Monday, September 4, 2006

A Tale of Two Flats: Keep On Peddlin'

I'm still waiting for my official results for the St. Croix Valley Sprint triathlon. The event was held last Saturday -- and today is Monday.

The race coordinators split the St. Croix Valley events over two days: Sprint distance (0.3 mile swim/10 mile bike/4 mile run) happens on Saturday and the International distance (1.2 swim/ 24 mile bike/ 6 mile run) takes place on Sunday.

I thought that the results would be posted after the International event, but alas, I'm still waiting.

The event started off really well: I came out of the water in 13:38.

This was a 6.5 minute improvement over my swim time last year. It would appear that those lessons really paid off. Well, that and the fact that I didn't walk the entire swim. (The swim course is very shallow. I figured that out last year when I swam up to one of the support rafts to hold on for a minute and accidentally let my feet dangle below me and my toes hit the sandy bottom of the river. I looked up at the person on the raft and she said to me, "Oh yeah, you can touch the WHOLE WAY!".

With that information, what is any reasonable bad-swimmer to do? Walk!

This year, having that same information in my head, knowing I could touch if I needed too and armed with months of practice and lessons, I swam the majority of the course and when I needed a quick break, I just put my feet down and walked a step or two before paddling again.

I was so happy when I got out of the water so quickly, made my transition fast and hit the bike route.

That is when the "fun" started.

I got out about 4 blocks from the start and noticed that my bike was dragging. I looked down and could see that my rear tire was flat.

I had pumped up both tires before I left the house and why the tire was flat seemed to be a mystery.

I considered just going on with the flat, but the drag was really pulling me back. I also thought that, because the course is very hilly, riding the whole 10 miles with a flat would ruin the tire and be very tough.

I turned around, went back to the bike transition area and looked for someone with an air pump. None was to be had. I went over to the announcer and asked him to ask the crowd if anyone had an air pump. A very kind man, who apparently was the head cook for the luau that takes place for the "after party", had one in his truck, so he took me W......A......Y..... far away from the transition area, got his pump out and pumped up my tire.

I was very grateful but also dreading the precious seconds/minutes that were ticking away getting this little problem fixed.

He finished filling my tire and then I made it back to transition and out on to the course -- dead last.

Other bikers were coming back in to transition. A lovely, steady stream of bikers peddling their hearts out, looking over to me with that "Who is that poor schmuck?" look on their face. It was me, just trying to get through the course.

I thought about quitting a number of times -- especially during miles one through three. It just seemed like an insurmountable course and that I'd never be able to beat my course time from last year.

I kept peddling.

About mile 3.5, I saw some people ahead of me. VICTORY! Surely I could catch up with them and maybe even PASS them! I peddled on.

I did pass them -- and a few other stragglers. Hurrah! I gave it my all, pushing up those lovely but very steep hills to the turnaround at mile five.

They had a water stop there and I grabbed some water. In between gulps, I told the two volunteers that I had had a flat. One of them said to me, as he was staring down at my rear tire: "Are you going to fix it"?


I looked down and saw it -- a tire that was flat as a pancake. CRAP.

Now there is nothing I can do. The folks at the turnaround couldn't take me back. I was five miles to the bike finish -- if I walked it, it would take over an hour.

I just threw caution to the wind and peddled on. Fortunately, all that uphill on the way out becomes downhill on the way home, so I could coast a bit. The landscape in that part of Wisconsin is really beautiful, so I just tried to enjoy that and make my way home.

At one point around mile seven, I saw a deer poke out from the woods. I have seen deer a number of times out on runs or racecourses. I always take this as a good sign. The deer looked straight at me as I was coming down the hill toward it. It then just sauntered across the street and disappeared in to the woods on the other side of the course.

Thankfully, I got through the bike course and made a very quick transition out on to the run course. Most of the other participants were coming back in from the racecourse at this point. I still pointed my feet out and kept going. I felt pretty good during the run and even passed by a number of other runners.

I hadn't looked at my watch since I got out of the swim. I was too afraid that I'd get discouraged. With less than a mile to go, I thought I'd risk it and see what the damage was. Total time elapsed at that point was 1:58.

Last year, I finished the event at 1:56, so I was behind. But not THAT much behind considering all the bike troubles.

I finished the race pretty strong, clocking on my watch at about 2:04 -- so about eight minutes behind last year's time.

Hubby was there waiting for me, ready with his encouraging smile, a hug and an "attagirl". He also snapped some photos that I'll post when I have my official time.

We ate some pork sandwiches from the luau (dee-lish-si-ous at 10:00 am, let me tell you) and then started to pack up to go home.

I stopped by the Official's table to let them know that my times might look screwy. When I came in to transition to try to find an air pump, I crossed over the timing mat and had to cross it again after I got my tire pumped up and got out on to the course again. This means I crossed the bike transition four times (as opposed to two). They thanked me for letting them know and said that the impact would probably be that my splits would look a little "off".

I'm anxious to see what they look like and what my times for each leg really were. I know that my total time is what counts, but still want to see what the components were.

Any way, the lesson of the day was and continues to be: when life gives you a flat or two, just keep on peddlin'.


Marcia said...

Your tenacity is inspiring, Amy! I so proud of you for finishing the event, despite your flat tires!

Way to keep on truckin', girl!!!

Michelle said...

You are SO my hero! I love your attitude, it is just wonderful! Congratulations on a GREAT race, you are one classy lady!

Dori said...

Good for you! I LOVE the lesson and will try to remember that. That must have been so frustrating, and yet you kept on. Nice job. :-)