The word of the day was “sucktastic.”
I realize that some may find that distasteful but with all due respect, there was not a better adjective, real or invented, to describe the day.
Another weekday bike-run brick brought another, yes another, flat tire. Only this time it wasn’t a simple flat. No. I went and steered myself right into a jagged rut of pavement a good three inches deep. Immediately I heard the sonic “BAM” from my back tire.
Pulled off to the side of the road in middle of nowhere, 13.66 miles from my house, I successfully removed my tire (and kept from losing any parts). As I tried once again to pry the tire from the rim, I noticed the huge gash in the sidewall. I tried for another five minutes to get the tire off and the more I worked, the more problems I found with the tire. Heck, even if I could get this off, I probably didn’t have the tools to fix the tire to get me back home. It was a goner.
What did I do?
I know. My friend Eric would chastise me for crying over a flat tire, noting that when he was in the French Foreign Legion he was shot in the leg and didn’t cry (or something to that effect). A flat tire is nothing to cry over.
But alas, here I was. Crying. On the side of the road, calling my mother, who was a good two hours away, because I had no one else available at the drop of a hat to come and pick me up. Is there AAA for bicyclists? And if so are they in Western New York? I would gladly pay a yearly membership for that service.
Luckily for me, my mom had a brainstorm, called a cousin of mine who lives in my general neighborhood. She was free and came to pick me up, sad as I was sitting on a curb outside a Kwik Fill gas station. (Thank you Lynn. Thank you, thank you, thank you.)
I emailed my coach and told him of my issue and that I felt like a failure.
Yes, a failure.
For the second straight week my mid-level bike workout was aborted. For the second straight week I knew how to fix the flat and yet could not execute. I was frustrated. I was fearful I was falling behind in my training. I was failing.
My coach told me there was no failure. I was just gaining experience and should appreciate the learning opportunity.
What did I learn?
Not to ride into bad road. That’s lesson No. 1.
I also learned that there will be sucktastic moments, but those moments don’t need to define the day, nor do they need to become self-imposed definitions of ourselves.
Upon my return home, I took a moment to change clothes, put on my new K-Swiss kicks and went out for my 8-mile run. By this time it was after 11 a.m., already 88 degrees, sunny and humid. The run was not great, but I did it. OK, so I mentally complained about the heat incessantly and concluded I could probably never live for any length of time in a southern state, but we pretty much already knew that. The run itself? Actually, it wasn’t that bad. Hard? Yes. Sucktastic. Hardly. In fact, I was starting to feel rather pleased with myself.
I stuck my head under the bathroom faucet to cool off, had some more sports drink and made my lunch. Then came time to head to Wegmans to pick up some dinner for my evening shift at work.
And wouldn’t you know but Upstate Farms was giving out free chocolate milk.
Seriously. Free chocolate milk.
One of the recent lines I heard from the professional triathletes at Ironman Lake Placid was that if you wait long enough, things will get better.
What was the life lesson from the second blown tire? I’m not entirely sure. But I know that if I can survive this training — what the workouts entail and what the days actually bring — the actual Iron Distance race day will be easy by comparison.