Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes - Crawfishman Triathlon

One year ago Bill and I were driving from our home in Sunset Beach, North Carolina to New Orleans for a vacation to see family and for me to race in the Crawfishman Triathlon in Covington, Louisiana.  Little did we know at that time that in a month or so we would be moving to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. 

Fast forward one year and it's time to race the Crawfishman Triathlon again this coming weekend.  How quickly life can change in a year.

I am so lucky to have met a great group of triathletes and runners in Hattiesburg.  I feel like I've known the three girls that I am fortunate to call friends as well as training partners, for years.  They (whoever "they" is) say that it is extremely difficult for women over 40 to make friend.  Aquaintences yes, but not good friends.  Life here would be very different if I hadn't met Deanna that day at Masters Swim practice last June.

A triathlete that I knew years ago (he used to manage the Champs Sporting Goods store across the mall from the Victoria's Secret that I ran in Cortana Mall, Baton Rouge, LA), Chris Boyd happened to live in Hattiesburg where he teaches Exercise Physiology at the University of Southern Mississippi - he is now Dr. Boyd.  He introduced me to Deanna and told me that I should ride with her.  He said that she was just getting into triathlons and was very competitive (big time understatement - Deanna consistently kicks my you know what on the bike).  Through Deanna I met Judy and Lesley.  I am proud to know these women - they are kind, they are smart and they are also fiercely competitive athletes.  Deanna played basketball on a scholarship in college, Judy swam at Auburn on a swimming scholarship and Lesley is a lifetime athlete and the Athletic Director and Coach at Laurel Christian School.  They've all been competing in triathlons for several years and this year we're all planning a lot of races together. We all train together several times a weeks with coffee following up a lot of our workouts.

I've raced at Crawfishman a bunch of times, with a lot of different distances including when it was a Half Ironman (I think it may have actually been my first Half).  In keeping with Louisiana tradition the post race festivities at this race are awesome!!!  Lots of great food, beer and frozen margaritas made on the spot!!  The awards are tasteful and something you'd like to have in your home.  Last year it was a signed and framed print from artist, Jose Balli who lives on the race course.  (Check out the Art link on his page.)
This is a really great race and I would recommend it to anyone.  It didn't take much convincing to get Lesley, Judy and Deanna to sign up for it!  We've got several others from Hattiesburg racing on Sunday there too, including Judy's husband Sam who was 3rd Overall last year and Chris Boyd.  We're hoping to make a good showing for the Hub City!

The swim is always long, it is advertised as .6 mile, but is usually longer - Judy and I are really happy about that!  A hilly (it felt really hilly last year coming from the beach in North Carolina) 18 mile bike and a hilly 4 mile run.  I remember last year being really worried about my knee, it was the longest run race distance I'd done since my knee surgery at the end of 2009.  I also raced this one on my road bike with the aerobars.  I got the Felt just before we moved, so I'm also looking forward to seeing if there is a difference. 

I'll let you know how it goes!!

From the website:
The race was founded in 1983 by Charlie Hoolihan, Mark Salvetti and Rick Ramirez. We started with a three-race series 1983 and along the past 26 years we have received numerous awards and recognition for putting on a quality race in South Louisiana. We've come a long way since the first year.....the introduction of clipless bars....heck, we used to put up "changing rooms" for transitions!!!
A little known fact is that in 1985 the race was twice as long as today, at that race the very first Scott DH Aero bars were used by Andrew McNaughton to defeat Mike Pigg in a classic battle. Mike Pigg went on to clean house that summer and become known as one of the fastest time trialists in triathlon history.

The race was run continuously from 1983 until 1993, it slept until the brash trio of Steve Sperier, Tom Holland and Donnie Jarrell re-created the event in 1996 then again in 1997. In 1998 Mark and Kirsty Salvetti moved back to the Northshore to form the core with Steve and Lori Sperier. Tommy Holland still heads South from the Mason Dixon line to help out every year, and Charlie Hoolihan comes out race day to help with logistics and race announcing. Charlie is kind of like the "Nash Roberts" of school like old school.....!

The Brain Trust: Steve and Lori Sperier, Mark and Kirsty's all good. We're not shy....We put on a great race !!!!!!

Our race has always made efforts to assist the community monetarily, to that end we are always pleased to donate to Denise Gutnisky of the Have A Heart Thru Art Foundation. We have also made monetary contributions to the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Donnie Jarrell fund, American Red Cross, Kids Connection, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Office, Franco's Fins Swim Team, Mandeville Police Department and the Mandeville Wrestling Team. Our race is put on by the efforts of great race volunteers and generous sponsors. Next time you come across either one, say thank you.

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"Spanish Moss in my Hand, turn me into Crawfishman!"