I left some skin in Chicago

Luckily  that is all I left there.

You know that moment in a bike crash where you are doing one thing, in this case turning, and the next thing you know you are flat on the ground wondering how you got there? Yep, had one of those, only this time as I realized I had crashed my first thought was did I just injure myself the week before my biggest race of the year. As I said luckily it turned out to be just some skin on the road, a sore hip, and a bruised ego.

Up until this point of impact the race had been going really well. I got in a good warm up and had a good start to the swim jumping on the feet of a couple other good swimmers and we maintained a reasonable but not blazing pace. The only part of the Chicago Triathlon that I am not crazy about is the  swim. On one hand, its really cool to swim along the wall and have spectators actually be able to watch the swim for a change, but any time you swim in a straight line for a while its just like driving through Nebraska. The horizon or buoy stay in seemingly the same place and no matter how long you are going it doesn’t feel like you are getting anywhere. Then you exit and have to run about 600m around the last part of the harbor to get to our transition. The first time I did this race I absolutely hated this run. But as I have improved and become a more seasoned veteran of the long transition run I have actually grown to like it.

Once you get on the bikes in Chicago it is a quick right hand turn onto Lake Shore Drive and then about 6mi of straight, mostly flat road. Parts of it are the roughest roads we will ride all year, and parts of it were newly paved last year and the nicest roads on tour. Once on the bikes I felt pretty good and laid down a solid pace right from the hit out.

Did I mention it is pouring rain?

Apparently, as soon as we started our swim the clouds opened up and decided to dump on us. Not something you really mind or notice in the water but once on the bikes it made for some interesting riding. Dodging potholes and big puddles, and trying to be as careful as possible going over the painted lines that are known to be so slick. As I mentioned most of us have our biggest race of the year coming up and would hate to take a spill.

After the first out and back I had made a decent dent in the field and the legs felt pretty strong. Especially considering Coach and I had decided not to taper much for this one and just go out there for the effort. I tried to stay relaxed and keep my cadence high. The rain was coming and going, as was the wind and at this point I just wanted to get back to T2 without incident. Oop…

There are exactly 6 turns in the whole of the Chicago bike course, and after making 4 successfully my streak ended when I attempted the final u-turn and ended up on the deck. To be honest I am not sure exactly how it went down. It was pouring again, the wind was blowing and I was slowing up considerably to make the turn. Apparently just not slow enough because as I went to turn the front wheel it more of less just slide right our from under me and I landed/slide on my elbow and hip. Good or bad there was a photo moto pulling up next to me at the time and of course upon them asking if I was all right I believe I replied, “I’m not sure, guess we’ll see.” I grabbed my bike which seemed in one piece hopped on and glided down the off ramp and back to transition.

At this point my mind was flying. Had I just totally ruined my biggest race of the year? Had I actually broken something or is the blood on my elbow and pain in my hip just body to pavement contact related. If there is one thing I have always prided myself on it is finishing races no matter what, and regardless of HyVee or anything else unless I couldn’t run, I was going to. I took off out of T2 a little slower than usual but my legs seemed to be in working order and after putting on the headband and race number I tried to relax a bit and just run.

I put in a good couple miles on adrenaline from the crash and another couple ok miles once that wore off, but after being caught and passed by 3 solid runners I knew my chances of catching back up were slim and I had a solid margin on 5th so I shifted into cruise control and finished off the run hopefully saving a little something for this coming week.

After crossing the line I headed straight to the med tent where they told me I was sore, bleeding, and scraped up but would live. Nothing like pulling your race suit half way down your butt in a relatively open med tent to make you realize you truly will be a swimmer for life, and because of it you modesty went out the window decades ago. I was glad to be headed to the airport shortly after the race to get the “stiffening” flight out of the way and home to my own bed and my amazing family.

Now its time to get some rest, sharpen up with a couple very focused, very fast workouts and get ready for the big dance this coming weekend. The “unofficial” non drafting olympic world championships, also known simply as Hy-Vee. The Super Bowl of short course racing in the States where the best of the ITU, non-drafting, and long course will get together to duke it out for a little less than 2 hours. Race starts at 4:30 central time on Sunday so tune in to watch the fireworks.

Hopefully I will be the one buying drinks after the race this year!

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