Adversity in a training session or a race is going to happen. It is inevitable and it seems that today I have read three or four pieces that discussed adversity. As I was reading them I was taken back to my big ring issue in Puerto Rico, my brake issue at Ironman Texas, the tune-up problem prior to Maine and the wheel mechanical during Maine. At each one of these events there was a problem but rather than throwing the whole day away and really months of training I gathered myself up, dusted myself up and tried again (wait is that a Beyonce’ song?)
If you don’t recall these issues from above let me refresh your memory:
Puerto Rico: When I got to Puerto Rico the bike looked great. It had just been tuned up and was ready for the first race of the year. I went on a warm-up ride with Juan and could feel the chain slipping with just about every pedal stroke. I was distraught over this and decided to bring it to the mechanic at athlete check-in with about an hour to go before transition closed for the night.
After much waiting around my bike was finally in the hands of the mechanic and after a few minutes he told me that the big ring teeth were bent and he didn’t have any more big rings or a chain to replace the old one with. I went to another place to buy the chain and while doing that Juan spoke to another mechanic there and they said they would sell me a big ring if it couldn’t be fixed.
The original mechanic took out a dremel and after about 15 minutes of grinding teeth he told me the bike was set and ready to go. I quickly paid and got the bike into the transition area before it closed for the night. At first I was panic-stricken and tried to think of how this could happen and when I realized what it was I knew that it was my fault and I had nobody to blame. I kept as calm as possible on the outside (inside I was wreck but knew there was nothing I could do) and when it all went back to normal I was thrilled and ready to race.
Ironman Texas: Again after taking a spin on the bike with Juan to dial it all in I noticed something was wrong with the brakes. They weren’t stopping me enough and I was concerned enough to bring it in. Having been through the mechanic deal just a few months prior I was in full control of my emotions. I knew it was nothing more than changing brake pads and so I was comfortable with leaving my bike with them, going for lunch with Juan and then going back to pick up El Diablo and deposit him in transition.
While having had the experience from San Juan the biggest difference was that Juan and I went out on our tune-up ride EARLY. Much earlier than we did in Puerto Rico. This allowed me to not have my back up against the wall and thus allow me to relax a bit. Better than that was seeing Sterns from my local tri shop here in Dallas working the booth and knew he would take care of my bike as he had for a year already.
Rev3 Maine: Prior to the race in Maine I had a full tune-up done with cable replacements and all. It was about 2 days prior to me leaving that Sterns called to tell me there was an issue and the bike had to be shipped to Specialized. I freaked out about it because there was no way the bike could head out, be fixed and be back in time for me to race. Sterns said that he would call them and see what he could figure out on his own at the shop.
In the meantime I started thinking of what I could do. Could I rent a bike? Maybe borrow a bike but from who? I thought immediately of the joke that Kevin had thrown out on Twitter just a few days prior. Mandy and I are relatively close to the same height. I know it would not be ideal but I figured roll with it and if I had to I would ask her to borrow her bike for the ride. It would have been uncomfortable but it would only have been for a few hours. Fortunately Sterns called and he was able to take care of everything I needed and off to Maine I went.
Well at Mile 22 a spoke decided to brake. I was in the middle of the race and there was nothing I could do but deal with it. I tried to bend it and then tried to flex and break the spoke but nothing worked. I got rather mad and decided to walk it off. I was at the base of the biggest hill to date on the ride and lifted the bike overhead and walked up that hill. I gained composure and realized as I was flexing the spoke previously it was also sliding out. I kept working on that and before I knew it the spoke was free and I was riding again, although not at a typical 70.3 pace.
The point is that at some point adversity and issue (some mechanical and some nutrition) will affect you. How you deal with it will determine how well the race goes. No race is perfect. It may never happen. There will always be ways to improve but take those issues and turn them into lessons. Lessons to work into your next training cycle which will in turn make for a better race the next time. Stay focused on the task at hand and that task is to finish the race.