While at home, however, all was not rest and relaxation. I, of course kept up my normal racing as I prepped for two big race weekends, one in Tulsa and the other in Branson. At TriTulsa, I came back from being down almost a minute and a half to my friend Toby after the first day's sprint triathlon and a 2nd place finish to catching him on the bike and putting enough time on the run to make up the time lost and claim the Overall Combined title and a 3rd place finish for the Olympic distance race on the second day. It was a very satisfying race as I claimed the fastest time between the swim and run on a very difficult and tough bike course. Considering my slightly unorthodox training regimen consisting of hiking, running, some swimming, and mostly just being active while throwing in some bike intervals when I felt like it, I was extremely pleased.
Here is a pic of me with the plaque and the Zoot Triathlon Bag that I won!
During the weekend trips up to Tulsa, I also was able to redeem massage vouchers I had previously purchased, and to visit my Little a couple of times at his new school. He is in 9th grade now and I'm excited to see him continue to progress into a fine young man as he gets older. One of the massage therapists wasn't great, but the other was gold. She was able to loosen up my hamstrings, which I don't think anyone has ever been able to do, by stretching them while massaging them at the same time. A fairly unique concept to me that worked wonders in recovering for my two big weekends of racing.
The other big weekend of racing? That would be my first stop on the road in Branson, MO, with rain pouring down and things looking very, very bad for race day. Luckily, I had found some other fellow triathletes at TriTulsa who were up here as well for some good old masochistic fun! Staying in an RV with them definitely made prepping for the race much easier and more comfortable than it would have been otherwise. Despite the threat of rain and bad weather, I was itching for a chance at redemption and maybe a little revenge. Last year this course kicked my butt on the bike course and left me to die on the run course. This year, I had different plans. That is, if the weather would play nice and open up a little hole for us to race in. We were in luck! For a little while at least. The course was still wet which slowed the bike down considerably and caused more flats than I've ever seen at a race and the swim went off without a hitch; however, halfway through the run it decided to show up like a beast hunting its prey. Thunder cracked and all of a sudden it was a downpour with puddles of water turning into small ponds and lakes and shoes into nice, cold sponges to cool the body as the temp dropped well below comfortable for someone who just recently was forcibly adjusted to Oklahoma heat. But I was having the run of my life. After surviving the insanely tough and painful bike and riding a slowly leaking tire for several miles, I had steadily been speeding up throughout the run, testing myself with a harder and faster pace each couple of miles. And I hadn't stopped. At any of the aid stations. Except for that bathroom break. That was important though. I had never ran a half marathon off the bike straight through before. Even in Portland I had stopped at every aid station to ensure that I got all my nutrition in. And now this. The cold, hard rain along with the fear that I might be struck by lightning at any second considering I was running through bodies of water that stretched from here to who knows where. So I sped up. I wanted it to be done. Over. Finished. So I sped up some more. And some more. Until I was so close I could feel it. And before my legs could seize up or my stomach could eat itself out of hunger, I was there! Cold and shivering with a medal around my neck trying to force some chocolate milk down. And that's when I felt bad. Very bad. And cold. I went inside of a restaurant to warm up. It didn't work. Outside again, it only got worse. I was now whimpering like a dog as I stumbled from the finish line to the med tent without a clue what was wrong with me. I usually felt bad after a race of this distance, but not this bad. I finally made it in, bewildered and shivering without a clue what was wrong with me. Turns out it was simple. I had hypothermia and thus that was why I didn't really feel all that cold, but I did feel very, very bad. Half an hour later though I was warmed back up and ready to see how I finished. Final results were 6th in a very tough 25-29 age group and 34th overall.
By far my best finish yet! And with the probability of the top guys passing on their spots to either turn pro or for lack of finances, a very good chance to qualify for the world championships. Which is exactly what happened. I got the roll down and wrote the check right away. I had in fact qualified for the Ironman 70.3 world championships. I got my revenge. I beat the course and the weather, despite the punishment they had dished out. And, most importantly, I'm going to Vegas!