Monday, March 7, 2011


I was pretty much holding it together Sunday at the Desert International Triathlon until the second mile of the run.  Sure, my swim was unremarkable - as in better than last year but still too slow.  However, by mile 20 on the bike things were going fine -  though things tend to be fine when you get to ride really fast on closed roads through farmland that looks exactly like Monday's stage of Paris-Nice.  Best of all, I had made up some time and was on track to pull down a sub 2:30 finish which was all I was going for.

As planned, I took a break from the aero position to crack open a gel and wash it down with some Nuun.  But when I was done, I could tell that the one gel wasn't going to be enough.  So I cracked open another and drank some more.  Still, things weren't completely right.  But I wasn't carrying any more gels so my options where limited.  And since I don't usually worry about things I can't control, I didn't worry.  Instead I finished up the 3 miles of the bike, ran into transition, changed for the run, drank more Nuun and headed out on the run course, nutrition issues forgotten.

Lake Cahuilla
Though this race is one of my favorites, I'm not a huge fan of the run course.  The course is on top of the flood control berm that surrounds Lake Cahuilla.  So though it's dead flat, the surface is either roughly paved and/or rutted hard packed dirt.

Right away, I knew that the run was going to be tough.  But still I didn't worry - I've been in this situation before.  I just tried to find a rhythm.  When I hit the 1 mile mark I checked my watch.  I ran the first mile in 6:55.  This is where I started to worry.

I worried because I know me - I'm a negative split runner, especially in a triathlon.  And there is no way I was going to be able to negative split over the next 5 miles when the first mile was sub 7.  I had gone out too fast.  And on top of that, I had REALLY started feeling like crap.  And then it happened - my left quadricep suddenly seized up.

I ran slowly for the next 100 yards while hunched over trying to massage my leg, which of course did nothing.  I'm not sure it was the pain or the sudden stiffness that affected me more, but either way I was definitely in trouble.  I kept going and at mile 2 there was an aid station.  For the first time ever in a race, I came to a dead stop and grabbed two cups of water and a Gatorade.  Over the previous mile it had become pretty clear that I'd somehow managed to become dehydrated.  So I drank the water and the Gatorade, and then grabbed more.  After that, I started up again.  I felt slightly better, but I knew it wouldn't last.  It's really too bad that you can't snap you fingers and become instantly hydrated.

For the next 15 minutes I ran really slowly 70% of the time and walked the other 30%.  Then an Angel in the form of a woman in a Team In Training singlet posted up next to me and said:
Angel: "You look like you are in a little bit of trouble..."

Me: "I am"

Angel: "I could tell, the back of your tri-top is streaked with salt stains"

Me: "Yeah, I think somehow I didn't get hydration right today"

Angel: "It happens...want some Clif bloks?"

Me: "That would be incredible"
So I ate the Clif Bloks and dragged my butt into the aid station at mile 4.  I don't know how much I drank or what it even was.  I just walked through the line and grabbed a cup every time one was offered to me.  Then I started running again.

Miraculously, I felt OK by mile 5.  My quad was still tight, but I had regained enough strength to finish the race with some dignity.  So I picked up the pace.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before, but controversy has a way of finding me.  Or maybe it's because that even though I generally have a pretty mellow disposition, my temper can ignite quick and my mouth follows right behind.  About 500 yards from the finish the trail is really narrow.  To the right is the lake, and to the left is a ditch.  And in the ditch was some poor guy in a racing wheelchair who was completely stuck.  There were 3-4 people getting ready to pull him out.  But to do so, they had to move to the right across the trail.  Since there was no way around, I decided to stop and give them the right of way.

The next thing I know, there is some guy pushing me from behind yelling "Hey!!!  NEVER stop on the trail!!!"

I'm never really super stoked when some random pushes me and starts yelling.  So my temper ignited and as I turned to face him my mouth was already moving.
Me: "What the F*** dude?  What's your problem?"

Guy: "Ahhh, I'm in the middle of a race here and you are blocking the trail."

Me: "You see that guy (pointing to the wheelchair)?  He's in the middle of a race too.  And he's in a ditch.  And he can't walk.  You and I can walk.  So we are waiting."

By now the wheelchair was out of the ditch and the path was clear.  The guy behind me shoved me one more time for good measure and then ran past me.  So I smiled to myself and ran after him.  Actually, I blew by him and didn't look back.  Two hours and thirty nine minutes.


Petraruns said...

Love the comment about you not worrying about things you can't control. So simple. So right. So hard!

Bonking is nasty - but you should be able to manage better next race, right?

As for that guy - can't believe it. Glad you smoked him.

Chris K said...

Great race report. See, that's why I don't do marathons. Too hard.

Even the best hitters in baseball fail 7 out of 10 times. I'm NOT saying you failed, I'm just saying sports are not a walk in the park, espcially endurance sports.

I say congrats.

KovasP said...

Good reminder to work on nutrition, but still can't believe you walked and stopped and still came close to your goal time. Outstanding.

Ironman By Thirty said...

Great report. Sounds like it was learning experience more than anything. Way to finish strong despite the nutrition problems!

You totally should have shoved that douche into the ditch.

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

Even after bonking you still ending up with a good race and being a good sportsman. Something that other "man" should learn about.

Unknown said...

WOw what a big jerk that guys was. Great job to you for being a good sportman. Great job on the race despite all the set backs too!! :)

Jennifer said...

Congrats Patric for pushing through, keeping a level head and finishing the race. This may sound crazing but bonking has it's place. I think until you do bonk you never know the limits of your body, a hard lesson to learn but such a powerful one. And kudos to you for helping out with the wheel chair. Karma has a way of finding folks again, for good and bad actions! Cheers!

Ransick said...

Tough race. Way to recover from dehydration and finish strong.

Tri4Success said...

I'm with you on not worrying about things you can't control. Not only does it keep you sane but worrying is a giant waste of energy, and wasting energy isn't a good idea for endurance athletes.

Personally, I've found those few times that I've bonked to be some of the most positive experiences in the long run. That memory of completing a race or conquering a big hill climb when I thought there was nothing left makes it so much easier to push forward in training. What seems like a negative at first becomes a confidence builder. You finished strong after being dehydrated and I bet it's the finishing strong you carry with you.

Big Clyde said...

Yes, great job on pushing yourself, but also correcting your nutrition along the way.

I was glad to hear how you stood up to the jerk behind you. Sometimes people can get too intense and forget about true sportmanship.

A Prelude To... said...

Sorry about the bonk :-(

That jerk runner really made me mad! You handled it better than I would have!

Heather said...

I can't believe the guy pushed you!! love the way you handled it though, especially when you blew by him and didn't look back...The Best. and even after all that happened you still finished with a good time. Congrats on pushing through even when it got tough.

Anonymous said...

Wow, 2:39 with a big bonk is awesome!! Congrats.

Jill said...

I wonder if Chris meant to say "marathons"? :)

As mentioned on FB, you learned a lot about yourself out there and next time you will get the hydration down. Still, a fantastic time with all going on, your mind has to be spinning for what you can do the next time!! Congrats!

Emz said...

what's with Kovas's photo?

Any way - we all need "not our best" races every now and again right? keep us focused and working hard.

blood oranges.

Unknown said...

What a crazy story! And what a loser that guy was for pushing you. People need to RELAX. I can't even believe that.

Anyway, awesome job! You were in a tough spot and you somehow got past it. Good for you.

Loved the recap.

TRI714 said...

wo, people amaze me in all the wrong ways some times.

you raced = winner !

hitting a nutrition wall = character building and lesson learned

you finishing in 2:39 while wrecked = priceless !!

poor sport on the trail with negative tri attitude = bad shit coming to him !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Way to hang it out there brother, nice race, nice report. I won't even comment further on our friend, his day is coming, and ouch when it does.

Aimee said...

I'm sorry the race didn't go how you would have liked it. Bonking just sucks, especially in a race!! But, you finished! Woohoo!

That rude guy has some bad karma coming his way...that is for sure!

Shawn said...

Way to persevere Patrick...good on you.

Experience counts for a ton when things start to go bad...way to keep your cool and slog on through!!

Jayme said...

Way to stick it out on a tough run! I hate those type of guys who take life WAY too seriously. I know triathlons are competitions, but there's no need to be a complete ass about some things. Plus, it's not like you were just standing in the trail for no reason. Some people's children... tisk tisk.

Unknown said...

You were way too nice to the douche bag who pushed you! People suck sometimes!

Way to stick out the race - glad that a helping hand came along with some nutritional help!

Unknown said...

Still a very solid time P. How'd the bike split go - did you crush last year's split?

Dude did the same thing in my last HIM - started way too fast off the bike. I did like a 6 flat first mi and then the quads locked. Need to easy into it and practice it a lot!

I think finding the guy after the race and punching him in the face would have been perfectly acceptable. And if you explained it to the police they probably would have agreed.

Unknown said...

Every good story has a great ending and I loved yours! Way to come back from a setback during the race.

Unknown said...

Nice race. Glad you flew by the d-bag that yelled at you about the wheelchair. That guy deserves to be in the ditch.

It was probably a good leaning experience in regards to hydration. Next time will be better.

Diana Tries-A-Tri! said...

You should have pushed him in the ditch after the wheelchair guy was out. People can be such a-holes!

Anonymous said...

Amen for race Angels! Awesome.

And as for the a-hole... you did exactly the right thing. I bet later he felt like an idiot... or at least I hope he did... no time is that important... unless you are in the top 10, stopping to help someone always wins.

Jason said...

The best part of this report was there was never a mention of not finishing. Hurting yes. Not sure how to finish yes. Never once was it mentioned that I was stopping at this aid station and sitting down and calling it a day. That my friend has winner written all over it. Way to get after it.

And on top of all that you were barely off your 2:30 goal. Great job.

As for the will come around on him and he will wonder why he is having bad know why!

KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) said...

It is early in the season so you can go back to the drawing board, figure out the hydration and come back strong as bull for the next tri. As for that inconsiderate dude, I'm glad you gave him a piece of your mind and not a piece of your fist. You did the right thing and even better, you blew his doors off in the end.

Caratunk Girl said...

Great RR, sorry about the nutrition issues, but it is a learning experiance for all of us for sure. Way to give that Jacka$$ a piece of your mind, BTW. AND I love that you blew his doors off in the end!

Anonymous said...

I wish there was a cliff you could have pushed that guy off of. Maybe it's because I'm from NY, but my first thought was I'd have scoured through brightroom pics until I found his, so all could see what that tool looked like.

Anyway, congratulations on your time, sounds like even with the bonk, you kept it together!


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