I was pretty fired up for the Half Moon Bay International Triathlon. International distance is what I do best, and I knew it would feel delightfully short after last weekend's 70.3
It was cold and foggy in the morning and transition was first come, first served, with a pretty good size crowd (800+). I still have bad memories from a race back in Illinois, where I was sassed by a group of snotty, entitled teenagers when I asked them to make space on the rack for my bike, so I greatly prefer pre-assigned transition spots. And people my own age. Luckily, this time around my rack-mates were courteous and accommodating, and there was room for all of us.
On this grey day, the ocean swim did not look particularly inviting, and the water temperature, at "56-59 degrees," was definitely freeze-your-face-off cold. I tried to get a warm-up swim in before the race start, but the combination of salt water buoyancy and my instinctive recoil from anything so obnoxiously cold meant that I just skimmed along the top of the water like a cat, without actually getting wet.
The swim started some distance out from shore, and since we couldn't hear the announcer from way out there, many of us were still in deep discussion about the possible location of the buoys when the race started. The swim took place in a harbor, and as such, it was filled with boats. The aerial diagram of the swim course had seemed pretty straightforward, but down at sea level, the boats blocked the view of the buoys, so navigation was tough. Unsettling though that was, my swim time was OK, so I must not have gotten too far off course.
The run to transition was REALLY long, but my T1 was 3:15, fastest of the women, despite the epic battle between my wetsuit and my frozen hands and feet.
It was chilly as I started out on the bike, so I immediately set to work on gaining speed and heat at the same time.
I didn't get a good look at the rock that attacked me, but I was not even two miles into the bike when I heard the crack of carbon rim colliding with something it shouldn't, and the accompanying fizz of a rapidly deflating tire. Although disappointed, I remained calm as I pulled over to confront my situation. My tire changing skills are at least on a par with my transition skills, and until today I had not had the pleasure of testing them out in a race environment. I know I can change a tire in under 3 minutes, and I had all the tools I needed.
... but there was just one crucial element missing:
Numb and lifeless, my Mickey Mouse paws refused to cooperate. I fought with the tire as ten, twenty, thirty cyclists blew past. A police officer on a motorcycle pulled over to observe my struggle. I finally succeeded in wrangling the new tube into place and shot it with a blast of C02. But as I pulled the cartridge away, I could still hear a hiss of air.