The Memphis in May Triathlon was last weekend. I have done the race for the past two years, but this year it was at a new venue in Tunica, Mississippi and it was part of the new 5150 series. I planned this race in my schedule due to the fact I could drive to the race and it was known as a lower end pro race. If I was a pro last year, I would have been 6th with my time and just outside of the money. This year was a bit different. The prize purse was bumped from $10,000 to $25,000 and as it was part of the 5150 series, many pro were there to earn points for the Hy-Vee race in September which carries a 1 million dollar purse prize. This had to be the deepest field the Memphis in May race has ever seen.
Race weekend started on Friday at 5 am. I was up and out the door by 6 am for the 8.5 - 9 hour drive. This year I was doing the drive by myself. I guess the one good thing about long hours of training by yourself you are used to staying focused without needing anyone else there to keep you on track. Another advantage of the drive was that I was all by myself so I could work on my singing voice with the radio and no one was there to tell me to shut up.
I arrived at the race venue with no problems. I beat my home stay to the hotel so I had a chance to walk around and check out the swim and transition area. Shortly after my home stay arrived. I was staying with the Barczak family. I meet them all, David, Alison, Mary, Tim, Matthew and Andrew. A really nice family and they were gracious hosts. David rented two rooms for Friday night as they were racing the next morning and one room on Saturday night as he was also racing on Sunday morning. They let me stay with them which was great as the venue was right out of the hotels front door.
The Barczak's are very active in the local triathlon community. This was great as I was able to meet a lot of the local triathletes. I heard some really inspiring stories. The one that stood out came from Jessica. She has stage 4 breast cancer and it has spread to her lungs. She had good news. As of her last visit the cancer had shrunk. She just had chemo two weeks prior to the race and she would be racing the sprint as part of a relay the next morning doing the bike leg. She also has started a non-profit organization with this a guy by the name of James. It is there to help support those who have found out they have cancer. It has grown so quickly that they have not had a chance to finish their web site, but when they have it up, I will post it. Many racers in the field were wearing jersey's supporting Jessica's foundation.
The next morning it was my local routine of getting ready for the race, but I also took in the sprint. Tim (swim), David (bike), and Andrew (run) were doing the relay. They had great results as they finished first over all with Andrew having a PR for his 5K. He is only 11 and finished in around 20 min. That is just flying! Probably why they call him rocket boy! Matthew did the race himself. I believe he finished 2nd in his age-group. I saw Jessica ride of on the bike for her relay. I am sorry to say I did not get their results.
The rest of the day was just relaxing, hitting up the pro meeting and then eating dinner at a friend of the Barzack's home. Our host name was Kim and let me tell you, there is such a thing as southern hospitality. Everyone there made me feel at home. I was really enjoying myself, but it was soon time to go off to bed. We said our good byes and headed back to the hotel.
The Memphis in May triathlon is a time trail start, meaning they send you off one at a time and the Pro's start last. Last year it was really hot. This year it was storming. I was not sure if they would even start the race for us. There was lighting in the sky and I decided if they sent us off and I saw lighting I would just not start. I did not think it would be worth it to jump in the water with that kind of weather. There as some upset athletes as there was talking of canceling the race and they were there to get points. If there was to be no swim, they would make it into a bike run, sending us off in a time trial format on the bike. There was a 45 min delay, but they did send us off as a full triathlon. The hard part of a time trial start is you really don't know where you are in terms of placing, you just go out and race hard. I had my own little cheering section as all the people I had met the day before were cheering for me. This was great because I think I had the largest backing of any of the pro's. I can't thank them all enough.
I had a decent swim, but not my best. On the bike I was passed by two of the fastest bikers in the sport, Andy Starykowicz and David Thompson. They both can just fly. It was a flat course and the roads were wet with a lot of standing water. I lost some time on turns aa I took them with some caution and it can be a bit nerve racking coming into a corner with wet breaks at 25+ MPH. You just really don't slow down. I will add a little time if it means not getting road rash. It was not my best bike. Legs did not feel right, but I biked hard. I hit the second transition and since it had already rained earlier and the age-groupers had already finished racing, the transition, which was all grass, was just a large mud pit. I had placed my shoes in a bag to keep them dry and when I put them on, they were, but two steps in and they were covered in Mud. I had a good run. I worked my plan and hit the turn around and tried to pick it up. I caught one runner who had started the race in front of me so that gave me some energy. At mile five I started to really feel the fatigue but kept pushing it. In the end I had a good time. I was a 1:56.05. Best time ever. The bike was a little short, but the run was also long, so it balanced out and it was a good race and a good time. I ended up 19th out of 26 pro finishers. It was a good thing I did not let up as 20th place finished just 1 second behind me. It was a shame it was a time trial start as that would have given the people who were watching a good sprint finish to watch.
After the race I went to take my bike out of transition and it looked like I had just done a cyclo-cross race. It was covered in mud. A quick wipe down of my bike, helped a friend pack up their bike and then I was in my car and off driving home. The drive home was a little harder as I had just raced, but I made it home shortly after 11 pm. A quick unpack and then to bed to be up at 5 am the next day for work and to start to get ready for the Capital of Texas Triathlon in one week.