I completed part of a race this past weekend, which unfortunately falls in line with the last race I wrote a blog post for: Lake Placid, which was about a year ago (it’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, and I’ll get to why in a minute). Like Lake Placid, I didn’t finish Oregon 70.3. Finishing was never the goal. That should be the title of someone’s memoir.
The swim was over as soon as it started thanks to a ripping current on the Willamette River, likely caused by the entire population of Eugene flushing their toilets at the same time. And unlike most triathlon swims, this one was actually pretty darn fun. At certain shallow sections you could see the rocky riverbed rushing by at nearly running pace. If only swimming was more like running. And running was more like riding a bike. And riding a bike was more like eating really, really good Mexican food with a self-serve salsa bar.
I exited the water in 16:30, just a handful of seconds down on first. About half the field was only a handful of seconds down. They must have taken a short cut. I must have too.
I hadn’t run in a month, but I managed to reach the bikes first in transition. Typically—particularly in the last few injury- and illness-plagued years—almost all the bikes are gone by the time I get to mine.
Within a few miles, I was on my own and off the front (after somehow accruing a mysterious penalty, probably for being too good-looking—though I’ll never know what it was actually for). Kyle Buckingham and Justin Metzler led the chase with a group of a dozen forming a minute or so behind them. The first 12-odd miles of the bike course were slightly rolling, shaded, and even somewhat technical in a few sections. The good times were not to last. The main chunk of the bike course was on flat farmlands—still picturesque, but not my favorite terrain.
By the turnaround I had about 2.5 minutes on Kyle and Justin, and an additional minute or two on the main group. My power was still high at that point—346—and my legs were feeling okay; a sub two hour bike split seemed likely (though it didn’t happen).
As I rode back in towards transition, still with 25 miles to go, innocent, unjaded age groupers—who were doing the sport for at least some of the right reasons—began cheering and yelling for me. Their enthusiasm was wasted. I didn’t deserve it, because I hadn’t even put running shoes or my race bib in transition.
Two months ago, my right patellar tendon flared up, and despite taking it somewhat easy it refused to heal and I was diagnosed with some minor tendinopathy (degradation of the tendon). Because I suffered through three years of painful running with a torn left patellar tendon, initially caused by tendinopathy on that left side in 2018, I felt that it would be wise to do everything possible to let this more recent knee injury heal. And that meant getting a PRP injection (platelet rich plasma) a week before the race, and opting out of the run to let that PRP do its job. Normally I would have dropped out of the race entirely, but my parents live in Oregon, and the trip was more about visiting my dad and making excellent homemade chili rellenos than racing anyways.
Now in the last 15 miles of the bike leg, my power was dropping significantly. I’d hoped to set a huge power record for myself, yet despite the knowledge of not having to run off the bike, I wasn’t able to dip into threshold and average something crazy like 340 or 350. I guess I just don’t have that type of power anymore, which makes sense since I haven’t trained it in the past seven years.
I was able to reach T2 with a five-and-a-half-minute lead, being cheered on by spectators and volunteers, unsuspecting of my lazy and sly intentions of dropping out. It was undoubtedly an odd sight as I took my time getting off the bike, then slowly walked away to talk to my dad.
Uh, does this chump know he’s supposed to run?
In hindsight, I sort of wish I had put my run gear in transition. Of course, I would have ridden a bit easier in the last 10 miles so the gap wouldn’t have been quite so large. And I still would have had that penalty for briefly being within 100 meters of another athlete. So in double hindsight, it was probably the right call to not fuck my knee up and attempt an all-out half marathon with zero run fitness.
I had a great weekend with my dad (the chili rellenos turned out fantastic) and hopefully saved my knee for some run training that will allow me to finish my main race goal of the summer—Embrunman. My bike fitness seems to be coming along, and if I can trust the result of a downcurrent swim in which everyone swam 9 miles an hour, my swim is right there too.
Now, for those wondering why I essentially let this blog die, I apologize. But as I’ve stated in past race reports, I’ve been using my good words to complete my novel, and one only has so many good words. Best not to waste too many more on blog posts. The Good Lord knoweth I’ve squandered millions of them over the years, ranting about pet peeves, races not won, and funny racoon jokes. In all seriousness though, I think we really do have a limited capacity for writing, and