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So, way back in March (on Tuesday the Fifth to be exact) I wrote a little post about my intentions of entering the world of the triathlon.

As of this morning, I can now refer to myself as a full fledged Triathlete! (and yes, I even added an “I Tri” sticker to the my ever growing collection of athletic achievement stickers….ok they’re really magnets ’cause Mrs MuddyJ doesn’t like stickers)

So as to not get ahead of myself, we have to go all the way back to Thursday, for a little thing I like to call “packet pick-up” (well, so does everyone else)

Packet Pick-up was a simple affair, held over two days at two different locations of Roger Soler’s Sports: Thursday from 4-7pm at the Stone Oak location, and Friday, 4-7pm  at the flagship store located on Jackson Keller. I spent a lot of time at the Thursday night pick-up conversing with the Redemption Race Productions staff on topics ranging from their triathlon experiences to barefoot running. (of course!) I got lots of tips and tricks from them, and I wound up talking to them so long I even got to help them load up the yet-to-be-collected packets and head home for the evening…much to Mrs. MuddyJ’s chagrin…

I have been taking it easy lately, because of my toe..(if you don’t know, click here, but be warned, theres just a bit of pervasive language!) so I stayed home from the gym on Friday and watched lots of videos on Youtube and read up on a variety of triathlon related topics, from setting up your transition area, to swimming technique, to mental state, etc.

In the evening, I set about practicing my transition from swim to bike in my living room, (sans the pool) as I have been practicing my bike/run transition after almost every training ride I have been on recently. I cannot stress how much these simple drills mattered on race day, let alone how much they helped. Running these drills helped me figure out the optimal way for me to set up MY transition point, as well as ingraining a how-to in my memory to combat those disorienting race moments I am so prone to.

I loaded the car Friday night, as Mrs MuddyJ (my super personal photographer) and the Things’ Three would be attending with me. I spent hours agonizing over what to pack, eventually figuring out that I should break it down to core components and bring as little as possible. I packed one bag as my “transition bag” with my swim goggles, swim cap, recon wrap, cycling helmet, sunglasses and silicone earplugs, and I packed a second with “support” stuff I could end up needing in various situations: extra goggles, foot pump, flat tire repair kit, tools to adjust various bike components, etc. I loaded Esmeralda Consuela Bonita (someone told me I had to give my road bike a woman’s name) onto my hitch mounted bike rack and locked the garage for the night….then I tried to get some sleep…I haven’t been this excited about a race in a LONG time…needless to say, I failed at sleeping well!

Esmeralda Consuela Bonita spending her first night ever in the garage....she usually sleeps in my office

Esmeralda Consuela Bonita spending her first night ever in the garage….she usually sleeps in my office

0500 came all to early, and I roused a grumpy Mrs. MuddyJ so she could get herself ready while I got the Things’ Three out of bed, dressed and fed. After a whirlwind of activity in our home, a quick round of Pop-Tarts (the main reason my children love race days) we piled into the car to make the ever-so-longunbearably terrible  short 5 mile trip to the race venue.

Since the race was so close to home, I had taken the time to scout out the location and where to park etc… With that part figured out, the drive went smoothly, as well as parking (of which there was AMPLE AMOUNTS at a nearby church) and making the final trek up a well marked nearby alley to the Windcrest Pool, where the race would begin.

I checked Esmeralda’s tire pressure before taking her down off of the carrying rack, and donned my helmet for a quick test ride around the parking lot.

As per USAT regulations RRP specifies that you must don AND strap your helmet when on your bike BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER a race or face possible disqualification if seen mounting your bicycle without it.

I used the test ride to check my brakes and saddle height, as well as to shift Esmeralda into a good starting gear. I grabbed my transition bag, and we all walked  to the transition area.

Checking in at transition was smooth, the staff on hand knew where to place the body markings, and my bicycle was given a fast but thorough function check by a man I recognized as a local cycle mechanic. Once inside the transition area, I quickly found an empty area in which to rack my bike and set up my transition:

With my transition area set and ready to rock, I went to the timing area and collected my timing device, then I had little to do except wait. I met back up with Mrs MuddyJ and the Things’ Three outside transition and Mrs MuddyJ and I took a few minutes to form a plan on how she might get some good photos. I recalled another Tri-tip I had read, and used some time to figure out the walk from the swim to the transition area to lessen the chances I might get lost and confused.

We snapped a few photos as we waited…my excitement level was peaking!

With just a few moments to go, Brian Schmidt, the Redemption Race Productions Race coordinator/MC called all the racers to the street outside the pool for a pre-race briefing and a prayer. Brian ran down the list of details and rules for each leg, often cracking jokes to drive the point home. With all the the rules and tips covered, racers and staff alike bowed our heads for a pre-race prayer led by Brian. (note: this is a standard at RRP races, and it’s a touch I really enjoy.)

With the pre-race briefing and pre-race prayer down, there was only one thing left to do…START THE RACE!

The single most confusing part of this race was the swim start. Being that the race is a time trial start, racers were instructed to be HONEST & line up according to swim ability.  Since this was a snake style swim with a time trial start (with a racer entering the pool every 10 seconds) those who weren’t honest with themselves were immediately apparent as the line of swimmers started traffic jamming. If there was one thing I could improve about this race, this would be it, and the only suggestion I can dream up is to have marked points where people could gather according to swim ability…like a marathon corral system..of course, this would still rely on each racer’s estimation of their own ability, so I can’t say whether or not this would work.

Ever being honest and underestimating myself, I started towards the back of the pack. As we waited, I chatted with racers near to me about their ability, and by sheer luck, it turned out that I wound up standing in an area where the racer’s around me were in and/or near what I estimated to be my ability group.

By the time I got near the starting line, the initial confusion had subsided somewhat, and almost everyone in the pool was swimming well – or at least walking quickly and far enough to the side they could be easily passed. The racers in front of me entered the water, and before I knew or expected it, it was my turn to begin:

With the Things’ Three chanting “GO DAD GO” at the top of their little lungs, I entered the water without hesitation, figuring the initial shock of the cool water would quickly pass as my muscles warmed up…have I mentioned the pool water was cold enough for this race to be wet suit legal?…I walked down the stairs and drove myself under the water, suddenly having Tough Mudder and Gladiator Rock’n Run flashbacks (Arctic Enema/Polar Plunge) because of the cold water closing in over me as I tried in vain to calm my initial shock and settle into my well practiced freestyle stroke. I quickly learned that I would not be able to settle into my usual practiced swim pattern… the water was choppy from other swimmers, and the lanes were crowded… I am very happy to report, however, that I adapted well to the new situation, and manged to hold my own while doing so. I finished the swim portion at just about the same time I finally got comfortable with the changes I encountered… I finished the 200m swim in 4 minutes, 30 seconds…not too shabby for my first time out! (not counting the fact that I don’t really have a “kick” because of my toe)

Shivering from the cold water, I exited the pool and made my way down the path to the transition area quickly. To be honest, I was a little gassed from the exertion and confusion of the swim and I was grateful that I figured out and practiced this portion ahead of time. I quickly located Esmeralda Consuela Bonita, and set about the task of transitioning from swimmer to cyclist.

First, I donned my “J”uaraches… Yes, I am hard-headed about being a barefooter, but the thought of having to put my foot down at 20mph on pavement  makes me shudder in icy fear, so a sandal to ride in didn’t seem to be that bad of a compromise(…and my pedals hurt on my bare-feet)

Next I threw on my Prickly Pear 50k shirt, in keeping with my last race shirt tradition,  and then my sunglasses, helmet and racing belt. With my helmet strapped to my noggin, I removed Esmeralda from the rack and headed off to the cycling starting area: Total time for my first race’s T1 transition: 1 minute, 19 seconds!

I mounted my bike outside transition as I passed the WELL MARKED MOUNT/DISMOUNT AREA I quickly reached a good cruising speed and set my feet into my cages, taking great care with my right foot so as to not hurt my toe. The cycling course wound through the residential streets of Windcrest, and I must give kudos to their road maintenance for doing such a great job. The streets were smooth and clear of debris, which let me settle down onto my aerobars and pump it out as hard as I could without worrying about road conditions. Even though the course was mostly flat, there were two or three short climbs that really slowed me down…now I know what I need to work on for my cycling leg!

All things considered, I feel like I put down a strong performance in the cycle, and I was feeling good as I approached the dismount/transition area:

I sailed through the cycling leg in 34 minutes, 31 seconds and spent another 43 seconds in transition to rack Esmeralda properly and doff my helmet and sandals …for those at home keeping score: I entered the run leg with an elapsed time thus far of: 41:03!

I had decided, that, because of my toe, I would pay very close attention to the limits imposed on me by my injury. I knew I wasn’t going to set a 2 mile PR-in fact, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be able to maintain any semblance of speed during the run leg.

At first I tried walking, but the impact of each step sent needles of pain through the tip of my toe and up my spine…”OK”, I mused to myself aloud, “that doesn’t work so well”

Over the next 1/4 mile I tried a variety of methods of movement, finally settling into a slow running stride that allowed for minimum impact to my foot and maximum locomotion.

YEAH- I WAS RUNNING…NOT FAST, BUT I WAS STILL RUNNING! AND IT FELT GOOD!!! (well, ok, it wasn’t agonizing)

I passed a few runners, cheering them forward, and I was passed by many more. The run course was smooth pavement, which wound 1 loop around the Windcrest Golf Course before heading back to the finish area, some of the residents of Windcrest were outside their homes and cheering us on, which felt great! Just before the final turn and finish line, I caught up to another runner who had passed me earlier. Noticing my bare feet, she picked up her pace a little, swearing to herself that if I could run this with a broken toe and no shoes on, that she could find that little more and finish strong. She did a great job of keeping up with me until the final corner…Where Mrs MuddyJ had a suprise ready for me!

She had gotten the Things’ Three to wait patiently at the final corner, and they started whooping and hollering as I approached. As I rounded the corner, their plan became clearer…they were there to run me in!

I crossed the finish line with my children surrounding me, broken toe and all, and collected my well-earned finisher’s medal and a much needed bottle of water…not to mention hugs from my very excited children!

I shuffled over to the curb to sit down and assess my toe…just because it wasn’t hurting did not mean that everything was well! A quick check however, did reveal that all was well!

My run time (26:26) will most certainly not go down in the annals of history as a great time…but all things considered, I had finished my first Triathlon strong, without further injury to myself!

Total Elapsed Time: 01:07:30

I wandered around a bit, grabbing a Kiolbassa Sausage Wrap to eat (cause I felt like I earned a few carbs) and a few pieces of fruit. Since RRP feeds EVERYONE, INCLUDING the SPECTATORS(or as I like to call them, “support staff”) my whole family had managed a bite to eat while I was out on the course.

Since I had started the swim so late and subsequently come across the finish so late in the race, I didn’t have to wait long for the transition area to be re-opened so I could reclaim Esmeralda. Reclaiming my bike was a simple matter of matching her sticker (#903) to my bib# and body markings …a staff member stationed at he exit points verified the matching digits (to prevent theft), and I donned/strapped my helmet for a quick ride to the parking area to strap her onto the trailer rack and walk back in time to make it time to see the awards and door prizes.

I WON A SHIRT! Not only did I win a shirt, but when Brian recognized me as I was collecting it, he proceeded to tell everyone about MuddyJ.com and how I was “so crazy he ran the Natural Bridge Caverns HALF MARATHON barefoot-he’s just crazy!” (shaking his head in disbelief the whole time)

Even though I hadn’t earned an award this time out, I stayed through the awards ceremony, taking lots of pictures to post on my MuddyJ Facebook page (have you “liked”it yet?)

What’s next? How can MuddyJ possibly top a successful triathlon on a broken toe?

Simple.

I’ll do another. In a few weeks. With RRP again…

@ the Rockin’ R Toobin Triathlon!

For this race there will be two triathlon options, your standard Swim/Bike/Run  with 400m river swim /13 mile cycle/3 mile run OR you can check out the Kayak Tri, which will be a 13 mile cycle/1 mile kayak/3 mile run. (I will be swimming!) It’s held in Gruene, TX, so anyway you look at it, it’s going to be a beautiful day down by the river (without a van, unless you have one…then you can be “in a VAN, DOWN by the RIVER”)

904519_561968047159388_2045096767_o-photo used courtesy of Redemption Racing Facebook page

That’s it for now! Be sure to check back soon for more race news!

Stay Muddy My Friends!

does anyone know where I can get this shirt?

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