Every once in a while a race comes along and reminds me that I'm not immune to pain.
Pain is ugly. Pain is seeing red. Pain is a vise that squeezes the oxygen from your lungs and turns your legs into two large throbbing nerves. Pain is the hammer that falls when there's a mile left to go and you don't have another gear.
That's what the Davis Island race felt like. A lot of pain.
Let me set the mood - It was questionable if the race would go off, due to the thunderclouds on the horizon. However, the lightning kept its distance for the early part of the morning, and we lined up for the swim with electricity in the air. Davis Island was worth triple points, and that can make or break the series. Everyone was pumped, whether they were saying it or not.
The usual suspects were in attendance, and I'd been preparing for the quarter-mile swim. I knew my only chance to win was to get out of the water with a decent lead, build the lead on the bike, and then hold everyone off on the run.
It didn't exactly work out like that, but there's no shame in giving it everything you've got.
A sprint, in its true sense, involves a race where you go flat out from start to finish. That's what I did. I had checked out the swim course beforehand, and knew that the only way I could get ahead was to treat the swim like I used to do the 500 in college - all out. In a half-mile swim, even I can't go all out, or I blow up. But I can hold it for 4-5 minutes.
When the gun went off, I kicked it in. I led to the first buoy and was the first one to the stairs. Then I sprinted to my bike. Then I sprinted out of the transition with my bike. Then I jumped on my bike and stood up and started sprinting.
Are you beginning to see a pattern here?
I managed to build on my lead going into the headwind down Bayshore Drive. I had what looked to be about a minute at the bike turnaround, but from there, Dave, John, and Rob Skaggs made up time.
Once I got back to the bridge I was suffering. It felt like my heart was going to pop out of my chest. I couldn't get a decent breath, but was praying that my lead had held.
It hadn't. I got into T2, but saw that the competition was only 20-30 seconds behind. They had eaten my advantage, and as I ran onto the run course, with everything I had left, I figured I was in trouble.
I was. Though I've managed to improve my run a vast amount over the past couple of years, I'm no match for guys with serious running backgrounds like Dave and John. Dave ran by after a mile, and John wasn't far behind.
Though I don't doubt myself or my abilities anymore, I can still get frustrated. I didn't have the turnover or the reserves to even put up a fight. Most of you know how frustrating that can be. But like the saying goes, you just have to live to fight another day.
When it comes down to it, Davis Island was an important race, but in the long run, it's only one race. There's seven left in this series, and about a million more scattered around the planet.
So the next time you have a bad race, or even just not a great race, remind yourself that it's not the end of the world. You shouldn't hang up your shoes and quit. You don't suck. You just didn't have a great race.
Or maybe you did have a great race, but your competition did you one better. Don't forget that Florida is the East Coast Triathlon Mecca. We have got some very serious competition here.
So congrats to everyone that made it out to Coca Cola Davis Island - Tampa. I hope you had a good time, a good workout, or learned something about yourself. I learned that pain hasn't forgotten my name.
It was also good to see lots of people having some fun at the party afterwards. I sure did, if the pile of empty Kalik beer cans in front of me was any indication. I sure hope nobody was taking pictures!
I'll see y'all on your moutain bikes in a couple weeks,