HOLY TOLEDO 2004 REPORT FROM KRISTIN BERNICK
I am standing at the computer because my quads still refuse to allow me to sit.
First off, let me thank you and congratulate you on a fantastic event...it was, no doubt, the most difficult challenge I have ever embarked on- and that includes childbirth...three times.
The Cypress Bend Resort was actually deceptively beautiful...scenic, nice facilities, blah blah blah...I got to the race around 6 AM, and was the last person (I think) to pick up my number. Very nice to be greeted by the race director, who immediately demanded "Where is Scott Landry and the rest of those Geckos?" Well, you see...I'm the only one that could come. I think I was one of three people from New Orleans. And by the way, being my size and lining up with the likes of Ashley LaSalle and Psycho Pro (I think that is what they call her...if not, I do not mean any disrespect) as well as a handful of other tough Texas Tri-chicks and a handful of other women that looked liked they could break me over their knees...well, it was intimidating.
In my opinion, the swim course was awesome. Despite being a bit short, it was rough as hell and I swallowed lots of water. I was thrilled because, though I enjoy swimming, I am slow, and I thought the roughness might even out the field a bit. "Great!" I wasn't nearly the last person out, and was excited to start that bike. Never mind the fact that the 200M uphill all-terrain sprint left approximately 2 lbs of red dirt on my feet. Oh, and not to be forgotten...the "Hey, we are going to start you with a 3,2,1 and then blow a loud whistle!"
The bike course was brutal, but very smooth and safe. The hills coming out of the resort were sick...I've never seen people jumping off the bike less than 4M into the race to walk up an incline before. Up, down, up down, rolling, coasting, pushing, etc...at the halfway mark I was accosted by people trying to serve me tamales. "No, thanks..." "C'mon, what's wrong with you? These are Zwolle tamales! Ya gotta have one!" I think my fastest 1/2M on the bike was trying to get away from the truck before I was force-fed a hot tamale. As I am sure you have heard ad nauseum at this point...the headwind going back was, uh, "challenging." Screaming down a hill at 40MPH made the 5.1MPH speeds coming back worth...sort-of. My whole M.O. with the bike is to conserve my legs for the run...I was really looking forward to that 10 mile run...I like the distance, and my legs felt good. I ground up those two last heinous hills (amidst more walkers...as a short girl on a small bike, it is actually easier for me to grind up a hill in the tiny gear than walk anyway) only to have yourself, and several other volunteers drive past and yell at poor "Boudreaux" (whoever that is). I distinctly remember someone yelling "Boudreaux, you lazy piece a' *fg%...there is a GIRL riding up that hill in front of you!" At this point, I am thrilled...I cannot wait for the run. I know I've got those two monster hills at the start, but I was ready to go...and excited to go.
The "run"...first 1.5 miles...great, hilly, but great. I hit the first aid station and got served exceptionally cold water (and saw the winner cruising toward the finish). One of the girls pointed me into the "gully"..."in there?" "yep, just head on in there." I literally laughed. There were people scrambling, rolling, tripping...basically everyone was hiking up these ridiculous hills. At that point, I realized there was no way my "run" was going to save me...Never have I heard so many expletives on a race course...never. I, naively, assumed one of the first sets of hills was the "pit of despair"...foolish, foolish, foolish. At a certain point, there was some "running" involved...on the rocks and dirt. I saw someone on the ground...strange thing is, he was in decent spirits. "This is great!" he said. "Killer..." At the aid station they said "we've only had a couple of fatalities on the run." ha ha. After repelling back down what I was convinced was the "pit of despair", I broke out across the street, ready to tear into the real run...which didn't exist. The second leg of 3-4 off-road was simply ridiculous. I have never seen anything like it. I slid my boy speedo'ed butt down several of the hills, caught all sorts of stickers and thorns in my hair, and valiantly tried to get to the aid station. "The turn around is right past the deer stand," said a bunch of people. Funny thing is...it wasn't...legions of people missed about 3/4M of that course by turning around "just past the deer stand"...from what I hear, another group skipped the "black rock" portion of the run that added another of those tasty paved hills you served up at the end. The spirit of camaraderie in this thing was like none I've ever experienced. People dealt with the situation in one of two ways: stress and decompensation...hilarity and cooperation. Thank God I am more given towards the second. I "ran" with several guys who were on the verge of either collapse, tears, or both because they were so frustrated with the course. I had a great conversation with a Red River tri pair...I think the quote was "Hell, as soon as I saw the run course I threw my time goals out the window...this isn't a race for time...this is a race for survival and bragging rights" True, that. At the end, my legs were so sore from navigating the 500 "pits of despair" (and as the course progressed, I found each previous "pit of despair" more laughable in the face of what was ahead) I was practically crawling home on the asphalt. I've never been so thrilled with a 4:50 whatever finishing time.
The race was absolutely fantastic. Everything it was advertised as, amplified by about 5X. You can pre-register me now...and I hope everyone who bailed realizes they missed a truly historic event. Don't ever change, Bobo...they broke the mold and threw it out with you. Please give me a holler the next time you are in our region, and I'll try to come by your shop sometime. It was totally worth the drive there and back, and I can't wait to do it next year...though I'll bring different shoes for the run. Thanks again.