“Such a waste of talent. He chose money over power. In this town, a mistake nearly everyone makes. Money is the McMansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I cannot respect someone who doesn’t see the difference.”
– Frank Underwood
I love this quote from “House of Cards.” It contrasts a flimsy, superficial symbol of wealth with something substantial. Something ready to stand the test of time. A monument.
Also, its literally the only reference to Sarasota that I’ve ever come across. I needed something, anything.
Sarasota is a beach town located south of Tampa Bay on the Floridian Peninsula. When we figured I would be competing there I actually got pretty excited. I knew it was on a beach, in Florida, and we’d be there during Spring Break. Based on those factors there would be a great energy in the area. i.e. a lot of young people roughly my age partying it up. It wasn’t like I’d really get to join, I had to race after all. But at least I’d get to be a part of the “scene.” I have only a few regrets in life and a proper college experience is one of them. I’m close enough in age now to qualify as a mature student, and unfortunately that most likely disqualifies me from heading down to Florida with the squad for a week of good times and bad decisions.
Our first morning as we drove to the self-proclaimed, “number one beach in America” I figured we would be heading into the water just as the last few drops of the previous nights’ keg were being spilled on the sand.
Unsurprisingly there were people there. And there was definitely a unique energy! However the vibe was more early-bird-special than beer-pong-tournament. The beach was packed with walkers enjoying the soft surface, metal detectors were getting lit, and the Sarasota Shell Club was introducing their monthly guest speaker.
So yeah, not exactly what I was hoping for or expecting. There would be no vicarious living through the experiences of others. I left the beach with a bathing suit full of sand and only my imagination of the Spring Break Matt that could have been.
Barely recovering from that let down I had to refocus my energy on the weekend ahead. Sprint distance on the Saturday and Team Relays on the Sunday.
“Alright Matt don’t be a [lame guy] this time!!”
– Ben Kanute, immediately after our bike pack caught up to him. I had to paraphrase what he actually said. For the children.
He was referencing my cycling performance at a race in San Diego a couple of weeks ago where, at times, I had elected to not do some work and instead sit in to let the others pull through. Of course, this conflicts with Eric Lagerstrom’s assessment of my bike performance, so lets just go with what was said on film 😉
I felt the ride in Sarasota was tougher than San Diego as we were really trying to hold off a group with some quality runners. The three H’s: Heat, Humidity and Hurricane winds also provided further stress. At one point I found myself riding my #roadbikeoffroad on a grassy section just beside our bike track due to the wind. It wasn’t too jarring, I think the Cyclocross racing I’d done in the fall has helped with my handling, and I feel like I have a good connection with my new Tactic. I kept my eyes up, focused on the road ahead and quickly hopped back in with no loss in position.
After surprising myself with a good run performance in San Diego I actually rated myself pretty high as we got off the bike. The goal was to do everything I could to be ready for a fast finish.
The “fast finish” turned out to be me crossing the line and immediately jumping into a tub full of ice and post-race water. I was cooked. Starting the run myself and four others established ourselves pretty quickly and for 3k I was basically hanging on for dear life. Xavier, the eventual winner, put in his surge with about a little over a kilometer to go. I was then gapped by him and the other boys where I found myself in the dreaded no mans land. Of course, being a sprint distance I only had to suffer a little longer and I held onto 5th. I finished with the knowledge it was a fairly well-executed race, not much else I could have done to improve on my performance.
Although it wasn’t exactly the romanticized Spring Break in Florida, I did get to spend a fun time with some good friends! With Sarasota being my first North American ITU race in three years it was nice to catch up with all the athletes, coaches and familiar officials. With my season now being focused on performing well in Canada, I’ll be able to see them with greater frequency, and I’m sure at some point we’ll be able to enjoy our version of a Spring Break kegger.
I’m back home now in Victoria. There’s a noticeable change in the days now that we’ve changed the clocks. With the increase in daylight it just seems like there’s more time to live; winter is over.
We had our first bike race of the year and I joined my buddies from the Victoria Wheelers for the inaugural hit out at Caleb Pike. There will be plenty of these in the coming months.