I've got a lot of different excuses for why I was so slow this time.
One is that the bike portion of the race went straight up and down Nine Mile Hill, whose name should make a description of the course self-explanatory. Nine Mile Hills would be grueling enough without the 40 MPH wind that was in my face as I went up and made even the downhill portion dicey. I'm not the bravest of bicyclists, and when the wind is making your wheels hum and shimmy and is pushing your speed into the 40s, it's hard not to think about crashing. A number of cyclists did exactly that.
You can't blame the race directors for wind. You can blame them, though, for competitors having to stop and wait for cops to let you through an intersection. I've never had to do that in a race before. One of the cyclists who was waiting was giving the cop a lot of grief, shouting disparaging remarks at him about his mental acuity. Knowing the number of people who've been shot by cops in Albuquerque lately made this behavior perhaps as dangerous as careening down a hill with a dangerous cross wind, but danger aside, it wasn't nice and the cop didn't deserve it. I thanked him for keeping us safe, but I think he made us wait extra long before stopping traffic and letting us through anyway.
The scariest part of the race was when I got run off the road by a woman in a minivan. She decided to make a right hand turn in front of me and went all the way to the curb before she stopped, trapping me in the gutter. She would have sandwiched me had I not banged my hand against the side of her car. Luckily for me there was a handicapped curb there and I was able to get out of her way, careening up onto the sidewalk and into a chainlink fence. The driver sped off and the course volunteer, who was standing in the middle of the intersection, yelled "sorry." The incident rattled me, and I lost a few minutes learning to breathe again before I finished the race, but scary as it was, it's not a good excuse for my slow time.
The real reason I was slow was that I didn't get much training in. This spring I was an assistant track coach for the middle school at which I teach. Being at school 7-5 takes too much time to allow me to get in the training I need. I am no natural athlete; I need a lot of practice to do well.
So no gold medals for me. And that's okay. Sometimes the honor isn't in the winning but in the attempt. I knew before the gun ever went off that I wasn't going to win. All I wanted to do was the best I could under the circumstances.
Doing the best under the circumstances is not my goal for writing, though. I didn't make for training for me race because it wasn't that important to me. Writing is. I make time for it. I sweat the results of my writing sessions far more than I do my athletic training sessions. I try hard not to make excuses for my rejects. Instead, I try to analyze them and figure out what I can do better next time. And someday, I hope to attain that gold medal.