Hello, my name is Chad Soileau and this is the
account of swimming, biking and running the 25th Annual
Crawfishman Triathlon in Bush, Louisiana. The distances for this
year's Crawfishman Triathlon were 1000m swim, 18 mile bike and
4 mile run. My goal was to complete the race in 2:30:00.
wasn't until race morning after I picked up my packet that I noticed
an old, familiar quote listed on one of the instruction forms inside
"Spanish moss in my hands, turn me into
Fond childhood memories of the adventures of
Crawfish-man, a series of graphic novels written by Tim Elder,
came flooding back when I read that quote. The books centered around
a mild mannered Cajun man that would turn into a giant, crime
fighting crawfish when he held some magical Spanish moss in
his hands and uttered the quote above. I even recall one of the
books was about Crawfish-man rescuing New York Yankee pitcher
and native Louisianian Ron Guidry from the bad guys that wanted to
prevent him from pitching in the World Series. I never associated
the Crawfishman Triathlon title with the crustacean super-hero from
my childhood. It was a neat, if not
unorthodox motivating factor for me and trust me, I need all the
motivation I can get!
Beth and I left my house just after 5:30AM to
make the trip to Bush, Louisiana. Bush is a TINY little town just
north of Covington. I had originally planned to leave at 5AM but my
alarm didn't go off for some reason so we left a little later than I
wanted. So what did I forget to pack in my transition bag? You
guessed it, earplugs and this time I forgot my race belt too! It's a
sprint tri so I wouldn't need to pack any goodies like emergency
toilet paper or energy supplements in my race belt and I always
forget my earplugs. I have yet to actually do a race with my
earplugs so I guess I wouldn't know what to do with them had I
actually packed them.
arrived at the race site at 6:50. I had to rush to pick up my packet
and setup my transition area. The transition area was on grass which
kinda sucked. I can't clip into my bike very well when the cleats
are full of mud. I finished setting up with only a
minutes to spare to get my wetsuit on and get to the swim start. The
"Lobster" division, which is Crawfishman's version of the Clydesdale
division, was part of the first wave.
The first few feet into the water off the boat
ramp was sand which I was pleasantly surprised. A few more feet and
I was in the nasty mud. Bleah! I hate that crap. The texture of the
mud has always weirded me out for some reason. I stood around and
chatted with fellow Baton Rouge Traithlon Club member Chris Boggs as
the race director called out the '1 minute to race start' warning.
Chris advised me to stay near the front of the pack to avoid the
kicking and I soon found out that he was right. For the first time I
was the kick-ER and not the kick-EE in this race. I know
at one point I popped someone good that came up behind me on the way
to the first buoy. I felt goggles with my toes.
I poked my head above water and apologized but he was already gone.
3-2-1... G-O-O-O-O-O! Crawfishman 2008 had officially started.
I was calm. Yes, you read that correctly, CALM
for the entire swim. I struggled very little and was comfortable for
the entire swim. I was in the 'pack' for the entire first leg all
the way to the first buoy before I started losing ground a bit. This
was mostly because I wasn't navigating very well. At one point I was
'that guy' that was swimming perpendicular to the course. When I
came up for air, the friendly volunteer in the kayak kindly
me in the RIGHT direction to the next buoy which was 90 degrees from
the direction I was currently swimming in. When I hit the halfway
point I started alternating between freestyle and breaststroke. I
would count 10 - 15 strokes freestyle and then switch to
breaststroke for 10 - 15 strokes. I read on the BR Tri forums that
some of the experienced swimmers were thinking that the course
didn't feel like a full 1000 meters. I must say it felt all of 1000
meters to me! I exited the water somewhat fresh and feeling good.
I spent more time in transition that I probably
should have even though I had little to no problems pulling off my
wetsuit. I pulled on my new padded bike shorts that Coach Will gave
me then slipped on my socks, sunglasses, gloves and helmet. I took a
shot of water, grabbed my bike shoes and my bike and ran for the
mount / dismount line. I probably should have put my shoes on before
running for the mount / dismount line but as I said earlier I didn't
want to get mud in the cleats and have
clipping in. I got the mount / dismount line and lay my bike on the
ground to put on my shoes. In doing so my aero drink bottle emptied
90% of my water on the ground. I had a backup bottle with water
clipped to the bike and the ride was only 18 miles so I wasn't
worried. As I left transition I noticed a poor guy have a zero mph
crash trying to adjust his shoes. I thought to myself, "Been there
and DONE that!" as I pedaled past him.
The bike course meandered through Grande Hills
Estates and out the back entrance of the neighborhood. The entire
course was tree lined with a few rolling hills. It wasn't by any
means as hilly as the course in Athens, Texas but I'd rank it a
distant second of all the courses I've done so far this year. The
police and race volunteers were out at all the major intersections
blocking traffic as we all rode by. The highway wasn't closed to
traffic but the motorists that passed us did so giving all the
bicyclists lots of room. I have to say the most difficult part of my
ride was reaching the 180 degree turn at the halfway point. I almost
lost it, forgetting I was clipped in, but regained control at the
last second and was back on my way to the bike finish.
miles and a few more rolling hills and I was back at the rear
entrance of Grande Hills Estates. I still don't have my bike time
because the race time keepers didn't record my bib number when I got
to T2. If I had to guess I was just under an hour. I dismounted and
ran to my transition area to get ready for the run.
T2 was just as slow as T1 mainly because I wasn't
thinking about what I was doing. I pulled off my bike shorts and put
on my run shorts and off I went to the run with my bike helmet and
gloves on. I had to run back 50 meters or so to dump my helmet and
gloves off at my transition area. I guess that can be considered a
rookie mistake and I'm sure one of the other racers was chuckling
knowing that they probably did the same thing in the past.
The 4 mile run course started with a hill.
Lovely! The run course, similar to the bike course, was hilly. I
don't train on hills mainly because there are no hills where I
train. It was a challenge but nothing I couldn't handle. The run
course meandered through Grande Hills Estates and I maintained
around an 8:00 - 8:30 pace throughout. I saw Chris Boggs just after
the halfway point turn around and chatted with him for a few moments
while I hydrated. He joked about my 'new' shoes which he gave me
after T-Gator as we exchanged encouraging words and well wishes for
the rest of the race.
increased my pace for the last mile or so until I hit the final
hill. That last hill was a challenge but after I crested it I could
hear the race announcer calling out the names of the triathletes as
they crossed the finish line. One more turn and I finally saw the
finish line. I burned out everything I had and crossed the finish
line just under 2 hours at 01:59:24:88. With that time I was WELL
under my goal of finishing in two and a half hours.
Great race! Great course! And, most
Chad Soileau, YOU ARE A
Chitin and calcium is hard but it's not Iron.
It's just another step on my road to Iron and that's all that
matters! I'll take it!
I hope you enjoyed reading my report as much as I
enjoyed writing (and living) the Crawfishman Triathlon 2008. Thanks
Best of luck on YOUR life journey!
May you reach all your goals and achieve all your dreams!