Florida Finals; How Getting Hit by a Car Might be a Good Thing

I sit here typing this 72 hours after the final race of my 2012 triathlon season, and my best finish to date. I’m also sitting here still nursing the wounds from getting taken out by a large SUV, an Explorer I believe, during that final race. Many many firsts last Sunday, and one happy athlete that 9+ months of racing has come to a stop. I’ll tell you about the races, the crash, and give a tiny sneak peak of 2013 as you read on.

Most of you know I’m moving to Jacksonville in less than 6 weeks now to finish my first degree, Psychology, at UNF. Maybe it’s because I’ll be entering a new race scene by moving to a new state, or maybe it’s just my internal thermometer telling me to run away from this cold weather, but my last two races have been in Florida. Back on the Saturday before Halloween, I raced the Tri The Rez sprint triathlon in Tallahassee which happened to be the final Fall race of the Florida Collegiate Triathlon Conference. The race gave me a chance to check out some of the talent my age in Florida, and more importantly, meet a few of the guys and girls that I’ll be in school and training with as part of the UNF Tri Club. Even though I’d been focusing on the half-iron distance race in Miami since Nationals, I placed 7th OA in Tallahassee, which I celebrated with a bunch of the Florida athletes that night. After what seemed like the longest drive back to Kennesaw ever that next morning, focus went straight back to WINNING the half in Miami.

I made it a trip getting down to Miami, staying a couple nights in Daytona, then a couple in Miami. After a long talk with my coach, Tony Hammet, and recon around the majority of the course, I knew that the Sunday race would be amazing. Race morning was like any other, and I headed to the venue in the dark with a smug little grin on my face knowing that I was more prepared for the day than any other race; I was absolutely buzzing. I headed over to my Quintana Roo, Dixie, who I had been forced to part with in transition the day before. I electrical taped my 5 PowerBar gels (4 to race, 1 emergency) onto my top tube behind me spare kit, then set off to run the last mile to re-familiarize myself with the finish. Ready to go, I made sure my Pearl Izumi IsoTransitions and run PowerGels were ready for T2, that my PI Tri-Fly IVs were clipped in, and my LAZER TARDIZ and Optic Nerve glasses sitting on Dixie’s bars ready to be thrown on after the swim in my blueseventy HELIX. Gear ready, now everything just hinges on my execution. That and the very helpful volunteer that cleaned my goggles after I made the newb mistake of touching them after rubbing my my sunscreen. To you Ms Volunteer, thank you for not making me swim feeling like I was wearing a welding mask.

The swim was 2-looped. While the original plan was to find a hip and sit on it, there were too many people in the water to find anyone faster than me to hang on to. The start of the swim had the first first of the day, when I basically caught a Superman Punch in the head as everyone made a mad dash for the first buoy. Once I forced the water out of my goggles, I swam the best I ever have in a race. The second lap I found one guy who was about the same speed as me, but he saw me trying to sit on his hip. It was pretty funny watching him (he was on my breathing side) shoot to the right to get away within a couple strokes. After two or three rounds of that, I found it better to just swim on my own, coming out of the water in front of him by a few seconds in 32:04. T1 was fast, but not perfect since I had to dodge rocks from the lack of carpeting from my rack to the mount line on the road. Guess what race series I’ve always run on smooth grounds on between my T-area and mounting… 😉

Above is a similar SUV that threw a wrench, or side panel, into my race day, but not until the end of the bike, so let me show you how I got there. The bike went great. We raced in un-incoporated Miami-Dade, in a course that was more-or-less out, two loops, in. The first half was great, then winds that made the palm trees contort to angles that should have snapped them in half picked up. The same winds that push you to 32MPH+ when they’re behind you, and slow you to about half that when they’re in your face. The fun part was there was only about a 3 mile section where it was favorable, and the rest of the time it was. “Please don’t let me fall over.” After figuring out that with the new winds slowing me from the 2:15 I was on track for the first half, to closer to 2:25-:30, the goal was to not spike my watts too many times, but finish able to run hard. Then traffic started to become more and more dense. The 2-lane roads, auto traffic, and racers headed out and back depending on race distance (oly & half) and ability made navigating the last few miles difficult. Picking it up a bit to finish the bike and get off the roads, I was speeding in holding mid-20s, passing a side street, when a SUV like the one pictured above turned down the street cutting me off. There’s less than a second to respond, and after punching his car, I remember going down, hitting my head, and finally sitting up a couple yards from my bike. It took me a minute to lift my right arm, making me wonder if I had broken my clavicle, plus some road rash. The SUV reluctantly parked, and the driver walked over to me as I did a self-check on my body (yes; I did actually look at myself before my bike for once).

[In an incredibly thick accent] “I no have license…I go?”

“Get. Away. From. Me.”

“Are you OK?”

“Seriously…Get away from me now…”

[Walks to car and leaves]

(yes; I realize you all are probably asking a lot of questions right now. Keep reading)

I got up, made sure Dixie was still ridable, and pedaled the last mile to transition in 2:34:29. While I’m sure the cop that passed me right before I turned back into the park wanted me to stop and talk about the [kinda] hit-and-run, I wasn’t about to end my race by talking to her. 2nd fastest T2 all day, then out to run.

 

WhIle I didn’t start the run quite this angry from being forced to play Demolition Derby, I was pretty upset. More than anything, I was on the verge of snapping emotionally because I knew that no matter what, My race was affected.I just kept telling myself to stay inside my own head, and run, and it worked. And while the first lap of the two loop course was great, around mile 7 my body started asking what the hell I was doing running after being hip-checked by a car. My second lap slowed in pace, but data shows that it was very very close to being perfectly executed. PowerGels every 3+ miles kept my stomach happy and my energy high, and the constant feeling of passing other athletes because of the course lay-out was a huge boost. I used that to push the last 4 miles, until the wheels started to threaten falling off the last half mile. I crossed the line with a 1:41:46 run, 4:50:38 overall. Also, 10th place male, 11th OA. I attempted to raise my arms over my head as I ran through the finish, but the wreck injuries didn’t let that happen (explained below). Did I mention I REALLY like this distance?! And my sponsors/gear and support system for this

Before I talk about next year, I’ll answer the questions I figure you’re asking about the car…

Q1: Why did you tell him to leave? He was obviously illegal, or very cunning in saying he didn’t have a license. If I had stopped and gotten the police involved, my race (which I came down to Miami to win) would be over. All that would have happened was him being arrested, which helps…who? I also recite The Lord’s Prayer as a mantra when I get frustrated like the strong headwind caused. When I was hit, I had just finished, “…and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…” That’s probably the #1 reason I told him to go…forcefully because I almost snapped when he walked over and…well anyway…

Q2: How are you? Eh…I’ve had worse. C1&2 were wrenched up and left, making my spine less than straight. There’s more bruising than road rash thanks to bouncing and not sliding, which also means I didn’t ruin my Rev3 kit!! Partial subluxation of clavicle and bicep tendon, plus the whole right side of my body is compressed and twisted forward and toward my midline, the exact opposite as the left side. I’ve been given a clean bill of health, it’ll just take a few more visits for soft tissue and chiro work.

Q3: What did the RD do when you said you’d been hit on course? The person I talked to at the race seriously only said, “Well you know we do our best to make sure the community knows about the race.” Not a single question about how it happened, or if I was ok. I talked to them again yesterday, and they seemed genuinely astonished that no one offered any help or anything when I told them what happened post race. I think someone is getting in trouble, and I believe that they’re going to make some serious changes after this year. Don’t expect all of Miami to be shut down, but more than a single sign announcing the race. I miss Rev3 races…

Q4: Would you stop with this whole car crash thing?! HA! Yeah; working on that.

That’s about it. A very very solid finish to 2012, and a meeting with my coach last night to play around with ideas for next year. The only thing I’ll tell you now is that no less than three 70.3 races (my distance) are involved, that I’m really looking forward to getting back to a Rev3 race after this last one, a few others, and that this winter there will be some long single sport events. Thank you to everyone for the support this year, and I promise that I’ll only continue striving to be better.

 

 

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