Suck it Up

It was a fun morning racing with the Total Fitness team and friends at the Dunedin Rotary Triathlon and Duathlon. It’s a really fun event benefiting the local community located on beautiful Honeymoon Island in Dunedin, FL. I have participated in this event each year since competing in triathlon with this year being the first racing duathlon.

Leading up to the race I changed a few things in my training plan. With a knee issue I’m dealing with I have had to shut down bike training. This week I began to build my run mile base after taking a break after the USA Duathlon National Championships. The knee is responding OK during runs so at least that will be something I can focus on until I get the knee right on the bike.

Going into the race I knew I was in for a different experience. It was five weeks since Duathlon Nationals with only a couple hard effort bike rides done before shutting it down last weekend completely. I also had a couple long effort runs last weekend but my run had certainly taken a step back as well from an overall endurance perspective. So I mentally went into the race expecting to not have anywhere the leg strength I had just five weeks earlier. The more you can prepare your mind to know something is going to suck the better you are to handle that suck. I was ready for the suck.

Race Day

What a difference a year makes. Last year at this race it was a rainy mess. I will never forget being behind teammate Dave Morrow and seeing him go down on the bike. It was a nasty fall in very wet conditions. After the race I can remember being cold at awards. Not this year as the temperatures were in the 80s early in the morning with Florida humidity and full sunshine…a perfect morning for a race.

The volunteers were fantastic.  I was greeted by April Branam and Michelle Jarrell (picture below) as they were working the transition area…full of energy at 5:30 am. I got my bike racked and then connected with several teammates and friends. Racing on the Florida east coast I may see a couple people I know but this was definitely a very cool vibe as this was our (Tampa Bay Area) race.

During warm-up I didn’t feel great but didn’t feel bad either. I just knew I didn’t have the legs and I really was curious how the knee would respond on the bike. After checking the bike one last time and loading my fuel in transition I headed to the start line. I knew at minimum I would have Tyler Galley and Bob Brown pushing the pace.

The horn went off and we vaulted off the start line and quickly made our way to the soft sugar sand of the beach. When I looked at my watch Tyler and I were pushing a sub 6:00 pace at a quarter mile. That was a bit fast but OK and at the point when I began to settle into race pace. That pace would be a bit slower with the terrain consisting of beach, off road trail and pavement with several turns along the way.

I led for maybe a mile before Tyler took over. I really wanted to keep Tyler within reach but also didn’t want to deplete my legs so early in the race especially knowing I wouldn’t have the endurance later. He looked so fresh from behind with an easy stride. I was working hard but felt I was managing the effort well. After mile two I pulled ahead and went into transition four seconds ahead.

I thought I was having a good transition but quickly noticed Tyler sprinting by me with his bike. I took my bike down off the rack and was several seconds behind him coming out. After the mount line I hopped on the bike and after a rotation I noticed my chain was off. I hopped back off the bike and worked to get it back on. While doing that my thumb got caught in the teeth of the gears causing a nice cut. As you will see in some of the pictures below the medical personnel taped my hand quite extensively…pretty crazy in a run-bike-run event I leave with my hand wrapped…ha!

I got the chain back on quickly and off I went. The bike was quite the struggle on this day as expected. The knee didn’t feel good but it didn’t affect the effort. The lack of endurance sure did however. Again knowing that going in helped so much to just grit it out. I came in off the bike with the lead and had a quick transition out for the final run. I was pretty confident the knee was going to be OK on the run and it was.

The sand right out of transition was a humbling experience to start the final leg. Going through that and entering the path I was conscious to get my heart rate under control and get to the point where the tightness in my quad muscles were flushed out. That usually takes me about .6 miles and it was about the same on this day. At this point I didn’t know how far back Tyler, Bob or another racer was as we were mixed in with the triathlon racers.

I thought I was in the lead and if so I didn’t know by how much so I raced like they were right behind me. There could have been someone else I didn’t know who passed me in the first transition or while I was fixing my chain as well…never make assumptions. After the turnaround on the run about half way out I saw Tyler and Bob. I had a decent lead but still didn’t know if there was someone else in play so the hard press continued.. The second run was pretty rough not having the legs and the heat was kicking in.

With about 600 yards remaining going around a turn I took a look back and didn’t see anyone so at that point I was feeling pretty good. I looked back again around another turn with about 300 yards and I was still clear so I then knew I was good to the finish. After crossing I got to greet Bob and Tyler coming through. We were pretty confident we were the top three and that it was. We took the podium (featured photo above)! Now that was very cool sharing it with two great people and athletes.

We continued to greet others coming through. Tyler and I went for a cool down run and debriefed his race. What a great young man who has so much potential. He will be entering high school this fall…watch out Cross Country and Track & Field world…Tyler is coming. Bob and I shared our experiences and I then ventured over to get my thumb cleaned up on the order of Celia Dubey. After a few minutes of clean up they sent me away in a pretty big bandage.

With me getting treated was Don Whalen who went down near transition with a nice combination of bruises and cuts of his own. Bob Barlow also had a fall near transition with some blood to show for it so our team certainly provided our share of blood donations on this day.

It was a fun race day with so many familiar faces and smiles. We celebrated everyone’s efforts and left the island. Reflecting on the race as the day went on led me to a clear next step. I will be visiting Dr. Gerard Bogin this week to get a formal evaluation on my knee and go from there. I am hopeful for a quick return but will do what needs to be done to get healthy.

– Add Health to Your Life

5:30 am smiles!!!
Get ready to put the chain on…
One final run…
LOVE our team!
Celia Dubey is the best!
Mr. Team USA Duathlon Bob Brown
Thumbs up!!!
Don & Dave…Dave, where is your blood?
My shifter after cutting my thumb…



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