Jun 11, 2007
It started like any other race. I was excited just to be in great shape and test my abilities just 3 days after my last sprint Aquathon race. After setting up my transition area, I looked at the sky and saw heavy rain. I smiled and just watched as the rain soaked the bikes, shoes and just about anything that wasn't covered. I stood under a tree and just smiled. So many people panicked, but I just smiled and enjoyed it all. After about 15 minutes the skies cleared and the race was on. Note: I was prepared and always carry a big garbage bag with me in case this happens. My stuff was nice and dry once the race started.
After a good swim warmup, my age group was called. A new age group for me this year - the big 40. I looked at the guys and for the 1st time thought - I can beat these guys. I normally start up front to get off fast. The gun went off and I quickly was out front. Huh What? Where is everyone? I looked left. Nothing. Right. Nothing? Huh? What? I hit the first turn and saw nothing. Wow. Is this happening? It's not that big of a deal, but I have never been out front - even if this is just with the 40 year olds. So I hit the 2nd turn. Still out front. In the past I would have started to get tired, but with Coach Mike's help, I'm in better shape and not hitting the wall in the swim. I started to pass the groups in front of me, and finally saw a guy come up to the right. For a spilt moment I said, just let him go. NO. NO. NO. I picked up the pace and made sure that I could look Coach Mike in the face and tell him I gave it my all. I was out 1st.
The bike started out ok. With my PowerTap, I was able to see my power. The problem with the sprint is you have to go so hard that your HR is high. I was not feeling the best, but I held on. I was not getting passed in mass like past years. I did count 4 guys pass me from my age group, but I was staying close. Wow. At mile 7 I was starting to get in a rhythm and staying at 90 cadence. It was a mental battle. Come on Stu. Stay with the guys. Say with them! Come on.
I was flying and feeling better until the sound we HATE to hear. Psssssssssssssssst!
Yep. Flat city. My day was done for the division race, but not for me. I changed the tire but noticed a big cut. I didn't think the tire would hold, but I tried. I rode another mile and got another flat. I was not surprised, but not all that happy either. My day was done. What do I do? Well, I figured I better start walking. I walked about 3 miles, trying to tell people "Nice Job", or "way to go." People felt bad for me, but I was actually enjoying all of this. Not sure why, but it was not that bad.
I hit the main road and found 2 older women and a boy about 16 years old getting in a van. I asked if they could drive me back to the start line. I got in the van and jumped in the back seat with the boy. After talked for a few minutes I found out he was mentally challenged. He told me how he had made it to Special Olympics Nationals in Iowa. He was so proud. He asked if I wanted to see the medal he won in power lifting. Our conversation went on and I felt like I was riding in the car with a super star. I promised him that I would tell all my friends that I met a Olympian. He smiled and told me to "go get 'em." Have you even seen a person that works so hard and never wants to take that medal off? Have you seen the pride? The passion? This kid had it all! He had 2 gold medals, 1 silver medal, and the best attitude!
I took my bike out of the car and just smiled. I put my bike together but thought that I had to finish the race. I told the guy at the start that I got a ride but wanted to finish. I asked if that was ok. He looked and at this point I was dead last in for the men. "Sure, go on." I looked at my tire and figured it was better for me to carry the bike so I didn't do any damage. I picked up the bike, put it on my shoulder and started to run. I was abut a mile from the transition area. I was running in bike shoes. Not the best thing, but I had to carry the "virtual" Olympic torch that my new friend gave to me while in the car. I just smiled and started to hear the crowd go crazy. I ran faster and decided that I could not let my new friend down. I had to keep running. I ran and carried my bike over the bike finish! The crowd erupted! I was already in dead last, but decided that I could not stop. I was the LAST male out of T2.
I ran hard and finally caught a few people. I finished the day swimming, biking, flatting, walking, riding in a car, running with a bike, and finally running. (I want to make it clear that I did ask an official if I could continue even though I had to take a ride in a car). Officially I had a DQ as I got in a car, but I really didn't have a choice. I do want to thank my new power lifting Olympian to show that sport is not about winning, it is about passion! I'm 100% sure that I had the best race of the day. No question about it. I met someone that would make even the last place finisher smile. I met an Olympian. I met pure magic. I just hope that one day, on your worst day, you too can meet him. I guarantee that he will make your day! He certainly made mine!