So, it didn't rain too much during Kevin's bike yesterday, but maybe we should have focused the collective power of our crossed extremities on something else: remembering shoes.
A quick review: in a half ironman, you swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, then run a half marathon (13.1 miles). That's where the 70.3 comes from, by the way. In between, you pass through the transition area, where you change--before the race, you set up your bike, helmet, biking shoes, bike shorts, jersey, running shoes, running shorts & shirt, etc. (and there's a lot of etc., depending on how long the race is, and how worried/prepared you are: food, water, Gatorade, sunscreen, bug spray, body glide, towel, hat, sunglasses, bucket & water to wash your feet after the swim, kitchen sink, band aids...). Since triathlon is an individual event, you aren't supposed to get any assistance (from your family or from random spectators) on the course, except from the official aid stations (with food, water & Gatorade) and vehicles, which have spare bike parts. I've run road races where people have handed out popsicles from the ends of their driveways (officially the best popsicles I've ever had in my life, by the way--thank you, people with popsicles and driveways), and there's no such thing in triathlon.
So Kevin got all set up yesterday, and we went down to the beach to watch the first couple of waves start, then into the water (a bracing 60 degrees, and there was one crazy guy with no wetsuit!) he went. I watched the rest of the waves start (you're grouped by age & gender & sometimes experience into waves for the start of the swim, so there are fewer people kicking each other in the head at once--they don't start timing you till your wave actually starts), then I went back into the car to drop off Kevin's shirt & the spare shoes he'd worn down to the water.
And I noticed a pair of his running shoes in the trunk. Which was worrying, but I reassured myself that he must have brought two pairs in case he wanted to run on Saturday and got 1 pair wet. And besides--even if he'd forgotten his shoes, how would I get them to him? (Remember, no assistance from spectators.)
So off I went on my slightly less merry way. I thought about asking him when I saw him in the first transition (after the swim) if he had his shoes--he could check, then tell me (nearly 2 hours later) when he passed me halfway through the bike, and if he didn't, I could have gotten them and... what? Thrown them over the fence into the transition area? So it would look like he'd set his shoes up in a corner for no reason? (Each person has a spot on a bike rack for their bike, then about 2 feet of ground on either side for everything else). What if he actually did have his shoes and I made him worry for no reason? I convinced myself he MUST have his shoes, hurried back to the transition area, waved at him after the swim but said nothing, then jogged out along the bike course to wait for him to pass by.
I clapped for everyone who went by (and was thanked by most of them--the course was long and hilly, and it was difficult to drive out of the park once the race was underway, so most spectators stayed at the start area and there were many lonely uphill miles... if you ever encounter a bike race, drive slowly, as far from the bikers as you can safely drive... pull a little way into the other lane if you can... and cheer), saw Kevin, failed to take his picture, and walked back to the transition area to try again on the picture thing as he came back from the bike (which he yelled as he passed by would probably be 2 hours later).
So I knit a bit, then went out to watch Kevin come in from the bike. I managed to take his picture, then scurried over the the beginning of the run to see him there too. I waited what seemed like too long, then started worrying about the shoes again--what would Kevin possibly do if he didn't have his running shoes (bike shoes have metal clips sticking out from the bottom--you can barely walk in them, let alone run). And you start to get stupid as you exercise that long (the swim plus the bike had taken 4 hours), so if a genius solution would have been possible hours ago (shoes made from bark? bicycle tires?), there was no way it would work now.
Then Kevin came along the trail and out of the woods, shoe-less. He yelled, "in the trunk!" and off I went, back to the car to get the shoes. It wasn't far, but I had to run out of my way to get around the trees and underbrush and avoid disaster on my way across the path of the bikers who were still finishing their bikes. Back at the car, I grabbed the shoes, then ran back to where I'd seen Kevin. But no Kevin. Surely he hadn't started running with no shoes? So I ran back to the fence near his spot in the transition area. No Kevin. OK, he did start running with no shoes. So I ran back to the run course (I thought I'd save time by running next to the course, rather than around through the bikers, but I don't think I did... I had to run in sand, vault over a row boat and a dock, and cross the edge of someone's back yard). Still no Kevin... so I started running along the run course with the shoes. But he's faster than me, and it had been 15-20 minutes since I'd seen him, so he was long gone.
I ran maybe a mile and half along the course before someone with a bike came up along side me, and took the shoes to deliver to Kevin (she asked me what his number was, which was odd--how many other shoeless runners would there be?). She took off with the shoes (now carefully untied and loosened), but I kept going along the course anway--I'd remembered as I ran with the shoes that part of the run was on a dirt road, and I wanted to see that he was ok (and shod) as soon as possible.
I finally caught up with Kevin about 2 miles out (as he was on his way back towards the start/finish area--because the run went out and back twice along the same route, the runners ran out a little more than 3 miles, turned back in, ran almost to the finish line, turned, ran out and back again, then to the finish). He had his shoes, which he reported were very soft ("like running on pillows"), and insisted that trying not to cut his feet for four miles had distracted him from the many other aches, pains and cramps he was developing.
So he kept going, and I turned back in toward the park to meet him at the finish line. Here's what's impressive: this was a much harder (hillier) course than the half he did last summer, he spend a lot longer in the transition areas (fighting with his wetsuit the first time, then discussing shoe options with a race official), he ran nearly a third of the half marathon without shoes, and he still took nearly 15 minutes off his time. I'm so proud of him--not just for getting faster, but for not quitting after the shoe incident, because at that point all you want to do is stop--although at the same time, the last thing you want to do it stop because you've gone so far already. (Pictures once they're downloaded, I promise... also of my current sock, the joint baby blanket, and lacy Argosy.)