Today was the day I was planning to be able to say “I am an Olympic-distance triathlete.” That’s according to my training plan, which concluded today with the North East, MD Sprint/Olympic Tri at the end of its page. The training plan I’ve been working at since May. The one that I celebrated last week because I did the last long run and I thought, “Ahhh, the last long run of this thing, soon, it will all be worth it, because I will be an Olympic-distance triathlete.”
Apparently Mother Nature did not consult my training plan when she scheduled the weather for today. The heavy thunderstorms that dampened yesterday’s packet pick-up, which were supposed to be cleared out overnight, according to the talk I had with Mother N., were still there at 3:30 A.M. when I was awakened by my dog panting and running through the house. That’s just what he does to let us all know when it’s raining hard, even if we’re in the midst of a good night’s sleep.
Since I was planning on getting up a little after 4AM anyway and knew that I would not fall back asleep with his antics underway, I decided to check out the weather maps. Green, yellow, and orange covered NJ, PA, DE and MD, signifying what I was already guessing: major storms. Being the optimist that I am, I decided to get dressed anyway and hope that it would clear out by my 8:04AM wave start.
At 4:30AM, Kelli texted me. I was picking her up on the way to MD. She was hoping for the Olympic tri even more than me. At her attempt at an Olympic last year, the swim was cancelled and the event turned into a duathlon. Her text voiced the same misgivings that were creeping in the back of my mind, namely, that perhaps we should scrap the whole idea. But we decided to make the drive anyway, with the hope that daybreak would bring clear skies.
The drive to MD was dark, and gloomy would be painting a rosier picture than it actually was. It was raining so hard at some points that it was difficult to see the road. The lightning helped some, and the cracks of thunder helped ensure that Kelli and I didn’t drift back to sleep. Along the way, my phone rang with calls or texts from other tri club girls who were also planning on racing with encouraging words to each other: “It’s thundering/lightning here. Do you think the race will be cancelled? (from Megan, who had spent the night in MD near the race), “the bike is going to be a nightmare…flooding, puddles, debris, flats” (Colleen), “are you on your way, it’s pouring, lightning here” (from Leigh Ann, who had also spent the night in MD).
Kelli and I planned to get to the race site, park, and see how the rain situation unfolded. And then we got into town and to the parking area and saw dozens of triathletes unloading bikes and tri gear from cars, in the rain. We still decided to sit for a bit, until I decided that I needed to use the facilities, which were down by the transition area. And if we were going to go all the way there, we might as well bring our bikes and gear. So we unloaded and walked our bikes and hauled our gear about 7/10ths of a mile in the rain from parking to the race site. We got body-marked and went into transition and just left our stuff on the racks.
Then we headed to a pavilion and waited. The rest of our crew showed up and we waited for the race directors to make their decisions. After a while of watching triathletes milling about in the rain and listening to rumors of “the swim is on, the swim is off” we heard the decision: the Olympic distance race would become a modified sprint. Everyone would swim the sprint distance and bike a shortened sprint distance – 11 miles. Anyone who signed up for the sprint would run 3.1 miles and anyone who signed up for the Olympic would run 6.2 miles. The start was still delayed, likely due to the lightning that was still hanging around.
At that news, Kelli and Leigh Ann and I looked at each other and made some decisions. We had already been trading nervous talk about riding in the rain and wet conditions, and Leigh Ann was already a no go, following Megan’s earlier lead. Kelli and I jumped on that ship, deciding that it just wasn’t worth the risk in those conditions, especially when the race wouldn’t have even been an Olympic distance.
With some regret but not a whole lot, we grabbed our bikes, turned in our chips, and waded back to the car. On our stop for breakfast at the Waffle House, where we watched the rain downpour throughout the entire meal, we agreed that we were quite satisfied with our decision, even if it was wholly unsatisfying from a training perspective.
So, the Olympic quest is still out there, waiting to be achieved. Another day.