This past weekend, Liam, Kelly and I went to Round Rock, Texas to do the Frost yer Fanny duathlon. It was cold (you northerners - quit laughing), but a fun weekend.
Yes, I was disqualified! Although finished the race. More on this later - it touches on a very serious issue, but I'm kind of tickled that I DQ'd. I'm such a rebel, me. Actually, not sure if I was REALLY disqualified, as on the official results, it doesn't show that I am. And I was allowed to finish, so that's all I care about.
The night before at the hotel, they held the Regional USAT awards and since Liam is the fastest 20-24 year old in the region, he went to get his award. We figured that, hey we're not really racing and it doesn't start until 9 am, let's get drunk. Uhm yeah. We each got 1 beer and none of us finished the whole bottle. sad... Oh, saw Caroline Smith there. She's not famous (not yet anyway), but I linked her blog. She has a very similiar story of someone changing her life around and really getting into triathlon. Party girl turns into pro triathlete.
When we walked the dogs (yes, Jasper and Toby both came!), it was 27 degrees outside and we almost said f-it and went back to bed. But about an hour later, it had warmed to the thirties and by the time the race started, it was above freezing (nice for them to start it at 9 AM). As usual, I had a chat with some nice strangers about my little bitty bike.
Liam and Kelly did the shorter course (2 miles/10miles/2miles) and despite their claims of "just having fun" of course, they did well. Kelly won her age group by a whopping 12 minutes! Liam was second in his age group. Probably would have won, but I think he ran an extra mile (the run was on trails on not marked out that well.)
I'll do a real quickie summary, as I want to rant about important stuff. The first 5K I ran in about 32 minutes (10.25 min miles) which is pretty good for me. The bike was hillier and windier than I expected so I didn't hammer it and averaged 15.9 mph. The second run I did in about 34 minutes (11 min miles). I liked how the difference wasn't too much, which means either I paced myself well or I'm learning to run of the bike (probably both). I finished 6th in my age group of 9. Oh, yeah old ladies' age group of 35-39 for the first time! haha. Kelly and Liam got the dogs from the hotel, so I was able to cross the finish line with Toby! She ran 200 feet and that was enough for her.
SERIOUS STUFF: So, I was disqualified. Although I don't see if officially anywhere on the results page. At around mile 2 on the bike, I saw the race officials following close by me. They called out "what's your number? " because it had folded over. I told them, then asked "why" but they didn't answer. For several minutes, I was racking by brains trying to figure out what - was I drafting, not passing correctly? Just by chance, I looked down at my shadow and saw my helmet strap. My helmet was not on correctly! I got off my bike and refastened it and kept on cycling. I knew that this was bad, really bad. Only in the end, did Liam tell me that this was an automatic DQ. That's fine, I'm okay with this and completely agree with it. I was allowed to finish the course and have my times and it wasn't as if I was in contention of winning anything. HOWEVER, I have some serious issues here:
1. The officials did not even inform me that my helmet was undone.
2. If I hadn't caught it myself, I would have ridden my bike 18 miles without my helmet on properly.
3. They should have just pulled me from the course; if not, then at least freakin' tell me!
4. I went to talk to the head official of the race. And her answer was "It's not the USAT officials responsiblity to inform you. It's the Race Director's staff. It is only our responsibility to observe, but not comment." WTF?! She was really nice about it, but I told her that if rules essentially are to ensure the safety of the race, and I completely agree with this rule, then isn't it important to DO SOMETHING if they see this violation? Isn't it more unsafe to let me RIDE MY BIKE ALONG A HILLY HIGHWAY WITHOUT MY HELMET FASTENED ON?!
The whole "it's not our responsibility etc" is shirking of the highest order. It's plain common sense. "Oh, yeah well, I saw this lady being raped, but I just OBSERVED and didn't DO ANYTHING because it's not my job!" Actually, I can see it being a liability for the USAT; for example, say that I crashed and died or severely injured myself. It is documented exactly what time they noticed this violation. So in the court room, the lawyer can point that despite knowing that I was riding unsafely, they let me ride, therefore partially responsible. I don't think the jury would care for the "it's not our job" answer. Of course, the real tragedy would be if I had really hurt myself!
So I am planning to write the USAT about this incident. I really, really don't quite understand it. I know that the world does not follow common sense, but come on! I need to cool off a bit so I can write a rational and well-intentioned letter. Also I need to ask S. Baboo about this issue, since he is an USAT official.
Go out with a funny: the funniest thing I said after the race was "I'm never going to forget my strap-on"