Clouds belched rain yesterday. Iıd planned a swim, then drive to Port Orchard. Arriving wet to work, trying to dry gloves, pants, and overboots often leaves me soaked before starting out for home at the end of the day. I avoided all that, and relished in a solid 2200 M swim, with my fastest 300 IM, and 400 pull times this season, followed by a steady 21/22 for 12 x 25 kick, and my speediest 200 kick ever. In the evening, a brisk 30 minute weight session without stretching comforted me heading into my race weekend.

The last two nights, ESPN playing on health club monitors tries to simulate a never-ending pre- super bowl party. Blimp shots of muggy Houston skyline, mysterious new stadium huddled below yellowed sodium lamps, cheering mugs holding mugs of suds, mugging for the hand-held in a bar somewhere. Finally I learn itıs number 38, or XXXVIII, with Carolina (where did they come from?) against the Patriots. And Gilette and Shick will war their blades before 90,000,000 in the American TV audience. I doubt Iıll watch.

Today, I woke to the promised wind. Since Iıd tried the bridge in 28 mph gusts on Tuesday, I figured this time, especially on a Friday of a recovery week, Iıd drive across, and leave from the park and ride on the other side. Good choice. The bridge sits nearly 300 feet above the Narrows, which offers a straight shot of 20 miles or more due southwest, the direction of the wind. Itıs navigable, I know; Iıve done it before. But 30 mph blasting form the drop side towards the traffic, with me on a 2.5 foot wide sidewalk next to 50 mph trucks and SUVs gusting in and out of cables, and slowing when a semi slides by,  is just about my limit. I didnıt want to stress it today. The worst part comes right at the crest: in the middle of the channel, at the highest point, with the wind sheared by the big drooping 2 foot cable coming down to eye level then back up again. Makes me want to walk, which is to admit defeat in front of all the car commuters. Better to join them if I canıt beat them.

But Cheryl hooked a ride with Cody, and brought my car back at noon, so I had to challenge the wind on the way home. That was hard enough; as the cars and trucks come by, my lean towards the highway causes me to veer into the traffic as each one blocks the wind, then lets it by again. A very slow trip home.

Because Iım getting ready for the race tomorrow. A 10K, the second one of my life. Iım doing it for the speed, the feeling of power over time. Iım doing it because I can. Iıve done the 8 week speed set, with 3 miles fast, and three half-fast, top speed averaging about 6:26 miles. I figure a 41:40 to 42:30 is my range; slower will be disappointing, faster will be astonishing. The hardest part, of course, is the will to Š what? Some call it pain, others (especially bikers) call it suffering. Agony, burning, Š why not focus on the good feelings it generates. The speed and power, the melting sweat, and icy cool as it evaporates in the chilly air. The fight for air at the finish, and a simple drink of water at the end. The fasiculating calves later in the day, and the empty tiredness than overpowers at the close of the race. I refuse to go slower than I can, but certainly no faster than I can hold all the way. Where is that magic, sweet spot. Iıll see if I hit it tomorrow.

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