Nietzche said frustration is where expectation and reality are at odds. If you’ve got kids you’ll know that’s certainly true. It isn’t always the case with us grown ups though. I’ve come to expect a sensible start from Dr Hale, followed by a brilliantly paced effort to run through many of us more ‘excitable’ starters.
Today reality was rather different as Mike put me on the back foot for the first 5km. Tell the truth had anymore climbing been stacked at the front, I would have let him go as I had real difficulty staying in touch (and was actually relishing the prospect of letting him disappear from sight such was my state).
Luckily the hills turned into twisty descents and was able to move through a bit. Though every move I made was well countered on the next climb. At some point in the twisty woods I managed to make a break big enough not to hear his breathing. The silence lasted until we hit the next road section.
Important intelligence gathered. I could, with a concentrated effort, get away on the twisty stuff and those horrid sand waves. So as we exited the gravel road for the next forest section at around the 14km mark I channeled Andy Schleck and made a long range solo break. Think I did about 3km of effort before I eased off back into something a little more sustainable, giving Mike (and older guy Simon) about 6km to catch me.
I tried to keep a pre-break pace going but knew I was starting to fade, and as trail gave way to forest road Mike surely would be gaining ground. Going through my head constantly was – will it be a Schleck or Contador move? Both had tried long range attacks in the tour but only Andy succeeded. Also going through my mind was the grimace both wore (it’s worth hurting for). Unlike Andy, I didn’t permit myself a backwards glance, at least until I was in the last km. And when I did who was no more than 20 metres back but the Dr himself.
New calculation, how hard did he push to get here? How much has he left in the tank? What are my chances in a finish line sprint? Decision was to try to up my pace as best I could, deny him any opportunity to recover before a finishing chute sprint was on the cards. If he was surging I was toast, had no gas for a full sprint. He’d have to work to get that opportunity though! As it turned out his tank was as empty as mine and I managed to hold a 10 sec gap to the line.
The moral? Don’t always let your expectations rule your reality.