Why I decided to not race was a simple decision. It was too cold.
When we arrived in Panama City Beach, it was a nice day. The sea was calm and the water was turquoise blue and green... beautiful, and of course the beaches are sugar white. But on the second day, things turned different. The temperature dropped a lot ... to the 40's and the sea churned up with rough waves. The next day was even colder, with the wind blowing hard and the sea rougher still. Only a handful of people were venturing into the water for practice swims.
The forecast said it would be in the low 40's race morning with temperatures climbing to the low 70's for a high.
Since we have to rack our bikes the day before the race I had to make my decision that day as to whether I was going to race or not.
A lot of triathletes come from cooler climates and of course they are ALL younger, if that makes any difference. Many thought the low 70's temp was perfect. I, on the other hand, was thinking about how cold I would be AFTER the swim on the bike BEFORE it reached the low 70's. :) I even bought an inexpensive windbraker to wear at the beginning of the bike leg to discard later when it warmed up. But observing how things were the day before I knew I would not do it. People were doing training rides with leg warmers and long sleeves, jackets and walking aound with stocking caps. Stocking Caps!!! Are you kidding ? This is a triathlon not a ski resort! Who thinks to take a stocking cap to a triathlon?
Some people prefer cool temperatures but not me. I live where it is warm year round and if we have a short cold front, I just train indoors. I'm not going to ever get acclimated to the cold. The high temps in the summer however are another story. High temps I can tolerate better than most.
As it turned out I was more than glad I did not start the race. The next morning the water was smooth as glass, with a temperature of 69 degrees and the air temp was in the low 40's. The water temperature did not concern me although I don't think I have ever swam in water that cold; the wetsuits do a terrific job of keeping you warm. My concern was for after the swim. I would have been shaking like a leaf. No fun at all. This triathlon business is supposed to be fun and I did not see anything fun about to happen.
Observing the swim portion of race from the VIP observation deck, I was shivering. No way at all did I wish I had made a different decision. I had on jeans, shoes and socks, a sweatshirt and my new windbraker.
There was a record set that day. The overall male finisher was the first person to break 8 hrs in an Ironman in North America. But he hadn't done so well in Kona a few weeks earlier. He dropped out of the race at the 5K mark. Maybe it was too hot for him.:)
I have made some decisions now about my future triathlon career. No more triathlons in Nov. The weather in Nov is too unpredictable. I have done four races in Forida in Nov and three of them were cold. Whatever made me think it was warm in Florida ? If you want to be warm,
come to south Texas. It was 82 deg when we got home.
I am also seriously considering retiring from Ironman. Not positive yet. You know, 'Never Say Never'. The training is very hard and I don't recover as well as a did just a couple years ago. It's been a hard year due to a late build up in the spring because I had a stupid injury.
There are a few things I could do to improve my recovery and training strategy. I will see how things go over the Winter .
I have decided to focus for now on improving my running and getting faster for the shorter events. I am entered in at least one maybe two 70.3 (half Ironman) a Nat'l Championship for the 5150 distance and a training camp. Also several short runs 5Ks and 10Ks.
I'm excited about having a new focus. It would really be cool to run an entire 10K without walking.
I'm not sad about Florida but I still love The Ironman. I did get in great shape and lose a bunch of weight training. So we'll see how I do and maybe re-evaluate things next spring.