First up was the ITU Continental Championship in Oklahoma City. I was really looking forward to this race as it was both a continental championship (Canada all the way down to Chile were competing....wait, that is 2 continents!), and my first ITU race this year. I was a little nervous about the swim, because it determines so much of your race. A 5sec gap can turn into 3 minutes by the end of the bike (which it did, of course!). I should have been nervous about the swim, but for other reasons than missing the bike pack.
This is a link to a USA Today article about the race and the water quality. The strange thing is that this article was written BEFORE the race happened. Basically the fecal coliform (insert whatever non-scientific 4-letter word you choose) was "elevated" enough for USA Today to write a story about a triathlon. This of course was before the torrential rains the night before the race which brought all the run-off directly into our swimming water-way. Err, I mean sewage dump.
I hopped off the bike ready for a solid run, but it didn't happen. I felt terrible. After the St Croix debacle there was no way I was going to drop out. I kept thinking my legs would come around, but things just got worse. I finished in the top 25, but this certainly was not the result I was looking for.
As soon as I was done, my stomach started to feel a little weird. This is somewhat normal before/during/after a race for me, so I didn't think anything of it. But within 10 minutes of finishing I was running for then bathroom. And I kept running to the bathroom....for the next 4 days. I have had GI issues and certainly my fair share of sickness, but nothing like this. It was awful! I have swam through boat wreckage in the Mekong River in Laos/Thailand, lakes in China where the pollution is so thick you cant sight more than 20 meters, watched a diaper float past me at the swim start in the Hudson River, and dodged oil super tankers in the Singapore harbor, but the place that I get crazy sick is in Oklahoma. Crazy stuff.
The swim in Austin was fast! It was on from the gun. I had a smooth start and then red-lined it for the rest of the way. To give you an idea how fast our swim was....I exited the water about 10-15 sec down on the leaders (Cameron Dye and Mark Van Akkeren), but my swim time was still 14 sec faster than Hayley Piersol's (who swum in the women's pro race 1hr before). Yes, she is a girl, but she also is THAT girl. Brother of Aaron Piersol, medal winner at the Olympics in Athens, and holds a short course yards 1650 time of like 15:45 or something.
Andrew Russell has a good report of the happenings of the bike. In a nutshell, I came out of the swim near the front bunch, rode well in my small pack before a huge pack with all the players came together. There were three guys about 45s off the front, but they were never going to run that fast so we let them hang out and fry their legs. I was sitting in on the bike and feeling good. Then disaster struck. Again.
About 1 mile from the transition, another athlete (he, along with the rest of the pack knows who he is. We will call him Muppet.) failed to hold his line touched wheels and hit the deck. It was a stupid crash. It happened on a wide open road going completely straight. What a joke. Well, Muppet hit the deck and I was about 3 wheels behind him. I had just enough time to to think "oh crap"before I was flying through the air at about 30mph. I bounced once and then covered my head as riders poured on top of me. Around 10-11 guys went down. I jumped up and tore through the pile of carbon bikes. There was a huge pile of guys and bikes. I found mine, but not only were the handlebars twisted 90degrees and the chain fused to the chain-stay, but also my downtube looked like this:
the new and improved steed
Thats enough for now...Check in again soon. I will be posting (hopefully) more frequently. My twitter is always going so if you want more info you can follow me there.