What makes a good day?

What makes a good day?  Today, I figured out that it s a good day when your “better luck next time” turns into a good next time.  However, this was not the case for my posse.

Running through transition in toe socks.  Dutch uniform!
Running through transition in toe socks. Dutch uniform!

Today was the University City Duathlon, and all of the people that I work with had this day on the schedules as our only local race of the year.  We had high expectations of a great day, a great race and positive outcomes.

Each of the three people that I work with had a showing today that included unexpected events, unexpected emotion, and a unique response to the craziness that ensued.

My son found himself on the bike course only to discover that his front brakes were sticking.  He was slow.  A course that should have taken him 35-40 minutes took him nearly an hour.  Sticky brakes sounds like an irritant, but sticky brakes often create an emotional response in the rider, they are when the brakes wont disengage.  Folks who ride bikes in races expect their bikes to work, and even if something happens, like a flat tire, they realize quickly that it wasn’t their fault.  Sticky brakes, though, can be prevented.  He didn’t know how to fix the problem, and he got upset.

Many people would have quit.  He didn’t.  He finished the ride and started on the run with gusto.   I was more than impressed with his perseverance.  At the duathlon’s end, we realized that if his brakes hadn’t stuck, he would have won his age group.  Maybe next time.

The ladies of today's race:  Paul, Ursula and Danielle
The ladies of today’s race: Paul, Ursula and Danielle

Each of the two women that I work with had their day of unique circumstances.  One to them still wears wearing a walking boot, due to an injury.  She can’t run, but she can still ride the bike.  She remembers me telling her that this race is easier than the Grandover race we did a month ago.  I claimed it to be easier, since it was shorter and it uses far less calories than the Grandover.  She was rightfully lit up that today’s course had lots of hills and required more effort, per mile, than the previous race.  To her, shorter meant easier.  I didn’t tell her about the hills.  Her emotional chains got yanked, and she had no problems at all sharing her opinion about it.

Good for her.  It is great to get mad at the course, the coach, the bike and yourself.  The loaded question is what are you going to do about it, next time?  The more we race, the more we are able to handle the uncertainties that seem to show their heads only on race day.  Maybe next time, this won’t be a problem.

The last story, though, involves the most drama.  The other woman whom I work with got into an accident on the bike as she didn’t see an object in the road.  The object happened to be another person, and in her efforts to avoid big impact, she wrecked her bike.  Her chain came off, and one of the race volunteers suggested that she see the race medic immediately and abandon the race.  She was very comfortable with the feelings that go with a fast heart rate and high epinephrine levels.  However, she also added a big dose of adrenaline and fight or flight response took over.  She wasn’t about to bail out on the race and quit.  Indeed, she squashed those feelings and responded with the opposite choice.  She put her chain on and got back on her bike to finish the race.

Ursula Paula and Jeff
Me and the relay team of Paula and Ursula

When she made her way back to transition, she acted just as if she was ready to go, minus the effects of the adrenaline surge.  She started out of Transition 2 and chose to do the run, using the bike course.  She did a 10k run to close out the race.  The rest of us, some 250 strong, did a 3k run back to the finish line.

When we saw her at the end of the race, we didn’t have time to get in a single, “what happened?” before she started a commentary on her bad luck for the day.  She had some non-incidental road rash and some bloody skin on her arms, legs and torso.  I felt pain looking at her.  As she migrated her story to what happened after the wreck, I wasn’t shocked. Her strength is the running side of Duathlon, and when the going got tough, she ran and ran and ran.  Better luck next time!

All three of them had some bad things happen to them today.  Yet, all I could see was a good day.  We had great weather.  We had group times.  We have powerful memories, none of which any of us will forget, and we have a bunch of races coming up that will help us forget all of these things.  Had any of us been seriously injured, or if we had no chances the rest of the year to make up for today’s bad luck, perhaps it would have been a bad day.  Maybe next time.

Alex cloud care less about sticky brakes now...
Alex could not care less about sticky brakes now…

Is the glass half full or half empty?  My son had a dance this afternoon, after today’s race.  I had help back at the house to help me cut down 5 trees and cut them up into firewood as soon as we got home.  The help I got after the race saved me and my family a couple of days of work!  The woman in the boot had recruited a girlfriend to do the run for her, so she could enjoy the bike ride.  The woman who wrecked still had a functioning bike and appeared to have no broken bones.  That would have been bad, as she is going with us to the National Championship in a month.

I have empathy.  I have lost chains during a race.  I have competed while injured.  And, I am not just still hanging around, but I am passing on my passion to others.  Today is my next time.

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