Photo by Ed Sparks
Photo by Ed Sparks
I knew Hell Ain't This Hot was going to be big time this year when Vickie started planning months in advance. Shayla made an awesome race website , and Vickie had to cap registration way back in June. The more we all heard about the race the more we said- this is like a "real race" now! Transition racks, packet pick up, and even finisher awards! It looked like Hell Ain't This Hot was going to live up to it's name again this year with a heat index forcast at 105-110! It felt so much like a real race that Saturday night after pre-race dinner with Ingrid and Del I told Jeff, this feels so much like a real race that I'm actually a little nervous!
We got up early and got to Lake Pflugerville at 6:00. Just before we left, Ingrid reminded me "hey don't forget your chia seeds" I had made up a glass of "chia limeade" the night before and drank it just before we walked out the door. At Lake P-Ville, we got our transition areas set up and hung out with friends- just like at a real race. Hanging out pre-race discussing the swim course- just like at a real race. We even had real transition racks!
I also talked with Jody and she agreed to be in charge of getting the final signatures on Vickie's Race Director Award. Thanks Jody! Photo by Ed Sparks. Thanks for another awesome HATH Vickie!! Photo by Ed Sparks.
We all gathered around while Vickie explained the swim course and then Jody started to sing the Star Spangled Banner and Carolyn held up a paper flag! Photo by Ed Sparks
Wow! this really is a real race now! I couldn't help but laugh. David L. also showed up to spectate! Wave to the camera before you start! Photo by Ed Sparks
We started the swim and I felt great, it was so much fun to start with just my friends. I knew Julie was drafting off me almost immediately and I saw Nicki just to my side. I got to the red buoy and stopped to find my sighting on the blue buoy. I don't think any of us have swum from the south shore since they put out the new buoys. Red was stopped too and neither of us could find the blue buoy at all! Red said, "I think it's between those 2 houses". All you can see on the north shore of Lake P-ville is tons of houses, so I laughed and said "thanks a lot Red"! She goes, "no I'm serious..." and started to say something about a white porch, but I just started swimming in the general direction I knew the blue buoy should be and eventually I could see it. Julie drafted off me for most of the first loop then she passed me! I thought about speeding up and passing her, but I decided it was better to conserve a little energy and not race Julie. Nicki was still near me so I knew I wasn't swimming too slow. Lap 2, I caught Little Pam and drafted off Julie some. I finished right with Julie and Nicki in 45 minutes. Ed, Kenneth, David L. and others cheered us out of the water. Shayla coming out of the water with devil horns. Photo by Ed Sparks Awesome volunteers Jody and Vicky in their kayaks. Photo by Ed Sparks
Thanks to the spectators and to Jody, Scott, and Vicky for kayak support!
Photo by Ed Sparks
I got up to T1 and saw Carolyn there already, said something about her beating me and she replied "FINS!" Oh yeah, she did that last year too! Carolyn not even trying to hide the FINS she used on the swim! Photo by Ed Sparks
I took off on my bike and assumed that I'd catch or be caught by people soon and maybe have someone to ride with part of the ride. I love Love LOVED this year's bike course! I'm sure part of it is that I've ridden in P-ville enough now to know what to expect (rough road, rollers, and WIND). Last year's HATH was the first time I had ever ridden in P-ville and I spent most of the first bike loop lost and frustrated. This year I had an awesome first loop! Annette had even marked the course with devil arrows this year! Devil Arrows!
Yes, a few of the roads were a little rough, but I think Vickie found the very best roads in P-ville this year! Yes, Pluger-Berkman was cross windy and Manda-Carlson was a wind tunnel and No it isn't really flat (ok, it's just slightly rolling, but still) like everyone says, but I knew all that this year and just enjoyed it. Cindy caught me on Manda Carlson and I told her how last year on Manda-Carlson I was sure I was lost and going the wrong way, I had taken so many wrong turns and missed the first rest stop, so by the time I made it to Annette at New Sweden Church I was just ecstatic to see her! getting close to New Sweden Church Photo by Ed Sparks
This year we got to Annette at New Sweden Church and I felt like it was too soon to stop, but I wanted to say hi to Annette, so I stopped and ended up taking some ice from her too Even though I wasn't lost, exhausted or having a tough day, I was still really happy to see Annette! Photo by Ed Sparks I finally put my license plate that Julie gave me last summer on my bike. Photo by Ed Sparks Me, Shayla and Cindy getting ready to leave New Sweden Church and Annette's rest stop. Photo by Ed Sparks
Thanks for being out there Annette! Shayla caught us at the rest stop and Cindy, Shayla and I rode mostly together back to Lake P-ville. I was happy to not be alone for that part since it's the part I hadn't ridden before, but with Annette's arrows I would have been fine even without Cindy and Shayla.
I thought about not stopping at the lake, but I figured I might need more sunscreen and wanted to let the volunteers know I was starting loop 2. I saw Sandra and Scott there, they had taken a wrong turn and done 2 small loops instead of 1 big loop. Shayla was not doing a second loop and I thought Cindy had already taken off, so I started loop 2 assuming Sandra and Scott would catch me soon. I was still feeling good and really enjoying the ride, it was definitely getting hotter but still nice. I got about 7 miles into loop 2, hit a rough patch of road and my Garmin popped off my bike! I didn't see or hear it fall, but I must have realized it immediately. I stopped and started walking back looking for it. A car came by and my heart sank, what if that car ran over it and crushed it. Cindy came riding toward me and asked what happened, I told her and she stopped and helped me look, then Sandra, Scott, and Kendra also stopped and helped me look. We looked and looked but could not find it, we must have looked for about 20 minutes before they convinced me it was better to come back and look later, it obviously wasn't in the road and we'd have a better chance of finding it in normal shoes and not walking our bikes around. Thanks so much for helping me look!!! Even though the pictures don't really show it, Sandra and I rode most of lap 2 together. Photo by Ed Sparks Photo by Ed Sparks
So we continued on and poor Sandra had to listen to me whine about my missing Garmin for the next 20 miles! Hopefully I wasn't that bad, but it definitely lowered my enjoyment of lap 2. We got to Annette again and only had 11 miles to go! It was definitely getting HOT, but the 11 miles went by quickly. Really the entire 55 miles went by quickly except for the lost Garmin part. Awesome volunteer Jody came out to make sure all the riders were ok, Bob H. was out on the course as SAG too. Photo by Ed Sparks.
At T2 we put our bikes away and started getting ready for the really hot run. It looked like most people were running 1 loop or less. Sandra had already said she planned to do 1 loop and I was fine with doing the same. While we were there Coach Jen got back from her first loop and decided to do a second. Vickie gave us icy cold towels to cool off before we started running. Photo by Ed Sparks. Photo by Ed Sparks
Sandra, Kendra and I started running and surprisingly I felt pretty good. Running around the lake, my head looks cone shaped because I had a big block of ice in my hat photo by Ed Sparks.
We weren't too far into the run when Kendra and Sandra both said the heat was really getting to them. I told them "if Emmie has a big bucket of ice water at her stop, I'm dunking my head in it" She did, and I did while she laughed at me. Thanks for all the ice water Emmie!! Emmie said she thought Ingrid might be doing a second lap too. Kendra decided she had had enough and was doing a 3 mile lake loop and Sandra and I continued on through the neighborhood. We got to Sarah's stop and got more ice water and defizzed coke. Thanks Sarah! Sandra saw someone coming, for some reason we thought it was Coach Jen and started running so she wouldn't give us a hard time about taking too long at the rest stop. But then we saw it was Ingrid. Coach Jen won the race! She and Ingrid were the only "official finishers" since they were the only ones to run 2 laps of the run course. Photo by Ed Sparks.
I asked Sandra if she thought we could beat Ingrid to the finish "um NO" since Ingrid runs about 3 minutes per mile faster than us, that was not going to happen. So I decided maybe we could beat her back to the lake "um maybe, but probably not" Once I had it in my head I wanted to beat Ingrid to the lake I kept speeding up on poor Sandra who was seriously hot. Maybe it was the magic chia seeds that kept me going in the heat. Kenneth came by in his truck "the rolling rest stop" and told us about a secret short cut. We decided Sandra would take the short cut and I would take the regular route and try to beat Ingrid to the lake. While I was running alone I really sped up since I was afraid Ingrid was right behind me! It seemed like a long way (it was about 1.5 miles) before I got to Emmie and Sandra at the rest stop at the lake, but I did beat Ingrid and we laughed telling her about it when she got there. Thanks for the motivation Ingrid! After that rest stop Sandra got a second wind and we ran the last mile or so around the lake faster. Del cheering us in to the finish with his pitchfork. Photo by Ed Sparks
Ingrid finished just a couple minutes in front of Sandra and I. Ingrid finishing and and showing some devil horns photo by Ed Sparks Sandra and I finishing, I'm not smiling because she said she might pull my arm out of its socket if we did the arms up thing, since she's so much taller than me! Photo by Ed Sparks Now I can smile! Photo by Ed Sparks
We had some post race food and got our awesome medals made by Kenneth. I love them! Photo by Ed Sparks
And Vickie got silly stringed Photo by Ed Sparks
Then I talked Jenny, Red, Kendra, Del and Ingrid into coming out to look for my Garmin. We piled into Jenny's truck on the way she told me "I'm really good at finding things". We all got out and I was telling everyone where I was when I thought it fell off and I turn around and Jenny is holding my Garmin going "is this it?" Wow! She said she just looked down in the grass and there it was! I was SO HAPPY!! Best part of the day! and that's saying a lot since it was a pretty great day. Thanks so much to everyone who helped me look, I know you were all hot and tired from racing so I really appreciate it! And Jenny you are definitely really good at finding things! Did I mention how happy I was to find it? Photo by Shayla Neris
I suggested margaritas, first round on me, but no one really wanted to go out before cleaning up. So I owe the rest of you one! Jenny and Joe took me up on it since they live really close to me, we all went home & showered then went over to El Mercado for margaritas and Mexican food. Del joined us since he decided it was best to eat before the long drive back to Houston.
Compared to last year I did WAY better this year. I swam twice as far- 2000 meters this year, biked a little less - 55 miles this year- but did not get lost and felt good the entire ride, and ran just over twice as far 6.5 miles this year. Hell Ain't This Hot definitely lived up to it's name again this year but what a great day!!