My favourite races are the ones where I raced my best on the day and performed to what I know is my best. Unfortunately in the past week, I've had two races that were far off this mark. One was last Sunday in New Hampshire where I raced the Timberman 70.3, and the other was this Saturday at a local Olympic distance race in Wasaga beach. Both were underwhelming performances, but in different respects.
Timberman was a big race for me, but unfortunately, it marked my first DNF of the year (2'nd ever). I flatted at 65km in, and with it being tubular (and a disc), I had no options on hand to fix it. The result was sitting at the side of the road for two hours waiting to be picked up by tech support. It wasn't really all that enjoyable (compounded by the fact there was no food/water available to me), and made for quite a long, and draining day.
Wasaga was a week after Timberman, and although I didn't really feel like racing, I figured I would just go and give it what I had. The swim was issue free, but mid bike, I was starting to feel more fatigued than usual. I made it to the run in first position, but after running the first km 30 seconds slower than usual, I pretty much fell apart and suffered through the rest of the race. I walked a lot of sections, stopped at most aid stations, and mustered together a 50min 10km. I dropped to 13'th.
You never know what racing is going to deal you, and when it deals you an unfortunate outcome, the only thing you can really control is your response to the situation. I was "off" in both races, but the response required to deal with Timberman and Wasaga are completely different.
My race was off in Timberman. This was not due to much anything else apart from a mechanical issue. Something small (aka a staple) messed up my race, and there was nothing I could do about it. My race prep and my emergency preparedness were not up to spec, and as I result, my entire race was off.
My race was off in Wasaga. This "off" had nothing to do with mechanical issues or chance staples in the middle of the road. I felt certifiably awful on the run, which is highly uncharacteristic and makes me quite suspicious of deeper issues. I pretty much went straight to a walk in clinic after getting home from the race.
Bad races will happen. Off days will happen. When you have one, you always have to take it in stride, but sometimes that stride means buying new tires, and other times it means going to the doctor. I'm convinced that issue free race is out there...seemingly, there are more than a few off ones on the road to get there.