Same as last year the kids have shown me how it is done. I am pretty relaxed at setting up my transition zone. I have done this race 3 times now and have it dialed in I am sure. Plus this is really just a warm up race for the big important one in Coeur d’Alene in 3 weeks. I have trained well and in three weeks I will aim to qualify for the 70.3 worlds.
Also same as last year it is way to cold for my liking – yes I have been told I am a bit like a broken record, so I will stop complaining about the weather…or at least I will give it my best effort.
My warm up goes well, gun goes off and I feel okay throughout the swim. My time is not great (I would be surprised if it ever was) but I am in reach of the main contenders. It is chilly on the bike and soon I cant feel my feet, but by now I am almost used to that feeling in my early season races. I smoke the bike and mange to fight my way back through the stronger swimmers into second place. I can see Joel in front of me, too far to catch him on the bike but not impossible if I do everything right. Just need to have a fast transition (I usually make up a lot of time in my transitions) and I will have a good chance. I turn the last corner into transition at the same time as two athletes from the shorter race that ran consecutively and make the mistake of blowing by them just before the dismount line. At this point I am standing on my left pedal ready to jump off the bike. I am a tad fast, but not too fast I think – I am thinking wrong….as I jump off my frozen foot makes contact with the concrete and I realize that I have no feeling at all – based on my injuries I must have done something similar to the tradition of binding feet, my toes hit the ground and fold up under my foot. Interestingly there is no pain (there is one advantage of frozen feet I guess) I take a HUGE step to correct for my stumble and a second one _ I almost got it…. At that very moment my bike which I lead in my right hand hits a cable cover that lies across the track just behind the dismount line and (according to an onlooker) my rear wheel “explodes into the air” this is too much for my ongoing struggle with full speed balancing I let go off the bike and crash to the ground and roll off over my shoulder. Not very gracefully at all – I never talked to the two athletes behind me but they must have thought I am the biggest show off ever and deserve to eat concrete, blowing by them like that – I got what I asked for I guess.
I quickly recover, pick up my bike and am off to my spot in transition. Arrived at the spot I have to sit down for a second and have a look at my feet, blood runs out of all my toes on the left side and there is multiple other spots along my legs as well. Not much I can do I guess. So I pull my shoes over the mangled toes and start running. Finally the pain hits me hard – limping out of transition I don’t think I can make it beyond the 500m mark. Somehow I manage to switch the pain off and find a steady rhythm for the run. Needless to say that I am too far behind Joel at this point and (despite a good run in which I make some time good on him) I do not catch him and come in second.
Only when I sit down for after race food and the awards ceremony I notice that my right Achilles is starting to swell up. Hmmm, I must have done something more than only road rash….
Sure enough a couple of doctors visits later we have established that I have torn a 2-3mm wide strip out of my Achilles, likely when I took that gargantuan step trying not to fall the doctors are sure the rest of the tendon is strong enough to keep me running – but the swelling does not allow me to even wear a running shoe for the complete week after the race – my optimism for the big week in 3 weeks is disappearing fast…