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Gatorbait_2013_logoQuestion: Why is it called the Gator Bait Memorial Triathlon?

Answer: Waaaaaaaayyyyy back in 2008, it was the first race that Redemption Race Productions put on. Since that fateful day RRP has grown from just a handful of events per year, to 15+ events in 2013, mostly Triathlons, (USAT sanctioned, of course) but they haven’t forgotten the one that got them started!

This week has been incredibly busy. Mrs MuddyJ and I purchased a new home recently, (which I mentioned in my Toobabalooza! review) and this week saw me bring the Things’ Three to their Oma and Opa’s house for the week while Mrs MuddyJ and I handled the move and unpacking.

Since I have been packing a little bit at a time, the final packing for the BIG moving day wasn’t so bad (hey, is moving your house EVER good?) I spent the week before the race taking down home improvement tasks by the score and gorging myself on fast food…something I would soon pay for! The Things’ came back the day before the race, and the Oma/Opa calvary was in the house. I say calvary, but really, it was more like having an auxillary spec ops unit come in- Opa knows everything about just about everything….such a needed resource for figuring out my new home!

Mrs MuddyJ and I stopped at the usual Stone Oak Soler’s Sports for my packet on our way to dinner the day before the (Thursday June 20th) Thing’s were due home, and it was seamless as usual…of which I am very glad- I was so tired from burning the candle at both ends all week long I wouldn’t have been able to handle even the slightest issue! A few jokes with Brian and his wife, and I was out the door and headed to dinner… I did manage to confirm I would be allowed to wear my favorite swim cap:

I spent the next day working with Opa and I somehow managed to fit in 15 minutes of race prep to check over Esmeralda Consuela Bonita, and pack my gear bag. I loaded the car and got everything ready to go and turned in for the night WAY too late.

0530 came all too early-as it is prone to do-I rolled out of bed and got dressed in my Tri-suit and fired up my Keurig coffee maker. Two cups for me and one for the race director. ( I am not above attempting to bribe the race director! )

The race venue, Boerne lake, is a popular training area for many area triathletes, partly because there are no motorboats allowed on the lake. It’s calm, with a prevailing south-westerly wind that tends to add just enough chop to the water’s surface to make swimming it a challenge, but not choppy enough to be scary. I meet with a small group of fellow triathletes and swimmers there every other week or so, so I felt like I might have a bit of a home field advantage.Also, having learned my lesson well from my experience at the Rockin R’ Tri, I made sure to pack a tire pump so I would be certain to be riding on properly inflated tires.

Since I knew the way well, I made it to the venue with no trouble at all. I had about 45 minutes left until transition closed, so I took my time headed from the parking area to the transition area. During the walk I passed Brian and gave him his coffee, then got body marked and passed through the cycle inspection. Next, went in to set up my transition area.

Recently, the REI here in San Antonio had a storewide sale with some pretty nice discounts! When I went to check it out, I found a pair of Keen Commuter III clipless sandals for $40 off the usual retail price! I have been sorely wanting to upgrade to clipless pedals, so I bought them, and then found some Well-go clipless pedals on E-bay for $19.95…hooray…my first cycling upgrades!

I had been trying to decide how I would get my cycling shoes on during transition, and I had practiced the clip-in/clip-out enough that I was confident enough to use them in a race. (nothing new on race day!) I finally settled on the idea of putting my sandals on as normal, as opposed to leaving them clipped into the pedals and pedalling barefoot, slipping into them when at speed.

Major transition decisions made, I grabbed my swim cap, goggles and silicone earplugs and left transition to get my timing device.

The transition  area closed on time, and Brian took the mic to give his pre-race briefing. It was the usual: race instructions/be safe ….and then he let us know about the run course..which would be trails….. and, expecting a smooth easy run, I hadn’t brought my “J”uaraches! Oh well, I would figure that out later. Now, I had to get my head in the game. As per redemption tradition, we bowed our heads in a prayer of safety and thankfulness, and once finished, headed down to the boat ramp to the water’s edge.

Since no one likes the wrestling match that a mass start wave produces, especially the RRP race directors, RRP events tend to be a time trial start…this is especially nice for swims…its far better to wait to start then it is to get beaten to a pulp by everyone around you. We lined up by race number, and several RRP staff members who know me by sight commented to me I could move up in the line, knowing I was a faster swimmer then some of those in front of me. Since I hadn’t been training, and my diet had consisted primarily of cheesburgers for the past few weeks, I decided to stay near the back, preferring to be the one passing people over being the guy getting run over ’cause he ran out of gas!

I joked with other tri-athletes near me, and many were extremely nervous about swimming in open water. I have never thought of it, but I guess when you only swim in a pool, swimming in a lake is a daunting prospect. I pointed out the kayak support and abundancy of safety personnel to them, hoping it would ease their minds a bit, and they seemed to calm noticeably.

It took a long time, probably close to 20 minutes, for it to be my turn to get into the water- but then again, I was the third to last swimmer to enter the water. After my first 100m, I felt winded- out of gas completely, and I still had 400m left to swim. I slowed my pace, checking my line often and catching my breath each time I did so. As I was passing the first of two bouys and turning left, a swimmer next to me shrieked and threw her arms up to signal a support kayak. As per USAT reg, the kayaks could allow and athlete to rest on them during the swim, as long as they didn’t move the swimmer along the course.  I stopped to ask her if she needed immediate help, and she assured me she was ok and she could tread water until the kayak got to her. Off I went…

The course was divided into three roughly equal sections: out, left, return. The wind was driving the small waves toward the shore I had departed from, and as a result, each time I turned my head to breathe on my right after the first turn, I was rewarded with a face and mouth full of water for my efforts. After three or four times, I settled to breathing only to my left, with much better results- and significantly less sputtering out inspirated water. I passed a few more swimmers, and made the final turn to head back to shore.

I wish that I could say I found my second wind and made an all-out sprint for the end of the swim leg, but today just wasn’t my day! I settled instead for maintaining my current pace, pushing myself ever so slightly only the last 50m or so.

I finally made it to standing water and was given a hand-out by a helpful volunteer- the boat ramp we were using to enter and exit the water was “slicker than eel snot” according to Brian during the pre-race briefing, so I placed my steps carefully, not wishing to bust my bottom! All in all, I did fairly well during the swim leg, finishing in 12:28, averaging 2:29 per 100m!

I trotted up the ramp and into transition, doffing my goggles, ear plugs and swim cap while travelling. I found Esmeralda Consuela Bonita and sat down on the ground to pull on my cycling sandals. I was winded, but trying to move quickly…still, at 2:10 this was probably my worst transition time yet!

Since the cleats in my cycling sandals are recessed, I don’t make the usual clop clop clopping noise that a running cyclist makes. I exited transition with my bike, and I managed to execute a flawless flying mount onto Esmeralda’s saddle. I clipped in easily and set myself to the task at hand.

The cycle course started at transition, and followed the road out of the park. The first road we turned right onto when leaving the park was well surfaced, and I managed to keep some speed, but the next turn saw us all turn onto a recently re-surfaced (tar and gravel chips) frontage road for the next two miles or so. It was like riding on and oxymoron- the soft tar beneath the gravel made it feel like I was trying to pedal on flat tires, but at the same time, the gravel was a jarring surface and every bump travelled through me and ended in my gritted teeth….it was, for lack of a better term, quite a surreal ride.
Thankfully, after one small climb the course turned onto Ranger Creek Road, home of the infamous “Heartbreak Hill”. My friends had all been trying to tell me about “Heartbreak Hill” in the weeks leading up to the race, but I always prefer to be surprised, so I didn’t really let them describe it in too much detail to me…that was a mistake. Every climb I attacked made me wonder “Is this Heartbreak Hill?”  and of course, every climb was a little tougher than the one before… finally cresting what seemed like the sixth or seventh speed-robbing-making-my-quads-quiver-and-burn-hellish-hill, I found myself approaching what could only be the one and only “Heartbreak Hill” I down shifted and pedalled like a madman, standing in the saddle to reach the summit, giving myself a mental high five for having conquered the impossible when I looked forward and spotted the real deal:
There was a slight downhill immediately before the climb started, so I poured everything I had into that short sprint, hoping the speed would carry me further up the hill. By the time I made it halfway up, I had run out of gears to downshift into and I was standing in the saddle. A few more revolutions of my crank and I was wobbling precariously, I realized that Heartbreak Hill had broken me. Not wanting to fall over while clipped in to my pedals, I unclipped and (shamefully) dismounted to finish the hill walking. I trotted a little, thinking that recessed cleats are awesome should you need to walk, and reached the summit-completely winded.
While still moving uphill, I jumped back onto Esmeralda Consuela Bonita’s saddle and clipped  back in. I hit the turnaround picking up speed and then flew down Heartbreak Hill- 10 minutes up the hill…. and ten seconds down. I pedalled until I was merely spinning without gaining momentum and then I just tucked down into my aerobars and held on for dear life! The return trip was much faster and easier while I was on the Ranger Creek Road leg, and I spent much of it crouched down and tucked into my aerobars.
The course turned back onto the I-10 frontage road, home of ‘the worst road surface I have ever ridden on’ (as described in greater detail above….) and wound back towards Boerne Lake park. I slipped out of my sandals as I approached the dismount area, and stood on them to stretch my back and calves. I hopped off just before the dismount line with my sandals hanging on the pedals, and ran into transisiton…the climbs beat me down, and I finished the cycle in 54:47.
I racked Esmeralda, patting her saddle as I did so (I swear, she has a personality) and headed for the “run out” area of transition. This time, I was in and out of the transistion area lickedy-split…in a mere 49 seconds!
During pre-race, Brian mentioned that some (most) of the run would be on trails. I have since gone back to take some pictures of those trails….my poor poor little feet!:
I ran as lightly as I could on the stones, and my speed suffered for lack of some covering. Yes- I AM A BAREFOOT RUNNER- but I also understand that not every surface is good to run @ race pace barefoot. I quick stepped and picked my way around the worst of the stones, throttling up whenever I could and monkey-jogging in the sharpest and rockiest areas. After a few miles, the path came off the trails and continued around transition on carpet before hitting the pavement. My feet were a little beat up from the trails, but the smoother surface let me pick up some speed before it let off onto a smooth grassy trail. Within a few strides, I picked up a small prickly burr, but that was the only issue I had for the rest of the run! The worst hardest parts of the run behind me, I picked up my pace as best I could on the fumes I was now running on, and tried to finish strong! All-in-all, I was proud of my time for having not been able to train well for this race, even though I was WAY slower then my usual 6k pace, averaging 11:54 per mile to finish in 41:39.

As I passed the finish line, I was handed a small stuffed Gator. This was a nice touch for this race. I like finishing a race and having a small memento to display in my trophy area other than simply adding another bib to my wall and another t-shirt..

My overall time for this race was 01:51:55- nothing to write home about, but I was proud to have survived it on literally no training and a poor diet- I will do much better in a few weeks at my first Olympic Distance Tri on July 7th- the “Tri for Old Glory”!2013OldGlory_logo
If I learned one thing from this race-diet plays a HUGE role in a tri-athlete’s arsenal. I went into this loaded with carbs instead of my usual ketogenic state, and I was out of gas as soon as those were gone…but I will be back on track soon and ready to redeem myself when I tackle the Greater Gator Tri in August! :
2013GreaterGator_logoOf course, I really should mention the belly-fire inducing trial I will undergo a week before that:
The 2013 Tour de Jalapeno!
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26 Mile Jalapeno Race And Tour

The 26 mile race will have 2 aid stations stocked with food and drinks and Jalapeno’s. This event will be chip timed and the time will be based on how fast you travel the 26 miles and how many Jalapeno’s you eat. Time will be deducted for each Jalapeno you eat. The intersections will be manned by Police however you must obey their instructions.

The 26 mile tour will follow the same route as the 26 mile race.  The tour is not timed, and the jalapeno’s are not involved.  You are more than welcome to stop and enjoy the aid stations, but the jalapeno eating is not part of the tours.

What fun! … and yes I will be eating lots of Jalapenos (..and most likely sleeping on the couch!)

Well…. that’s all I have for now!
Stay Muddy My Friends, and always Tri your best!
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