The end is in sight, for both the race and the story. I had finished up my third leg around 7 AM and after some breakfast I felt pretty good. Not that I had any trouble waking up thanks to my cold shower that morning. But now it was time to zip around Houston in the active van while my teammates ran. Because of the staggered start times we had caught up to a lot of teams so there was a lot more going on at the transition points. The governors team couldn’t have been too far behind us because I actually saw him at one stop. He seemed in pretty good spirits and was happily taking pictures with a lot of people. While walking around at that stop, I ran into the wife of one of my teammates whom I had met a couple of days prior. She was running on another team so we chatted a little bit about how the race was going. Then she asked, “Do you have some BodyGlide I can borrow?” Now, I don’t expect you to know what BodyGlide is because I didn’t before preping for this race, but basically it is a anti-chafing balm that looks like a stick of deodorant. I responded, “Errh, sure <nervous smile>” and I tried to figure out the socially acceptable thing to do as we walked to the van. Luckily, there were some other people at the van. Instead of grabbing my BodyGlide, which I knew exactly were it was, I asked if anyone had some that she could borrow. Another male teammate, who knew her much better than I did stepped out from behind the van door. “You want to borrow BodyGlide?” he said with a bewildered look. “Yeah”, she responded. Then he asked the question that I couldn’t bring myself to ask. “You know where I use it, right?” I stood there awkwardly. “Yeah” she replied again. He looked at her as he tried to make sense of her response. “No, you know where I use it, right?” he asked again, to which she replied, “Yes.” You could see the wheels in his head trying to logically explain how she could answer yes and really know where he meant. At this point she, showed us her inner thigh which was raw and close to the point of out right bleeding. It looked really painful and I could then at least begin to understand her request. Fortunately, our one female teammate had joined us by that point and volunteered her stick and ended the awkward drama.
The rest of the morning was relaxed and enjoyable. I think there was one more transition to the rest van, but there was no point in trying to sleep at this point. I was excited about my last leg, which was 3.3 miles. I had run pretty hard on my first three legs and the previous one hurt, but I was planning on really dropping the hammer on this last one. 3.3 miles? That’s a warm up for a guy like me. As Matt came into sight, I got into position to run with him the last 20 yards to the exchange to make for a smooth transition. And by “getting into position”, I mean jumping out of the porta-potty like Superman flew out of a phone booth. Apparently the lady moderating this exchange point took her job very seriously and yelled at me as we ran through the “official” transition area of about 3 feet marked off in sidewalk chalk. We did hand off in the “official” zone, so I didn’t look back. It was about noon by now and it was sunny and hot. I hadn’t worn a shirt for any of my runs and on this one I could really feel the sun. I felt good though and I blazed through the first mile at an aggressive pace. There weren’t any runners around at this point and it was just a suburban neighborhood so there wasn’t much to it other than just running. The second mile hurt. I started to realize this wasn’t going to plan. Usually when I’m tired I check my watch a lot, but I didn’t need my GPS watch to tell me how slow I was going at this point. With about 3/4 mile out from the transition my teammate Rich was standing on the side and he asked me how it was going. All I could muster was, “bad”. I don’t know if he knew how bad I meant. I was beaten. Physically and mentally. If I would have been out there on my own, I wouldn’t have been walking; I would have been sitting. Luckily this was a team event, because Rich hopped out in front of me and paced me in. I know it was all mental, but it totally worked and I finished it. A few dry heaves as I walked to the van indicated that I had pushed it hard enough. In the end my average time was pretty close to my other legs.
4th Leg complete. Distance: 3.3 miles. Time: 25:31. Pace 7:45.
However, that wasn’t the end of the race. There was still one leg left, but there was no pressure. We were all just doing it for fun. Except that in the last few legs we knew that we would be close to finishing in under 24 hours. Luckily the anchor leg was assigned to the only Ironman on the team, Noel. Yes, she was the only female in this group of sweaty stinky guys and yes, she is an Ironman. Needless to say she pulled it off with 9 minutes to spare.
Total time: 23:51 Total Distance: 203.2 miles
So we did break the 24 hour mark and we ended up finishing 7th overall. Yeah, overall. The average pace was 7:03 per mile! Did I mention these guys were fast? And in case you were wondering, we beat the governor’s team by about an hour and a half.
The finish was at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. They had a pizza, soda, and sports drinks for us which we took over and ate by the reflecting pool as we reflected on the race. Our rest van crew had a surprise for us which was a cooler full of beverages. They had some high end selections, however feeling like I just earned my Texas citizenship I opted for the 16 oz. can of the “National Beer of Texas“.
Finally. The end of the story. Or is it?