Tuesday, 11:15 a.m.
Today is my last day of work until next Thursday. I will be departing for Pittsburgh right after I am done, to board a 5:18 flight to Minneapolis, with a connecting flight to Vancouver. It will be the beginning of what for me will be an epic week in my life, as I finally come to the end of the road of my long journey toward an Ironman. It is not something I ever imagined myself doing, but you never know who will come across your path in life and what impact they will have on you. I have been so blessed to have a number of people come into or through my life at various times, and I don't believe any are an accident. Several of them laid the seeds of inspiration for me to even think about this kind of a challenge!
And now it is here. Challenge Penticton. Sunday, Aug. 24. Penticton, British Columbia. I'll don my tri shorts and wet suit, throw on a swimming cap and pull on my goggles and dive into the lake for a leisurely 2.4-mile swim. After I've done that, I'll peel out of the wet suit, grab a bite to eat, don a cycling jersey, my helmet, gloves, sunglasses, socks and cycling shoes, then go for a nice, long, 112-mile bike ride around the lake and the Okanagon Valley. And once that is done, I'll exchange the cycling shoes for running shoes, take off the helmet, don a hat, maybe grab some more food and begin the hardest part of the event, a marathon.
So far this year I've collected a 13.1 car magnet (June 1 in Boulder, Colorado), a 26.2 car magnet (earned May 4 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), and a 70.3 car magnet (May 18 in Raystown, Pennsylvania). Now I want the 140.6 one! (They need a '300' car magnet, as I rode over 300 miles June 14-15 in Middleville, Michigan, at the National 24-Hour Challenge). And then, I will rest.
Well, not really. I do have a fun century ride coming up on Sept. 7 in southeastern New England, 'The Flattest Century in the East,' which will be a real vacation to ride and go see my dad and some high school associates. And there will be much more biking through the fall! But it will be all for fun, some with friends, some by myself, but at a relaxed pace and when I want to go and for how long I feel like going. There will be no pressure to 'have to get my workout in!' Oh, I'll continue to exercise. When you make as big of a change in your life and see the positive health benefits of it, you can't go back!
The weather angle to all of this? A well-timed pattern shift that is pushing the heat out of the Pacific Northwest (and southern British Columbia!) and sending it farther downstream onto the Plains and points east. And it will be a huge change! Here's a sampling of the highs from Monday in the region:
A cold front is moving through the area now, and it will lower the temperatures significantly for the second half of the week, and not only in western Canada and the Pacific Northwest, but also in the northern Rockies. Look at the 12z Aug. 19 NAM 500mb forecast for Friday morning:
Look at the contorted look of the upper-level pattern! There's the ridge over the southern Plains and Mississippi Valley, and it is going to foster some wicked heat and oppressive humidity, the likes of which we have simply not seen on such a large scale so far this summer! There's also an upper-level high over Quebec, and it will also be warm underneath that. But note the trough off the mid-Atlantic and New England Coast, one that will block the heat from getting into the northern and eastern Great Lakes, New England and the mid-Atlantic states.
These latter two features will more or less act as a road block to energy trying to come through the Northwest and the northern Rockies. Therefore, as a second feature digs in later this week behind the lead cold front, it will be forced to dig south. That will effectively broaden the trough and lower the heights over a larger area, which translates into a broader cooldown. Look at the projected 2-meter temperature anomalies for Friday across the country:
I suspect the positive anomalies will be even bigger than projected in the eastern Plains and Mississippi Valley Friday into the weekend, and it will move into the Ohio and Tennessee valleys and across the Deep South with relative ease. Look at the 6z GFS projected 6-hour, maximum 2-meter temperatures for Saturday afternoon:
That is a large area with temperatures projected to be in the middle to high 90s and beyond, and that does NOT take into account the high humidity that will prevail in most of these areas as well! That will mean a lethal combination of heat and humidity later this week into the weekend. Some of this heat will squeeze into the mid-Atlantic states and parts of the Northeast next week, but not quite to this extent, and it won't last as long, as the long-range projections hint at somewhat of a return to the pattern we're now exiting - cool air dumping into the Plains and Mississippi Valley and spreading toward the East, while it gets toasty again in the West just in time for the Labor Day weekend.
I guess you could say my timing is excellent! Much better to run this ironman with temperatures starting out in the 50s and 60s and ending up in the 70s, rather than reaching into the 90s, as that area did yesterday! I like the heat and the humidity, but not when I'm going to be be pushing out that much effort for 14 or 15 hours!
I'll be back a week from Thursday with a more detailed report on the weather, with a follow-up column going into the Labor Day weekend about my exploits. Should you be interested in tracking me, I will be wearing bib number 259.
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