the big show moment and it can only go up from here. Next race is St. Anthony's on May 1st. This one is a non-drafting race. I have some time to train up and get healthy. I am looking forward to it and I am even more motivated then before.