VANCEA – Try Something New on Race Day?

by | Jul 30, 2013 | News Articles

Something new for Race Day?
Sure, why not.

By Irina Vancea
July 18, 2013


I know that you should NEVER try something new in a race- not even a pair of shoelaces… or maybe even new goggle elastic bands.

IrinaVanceaBike1I purchased some brand name tiny elastic bands that hold sport goggles.  Why just the elastic band?  Well, I use and love my prescription goggles; they are always with me in whatever I do: running, biking, skiing, RV camping, hiking, even traveling in Hawaii.  Lately, my goggle’s elastic bands got loose, very loose.  After they fell off my nose several times I decided to change the elastic band.  Because I was busy or lazy I postponed the moment of change until Saturday, the day prior to my Boulder triathlon race.  In a hurry I went to the optics, where a very nice lady gave me brand new brand name elastic bands…. for free.  WOW, free brand name bands, that’s not an every day gift.  I was thrilled.

The next day I was in my triathlon race (Boulder Peak) – with my brand new bands. The weather was great. The swimming went without stress and so was good prep for the bike ride. Half an hour into the bike ride, my goggles got foggy, as the new elastic band kept them tight to my face. Unable to see, I had to stop during the ascent to wipe them.  Mounting the bike on a slope was hard for me (as I am not a very experienced biker) so I fell.  No big deal. I climbed back onto the saddle, which was twisted in an awkward direction. As the saddle was not fitting right I stopped again to fix it. I checked the brake system to be sure that the brakes were not locked.  I was back in the saddle to race!

As I rode I thought that I was maybe having some anxiety or stress after the fall, as the climbing was harder and harder. Then I thought I had not trained enough (which is partially true).  I had to walk the last few feet to the top of the hill- I was feeling humiliated.  As the volunteers were so supportive, I got back onto the saddle in a better spirit.   I pedaled hard, trying to keep my feet going– but with the odd feeling that something is wrong.  People are passing me- young and old, big and small.  I’m frustrated – what am I doing wrong?  As time (and many riders) pass,  my thoughts went from blaming my old bike, my weight, my short legs, the Spinervals DVD , the altitude… to blaming  my husband, my kids,  my whole family who were not as supportive, the lack of time in my life… But not my goggles or my brand new bands. I was tired mentally and physically at the end of the bike ride, but I did not quit. I missed the entrance to the transition area so I had to do an extra loop to pass through the gate with the chip reader.  I did finish the run among the last ones. A lady at the finish line asked if I wanted a medal? OF COURSE I WANT IT!  I worked hard to finish.

My husband and kids were looking for me in the parking lot.  Trying to keep my spirit up I showed the kiddos my medal, and asked my husband to help me with the bike.  “What did you do to this bike? It’s not working right!“ my husband says, trying to guide the bike along us . We looked at the wheels- one brake pad was graciously resting on the front wheel…

Darn you, free bands!

I did not write this story to excuse myself in any way– but to share my experience and to reinforce the axiom- Do not try anything new, no matter how small, in a race. Not even shoe laces, nor even goggle elastic bands.

Dr. Irina Vancea, M.D. is a nephrologist practicing in Pueblo, CO and has been doing triathlons for about three years now.