So, wow. I still cannot believe that I even survived the Saturday two weeks ago. I’m not even kidding you. What a race!! Every single time that I saw one of my teammates last week who actually did the race, they said the same thing to me.
This picture was taken the day before up at Lucky Peak Reservoir when my friend, Becky, and I dropped off our bikes. We had no idea what was in store for us the next morning.
There were two shuttles that took you up to the reservoir that day: The early one that left you waiting for 2 1/2 hours before the start of the race (3 hours before our wave) or the late one that only left you waiting for about an hour before the race started. My other friend, Lauren, and I ended up buying the early shuttle tickets due to some issues that we had to work out with her registration before the race. We boarded the shuttle totally clueless to the conditions up at the Lucky Peak Reservoir. I was getting kind of nervous but was still in high spirits!
I’ve been doing triathlon for 4 years, and I definitely don’t consider myself experienced, but I’ve NEVER been exposed to the treacherous conditions that we all were exposed to once we got to the top. The air temp was in the 40’s, but the windchill was 37 degrees. The winds were brutal. As soon as we got up there, we ran to get under a tree to shield us from the rain. It was cold and wet! I had on a pair of shorts and clothing that was not waterproof. My two layers of fleeces quickly became drenched.
I soon realized that I needed to get out of those clothes. So, 2 1/2 hours before our wave start, I put on my wetsuit. For you triathlon newbies out there, this is NOT normal. You usually wait until the last minute to put your wetsuit on. I looked around to see if anyone else was doing it. Nope. But I didn’t care. My hands were already numb, and my butt cheeks were shaking so bad b/c of the cold. I struggled to put my body glide on to help get my wetsuit on. It was frozen. After my wetsuit got on, all my extra clothing that I had went back on. Other people started doing the same thing. There were about 15 of us huddled around a little tree.
After standing there for a while, I decided to put my bike stuff out and make sure my tires were pumped. I’m usually really talkative before races and smiling. I wasn’t for this one. I was uncomfortably cold. I started to wish I weighed 30 lbs more. I could barely grip my pump to pump up my tires. I was pale, shivering uncontrollably, and not happy.
Suddenly, one of my husband’s co-workers who happens to be a survivalist came up to me and told me he had found a tree that blocked a good portion of the wind. Leave it to the survivalist to find the best tree!!! I quickly followed him as best I could. I was hobbling since my feet hurt so bad because they were so cold. Apparently, I didn’t look very good so he found a couple of black trash bags for me. He wrapped my lower body in one, poked a hole through the top of the other, and put it over my head. Then, he tucked me under this tree where I found another smart triathlete shivering.
After sitting in the trash bags for about 10 minutes, the shivering stopped, but my mind was still scared as hell. I have never been that cold in my life. I was so scared of getting hypothermia that I started tearing up a little. Should I do this race at the risk of possibly dying???
Then, over the loud speaker, the race director said that the bike had been cut down from 56 miles to 12 miles due to dangerous winds and the risk of hypothermia. Instead of riding the normal bike course, we were to ride directly into town to T2. A lot of people were pissed especially because it was their first half Ironman or they were trying to qualify for the 70.3 Championships in Las Vegas, but I was relieved. Ironman races usually don’t cut their races down like that, and the conditions must have been pretty bad to have them make that kind of change.
After being in a trash bag for 30 minutes (never ever thought I would type that phrase), we were all kicked out of the transition area. Lauren and I stood on pavement leading up the race shaking. Our hands and feet hurt so badly from being cold. We still had about 55 minutes until our wave started.
Here is a video of what the conditions were like out there before the race started.
As the swim waves moved closer and closer to the dock, more and more people were just saying “Screw this!” and leaving. I didn’t blame them. In fact, I was wishing that I could just quit. Lauren and I just looked at each other wishing the other would just say they wanted to quit, and the other one would just go along with it. Instead, we joked about how we should wear our wetsuits on the bike since it was so freaking cold. Boy, would we look funny doing that!!
Twenty minutes before our wave started we watched in horror as the medical boats started pulling hypothermic people out of the water. I kept saying, “Wow. We are really stupid. I can’t believe we actually paid to be tortured like this.” I was tired. I had been shivering for 3 hours. I tried to force down some amount of calories, but it wasn’t happening. More people, who were literally standing out there ready to swim, were turning around and quitting. I watched in jealously as they walked the opposite direction from the water up the hill to the bikes.
I turned to Lauren, who was also shivering, and said, “You know, if you want to quit, we can go get hot coffee right now!!” Who was I? I have never said that before a race. The pain in my hands and feet went away. I flat out couldn’t feel them anymore. Lauren repeated the same statement to me about the coffee. We both wanted to quit so badly, but neither one of us wanted to say it first. It was kinda like when you are dating someone, and no one wants to say “I love you” first. Kinda like that, but neither one of us wanted to be the “quitter.” We slowly inched up to the dock as the waves took off. Finally we were up next to get into the water. Our wave was quiet. We got into the 57 degree water with no problems at all. To some people, the water actually felt warm since it was warmer than the air temp. I didn’t really even feel the water until it seeped until the chest area of my wetsuit. It took my breath away. We all stood there silently treading water waiting for the horn to sound.
Please don’t let me get pulled from the water because I have hypothermia!