Saturday morning I was standing around the practice swim, waiting for the BlueSeventy worst wetsuit competition, talking with some Rev3 teammates and staff. Eric, our race director asks me, “So, Anthony, why are you doing this race?”
I couldn’t really think of anything funny, smart-assed, or particularly clever so I just said, “Why not?” I came up with something good a few minutes later, but the moment had passed. That always happens.
The point is, I didn’t really have an agenda for this race. I really wasn’t ready to hang it up for the season just yet. I wanted to see some of my Rev3 teammates that I haven’t seen all season. I wanted to go someplace warmer than CO. Flights weren’t convenient (or cheap) to Rev3 Venice, FL. I already have enough points to qualify for next years Rev3 Championships. Rev3 Anderson was USAT half distance national championship. I was kind of interested in how I would stack up to the field, but I wasn’t at all interested in going to Weihai, China for worlds. (I think this is what Eric was asking about.)
Anyway, I kinda think this lack of focus may have contributed to a pretty disappointing, but extremely blessed, ending to my 2013 season.
Things got off to a rocky start in the swim. I thought the starting line was a little narrower than it needed to be and given that it was a national championship race a wave including all men 39 and under was bound to be a bit rough. I got hit pretty hard left and right for the first 30 yards of the swim. Then things calmed down for a short while. As we approached the first (left) turn buoy, the guy on my right surged ahead half a body length, then made a 45 in front of me and the guy on my right. He appeared to get agitated when I contacted his ass with my elbow, because he gave a couple of viscous kicks to my chest. I’ve never wanted to kidney punch someone as bad in my life.
After the first buoy, I dropped off the back of a pretty significant pack and swam by myself for the rest of the race. It was hard to tell if I was swimming straight or the buoys were arched. I told my self I was doing okay, because every time a guy from the next wave passed me, they came right up my tailpipe. Guys that fast swim straight, right?
As I exited the water I hit lap on my Garmin. Only my Garmin wasn’t there, at all. I use the quick release attachment on my 910XT and all that was left was the wrist band. I sighed and cursed while looking at my nearly empty wrist and trudged up the beach. Several considerate volunteers told me I did great, it wasn’t that bad, to keep going, you can catch ’em on the bike. I wanted to explain to each of them that I wasn’t that disappointing in dropping 2-3 minutes in the swim, but I was pissed off about dropping $400 to the bottom of the lake.
I grumbled through T1, hopped on my bike and promptly dropped a shoe. I stopped, walked back, put in on, and re-mounted my bike muttering and cursing the whole time. I did my best to keep calm and pedal on but it took 10-15 minutes (a complete guess) before I felt like I was riding well enough to forget my misfortunes.
Then I started passing a few guys in my age group and it felt like I was racing again. A few more and I started to feel pretty good. I actually felt like I was riding well until I nearly died.
About half way through the ride, I made a 90-dgree right turn onto a pretty narrow two lane road. I spotted something (it ended up being someone’s saddle bag) on the road near the apex of the corner. I either hit it, or by swerving to miss it, started to skid. As my rear wheel tried to pass me (these things really do happen in slow motion) I realized that I was going to cross the yellow line. I looked up and saw a car coming. I remember thinking, ‘whatever you do, don’t end up underneath the car’. Somehow my rear wheel came back underneath me and I got back onto the yellow line, I think. At this point the car was upon me. I pulled my left hand off the brake just before it hit the cars side view mirror. Somehow, I passed down the rest of the car without touching it.
I stopped, exhaled, and checked myself over. No damage to me or the bike. I went back to check on the driver because I really thought I’d ripped the mirror clean off the car. Turns out it had just folded in, but violently enough the mirror itself had flown off the housing. She was more worried about me and I was more worried about her. I’m not entirely sure what all happened but we were there for 5-10 minutes (don’t really know bc I don’t have a watch anymore) talking and exchanging information. My day of racing was clearly over and that was okay with me.
So… I took a leisurely cruise back to transition. If I’d had any idea where I was, I’d have tried to take a more direct route, but I followed the course in. I was pretty clam and collected in the minutes after the accident, but the two hour slog back to T2 was more than enough time to think about how lucky I’d really been. When I finally reached T2, I walked my bike in, handed my chip to a Rev3 staff member and walked to the timing trailer to update Tim. After that I couldn’t get to the beer cooler fast enough. I actually had a pretty fun afternoon cheering friends, teammates, and the last finisher.
As disappointing as my first DNF was, I never doubted that it was the right thing to do. I don’t regret this one either. In fact, I was pretty darn happy to walk away thinking about next year.