Prairieman 70.3 race report...

OK... So this is my official race report... There's a lot of fluff, so feel free to skim... The first part is vaguely reminiscent of an academy award acceptance speech. The second part is about my race experience and my body's reaction to the race.
3 years ago, I swore up and down that I had no desire to do a 70.3, especially THIS 70.3. Before I moved to Houston, I ran and I lifted, and I was happy. Injury forced me to embrace other forms of cardio, so I started swimming and cycling. With very little training and no guidance, I did an olympic tri... That was just dumb. Thankful I didn't drown. Realizing that I needed friends who had the same interests, I joined BAM! I was embraced by people like Melanie and Jim Yarzy, Lillian Sockwell, Heidi Brewer, Cathy Modaro, Kim Darden, Todd Oneal, Ceselia Perez, Christine Richnow. These folks were great embassadors using kindness and encouragement.
It seemed like the more I learned about tris, the less I knew. So, I got a coach. I chose to sign on with Tridot. Every program has its strengths and its weaknesses. After looking around, I felt that this one fit me the best. The program was doable, and worked on both stamina and speed in a time efficient manner. That said... Get a coach. Find a system that fits your schedule and addresses you specific needs. I tried to do it on my own. I was tired, frustrated, and lacked direction.

The Race...
Why did I choose this race when I promised myself that I would never do this one? If you know me, you know that I enjoy socialization. So, when Troy asked me to do it, I agreed... Reluctantly... My training was a little off 2-3 weeks before the race due to work and family illness, but I got back on track and felt strong.
My biggest concern (fear) was the swim. I joined Master's in January. Great move. I'm not the strongest or fastest swimmer, but I improved dramatically this year. I wasn't worried about the bike until I got dropped on an easy ride with BAM! It was then that I realized that triathlon can be a lonely sport, especially if you're trying to hang with the big dogs. Coming from a running background, I THOUGHT that would be a piece-o-cake.. Boy was I wrong!

The Swim...
We entered the water, they sounded the horn, and we were off. I settled quickly into my pace - neither fast nor slow, just strong and steady. I started off in the crowd. Let me just pause right here to say that this reminded me of a horror flick. There were arms, legs, and bodies everywhere. They grabbed my legs and feet, they swam over me, they kicked me in the face. The whole time, I thought to myself, "Manage your anxiety... Just control your anxiety and swim..." I moved to the outside and continued. The crowd broke up as we made our first turn about 1/4 of the way into it. I still stayed to the outside, because I was comfortable here. I dare say that I was enjoying the swim... Until... CRAMP!!! The toes on my left foot went into a spasm that stopped me cold in the water about 1/2 way. I quickly rolled over to massage my foot. The kayak came over and asked if I needed help, which I declined. After about a minute, it relaxed enough for me to continue. I rolled back over and continued swimming without my kick, paying attention to lower body position so I wouldn't drag. Eventually, I was able to kick again. I exited the water and looked at my watch, certain that I was behind... Nope... Right. On. Schedule. Even with the cramp. As a bonus, as I exited, I saw my wife cheering me on and my shoes were right by the mat. "I love that woman", I thought...
I entered transition, found my stuff, and took off.

The Bike...
I had target heart rate zones on the bike, which I anticipated would allow alot of people to pass me. I stayed in my zones, but my bike seemed to glide with little effort. It may have been adrenaline or maybe the heat hadn't hit me yet, but I really enjoyed the ride...Until... FLAT!!! Just as I was starting the second loop of 4... Knowing the USAT rules on sportsmanlike conduct, I withheld the barrage of curse words going through my head. I changed the tire quickly (thanks again for the lesson Kim Darden), and resumed.
On a side note, I was disturbed quite a bit when a dude wearing what I can only describe as red panties and a halter top passed me and then stayed in front of me for a few minutes. As a guy, when I see a pair of red draws, my eyes are automatically drawn. I was confused... Got nuthin else on that one.

Continuing on... I kept up with my nutrition as planned. By the start of loop 3, I started to feel the urge to pee. By the end of loop 3, the urge was pretty strong. I tried. I really tried to pee on the bike. I sat up, I stood up... No go. No flow. I literally talked to myself saying, "C'mon... Relax... Just let it go..." Nuthin... Even though my bladder was full, I had urinary performance anxiety.
I finished the bike WAY ahead of schedule. I entered transition feeling good... Ready to run…

The Run...
This is where the wheels fell off the wagon. A short description of the run.... Dam... Just Dam... Literally. There were 2 1/2 miles through the park with a little shade, then 8 miles of running across the dam. By the time I hit the dam, it was already 95 degrees, and heating up. As you run across the dam, you quickly realize that this is probably the closest you can get to the sun in a race. It's just you, the sun, hot concrete, and hot air. That's it... No shade, No trees, just brush...
I kept my 10:1 run-walk plan until mile 7. I stayed well hydrated. I iced everything down at each aid station. I kept to my nutrition plan with little variation, except for drinking gatorade in addition to the water and electrolyte tabs. Then the cramps hit me... First the toe cramps that plagued me in the water, then then the stomach cramps. I think the toe cramps and calf cramps were in part due to dehydration, even though I thought I stayed hydrated. The stomach cramps were probably due to mixing in gatorade. By mile 10 1/2, my 10:1 was more of a 3-4:1. Nausea set in. Not fun. I was getting passed by some of everybody, including the portly woman whose stopwatch would beep signaling her to run or walk, but she was steady as a rock. I was both angry and envious.
Let me pause here again to say that whoever came up with putting ice down their shorts either didn't have a penis or it didn't play an integral part in their lives. 36 hours later, my boys have just now come out of hiding….

Moving on... I cramped to the finish, managing to run about half the time during the last mile. My wife ran across the street during miles 11 and 12. Keeping her distance, but shouting encouragement. I was actually able to run across the finish line. At the finish line were my wife, Troy Donaldson, and my friends Jeff and Bob (old friends from my running club in Grand Prairie).
I finished my first 70.3 with a time of 6:43 (my watch said 6:32, I'm going with that)... It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't graceful... Others crossed the finish line before I did. However, I crossed the finish line to see the look of pride on my wife's face and the cheers of my friends. That makes me a winner.


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