Saturday, July 17, 2010

Worried About Weather

Why all this talk about the weather? I asked today's Fit-Q about the weather to see if anyone else worried about weather as much as I do before I race. I wasn't always this way, but I think the whole weather-monitoring gig started with the 2006 Chicago Marathon.

I remember windy, rainy and chilly conditions predicted, neither of which I wanted to experience, and nearly called off my race to register at the last minute for the Detroit Free Press Marathon the following weekend. The marathon was already full (if I remember correctly) and I raced anyway under conditions that were not nearly as bad as what I was reading on weather.com the night before--got a PR in the process too.

Follow that up with a rainy 2007 Boston Marathon where I almost turned in my registration to defer until the next year with the weather threatening a Nor'easter to hit Monday morning. Sure, the Boston hype kept me running but waiting for a bus in Boston Common and huddling under an awning at Hopkinton Middle School were not my idea of good race prep.

My neuroses hit a new low before Ironman Wisconsin two years ago. We were pummeled with rain Thursday night, three days before the race, and the forecast was calling for the rain to clear and then come again on Sunday race day. Not good for this freaked out racer who was totally a fair-weather fan when it came to taking her bike out--and knew all about Ironman Wisconsin 2006 where it was cold and rainy and Ironman Lake Placid 2008 where it poured. Packing my transition bags was an adventure in itself--would it be windy, would I was a windbreaker or arm warmers, did I have anything that would keep me dry? I was checking weather.com and accuweather.com, choosing between which site had the better forecast and might be more correct, up until the time I turned off the lights for bed and as soon as I awoke at four something in the morning.

So with temperatures hot last weekend and predictions for another hot two days this weekend, I was online once again to see just how the weather would shape up come Sunday morning for Ironman 70.3 Racine. I'm already picturing my hydration cooking in the sun in the transition area, and remembering the strange taste it took on the last time it sat too long in hot weather. The heat? No surprise there. But the threat of thunderstorms? I wasn't liking the looks of that, especially when it wasn't just weather.com showing the inclement weather. Accuweather and NOAA--my other go-to sources on conditions--didn't fare any better and in fact, they were worse. Take the NOAA hazardous weather outlook for the evening:

STRONG THUNDERSTORMS OVER EASTERN MINNESOTA ARE EXPECTED TO SLIDE
SOUTHEAST INTO PORTIONS OF SOUTH CENTRAL WISCONSIN LATER TONIGHT.
THESE THUNDERSTORMS COULD STILL BE SEVERE AT THE TIME...AND PRODUCE
DAMAGING WINDS.

But wait it continues into Sunday morning.

THUNDERSTORMS ARE LIKELY IN SOUTHEAST WISCONSIN SUNDAY WITH A
CHANCE ELSEWHERE.  THERE IS A SLIGHT RISK FOR SEVERE STORMS
EAST OF A LINE FROM SHEBOYGAN TO DELAVAN IN THE MORNING AND EARLY
AFTERNOON AS A COLD FRONT CROSSES THE AREA.

With T-minus 16 or so hours til race time left me wondering just how bad the weather could get. It was more the hazardous weather and the 75 percent chance (Accuweather), 60 percent chance (NOAA) and 40 percent chance (Weather.com) that were scaring me. And leaving me to hope that Racine wasn't a survival mission, or another duathlon like Steelhead 2008.

Here I am, wanting to race, but unsure of it being the best decision to make. I have another half IM in two weeks that usually ends in a plod, rather than sprint, to the finish because I'm exhausted or injured from Racine. My husband the sherpa wouldn't be joining me and I'd be on my own aside from the people I knew racing. And an old injury, the darn calf and Achilles that kept me in PT last fall, felt like it was flaring up again. This Racine idea has DISASTER written all over it but I was too stubborn to quit. But that's another post in itself--the mental game. Plus I couldn't help but worry about my bike. When it was new, I was protective of it, but that hasn't changed two years later. I still didn't want it to get wet sitting in the transition area over night--if it rained--and feared my bike tarp that usually makes a showing at this race was going to be banned per race rules (thought I read something about that). 

Call me crazy, but I really was driving myself nuts thinking about this stuff. Yet I don't think I'm the only one out there who worries about weather before a race. What would you do? And do you worry as much as me? It's OK if you do, maybe we can form a self-help group. Photo grabbed from burnham-on-sea.com.

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