Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Minneapolis Duathlon 2013 (WTF is a Wet Bulb)

Minneapolis Duathlon 
(3.15 miles run, 15 miles bike, 3.15 miles run)
Relay, Run Portions Only: 32:41 / 33:06
Average Pace - Let's Not Even Bother

Windy with a few clouds from time to time. Hot. Heat index near 105F. High 98F. Winds SSW at 20 to 30 mph. 

You know what I want to do on the hottest day of the year?  Why, get up at 4 am to do a team relay at the Minneapolis Duathlon of course!!

Ah the joy of registering for a race 6 months in advance... it always seems like a great idea at the time... and then when you look back on it, you're like - WHY DID I AGREE TO DO THIS?  I'm still not sure if it was a good thing I convinced my neighbor into being my partner for this relay.  But he did claim he had a good time, so I guess it's ok?????

And thing is, there were even various things leading up to this race that indicated the cosmos thought this race wasn't going to be a good idea, either.  Largely, my relay partner getting hit by a car on his bike and going to the hospital two weeks prior to race time... and then, his stitches coming out and bike BARELY being repaired in time for the race.  But do you think either one of us took those signs to heart?  No.  Of course not! 

In fact, I think the exact quote from my partner after he got hit by a car, and was drugged up in the ER, was "I'm trying to talk the doctor into just butterflying my knee shut so I can still be ready for this race."  Coming from a guy who, only a few days later, found the substantially sized missing chunk of meat from his knee in his bike gears.  Nasty. 

So, that's the premise for this race.  Heat, humidity, ER visits, blood & guts.  Oh, and pending glory.  No big thing, right?  Right!  Ok then...

Race day!  It's just post my 4am wake up call, and I'm realizing it is already just under 80F and about 75% humidity outside.  I am SUPER stoked to get going on this race.  Check it out:

Just kidding, here's the real pre race photo:

As you can see, I'm even already sweating IN MY AIR CONDITIONED HOUSE!  See that... uh...  "healthy glow" on my forehead?  You can also see, I'm wearing my customized bib number.  I love it when you register early and they put your name on your bib! 

Yes, I had already done packet pickup the day before, which I thought might also be a disaster, but came out surprisingly well.  My major concern was this: my partner and I registered back in March when Team Ortho was still claiming race participants would get a bike jersey.  But somewhere in May/June, they changed the swag take home to be a bike helmet.  (Editorial note: dumb!  Especially for the relay teams.  Why would a runner on a relay team want a bike helmet?!)  Although I was worried we might end up being screwed into a bike helmet, all went well.  I walked up to registration check in, was promptly handed my jerseys, and waltzed right out.  Way to keep good on your word, Team Ortho!

If you're curious, here's a photo of the helmet & jersey, and also the optional upgraded helmet you could pay an additional fee to get:

After a big cup of coffee, and a goodbye to my husband (who was literally laughing at me about the circumstances of this race), I packed up everything I need for race day and scooted across the street to meet my partner.  He was also "enjoying" the warm weather, and finishing racking our bikes to the back of his truck.  (I brought my bike along so that we could ride to the post race party, more on that later). 

It's somewhere as we're loading into the truck that I realize something.  It's 5am.  I'm in a truck with my neighbor, driving to downtown Minneapolis so that I can run two 5K race segments, approximately 45 minutes apart, in what is predicted to be about 100F weather.  I am officially insane.

Hey - that gives me a good costume idea for a future race!  Kidding, LOL!

Our goal was to be on the road by 5am, parked by 6am, and have my partner's bike in transition prior to the 6:30am cut off.  Then, we'd have to kill about an hour before our wave's gun time.  No problem, right?

Actually, no problem at all.  We beat that goal by miles, having the bike in transition right around 6am.  Which was great timing, because hardly anyone was there yet, and we totally beat the rush.  And that also meant... time for PEOPLE WATCHING!!!!!!! 

We spent maybe the next 15-20 minutes checking out our competition, oogling bikes, and ... "judging costumes".  This is where we developed two questions:

     (1) What is the total value of all bikes in transition on race day? 
          Answer - even if you estimate the average bike value to be $1,000 and
          guess there are 2,000 competitors... that would be $2 million!!

     (2) Do people even look in the mirror when they get dressed?
          Answer - no. 
          Side comment, please dress for the body you have, not the body you want.
          And even then, be conservative.  I don't want to see your crack because your booty
          shorts are sagging down your @ss due to the humidity. (*Yes, seen on course)

While people watching is entertaining, unfortunately our morning coffees have kicked in, so my partner/neighbor and I head to the porta-potties.  When we catch each other afterwards, be both have a funny smirk on our faces.  I say "Well, that was interesting" and he follows with a "Yeah, I've never used a porta-potty in the dark before".  LOL!  Every day is an adventure with me.  Welcome to the party! 

At this point, I run into my brother and his fiancé, who is doing the race by herself.  The four of us chat and kill time pre-gun.  Somewhere in the mix, local celebrity/news personality Ken Barlow offers to take our relay team picture for us... odd, but ok!  What a nice guy!

Eventually my brother's fiancée takes off to queue up for the race, and I head to the porta-potties for one last stop before I join her.  And, the national anthem plays as I "occupy".  Another first.

Since the elites have taken off, and the runners are all lining up, I bid my partner goodbye and hope to see him in about 30 minutes.  The gun fires for my group and off I run into the great humid yonder.

The course is your standard Team Ortho run.  Out and back along the river, with a couple of bridge crossings to start you off first (one being the stone arch bridge, always a scenic view).  If you're curious at all for my first 5K, you can take a peek, just don't judge the awful time:


As a side note, there were two mean tricks played on the first run.  First, you had to run up an incline/service ramp to get back into the transition area.  Second, the relay team was at the very back of transition.  My first run was actually almost 3.5 miles long including the transition point.  Blech!

On the up side, having a tall partner works out great in transition.  I could see him waving from almost a quarter of a mile away!  LOL!  I'm sure my pink zebra outfit helped him in spotting me, too.

At this point, we hit the fun part - the "rip and pass" of the timing chip.  It is SUPER nasty to have to give someone a sweaty as hell foam ankle strap.  (But, not to worry, he returned the favor later.) 

Without thinking about it, he strapped on the chip, and off my partner went for the bike portion.  I killed the time by talking to someone I surprisingly knew in transition.  Well, that and drinking copious amounts of water.  (Sorry for the lack of info on the bike portion... obviously, I can't comment if I didn't do it.  I can say that my partner thought it was a nice course, and that it wasn't too bad, but it definitely wasn't a fast and flat route.  If you want to do this race in the future, make sure you are able to do some minimal climbs.) 

Before I knew it, my partner was back on his bike, with a very respectable time of 53:34.  So, off I go again!

All I could think at this point is... OMG, so hot!  Just run... just run... you're almost done, it's only 3 more miles.  Well, that and... ew, gross - I'm sweating like a pig.

And then, tragedy!  As I hit about the 1 mile mark on my second run, I am near enough to transition to hear the following announcement:  "Attention racers!  The wet bulb temperature has registered 84.  Team Ortho is now calling the race.  Anyone who has not yet completed the bike portion will end their race in transition.  All racers may claim their medals.  The post race party will begin early at Brit's Pub..."

WTF is a wet bulb, you ask?  Don't worry, I had the same question. 

Here are some fancy graphs to help you figure it out:

Essentially, it's a weird combo of air temperature and humidity that results in a different number that is somehow lower than the current temperature.  But, it's an indicator used in athletic events to help gauge the impact on the human body.

If I were to guess at 8 am, I would say we were at a humidity of 60% and an air temp of 90F/32C.  That's a wet bulb on the black & white chart of 100, or the yellow zone of the other map which is rated "great discomfort, avoid exertion".  My estimates are obviously a little high, since Team Ortho's announcement was holding us at 84.  And, strangely, Team Ortho's policy was to cut off at a wet bulb of 79 ... for some reason they held out until 84?  Either way, that tells you what kind of weather day we were having.

Back to the race recap...

Upon hearing this announcement, I started to check out.  I REALLY wished I could have worn headphones for this race (thus not hearing that announcement).  All I could think was: you mean to tell me, I could have had all the glory of "completing" this race without the second run portion... if only we had been just 10-15 minutes slower as a team!?

I guess you can also look at the flip side and say, at least we were athletic enough as a team to beat the system, and finish the entire race.  Hats off to us.

Thankfully, as I reached the water stop, I discovered one of the volunteers had tapped into a fire hydrant and was aiming a lawn sprinkler at passing runners.  I decided to take my only walk break from either run, and enjoy the entire water stop.  Which meant getting sufficiently wet from the sprinkler and enjoying a cup of water. 

Considering the time I wasted at the water stop, my second run didn't end up too shabby:

Soon after the water stop, the end was in sight.  Thank goodness this time, though, I got to skip the final uphill ramp to transition!  And, to make things even better, as I was about to clear the last 0.15 mile, I heard my partner cheering and trying for a photo... I'm just so fast he could barely catch me:

I proceeded to the finish line in a hot, sweaty mess.  My partner found me, and as we moseyed to transition to pick up his bike and my finisher medal, he tells me about the heat cut off.  Apparently tons of people were pissed at the announcement, but I can't understand why.  I mean, on my second run, I saw one lady crouching on the side of the road holding onto a wall... supposedly taking a "break".  I also got disgustingly sweat sprayed by a runner in front of me who was enthusiastically waving to someone in the crowd - that shows you how much we were all sweating if I can get a shower from a person's wave.  My partner said he even saw bikers on course struggling... and some of them were relay folks who were only doing the bike portion (yikes).  It was stinking hot, folks.  Calm down and admit it!

Somewhat delirious from dehydration at this point, I thought I saw the medal pickup area in transition, and then lost sight of it when I rounded a corner.  But then, as if my mind was playing tricks on me, I found it again a second later.  Upon getting the medal in my hand, I wasn't quite sure that I wanted to wear it and risk salt staining the lanyard in my sweaty state.  For a few brief seconds I debated wearing it, but then figured screw it and threw it around my neck, basking in my glory.  It's a pretty cool medal, after all!

**Not shown, but comes attached to a black lanyard with white/orange printing.

After we grabbed everything from transition, we quick stopped back at the truck to grab my bike, and headed off to the best part of the race:

 AKA - free beer!

Oh, and let's not forget I ate the most delicious chicken pot pie I've had in ages!!

No, I'm not one of those foodie nerds. 
Thank goodness for Google images, ya'll.

Kudos to the staff at Brit's, by the way.  I don't know how in the world they could manage being around a bar full of sweaty, stinky athletes.  I could smell myself from a mile away as it was!  Although... maybe we smelled better than the 1am bar crowd...?  And, on the plus side, we were all too exhausted to get truly drunk and boisterous, so I'm sure they appreciated that!

After we enjoyed our refreshments (my partner had a sandwich & "chips" - Brit's is English, so don't call them fries), we hung around a tad longer... just to find out we didn't win the raffle for some miscellaneous Team Ortho gear.  Oh well!  No worse for the wear, we hopped back on our bikes and headed to the truck... and eventually, for home. 

At which point, I have to say, being home included the best shower & nap I've had in ages.  Whoo!

And that's the story of how race bib # 33 joined my collection.  Here's to another race soon... actually, next weekend again!  Let's hope the "wet bulb" is a little dryer this time!

1 comment:

  1. ha! Love it! Yes, weird enough, I'm already looking forward to next year.