Well, that was definitely not what I had hoped for. I showed up at this year’s Nautica South Beach Triathlon thinking I was there to race, but discovered at the beginning of the bike that I was purely there for participation.
After a very pleasant swim in Cameron Dye’s draft I ran through transition to my bike, dropped it, picked it up and ran to the mount line, dropped a shoe (first time in my career), picked it up, finally started riding, but rather slowly. Brian Fleischmann caught as I was starting to ride, but I couldn’t hang with him even for a minute. My legs ached with the effort to stay in contact with the guys that kept coming by me. It made no sense. I started cursing my new bike, then cursing myself, thinking I must have done something stupid during the week to make my body weak. I released the rear brake, but it made no difference. I looked at the front brake but thought for sure I could see space between the pads and the rim. Eventually even the slowest swimmers passed me, and at the turnaround my gap to the leaders had grown to almost 3 minutes. I wasn’t really sure what to do, I mean, there’s a world cup coming up in a week, so killing myself for a poor place is a bad idea, dropping out is shameful without a legitimate health risk, but clearly something must have been wrong with me? I’ve never been dropped like that on the bike. I just kept riding as hard as I could, but when Sarah Haskins caught me, I started getting the feeling that coming back to Miami after my previous experience (bike and gear being stolen) was like a degenerate gambler frequenting Vegas.
Starting the run I dallied a short time to wait for Sarah to catch up, then decided her pace was probably good enough to call it a tempo run in preparation for the Ishigaki World Cup. It was fun running with her, but I started getting the feeling that I was in her way. I wasn’t really thinking about my own race anymore, so I was giving verbal encouragement to her. She kept talking back to me, asking about which side of the course to be on, whether we were supposed to take the shortest line or go around the cones, why there were so many people walking in front of us… that sort of thing. It didn’t seem like a very good idea to have Sarah talking, and I would have felt terrible if she ran slower because of it, so I picked up the pace and ran on my own for the last four miles. At the turnaround I saw that Cam had about a minute on Potts, who had a good lead over the rest of the field. A tinge of jealousy hit me as I wondered why I wasn’t with them this time, but it was far too late to fix anything. My mind was already focused on how I could best prepare for my travel to Japan.
I have no idea where I finished. And I got out of there as quickly as possible. I wanted to check out my bike and find out if the problem was me or something mechanical with the bike. I spun the back wheel hoping that it would be stuck. No. It spun easily with the free-hub clicking away on my 404 (I must have been the only person without a disc wheel in the pro field). Disappointed I tried to spin the front wheel. It wouldn’t budge. It was stuck like a fly in honey. It was a relief to know it wasn’t my fitness, but extremely frustrating to know that I screwed up a race with something completely preventable. I guess that’s what I get for using completely new equipment for a race. This won’t happen again.