Sunday, August 03, 2008

Go West Old Man

Well, we're loading up the carnival over here and heading back out to Western Dakota (the state, not the daughter) for several days. Looking forward to getting there...not terribly excited about the actual transport, though, with 2 dogs and a 10-month old. I'm sure it'll be an adventure. Anyway, I'll try to stay current, at least with the Twitter feed on my training, but if I'm AWOL for a bit, then at least you know I'll have something to say when I return.

In other news, I had a solid week of training. Up early this morning to try and get a decent run in that wouldn't involve 85 degrees and swimmish humidity, so that felt good. 10.5 miles today, and 12 miles on tap next weekend. Hopefully I can continue to feel strong on the long runs, and maybe my speed work can come around a bit as well. In any case, it's good to feel consistent and frequent with my workouts.

I want to shout out to everybody who rocked Steelhead - and my apologies that it turned out to be a duathlon. I'm sure you're all taking it in stride, but I also know that having done all that training in the water for the swim, and doing all the mental work prepping for a triathlon - well, it would take a little wind out of my sails if my "A" race was suddenly shifted underneath me. That said, I hope you can take some good things away from it, whatever your day was like. Like I said, I'll be a little out of touch in coming days, but I look forward to reading your race reports.

If I can talk completely out of my ass right now, I'm irritated that they cancelled the swim. I wasn't there, so seriously - what do I know - but the impressions I'm getting so far is that the water was choppy, the waves were 2 feet or so, and the surf was kind of crazy. But with zero experience with the actual scene, maybe it was a lot worse, I dunno. In '05 (or was it '06? Might've been '06), I raced the Lifetime Fitness triathlon and they shortened the Olympic course to a 3 mile run, 22 mile bike or something like that because it was so hot. I emailed the race director afterwards and told him that I think if they're going to have a race in July in Minnesota, then they should understand that temps in the 90's is a probability and to plan accordingly with extra water, misters, whatever, instead of shorten the course (hello Madison Marathon '07 and Chicago Marathon '07. Also neither of which I was present for, so there's an awful lot of ass-talking-out-of going on at this blog today). And if I'm signing up for a race in July in Minnesota, I go in knowing it could be really hot, and plan and train accordingly. And if those circumstances aren't okay with me...then I'll just not sign up, or drop out mid-race if that's what I'm feeling. Seems to me the same is true for a race on Lake Michigan - both the race directors and participants should have an understanding that the water could be rough, and that's part of the deal, and that's what makes an "open swim" part of the challenge. But, all that said, I'm sure it's a complicated issue, and I know that race directors have to act with everybody's safety top of mind, and I appreciate that those decisions are probably hard to make, and that it's super easy for jerks like me to be an armchair quarterback, and I supposed it's a hassle to have to deal with that, too. I certainly won't fault anybody for erring on the side of caution. And maybe other factors came into play besides "swimmer comfort" - water support being subject to rough waters, for instance, or other safety concerns that you just can't do anything about. But that said - the sport kind of has some inherent dangers to it period, doesn't it? Should require something pretty extraordinary, something pretty unforeseen and remarkable to have to alter the course - or worse, cancel some or all of it altogether. Which is sometimes certainly reasonable - Ironman New Zealand in '06 was totally nutso, when they cancelled the swim, and of course if there was lightening or other similar threats, then that's unquestionable, says I. I get that it's sometimes the reasonable thing to do. From this admittedly clueless vantage point, though, I can't see how a rough Lake Michigan falls under "extraordinary". But aaaaanyway. Like I said, I'll look forward to your reports, and your impressions on if you agree or not with the call. Maybe I'm hearing "rough" and you all are saying, "no dude, it was insane." And anybody's else's perspective on any of this topic in general, I'm interested.

So with that, I'll sign off for now. Hope everybody's having a great weekend, that you're getting some solid workouts in, and the wind is at your back - IMWI athletes, you're almost to taper. Game on!

6 comments:

Megan said...

Well first off, have a great vacation! And second - I agree with you about the cancelling of certain events. Now, I think messing with a signficant undertoe in Lake Michigan (where a boy did die from it this weekend) is justified (you don't mess with water like that) I think that, when you sign up for these races, you understand the issues involved, and need to make judgement calls yourself as an athlete. Like at Chicago Marathon last year, they pulled a bunch of people off the course when they shut it down who could have finished or were close to it. Shutting down or shrotening a race for heat? Hey, it's the risk you take. Can't manage it? DNF, or DNS. I think in some of these situations, the athletes need to make these decisions for themselves.

TriSaraTops said...

Hey.

Totally agree. Feel like I have all kinds of asterisks all over my race report, and I kind of hate that.

I don't envy the RD's job, especially today. From what I understand, the kayaks were getting pulled over and the undertow was AWFUL. And growing up on Lake Erie, you know how dangerous undertows can be. So if it saved a life, it was worth it.

But selfishly I wish they made the swim optional. I would have definitely done it.

xt4 said...

I totally agree with both of you -

Pharmie said...

I'm OK with the swim decision, but it would have been nice to see what the rest of my race would have looked like had it been real. I signed up for square lake. I may be picking your brain in the next couple of weeks...

Erin said...

Agree wholeheartedly. I did the Madison Marathon in '06, and it sucked. Even my pace team leader passed out. But you know what? I finished and was just fine, because I prepared. There were a lot of people out there who just hadn't put the time in -- with training or nutrition -- and I think those were the people who the race was canceled for. Like Megan said, you, as an athlete, should make that call. I know being a RD is a tough, thankless job, but I also don't know about bringing race safety down to the lowest common denominator. It just doesn't seem fair to all those who prepared.

That said, sounds like Steelhead was a slightly different sitch. Undertows are scary and shouldn't be messed with. But I would've seriously been irritated if I trained all summer, drove all the way to Michigan, and did a duathlon. You think there would've been something else they could've done to salvage the swim...

Wil said...

Have a blast away from it all! As for the swim, it was pretty wicked out there even though the waves at most got to four feet. An experienced swimmer would have been fine, but I can imagine the terror for someone who has never swum in chop before.

All that aside though, the undertow was impossible. It was hard to even stand in the water 8 feet off shore without feeling like you were on the express train to Davie Jones' locker. They couldn't even keep the kayaks upright long enough to put the buoys out. I also heard the coast guard told the race director having the swim wouldn't be possible, so it may very well have not even been his call. I was fine with the decision either way, and if some were relieved, all the better. Our races are what we make them, ya know?