But I can still see her! Trailing in the Triathlon

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As promised here is my report on the 40 Acres of Hill triathlon.

So we headed out to Russellville from Little Rock at about 5:45 a.m. Saturday morning. It’s just over an hour drive and all interstate. So we got there and they were still setting up. So we got our transition ready and waited for the registration table to open up.

This race would be a little different than what we normally do but something we kind of look for. It is similar to the Rugged Man Triathlon that we have done a couple of times, Bike, Kayak, Run. A couple of things different about this race. First, it started with the run, 5.5 miles of both trail and road. It included a nice hill at about mile 4 that was killer. Second, about a 3 mile flat water kayak and finally a 17 mile road bike ride in the foothills of the Ozarks.

While we waited for the organizers to get ready we visited with a friend that was doing the race as a team with her oldest son. We have raced against her and her husband in numerous races including the Rugged Man and Raid the Rock. The registration table finally opened and talk began of the hill out in the middle of the run. Pre-race jitters set in.

The race actually got under way at around 8:20 a.m. about 25 or 30 racers took off across a little bridge and we were off. The run started by following a disk golf course. Through the woods and across fields until we suddenly hit dirt road. At this point I was breathing hard and wondering how long I would go before walking but I kept pushing. Shortly after we got on pavement Lisa caught me. I had heard her talking behind me and as she caught up I reminded her that if she could talk she wasn’t running fast enough. The rest of this race would be all about keeping up, she became my rabbit.

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The hill finally came going up, up, up through a subdivision. Lucky for me the runners in front of me, including Lisa, walked most of the hill. This was the only time I walked during this race. We came down the other side and headed back to the transition area.

As I got there I could see Lisa heading out with her kayak to the boat ramp so I didn’t do any transition, just ran over to the kayaks, picked one out, threw on a life vest and headed out. There she was in front of me maybe 50 yards. She would pass someone and then I would pass them, but I could never pass her. The kayak was an out and back and after the turn she got out a little farther in front of me maybe 100 yards at the most. We came into the transition again and I think I was a bit to confident about the bike leg of this race. I got out of the kayak and my legs felt like jelly. Lisa was heading out of the transition as I came in and after a slow transition on my part I lost sight of her.

I took in some gel and jelly beans as I got on the bike and headed out, confident that I could catch her. For about 5 or 6 miles I looked for her but never caught site. I finally came to a really long hill with a lot of false tops. I tried to push it as best I could and as I came over one of the false tops I saw her. I pushed as much as I could but my legs were not cooperating. I could feel a little cramping in my calves and if I didn’t let up some I knew that one or both would yank on me and I would be walking up the hill. Still, she gained no more on me.

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As I finally reached the top of the hill I got passed by a cyclist from one of the teams (yeah, it was a girl). Of course I told myself that she had fresh legs. I saw her head on to overtake Lisa. Then out of the blue I get passed by another woman. She was a soloist and I remember passing her on the kayak. I watched as she caught and passed Lisa but I knew that this would be one that Lisa would want to stay with. I had to find a way to turn it up.

We slugged through hill after hill, it was a beautiful day in a beautiful part of the country. Rolling farmland with lots of hardwood trees. I pushed as hard as I could but could not gain on Lisa. Finally I came around a corner and saw someone ahead, I thought it was Lisa, I really pushed through the next couple of turns and was suddenly close enough to realize that it was a different racer. A fast runner who was riding a mountain bike. Arggggggg! I kept pushing and saw Lisa again but it was too late and I would not be able to close the gap. I came into the finish about 2 or 3 minutes behind her.

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Lisa, bless her heart (something we say in the south) got 3rd place for women. Great job! Me? I got another T-shirt for the collection. Below is a photo of Lisa (on the right) with the 2nd place finisher. Lisa never caught her either but we later found out that she is an awesome rider and a training partner of our friend Sarah. It’s a small state.

It was a great race and hopefully it will happen again next year. The only thing I wish they had was a masters category. I think I would have had second in that. Whippersnappers!

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