It was like deja vu. Thought I had a bad swim but, like last year, was pleasantly surprised to see a time of 32m36s when I came out of the water. Like last year, I exited the water with Stupe and ran with him into T1.
Had a quick T1, then was off on my bike. Again, like last year, I caught on a train at 2km, this time led by Stephanie Chok, and got dropped at 5km. Then rode solo for 10km before a big, big train came by. I caught this one, driven by the illustrious Sam Pritchard, alnd followed it all the way back up until the last km of the bike.
That's when it happened.
We had just gone round the roundabout and everyone was jockeying for position for the final dash to T2. We were going about 40km/h+ when, unsighted by the rider in front, I hit a pothole. Next thing I knew I was flung forward and I felt my hands slip off the bars. At that point, I still thought I could save it but then I felt my torso on my aerobars and my right foot clicking out of the pedals.
Next thing I knew, I was in the air and hit the ground hard. I have no idea what happened to the bike but I was sliding on the tarmac on my belly. I could actually feel my skin being scraped off my elbows and knees.
Once I stopped, I was sitting on the ground right in the path of the other cyclists. Afraid I might get hit, I raised both my arms, trying to warn the other approaching riders. When it was clear, I got up and looked around for Josie.
Surprisingly, my first thought wasn't "How's the bike?" Nor was it "Shit! Am I injured?" Instead it was "Damn! There goes my personal best!" You, see at that point I was on target for a PB. The swim was fast, my bike was going to be under 1h10m and my legs were still fresh enough for a potential 50 minute run. But all that came crashing down along with me and Josie.
I got up. I was a little disoriented by the whole thing. A traffic policeman was talking to me but I couldn't really make out what he was saying. Of all things, I was asking him to get my water bottle which fell off the bike. He said don't worry about the bottle, worry about yourself first.
I calmed down, assessed the damage and decided to continue, at least back to transition. But the cop wouldn't let my bike go. He kept asking if I was sure I wanted to go on. I insisted on continuing and he relented. He went to get my bottle and I was off again.
Got on the bike and started riding. But the bike felt sluggish. I thought, that's it. Josie is terminally damaged. But then I realised it was only a flat tire. I took off my shoes and ran the bike back to T2. By then I had wasted a good 15 minutes.
Running the final kilometre into T2. If you look closely, you can see the exposed skin on my left knee.
Got into T2 and I was furious. Furious at myself for crashing, furious at the time lost running back to T2, furious I lost any chance of getting a PB. But screw it, I was going to get that medal. Threw my bike on the rack, threw my helmet into the basket, got my shoes on and left. All in 35 seconds.
Powered by fury and adrenaline, I ran. By the first kilometre, the wounds were starting to sting. I wanted to wash it with water at the first water station but they ran out. Up the hill at the highway and I was in pain. So I started walking. And that's how it was for the first five kilometres, when the road pointed upward slightly, I walked. When it flattened out or went down, I ran.
At the turnaround, there was an ambulance. I decided to stop there and get my wounds treated. Another 10 minutes gone. But, after that, there was no more stinging pain. I managed to run all the way back to the roundabout and that was it. I had nothing left. It was a slow walk/run slog back.
Finally, I got to the finishing chute. Whatever I had left, I put it into the final dash to the line. I even managed to overtake someone in the final few metres.
I crossed the line in with a 1h13m run for a total time of 3h08m, 28 minutes slower than my target.
It was the most painful medal I've ever earned.
After the race I went to the medical tent and found out that a lot of people had crashed in the same spot, including Randy. Randy's injury looked a lot worse than mine and his bike sustained far more damage than Josie. And he still finished in 2h31m. I'm telling you, that guy is from a different planet.
Well, that about sums up my PD tri. Looks like the PB is going to have to wait another year.