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Be sure to get all the way to the bottom… I am hosting another amazing give-away again! A-ROO!

2013BastropTri_LogoWell, in the past few weeks, I have burned my innards at the Tour de Jalapeno and tested the limits of my endurance (and found the limits of my aero-bars) in the Olympic distance Greater Gator Tri…. time to slow down a bit and do an easy sprint distance triathlon…yeah right…. like that comment wasn’t absolutely dripping with sarcasm…. an ‘easy’ race from Redemption Race Productions…..keep reading after you’ve stopped rolling around on the floor!

I solved the aero-bar issue I experienced at the Greater Gator by replacing them with a much higher quality (and therefore much more expensive) set  of Forte Clip-on TT Aero-bars from Performance Bicycle- and by much more expensive I mean 79.95 (ish)… I managed only to get in a short ride on them (30 miles) before race day, so I was going into this race on somewhat untested equipment…directly violating the sacred tenant of racer’s everywhere “nothing new on race day”…this I would pay for later!

-and of course I had to go with Tardis blue cork wrap….

Since there weren’t any issues at all with registration and packet pick-up, I’ll start this lurid tale of hellish hill-climbs and oddly shaped pools with a very early (0330 hrs) wake-up on Sunday, August 18th.

The race venue, Bastrop State Park, is quite a hike from my home in San Antonio, (1 hour, 45 minutes) so I got everything ready the night before and set my alarm for 3:30 am (0330 hrs for yo military-minded folks) With the sounding of the alarm, I rolled out of bed as quietly as I could, made my coffee (and a cup for the race director, as well as a tea for his wife) and I headed out into the warm and muggy morning. I was not going to bother Mrs MuddyJ at that hour to come out to a race! (she would get just a wee bit angry)

The venue, though far away, was easy to find and simple to get to. I made it with plenty of time to park and get set up in transition. It was still dark when i pulled into the parking lot, so I didn’t see him at first, but my ears quickly picked out Brian’s voice in the morning darkness and I forwarded his usual coffee bribe.

With that done, I gave Amelia a once over, and headed towards transition to get her inspected and myself body marked. The transition area was tight, so it was filling up fast, but I quickly spotted an opening and claimed it. I set up quickly, using a space only the width of my handlebars, and then headed back to my car to grab the secondary bribe and get my timing device.

Since I had arrived early, I had a little extra time to scout out the entrances and exits of transition, and to start forming a strategy. I am so glad I did this too— there were a few quick turns on the cycle right after transition–discovering this led me to remove my shoes from my pedals-I usually slip into them after starting the bike and getting to a good cruising speed – but the course was so technical that could only have ended in disaster…HOORAY for planning!

I spent the rest of the pre-race morning chatting with other triathletes and RRP staff to kill the time before the race, and soon enough.. it was time to race. We all gathered on the stone patio of the nearby cabin and listened intently as Brian SHOUTED out race instructions. This unusual bout of shouting was due to a microphone malfunction.. but since we could all hear him… it truly wasn’t an issue. He also explained that this race was suffering from a lack of volunteer staff- I guess it was the distance from San Antonio, but again, this was something that was barely discernible, and therefore not that big of an issue… The most important staff and medical personnel were all on hand and visible. I did have to get my own water at a water stop on the run, costing me a few seconds… If I had been much further ahead in the pack, were mere seconds count, I might have been bothered more by this.

We were briefed on the odd length of the pool, which is 33 yards or so, and how to perform the snake style swim. Then he warned us about the hills.

The hills in this race deserve their own special place in the footnotes of racing history for being outright evil…..

One hill descent in particular had been the site of a severe crash during prior years, so he warned us to take that one very slowly and to be very careful on the cycle portion… and with the race briefing complete and warnings given, we bowed our heads for a pre-race prayer, said a collective “Amen”, and headed to the swim start to begin the race.

My first triathlon taught me a very important lesson in pool swimming- start at the front, I am faster than I think I am. Starting at the rear of the pack in a pool is incredibly frustrating- there just isn’t the space to get around slower swimmers like there is in open water events, and the draft from opposing lanes is incredible, making your swim much more difficult than need be.

As a result, I wound up being among the first 15-20 people into the pool- and I am happy to say I very much held my own… I passed two swimmers and was passed by one… all in all, I would agree that I started right where I needed to be.

Since the swim was only 200m, I spent the entirety of it going as fast as I could. The odd length took me by surprise, and I only managed to execute one flip-turn, but overall I was proud of my performance…and I left the pool panting and gasping as I ran as fast as I could muster to transition.

I donned my shades, helmet and cycling sandals and headed off into the fray, feeling very confident.

The course wound out of the parking area, cementing my belief I had made the proper decision in choosing to don my shoes then mount. After the first few easy turns, we settled into a slight descent and I hammered it for speed…

Then I met a hill….

“Come along Pond I, ” I said to Amelia, and I downshifted as I spun my crank, trying to maintain a fast cadence to get up the hill–and 3/4 of the way up, as I was constantly losing momentum, I went to down-shift to my final climbing gear and my chain dropped off!

I furiously spun the crank for a few rotations as it was let completely free before I realized what had happened….

Then, with all the grace and charm I could muster, I fell right over, unable to unclip from my pedals….

I unclipped on the ground, and stood right up, fixing my chain in short order and remounting to pedal the rest of the way up the hill… and when I got to the turn at the top, I discovered, much to my dismay…

…there was still half a hill to go!

I kept on spinning, and I reached the summit breathing hard but feeling great, and I was met with a very welcome sight… a winding descent… I spun my legs and shifted until I was out of gears and moving fast to make up time for the ascent hitting the high 30’s and low 40’s (mph) as the cool morning air flowing over my wet tri-suit brought my temp back down.

Having completed this course, I can honestly say, “If RRP could find a way to make us swim uphill, they most certainly would!”

And this was the standard for the rest of the 16 mile cycle course… spin up the hill, hammer down the other side and hold on for dear life! I tucked into my new aero-bars ocassionaly, but spent more time on my drops then in any other race.

It’s impossible to use the written word to accurately describe this cycling course. It rose and dropped constantly, and wound majestically through a forest that was struggling to recover from a fire in years past. The views were amazing, and If I had any breath left that could be taken away, they would have done so… but as it was, the climbs took care of that in short order. Let me not forget to mention the curves as well… at no point on this course was the road flat and straight for more than a 1/4 mile…the climbs and drops were intensified greatly by a constantly winding road…My chain dropped twice more, and I fell over both times…much to my shame…

It felt so much like I was on a roller coaster that I kept my fingers crossed and looked around for a loop-de-loop (no there wasn’t one, awwww shucks)

…this was a good ride…

…And I mean REALLY GOOD…

As all good things must come to an end, this ride soon did. I slipped out of my shoes on the final approach and executed a flawless running dismount at the dismount line:

999759_613459815343544_466486939_n…I racked Amelia and patted her saddle as I doffed my helmet and headed out for the run…

Cheers and cat calls came from my friends among the RRP staff as I tip-toed my way over the rocky first portion of the run before settling into a stride and pace on the pavement. As I was passing another triathlete who had just passed me in the final mile of the cycle, she commented that her feet were hurting from the ride…

…then she looked down and stopped mid-sentence…I couldn’t help but chuckle

I hit the first water station, which was unmanned, and I got a bit to drink, passing the next runner behind me a cup as well.

Just like the cycle portion, the run started downhill… then headed brutally upwards-

and upwards….

and up some more…

then down….

then up…

I thought about nothing more than to continue putting one foot in front of the other as I trudged up each hill, throttling back a bit more on each descent to give my oh-so-punished quads a slight reprieve.

I held a good (not great) pace throughout the run, and after conquering the final hill climb, I dug deep and found the strength to finish strong:

I had conquered this course with an overall time of 01:46:55, placing 6th  in my age group and 57th overall… much better then I have been placing in previous races! My swim was fast, and my cycle much improved, especially since the climbs were so tough… I held my own and did my best.

I stuck around for the awards and after party…dreading the return ride home through Sunday traffic on Route 35s, and just as I was about to depart, I learned there was one final runner out on the course…

I decided to pull a “Henry”  and go out and run with her back in… to help motivate her towards the finish line. Her friends had the same idea, and I wound up running with a group of strangers all dedicated to spurring her towards the finish, always a good thing to participate in:

1175077_613474388675420_1686187925_n….and yes, she sprinted across the finish line while we all cheered like she was in first place!

How can I top that?

How about a Tri that starts with a two story water-slide:

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…and then I have to get a little more serious, and train for the toughest Tri I will conquer this year… also, the final Tri of the year:

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did somebody mention a 6 mile CLIMB??? I already happy about this…

So back at the beginning of this post, I told you to stay tuned for this:

In honor (and promotion of their newest venture)Spartan Race HQ has again bestowed upon me the priviledge of granting a free Spartan Race entry to a worthy competitor. To enter the drawing head over to the MuddyJ facebook page… I know I’ll be watching it…

castingbannerIf you don’t know what a Spartan Race is… check out the last one I competed in!

A-ROOOOO!!!

And while you’re at it? Have you signed up yet for the most inspiring woman in multi-sport’s upcoming race? Why NOT?

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Stay Muddy My Friends, and Always Tri your best….

I’ll be back with another race report SOON!

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