Let me just start by saying that I love this triathlon.
I love Mike and Marty Greer, and I love visiting Texas, and even though their triathlons are harder than hell, they will - as my father used to say, "put hair on your chest". (My father's people were from Kentucky, and he was a veritable treasure trove of pithy expressions that would make my mother roll her eyes.)
As Mike put it, "this ain't one of those Starbuck triathlons, where you ride around in circles and then go drink your starbucks."
Indeed they are not. They are heart-pounding climbs out of canyons and wildly careening back down into canyons and long windy flats. They are also friendly ladies who serve you pasta at packet pickup and say things like, "jist break off however much bread you want with your hands, there's not bread knife; this is country-style." and the men call every woman, "gurl" as in, "All rat, gurl, good job!"
I discovered today the disadvantage of being near the middle of the pack on the swim - there's lots more people there. It's the first swim in which I was pummeled, just like in all the stories. The water was 67 degrees, and it was 500 meter "give or take," as Mike said, so it was a half kilometer of breathless and cold and strangers swinging wildly and grabbing at my feet.
Swim time: 13:40 (Last year, 15:17)
At T2, I was sitting in T1 on this particular race, drying my feet and staring fixedly and with hatred over my left shoulder at the hill that was there, dreading the climb. Helen later said, "Gosh, you were there when I came out of the water, and you were there when I left for the bike," I was sitting on the ground, drying off my feet. I spent over 3 minutes in transition, and then Marty Greer swept by me, exclaiming, "hey, no picnicking! get a move on!"
That damned, stupid hill.
I headed out on the bike, and got about halfway up that damned hill, the one I really, really wanted to climb, since I wasn't able to do it last year, before my heartrate hit over 180 and I gave it up. Oh, well, almost made it. I pulled over, along with a half dozen others, and then shuffled up the hill a bit on foot, before jumping on me bike again. I put my LEFT FOOT IN FIRST THIS TIME, and CLEANLY CLIPPING IN WITHOUT SWEARING OR ANYTHING! WOOHOO!
The bike on the Ransom Canyon sprint in Ranson Canyon Texas is pretty unbelievable. It starts out almost immediately climbing a quarter mile of what I'm sure is a 8% hill, then out onto a flat, then down into Yellow Horse Canyon and out again, with the turn around on the other side of Yellow Horse. Three ugly climbs over the 18.6 miles. They don't have a picture of the bike profile and I wasn't wearing my Garmin so I used Photoshop to do a sort of "artist's rendering," using my best recollection, just for you:
day it was also breezy. Did I say breezy? I meant windy. Did I say windy? It was GUSTING. It was HILLS and it was GUSTING and dontcha just know I just loves me some HILLS and some F&$%$NG WIND????
My Timex told me that my max heartrate for this little adventure was over 200.
Now, the trip back down into Ransom Canyon is a wee bit treacherous. One guy was unable to navigate down the very steep hill back down into T2 and took a header. As in, he went head-first, and landed on his head. As in, they took him away in an ambulance. Yikes. Bike time: 1:18:57 (Last year, 1:25)
I into T2, and one of the disadvantages of this race is that there are always newbies who don't understand proper triathletiquette - and found someone else's bike in my space. There were no other spaces left, of course. I shoved it over and put mine there, and then headed out on the run. I passed Sweet Baboo who was, as usual, finished and refreshed and sauntering along, chatting with someone else equally finished and refreshed. Crapheads.
That's when I felt it - oh, crap, what's that, is that - is that my calf? It felt like a brick! I must be getting ready to have my very first leg cramp! Whee!
but I never did.
No war stories here.
I almost lost my toenail at the marathon in January, and I almost had a leg cramp today and almost climbing that damned hill. I'm Sir Robin who almost slays the dragon, and almost has battle wounds to show for it.
Anyhoo, I spent the rest of the 5K alternatively trying to run down my 16-year-old Mini-baboo, to teach him a lesson that he must, must start training, and trying to run down a 66-year-old woman. The latter, by the way, is always a bad idea. You should only try to run down someone younger than yourself, because that way if you make it, "hey, great! I just ran down a whipper -snapper!" But if you don't, well, you can just shrug and say to yourself, "hell, she is 20 years younger than me, after all" but trying to run down someone older than you, well, that's just risking humiliation and a serious blow to your ego.
On the way back from the turnaround point on the run I thought I spied Karen, the other master's Athena, coming up behind me. I was really trying to stay ahead of her - so I kicked it in the ass and ran the second half of the run 2 minutes faster than the first, and the person who I though was Karen actually turned out to be a 15-year-old boy. I think I need new glasses.
I came across the finish line and then walked down and stood in the lake because, I'm telling you, my legs were trashed. I stood in the cold lake near the docks with water up to my thighs and ate cold pizza, and thought, "life is good." Run time: 35:31 (last year, 37:40),
So the bad news is I didn't make it up that stupid hill, but the good news is that I made it up the second hill, which I had to walk up last year, and even though it was nasty and gusty I finished 10 minutes faster than last year. The ten minutes was evenly spread out over the swim, bike, and run, and that's even figuring in the fact that it was windier than hell this year.
Sweet Baboo: Master's Clydesdales, 1st place, 1st Clydesdale over all.
Mini-Baboo: 1st place, 15-17
Me: Master's Athena, 1st place, 3rd Athena overvall.
My rating: same as last year. Except this year, they've had lots of rain so it didn't have that funky spring smell. Awesome.
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