Jem is fond of saying, "Manage expectations, not results." Well, I'm trying to manage my expectations ahead of this weekend. Before the race has even started, IM St. George has been considered one of the toughest courses on the Ironman schedule. The combination of the hilly bike course and even hillier run course have it looking to be a real challenge. The weather is now looking to play its part.
As if the 112 miles of hills weren't bad enough, the forecast is calling for wind. And rain. The rain doesn't bother me as much as the direction of the wind, which is forecast to be a northerly wind. Since the course is a loop, if the wind stays constant we'll inevitably face a headwind for part of the time and a tail wind for part of the time. A southerly wind would push us up the canyon and then slow our descent back down the other side. I wouldn't mind that. Since I have gravity on my side on the descent, it doesn't affect me too much. A northerly wind on the other hand would compound my gravitational challenge on the climb since I'd be fighting both gravity and the wind. A tail wind on the descent would be little consolation since I'm not very confident riding at speeds of over 40 mph in the middle of a bunch of tri-geeks in their bend-over bars.
The only bit of comfort is that I've seen that wind. Dave and I finished the ride and ran afterward. My legs came back and I'm confident I could finish. But, the wind is realistically going to add nearly two hours to my overall time. When I was already hoping for something in the mid-fourteen hour range, the wind puts me uncomfortably close to the DNF line. One flat and I could be pushing the cutoff. So, I'm trying to manage my expectations by bracing myself for 16+ hours of pretty much flat out, constant suffering. I've said it before, but only half-heartedly: I'm just hoping to finish at this point.