After a half-day spent on travel prep, slightly amplified because we had invited a couple friends of ours to crash at our place with their infant son during our absence, we blasted up to Galena on Friday afternoon. Perhaps as an hint of what was to come, it rained hard pretty much the whole way up there, but, because we were car pooling with Drew, the ride was fun and we got up there in plenty of time to get things situated.
Galena is an interesting race in that there are two separate transition areas, so you're forced to prepare both transition areas the day before the race. Luckily, T2 was close to where we were staying, and it didn't take long to get everything set up and head over to the hotel bar for some pre-race hydration. We actually rented a condo, which worked out great - plenty of space for Cath, Drew, and our two little dogs to spread out, complete with a little kitchen. We had a nice dinner in downtown Galena, and hit the hay pretty early.
The race, which is now up to about 1400 competitors, goes off in waves, and it worked out that Cath was in the wave right before mine, and Drew immediately after, with three minutes between each wave. When we got to the beach, it was every bit as windy as they predicted, and the temps had dropped overnight and sat uncomfortably in the low 40s. Cath and I put our wetsuits on early just to stay warm. Her wave took off at 9:30 a.m., and I hoped that the full wetsuit we just got her would keep out the chill of 60 degree water.
My own wave went off shortly thereafter and I was happy to not notice the cold water one little bit - the swim felt easy and fast, and, despite having to swim through a few very uncoordinated and thrashey swimmers, I made it to shore in what I thought was a pretty good time (just over 10 minutes for 660 yards). I saw Cath come into the transition area after me, and was happy that she made it through the swim and seemed in good spirits (she had been very afraid of how the cold water would effect her). I grabbed my bike and took off onto the bike course feeling good.
There's a pretty big hill leading from the beach out onto the bike course, and I knew it was going to be a challenging day when I saw all the riders being blasted by wind gusts as they crested the hill. But I felt fine - figured I'd just take what the day gave me, and keep moving forward.
About four miles into the bike course, I noticed someone who looked very much like my wife on the shoulder of the road, and immediately realized that she had a flat. I pulled over to help, despite her protests to just keep on racing. She had already identified the likely culprit - a huge gash in the tire that went completely through the tread. After a crazy long time trying to replace the intertube, none of which would take air, we gave up hope of being able to re-enter the race. Cath told me I should continue on, but the wind was whipping so fiecely and she was shivering so badly that there's no way that I could leave her on the side of the road. So, as she steered my bike, I threw hers over my shoulder and we started to amble down the road, hoping that a sag wagon would come along or we'd find a medical tent. After about a mile and half, we ran into a sheriff controlling traffic and a nice man waiting to cheer on his wife, who graciously offered to take us to the finish line. His car had a bike rack, and (more importantly) a good heater (by that time, I was also cold as hell), and we ended up finding Drew at the finish.
So, not exactly the race we had hoped for, but just one of those things that can happen out there. I'm just glad that Cath beat me out of T1, or else I never would have seen her on the side of the road. Hopefully, we've paid our due to the race gods and IM will be smoother sailing.
The weekend was not a complete loss, either, as we stayed an extra day to ride the amazing/killer hills in that part of the state. With Cath's bike still toast, Drew and I took off after the sun started warm things a bit and did 2 1/2 hours of hilly goodness, which I followed with a 20-minute (equally hilly) run. The ride was incredible - smooth pavement, few cars, calm winds, and (most importantly) I felt super strong the whole time, which was a great morale-boost after feeling not so great the day before. We've already discussed going back up there this summer for another training weekend.
Congrats to Drew for conquering Galena, yet again, and thanks again for riding with me the day after a very challenging race.
Hope you all had a great weekend.
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