Like other Floridians, over the last few days I was glued to the Weather Channel watching the various forecasts and the shifts in the “cone of uncertainty”. Would Hurricane Matthew come towards South Florida? Would it make a jog to the east and avoid us? How much rain would we get? What about the strength of the winds? Most importantly, do I put my hurricane shutters up? I need to protect my home & family
but is the time & effort warranted or should we just “hunker down” and ride it out?
As I sit stir-crazy all day inside my fortress of 80 steel shutters over 22 windows, I can’t help but draw analogies as a triathlete to preparing for what’s uncontrollable in a race. In many recent long distance events, weather has played a factor in the outcome of the race. Sure, we all prepare to swim, to bike, to run and even transition between the three. We even prepare our hydration and nutrition so we can maintain a strong body and mind. But are we prepared to adapt?
Back in 2014, after a long journey to toe the start line, I took on Ironman Florida. Florida is flat and fast. As a Floridian, it would be a perfect first. Well that day, it was not! The swim was cancelled due to undertow because safety personnel felt it would be too difficult to perform rescues in the ocean. The bike was in 25-30 mile per hour “tropical storm like” cross winds. And the run was a blistering sub-40 degrees Fahrenheit. Clearly not ideal for what would be a long 138.2 miles to this rookie!
Recently, Ironman Chattanooga and IM 70.3 Augusta were hotter than Hades. It rained so much leading up to and during “Hurricane” Ironman Maryland 2016 that participants, who also experienced a cancelled swim, got to endure a swim portion during both their bike and run with puddles mid-calf deep!
Weather plays a factor and we must be prepared. I have learned to always pack appropriate clothes for both really hot and really cold extremes. Have extra hydration “just in case”. And prepare myself, not only physically, but mentally for what Mother Nature and the Triathlon gods dish out that day!
So, as Hurricane Matthew makes a shift to the north of South Florida, I take pride in the fact that I was prepared, kept my family safe and lived to “race another day” in paradise.
Oh, and if Jim Catore ever takes over for Mike Reilly, I am retiring from triathlon!!
Matthew Hert is an age group triathlete with over a dozen years in the sport. He has participated in every distance from sprint to Ironman. He sits on the USAT – Florida Regional Council and is the social media coordinator.