Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Race That Wasn't

Please don't judge me. I had every intention of doing it.

Yesterday, Lori and I packed up the girls, picked up Grandpa Stan, and headed to Hogs Back and Mooney's Bay to participate in the National Capital Tri/Du. I was signed up for the Super Sprint SwimCycle event, a 500-metre swim and 20-kilometre cycle. Lori was participating in the Super Sprint Tri, which included a 5-kilometre run, on top of the swim and cycle components. She's hard-core.

The swim component was taking place in Mooney's Bay, only there was a problem: for more than three days, the beach was closed to swimming because of high e-coli counts in the water. E-coli. Enough said.

For the past month, Lori and I were driving up to Lac Bernard to practice swimming in open water. We mapped a course that was 530 metres—longer than the race distance. It was perfect. I loved that swim, but I was noticing that after the workout, later in the day, I would always feel like crap. I was congested, had itchy, water eyes, would feel a burning in my lungs.

With each week, the symptoms would feel worse. On the first weekend, I was congested and suffered for only a couple of hours. On the following week, it lasted until bedtime. The week after that, I suffered all night and had to take the next day off from work. Last week, I suffered at night but went into work anyway, but felt lousy all day. On the Tuesday, I only lasted a couple of hours at work before heading home, where I stayed until this Thursday (granted, I was suffering other symptoms that felt more flu-like—I was a real mess this week).

Lori and I figured that pollen or some other material that I'm allergic to must have fallen into the water, and during my workout I was inhaling and sometimes swallowing whatever was affecting me. Some of my Twitter peeps seemed to agree. And I am allergic to birch and maple trees. Each week, the effects of the substance got worse, much like many of my allergic reactions are.

On Friday, I was finally feeling better from my week of being sick. So when I heard that Mooney's Bay was reporting high levels of e-coli, I said to the race organizers that there was no way that I was going in that water. It would be foolish to subject myself to anything that could make me sick again. The race officials even agreed; in fact, many participants opted out of swimming. Including Lori.

And because the organizers of this event are so great, they offered options. I could change race events. (I asked if I could just not do the swim component and just cycle, but because some participants were still swimming, that was a 'no.') There was just one snag: all other events contained a running component.

Except, I don't run. I can't run. I won't run—not even to catch a bus. I've had reconstructive surgery on my right foot, and it's very hard on me when I try to run for any distance. And so, running was out.

The organizer who was trying to be accommodating said that I could walk instead of run. There was a duathlon that involved a two-kilometre run, a 20-kilometre cycle, and then another five-kilometre run. I could walk the first two kilometres, do my ride, and then opt out of the final run. And I would at least get me ride in (there is no race with a cycle-only component).

Lori signed up for this event. I, on the other hand, had another problem: my footwear.

I hadn't planned on going any distance on foot. Had the water conditions been better, I would have been wading in in my bare feet. I would have trotted to my bike in bare feet, and then slipped into my cycling shoes, which are no good for walking in. I would have slipped into my Keens for the short trek from the bike area to the finish line.

My Keens are good for short treks, but if I walk too far in them, my feet suffer. They were not the best footwear for a two-kilometre walk, unless I took my time. And, to me, that seemed pointless.

And so I was left with only one option: to sit on the sidelines and cheer Lori on.

So please don't judge me for bowing out of the race. I had every intention of participating. It's just that water conditions and footwear prevented me from doing it.

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