Now before all you crazy ass fans start dancing in the streets, raiding drug stores for aviators and throwing Picky Bars from the rooftops, please reread the title. You should notice something fishy.
Sometimes in racing, $h!t happens. Sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively. Maybe you did something wrong, or something out of your control happened to you. It doesn’t really matter. What happens, happens, and you have to deal with it and get the most you can out of the experience.
Hammering to Make Up Time
On Sunday, I had a crappy swim, bad transition and had my work cut out for me on the bike. It took a while to get my legs going, but I eventually started making up ground on the 2nd pack of pros. On the twisty Eagleman bike course, I caught quick glimpses of them 90 seconds up, then 70, then 50. Then, around mile 20, I came cruising up on the penalty tent, and saw a racer and a few volunteers in it. As I went by, I looked to see who it was, but didn’t recognize him, so just kept hammering, thinking I must be getting close to the pack.
I rode hard for the next 15 minutes as the road I followed became windier and more remote. About 7 minutes in, I started doubting I was on course, but I’d heard there were country roads with no center line, and didn’t know the course well enough to know for sure I was going the wrong way. But after about 12 minutes, I saw the first and only “dead end” sign, about 200 meters before the road literally went straight into the water. Oops.
It’s pretty easy to tell where the “Special Jesse Section” is.
I turned around, angry, frustrated, and very tired. I’d rode the last hour HARD trying to catch the group, and I didn’t even know where or how far I had gone off course. I tried to keep up the pace for a few minutes, hoping the mistake wasn’t far back, but as the time edged up and it became apparent I was out of it, I deflated.
After 5.5 miles (11 miles round trip), I came back to the corner, which was just past the penalty tent. Sure enough, there was a flagger waving people through. I can’t imagine how I missed this, but somehow I must have. Regardless, it’s on me to know where the hell I’m supposed to go, a mistake I won’t let myself make again.
Pressing the Reset Button
The toughest thing about when races go to crap is the internal tug of war you face as your mind tries to deal with your new reality. For that first 45 minutes, I wavered between riding hard and angry, and sitting up and spinning, realizing there was no point in pushing it. I came to Eagleman to get points, and now I wouldn’t. I wanted to test myself against a solid field on a flat, hot course, and now I wouldn’t. I was angry. And that’s ok.
Eventually though, it’s best to reset your expectations, let go of anger, and find a way to get something positive out of the experience. You can’t change what’s happened, so why dwell on it? And when I finally took a step out of my mind and thought about the big picture, here’s what I came up with:
- I’m racing in 2 weeks. If there is no reason to crush myself, I’m best to just keep it endurance based the rest of the way in.
- I don’t know how many guys will drop out, or how many points I can get for 20ish place, so maybe I can get something out of it.
- It’ll be a good workout, and “practice” opportunity.
- As long as I don’t feel any pain, I’ll keep going.
So that’s what I did. And after resetting the plan, I let myself enjoy the rest of race. I’ll admit, I got a little bored on the bike the last 30-40 minutes – it was beautiful, but it’s so flat, and I’d already ridden the last 20 miles of the course and at that point so I just wanted to be done riding. I kind of wished I’d had my GoPro with me or something so I could at least take some epic pics with the selfie stick :). Anyway, once I started running, I enjoyed being able to just relax – it was a very pleasant and well supported long run – my longest run in over a year, actually. It was a blast to hear cheers from a lot of you out there and actually be cognizant/rested enough to cheer back. Thanks for that.
For those following my season, you know this is a pretty big setback. Unfortunately, I think I only got about 10 points for 70.3 Worlds, and I’ll likely need about 1200-1500 to qualify. This means I’ll have to race three more times before Worlds, maybe four, which decreases my chances of actually being fit and fresh at Worlds.
But, I can’t change what happened. Like I said, sometimes $h!t happens and you just have to deal with it. As my season has also shown, good stuff can magically happen too. So I’ll just go one step at a time and continue to do the best I can. Regardless, I will forever be the 2014 Eagleman 81.3 Champion.
Thanks as always to the crazy ass fans who didn’t give a crap that I was 30 minutes behind and cheered me on in person and on twitter, facebook and instagram. Thanks to my wife, family, friends, and coach for guiding me through. And big thanks to my sponsors, who make all of these shenanigans possible – Pearl Izumi, Specialized, ROKA, Red Bull, Picky Bars, Jaybird, Rolf Prima, PowerTap, Strava, and Accenture.
Next step is Mt. Tremblent 70.3 on June 22. Talk to you then!