I was scared, intimidated, and had very low confidence going into this race (see Disco Triathlon post).
My Momma’s first race! Once I got past snapping at her and everyone else who came to the race for me (I’m sorry guys, I was a little . . . well, read the first line over again) I think she ended up having a good time. Her comment was, "You have to come out to see this to fully understand it, it is unbelievable." I am so happy she was able to come.
I want to reiterate what my website is for. It is for motivation for anyone who wants it, with a flair for the obese. I am that, obese. I carry around an extra person in weight on my body and not a small person, but a 200 pound person. I have been ashamed and disgusted with myself for a few years and I am trying to do something about it. You see, this thing, this web thing, is also motivation for me. The emails I get from those of you who read it, the postings (while rare) you all leave, the people that tell me I am motivation to them ALL OF THAT, motivates me to be better, thinner, and happier. So, this is a note to ALL of you that help to motivate me by simply reading and commenting . . . Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I say this now, because you will soon see (in a funny way) that for a fatman in triathlons, the motivation is at times lacking!
July 30, 2005, Saturday. Amanda, My Momma, and I are driving home from LUX (yes I said it) Mississippi where we have our annual family reunion. This is a day of gathering, socializing, and praying for those in our family who need it. I look forward to the event each year and my Uncle Bill works very hard at it and at this event he is in his element.
I am not trying to bore you with family diatribe, but I must lay down the framework, so please bear with me.
My family is at a disadvantage in life. There are two major problems with my family that cause us to suffer needlessly and routinely. First, we all love to eat. Second, people in our family can flat out cook! There were probably 70 family members in attendance, but there was food for 700! It would be different if the food sucked, but oh man, oh man!
All homemade, creamed corn, ham, lima beans, brisket, fried chicken, turkey dressing, 20 different soufflés, green beans, BBQ ribs, macaroni salad, potato salad, on and on and on and on . . . Then, desserts! A whole table just for desserts!
This is not California cook’n either; this is down home southern cook’n. Lard is required in 50% of these recipes and as a substitute the recipe says you can use salted butter, but none of that margarine stuff! This is what I look forward to every year. I know it may sound sad, but it is the truth. I am motivated every year by the food. I love the family, but the food is the seller to make that 2 ½ hour drive to LUX, Mississippi.
Back to the drive home from the reunion.
Amanda and I began to discuss the race the next day and what do you think I began to speak about? You may guess the 750 meter swim in rough water Lake Ponchatrain? Or possibly the 20 mile bike with no shade and possible strong winds? But, maybe you thought we talked about the 3.1 mile run in what was supposed to be an unbelievably hot day? Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
I talked about the after race food! I love red beans and rice. This delectable dish is probably in my top three. Yummy! I told my Momma that it was being prepared by Blue Runner and she informed me that their red beans, while canned, were pretty darn good. We continued speaking about them and the different ways she prepares her red beans and also how a local radio talk show host has a Blue Runner commercial where she talks about adding the holy trinity (celery, onions, green peppers) to her Blue Runner red beans and it comes out better than perfect!
Oh how I was looking forward to completing the race the next day and chowing down on those red beans and rice, umm umm good!
3:45 Am came early. We loaded up and headed to New Orleans. We ran into the Quarter and picked up my Momma and off we go. It was already pretty warm, 80 degrees at 6:00 am.
I set up my transition site and began to stretch lightly. There were a few of my fellow BRtri Club friends there. Rocko, Chris, Matt, Andy E, and Ty.
We headed down to the swim. This is the longest point from water to transition I have seen so far in my short racing career. It was probably 250 to 300 yards up and down hills, over broken oyster shells, and grass. But it was kind of fun, in a weird way. It was a mass start, water had 2 foot waves and there were lots of elbows flying around out there. I came in from the 750m feeling really good, but this scared me since I felt the same way in my last race which I DNF’d (did not finish).
As I was walk/jog/walking to the transition area I had an epiphany. It went something like this; if I go faster I will finish sooner. AH HA!!!!
And . . . I continued to walk to my transition site.
I want people who are considering triathlons to make a mental note here about transitions. For me, they really blow. I can’t stand them. Not because of the changing of gear and clothing, not because you have to worry about other racers knocking your stuff around, none of that makes transitions hard for me.
Down time is what makes transitions so difficult for me. I am in the place where I will eventually finish, but I am already here. Why not just . . . stay here? I’m here already? Why not chill?
This is to me something that I, as a fatman must get out of my head. Transitions are not for rest and contemplation. Ah, but once again I saw my little piece of motivation, the blue runner man. Just a stir’n those little red beans. Mmmmm.
So I’m off on my bike. The course is right along the lake and it is actually a nice picturesque route. I was chugging along and noticed I wasn’t feeling a burn at all in my legs, this is very uncommon. I look at my computer . . . I’m going 24 mph. Are you kidding me! Woo Hoo! What could have happened to me? How am I going this fast exerting so little energy? I AM THE MAN! I am somewhere around 4 miles into the ride and I notice, NO ONE is passing me! I am filled with such joy that I start a little song in my head.
OK, hum the Flinston’s song, you know the cartoon. “Flinston’s, we’re the Flinstons . . .
Now put these words in on it: Red beans, red beans and rice, their gonna be so good in my tu-u-mmy! Red Beans, Red beans and rice, I’m gonna be so-o-o ha-a-ppy!
I know it doesn’t fit exactly, but it was working for me at the time.
At about mile 4 we make a loop turn around. I think I almost cried. It wasn’t anything other than; I realized this was all a lie. My happiness . . . a lie. My song writing . . . premature. It was as if I had been punched in the stomach.
You know that 24 mph I was doing, it turned into 12 mph. What I was unaware of was one small little fact. The wind was at my back this whole time. Now, the wind was against me. No more fun ride for me. I began to cramp, ran out of fluids and just wanted to get off my bike and walk home.
I regrouped in my mind. I decided that when the cramp in my leg hamstring became too much I would stop get off the bike, stretch it and then get going again. This worked for me and I soon saw the transition and bike finish.
I want all people to complete triathlons, but I really want fat people to complete them because we need it. So, I will always try and insert the things and situations that cause those of us that are really slow, problems.
As I was pulling into the transition area I realized once again how demoralizing it is to be as slow at this as I am. They had already opened the transition area to everyone. Now the first reason this hurts my psyche is because I get to see all of the people who are finished leave with their bikes, knowing I have to still run. However, I have learned to accept that and enjoy it even thinking of it this way.
My bike transition is like my finish. Hear me out here. There are hundreds of people waiting for me. Now, they may be waiting so they can leave, but . . . their still waiting and they always cheer me on. So it is like my finish.
But this time it was a little dangerous. This is the other part you need to be aware of as a slow competitor. The people in the transition area and those leaving, they don’t realize there is still someone on the course. So they are socializing drinking beer, eating red beans and rice. I had to shout at a few people who were literally in the transition entrance so I could pull in. My new friend Chris might have thought I was yelling at him, but Chris, I wasn’t, it was the people behind you, just kick’n it in the entrance. One person’s dog came up to me while I was putting on my shoes. In some ways it is actually fun.
As I walked to the run start I saw the red beans and rice and a little line of folks waiting for their after race reward or motivation in my case. Ummmm.
I drink a lot of water and energy drinks days before and during a race. I probably consume a gallon of water a day before the race and on race day I go through about 6 squeeze bottles of energy drinks. But for some reason I cramp in the same place all the time. The muscle that starts on the inside of your legs at the knee cap and runs up to the inside of your crotch area. Man do they tick me off.
It was hot.
I probably lost 10 lbs of body water during the run. I walked at least a mile and a half of the 3.1 miles.
Here is another tid bit about being last . . . Way last. The event people rock. They really do. I can’t say enough about how awesome they are and motivating they can be. However, after being out in the heat for 3 hours I can see how they would want to get back and drink a few beers and have some red beans and rice too. So, don’t let it bother you that as you are running the crew is right behind you picking up the cones and loading them as you pass each one. Again, think of it more as your personal escort to the finish line! Woo Hoo!
I run in the last ½ mile. It is not a fast run, but a shuffle run, did I mention it was really hot and I was wearing a dark blue shirt. I am going to find someone who will fabricate clothing for fat tri-athletes. It is the only shirt I could find to fit me that also is of the light mesh, wick material. I would be worse off with a cotton t-shirt. But, have no fear fat people I am going to find someone to suit us up right!
Amanda was waiting for me as she does with apprehension. She has a little clock in here head that if I am not back by the time it goes off, she will begin walking the course to find me. She had made it about 300 yards into the course with the friend of Manatee Express. Manatee is a really cool guy I know from Beginnertriathlete.com he waited for me to finish.
Let me explain what this meant to me. He had to have finished at least an hour and a half before this moment. It was hot. It is a Sunday and there are a lot of things a person can do on a Sunday. But, he waited to see me finish. Thanks man.
In my first triathlon in Birmingham, the Tri-It-On triathlon, there was a guy that was wearing an Army tri suit. He might have known I was ex-military because of my 15 year old tattoo, but none the less he waited for me to finish and cheered me in. Those little things, I will never forget. I will also never leave a race until every person has crossed the finish line. I realized this weekend, how it feels and what it means to me, so if I ever finish with people behind me, no worries, I will wait and cheer you in.
As I top the hill and see the finish line I also notice that the transition area is completely disassembled, except my bike! My Sister Natalie and my Momma are cheering me in, the event staff are cheering me in, the announcer says, “This is what triathlon is all about.” I’m not sure what that means yet, but I am thinking on it. I was on cloud nine.
I finished! I didn’t DNF. I’m BACK! Where’s the red beans and rice?
I looked over where the tent was that held my motivation. Where did he go? Oh no. He was gone. The red beans. The rice.
Last lesson of the day for the fat and slow. I have yet to partake in the post race activities when finishing a race. I was able to in Dallas, because I didn’t finish, but I have yet to enjoy the delicacies and fine beer that so many of my felloe tri club members talk about.
All I think of the rest of the day is the Soup Nazi. “No soup for you!” But, that is ok.
It is still one of my motivators. Now I have decided it will still motivate me to . . .
GO FASTER AND FINISH SOONER.
Then I will be able to enjoy the post race activities.
Thanks to all of my new friends in this sport. You all rock. Thanks to my fellow BRtri Club friends, you guys rock.
I will train hared and finish faster and faster each race. Hold me to it.