|I had enough time to snap a photo before dropping the hammer to earn that Strava KOM.|
|Meredith's phone not only takes better pictures, she's more overdue for an upgrade so we wouldn't have been as upset if the stranger who took this for us had run off with it.|
|In hindsight, we could have just hitched a ride on the Brewers' team bus rather than driving from Milwaukee to Chicago|
Those few days in the Windy City were a great way to leave behind my bad race in Milwaukee and move on before Detroit because it really helped me recharge and refocus on just enjoying things rather than getting so caught up in the exact end points. A similar feeling came over me after we spent the last few days before the Detroit race with friend Will in Ann Arbor, MI. Fortunately most of the students hadn't come back yet, so the town was fairly quiet. By again having little to no real responsibility or agenda, and after some back and forth phone calls and emails with Coach Mace, I was really starting to feel reinvigorated, confident, and positive about the upcoming race.
It's a delicate balance heading into a race. On one hand, you want to have realistic expectations so as not to set yourself up for failure. On the other hand, to be a competitor, you need to believe you're capable of winning any and every time you're on the start line. I had largely lost that part over the last couple of years due to injury and simply not progressing as fast as I thought I should have been that really eroded my confidence.
Ok, now that I got my existential and probably more interesting writing out of the way, the race itself:
I lined up near a couple of the guys I knew to be the strongest swimmers in the field, hoping I would be able to hang on for absolute dear life as long as possible. That was my plan. Instead, displaying my lack of seamanship because I never went afloat except for 5 weeks aboard the now-decommissioned USCGC Block Island, I did not account for the current. I was very far to the inside of the lineup, so when we all swam out towards the first buoy, we got pushed to the left, downstream and inside of the turn buoy. We didn't realize it, but Meredith has photographic evidence to prove it. The super-swimmers were largely able to recover and still make it to the buoy before everybody, but instead I went through the turn buoy in about 15th place, getting absolutely clobbered when I would have preferred something more like 5th with semi-clean water. I lost track of how many guys I passed on the long down current stretch and actually felt like I was picking ground back up on the little group just up ahead, hoping maybe I could close it back down to what I believed to be the lead group. I exited the water about :17 back of the last guy. It turned out that it was not, however, the lead lead group, but the first main chase.
|The yellow was the turn, and we were pretty much inside of the orange from what Meredith tells me|
Throughout the bike, we kept the next group up the road in sight, eventually picking up and dropping one passenger whose pulls slowed us down each time, then picking up another dropped-off rider and allowing him to sit in. We tried to get this next one to contribute, but we realized he too was slowing us down, so we attacked early on the last lap with him just barely dangling on the back.
|About right: Gil hammering away, me holding on for dear life.|
As for me, I held on just barely, but in a positive place mentally, which was more important. Of course I would have liked to be farther up in the standings, but I actually finished the race exhausted, as opposed to Milwaukee where I felt defeated. I owe a lot of that to Meredith and Mace kind of talking me down from the ledge in the days leading up to the race, so it really put my mind at ease.
On a related note, Meredith had another excellent race, finishing and near-collapsing, a new feeling for her after not only running the whole 5k again, but trying to push hard the last part of the race and negative split, as well as an AG podium!
|GET IN THE DROPS MERE! (Otherwise, great job, dear)|
|Somebody had to come away with the hardware|
|She had just finished, but I'd been spending the 3 hours after my race with a Solo cup in hand, so I was actually leaning on her...|
|Funny how delirious you get after so much driving...|
|The Fit was a champ. Absolute champ. Obviously Ele still holds a special place in my heart, but I'm not sure it (never took on a gender for my car) would have survived such a trip.|