Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sometimes there's Only the Journey

Yesterday, we packed up the car and headed to Block Island for the aptly named Block Island Triathlon.

There will be no race report.

We took the high speed ferry over. Note: if you are not sure whether to take the high-speed ferry, try it. We definitely think it's worth the extra cost. By 11:40 when we got there, it was sunny, but hazy, and very hot and humid. The sky was already a little bit iffy, but it was decent walking around weather. We headed around behind the main street to a nice restaurant with an open patio, but we sat under the closed part because we didn't want Ian to get sunburned-my son, not Ian Ray, who was planning to race.

I ran across the street after we ordered to get some syn lube and spray on sunscreen for Ian, then sat down and at about half my lunch. it was around 12:30, three hours to race time and in that uncomfortable zone for eating. When we were done eating we went back to the BI Sports Shop- they had some cool board shorts I was not quite willing to pay for because I didn't get any secondary approval on them). One of the other racers from CT said 'We're going to get some rain today' and I must have made a pretty dour face because he clapped me on the back and said 'It'll be all right.'

These were not prophetic words.

By the time we started walking down to the race area, it was bleak- dark clouds, but not too low, and no thunder. We ran into Jay's wife Deb on the side of the road and she and Margit were talking. I was shielding Ian, who was in front of me in a stroller. I did eventually start to get a little anxious about getting down to the start area because traditionally the transition area is about 1/3 the size it ought to be, which is a flaw in the area, not the design of the race. However, when I got there they'd used orange plastic snow fence to block out the area and they weren't going to let us in until 2 PM. I lubed the bike, tested it, did a really short run, and then registration opened. That went well, I saw John Hirsch, Peter Daly, and a few others, including Ken Platt, who was doing the timing.

I did a second run and headed for the beach. Ian and Margit were there playing in the water. I took some pictures and then got into my wetsuit and started my swim warm-up. As came out I saw- trouble. Big grey nasty trouble. Low hanging clouds headed right at us. I was talking with a pair of islands who had 'never seen clouds like that'. I asked them if they ever got up to the mountains and they said 'no.' To me, the clouds were bad but not 'really bad'. They were just low. It was the clouds coming in over the large Inn to the south.

It started to rain and while we were debating pulling the umbrella and taking it back and then I did one of those stupid things that demonstrate both my agility and my ability to disconnect my brain from my my body.

One of these umbrellas was headed straight for the water- the wind had wicked up something fierce and caught it. These are big umbrellas with long sturdy poles and a thick canvas top. It was going end over end. I ran at an angle towards the water because I did not want to be speared and managed to get to it umbrella end forward and catch it. It was pushing me backwards, but fortunately I got an assist and someone came over and folded it down because I had nowhere to go.

Things got worse right up until race time. Then came the thunder and the lightening.

I went right to John Hirsch because a) he's about the most experienced person I knew there, b) he's got more Block Island cred than anyone else who was race (sorry other guys from the BI Sports Shop), and c) he's a smart guy. I looked at him and said 'He can't have the race like this'. John, who always smiles, smiled. 'I'm not his lawyer.' 'But it's crazy to start the race in the lightening.' 'Yes, it is.' 'So are you going to race if he does ?' 'Yes.'

That's the triathlete spirit. And that's what the race director Robbie was counting on. We were going to go. Thunder and lightening not withstanding...

The lifeguards had other ideas. They paddled their smart asses out of the water and forced the issue.

We ended up waiting an hour, during which it alternately poured and spritzed and finally we got the word we were going to try again at 4:30. By then the crowd had dwindled and we were looking at a single wave. I was talking to lifeguards as we headed down the beach and suggested they not even bother to get into the water. They paddled out and thirty seconds later some of the sickest lightening I'd ever seen struck in the air about two miles south.

That was it. the lifeguards came out, and the race was called.

I think given the tough logistic of the race and no hope of a reschedule, Robbie was in a tough spot so I'm not going to evaluate what he did. All I'll say is that Margit and Ian were troopers.

And when we got settled on the high-speed ferry ? The sun came out.

That's okay. We ended up at the Charlestown Seafood Festival ? Ever been to a Seafood festival ? Neither had I...

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