Angry Monkeys Racer Bill Bailey's Race Report from the Tom Triplett Triathlon - I'm not a triathlete, but we do a fun race each year at Tom Triplett Park in Pooler near Savannah. It starts with a 3.5mile run, then two miles kayaking around the lake, finished by a 6.5 mile mountain bike race. I did this race last year and finished 16th, mostly because I had such a bad run.
I let the fast group go ahead on the run, and found a good pace with another runner. Together we passed a good number of runner dropped from the lead group. He stopped for water, while I went on. I had a good run, probably my fastest pace ever for this distance.
Once on the kayak, I passed a few more racers in the first lap, but also got passed by a few. By the second lap, I settled into a steady pace, focusing on even strokes. I don't think I made any major gains in the kayak, but I did alright.
Last up was the bike section. I decided I was fastest and smoothest on my geared cyclocross bike, (with a big 1.75 29er tire on the front), plus the start and finish were across the park, via a long section of pavement. At the bike transition, I fumbled around trying to change into my bike shoes, and I sucked down a gel and some water.
On the bike I immediately went into the big ring and down in the drops, passing one guy on the pavement, and closing on several near the trail head. Once in the woods I rapidly began passing people, and keeping my speed up. On the gravel rail bed connecting the back side of the course, I drank some more water, and spun easy trying to recover a little. I felt a twinge in my left calf, but wasn't concerned.
The only place my CX bike was slower than my mountain bike was the new trail I had helped our SORBA group cut a few weeks ago, it was still a bit spongy, and bumpy, but I wasn't too worried, knowing the final trail section would be smooth and flowy and very fast for me. Once out on the paved section I had planned to hammer as hard as possible. I had sprinted hard there every lap I had practiced, and I knew I had enough strength left for an all out effort.
What happened next was devastating. As soon as I reached the pavement, the twinge from earlier returned as a full sized cramp, causing an excruciating muscle contraction, that caused a knot I could see on my calf. I had to fight just to get my foot unextended.
The rider ahead of me kept looking over his shoulder, knowing I had the advantage on the cross bike and would be coming up to pass him. Every time I put enough pressure on the pedals to gain on him my calf muscle would contract hard again. The pain was bad, but it was more a matter of not being able to make my legs move right. Within sprinting distance of the finish line I gave up after one last pathetic out of the saddle attempt.
I finished 6th overall, and 1st in the 45-49 age group. (Yep, I'm an officially an old dude this year) I'm happy with my results overall, and the massive improvement over last year, but at the same time I was pretty disappointed about the finish. When the times were published, my disappointment only deepened. I was only a few seconds behind the the 5th place finisher, and just 30 seconds behind the 4th place finisher.
I'm not too put out by my finish, I enjoyed the challenge, I love pushing myself physically, and doing something I don't normally do. In preparation for this race, I rediscovered my joy of running, played around in a kayak a few times, got some good practice on my new mountain bike, and helped support my local SORBA chapter, who shares the proceeds along with the other organizer, FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes).
-Bill Bailey Angry Monkeys Racing Member