Admittedly I lost some steam in my Ironman journey this past month. Ok, I lost almost all of it this last week. I need a new bike seat because aero position makes this one painful -- don't care. I don't have a tri suit -- don't care. My rental wetsuit that I ordered two weeks ago has not arrived -- don't care. I said I would join Master's Swimming to keep my momentum going after swim lessons, but I haven't. Why? No motivation. I took my bike with my on my 5-day work trip to Savannah and never once took it out of the car -- don't care. In fact, I've ridden my bike once the whole month of October. Why? Because, back to my first point, the seat is painful since I had my bike fit, and made my position on the bike more aerodynamic but way less comfortable. I don't care any about of it.
The point of this blog post isn't to say "I ran out of motivation and quit Ironman training," though. It's to say "Ironman almost certainly isn't happening and it has nothing to do with my loss of motivation." This is not news to anyone who follows Ironman or triathlon in general on social media, but for my non-triathlete friends, the fact is that Hurricane Michael pounded Panama City but good this week. How extensive is the damage? No one knows for sure, but the Internet verdict is that it's way too extensive to even consider the possibility of Panama City Beach hosting Ironman in three weeks. Here are the main reasons the Internet says it won't happen:
1) There is all kinds of damage to hotels and other types of vacation rentals. There won't be anywhere for the Ironman crowd and all their people to stay.
2) Hotels without damage will be full of displaced people and workers repairing the damage.
3) The water system is all kinds of messed up and that will probably result in some unclean water being discharged into the ocean.
4) There won't be enough local support (EMS, volunteers) for Ironman to function because so many of those people will have been affected by the hurricane, and will be putting their lives back together instead of working Ironman.
5) Even if it was logistically possible to hold the race, it would be morally sketchy for Ironman to put on a giant event and parade thousands of people with, let's face it, lots of disposable income through a community where a lot of people have lost everything.
Ironman athletes are a fairly selfish bunch of people in my opinion. They have to be in order to be okay with putting everything and everyone else in their lives aside to undergo the massive amount of training required to finish an Ironman. However, even among this group of selfish people, the overwhelming sentiment is: cancel the race. We won't get our money back. We will have to do the vicious training cycle again (a thought that makes me want to curl up in a ball and die). We MIGHT get a bone thrown to us from Ironman in the form of a discounted race entry next year, or some other compensation prize that isn't much of a consolation because there's nothing they can do to give us the M-dot this year. Ironman Cozumel is still open, but then I would have to fly my bike there. Ironman Arizona is closed, but even if they gave some spots to Ironman Florida people, again I would not want to fly my bike all the way out there and pay all that money for a race I'm not even sure I can complete. Even knowing all this, I, and most other registered athletes, still think the event should be cancelled.
So now what? I've suffered through all this drudgery for nothing? I hated Ironman training so much through September and October that I can't imagine undergoing it again. I picked this Ironman for a lot of reasons. I didn't have vacation time because the job was new, so I knew I wouldn't be going anywhere and would be able to train on weekends. Next year I'll have more vacation time, plus I have to travel in my new position, which I didn't before. I wasn't raising a puppy this year, but I'm getting one in a few weeks and will have it till some time in 2020, so now we're looking at puppy PLUS Ironman training, which is going to be very difficult. I mean, really, how bad do I want this Ironman? (Answer, unfortunately, is that I want it VERY bad.)
There is one more local Ironman-distance (though not Ironman-brand) race that isn't full. It's called the Great Floridian, and it's less than an hour and a half from here. It's a lake swim instead of an ocean swim, so I wouldn't have the added buoyancy of salt water. It's a hilly bike course when I've trained for flat. It's October 20, and the race director has offered a discount for people registered for IMFL. I'm not going to do 140.6 on that course. I would be close to the time cutoff with an ocean swim and a flat bike, and I'm sure I would miss it with a lake swim and a hilly bike. It has a 2/3 IM distance and a 1/3 IM distance, though, and I'm seriously contemplating one of those two options. I mean, I should at least get SOMETHING out of all this training. (Aside from an amazing Amazonian body, which actually is kind of a big deal, and worth most of the pain.) Somewhere in the next few days I will decide -- Great Floridian, yay or nay?
In the meantime, we're all just waiting for official cancellation from Ironman.