I’m Such an Idiot!

Phil Mickelson may have said it best five years ago at the U.S. Open, but I perfected it this past weekend at the Peachtree City International Triathlon.

Believe it or not, this was just my second triathlon. I’ve been training, and training and training for almost a year since my first race. I’ve been talking a big game because I knew the work I had been putting in would pay off on race day. Physically, I was more than ready to earn some “race cred.” What I didn’t account for was a mental mistake. I guess you can chalk it up to a lack of experience.

I went the wrong way on the bike. There, I said it.

Yeah, I agree, it’s funny… until it happens to you. The mistake cost me about 10 minutes. In the 40-44 age division (typically the biggest and most competitive for men in triathlons) 10 minutes is HUGE, as I would find out firsthand.

First, I’ll back it up a bit.


Water was about 74 degrees. I wore a sleeveless wetsuit. The water was warm, but nasty. I couldn’t see more than two inches in front of my face. There was dirt and muck everywhere. Getting to that first buoy seemed to take forever and I had some trouble sighting. But once I got around that buoy I knew it would only get easier and faster. I got out of the water in 31:46, ranking 28th out of 61 in my division. This is just about what I expected… middle of the pack. Swimming is not my strongest leg. I was just waiting for the bike and run.


I had taken a “dry run” from the water exit to where my bike was racked so I could find it as quick as possible. This paid off. I got the wetsuit off, grabbed my bike and was on the road in 1:30, ranking 5th in my AG.


I was ready to hammer it. The course wasn’t very hilly, so I figured I could average about 22mph and would be done in under 1:10. Then, I would throw down a sub-43 10k (at the worst) and would be done in under 2:30 (at the worst). Then it happened. About 3 miles into the bike route, there was a sharp right turn with a bunch of different signs and a girl yelling instructions. (What did she say? I was going so fast, I couldn’t hear her.) In truth, I didn’t give much of an effort to listen to her.

After I make the right turn, the majority of riders around me make a quick left. The signs — with BIG red letters –said something about “COURSE LEFT” with a big red arrow pointing to the left. There were other less-visible signs scribbled in marker that were harder to read, but I just decided to follow the crowd.

As it turns out, the girl was yelling “sprint go left, olympic go straight!” And those other less-visible signs…? They said “Olympic course straight.” I didn’t realize this until I started flying past packs of people on mountain bikes. Soon, I also noticed I was headed back towards the start area and saw a sign that said “Mile 22”. I rode up to the nearest rider and asked her: “Are you doing the sprint?” When she said “yes”, I knew I screwed up. To be sure, I asked another girl… same answer. At that moment, I used some language that was not very sportsmanlike and whipped my bike around in the middle of the road and headed back the other way.

I did some quick math and realized I had just added an extra 3 miles to my bike route. At the speed I was going, that equaled about 9-10 minutes. Son of a #&^%$!!!

I’m now VERY annoyed at myself, and try to go as hard as I can on the bike while still leaving enough in the tank for the run. I covered the 25-mile course (28.17 miles for me) in 1:15:33 for an average speed of 22.4 MPH. (My official pace says 19.9 MPH because the on-course sensors thought I only went 25 miles). Not a single person passed me on the bike. If you subtract 10 minutes from my bike time, I would have had the fastest bike split in my age group by 16 seconds and the 10th fastest overall. As my man @ClydeWatts reminded me… coulda, shoulda, woulda!


Flew into the bike dismount area. Somehow I managed not to fall off the bike while dismounting. Ran to my rack area. Ditched the bike, threw on some socks, shoes, a visor and sunglasses and was off in 1:09. Not bad, but could have been faster without socks. Noted.


The course was entirely on the shaded golf cart paths of Peachtree City. What a great place to run. I started out kind of slow, but finally got my legs under me at about Mile 1. I was keeping pace with one other guy who had said to me “great pace, what are you running?” I told him that I was doing about 7:30/mile. He said “great” and we ran together for a little bit. I didn’t tell him that I didn’t plan on keeping that pace for very long.

The course was an “out-and-back”. When we got to the turnaround, I decided to pick up the pace. I distanced myself from the guy I was running with and started passing anybody I could get into my sights. With 1 mile to go, I was gettin’ after it. I sprinted to the line in 42:35, marking the 2nd fastest run split in my AG.

Looking back, I think I could have run a bit faster. Not sure why I didn’t dig a little deeper. Noted.


This is when my mistake really hit me. I look at the results and see that I finished 17th out of 61 in my division. Considering that this was only my second official triathlon, I figure that this result was not too shabby. However, I do a little more math, subtract 10 minutes, and realize would have finished 3rd! I try to blow it off, but deep down I’m really PISSED! I’m not mad at the girl yelling directions or the person who wrote the less-visible sign, I’m only mad at myself.

This was a mental error, plain and simple.

All I can think of now is Phil’s famous words: “I’m such an idiot!”

While I’m a competitive person, this is not my job. Racing doesn’t pay my mortgage or feed my family. I try to look on the bright side as quick as possible and come to grips with the fact that I am fortunate to have done as well as I did in only my second race. It was a great day. My wife and kids are all healthy. I swam hard, biked hard and ran fast. There are certainly worse things in the world than making a wrong turn.




Filed under Triathlon, Uncategorized

3 responses to “I’m Such an Idiot!

  1. Yikes! Total bummer! But there will be other races and I’m sure you will check out the course map much more closely next time (I can’t tell you how many races I have gone the wrong way at!)

  2. Go to sleep knowing you finished 3rd… Forget the technicalities of course direction!!

  3. I can never understand what the direction folks are saying on the bike 😀 You had a great race, just chalk it up to experience and go get it at the next one!! Aside from the misdirection – great job! 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s