Sunday, May 18, 2008

Muddy Buddy!!!

Where to begin on this topic here...

Well, It all began back in February when I was approached by one of the other Personal Trainers at work and he told me that one of men who regulary attended his Boot Camp class wondered if I would be interested in teaming up with him to do the Muddy Buddy relay and if I had a mountain bike. I told the PT, Jason, to have the club member talk to me and that it sounded interesting enough.

So, Jason G. told his client Jason J. to look for me in the club and that I would talk to him about participating in Muddy Buddy together. Jason J. is a pretty fit guy and I just hoped that he would not be disapointed in my abilities to do this relay. His partner from last year had moved away and his sister had gotten into a cycling injury and had to have surgery on her arm. This meant that he was on the lookout for a partner. Since the partners have to share a bike, it is important that the partners are near the same height. Well, I am only 5'4". I think Jason might be 5'6". I decided that I was game for the relay and I let Jason make all the registration plans and handle all the arrangements. I would provide the bike and the best mountain biking skills that I had, which were pretty poor if you always ride a tri bike on the road.

In March while I was at the L.A. Marathon expo, I had the honnor and privelege to meet Bob Babbit who is the editor of Competitor Magazine and an Ironman hero of mine.
I was kind of star struck when my buddy JT took our picture. Bob was working the crowd and telling people all about the Muddy Buddy race series. He asked me if I was going to do Muddy Buddy and I told him that I was registered for the Austin, TX race. Bob then asked me if I had ever done Muddy Buddy before. I had not. Trail running over cactus and limestone, possibly falling off a bike and injuring myself, and low crawling through a mud pit had not been on my radar of races I had wanted to do. Besides that, the race mascot was a FROG. If you know me well, then you know that I do not get along well with FROGS. Having a race t-shirt with a FROG on it was not a shwag item that I was dying to get my hands on.

Well, as race time neared, Jason was staying in contact with me to see that I was still going to be doing the race. I was, but I really had not been training for it. I was kind of bummed because I had won a race entry for the Silverlake Sprint Triathlon that I had done respectably well at last year, but it was the same day as Muddy Buddy. I had promised Jason to be his partner, so I gave my race entry away to my tri buddy Norma. This would be her first tri since crashing off her bike earlier this season. Jason and I kept in contact about where we would meet up for packet pick up and where he was staying. I had tried to get a hotel, but everything around Austin was booked for the University of Texas' Graduation ceremonies and assorted weddings. I figured I could get near the race site and just sleep in my Honda Element since the seats recline all the way flat and have the bike in the car with me on the other side of the back.

After putting in a 13 mile run and coaching my TNT Tri TEAM for their last Saturday workout before their big race in Austin on May 25th at the Capitol of Texas Triathlon, we had some breakfast and then I raced home to swap out bikes and take a quick shower before hitting the road to Austin. I made it to the REI for packet pick up in 2 1/2 hours and met up with Jason and his entire cheering squad consisting of his wife, his two sons, his sister and her daughter, and his parents. Then there was me, "Geek Girl" all by herself. Well, we did the packet pick up and as much as I wanted to look around REI since this one was so much bigger than the one by my house, I had someone I had to go and say "hello" to. It was Bob Babbit! Again, Bob was working the crowds and helping sell Muddy Buddy Shirts and caps. I told Bob I was looking forward to the race and I introduced him to my partner in crime (or should that be grime...), Jason. Jason asked where I was staying overnight and I told him that I had not found a hotel and said I was going to sleep im my car. His wife would have none of that. She said that she was going to call the hotel to see if they could get a roll away and I would have someplace to sleep. That was so nice of them to do that. I was basically a stranger to all of them and I only knew Jason from the gym.

I followed Jason and his family and his parents car and we caravaned an hour west of Austin to Marble Falls, TX. We made arrangements with the front desk to get a roll away and to see if breakfast would be ready at 5:45 so we could eat a little early before heading to the race. I had not had lunch so I was famished as was Jason and he hearded the family over to a nice restaraunt with a great lake view. Come to find out, Jason and I both went to Texas A&M University and we graduated only a year apart from each other. He ran cross country for A&M and all of a sudden I had a sinking feeling that he was going to be highly disapointed in my running abilities since he is a competitive person and he was really geared up for this race. Ugh!!! I did not want to let him down! As I was getting ready to pay, Jason's father picked up the bill and said that he was paying for whoever followed him out the door to go when he was ready to leave and since I had followed, he was payining. Double Wow!!!

Jason was going to take his boys to go swim in the pool and this gave me an opportunity to go find a grocery store or at least a drug store. I had not seen anything looking remotely like a grocery store since we had left Austin. I was on a mission to find two white t-shirts. I had brought along some Sharpie markers and I was going to make us up some "Ghetto-Fabulos" team shirts. Jack Pot! I found a Super Wal-Mart. I found some $6 tech tops and some extra Gatorade for Jason along with a stuffed bear to attatch to the handlebars of the bike with zip ties to find it easily in the holding pens when we switched from the bike to the run portions of the race. While I was standing in line, the man behind me asked me if my body fat was around 8%. I told him it was not that low, but he probably was not too far off. My arms look like road maps with my blue veins traveling up my arms and intersecting over each other. He said he was a former Army nurse and could tell that from my arms and my tri event shirt that I was wearing that I had to be pretty good. HA! If he only knew that I run with the "Not-So-Big Dogs". We got talking and I told him that I was in town for Muddy Buddy and he was so intrigued that he told me that he was going to come out the race and watch. He asked for my race number and said he would see me there. Ok, I was really doubting that this guy was going to show up, but I said "Great! See you there.", and we parted ways. I filled up the gas tank and headed back to the hotel.

I surprised Jason with the shirts and he was pretty jazzed about them. I had brought a printout off the computer of our team name that we could see through the fabric of the shirts and we would trace it off with the Sharpies. We both got busy on that for the next hour. I could tell that Jason was really excited about the race and our super team shirts. I was pretty tired from the 13 mile run that had started at 5 am, the coaching, and the travel. I was so ready for lights out after a quick shower. By 10:20, I was snoozing.

I slept good and I got a good 7 hours of sleep. Poor Jason said he woke up at 3 am, then around 4 am, then he heard my watch alarm go off at 4:30 (which did not rouse me), and then dozed until my alarm on my cell phone went off. We got changed quick and got our stuff together and then headed out to the continental breakfast. I had brought my own wheat and corn free food selection, so all I grabbed was some orange juice. We saw some other Muddy Buddy participants stumble in for some breakfast. They were dressed way too cute in their matching outfits. Didn't they know they were going to get really muddy???
We hit the road in my Honda and made the 25 minute drive to Perdinalas State Park so that we could get parked and make it up to the race venue.

Once parked, we strapped the bear to the handle bars and grabbed our back packs and started the trek to the start. The sun was now up and it was getting warm. The day before had been overcast with temps in the high 70's. Today there was not a cloud in the sky and the predicted high was 91 degrees. Once near the start, we found a table to prop the bike against and figured that it was time to unveil our team shirts since the other 899 teams were proudly showing off their costumes and team shirts. Our team name was the North American Distance Sprinters...

Here is the front of our team shirt. Very Professional...

until you see the back of the shirt.

We hit the port-o-cans one last time and stashed our bags under a tree and who did we happen to see, but MR. FROG himself, Bob Babbit! I had to capture this moment before heading to the starting line. There are only one frog in this world that I
can handle without going into cardiac arrest and that is Kermit from the Muppets. Well Bob, you are now part of a small elite group of FROGS that are welcome into the "Circle of Trust" with me.

Jason and I made our way up to our wave start with tons of other participants. We were in wave 9, so things had been going along for quite some time now since the waves were about 5 minutes apart. I was a little nervous about the whole thing. Up until this point I was not nervous, but I really did not want to let Jason down. There were 5 legs on the race. We decided that I would bike first and Jason would run first. They let the cyclists get a one minute headstart on the runners. At the first "transition" you had an obstacle of walking a balance beam that was a good 3 1/2 to 4 feet off the ground. Jason and I strategized that we would leave our bike as far up and to the right of the bike drop as possible and we would look for Mr. Bear on the the handle bars. I got going on the bike and was totally freaked out. I had not been "OFF ROAD" in a long time and the last thing I wanted to do two weeks before Switzerland was endo the handlebars and injure myself. I had to pull over and stop once or twice and I let a lot of people get up ahead so I had some room to work the single track. At one point we were going down hill over these limestone ledges and rocks the size of softballs, and I was cussing like a sailor and trying to keep the pedals moving and not hit the brakes or any runners from the wave that started ahead of us. I walked that balance beam and now it was my turn to run. I had a long down hill section that was pretty technical and I cut loose and was flying. Jason passed me on the bike and shouted "Go N.A.D.S.!!!" I was passing lots of people on the run which was pretty cool and making my way to the second transition and the second obstacle. At this one, we had a rope ladder to climb on one of these inflatable walls with a steep slide on the other side. I was scrambling up that ladder past other people and ignored my fear of falling and slid down the other side. I did not like it, but I did not die so it was off to find the bike and start leg three. I was looking as far up on the right as I could but I saw no bike! I kept looking for Teddy on the handle bars. I finally found him off to the left. I hopped the bike and off I went. This section was techincal as well, but I was getting the hang of it now. I had some other guy on a bike ask me if I was sure if could be mistaken about having N.A.D.S. I told him that I not only had N.A.D.S., but they were big and they were blue. I took off on the bike and left him in the dust, literally! After scrambling up a series of boulders with the bike on my shoulder, I hit the road again and pedaled my way to transition #4 and the obstable there. Jason was waiting for me to hand off the bike and I scrambled up and over a 7 foot rock wall with a rope ladder on the other side and I hit the trails again. I was trucking along pretty good and flying down the assents when we had to do a muddy creek bed crossing. From here it was steep up-hill for quite a long way. The way up was congested with cyclist pushing bikes, cyclists carrying bikes, and runners that had slowed to a walk or a climb up and out of the lowest point on the course. I was doing my best to weave in and out of people and bound up the limestone out croppings. Near the top I was breathing/weazing as hard as everyone else, but I took off and ran after a gal in a grass skirt and coconut bra. She had to slow down on another rocky climb and I pushed past her. I was getting near transition/obstacle #5 and my left calf muscle siezed up and turned to stone. OUCH!!! I paused briefly to stretch it and then hit the pyramid of beams that I had to crawl over, under, over the top and down the other side of. I found the bike quickly and took off. The gears on the bike were not working as well as they had earlier and I noticed the seat was lower than I remember. I guess Jason had lowered the seat. But what was wrong with the gears. Jason told me later that he dropped the chain two times on his bike leg. I had to hop off once when a guy in front of me was going to slow and became more of an obsruction going up a rock out cropping. I got over that, back on the bike and took off again. We had a long climb in the grass and sand and then we came around a corner and had a long downhill. I had to control my speed because there were lots of runners and other cyclists that were not moving that fast. Again, I was cussing like a sailor. Jason's wife spotted me and cheered me on. I hit a turn and everyone there stopped. I hopped off my bike and ran the bike up the rocky incline with the other people and then realized that it was time for THE MUD PIT. I saw Jason waiting for me. I dropped the bike, pulled up a pair of swim goggles that had been hanging around my neck, got Jason and we proceeded to get down and crawl under the rope netting and into the abyss. Woah! It was cold mud! And suddenly it was mud in my shoes, my shorts, my sports bra, my mouth!!! GAG!!! We had to get under 5 lines that had been strung over the pit about 2 to 3 inches from the surface of the mud. I was glad that the bottom was soft and there were no rocks in the mud pit. We made it out and sucessfully climbed out without falling back in like we saw some other people do and then we had to go up a slope and around a corner to the finsh line. Jason was slipping and sliding and I tried to reach out and grab him but he did not want to pull me down as well. He got his footing and we stumbled for the Finish Line. The volunteers cut the timing chip off my wrist and we were handed cold bottles of Cytomax which I had to refuse because it has maltodextrin in it--bummer! And who did I see at the finish??? The guy I struck up a conversation with at Wal-Mart the night before! He kept true to his word and came out to see the race. He gave me a congratulatory finger touch to keep from getting muddy. After some Muddy pictures we went in search of Jason's family. I was going to post the course map, but I am having a hard time doing that. All you need to know is that it was harder and more technical than I expected.

They took more pictures and then we gingerly grabed our gear to make it to the "shower" station which was a collection of hoses with spray nozzles on them and tables set up with jugs of Paul Mitchell shampoo. Jason and I took turns hosing each other off a few times as well as washing off the helmets and rinsing out the shoes. I had taken an old pair of running shoes and my plan was to leave them there. The had done muddy work before and it was time for these to go out with a bang and be retired for good. We thought we would never get all the mud off of us! It kept streamin down our legs out the shorts and then I had soap bubbles all over me from using the shampoo as a body scrub. Even though everyone was still partially dressed, you got some flashes of a boob or a crotch shot here and there as people were opening up waistbands and tugging at tops to spray the mud out with the hose. After this morning, Jason and I know each other a whole lot better if you get my drift. The only person of the opposite gender who saw the things that we saw of each other would have been our spouses and we are both keeping mum about it to each other because we have to see each other in the gym tomorrow.

Well, we packed it up and went to go see the results board. We came in sixth in our coed division. I felt kind of bad because Jason really wanted to get into the top 5 and at first he did think that we were 5th but had miscounted down. Oh well, there is next year and I am going to need that year to get better on my mountain biking skills! Jason's family was great and I did have a fun and very muddy time.

On another the Silverlake Sprint Triathlon, "Super Fast" Terry did it again!!! He held true to his nick name "Number 2" and came in second in his Age Group just 7 seconds behind my buddy Geoff. One of my gals, 24 year-old Katie came in third in her age group as well!!! Congratulations to all my super TNT Triathletes. Next week is their big race!!! I will have lots of stories for that as well.

Thanks for stopping by!



Viv said...

That sounds like so much fun! Yea I would prolly never do it, but what tough fun!! That is so funny at how you two became pards. With the 3rd party doing the asking, reminded me of jr. high. LOL!

I am glad the family took you in. You are loca sleeping ont the side of the road. Well you could kick some serious booty I am sure.

I am postivie next year the NADS will bring home the NADS of steel with a top finish!

Rainmaker said...

Awesome! I keep hearing about folks doing it. Once one is near me I'm definitly going to sign up. There's some similiar relay type obstacles courses that I'm thinking of doing - but none that sound that awesome!

Btw, I always enjoy the photo footer that you have at the bottom of the page. It's a cool photo that speaks a 1,000 words. The difference in the racers faces.

Paul said...

Oh yah muddy buddy is crazy! Good on ya. Bob is the coolest. I see him around town at events here all the time.

Eddie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Lazy Triathlete said...

I did a non named Muddy Buddy back in college. It was so much fun!! I loved the name of your team. Thats awesome!!

Patrick said...

Very cool...

My friend and I are doing the Muddy Buddy in Richmond, VA in July 08. He is the runner and I the mountain biker. Got any advice for first timmers to the MB???