"...In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or
brilliance. They either have what they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not."

~ Anonymous
(taken from Matt Erbele's, It Takes Time to Get Good)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Race Report: Billy Bob's Backyard Triathlon

Race Report: Windman Olympic Distance Triathlon*. June 2
2, 2008. Los Banos, CA
*Race SHOULD have been named: Billy Bob's Backyard Triathlon

Aside before I get to the race report: I am not even sure where to start with this one. Suffice it to say that I will NOT be returning to this triathlon, NOR do I recommend anyone do this triathlon! Aside from the RIDICULOUS misinformation, miscommunication, and general fucked-upedness of this triathlon, it was dangerous and irresponsible.

Case in point: NO canoes or surfboards in the water only one motor boat with one person, that was anchored about 500 yards away between the olympic and sprint swim courses. Only 6 "volunteers". I say volunteers in quotes, because judging from the amount of prison ink these folks were sporting, I am pretty sure they were convicts doing community service hours. No, I am not kidding. NO water on the bike course, no traffic control, only 2 officers stationed at random, and NOT dangerous, intersections and one motorcycle cruising BOTH the run and bike course. No food on the run course, only two water stations, where only one had cold water. No ice. Anywhere. It was 101 degrees and they had NO ICE.

With that said, here is the rest of the story...


My LA run buddy were meeting up in Los Banos the day before the race for packet pick up since there was NO race day pick up. Ummm, there were LITERALLY 35-40 people that did this race (sprint and olympic combined) you couldn't handle packet pick up in the morning? Whatever. We got a hotel room and got to hang out and visit.

We drove the bike course and noticed that there were actually 3 steep-ass climbs versus the ONE steep-ass climb that was discussed on the website and the packet information. Pictures: 1. Goats with babies! 2. LA run buddy not thrilled about stopping in 100 degree heat to take pictures of goats.

It was HOT, HOT, HOT in Los Banos. I think it, honestly, may be where the Devil, himself vacations when he wants to get away to somewhere a little warmer.

Race Morning

We got to the race start and it was already warm. Almost uncomfortably warm at 6:30 in the morning. Not a good sign. The race start was delayed for 30 minutes while we waited for the ambulances to arrive (it was required for them to be there before the race could start) He announced that we would have to prove we could swim freestyle before we could start, so after we swam for about 5 seconds he pronounced that we were all fit to swim (???) and the race started. Picture: LA run buddy setting up her transition.

The swim (1500 meters, time: 34:13)

Now, you may be stunned by that time. I sure was. I was DFL in the swim. I presume, judging from all the other half-assedness of this race, that the swim was short. Whatever. Still a very fast swim for me and I will take it. I felt good on the swim and I did not stop other than to clear my leaky goggles. Picture: Pre-race ham shot with our swim gear! So flattering!

T1: 3:20

The bike
(24.0 miles. Billy Bob clearly can't measure or does not know the Olympic distances, time: 1:34:16)

The bike started with a steep 1/4 mile hill out of transition and then screamed down a very steep, very scary hill, then went up a long steep climb that got increasingly steeper and had the sun beating on your back. It was already 95 degrees at this point. Once out in the valley the course was FLAT, but there was quite a bit of wind (it IS called the Windman, so I can't really bitch about that) I rode hard. It was pretty hot and the three people I passed were never seen again. They must have turned around and quit. Several people did. It was brutally hot. There was no relief from it because there were NO TREES. It was as if Los Banos banned trees and exiled them from the community. Not one bit of shade anywhere. I tried to keep drinking, but at the same time conserve water since I now knew there would be no aid on the bike course. Coming back in was tough the climbs were brutal. I honestly thought I would have to stop on the last hill because it was so steep, but I just kept pushing and eventually made it back to transition. Picture: Elevation for the bike.

T2: around 4:00 (not sure on time)

When 1 came in to T2 it was about 101 degrees There were about 1/4 (about 10) the bikes left. I asked a girl if they were all done. She said "Hell no, they all left. Fuck this!" as she picked up her stuff and rolled her bike to her car. A couple of minutes later my LA run buddy came in. She was babbling incoherently, " I had a bad bike. I can't do this. I can't do this." She looked bad. Apparently she had thrown up twice on ride. She is a MUCH better cyclist than me so the fact tha I came in before her tells me that she had a VERY bad ride. I gave her cold water from our cooler and told her to sit down. I went to the bathroom and when I came back she had thrown up again. She had goosebumps all over her arms. I told her, "You are NOT going out on the run. You are hyperthermic. Go get in the water." I adore my LA run buddy. I love her more than I can adequately express here, but she is STUBBORN. She starts walking up the hill out of transition with me. I refuse to go up the hill. I tell her I am quitting she needs to get in the water. She continues to walk. She looks back, "I promise I won't run if you go ahead. You are fine. Go ahead." She was right. I was fine. I was hot, but I have been training in the heat and she hasn't. I knew my only chance of getting her to turn around is if she couldn't see me anymore. So I ran up the hill and out to the run course.

The run (6.2 miles, time: 1:29:02)

To call it a 'Run' is strong. It was more of a walk, walk, run, 'fuck this', walk, walk, run, 'fuck this', repeated for 6.2 miles. Once you ran up the hill out of transition you entered a trail that ran up a hill and around a loop and back out. You had to do the trail loop twice then run back into transition. Picture: Elevation for the run.

Once out on the trail is was even hotter. There was NOTHING to look at to distract you. I give you exhibits A and B: Pictures from run A: View from the right, B: View from the left. Nice huh?

On the first loop I saw about three runners that were hardcore and were finishing. Then I saw four other runners. Only two of those stayed to do the second loop. It was brutally hot. I met a guy that was babbling, "no water. not enough water here" and said his friend told him that there was no water at the second aid station. He was not looking good. I gave him water (reluctantly I'll admit, but I decided if there really wasn't water at the second aid station I was going to call it a day anyway)

After that we were in it together. We ran the downhills and flats and walked any sort of incline. We reached the second aid station and the guy not only had water, he had cold water. He was the only one with forethought to freeze his water bottles. I thanked him profusely and we set off to finish the first loop. Mario, my new run buddy, was not doing well. When we reached the road we had to run around a sign and re-enter the trail. It was noticeably cooler on the road and was very difficult to go back out on the trail. The aid station was at the road. We filled up our water bottles and I told Mario to pour water on his arms and legs and over his head. He when he did and the breeze caught him he looked at me like I was the Messiah. "You are the smartest woman I have ever met." These were the first words he had spoken since the "no water" babble. I said, "Come on buddy (I didn't know his name yet) let's finish this bitch!" and we set out on the second loop.

Picture: Me and Mario after finishing the second loop. We are at the aid station on the road. It had closed down but they left us a bottle of water.

Now we just had a little over a 1/4 mile down hill to the finish. I told him we had to run it in. We had worked too hard to not come in running. He agreed and we shuffled in.

We were dead fucking last and I was pretty proud. Time: 3:51: 58 Interestingly enough, a new Olympic PR. I finally broke 4 hours.

After the race, we noticed that the t-shirt said Windman III, this was Windman VIII. Nice. Recycled t-shirts. Asshole.

I had a great weekend with my LA run buddy. I miss her like hell. Picture: Post race. I think we got a little too much sun today.


Andrea N said...

OMG, the thoughts going through your mind are almost the same as what were going through my mind during my last 10K! (I know, I haven't posted the RR here yet, but it's up at EP).

Anyway, all I have to say is WOW! - you are amazing! I guess the next time I feel like I'm going to die from just running I'm channeling you!

Lou said...

Holy crap. What a nightmare! Nice job on your PR though.

E said...

I'm in awe that you were able to do all that in such extreme heat. You are my new idol! Congrats on the new PR!

Stef0115 said...

Holy Cow! That girl that packed up her bike and bagged the run? Yeah that would have been me.

LOVE this race report! You have the best sense of humor! Hot damn you rocked it! And of course I mean that literally. HOT. You were SO PREPARED. And to help another runner finish -- WOOT! You rock!

Great swim time and PR!!! YEAH!

Calyx Meredith said...

RBR you are getting more hardcore by the minute! Congrats on the PR - but what a scary race experience. There is NO excuse for that lack of support! Mario is lucky you were there!

Lindy said...

I was like, wow, what a crappy race...until the last little tidbit... recycled effin t-shirts? Absolutely unacceptable. Backyard, garage-sale, type race, WTF?!?!?!?!?! I mean, we all know it's about the medals and t-shirts, right?! Oh man! I am mad for you!

At least with the Chicago Marathon debacle last year we got real t-shirts!

DFL or not, you're still a champ. And DFL compared to DNF is worthy of celebration. It would have been easy to quit.

Reese said...

They left the tilde off the name of the town but in Spanish, Los Baños means baths or bathrooms. ¿Dónde están los baños? Where are the bathrooms? I think you found them. What a pathetic attempt at putting on a tri, he should be banned for race directing.

ShirleyPerly said...

Jeez, I can't believe that a race would be so bad. I betcha it probably was not even USAT sanctioned. But you handled it brilliantly and deserve a frickin' medal for not only finishing but helping others too. CONGRATS!!

RBR said...

scary, but it actually was USAT sanctioned. One of the hardcore gals even said she chose to do it because it was USAT and figured it would be ok. I bet she and others report back to USAT. It was ridiculous!

Here is the site:


Interesting that the results page is password protected. Probably because there were so few finishers

Erin Leigh said...

I can't believe everything was so unorganized first of all. I mean they have you sign those waivers but you might as well have been out there on your own.

I am so impressed that you stuck it out and finished!! You seriously rock.

Jaime said...

that is sooooooo scary. GReat job on your PR!!!

Jane said...

That is a sucky race. That's a good swim time though. Isn't it DANGEROUS not to have water or food? And it was an Oly distance, not sprint! I guess they pocketed most of the race fee.

Sparky14 said...

I'm such a wuss.
I finally made it to the gym to do a proper(ish) workout and started thinking (again, dangerous) .. this bike is boring .. and hard .. how far have I done? .. hmm .... RBR does cycle rides of 20 / 30 miles ... I die by 2 miles ... I am not WORTHY .. you are my hero ...

Sorry to heat that the tri was so sucky, but keep on truckin' ... I find you totally inspiring :)

Steve Stenzel said...

NICE JOB!!! And great photos!! I love the goats and your unimpressed friend!

Jeez, I'd love to have the middle of that bike elevation chart, but you can keep the ends...

And thanks for your comment on my blog!

Herself, the GeekGirl said...

You should write to the race director and share your concerns with her. The safety issues are a big deal. Otherwise, good job sticking out what sounds like a BRUTAL day! And hey, email me about Barb's race. Maybe we can get together for coffee/dinner/otherish?

Southbaygirl said...

Sunday was an AWFUL day here in California! I ran a short race on saturday and I felt ill and hated life-can't imagine doing a tri in the same god awful heat!! Fucking hot was an understatement for this past weekend!!!