Thursday, August 11, 2016

River Cities Triathlon and the USAT Hall of Fame!


I’ve been thinking back all the places I’ve lived and raced, and tried to think of which was best for swimming, cycling, and running. We moved from Dallas in 2008 where I had lived since 1990, so I’d raced primarily in that area. Since then we have lived in Fayetteville, NC; Sunset Beach, NC; Hattiesburg, MS; Shreveport, LA; and now Tuscaloosa, AL. I've listed my favorite places, based on several factors. Consistency, safety, challenge, variety.

Best Swimming 

Hattiesburg, MS - Kyle Joplin (now Assistant Coach at Centenary College), pushed us harder than I ever thought I could swim. The challenging workouts designed for triathletes, but conducted like an Age Group practice made me swim faster than I ever had before. No other Masters Program that I had ever or since swam has been that intense, I loved it.

Best Cycling

Sunset Beach, NC – The Ocean Isle Beach Cyclists were the most consistent group. Every Wednesday, and Saturday we had a regular ride. This works out for me, because I like my training scheduled and consistent. I named our group “The Usual Suspects”.

Hattiesburg, MS – For riding solo, Hattiesburg was my favorite. The Long Leaf Trace is there, 42 miles of blacktop with no vehicle traffic (a few crossovers). Albeit a little monotonous, it was a safe place to ride by yourself and not have to worry. And the bonus is I could ride the 7 miles over from my house, so I didn’t have to drive anywhere to ride.

Shreveport, LA – Absolutely the hardest training rides. These were rides with the other triathletes, 70 miles, consistent tough pace, everyone on their aerobars taking pulls. Riding with these people made me the fastest I had ever been. Smooth, no drama, tough training.

Best Running

Sunset Beach, NC – This area of the country is filled with golf courses. We lived on one and I could run the cart path, or leave our subdivision and easily run over to another one and run all the roads there. On the other side was a deserted, overgrown golf course, and I could run on what used to be all the fairways. The beaches on the East Coast are flat with hard packed sand, so for a change of scenery I could run on the beach.

RIVER CITIES TRIATHLON 

THESE COLORS DON'T RUN!!

I was back in Shreveport this past weekend for the River Cities Triathlon. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that this is one of my all-time favorite races. This weekend was the 21st time that I’ve done this race.

I drove over from Tuscaloosa on Friday, so I could volunteer for the IronFish Kids Triathlon on Saturday morning. I’ve helped at the race for the past couple years and I’ll tell you what, if you’ve never helped out at a kid’s triathlon then you’re missing out! I wanted to be there because several of the kids that I used to coach in swimming would be racing. This year I was going to be in the swim, it was really amazing watching the run from the beach that these little guys do for the start. They look like pros! After the last kids were out of the water, I headed up and helped out in the transition area. Sportspectrum does a great booklet that comes in each packet with all the instructions for the parents, it never fails to amaze me at how many don’t bother to read it, and go through it with their kids. There were kids with no race numbers…. kids with no wristbands…. kids that didn’t do all of the bike course. But even with all the fiasco they all had a great time! I know I did!

Evangeline and Harrisen! Two of my favorite kiddos!

Oscar's first Triathlon! One of my former swimmers!

Saturday night I got together with some of the people that I rode with in Shreveport, the very ones that I mentioned above, and my good friend, Hallie - we coached together at COSST. Two of my friends from Dallas came and joined us! We went to one of my favorite places, Superior Grill – it was great to catch up with these folks! The only bad part was that I couldn't have one of their awesome frozen margaritas since I was racing the next morning.


Race morning – this year the race started at 7:30, instead of the typical 8:00, so the park gates opened at 5:15. The race fills to capacity with 1200 people so they have to have enough time to get everyone in the park. And It’s a pretty good walk from where you park to transition, so it’s good that the gates open that early. I was racing in the Invitational Wave which went off first. Now, I have to admit that the only reason that I race in this wave instead of with my age group wave is because the 55+ women go off dead last. That means almost 1200 people in the water ahead of you, and of course later in the morning so the air temperature is higher. It was a beautiful morning, we had rain the evening before so the temperature wasn't quite as bad as it had been in the preceding days, it was still really humid though. We also lucked out with a slight cloud cover which kept the sun from killing us. Shreveport had been making the national news with their projected heat index of 115, I think it hit 111 on Saturday, and Sunday.

I had a good swim. At just about the half way point I was able to get on a guy’s feet and draft for a bit. But then you know what happens… it feels too slow… should I go around… should I stay here and save energy? So I tested it a couple times and moved to the side a bit to see and I found I was moving up on him, so just before the second turn buoy I went around. I tried to bridge up to a swimmer about 15 yards ahead but wasn’t able to. I came out of the water 2nd female, and ended up with the 4th fastest women’s swim.



The bike…oh the bike. I rode so badly, that I thought I had a flat. My legs didn’t have any snap. Every time I have a long drive before a race they feel like this, so it wasn’t unexpected. Even giving myself the extra day, and spinning in the hotel room for 20 minutes didn’t seem to help. And also adding to my bike frustration was seeing the drafting. I know I shouldn’t let it get into my head, and it’s not even like I was in the same league as her, but seeing a woman drafting with a couple men just made me mad. Play fair or GO HOME. Period.


I suspected that I wasn’t going to have the best run after I saw what my legs felt like for the bike, so I was pretty much resigned to that. I’ll tell you what, I was running much faster at the beginning of the season, it’s the heat. I wonder if it affects you more as you age? I need to go do some research and see if this may be true. I would sure like it to be… then I’d have an excuse for my run. Frankly, I think I need an attitude adjustment and stop feeling sorry for myself about getting older.


I finished 15/346 women, and 123/933 total. 2nd Grandmasters.

Finishers Medal

THE BEST PART of the race was being around so many people that I know! Hearing all the cheering, high fiving friends on the run course, visiting with lots of people after the race. So far for most of this season, I’ve been standing around by myself after a race, trying to make some new friends. I got to see Cobb Mobb teammates, Sunrise Tri Club Teammates, friends from Dallas, and swimmers I coached. It was a great post race day!

Casey Lee - 5th Overall Female, Angel Martin - 3rd Overall Female!!

And the pinnacle of the post race festivities was getting the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame award. I mentioned in a previous post that friends had nominated me and I was supposed to get it at one of the Regional Championship races. It was supposed to be Sugarman Triathlon, in October, but the race was cancelled. At the last minute the HOF Committee sent the award to River Cities for presentation. I got choked up as Matt Brown, the Race Director read the Nomination Letter that was submitted by my former Team Aquaphor teammates. Having this happen in Shreveport was icing on the cake. It is a humbling honor to be nominated for something like this by your peers, and receiving it here made it even better.

HOF Award



I wonder if I should stop now, and let this be the highlight of all the years of racing…… NAH!



OH.... and the FAMOUS RIVER CITIES RACE PACKET!! Once again Sportspectrum and Matt Brown did not disappoint! Embroidered backpack, Tasc Bamboo T-Shirt, Fleece Jacket, and a really cool Hat. Sportspectrum also sent out a coupon for another free t-shirt with any $25 purchase at the store, so I got one of those, too!!








Two more races this season, Possum Town in Columbus, MS, and then Tri The Gulf, in Dauphin Island, AL. I'm really excited about this one, inaugural year, at the beach where we vacation! Beach time, yah!!!