Monday, September 14, 2009

PrairieMan = SoggyMan

My half iron distance tune up race on the way to Ironman Arizona - PrairieMan in Grand Prairie, Texas near Dallas.

Let's just say I am still rained for three days before the race...a four and a half hour drive to Dallas took Debbie and I 7 hours due to the rain. It rained all day Friday and Saturday as we were running errands trying to find some rain gear to use as we didn't really plan for rain on Sunday - the forecast was for a 20-30% chance of rain. The hour by hour forecast showed the rain in the afternoon and evening. Well, they lied. It was raining at 4:30 when I woke up, raining at 5:30 when I arrived at the race site, rained for the WHOLE race - hard enough during parts that reminded me of hurricanes, tropical storms and tsunamis, you could actually feel the rain during the swim. The swim felt LONG - my time was 51 minutes. There were white caps and big waves throughout - really we started in pretty flat water and about three minutes into the swim I thought a power boat was going back and forth in front of me. The waves were that big. I thought they would be a big help after we turned the corner but they were actually quartering you so they were pushing you further out into the lake so you had to swim back in to fight their effect. There was some feel of body surfing which would have been good if it had been in the right direction. Did I mention it was still raining? T1 was pretty slow - about 4:20. The bike was treacherous with flooded streets and HUGE puddles - when someone passed you - you virtually drowned in the spray off their back tires....while it didn't happen much (ha-ha) it was wet....they cut the bike short in the pre-race meeting due to the conditions - they said they didn't want people to try for a PR or for people to take chances on the bike - I saw several people down and almost went down three times myself....once really close - my back tire was sliding right and left and I really don't know how I saved it - I think it was just luck and instinct - there was NO time to think. As I finished the third loop of the bike, I actually was thrilled to be going to the run - I was very tense the entire bike. The bike was 42 miles according to them...just under 44 according to Mr. Garmin. Bike time was 2:26 for a 17.2 avg speed assuming 42 miles. Extrapolating to a 56 miles ride would have been about 3:15. T2 - Did I mention it was still raining??? EVERYTHING WAS WET - my cycle shoes were full of water, my socks were soaked, I looked like a drowned rat - How about this? When you bent your head down on the bike, water had collected in the air vent holes, trapped against your scalp and it just ran out all over you, it was like you dumped a glass of water on your head. I had kept my run shoes in a plastic bag so they went on dry...that lasted about 4 seconds....I had another pair of dry socks in a zip lock bag....again they were dry for about 4 seconds....grabbed the hat and off I went...T2 was 3:07. I wanted to try to run a good half marathon - I usually fry myself on the bike as some of you know, and then just survive the run....well yesterday was a bit different. I ended up running a 2:25 half marathon....just 10 minutes off my half marathon personal best. I felt GREAT....used Galloway's run/walk method as always and was running past people in the last three miles. I didn't know how the run would go as my longest recent run has been went better than I could have thought....I was actually calculating and running scenarios through my head throughout the run trying to get to an eleven minute pace...I ran 11:06 the way, the last two miles were in a monsoon. Yes, it was still raining. By the way, less than a quarter of a mile into the run you ran through a puddle/river that was 4-5 inches deep and about 15 yards wide...splash...splash....splash...and your dry socks and shoes were full of water and weighed a lot more. Then, so you could continue the fun, for the next 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile there were several more unavoidable big puddles, then you came out of the park and on to the dam to run about 3.5 miles additionally out across the dam and back and then you got to do the three miles in the park again....complete with puddles....with new additional puddles and depth as ---- all together now --- it was STILL raining.

As I was walking to the truck dreaming of being dry, a person walking by Debbie and I asked if it was my most miserable day in triathlon - after thinking a bit I told her it was actually a pretty good day...yeah, it was wet, yeah, it was trying, yeah, it was mental, yeah, it would have been easy to quit or not start....but that is not what we do. We deal with what comes - and we adapt and improvise. We realize transition times are not so important that we can't use ziplock bags for a moment of dry sock feeling. We realize that we are fortunate that not EVERYONE in the world thinks we are crazy for wanting to play in the rain. We also realize how important those around us are in a new way.

Debbie was there - all day - she stood soaked to the bone - she was outside from 5:30 until almost 9 for the pre-race stuff, the swim and T1...then she sat in the car, tried to sleep, read a magazine and was back outside as I left the park on the run (she missed me coming in on the bike as we didn't think I would ride that quickly given the circumstances), went back to the car for about 1:45 and then came out to get wet and watch me finish. She was a trooper yesterday and in addition to Sherpa Deb duties had to deal with a lot of wet crap to try to get home.

I would like to say that there were about 100 spectators or so there yesterday (that is a wild guess but there weren't many). Each of those people deserve applause. They did NOT have fun. Also, there were volunteers who stood in the rain to hand out water and Gatorade Endurance - I tried to thank as many as I could but I would like to go on record saying a BIG THANK YOU to each of them. To the race organizers, they did a great job with what they were dealt. It was a well run race and I would do it again, hopefully dry but I would do it again.

Overall time was 5:51 - I was very pleased. Adding in the additional bike time would have been about 6:36 or so....that would have been a PR for me by a long shot. I felt great about the time and also about the recovery so far. I feel pretty good today, will be back in the gym tomorrow.

See you at the finish line.

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