As if driving about 9 hours the day before a race wasn’t bad enough, we woke up to temperatures in the low 50s and rain in the forecast. I couldn’t decide if I should put on armwarmers and gloves for the bike or save the time in transition and just grit it out. I set everything out in transition because I couldn’t keep my teeth from chattering. I put on booties under my wetsuit too and, of course, toe covers on my bike shoes.
The swim was a bit weedy and seemed a little long, but it was easy to get out in front in my wave and I had a pretty clean swim for the duration. About 400 yards from the finish, some clown from the wave in front of me decided he’d try his hand at drafting as I went by. Here’s a tip for all you wanna-be drafters: DO NOT TOUCH the person you’re drafting off of. It’s quite possible to have an effective draft without hitting my feet with every stroke, despite what you might think.
Once in transition, I was breathing deeply and didn’t feel so cold, so I skipped the gloves and armwarmers and just hopped on my bike. Within 2 minutes, I thought about turning around. WOW – the air felt like ice and I thought about what 56 miles of this would feel like. I should turn around and get my armwarmers. Maybe put on a shirt. And jacket. And gloves. Wait, did I bring a hat? But no – at the risk of losing time and possibly screwing up my timing if I went backwards over the mat, I decided to suck it up and just ride. How bad could it be? Well – it was bad. I had goosebumps for the duration of the ride. My fingers would not work and I couldn’t feel my toes. I didn’t take much advantage of the downhill because the faster I went, the colder I got. This ride could not be over soon enough.
Back into transition, I couldn’t work my fingers to get my bike shoes off and put my running shoes on. My toes were completely numb. I headed out and tried to figure out what pace I could hold. I started flexing my fingers, but still had trouble getting gel from my back pocket. At about mile 4, my toes started to thaw. It was around then that the rain started coming down. Are you kidding me? I’m not sweating in the slightest and the icy rain drops pelting on my arms once again brought on those goosebumps. At first it was just a drizzle. Then it came down. Cats and dogs. Well, at least it didn’t rain while I was on the bike!
The rain was off and on for the remainder of the run. Hang on, can I see my breath? Yep, that’s it! My pace slowed around mile 8 and my legs began to feel heavy.With a little bit of self-talk, I was able to bring those miles back down to where the first few were and continued on with that pace to the finish. With purple lips, frozen fingers, not a stitch of dry clothing anywhere and no shelter at the finish line and pouring rain, I was forced to collect my things from transition and run to the car and crank the heat. Worst weather conditions I’ve ever done a Half Ironman in. Aside from that, Final Stretch put on a terrific event!