Florida Challenge Triathlon Countdown Clock

Friday, May 21, 2010

2 Down, 1 to Go!

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!

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