Once again, we drove overnight, and I had just over an hour of sleep when we stopped for about 90 minutes just south of Jacksonville, Florida. We were sitting in our van after 11pm with a 4.5 hour drive ahead of us, and needing to arrive in Kingsland, Georgia for 6:00am.
It was a grind, but that's how we roll.
Video journal of the race...
We got there at 5:45am, and I immediately crawled into bed while Fennario crashed out. I couldn't sleep, but just laid there for about 25 minutes. I was exhausted, and just wanted this race over.
All of that changed the moment we got out of the van, and headed to the registration area to pick up our race kit.
Wolf under moon...
Kingsland, Georgia LOOOOOVED my Fennario! She stole the show from the second she showed her face. Yup...here's me takin' a back seat again. (Giggle.)
The first thing I was looking at though was the sweet lookin' ball hoop that was in the middle of the park area...that had the triathlon mobile office trailer parked right underneath.
"Hot damn, I wanna shoot on that!"
Fennario led the way to the registration area. She was excited to be in the action, and the action was excited to have her immersed within it.
I had numerous conversations about my sweet doggie-o, and then got my race kit.
"OK, 'Nario, let's go...we gotta go get ready!"
Oh my goodness, these people were so nice, it was crazy! I loved it. I loved the location, and I loved that it was a low-key, "Ma & Pa" kinda race. This is the kind that's built for me and my style.
I love the big fancy races with zillions of people, grandstands and loud speakers, but indicative to my life of living in the bush up the side of a mountain in a snowshoe access cabin for a decade, or my numerous other remote homes, I like mellow and incognito!
This was shaping up quickly to be the absolute ideal Steve & Fennario triathlon. The size of it, the location, the laid back attitude, and the kindness of the people. They were so nice, it was almost sickening. (Giggle.) You know that whole thing...
"C'mooon...at least be a bit of a prick to give the rest of us a chance!"
These people were great! Fan-freakin'-tabulous!!!
It was a bit chillier than what I had been used to in south Florida, but it was still just little pansy-pants weather. It was funny seeing people all bundled up. The best was after I got my stuff all sorted, my bike racked, and walked to the pavilion for the pre-race meeting.
I was barefoot in my swim shorts and nothing else while everyone else were in wetsuits, or had long sleeves on, and even some were in blankets. I saw one woman call over to me as I was approaching. She was bundled all the way up in a hoodie, pants, hat, whatever else, and said something about me just rollin' up in my shorts and barefoot through the thick chilly dew soaked field...
I just laughed at her and said that I was from the mountains in British Columbia, and they all needed to toughen up. She laughed at me and said...
"I knew you must've been from up north."
So, right away, I was exchanging jabs with these kind, but fair weather folk. We all had a good laugh about it.
After the pre-race meeting, a prayer, and the national anthem, we made our way over to the water. I don't even really know what to call that body of water. It wasn't big enough for a lake, but bigger than a pond, yet also seemed kinda river-y.
Who the hell knows?! Who the hell cares!! (Giggle.)
I took this after the race was packed up and gone...
The water was super warm again, and yes, I was in disbelief of people wearing wetsuits yet again.
Backing up a bit, because of the way the swim went at The Homestead-Miami Clash, I talked with some of the folks in kayaks in the water, as well as some of the race officials up at the pavilion. I just wanted to let them know that I'll likely be in last place because my lungs won't let me breathe, but that I'm in no danger because I can go forever, but it may take a long-ass time.
I like to clear that up beforehand if I can. It puts them at ease if my breathing kinda ceases up, and lets me do more of my thing. (The challenges I race through can be found here.)
**I'm still baffled by all of this with my breathing after what I was able to pull off this past August.
I wasn't the last to get in the water, but I stuffed myself near the back of the pack for sure in the self seeding.
I definitely was in my own head, and had some layering anxiety about how this was gonna play out, but at least I was prepared for the possibility of a lungs revolt this time. Part of all of that is the way my heart rate elevates like crazy, so I have to be aware of that, because not only do I have shallow breathing, my breath becomes erratically fast with my sky rocketing heart rate. It just feels like pure chaos in my chest, and the water is probably the worst place for that to happen. Luckily, I know how to navigate my way through that, but it is slow and steady with numerous ways of swimming along. (On my front, back, side and treading.)
There were lots of weeds all along the banks of this tiny body of water, and I really enjoyed getting tangled up in them when I strayed aside from not being able to see where I'm going as usual. They weren't a danger or anything close to that, especially because of how shallow it was where they were, but just kinda creepy to some, but not to me. I liked it. It brought me back to those overnight swims when Michelle was in the hospital.
(I know that I always connect the two of those swims with Michelle being in the hospital because they are completely woven together to play out the fates of those swims.)
10km Overnight Swims - August 2021...
The weeds on that first night way out in the deep dark freezing water were crazy to me. Yikes! This was nothing like that. Like I said, I enjoyed them.
I got my way through the swim. I have no idea how long it took, but I was in last place. I wasn't last by too far though as there was another guy in the transition area right by me when I got in to get my bike.
My transitions are pretty quick because of flip flops. I just put on my shirt and race belt, then slide into my flip flops as I am strapping up my helmet. So, even though I was in transition behind him, I was out before him. He passed me pretty soon into the ride. Most of that can be attributed to me immediately filming while riding to say something about my lungs in the water. When I am filming while riding, which I had only done for the first time last weekend on Singer Island, FL, it makes me go a bit slower than I already ride.
I eluded to this on film at some point when I was on the bike...
Everything in me felt like lead or cement. Whether in my lungs, with my breathing, or the way my legs felt trying to make my pedals go 'round. It was that 'running in quicksand' feeling, but on my bike. This was brutal! It was flat, and it wasn't windy, but I felt like I was going backwards. Goodness!
I never caught the guy again, but we kinda found the same pace with the same distance between us once I settled in. On the second lap is when I slowly caught up to my hero of the day. It was a lady on a hand-pedal bike. I had seen a glance of her in her wheelchair before the swim, and I was excited to see her out on the bike. I wasn't sure if she was doing the team triathlon, or whuppin' down the duathlon, but regardless, I was just psyched to see her out crushing it!
...and crushing it she was!!
On top of that, she was super nice. (Post-race, I found out her name is Ashley.) Whether it was when she was talking with me, or me hearing her talk with/to others, she just exuded amazing. Yup...it's true...
I totally fell in love with her.
What a fantastic human being...and a total bad-ass one at that!
Because of my body feeling like lead, I was glad when the bike was over. Usually that is my best leg, but it was brutal stacked onto brutal on this day.
Time for the run...
My fat blisters on my feet that started in Ft. Lauderdale four races ago, were torn up, but getting better. Not an issue at all. Even if they tried to hinder me, adrenaline would sort that out, and toss them to the side.
The run was the run. I hobbled my way through. Every step riveted right up through my spine to rest into my skull. It hurt. It was slow. It was whatever. Just routine for what it is.
I passed the guy who was ahead of me on the bike, but he only stayed steps behind me. He was 75 years old, and I heard him tell Ashley that his feet went numb on the bike and he couldn't run, so he walked. That's how slow I run...barely ahead of the pace of a 75 year old man walking with numb feet.
I could hear Ashley talking with him behind me for a couple moments, and since they were right behind me, I turned on my little camera and tried to point it back towards them without looking. Shortly after that, Ashley rolled on past me in her wheelchair.
I admit it, I was enamored with her. She was just fantastic. Because of the way the run course was set up, the three of us passed each other a few times. Ashley always had this huge illuminating smile. Yup, I will remember her.
On the back end of the run, we had to go off-road. I'm not used to that. Running off road is bad for me. The cushion as opposed to asphalt/concrete is better, but the unevenness is very detrimental. It wasn't that big of a deal though. Most of it just made me think of drunken fishing season from when I was a teenager way back in the day. It definitely elicited some excellent memories. (I made a quick video clip of that. Giggle.)
For the final stretch drive, there was no question about it, I was getting Fennario outta our van to finish up with me. I kinda wanted to take her on the whole run with me, but the windows were wide open in our van and I didn't wannna leave it all open for that long, so I just opted to let her out for the finish.
Fennario was jumping all over me, and popping all around. She was so happy to see me as usual, but because I was finishing a race, I couldn't just stand there to let her climb up into my arms to give me kisses like she does. Instead, she just jumped all over the place. It was pretty cute.
Maaaan, I love my doggie.
Just like before the race, Fennario stole the show again, and shoved me right in the back seat...which I was more than happy to embrace. She's awesome.
Ashley was right across the finish line, and we congratulated each other. I told her I filmed her, and she struck a pose on the spot.
Yup, totally awesome human!
Talking with everyone after the race was great. Immediately they're all trying to get me to take tons of food. I obliged what I could. I then took a back seat to my doggie-o again though. While I was telling a couple women what her breed was, a guy came up and asked me if I was in Ft. Lauderdale a few weeks ago because he has never seen anyone racing triathlons in flip flops before, and said it had to be me.
"Yup...I'm that guy."
Shortly after that, I heard the Race Director say over the loudspeaker that they had a couple more awards to give out...and then he called my name...
In my head...
"What the fuck?!"
...But out loud, I just laughed. I caught the audio of my reaction on video by accident because I wasn't paying attention to it, and had yet to turn my little camera off. I actually got a bunch of back end footage because I hadn't turned the camera off, which wasn't surprising considering the previous weekend I was videoing the inside of my pocket because I thought it was on when it wasn't, and when I went to turn it off, I actually turned it on, and then pocketed it.
Fennario shares all my medallions...
Another piece of the back end footage was something I was really happy about. Right after we had our picture taken for our first place slots (...me and the 75 year old man who took first in his division.), the Race Director started asking me about Fennario.
**I got his name later, Chris. Suuuper nice guy!
Chris was telling me about his dog that he had lost some years ago, and that he thought that was his last doggie, but his girlfriend has one, who is in the military. That immediately put the military hat experience from the Homestead-Miami Clash a couple weeks earlier. I still had yet to figure out how I wanted to properly return it to the military. I've just been too worn out from goin' so hard with everything I've been doing.
I asked Chris if she was deployed, and he said she wasn't, that she was at the Pentagon. In my head...
I started telling him about the story of the hat right away, and then asked him if he might want to give it to his girlfriend to properly return it in the way she sees fit for the respect it deserves.
Chris was totally into it, so I went back to my van to grab the hat, and the photos with me carrying it around the track. I also copied the story onto a USB drive quickly. However, I'm not sure if that was the fully edited version, as I think I dumped it onto my website, and edited on there somewhat. I stuck in a few of my cards with it all, and brought it to his little mobile office on the ball court while he was tearing down the finishing archway. I wrote a couple notes onto the envelope for the links to follow on our webpage about what we're (Me and Fennario) are doing. Stupidly though, when it was too late, I realized that I forgot to add in the medallion that I didn't deserve, so I had to shoot them an email to get an address to mail it to.
After everyone was gone, and the park was empty, Fennario and I went over to shoot a quick bit of ball. It was super windy, I was exhausted, and my feet were really sore, so we went back to the van for a nice siesta.
When we woke up from that, back on the ball court we went. I just had to shoot on that net. It was so windy though, and made it really tough, but I drained my share.
After we took off, I found some kind BBQ and then drove on into Florida the few minutes away, and instead of getting a hotel, just spent 15 hours in the welcome center rest area. I'd rather put the money to another race entry than a hotel room.
And that was that!
I decided pretty quickly that I was gonna make this triathlon my hometown race if I'm able to keep carrying on with all of this, pending sponsorship and visas. So far so good with everything race related, so I plan on being back to Kingsland, Georgia next year.
Chris - Race Director...
Courtney - Event Coordinator...
What a fantastic experience! I rolled in there exhausted and just wanted it over, and the people changed everything and turned it into an unforgettable time.
Go Kingsland Go!