Back in June, when I first signed Greg and I up for the Muddy Buddy, I thought it would be something that we could do together, something that was fun and not too strenuous. Something that would allow us to get out and experience some lighthearted competition without my heart feeling like it was going to explode out of my chest.
You see, while Greg has turned his body into a lean, mean, racing machine; I took a road less traveled, and decided to turn my body into a pudgy ball of dimpled fat.
Shortly after signing us up for the event Greg convinced me I should get back in shape and do some triathlons with him. I decided to take him up on the offer and over the summer months I began jogging, riding, and learning to swim without floaties.
As my training progressed and Greg and I talked shop, I began to realize that Greg is as competitive as ever and the idea of “lighthearted competition” was not on the agenda. Sure, there would be smiles and laughs, but those would come amongst gasps for air and an intense burning sensation in my lungs.
As race day approached I felt somewhat better about my physical condition. I had dropped nearly 20 lbs of fat, was able to run faster than I could waddle, and riding a bike was starting to be fun again. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but I felt like I might make it out of there without completely embarrassing myself.
This was the inaugural Muddy Buddy for Dallas. Dallas became a late addition to the schedule after the Austin event filled up so quickly. The event was held at Cedar Hill State Park.
Greg and I decided to meet at the race at 7:00 AM, which would give us an hour to warm-up and get organized before the 8:00 AM start time. We both got to the park entrance on time, but so did the 1000 other competitors that were racing that day. I ended up putting my car in park around 7:30; I think Greg was about 15 minutes behind me. This parking delay was the only negative aspect of the whole day – and it is a stretch to call it negative.
The race itself consisted of a 6.2 mile off-road loop, broken up into ~1 mile legs – each leg separated by a military style obstacle. The teams are made up of two competitors, with male, female and co-ed divisions. The idea behind the race is that one team member starts on the bike, while the other runs. When the rider arrives at the first obstacle, they hop off the bike, complete the obstacle, and start running down the trail towards the next checkpoint. When the runner arrives, they take on the obstacle, hop on the bike their teammate left for them, and off they go to the next section. Rinse, repeat.
Greg and I were placed in the 66-75 male division. They sent us off in waves, our age group was the third wave so we had about 10 minutes to kill before we began. Greg and I used that time to take in some of the more colorful characters. Did I mention it is normal for you and your teammate show up to this event in costume?
Some of the highlights:
· Mexican Pimps (yes, that was their official team name)
· 80’s metal dudes, complete with mullets
· Jamaican ganja guys
· Wonder Women, their were two of them
Greg and I did not wear costumes this year, but we plan on dressing up next year.
Leg 1 – 1.1 miles
Greg was doing the first leg on the bike so he started about 3 minutes before me. They staggered the riders/runners in each wave so things would be spaced out and safer at the start.
The gun sounded and Greg was off. He started behind about 15 guys but told me he took the first corner fast and tight and shot past most of them. I ran the first leg of the run in about 4th place, and went out way faster then I wanted to. The first leg was pretty flat with most of it on grass or dirt road.
The first obstacle was an 8 foot wall with little hand holds like you see on indoor rock climbing walls. It was easy to get over, one good leap got your arms over the top, and then you just pulled yourself over.
Once over I realized my real challenge lie ahead. I had to find Greg’s mountain bike (which I saw for the first time about 30 minutes earlier) in a sea of about 75 mountain bikes, lying on their sides in the grass. This was made all the more difficult by the fact that I had just killed myself running and my vision was still blurry from the effort. It felt like it took me 5 minutes to find it, although the reality was probably 45 seconds -- long enough however for about 20 runners to catch up to me.
Leg 2 -- 1.25 miles
The second leg was more of the same. Single track, dirt roads and some grass. This leg had a long uphill drag that forced some guys to get off their bikes and push. For me, the bike section was some active recovery time, a short break before the next section of run. Greg must have been motoring, I expected to catch him at some point (me riding, he running), but that never happened. This was confirmed when I approached the second obstacle and saw Greg standing there cheering me on. He was smiling and cheering, but I know Greg, and on the inside he was wondering what was taking his fat-ass partner so long. When I did arrive Greg grabbed the bike and rocketed off, I headed to the obstacle.
The second obstacle was one of those long balance beam things, about 3 feet off the ground. You had to walk across it. A simple task when your heart rate is at 65 bpm, at 185 bpm, it becomes a bit more challenging. I made it across in one try, and began my second run.
Leg 3 – 1.2 Miles
This one hurt. A runner caught me about half way through this section. However, to my delight, he abruptly veered off the course and puked. I figured at this point we were placed top 5 in our group. In the previous sections I picked up some stragglers from the earlier age groups, but in this section people must have really started to feel the burn because they were all going backwards – and fast. After what felt like a 30 minute interval I approached the 3rd obstacle. This one looked like fun. It was one of those 20 foot rope wall/cargo nets that was connected to what looked like a giant bounce house. You climbed up the rope wall, and slid down an inflatable slide on the other side. Done and done. It only took me about 10 seconds to find the bike this time around.
Leg 4 – 1.35 Miles
I am so happy Greg took the bullet and ran this section. Not only was it the longest leg, it had some mean uphill sections. The only thing of note for me on this section was the super fast downhill that emptied into a rock filled ravine. After the race Greg asked me if I rode or ran that section. I told him I rode it, but not by choice. It snuck up on me so fast that by the time I saw it, all I could do was lock my legs against the top tube and close my eyes.
The 4th obstacle was an A frame thingy. I am sure it had a technical name, but I don’t know it. You had to climb under the first beam, up over a second beam and then down under a third beam. It wasn’t physically challenging, but it forced you to think for a second, and at that juncture in the race your brain wasn’t getting a whole lot of oxygen. The result was a crowd of people starring at the volunteer manning the obstacle with dumb looks on their faces.
Leg 5 – 1.3 Miles
I only remember two things from this section. The first, that Greg came screaming by me on the bike and shouted “I couldn’t find the bike!” – evidently I wasn’t the only one who struggled with this aspect of the race. The second, was that I was in a lot of pain and this thing was almost over and if dear baby jesus you let me get through this I won’t ever sign-up for a stupid race like this again, that is until I forget how much it hurt and decide that it isn’t really that bad and you wouldn’t really care if I went back on my word, after all, it isn’t like I am punching baby seals in the head with orphans. I digress.
The last quarter mile was all down hill. I could see the Start/Finish banner and knew I only had one thing left to do.
The Mud Pit
The last leg of the race is the mud pit. A 100 yard dash in 12 inch deep mud. Teams must go through the mud pit together. So when I arrived Greg was waiting for me. You are required to go the entire distance on your belly. Greg and I got down on all fours and were ready to get dirty. Before I could even blink Greg was gone. I have never seen anyone crawl that fast. So much for a relaxing roll in the mud. I did my best to catch up, but once again Greg was waiting for me at the other end. I pulled myself out of the pit and Greg and I ran for the finish line.
Our official time was 46:55. Good enough for second place in our age group and about 16th overall. Team "Dowdy Yolk" opened some eyes on Sunday and proved that not only can triathletes fly on the road, but we can throw down on the trails and in the mud pits too!!
The post race atmosphere was great. Lots of vendors giving away samples of food and drink. There was even a mini muddy buddy race for kids. Greg and I both had a great time and plan on making the Austin and Dallas Muddy events part of our race calendar next year.