Thursday, July 22, 2010

Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon

This year I signed up to do the Olympic distance triathlon for the Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon. I felt it would be a good indicator of where I was at in my training for the REV3 half iron triathlon. I especially was looking forward to the swim because it was a point to point swim in the Schuylkill River – and we were swimming with the current. I have been feeling stronger lately with my swimming so I knew this would be a good gauge.

I woke up that day around 4am and went into the bathroom so as not to disturb my son and nephew. I got ready in there and ate my bagel and banana breakfast. Around 5 am I woke my nephew Mike up and he drove me to the transition drop off area. Amazing thing about being this far east is how early the sun rises. It was full light outside by the time we got there. I grabbed by back pack and headed down the hill. He drove back to the hotel for a couple more hours of snooze time.

When I got to the transition area I began to set up. I could hear over the PA the race director giving directions. I didn’t pay attention at first but then I heard it. The swim portion was cancelled. At first I thought it may have been because of the water itself. The river temp was 86 and wet suit illegal at that temp. It had rained a bit and I though it may have stirred up contaminants so they cancelled the swim.

But that was not the case. As I listened I could not believe the tragedy that unfolded as I listened. A triathlete from the sprint tri the day before went missing during the swim portion of the race. The police and search and rescue teams could not locate his body and they were still in the process of looking. Oh My God. How tragic. How unfortunate. It was horrible and so sad. It immediately put me into a funk. The mood of the transition area and the race in general was so somber. It was very surreal. I have not been able to shake it.

They changed the race to a duathlon – 5K run, 40 K bike and 10K run. I was not happy about it but definitely understood and agreed with the decision. To make matters worse, it was 87 at 7am that morning. By around 10am, the temp had gotten to 97 with a heat index way over 100. People were passing out left and right. Ultimately they shortened the race, shut down the timers and those still out on the course could still cross the finish line. So basically I did not do the full distance but I did most. I had no choice, but I am marked as a finisher. I really feel like a fraud but this could not be helped and I had no control of the weather. I believe the race officials were being very cautious because of so many people passing out from heat exhaustion and heat stroke and due to the tragedy of the day before.

I was very dehydrated at the end of the race and could honestly not think straight or put a thought together. I’m sure I lost about 10 lbs of water weight despite the volume I was trying to drink and dump on my head. One of the best things I have to say about the race is the awesome volunteers had plenty of cold water and Gatorade the entire race.

The police eventually found the body of the missing triathlete. I have no words for the sadness of the situation.

1 comment:

  1. I read about this, being a aquabiker first and triathlete second with ZERO interest in duathlons, I would have been storming mad.

    Congrats on the race.