It was a dark and stormy night.... ok, it really wasn't stormy but it was nightime (technically) when I left the house at 4am in order to make it by 7am to the 24th annual 'Tri for Fun' sprint triathlon just a few dozen miles outside of Sacramento in a town called Herald. There is nothing of note in Herald except for miles of vinyards, a lot of dirt and a sweet lake.
It was about 70 degrees at the race start - with some 600 people ready to race. I was excited to be in one of the first two waves until I found out that they moved two other waves in front - putting me in the 4th or 5th wave. The water was crystal clear. As I did my swim warm up I noticed a few pair of socks, a grey t-shirt but luckily no dead bodies or sharks (I'm slowly getting over my fear of there being one or the other in ever body of water I'm in). The swim was easy and I hung mid-pack for much swim - crashing into a few people and for fun, kicking a few others. My HR was nice and low and I swam along thinking about my stroke, whether or not I was going straight and wondering if I'm supposed to be thinking so much.
I got out of the swim toward the front of the last third (I'm just guessing as there was no chip timing - it was a real basic race using the same race timing for the past 24 years). You'll see in the HR adjacent chart when I got out of the water.
That is when my power sticks failed.
I hopped on my bike complete with deep dish carbon wheels, my carbon soled shoes, and donned my wickedly fast TT helmet that my kids think is cooler to wear backwards (because I look like a bird). I had everything I needed to set a blazly fast bike but nothing happened. I had 16 miles to make up some lost ground and no matter what I did my power sticks would not turn the pedals. I still passed a bunch of people but I think they were out touring the vinyards looking for a picnic spot. I knew that everyone has a bad patch and that they don't last long - so I kept pushing. I saw the 5 mile marker and then I saw a guy with mountain bike shoes pass me. I had spent thousands on all of my training, bike and equipment and here I was getting spanked on the bike (my strongest leg).
I dug deep.
Like digging a hole to China deep.
It worked and the turn around was just ahead. I hit the turn around and the power of the gods had returned to my power sticks (these of course being my legs). I suddenly had tons of power and began to ride like I had a 20 mph tailwind. I was passing people like I've never passed anything. Uphill I was pulling as strong as I've ever ridden - I was taking on groups, 2 people at once and even a car stuck behind some slower riders. I don't know what had happened but my race was back on track.
I flew into T2, dropped the bike and slapped on my 16oz racing shoes (they're green Nikes that are lighter than anything else I own except for my blue Gap flip-flops).
I got out onto the run course which was a dirt road, with lots of ankle bending rocks that circumnavigated the lake. It was pretty hot at this point. Africa hot. I was glad I was wearing a black tri-suit and that my visor was really black. It's slimming - so if I wasn't going fast, I was looking lean. I suppose the run went ok - I got passed by 1 guy who I referred to as grandpa.
I chased grandpa (he was 41) through the turn around and back and up and down and up and down to the race start. Grandpa beat me - but he was the only one who passed me.
I ended up 5th in my age group but due to my massive leg failure - I probably lost 4 mins and a podium finish (which is what I thought I was capable of this weekend).
There's another race in 12 days. I'll pack a new pair of power sticks for that one.
This was not a good race and I'm pretty disappointed.