Monday, March 20, 2006

Opelousas Duathlon


Today was the best day for me when it comes to racing except for one small thing . . . HUMIDITY.

It was awesome. Cool about 64 degrees. It was overcast, no real hard hitting sun. A little windy but, not anything that would affect my racing. The day was everything I like in a race day, except the Humidity.

As I set out this morning at 5:45am for a 1 hour drive to Opelousas Louisiana I thought that I might want to pack a few extra water bottles to take for the race. Then I felt the nice cool breeze outside and dismissed the idea. They call in intuition. Women seem to have it and utilize it. Men, or at least this man, seems to have it, but use it? Not so much.

Amanda, my beautiful wife and I talked and joked on the ride there. It was nice. We didn’t talk about racing at all. Usually I am talking about my goals and I hope I don’t bonk on the second run, and all that jazz. Today, we just talked about making a baby one day and our friend Brent who is coming to work with us next week and other things of that nature. It was quite relaxing.

We passed my friend Clay and Corey and their family on the way there. Our Tri Club had a really strong showing at this race. I was very proud of that. Also one of our members, Darius was there not racing but, cheering. I hold a special spot in my soul for those guy. Last year Vanilla did it at Meat Pi, a tri in Natchitoches LA. When you are not racing, but you still wake up early on a Sunday or Saturday morning to root on your friends and club members, that to me is really awesome.

We arrived and I racked my bike and checked in. Amanda met Clay and Corey’s family that was there. I began to sweat immediately. This began to worry me. All I did was rack my bike and put on my shoes. Sweat was everywhere. Now, I wished I had packed those other water bottles.

Transition area is all set up and I begin to walk around a bit. I saw my new friends Brandy and John. They are awesome. I enjoy them because one, they are down to earth cool people, but also good people. Brandy is just starting out in triathlons and this was her first race EVER! She was nervous, but I new she would do well. John is a triathlete and had good skills and also hauls butt on the bike, I’ve never seen him run. I socialized with them a bit and then went to see how Eric and Charles were doing.

Charles, not so good. He had a flat on his front tire and needed a whole new front wheel, which he didn’t bring. He said, “I always have a spare front wheel with me”. I didn’t ask him, but maybe his intuition failed him too!

Eric is new to racing as well. It is so awesome to see so many getting involved in triathlons. Eric is a super nice guy and is in the same business as myself and Charles, Finance and financial planners. He raced awesome, not for his first race, but just plain awesome. I was proud of both he and Brandy on their first races, more on Brandy later.

Last weekend I came out to this race course with Brandy and John and we rode the bike loop and I ran the run loop. I was concerned because my heart rate on the bike was in the high 150’s and mid 160’s, which on the bike, that is really high for me. Then on the run my HR was in the 170’s from the get go and went as high as 182. So needless to say I was a little nervous about the race.

Today was different for some reason. My HR on the run never got about 170 and averaged about 158 and on the bike never above 162 and I averaged about 148. No worries this week.

I was trying to pace myself this race unlike the last duathlon at Evangeline Oak a couple weeks ago. At Evangeline I shot out, HA, I started running at a 14 min mile pace and kept it there and finished the first run with a 15 minute mile pace. Then on the bike I was dead and on the second run I averaged 19 min miles. Yuck.

My pacing method, didn’t work. It was still the exact same and I had a little left in the tank at the end which bothered me. John and I were talking before the race and we both wanted to leave it all out there on the course. I didn’t.

The first run was ok. I could have pushed a little harder and kept up with Mamma Bear as she is know, my friend Angel and Brandy, but I was going to stick to my plan of pace. I finished the run very calm and ok.

Bike kinda sucked. A little windy, but not too bad. I let the hills on the south bound side of the double loop get me, both times. I was ticked. But I finished the bike strong, for me and went into the transition excited.

I got out on the second run and about ½ mile into it began to bonk a little like I usually do. I began to think about my pains, the new blister forming on my foot, my exhaustion.

I kept telling myself, make it to the water/aid station and you’re halfway to finishing this thing. I needed some water. I took gel with me in my fuel belt, but no water so my mouth was icky. I turned the corner where the water station was the first run and it was NOT THERE. Talk about messing with your psyche!!! I guess they thought everyone had passed, I would have I guess.

Then my mind really got to churning. At one point I was afraid of finishing. Blahh! I had less than a mile. Then God sent me some little Angels.

As I made the turn along the golf course, a little less than a mile to go, there were about six kids on their bikes. They were just riding around the block. They started to talk to me, asking me questions. “What are you doing?” One kid asked. “I am racing”, I responded, “but not too fast huh?” They laughed. “Where is everyone else?” Another kid asked. I giggled to myself, you gotta love kids. I told them that everyone else was done with the race and having jambalaya, beer and Gatorade.” I was ready to answer the next question before it was asked. Then it was asked, “Why aren’t you finished yet?” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and honestly tell them, “I am not finished yet because I am fat and slow and you guys better eat right and exercise so you don’t get fat and slow one day.”

What was brilliant about this is that I was now on the last turn to the finish only about 500 yards to go. I love those kids. They took my mind off of all the bad stuff I was thinking for a good 5 or 6 minutes.

As I made that turn I heard someone yell, “You’re almost here RoadDawg!” I think it was my friend Matt. I kept chugging away. I tried to pick it up and finish really strong, but my legs weren’t having any of that. Everyone was hollering and cheering. MAN I LOVE THAT. I may be last, but that just leaves more people to cheer me in. THANK YOU EVERYONE who does that, whether it is for me or for those at the races you go to. Cheering in those last few people, those are the people who need it and your cheers may keep them coming back.

I finished.

I love the direction I am going. It is slow and it is challenging, but it is the right direction.

Until next time,

Go walk, run, or bike. It doesn’t matter, just go outside and do something.

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