Well, today was officially the hardest day of the Gore-Tex TransRockies run for me…mentally.
With 46km to look forward to, rising up to 12,000ft over Hagerman’s Pass (Continental Divide), then back down (wayyyy down) to Chapman Lake, Dom and I decided to start off easy in order to have a strong finish and gain back the 3min we lost in yesterday’s stage. But from early on in the climb, Dom was already suffering and despite some constant coaxing, today was not to be.
As we studied the course profile yesterday, we thought it would be well suited for us. But it actually turned out to be very gradual – up and down – and wasn’t actually all that fun. We went with the towing system again but mostly for psychological effect as opposed to pure pulling. Besides, my achilles was starting to bug me so easing off the pulling was helping me deal with the irritation.
As we crested the pass, I took to time to soak in some fantastic views. The descent proved to be much of the same gradual stuff we had climbed with some technical sections. Dom rolled his ankle pretty bad on the top section which didn’t help his motivation – he got back on his feet after a short break and ran it off. We un-hooked the tow system from there on in and eased in to Control Station 2 at which point I called off the ‘racing’…Dom had had enough. We were already far behind our rival ‘Wings of Glory’ and there was no way the pace was going to increase.
From CS2 to CS3 I let Dom run his own pace – he was stiff, in pain and not enjoying the run…I kept mostly to myself staying 5m ahead to keep the momentum going.
At CS3 and after being passed by more teams, I told Dom to hook back up simply for pacing purposes. This seemed to help a bit more. As we reached the final stretch, a 6km paved section, I decided I had enough of running…I wanted the stage to end so I pulled- Dom was a trooper here and hung on for dear life as I increased to pace well beyond his comfort level. He later told me that he simply closed his eyes and let the rope pull him in.
I’m not sure where we finished today - I didn't bother looking. We are now out of contention for the podium finish tomorrow, especially with a flat 30km stage to look forward to. It’s hard not to feel anything else than disappointment after a good start to the event, but as I’ve mentioned before, this is a team event, and I will finish with my partner tomorrow, no matter what...