Nine months ago, I did the running leg in a Half Ironman. I have been a spectator in a few triathlons but this was a chance to actually participate in one, and while I only ran a half marathon, it did get me to thinking: Hmmm....
The Tulsa Tri was this weekend, and I heard there was a land lovers division. Now I am a bottom dweller (I know a lot of you have thought that for quite a while) and I sink immediately like my legs are made of brick. This particular land lover division allowed me to bike and run, with a designated swimmer doing the water duty. 2nd problem: my bike is not a road bike although not a real mountain bike either. The store owner called it a hybrid, the perfect bike for someone who wanted to occasionally ride off road, and recreationally on the roads. Well, while it is a very good bike, I am afraid I would tear it up riding on Turkey Mountain, and when I try to ride with friends who have road bikes, I cannot stay up. My bike weighs probably twice what a good road bike does, and I swear road bikes must have different gearing than I do. But, I was determined to do the 40K bike ride and the 10K run. 3rd problem: I had never ever rode, and then immediately ran. I have heard tales about having spaghetti legs and such in this transition, but instead of doing a few brick workouts in the 2 previous weeks, I just rode and ran on different days. 4th problem: the weather forecast. The starting temps for the event was to be 79-80, with a low 90 probability for by noon which is about the time I thought I would be on the run. Ugh! 5th problem: the elevation in the bike ride.... YIKES!
I talked my good friend Rock Star Ed into doing this with me. Ed has done a couple of sprint tri's and I was able to pick his brain a little. The swim was 20-some-odd miles northwest of Tulsa at Skiatook Lake, and the bike started there and rode southward into a stiff wind to Tulsa where the 10K started, and it extended 3 miles down a paved trail on the west side of the Arkansas River and back. I stashed my car in Tulsa early, and we loaded our bikes into Ed's truck and headed to the T1 area at the lake. Around 200 athletes participated, and the swimmers went out in 3 waves. I was a little antsy but kept it together by telling myself it was ok to be last....been there done that.
Ed was cool as always, but I actually thought he wanted to take down as many bikers as he could and then see what the run held for him. I was not too far off.
Our swimmer Carolyn Fairless, a fellow Tatur who is also an Ironman (Iron woman?) was one of the earlier ones out of the water, so I started out ahead of most of the athletes, but they sped by me all morning. Due to the wet summer we have had, everything was nice and green. Riding through the country for 24 miles was a real treat. Well, other than the few climbs, and even those were not all that bad. A steady south wind kept me cool, and I had wore a long sleeve tech shirt which was nice and sweaty and extra cool in the breeze. A lot of people thought I was wacked for wearing it, but it was a good choice.
The course was well marked, and all the intersections had traffic control. In that regard, the race was great. There was supposed to be an aid station half way through the ride, but we did not get it until about mile 18. My water was low and hot by then, and the water by that point in the race was almost too late. Glad it was cold water. :)
Just after leaving the water stop, I got an ache in my buttock....kind of a cramp. and kind of like a hip joint ache. It hurt to sit, it hurt to pedal hard, and it hurt to get out of the saddle. I lost my ability to push the pace, so my slowness turned into a snails pace. I came to a short very steep hill at about mile 20, and a few bikes in front of me dismounted to push their bikes up, and I was hurting pretty bad myself so I got off the bike and pushed my wheels for about a hundred yards. I also took this opportunity to take a couple of electrolytes and some shot blocks.
More pedaling, holding on, trying to make it. One more mile on the bike!!! Susan and Bobby were at T2 along with Sandra. Great to have a cheering section. They both took pics which I really appreciate. Susan described me as looking like I was coming in from a leisurely bike ride. Sheesh! If she only knew I was dieing!
I had joked around that I was gonna be number 1 in my transition time. No shoe change....just dump the bike and helmet, brag a water bottle and hat and go. WRONG! I tried to trot over to my bag, and I thought I was gonna go DOWN! I had almost no control of my legs at all, but managed to lurch over to my bag and get my things. I was still in and out of T2 in 1:10....quicker than Ed!! After about 1K, my legs started to come back and my sorry excuse for running turned into my reliable shuffle. Time to catch a few slow swimmers who passed me on the bike. I lost count of how many I passed. I was thinking 10-12, but I played cat and mouse with a couple of guys due to a pee stop, so maybe I counted them twice.
There were water stops every mile and that was a good thing since the heat was cooking the runners. The bad thing: No cold water, no ice, and no Gatorade or other electrolyte drink. Bad. Is this normal in a tri? I volunteered in the Tulsa Tri 2 years ago, and I server Gatorade....cold Gatorade. Having water sponged on our heads was good though, and I enjoyed a double dose at every stop throughout the 10K. I did walk a few times just to make sure I did not overheat, but I mostly did the 100 mile shuffle, averaging about 12 minute miles with the walking, aid stops, and pee stop. The last half K, as soon as I saw the finish line and a few walkers ahead, I stretched it out a bit and ran on in. I guess it was good to pass a dude who was having heat issues and an old man just before the line. Bad Karma? Maybe.
Thanks to Tom Dorothy for taking this pick. And many thanks to whoever put this water hose and sprinkler here. It cooled me down quite nicely. It would have been nice to have gotten a medal or something. This was a milestone race for me. I was thrilled to have finished. We did receive a nylon gym bag which will be handy and will fit nicely in the closet with the other 8-9 gym bags. Come on, race directors, a little bling is cheap.
Speaking of Tom, he WON the land Lovers division, finishing his bike and run way before I even started my run. He has really got into the running ways as of late. He ran a PR finishing 8th recently in the Jenks Half marathon, and then won the TATUR Estim8ur a few weeks ago. Ed beat me handily on the bike and extended his lead on the run. Young punk! I finished my race in 3:34:26 (pretty slow I know!) 11th of 12 overall, 11th of 12 on the bike, and 9th of 12 on the run. Lotsa room for improvement.
Big thanks to to Bobby, Susan, and Sandra for being such good friends and fans. Ed and I love ya!