Y Not Race in a Wind Storm Triathlon 2013

Local coverage of the 2013 Y Not Triathlon; one to remember.


While biking the few short miles to the start of the Y Not Triathlon I hear the unmistakable noise of a tire blowing out air from a massive rupture.  Then, I feel my front wheel go flat.  I’m riding on my race wheel, and the tire is a tubular.  Because I’m on my way to race I have no replacement tire and also no phone.  When biking to a race in Boise, like I do a few times a year, I bring nothing but what I need for racing…

In a way it’s perfect timing.  I’d been racing on that particular tire for about 2 years and the sidewall was obviously damaged a while ago because I ran over nothing and it blew out.  So, now I’m stranded on the greenbelt right by the Julia Davis amphitheater.  I asked a guy if I could use his phone and he said no.  I sized up a more willing person and he happily handed over his phone no questions asked.  I called my dad and gave him the low down.  Only 30 minutes later my mom and brother, who was also racing, come to the rescue with one of my dad’s training wheels.  Little did I know having that wheel would actually be an advantage over the 808 I had on previously.

I turn down a ride from my mom and happily continue my pleasant ride down the greenbelt towards the race venue.  I’m eager to see the many kids and adults race that I have a chance to work with at the Y as a Triathlon Coach.  One of my favorite things to do is to spectate/coach at a race.  I’m all smiles and encouragement as I empathize with the heart of all the athletes.

After the kids get us all worked up and we adults see what this racing stuff is really all about, it’s our turn to have some fun.

The water is some of the cleanest you will find anywhere.  Tracing the water’s voyage from the Pacific to a cloud, to a snowflake in the mountains, to spring runoff from the Sawtooth Mountains.  The water in Parkcenter pond has barely seen a human structure when it makes its way into it.

We start with calm conditions and the sun shining.

A few minutes later; chaos.

A cloud burst with sustained 50mph winds turns little Parkcenter Pond into an imitation of a raging sea.

In the last minute of my swim I kept veering to the left, off course.  I would even over correct and then sight again only to be wide left again.  “What is my deal today?  I need to work on swimming straight?” Perplexed.  Then, I stood up next to the giant orange buoy at the finish and got tackled by it.  It was immediately obvious what was going on; the wind was HOWLING.  Trees were sideways, people were scrambling, debris was blowing, my eye were watering from particle dust and I ran to my bike like it was some sort of war zone and I had to get out of there!

I hoped on my steed and started following a police motorcycle escort which made me feel much safer.  We started dodging cones and debris, my senses on extreme alert.  We went over a bridge and a bomb went off.  Booom!  I felt the impact of it.  In bewilderment I looked over my body for damage and found everything to be in working order.  Can this race get any stranger?  The cop turned back to see what he had heard but then kept leading me.  I assumed this was just some kids with a homemade bomb that just happened to go off as we rode by?

With the wind I forced the cop to break the speed limit as we sailed.  This being a 6 mile bike with a 3 mile out and back I knew the fun wouldn’t last and braced for the turn around.  Getting there and turning into the wind forced me to eke out a 1000 watts to go 5mph on a flat road.  Thank goodness we only had to battle the wind for 3 miles.  I felt fortunate to have all my aero gear and to utilize a solid aero position with years of practice.  I empathized with those who had wind catching bikes and positions.  These guys are the heroes of the day.

I get into T2 thankful to be off the bike and go directly to where my shoes, hat, race number and sun glasses should be.  I scratch my head and look around.  Nothing.  A conversation comes back to me where a friend was joking with me that Mark Russell, my nemesis, moved my shoes.  I laughed and thought little of it until now.  “That sun-of-a-gun really moved my shoes!?”  Miffed, “he’s going to beat me?”  By now I had enlisted the help of a small army of volunteers to search for some bright colored SCOTT shoes.   We were getting nowhere fast and I started to think, “OK, the jokes on me.”  I was getting ready to run the 2 miles on the greenbelt barefoot and smear Mark Russell’s already tarnished name when I spotted the shoes several roes down wind.  Anything that light had literally blown away.  Ah-ha, finally I didn’t feel like I was standing there with my fly undone.  Back to the race.

The run was similar to the bike in that we ran with the wind for a mile and then headlong into it for a mile.  For a ‘short’ race I find this one to always be tough.  There’s a big difference between going comfortably fast in some of the longer races where as in this one it is uncomfortably fast the whole way.  It’s a marvelous challenge.

What I love most about this race is the family atmosphere.   You have ‘kids’ of all ages competing in their first triathlon and some challenging themselves to be better, everyone is celebrating something at the finish line.  I’m fortunate to be able to coach a wide variety of athletes and seeing them race is thrilling.  Becky, (pictured above in the Boise Y TriClub jersey) is one of the people I get to work with that lights up my day and the others she trains with.  We’ve been working on swimming and although I’m the coach…she’s taught me as much as I hope I’ve taught her.

My brother who is a great swimmer was set to start after my wave.  With the powerful winds the Y rightly canceled the swim so he didn’t get to do the ‘easy’ part for him.  He rarely bikes, so getting through the wind storm is an impressive feat and he crossed the finish line with a very red face.

Thank you to the racers for giving me someone to coach!  Being a service brings much fulfillment.  There are many quotes affiliated with this and this one sheds some light on part of the joys of coaching:

By learning you will teach;
by teaching you will understand.
Latin Proverb

I have learned so much by working with all of you and it brings a better understanding of what true happiness is for me.  I’m grateful for this.

Thanks Karoly for the photos!

Thank you to the Y for putting on this event and allowing us to do battle with a massive wind storm and live to tell about it.

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