Wednesday, June 11, 2008

No Escaping Alcatraz for Me

Another year of disappointment at Alcatraz....last year I had a hematoma in my piriformis(aka butt) four days before the race that made it impossible for me to run.....this year I managed to cross-thread one of my bike pedals. It was just plain bad luck as I have put my pedals on my bike at least 100+ times, yet the one and only time I ever cross thread the pedal was for this race. I even biked on the pedals the day before the race for about 40 minutes and didn't notice a thing.
Sadly, the race was going great up until the pedal left my bike! I had a good swim and was the second woman out of the water only a few seconds behind Linda Gallo. Once on the bike, I charged to the lead and was winning until about 7 miles in when climbing out of the saddle my entire pedal still clipped into the shoe came out of the crank. After laying on the ground in shock for a few moments, I quickly got up and wanted to continue. The first problem was the pedal still stuck on my shoe. Some race officials helped me to take off my shoe and after a few minutes of tugging we finally got the pedal off the cleat. Then, I tried to screw the pedal into my crank, as I wanted to get back on the bike ASAP thinking I might still have a shot at the top ten. The pedal would not go back into the crank...I tried for ten minutes, a race official tried for ten minutes, another official tried, a volunteer tried, a random guy on the side of the race course tried, another random dude tried, I tried again....eventually we realized the the crank was stripped. But on the positive side, at first it appeared that I had trashed another front wheel but after fixing the skewer the wheel was fine. On the side of the road, I watched all the elite women pass me heading out on the bike course. Then about 20 minutes later watched them all pass me heading back on the bike course. After waiting on the side of the road for about an hour, I decided to one leg pedal back the start after pedaling and walking my bike up the hill back towards transition for a mile. I ran into the bike mechanic (funny how the race officials never mentioned that there was a mechanic up the road). The mechanic was able to use a tool to force the pedal back into the crank; he warned me that this would really ruin my crank but at that point I didn't care. After a brief debate in my head, I turned around and started back out on the bike course to complete the race. After losing an hour standing on the bike course, I knew my chances of placing were nil. But I love the Alcatraz course, wasn't hurt from my fall, and most of the field had already gone by me so the course wasn't too packed. I tried to use the race as a workout, enjoy every moment, and have fun racing when nothing is on the line. The run was a bit of challenge as the course is mainly single track so would sprint past slower runners then I would have to tuck in to avoid a head-on collision with an oncoming runner to wait for another gap in oncoming traffic to pass the next group of runners. It was frustrating but as I was no longer running for any place or prize money I wanted to be considerate of all the other athletes. So, I cooled my heels many times waiting for a gap and was forced to walk or jog very slowly before I could run again. The one highpoint is that I did log the fastest women's time up the sand ladder. When I finished the race, I saw Siri at the finish line and just burst into tears. All my emotions from the day just spilled out at the moment...all my disappointment and frustration at being in the lead and having it taken from me by a pointless bike mechanical error. But I am very glad that I was able to finish the race and was proud that I didn't quit. It was nice to at least finish the race this year....and it made me hungry to come back next year and go for it again. And next year I can guarantee that my pedals won't be cross-threaded.
And a special thanks to Jeff for flying out to cheer me on in the race. Sadly, he ended up having to cheer me up after the race instead. But Jeff and I did assuage my sorrows with some retail therapy at the sports basement and a delicious lunch before he headed home.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Just saw the televised coverage of the Escape. Way to complete the race despite the mechanical set-back. I can only imagine how tough it was to have been in the lead, only to have the bike fall from under you. I think few people would have gutted it out like you did. Have a great rest of the season!