Tri at the Grove
“VLADIMIR: What do they say?
ESTRAGON: They talk about their lives.
VLADIMIR: To have lived is not enough for them.
ESTRAGON: They have to talk about it.”
- Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
And here we are. Another race and me running my yap to you about it. Luckily I can say it was another win (well, 3rd if you include the pros, but nevermind that). This race would prove to be a bit closer than last race's ordeal. Though my streak of tricky karma continued.
Rolf Prima is a favorite race of mine for sure. Its the closest thing we have around here to a hometown race. With the Eugene Tri folding last year Tri at the Grove, set in gorgeous Cottage Grove is the South Willamette Valley/ Umpqua region's only real tri. And a gorgeous one at that.
I came in from the coast with Sarah (the girlfriend) and spent the evening in Eugene on Friday grabbing my packet in the process. I wasn't too sure who was gonna show but ran into the kid from Washington, Shae, who I raced side by side with earlier in the year with at Blue Lake.
After an enjoyable evening of Bier Stein nachos pre race, and a pint or two, I went to bed, much more relaxed than usual.
Arriving at race site in the morning, parking was a mess but still had time to set up transition and get ready for the race. The swim was warm and pleasant temperature wise and I positioned myself near Garrett, whom I knew would swim quick. As the gun went I took off and made it to the first buoy with the leaders. Don't worry, it all went downhill from there.
Its hard to describe. I felt fine but couldn't get my arms really turned on. Then I would feel good but aerobically would feel like I was cooking it. I think perhaps I need to roll my sleeves down on my tri suit but I am not sure. Could just be feeling too. Maybe more warmup? I will be exploring these options for sure but the fact remained, that swim did not feel good. I really felt like I was always struggling and stuck between the leading 4 and the main field behind.
Or so I thought. With about 500M to go I was passed by Chris Ganter, one of the two pros and I grabbed onto his wake and eagerly followed him into transition, glad to have some company and inspiration.
Then my personal mess came.
Once again I managed to mess up transition. This time I think my shifter got bumped jumping my gear up higher than I wanted, which did not help since there was a nice little incline right out of transition. I couldnt get going and had to stop briefly to run and hop back on the bike. This was only compounded when much to my irritation the chain got dropped and then shifted off the big ring, I managed to shift it back on. Still this was all very frustrating and ultimately cost me some time.
I started my chase well, keeping Chris in my sight and almost passing him but forcing myself to be calm. I caught Garrett at mile 7 or so and we tried to figure out our respective places. I knew Shae had to be ahead so I really kept turning the pedals at a nice steady power. After 8 miles I spotted his figure in the distance and knew I could grab him at this point. However there was just still 4 miles of steady gradual uphill to negotiate.
Swinging through the halfway trun I gapped Shae at about 40 seconds and knew the catch was inevitable so I focused on me. My cadence, my speed, my turnover.
I was still keeping Chris in view and tried to follow good cycling advice and let Shae hang out to dry. I kept reeling him in slowly and slowly all while trying to let him keep the foot on the gas. At mile 17 I jumped him, sprinting and pushing past him. This was the last I would see of him as kept up the pace into transition over the last 8 miles. As I came into T2 I saw Chris leave out the other end. Still technically in sight.
As I headed out on the run I just focused on smooth smooth form. Immediately I felt relaxed, Chris was vanishing out of sight but there was nothing behind me and I was feeling strong. Like very comfortable. I have been waiting for this feeling to happen during a Tri for awhile. I get this way during running races but this is one of the few times it happened in a tri! The first 3 miles felt great. Well, as good as a tri can be.
After the turn around I noticed a nice gap and relaxed. Mentally. I kept the legs rolling and putting myself into the zone and kept the pace high. I still felt nice though! It was great!
And so it would finish. I came in right at 2 hours and a nice 35:30 run split. I was very pleased. The lesson of the day was definitely patience. I waited through a bad swim. A bad transition. Timed the bike pace right. Then built pace through the run. And in the end? I was rewarded with a solid result.
But, races are ephemeral. One good day is here then gone. I am always looking for the next finish line, the next result, the next win, and the next tragedy. Its all a process. So while Rolf Prima went great, I am still, like Vladimir and Estragon, waiting.