Thursday, August 18, 2005

My Road Trip to Nowhere Part II

Part 2 of my rather detailed non-race race report.

Saturday August 13, 2005

After much debate the night before we opted for a 4:30 AM meeting time. This would give us time to go to Mac Donalds for John. It was very clear that it had rained over night, but it was only drizzling a little bit as we left. At this hour there wasn’t much in the way of traffic so it didn’t take us a long as it did on Friday.

It was obvious that it had rained a lot overnight. We were hoping this would be the end of the rain, but that would not be the case. We made up to the race site in good time even with the Mickey D stop for John. Body marking didn’t take long at all, so I went to set up my stuff. It started raining again so my first order of business was taking one of my garbage bags and making a rain jacket out of it. I was glad I had found the garbage bags that I had packed in NY.

The rain started coming down really hard, so I made sure I covered all my stuff after I laid it out on my towel. They delayed the start of the race in the hopes that this band of rain would pass. I started getting goofy, and put my swim cap and goggles on, and ran around in the transition area saying, “It’s time to go swimming!” I was trying to relieve some of my own anxieties, and also lighten the mood a bit. Then I went and stood under one of the tents with a bunch of wet and cold triathletes. It was at that point that they announced they were canceling the swim, and would do a time trial start for the bike. At least they weren’t adding an extra run.

They then told us to go back to our cars, and that they would tell us at 8:30 what was going to happen. They also told people that if they did not want to do the race to leave since once they started the bike, no one would be able to leave. Mary decided she didn’t want to do the race at this point. I felt that wanted to do the race, but I was feeling very anxious about riding in this rain on an unknown course. I’ve raced in the rain before, but the level of nervousness I felt at this point was like nothing else I’ve felt before.

We went back to the car. I was glad I had rented the SUV. There was lots of room for the 3 of us. We listened to the radio, and waited for the 8:30 announcement. 8:30 came and went with no announcement. The music continued to play. 8:45 came and there was still no announcement. We’ve been out there for over three hours, and nothing has happened. Finally around 8:50 they come on the radio, and announce that the race has been cancelled and that there would be a 10K fun run. John, Mary and I look at each other, and are stunned. How can a National Championship/worlds Qualifier be cancelled? How were they going to figure out who would fill out the rest of Team USA? I’ve raced for years and I’ve never had a race cancelled.

In some ways I was relieved, because now the decision to race in dangerous conditions had been taken out of my hands. All of the angst I been feeling all week was gone. No longer did I have to concern myself with the hotshots who have trashed me in other events. I didn’t have to worry about not quite being on top of my game. All week I had prayed to God to give me peace about the race, and let me do my best, and accept whatever happened. This was not exactly the answer to prayer that I was expecting. God in His divine wisdom has a funny way of answering prayer.

I did opt to do the fun run. I took it real easy, and watched most of the field pull away. Many handled the situation with humor by running in their wetsuits, and bike helmets. It was pretty funny to watch that. At the start of the run it wasn’t raining much, but later in the run the skies opened. It was a beautiful run course. I would have enjoyed it better during a meaningful race. Afterwards, I grabbed a few extra towels and went back to the car. There I found a very wet and cold John and Mary. Also the field looked like Woodstock. Lots of muddy people and cars getting stuck.

Post race:

USAT decided they would ask ITU if the United States could send extra people to Worlds. To be considered part of Team USA, Kansas City entrants would have to finish amongst the Top 16 USA finishers in their age group. It seemed like the fairest thing to do. I would have loved them to go back to the Shreveport results and take the Top 16 from there, but that wouldn’t be fair to the ones who bypassed Shreveport knowing they’d get another chance this year.

I have mixed feelings about the way they’re considering doing Team USA. I felt I was going to be on the cusp of making the team. Much was going to depend on how well I did on the swim and the bike, and how many I could hold off on the run. I feel a little funny about backing into the Worlds this way, but Honolulu will be our unofficial National Championship.

The Final Blow

Sunday morning we awake to sunny weather. The storms that plagued us have moved east, and may delay our departure. We actually get off on time, and arrive in New York a little ahead of schedule. Then the skies opened and the thunder and lightning started. They ended out closing La Guardia and our luggage remained on the plane. I felt like this was a repeat of our return from Lisbon. However this storm lingered. Instead of 45 minutes of waiting, it was several hours. I was not leaving the airport without my bike. There were a number of others who felt the same way. We hung out in baggage claim until 4 hours later when the airport reopened. We were all glad to see our bikes coming through the door.

Here is my finish line photo from the trip to nowhere, and back.

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