2009 Heatwave Classic Triathlon
June 6, 2009


I sat patiently in the doctor's office and waited for the verdict as the doctor put my chest x-rays up on the lighted board.

"Chad you have a hairline fracture on one rib and a major contusion over this area," the doctor informed me as she motioned to the area in question on the x-ray.

"Can I train and race?" I exclaimed.

"There's nothing short of getting punched in the ribs that will worsen the injury or prevent it from healing.   You'll need to rotate ice and heat and it will be uncomfortable for quite awhile but you are free to resume normal activity."

The 2009 Heatwave race report really needs to start a week prior to the race.   My nephew was having his bachelor party at a condo on the Pensacola, Florida coast.   I saw this a prime opportunity to get some scenic training in on the beach as well as do my part to support the single moms in the Pensacola area at the gentlemen's clubs.

The sandpiper birds, more specifically of the type Catoptrophorus semipalmatus had other things in mind...

I opted out of the first night of partying because I had a 5AM wakeup call with a brick workout that "THE PLAN" was calling for.    A 3 hour bike followed by a 15 minute run.   I had even planned on deviating from "THE PLAN" and running for an hour to take advantage of my time on the beach.

The day started out beautifully as I made my way back from Fort Pickens to Pensacola Beach.   Watching the sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico put my mind at ease.   True Zen moments like this are what I love about my lifestyle.   The traffic was non-existent short of the few other early risers walking dogs, jogging or biking along the scenic dunes.   I made my way through Pensacola Beach and on to Navarre Beach which I had assumed would put me darn close to exactly 3 hours.   I was around an hour and a half into my ride when I first heard the caawing of the little devils with wings.

I still don't know what caused the little bastards to attack me but I would assume it was something to do with them thinking I was invading their nests and trying to mess with their eggs.  The few short moments of the evil beasts divebombing me all it took for me to take my eyes off the road.   That split second caused me to drift  the short 6" to the side of the road.   The deep sand on the shoulder doesn't fare well with tiny little tri bike tires.  I must say it was a spectacular crash.   It's too bad someone didn't catch it on video.   I was going around 22mph and my front wheel hit the sand and stopped. The bike, with me clipped in rotated the full 180 degrees around the front wheel, slamming me into the sand.   I screamed as I was rotating over the front of the bike but those sounds were quickly muffled as big gulps of sand entered my mouth.  My left side impacted a driftwood log that seemed to be strategically placed in the sand bank.   Keys, money, tire tools, id, credit cards, tire tubes and anything else that wasn't screwed to the bike flew in all directions in a 20 foot area around the crash. My face, along with the rest of my body went into the sand.    I struggled to catch my breath but each time my lungs expanded I felt blinding pain in my ribs.   I first thought the driftwood had impaled me. I was struggling to catch my breath, any breath as the pain on my left side was so intense I wanted to cry. I looked down and saw there was no impalement but I knew I was hurt. I've never broken anything but my collarbone and that was in kindergarten so I don't really remember the feeling. This numb, intense, warming pain in my ribcage was growing progressively worse as I tried to clear my ear of the impacted sand and remove the sand from my mouth.

Now get this... The evil little bastard birds had done their deed. They crashed me! But do you think they let up?  Nooooooooooooooo! They continued to screw with me, divebombing within inches of my face causing me to flinch and cringe with every pass, which in turn sent intense sharp pains to my ribs.  I had to close my eyes and go to my happy place and hope they would just go away.   They didn't.   Their evil "CAAW, CAAAAAW, CAAAAAAAAW!" still rings clear in my head.   Makes me wanna go back to Florida, find their nests, make an omlett with their eggs and eat it in front of them.

I finally got some assistance from a few local cyclists who stopped after seeing my garage sale of gear scattered about. They helped me call for assistance and my brother-in-law ended up driving out to get me. The rest of the weekend involved sitting on a couch with ice putting up with the 'ribbing' from the other guys at the bachelor party.

"Chad, watch out, I see a bird flying above!   It's gonna get you!" they laughed.

No strippers and no partying for me.

I went to the doctor on Monday and she confirmed what I already knew.   Thankfully she cleared me to go back to full activity as long as I could tolerate the pain.   There wasn't anything I could do to worsen the injury or prevent it from healing so I still planned on training and racing Heatwave.  Doing a race with a broke rib would be awesome or pretty damn stupid... or both!

So on to the actual race...  

As I entered the chilly water on Saturday morning, minutes before my wave was set to start, I was most anxious about what the swim had to offer.   In my training sessions earlier in the week I had to stop multiple times because I could feel my ribs 'popping'.   It was a painful sensation that I was hoping to not reproduce this morning.    I planned to stay as far left as possible to avoid other swimmers and any stray kicks to the ribs.  

The horn sounded, I pressed the button on my watch to start my timer, and off I went.   The first few hundred yards I grabbed myself in a bear hug each time I felt someone on me.   I was doing everything I could, and probably being a little overcautious, to avoid any kicks.    It slowed me down considerably but a kick to the ribs would have ended the day.    The swim sure seemed longer than a half mile but it was uneventful for the most part.  I took a 'brush' to the ribs around the second buoy.   It was equal to a strong sneeze as far as the pain went but thankfully it came and went quickly.   Surprisingly the adrenaline coursing through my veins allowed me to numb the pain from the ribs and do freestyle the entire time.   I wasn't able to do that earlier in the week and was reduced to breaststroke because that was the swim technique that hurt the least.   Surprisingly, I reached the boat ramp WITH my wave and shuffled into transition.

I quickly donned my bike gear and rushed to the mount line.   After fumbling with my pedals, I finally got clipped in and started off on the 25 mile bike course which skirted the Ross Barnett Resevoir on the Natchez Trace.

Rib injury and all I had my best bike ever in a race to date.   I was flying!   My bike split ended up being 22.3 mph and would have been higher had I not had to stop for 2 minutes to unstick my chain.    The same exact thing happened at Wildflower.  I thought it was fixed but the crash in Florida may have whacked things outta line again.    My bike computer stops calculating when the bike stops, so it actually had my split time if I wouldn't have any any equipment malfunctions.    23.8 mph was the reading!   That would have been enough for the 2nd fastest bike split in my division.   I ended up with 9th fastest bike split of the day in my division which I was still pleased with.    I'll take an over 20 mph split any day.   More importantly than the speed I was going, I was able to keep my heart rate in check for the entire ride and I had my legs coming off the bike.  Having my legs wouldn't matter as the pain in my ribs finally caught up to me in the run.   Each time my feet hit the pavement I felt a little shot of pain in my side as my body absorbed the shock.

I was also running for the first time in my new Mizuno racers, Wave Precision 9s.   My buddy Patrick Fellows, the area representative for Mizuno, got me sponsored.   I'll be proudly wearing their compression gear and shoes to train and race in.   The shoes were extremely comfortable and fit well.

The temp was in the mid 80s, which is odd for this time of the year, as I exited T2 on my way out to the 10K run course.   I ran the whole time but the pain in my side really held me back from having the race I intended to have before the crash.   Thankfully, I had no bouts with gastric distress other than a quick trip to the port-o-joy at the halfway point.   This 2 minute delay turned out to be a false alarm and I was able to finish the run without incident.    I gotta say I really dig the run course at Heatwave.   90% of it is shaded on a multi-use bike / run path through the woods.   Also, since it's an out and back course you get to see all your friends on the course which is really cool.  

I rounded the final turn and ran up the last hill that had the finish line at the top.   I still find it kinda cruel to make the last 100 yards up a damn hill but whatever.    I finished my second Heatwave Tri in just over two and a half hours which was a 30 minute improvement from last year.   Good stuff!  

Special thanks to Kelli for coming out to cheer me on and for taking the pictures and Cheree' for attempting to come out and cheer me on.  Kevin also contributed to the pictures and I want to thank him as well.  And also I want to thank Brandon for letting me borrow a race belt. 

Thanks for reading my account of my second bout with the Heatwave Triathlon.   I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing (and living) it!



Best of luck on YOUR life journey!
May you reach all your goals and achieve all your dreams!