The Home Stretch!
The swim & bike went pretty well for me. I was maybe 30 minutes behind my projected time, but I was feeling good so that's all that really mattered. I saw a lot of carnage up to this point: a woman had to rescued in the water, several guys with flats & trying to fix them, and the guy who cramped up & needed electrolytes. I had gotten this far pretty much in 1 peice!
I got off the bike & ran into transition and put on some sun screen. I had been out in that hot sun for 5.5 hours and my name was about to change my name to jeffrey BLACK cuz i was getting a serious tan! lol
I started the run doing my customary "home run trot." I was feeling really good, because I knew I'd finish at this point, and the spectators were cheering us like crazy! What I liked was how we had our names on our race bib, so I kept hearing "looking good, jeff!" "You're almost done, Jeff!" "Keep it up, Jeff"
That really does boost your spirits and give you a surge of energy!
My goal for the run was to take my time & run like I did last week on the beach: slow & steady. It was starting to get REALLY hot out there, so I started putting ice in my hat to cool my head, as well as down the front & back of my shirt. This Florida heat is NO JOKE. It just zaps my energy. So I decided to just run a slow trot & coast thru the run.
They had aide stations on almost every mile of the run full of evertyhing a runner would need: ice, water, cola, pretzels, bananas, energy gels, cookies, etc. These are things that give you a quick energy boost. I'd stop at every aide station and get as much ice as I could put into my hat and let it melt over my head. it felt GOOD! lol
By the time I started running, there were plenty people already on the course. Some of them were running as if they hadn't been doing anything all day. Just looked amazingly fresh & fast. Others looked like they had been to hell & back. Totally worn down & just walking! I saw 1 guy who was literally laid out on the ground. Dude was coherent but in some serious pain. I suspect he was cramping. Race volunteers were out there with him putting ice all over him & giving him water. After I passed him I heard the paramedics. His day was done!
Meanwhile,I was running, but not very fast. I was passing people and getting passed. Honestly, it didn't matter at that point, because all I wanted to do was finish in 1 piece because the heat was starting to bother me. I didn't want to be in the hospital next to old boy with an IV!
I ran the first 7 miles feeling Ok and then I started to feel the heat. The sun was beating down on us & I felt my energy levels dropping. I was still taking my electrolyte pills, GU and Clif Bars, but at this point it wasn't enough. I also needed a bed, shade, and air conditioning!
At mile 7.5 I'm doing a slow motion home run trot. 5 minutes later I'm officially walking and snap this pic:
There was a long line of us who were just trying to survive at this point. LOL I wasn't in any serious pian or anything, but I knew I had to slow it down and pace myself.
At mile 9 I'm so close to the finish i can feel it, but I feel the heat & discomfort more than anything else. An official race photographer took this pic:
The heat is really bad, and it looks like me and the people behind me are in a walkathon, not a triathlon! Lol
But I keep it moving!
At this ponint the race, everyone around you is suffering as bad as you are, and we offer each other encouragement and offer congrats on a job well done. I'm smiling and jokng on the outside, but on the inside I'm singing another tune:
Wth have I gotten myself into??
Next time somebody pass me like I'm standing still I'm gonna trip they asses!
Why is it do damn hot??
My feet hurt!
I just want my medal so I can get the hell outta here!
If I eat 1 more clif bar I'm gonna puke!
I'm getting too old for this sh!t!
Yes, these are real thoughts I had after being out in this heat for 6 hours. lol
I had been doing a run/walk combo but at mile 12 I have decided to straight WALK. I really wanted to run, but figured I wouldn't start running till I see spectators. Lol Also, I want to make sure I cross the finish line in style! Lol
Even though I'm tired & hurting at this point, I feel good! I feel good cuz I know I'm less than 10 minutes from finishing this torture, and I went thru a lot to get to the start line. And now I'm going to finish!
At about mile 12.5 we start to see spectators and I resume my home run trot. Other athletes who finished before me are out cheering us on and giving ^5s. It's really cool when other athletes cheer you on, because they know exactly how you feel!
It's now mile 13 and I'm running! I'm no longer tired cuz I see the finish line in the distance. It's a wrap! Now I gotta finish this mofo strong!
I hit the chute and it's lined with spectators and they are cheering me on and I give some more ^5s. I'm hyped now, and put my hands up in victory:
The announcer says the phrase I've been waiting MONTHS to hear:
"crossing the line from Brandon, Florida, Jeffery White!"
Words really can't express how GOOD I felt completing this challenge. People always say "enjoy the journey" and thanks to triathlon, I understand that concept even more.
I finished the race in 7.5 hours, but I trained for months to get ready. I had to deal with injuries, time constraints, work, home, various issues that'd pop up from time to time, but I made it thru. Going thru those things made crossing the line that much sweeter, because even with all the potential setbacks I stuck with it and made it thru!
All this was going thru my mind when the race photographer said "congrats Jeffrey! Let me get a pic of you and that medal!"
Like I gonna say no! Lol!
This is my "I'm a bad mofo pose!" lol. Now I have to keep it real: the overall winner finished in enough time to watch Car Wash and half of Godfather Part 1, but I didn't care! A month ago I wasn't even sure I was even doing the race so I was good! Lol
All in all, Im happy with my race. I gave it all I had. Looking back, I couldn't do any better. I left it all on the course!
I'm very thankful I was able to race and finish in 1 piece. Others weren't so lucky. I heard there was a crash on the bike course involving about 20 cyclists. A couple had to go to the hospital with broken collar bones. All I have is a little soreness. I don't even have any back pain!
God was with me on Sunday!
After the race my wife and I went to
Friendly's for dinner for some great hamburgers and ice cream:
What a great way to end the day!
All in all, I had a great race. The journey was tough, but well worth it. I have no regrets, and I'm looking forward to the next challenge.
Thanks for reading! Till next time, peace!