Well... I was planning on updating this weekend with my race report about Collegiate Nationals in Lubbock, but I think I'd rather write a 2-week late Galveston report. Two weeks ago the Austin Tri-Cyclist guys and I made the trip to Galveston and made a good appearence in all 3 races. Adam in the sprint distance, Rita/Corey, Shawn, and Missy in the quarter distance, myself in the half, and Don providing good support and encouragement from the sideline. All-in-all I was very happy with the turnout as far as weather and results went, I was within 10 seconds of my goal time (4:30:10) and was able to look back on it without any regret of what I should have/could have done differently. Adam stayed near the front of his race, Rita/Corey won their relay division, Shawn had possibly his best race to date, and Missy led her race up until getting out-sprinted with less than 200 meters to go.
Now here's what happened in lovely Lubbock: The atmosphere was stressful but exciting the whole time I was there. I get antsy in the 24 hours leading up to the race and riding with the TxSt team up there, I had no control of our itinerary, which didn't help me. We got there late Friday, did packet pick-up, checked into our hotel, ate dinner, made our last-minute grocery run, and started getting our bikes/gear ready for the Saturday race.
Race Morning: Here's where everything falls apart. We get to the race site, have ~30 min to get our stuff set-up, visit the porta-potty, air up our tires, visit the porta-potty, get body marked/pick up timing chips, visit the porta-potty, grab our swim stuff, and get out of transition. I wasted no time running through the routine but the whole thing seemed very cluttered and thrown together so everyone was running late but they still closed transition early and gave penalties to everyone still inside... Bad way to start a race. Sprint goes off at 7, Nationals racers stand around in the 40 degree weather until our 8:30 race-start. I was first wave, toed the line at our 15-minute late start, already freezing and shivering. Air-horn goes off, mad dash to the water, and instantly the energetic, competitive mood shifts. The water was 56 degrees and any attempt at warming up failed. I couldn't breath so I moved to the side, waited for the pack to pass, jumped on the back and tried to stay on the feet. I held in until the 1/2 way mark and at that point lost the race and focused on just finishing the swim. I don't do well in cold weather. After what seemed like a couple hours I got to the swim-finish buoy and started running out of the water. Immediately a volunteer, unaware to me, tried(?) to help me get my wetsuit off. I ran past her and as I passed she grabbed the zipper string, yanking me to the side and backwards, kinking my back... I'm still waiting for something to go right. I have a fast T1 despite not having time to unpack/layout my stuff before the start, and head out on the bike. In Buffalo Springs, coming out of transition, the first thing you do is climb up a long steep hill. With frozen, numb hands and feet it's tough getting your feet in the shoes, it probably looked like I'd never done it before. I struggled in every pedal stroke up the hill, and riding down the backside I feel my bike floating uncontrollably all over the road at 30+mph... No air in the back tire. Still shivering and fighting to get deep breaths there was no way my race was going on. It's embarassing having to walk back through the crowds of people to transition. Bundled up with every piece of clothing I had with me, my incredible parents got me to the car and to my hotel where I stood in a hot shower until I could think clearly again. That was my 2nd DNF ever, and first DNF (and last!) in a serious race. To me it's not ok to DNF just because a couple things go wrong. A race slower than normal is not justification for quitting. I was able to walk away knowing I went as far as I physically could, and happy that I at least started when I knew I probably shouldn't have. The best advice I recieved before the race was to just stay home, but with nothing to lose i gave it a shot. You gotta have bad races to have good races and some people can't be thanked enough for getting me through both.