Ironman Maryland 2015 - The Race That Wasn't

Ironman Maryland 2015 - The Race That Wasn't

By now you have heard that Ironman Maryland was cancelled. My social media feed was filled with sympathy and encouraging words about the training that went into this race along with the disappointment of not being able to leverage the fitness that was accumulated in the days, weeks and months prior.

Having seen events like the NYC marathon and IM Lake Tahoe cancelled I wondered how I would feel if it happened to me. Unfortunately I am now able to know the answer to that and my feelings may surprise you.

Since 2011 I have raced 4 Ironman events and my fifth was going to be my best yet. I created my training program to put me in peak physical and mental condition for October 3rd. I had put times into my notes section of my iPhone but did not share them with anybody as I was about to unleash a fury that I have never had when racing Ironman. This time around I was going to push my envelope closer to the edge.

After I landed at BWI airport I noticed that the weather was not pretty and I wondered if the race would be held as I know this area can flood very easily since it is right on the Chesapeake Bay. About an hour into the drive I received a text message from the President of the FWTti Club I am a member of.

The text simply said: I assume you have heard about the race by now.  It was somewhat ominous but being that I was driving I could not respond or check my phone for other news. When Karen asked to stop so she could get a sandwich I found out about the cancellation.

Immediately my feelings were calm in that this was one thing out of my control. I have trained myself to only be concerned with things that I had an opportunity to affect. As powerful as think I am I can not influence Mother Nature. I have learned this over the course of the past 18 months as it seems every time I race there is some sort of weather issue.

March 2014: Lake Martin 100. It rained for two weeks prior to the event and turned dry river beds into running water creeks. Mud accumulated and allowed us to trudge through it knee high in some points. I finished because I was stronger than the course.

January 2015: Bandera 100k. A race that takes place in what is essentially a desert wound up having ice storms and rain. The course became even more difficult than it already was. I finished because I was stronger than the course.

11838796 10207522039068821 658792183261161581 oMay 2015: Grasslands 50. This race has been known to be a difficult run because of the sand that does not allow you to get good footing. With the torrential and unrelenting spring storms experienced in Texas the course quickly became a quagmire. Knee deep mud and sections of the course that were barely walkable never mind runnable. I finished because I was stronger than the course.

October 2015: Ironman Maryland. Mentally I was setting myself up to battle the elements. I have an ability to put myself into a corner of my mind and focus with unwavering ability. I do not question what was being thrown at me and only focus on continuous forward motion. My Road ID has the phrase Stubborn Mule on it for this very reason. Just keep going forward. This time Mother Nature did not allow me to beat the course.

After a few hours of wondering about what we would do in terms of getting back to Dallas I realized that WTC made the right call. The swim would most likely have been cancelled anyway because of the dangerous condition in the Choptank River but on the bike where a simple pebble could cause so much damage I was happy that I did not have to determine whether or not to race.

The roads in Cambridge and the surrounding areas seemed like mostly smooth asphalt and when you add that to rain you create a very dangerous situation. We all know that given the chance triathletes would race and the idea of poor bike handling athletes with the athletes that want to go as fast as possible despite the conditions the amount of carnage that could have developed was to risky to chance.

Once the decision to head home was made I had another turn of feelings. I am in damn great shape and it is a shame that I will not get to use it this weekend. I am hopeful that there are slots that open for Ironman Florida but I am also not enthused about the idea of crushing my body for another four weeks. My programs are designed to put me in the best position to succeed on a given date. They include rest days and recovery weeks as much for my mind as my body. Trying to convince myself to do another 100 mile bike ride is going to be tough. The thought of running on the roads versus the trails for another month is going to be even tougher.

When all is said and done I am only in control of how I react to the circumstances thrown my way. I can only make decisions based on the information given to me. Right now I have no information to go on and the circumstance cards have already been dealt. Rather than waste energy being pissed off at the world I am choosing to run on the trails for a few days and when WTC provides us with information on Tuesday October 6th by 6pm I will then make a decision about crafting a 4 week program for IMFL or a 3 month program for Coldwater Rumble 100k.

Swings and sways in emotion are to be expected but being able to handle them and control them are what is important. Asked about whether or not I regret a destination race and the months of training I laughed so hard I nearly threw up. Never would I give up the memories forged while riding with my buddies. The laughter that becomes contagious while out riding for 5-6 hours along with the little nuances you notice and then make fun of. That is the camraderie I would never throw away. I would also never regret the solo miles and hours. The time on the road when all is quiet and I am able to process my thoughts without distraction. Overcoming the seemingly impossible. Waking up at 3:30am to get out the door and make myself stronger. These are the very reasons I would never regret my decision to toe the line in Cambridge, Maryland for Ironman Maryland 2015.

Ironman Maryland 2015

Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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