Snow Days and Ironman Panama

No one in Chicago will dispute that this has been one of the toughest winters we have had in Chicago and throughout Illinois for many years. We usually have one or two days a year when the City and State offices and schools close for a snow day. We have had snow for sure, but bitter cold has become the primary agent that has forced closings this year. It certainly makes me respect my friends in Minnesota and North Dakota who deal with weather like this annually. Here, our meteorologists refer to it as a polar vortex. Up in Minnesota and North Dakota, they simply call it “winter.”

I planned to train all winter and enter an early season race Ironman Panama 70.3 in Panama City, Panama. I had not really checked what the weather was like in Panama, but learned about a month before the race that race day temperatures would be likely 95 degrees. After living and training in subzero weather, I was not sure what the race would hold.

Nevertheless, my indoor training proved effective despite the brutal heat and blazing sun. I raced well taking home the second place trophy in my age group. I was beaten by a Colombian engineer. We exchanged pleasantries at the awards ceremony, but with my lack of knowledge of Spanish and his lack of knowledge of English, we mostly shook hands and smiled at each other.

The race started at the Bridge of Americas which spans the entrance of the Panama Canal. This was really a unique experience as the Bay was full of ships waiting their turn to enter the Canal. A visit to the Canal is definitely worthwhile. Larger locks to accommodate larger ships are scheduled for completion in 2015. Unemployment in the country is only 1.5% – we should send our politicians down there for some training.

My next races will take me to Oceanside, California at the end of March, the island of St. Croix in May and Boulder, Colorado in June. I hope to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada in September, 2014. My French is much better than my Spanish. Let’s hope for a podium finish in every race.

Mike Rusin Ironman 70.3 Panama