What a weekend…
First off, I won’t sully this post by talking about my workout; I’ll save that for another post.
I’ll start off by saying that this past weekend, I volunteered for the Silverman event.
In a word it was great. I had never volunteered for a triathlon before. In fact one of the main reasons for doing this was that I wanted to see how it was done. My entire experience before this was just jumping in and doing them. I’ve never actually seen what the “good” people do during transition or how they look at the end of each leg. I’ve always been concerned about myself and making sure that I didn’t make an ass out of myself falling down or getting stuck in my wetsuit. (Nothing like a little embarrassment to add to the already enlarged stress).
So rather than go straight to the volunteer post, I went to go watch the swim. It is an amazing thing to look around, see 400-500 people milling (lazily\nervously) about and know that in a few minutes they’ll all be struggling for their lives doing the impossible. As I looked around I noticed the nervous people who check and double check their equipment and then check and double check everyone else equipment to make sure they don’t have some secret advantage or check out their bike. I recognize it, because that’s me when I do events. [Check; double-check; look around; what are they doing? Should I be doing that? PAM?! What’s that for? Damn! Should I do that too?, etc]
The full wave had already gone out so there were only the half people in the area. I got to see Macca. He looked cool and calm, but I guess he should be right? There weren’t a lot of people asking for his autograph or pictures which I thought there would be. But then perhaps they were like me, trying to be ‘cool’. Like you dream about being when you meet Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt. Just nod your head, barely acknowledge their existence. Prove that you’re ‘cool’. Or perhaps that just me.
As it turned out, this wasn’t a very good event for me to compare it too. This is built on the foundation of Ironman. That includes the big changing tents and the transitions bags. Heck, even the bike racks were better. No pipes to hang your bike on but rather full bike holders that were specially built to hold tri/road bikes. Where was the mad rush to your bike and the grabbing at your clothes while the guys next to you do the same? Is that your shoes or mine? Hey you’re wearing my socks!
After the first few people came back from the Swim, I watched them go into the bike. Or at least I tried to. The first person out of the water was already gone by the time I got up to the bikes. That boy was FAST! I watched the next couple people hop on their bikes and go, but it wasn’t as climatic as I thought it would be. I expected people to sprint to the line barefooted, leap through the air and hop on their bikes and ride, only putting on their shoes after they have hit 30 mph and are a few miles into it. (I know REALLY Hollywood). As it was I did see a few people like that but most did what I do and get everything ready and get up to line and slowly take off. I think that fact that the transition leads right into a 4-6% hill helps slow everyone down.
After watching a few people go off, it was time to go to the volunteer spot. We happened to be at the ‘feed zone’, which is basically the turnaround point.
Let me just say “Holy Crap!” I didn’t realize how FAR that is! I know that on paper it reads turn around point so right around mile 56 (actually it was 53). But I didn’t realize how far that REALLY is. It took forever to drive out there. That’s in a car. A nice climate controlled; music enabled; no effort required to move forward – Car. I can’t even imagine doing this on a bike. There are so many hills and turns and emptiness that I would give up.
I like to play a little game when I drive a course (which I try to do before the event so I ‘know’ what it’s like). I like to say “here, I’m flying along”; “here, I feel the hill”; occasionally I say “OK, now is about when I want to give up”; sometimes it’s even “I think I would be dying here”.
For Silverman…almost the whole drive I thought “Either I’m dead or I’d be puking my stomach out, then I’d die”.
I am so not ready!
Once we got to the post it was great, we had a great crew. So much support out there. The riders were great and everybody was positive. All in all, I had a great time. Even got to meet Sweet Baboo. Afterwards we drove into town (almost ran out of gas, it was so far away), went and watch the run for a little bit, called it a day and CRASHED at home.
I mean, I was exhausted! As a volunteer! I can’t even fathom how the actual triathletes felt.
Things I have learned:
1. Originally a friend had said that volunteering for this event will inspire me to want to do an Ironman. Boy, were they wrong! It was a great reality check for me and really showed me how tough an Ironman is.
2. Got to say that people look so much better at the end point of a race. When you look at people finishing their bike or finishing their swim or finishing the race people look great. There’s smiles; they're happy; it’s all good. But watch them during the event. Ugh! They are living a personal hell. No one looks happy, everyone looks about to die and it’s very sobering.
3. For your special needs, don’t pack canned beverages. Almost every bag that had a can was soaking wet as the can punctured sometime during the transport and now you the athlete have to deal with everything else in the bag being sticky and wet plus there’s this huge let down because the drink you’ve been fantasying about is wasted. I saw many an athlete look on the verge of tears when their drink dreams evaporated in front of their eyes.
Lastly, I’m going to finish this post off with something sacrilegious. Something that I am sure will get me banned from future tri’s forever. But…
Let me start by saying that everyone gave their all. Everyone out there looked great and you could tell that no one ever wanted to give up. I know that some people had to give up. Either for technical reasons or because their body gave out on them. There was one person in particular that I recall. He had to be dropped off by a RV. Somewhere along the line, an RV (hopefully not the same one that gave him a ride) edged him off the road. Now I hope it was done out of ignorance and not malice, but either way the RV ‘pushed’ the bike off course. Good news was the rider was fine, a little road rash but otherwise the rider and the bike looked good. Later on my honey said how much that would have sucked and I agreed and disagreed.
How many times have you been out on the course, especially when the course got impossibly tough and just wished that something ‘bad’ would happen? Not bad enough to hurt you or anyone else, but something bad enough to make you have to stop. It’s not your fault, you wanted to finish. You would have finished, you will finish next time, but this time something bad happened and ended (saved) your race. Outwardly you’re pissed, but internally you’re thanking the heavens.
That was what happened to this guy. Just a little road rash, nothing bad enough to scar but enough to leave a mark for a few weeks. Something to show to the guys and commiserate around a beer about. Something to push you harder next time, better prepared; tougher and more determined. Next time…you’ll be ready.
UPDATE: After ready S. Babboo's race report, I truly understand how much I underestimated the toughness of this course.