I’m sure all of you think that, with my style of self-deprecating humor, I’m stretching the truth about things, and you probablyÂ have good reason to doubt some of my stories. But I’m here to tell you that my prior e-mails about me being a “weather pox” in all the races I do are true.Â Yesterday, at Muncie, was no exception.
I kept checking the weather all week. The predictions started out at 89 degrees with high humidity, not unusual for central Indiana in mid-July. As the week went on, the high temperature started to drop and it looked like it was going to be a high of 82 by the time we finished the race. Since it was going to be a bit cooler, the chances of rain popped up. It was to be partly cloudy until around 10 AM, then a chance of “isolated thunderstorms” until around 1 PM, then a chance of “scattered thunderstorms” the rest of the afternoon.
When we got to Muncie on Friday, the temperature was 92 and it was a little humid, so I really thought the weatherman had slept through all the updates and it would be another hot, steamy race. Well, the weatherman not only slept through the updates, but must have been on drugs (prescription of course) when he put isolated and scattered thunderstorms in the forecast. As weÂ got our transition areas ready on Saturday morning, the race director called us all together to make an announcement. There were some storms on the way and would get to Muncie within two and a half hours, so they were going to accelerate the swim start times to get everyone in and out of the water by the time the stormsÂ got there. He also said, and I quote “Once you get out on the bike we’ll have people stretched out over 56 miles of road, so if a storm hits, you’re on your own!”
This time the weatherman must have been on some street drugs ‘cuz I came out of the swim in 42:51, which was 48:51 after the first swimmers hit the water, and that’s when the storms hit, and I do mean storms. We had lightning, thunder, strong winds and everything from torrential rain to a “potato soaker” rain the entire 3:05:44 thatÂ my wet body was on that wet bike and for thirty minutes after the lightning started, people that started after my wave were still in the water. At times it was raining so hard, and the drops were so big, they stung when they hit your halfÂ covered body. It was so miserable that several people quit before the race ever started, several people got out into the swim, climbed up onto one of the boats that lined the course, and dropped out of the race. And thirty eight people out of the five hundred ninetyÂ who made it through the swim dropped out during the bike or the run. The swim was as rough as I’ve seen it in quite a while, but that gave me an advantage. The water was 80 degrees, but very choppy and rough. After growing up in St. Joe on Lake Michigan, I was used to choppy and rough, so I felt at ease. Not so with 99% of the rest of the field.
The ride was miserable and kind of eerie. Most of the people were riding head down, trying to keep as much of the rain off their sunglasses (we didn’t need them but that’s what we brought to protect our eyes) as they could. Every once in a while, as we rodeÂ past fields of corn and soybeans, you could hear a sound like there was a monster coming through the corn. It would start out with a dull roar and build to the sound of a freight train. It took me only once to realize that it was a gust of wind and torrential rain hitting the leaves of the corn from across the field and it was headed my way.
Almost everyone who passed me on the bike, and it was almost everyone in the race, made a comment about the weather except a few that commented on my bike jersey. I was wearing my Sierra Nevada Brewing Company bright green jersey, and I heard a lot of the same comments like “I’d rather be sitting in front of the TV drinking one of those than riding in this f&$%#*@ rain”. Libby, one of our “tri-friends” from Grand Rapids passed me a couple of times and made a comment or two. On the one and only time I passed her on the bike, I said “I’ve been looking at those dead animals on the side of the road and can’t help but think you lucky bas%&*$#.” They were getting just as wet as we were but they didn’t care any more.
When I got to the run, I felt good. I started out strong and kept it up for the full 9 miles. Oh, you probably know that the run is 13.1 miles so you can just guess what that last 4.1 miles was like. I was tired, but my legs still had something left. But I got that same puke-sick feeling in my stomach I’ve had in many of my other races. I’d run until I was just about ready to barf, then walk ’til the feeling went away, start running again and repeat all the way to the finish line. It turned what should have been a 2:05 run into a 2:28:16 ordeal. Does that sound familiar? I could replay from my race at Muncie two years ago and the words would be the same. Anyone want to buy an unused post-race meal ticket?
Congratulations to our Trilander racers who survived Muncie. Tom and Kim took third place in their age groups; Corrine and Bill had great races and placed well in their age groups; and Paul would have taken a second in his age group had he not worn his wet suit (when the water temp is above 78, you can wear a wet suit but you are not eligible for prizes); and then there is me. It sounds like I’m disappointed with my race and I’m not! My swim was much better than I expected after onlyÂ six weeks of training; my bike was slower than it would have been normally, but I rode cautiously due to the weather; and my run was better than I expected for the first nine plus miles and just as I expected the last 4.1 miles.
All in all it was a good dayÂ of racing (as one racer put it…at least we’re still on the right side of the grass); we were surrounded by some really fit athletes (what wasÂ I doing there?); and we were thereÂ with some really good friends; what more can you ask for? Our thanks to Brian,Â Judy, Marge and Nancy for being our race support and listening to our “war stories”. When you are in conditions like we were in and feel as bad as we felt, you look forward to seeing people you know cheering you on. It’s a testament to how important family and friends are!
So my last few long races have been Ironman Wisconsin 2004…hot and humid; Muncie 2006…hot and humid; Ironman Wisconsin 2006…cold and rainy; Muncie 2008…thunderstorms. The Trilanders are starting to believe me and not enter the races I sign up for. On the other side, the races I go to support have been Ironman Florida 2006…great weather; Muncie 2007…great weather. I overheard Diane, Brian and Martin planning to offer to pay my way to Lake Placid next week just so I would be sure to be there. They know I can’t turn down anything free.
Just (Looking For Volunteers ToÂ Put Lotion On MyÂ Sore Spots) Jack