Asia-Pacific 70.3 World Championships is indeed a Kona qualifier, and I made the decision to come down and qualify early for the big dance in Hawaii. Call me egotistical, but with my performances of late, there was no doubt in my mind that I was fit enough to grab a slot.
Trouble is, my body decided otherwise.
Two weeks prior to the race, I had a nasty fall on the ice during a cold-weather run and tweaked my IT band (outside of the knee). Within just a few days, I was back to training, but not about to go do any hard 40-50 mile bike rides to see if the knee would be good to go for Phuket. I just had to have the faith that the knee would handle the load on race day.
Then, just two days prior to the race, in one of the multiple restaurants I dined at, I got a bad batch of food that left me sleepless and poo-ing my guts until race morning.
Needless to say, my confidence was slightly shot at the starting line, but I decided to give it a go anyways. Not even wanting to race, I waited in my hotel room until the last possible minute, then struggled to the finish line, just picturing my two little boys faces in my head and wanting to be a good example to them of not being a "quitter".
But within 200 meters of the swim, I knew it was going to be a tough day at the office. My body just felt...drained (probably because it literally was).
Nonetheless, I tried to block out the discomfort, came out of the water near the front of the age-grouper field and made it to my bike, which is normally a huge weapon for me.
No weapon materialized on this day!
Within 10 miles of the ride, I was being passed right and left, and swallowed up in big packs of riders I would have normally been out-cycling. The power just wasn't there. It felt weird to be passed on the bike and just not able to put out the effort to stay with folks.
Then, at about 50K, as I rode up a steep hill, my knee just flat-out gave-out. I experienced the type of pain that I knew would leave me crippled for months if I tried to push through it. To top that off, I had thrown up my previous three gels as my normally iron-clad stomach continued to refuse to cooperate.
It wasn't going to happen. If I kept pushing, I'd knew I'd A) be nursing a bum knee for months and miss snowboard season, tennis season, and anything else that involved knee bending and B) I'd be walking a very long half-marathon in the rain.
So I hailed a pick-up, rode back into town, and watch the remainder of the race in a torrential downpour of rain at the finish line - *extremely* jealous that I wasn't out there playing ball.
Yes, this was not the fanciest, schmanciest way to end the 2011 race season, but I think my body simply wanted me to stop, and sent me a very loud message on race day.
But I'm all about redemption, so here's the deal (and a big announcement):
1) I'll be coming back to race Thailand next year, and as a matter of fact, an Australian coach (Graeme Turner) and I are putting together two different trip options for anybody that wants to join (9 day trip or 15 day trip). E-mail email@example.com if you want in on that. First come, first serve. We'll take care of everything for you: race registration, lodging, restaurant selection, shopping trips, speedboat tours, massage, the works.
2) Exactly one year from now, at this race in 2012, I'll be debuting as a pro, and for the next 4-5 years, I'll be racing as a professional triathlete. As my readers know, I go big or go home, so I will be treating this decision very seriously, which means dedicated fitness work, and possibly stepping back a bit on my entrepreneurial ventures. But you only live once, right?