TriJake does Oregon
My alarm rang, my eyes opened, and I was about to experience one of the great joys I know. An endurance event including three of my passions: swimming, cycling, and running. I was ready. It wasn’t easy to get to this point of awakening. But, I was ready. After fighting with TSA to bring my bike as an oversized checked bag, a three hour delay in Charlotte, North Carolina, and finally finding a hotel that had vacancy in Portland, Oregon; I was ready. Never mind forgetting my bike seat and post 3000 miles away in Boston, I was ready.
My cab picked me up at 4:55 in the morning. I threw my gear in the rear, and off we sped to the Cathedral Park in Northern Portland, Oregon. Once there I did the usual routine of being marked by the race committee, finding my spot in the transition area, and laying out my gear for smooth transitions during the race. The weather was cold, damp, and rainy. I stood there in my sweatpants and sweatshirt praying that it would warm up. No such luck. By the time the race was about to start the temperature had rose to 52°. As I stood at the river bank I looked around, I couldn’t help but notice I was the only poor sucker out there without a wetsuit. People were asking me questions, mainly asking if I was crazy. I shrugged, “I thought it would be warmer” I said.
As the people counted down, the adrenaline of the group rose. Three! Two! One! The gun cracked, and we were off. Most of the people sprinted into the water, leaping into the chilly waves. I don’t particularly agree with this approach, as we have a long way to go, and there’s no sense in getting all fired up in the first 10 meters of a one mile swim. So I jogged in, and then took off. It was a tough swim, as we were swimming in a river, against the current. Very soon after I began swimming I noticed I was passing the sprinters. I felt confidant in my method. I was going to trust my stroke. I visualized Walden Pond on a bright New England summer day. I was falling into rhythm when I felt my ankle bracelet, housing my time chip, break from my ankle. “If I lose that, my time will be lost.”, I thought to myself. I instantly dove, swimming down a good 15 feet in the murky river water. I could barely see the orange band that was the ankle bracelet. I swam down, down, down, and captured it. Looking up, I could only see hundreds of legs kicking, I was horrified to resurface. But I found a gap and continued my journey on this triathlon. The rest of the swim was pretty normal. Definitely not as fast as I would’ve liked to go, but the currents were playing with me. And I certainly didn’t want to overextend myself in the frigid water. I simply kept saying to myself, move forward, always forward. Before I knew it I was back on the ramp and jogging down to the transition staging area.
As I trotted down the ramp to my bike I took a look around and was grateful to see. The early morning darkness was very much upon us when we dove in the river, but now I could see clear daylight. I always take time, if only a second, to appreciate the little things during a race. I find doing that keeps my spirits high. I trotted to my bike, threw on my jersey, and I was on my way. This race offered a 40 kilometer bike ride that started with a 200 foot climb out of the river basin. Talk about potential mental fatigue. I pushed through and hit the flats hard. The wind was brutal, I later learned it was gusting up to 30 mpg. When faced with tough wind on the bike it is important for me to focus hard on mechanics. Proper riding technique will carry you through almost anything. I also was not riding an aero-tri bike, and I kept boosting my adrenaline by reminding myself its not the machine, it’s the motor. This allowed me to keep up with the pros only giving up minimal position. As I cycled over the rolling hills I kept my body tight and and eyes forward. I focused on the entire pedal stroke. As my left foot pushed down my right foot pulled up. I was moving like a machine, when suddenly my left cleat popped lose. I damn near fell off. I stabilized myself and clipped back in, and started to gain momentum again. After the race I learned the front part of my cleat had worn off and that’s why it wasn’t stable in the clip. Lesson learned. Keep your cleats new. I never tired and averaged a 24mph on the road, with a top speed of 37mph and a low speed of 17mph. I quickly ride back into camp and jumped of the bike. It was game time. Time to run.
Just a 10k right? Hardly, my right quad was threatening a nasty cramp. I remembered my running form lesson and picked and easy pace, then kept light on my feet, and finally smoothed out my gate. Amazing as it sounds, this basic running formula released me from any cramping. I did not stop smiling the rest of the way. I was making good time, I had no pain, and I was passing good runners. I stopped, for a moment, to casually use the restroom (a bush) and drink a shot of water. We crossed the bridge and I found my legs. I clipped out the last two miles sub 7 minute miles and finished with a big smile.
The entire race I felt laid back, I never panicked. I felt in control. Even when I almost lost my ankle bracelet early in the swim I never lost my cool. By the way, I had to carry that chip in my left hand for the rest of my swim. Thus, I was swimming with my left hand in a fist. That’s a great drill, but that’s all it is. I laughed and swam on. Running endurance events teaches patients with adversity, acceptance of events, and flexibility in problem solving. All before most people are awake. That’s the TriJake way. I don’t focus as much on my times, distance, or placement as I do the lessons learned in competition. Right action leads to better performance. This is true in all aspects of living. Athletics provide an awesome arena to practice these principles in a safe environment. This is why we play.
Jump on board the team, take action, you will be amazed as to what you’ll find.