Cramping where Lincoln Cramped

I really wasn’t all that enthusiastic about doing the Railsplitter Triathlon. But I thought the intermediate distance would be good to add to my training resume. A 1 mile swim, 36 mile bike, and 7 mile run was going to be interesting to say the least, so I registered. $90 later I found myself picking up Jason at 5:00 am to head to Petersburg.

It was still dark outside when we pulled up to an empty grass field. Registration wasn’t open yet, and you really couldn’t see anything. I pulled out my race wheels and attempted to air up the tires. I couldn’t see the gauge. It would have been nice if the numbers were glow in the dark.

They got a lantern lit on the registration table. I got my number and transition setup. I did a short run warm up and headed to the lake. It was at least 200+ yards from the lake to the transition area. This was either going to help or hurt my swim time, seeing your split was not counted until you entered the transition.

I was able to get a short swim in out to the first buoy and back. The scary thing about this swim was you couldn’t see the turnaround buoy. The course curved ever so slightly, which put the turnaround behind the trees. Before I knew it the director said “Go”. The 1 mile swim started. The water was rather calm.

I guess there were not that many people in the race. I didn’t care it just gave me a little more elbow room. I think I am getting much more comfortable in these mass start events. I am able to take a few slaps and kicks without losing my rhythm. Buoy after buoy, I eventually made it to the turn around. I took a quick glance at my watch and it was at 16:?? The course must have been measured correctly, and I wouldn’t be going under 30 for the swim. I made it all the way back trying to swim the inside/shortest line. About a hundred feet from the exit ramp, someone clobbered me and knocked my left goggle into my eye socket. I swam with my left eye closed for the last few feet. I came out of the water around 33 minutes. My mat time was 34:30 and I was 15th out of the water.


I exited the water on the slippery ramp and ran to the transition. This T1 was my claim to fame for the event. I grabbed my helmet and bike and exited in 22.6 seconds! I am very proud of this time, because I was not conscious of trying to be fast.

I started out on the bike and quickly noticed that my bento bag was rubbing my knees on every pedal stroke. Go ahead and condemn me now! I just put it on the bike the day before and never rode with it on. I thought it would be great if I could put a few Gu’s or Clif Blocks in there, and I wouldn’t have to grab them after the swim. I realized this would not work, so I emptied the contents and shoved them under my tri suit leg. I unvelcroed the bag and tossed it to the side of road. (I went back after the race and got it.) Now I could start my effort. I also started eating a pack of Clif Blocks.

I have ridden these roads a few different times and realized they were hilly, but I have never put forth a 36 mile hard effort on the roads. I had a tail/cross wind on the way out. I passed a few people and eventually caught my sister Kim after a long 6 miles.

My legs felt pretty good. I made it to the halfway point and refilled my profile aero bottle.

The hills were starting to stink. Somewhere in Site-M I actually had to get out of my saddle to climb a hill. It was ridiculously stupid! I do not like riding my tt bike on this terrain. I kept my cadence somewhat high for most of the ride, around 85 or so. But this did not help. Towards the end of the ride, I stood up and my leg just locked up. I couldn’t move. I came into the transition about ready to cry like a baby. I laid my bike down so I could get off of it. Pathetic! I then hobbled into T2. Yes quitting did cross my mind.

I took my time. Bushwacker and Justin offered words of encouragement, Joe gave me the time gap to the person ahead of me. As if I had a chance in hell of catching him. I grabbed my visor, belt and somehow managed to get my shoes on without a major cramp attack. I ran out of the transition in a mere 1:30. It seemed like an eternity! So much for that 22 second T1! For some reason I was able to run, but that would not last long.

The run was two legs, first the a 3.5 mile out and back, then another 3.5 to the finish line. This first leg I found myself walking briefly at least 4 times. The pain was really starting to set in. But I quickly realized that running felt better then walking or stopping. After the first turn around I spotted some friendly faces. Dave Bagot and Andy Peterson (former nemesis) were taking time out of me.


I made it back by the transition area and turned left for the next 3.5 miles. I found myself looking back for Dave and Andy. It took some time but Andy came flying by. He was having a great day, and is a very strong runner. I was crawling, my legs were killing me.

I made it to New Salem park, where the finish was. They had us looping around the camp grounds and then entering the actually park were Lincoln once walked. I wonder if he ever got cramps from running? Wouldn’t that be cool if Lincoln actually cramped on this same path? (probably didn’t happen..) When I entered the park a guys said just go around the barrel and turn around. It took forever!  When I finally turned around I could see all the people breathing down my back.

Just a quarter mile to the finish, yell one guy. I said I could handle that. I picked up my pace. I could see Bruce Bennett coming up behind me. A couple hundred feet to go and my leg locked up again. I was reduced to a hobble, but pushed through it. I couldn’t lose one more place.


I crossed the finish in 3:10:58 with a run pace of 8:40. Ouch! It was good enough for 5th overall and an age group win, but my race went nothing but downhill.  All of the awards for the race were handmade.  I got a very cool mug/coffee cup and I will admit this is the best award I have ever got! (besides money)   This race may also be a turning point in my nutrition strategy because I can’t imagine doing a 70.3 event and running 13.1 miles with cramps.  Something has got to be done!  Let me know if you have any ideas?

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