Monday, August 3, 2009

Calgary Drama

Danger is inherent in drama. There needs to be some type of conflict for heroic action or profound cause/effect. Hollywood knows this, as did Doyle, London, Grey, and Tolkien before them. Woody Guthrie knew it as well as Billie Joe Armstrong. It goes without saying that it is a pre-rec for Professional Wrestling. Triathlon has it on occasion, and often to wildly varying degrees. Consider the yearly drama in Kona as the best in the biz go toe to toe for 140.6 miles in less than 9 hours in the red hot Big Island sun. Much, much further back in the pack the drama is no less intense as age groupers struggle not so much against the time-clock as against the age-clock. It can be a war zone back there, with one foot in struggle just to follow the other.

It was a battlefield in Calgary yesterday as the inaugural Calgary 70.3 made it's debut. The drama began on Saturday when high winds, thunderstorms and driving rain added to the mix. Debris was blown off the Calgary Tower, killing a three-year old innocently walking several stories beneath, and the same tornado force winds took down a music stage during an outdoor concert, killing one and injuring hundreds. Kevin Costner's Band was about to go onstage when the storm touched down. I was riding on the downtown train heading back to the motel and the winds came thru the open upper windows strong enough to rip plastic advertisements off the walls and send them flying towards the rear of the car. The sky turned black and I saw quaking aspens bend at unnatural angels, grabbing for soil with their straining roots to hang on. The girl opposite me on the train hopped to my side and buried her head in my chest looking for protection. I truly thought the light rail was going to quickly become airborne. And then it passed. The girl apologized for being scared, the sky returned to it's washed out gradient and I thought how much fun it would be to have that power BEHIND you on tomorrow's bike leg.

Saturday night we got thunderstorms that filled the cheap motel room with five second strobes and sub woofer rumbles that rattled the walls. Each raindrop hitting the window sounded like an explosion. The TV went black. We lost the ethostream. And I wondered if the race would be scrubbed as a result. Just before midnight, after one last mental equipment and time schedule check off, I fell into a deep, anxiety filled dream. I dreamt of being alone, behind enemy lines in a battlefield reeking of sulfur and gunpowder. A mortar shell exploded close-by and in a slow motion flash back, a girl held me close, providing ample reason to persevere. My iPhone alarm's marimba sounded at 0400. It was the darkest hour before the light of the new day and I was a touch shell shocked, and anxious to get out and access the damage. The girl was gone.

After all that the race itself was a bit anti-climatic. The bus ride out to Ghost Lake took an hour, rattling already frayed nerves, but allowing fresh conversations thru chance meetings. Once there, things settled in pretty routinely. We've done all this before, still I am always impressed with the zeal and enthusiasm of first time, first event volunteers, who seemed to be everywhere. Swim was into the rising red prairie sun and 1,600 athletes were off on a grand adventure. The bike leg, of which RCV fans are primarily concerned, was, as advertised, rolling and scenic, with only a few "tense" sections on Hwy 1 where the usual vehicle-bike bottlenecks made life interesting for a klick or two. I think it will go for a most enjoyable RCV, and will quickly dispel the myth of all 70.3 bike legs being a standard distance, as this one Garmined out at 58 miles, rather than 56. And, yes, there was a section or two with significant tail winds.

I liked the run best. Through North Glenmore Park, down into the Weaselhead reserve and on a cliff above the winding Elbow River. No cars, no city streets, so four way intersections, no noise other than the rhythmic breathing of athletes under stress and fans shouting encouragement. Lot's of good, clean dramatic fun.

Colorado had a good day in Calgary as Mirinda Carfrae (nee OZ) and Tim O'Donnell took the top pro spots. It was a great day for 70.3 racing in Calgary. I think this event has the potential to become a regular on the circuit, with even the possibility of handling a full Ironman.

But that might be more drama than 1.1 million Calgarians can take just now. Give 'em some R&R and we'll talk after the Stampede.

Pictures and the Calgary highlight video coming within 72. Signing off from Alberta, Canada, on way to YYC.

RCVman, out.


ej said...

Sorry for the 3-year old and his relatives, that is very sad. The storms in the Midwest are pretty violent and come in and leave fast.

Gee, I guess your writing style was meant to make up for the lack of video? Good writing anyway. As to the age-clock thing, I for one, refuse to get non-chronologically OLD!

ej said...

I had to look when I wrote "his" and it was a little girl:

KML5 said...

Very sad indeed. It was on my mind all day Sunday. Life is fleeting, each moment precious. I was sitting having dinner last night at a Boston Pizza thinking about how much I would give for one more dinner with my Mom. Alas, my writing style is, at best, filler between video, at worst, fodder between more writing. Much like my racing, I'll keep trying.

Good news is that Calgary video is on the way!!!!