Wednesday, July 28, 2010

XTERRA Vashon Island, July 2010

This was my favourite race of last season and i was really looking forward to it this year. I went up early and got to the transition area in time to pick up my race packet and kit up for a pre-ride of the bike course. I figured it would be the same as last season but wanted to be sure. I met up with my friend Alexia and we headed out. I was convinced I could ride the first section no problem but alas, it was not to be. I hit the first switch back and pulled my front end off the ground, then hit the ground. My bike landed on the drive side and after a few minutes of trying to put my chain back on the crank, I realized my rear derailleur was stuck in my spokes. This would have been a good discovery before I reefed on my crank to get what I thought was a stuck chain.

Anyway, some new road rash to add to my already dinged up legs. I walked the rest of the way up the hill which was some pretty fun single track and went I went to ride again, I realized either my derailleur was bent or the hanger was bent, either way, it was skipping a lot when I went into granny gear and the next two so I ended up walking again. I tried to fix it but my mechanical ability is limited. I was able to get it to the point where I could pedal in some easy gears but the course leveled out and there was limited climbing after that.

I fell again, not sure why, but I suggested Alexia and our other companion go on without me and I would just see them at the camp site but they said they were cool with a slower pace. Anyway, two falls, and 45 minutes of riding later, we go back to the cars. I wanted to scope out my camp site so I headed straight to the ranch, paid my fee, and then went back into Vashon for some food. I met up with a few friends and ate with them.

When I got back to the campsite, I ran into another buddy that is a bike mechanic and I talked him into checking my bike over and seeing if he could fix it. As I was taking it off the car, I found my rear tire was flat. If its not one thing its another. I had a spare tube but then I wouldn't have one for the race so I borrowed one from one of Alexia's MelRad team mates, Jo. Jeff was able to sort out my shifting problem pretty easily but he did say I needed a new bike.....I concurred since my beloved Rocky is 15 yrs old but its just not in the budget this year.

I didn't get much sleep in the back of a Passat wagon and I was up and rolling at 530am. I didn't have much to do so I went to the transition zone and got the best parking spot for a speedy getaway. I got everything set up and went for a short ride with Alexia. I had seen a guy with a BK amputation and wondered if he was in the race. I lost track of him but after the ride I was able to talk to him only to find out he was just pulling his boat out of the water. I was disappointed because I had hopes that I would not be the only PC athlete in the race.

At the pre race briefing, I found out I would be racing with the clydesdales and the over 40 men. Everyone made their way out to the dock where we would be starting. I dove in and swam around to where the start was, probably around 150m warm up. The first wave left just as I got there and I floated around for a bit.

My swim was uneventful, but save for the long run out of the water to T1, I had a good time. the long run to transition was very muddy as the tide was out, and it had heaps of shells embedded.

I had a very slow T1 which has been the case lately, I'm not sure why. Unlike XTERRA Solstice, I didn't forget my amelback this time but I did neglect my gloves which would come back to haunt me later.

I got out of transition and immediately dismounted for the switchback climbs section. I tried to run up but my HR went up into the 180's so I walked. By the time I hit the top of the climb, I was out of breath and immediately felt the need to stop and rest but kept on. I rode more of the course after that first section than I had in the past couple of years. I used my wicked cyclocross skills to mount my bike after walking and made a little bit of time up vs walking those sections. My shifting was working OK but I was unable to get into a few of the top gears and this only came into play during climbing.

I love the single track sections of this course, lots of roots and stumps to make it more challenging. After the first single track section, there is an old road section. This is where the gloves would have come in handy. It was warm and I was sweating a lot. I kept wiping my hands on my shorts but obviously, they were still wet so it was for not. Since I was on a "road" I went to grab a gel packet that was taped to my stem. In the middle of it, I changed my mind and started to grab my handle bar but in the blink of an eye, my bars went sideways and I hit the ground. My front tire went deep into a sandy pothole. I think if I had my gloves on, this wouldn't have happened but alas, that wasn't the case and I sat on the ground, stunned.

I got up and immediately felt a sharp pain in my knee. I looked down and was bleeding profusely around my knee cap. I got on my bike again and started riding the somewhat flat section but as soon as I hit the and increase in elevation, the knee pain became very intense. Thankfully, there wasn't much of it and I made it through the rest of the lap, spinning at a higher cadence than I would normally to see if I could get over the knee pain......I dont know why I thought this but it must have worked because when I got to the paved section that wound around to the beginning of the next lap, I stood up to test it again and the pain was gone. Endorphins?

Anyway, I rolled through the next two laps with no further incidents but really regretted not having my gloves. I got to T2 a little more tired than I should have been and while walking through the TZ, I heard a rubbing sound. I looked closely at my front brake and noticed the rotor was bent. That would explain my increased fatigue. I guess I rode the remaining 2.5 laps after my crash with a rubbing brake. Oh well, no time to worry about it, time to run.

I had forgotten about my knee as I left T2, thinking only of my stupidity for crashing unnecessarily but one of the volunteers asked if I was OK. She had a very pained look on her face as she looked at my knee. I looked down and my shin to my sock was bloody and dirty. Hmmm, I thought, that doesn't look good. Oh well, Im fine, I said, thanks for asking, and I went about the business at hand, getting up this hill to the flatter section of the run course.

I felt pretty darn good, impressed with myself as I ran slowly up the hill to the single track. I actually passed another runner. That made me feel very good as I don't often pass anyone during this part of triathlon. More than one volunteer asked if I needed help when they saw my knee but I was just happy to be still running after my bike mishap and riding with a rubbing brake.

The run course wasn't as dusty as I remembered it from 2009. There were a couple of sections that I recall sliding down, through a bit of deep loose dirt but they were not that bad this year. I ran down the hill, onto the pavement, across the road to the trail and through the finish line. I can't explain how great it felt as I saw my time, quite a bit faster than 2009.

I went directly through the transition area to the back of the ambulance that was sitting there. I asked if the medic could clean up my wound. He said, and this part blew me away, "if I work on you I have to do a bunch of paperwork". I then asked if they could give me some thing to clean it with. He then said, "they should have something over at the race trailer". I kept standing there, stunned, looking at this guy thinking he was kidding. Apparently, he was dead serious and I walked away. I had my own wet wipes and water in the car.

I went to my transition area, packed up my gear, and left. I drove straight to the ferry and cleaned myself during the short ride to the mainland. My wound was not as serious as all the blood may have indicated but I did have a pretty good sized gash just under my knee cap. Not enough to require stitching but it would have been nice to have a surgical brush to get the dirt and rocks out of it.

Overall, other than the crash, I had a great race. Forgetting my gloves was a negative as was crashing while pre-riding (and bending my rear derailleur) as well as during the race but everything else was a positive. Looking back, the only thing I would have changed was staying around after the race and talked to the race director about the lack of medical care. I understand that the medics were likely there for emergencies but a lot of races have a medic to take care of things like road rash and other non-life threatening issues and have an ambulance on standby. I also would have been able get my award. They ended up mailing it to me. One of my favourite awards to date. A home made trophy with a cassette cog embedded in a piece of 2x4 and a chunk of chain with an engraved plate. Very cool trophy.

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