"He's stubborn like that!"... or, How I finished my first triathlon!


That makes a TRIATHLETE
"He's stubborn like that!" That statement followed, these statements..."He will finish the swim!" "He will finish the bike!" "Now that he's finished the bike ride, I know he will definitely finish this triathlon!"

My beautiful wife, Merrill, said all of that to other spectators as I competed, Sunday, Oct. 2, in the Tri at the Trump sprint triathlon at Trump National Golf Course in Mooresville, NC. I swam 750 meters in Lake Norman (that's a LONG ways), rode 13.25 miles (it is painful to ride a bike after having swam 750 meters) and ran 3.1 miles (there was SOME running). This was my FIRST triathlon.

The day began very early in the morning, 4 a.m. to be specific. A wake-up alarm going off that early is extremely annoying. Getting two teens and one preteen up and out of bed at that time is challenging, but M1, M2 and G were good. The car was loaded up and we got on the road for the one-hour drive up to Mooresville. Surprisingly for the time, there was quite a bit of chatting in the car. Much more than I imagined there would be.
We got parked a little more than one hour before the start time. I was able to set up my transition area (T) how I thought I wanted it. Thankfully, Merrill and I had already watched a triathlon, she had run an add-on 5K with another and she participated in one. Plus, we have many friends in a Facebook group who are triathletes. This helped with my plan to set it up. At least I didn't feel like a rookie. LOL

With everything in it's place (shoes, shirt, helmet, gloves, water, visor, etc.) Merrill went to the car to get Hello Kitty (HK). As I found out later, HK was Merrill's sense of security during the race, especially during the bike portion. More about that later. The girls and I walked on a boardwalk along the area where the swim portion was to be held. This became my "Oh My God" moment when I realized how far swimming 750 meters really would be. I do have to say it looked calm and pretty!
On to the race day...a broken wrist, a new school year that began with several events happening that were very serious and as everyone could say, LIFE. These could all be excuses for how the day turned out. They all happened and couldn't be used as excuses. I knew coming into the day that I just wanted to finish. Get my first triathlon done and be able to call myself "A TRIATHLETE!" No excuses.
THE SWIM: As I already said, "Oh. My. God!" I hadn't had much swim training due to the broken wrist. The most I swam was 400 yards in a pool with stopping at each end. Yeah, I know. Not enough at all. That is less than half of 750 meters. There were four waves of groups and I was in the last one with the novice master males and other groups. Getting in the water, I realized this was much warmer than the Mecklenburg Aquatic Center pool water. I have read about people having a hard time with their first or any open water swim, because it is not a controlled situation like a pool. I can honestly say, I did fine. Ok, so the swim...I was in the back and knew that I would be. What I was surprised about is there was someone else, much younger and fitter looking, behind me. I struggled as I knew I would. I basically swam from buoy to buoy with rest breaks on the lifeguard kayaks. I waved a couple of times to the shore because I knew Merrill and the girls were watching. I couldn't tell if they were waving back because I didn't have my glasses on and don't have prescription goggles. What a fantastic group of lifeguards. I spent 3/4 of the swim with Amanda. She had a green kayak. This helped Merrill and the girls know where I was. Well, that and the PINK cap. I swam freestyle and frogstyle on my back. The times on my back were peaceful. Looking up at the blue sky and the wispy clouds put me at ease. I did a lot of thinking about a lot of people (too many to name, but here's a few, MY WIFE, MY GIRLS, Shawnee Urano, Sub-30 Tri Club, Sub-30 Club) during that time. "I had to finish this." "There is no way I am being rescued by the sheriff's boat." "Time doesn't matter." "The kids at the Children's Hospital Los Angeles CAH Clinic need to know I did this." Those were many of my thoughts. Amanda kept being encouraging. I constantly thanked all the lifeguards for being out there with me. They kept saying that there was no way they could do this, so be proud of what you're doing. I rounded the last buoy and headed towards shore. I could see the carpet leading up to the clubhouse and the Wobbly Man next to it. I finally got to the shore and walked along the carpet...EXHAUSTED and way out of breath. Merrill and the girls were there to cheer me in. But, I did it. I swam 750 meters!!!!! I knew I was going to finish because, I AM STUBBORN LIKE THAT! 35 minutes 49 seconds. I didn't care at all about the time. I was happy.
T1: I got to where my bike was racked and was exhausted and running on adrenaline. Still breathing hard. First thing I did was get my swim cap off. Next, I immediately grabbed a bottle of water, drank most of it, and then most importantly took 3 Endurolyte capsules (Thanks Hammer Nutrition for creating these). This is my smart Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia mind kicking in. Thank you, Dr. Spitz for recommending these. They are almost literally a life saver. Finally, I got my helmet, shirt, socks and shoes on and grabbed my bike to go for the 13.25 mile ride. As I hurried to the bike start I put on my gloves. It's kind of tricky to do that while hurrying with a bike.  4 minutes 40 seconds
My "tri" bike, Haro Double Peak mountain bike.
Or as one man said, that is certainly different.
I have to use what I have.
BIKE RIDE: Overall this was pretty straight forward. It was tough to get going well, because I had spent so much energy swimming. The hills were tough. My legs were screaming. And my lungs. And my dry mouth. It was a battle to drink and hydrate. I had one bottle of water and one bottle of watered down Gatorade. There were a couple of good downhills, but not what I was hoping their would be. At one point while shifting gears, my chain got all messed up and felt like it came off. I thought my day was over. I came to a stop to look. I figured, let me drop down in gears and see what that does. “Hey! What do you know? It worked!” YAY ME! I did an on course fix. All the time while I rode, I kept waiting for the guy who finished the swim after me to come flying by. I waited and I waited. I had my clunky, knobby tired mountain bike. He had his road bike. Then there was a 90-degree turn that I took and finally saw him. Crap! I kept riding my race. If he did pass me I would have been fine, but there was a little pride in staying ahead of him even though he was cutting into my lead from the swim. There was one part of the ride I got more than a little nervous about. Water went across the road. If you have followed my blog, I had a really bad crash a few months ago on a wet bridge. (https://goo.gl/9kWOlr) I slowed down and saw there was an area that was only a little wet. I went to that side and rode through. The last part of the ride was back into the area where people who were finished were walking. One truck that was going to pull out to leave worried me, so at the top of my lungs I yelled, “BIIIIIKE!!!!!!!!” I think everyone for a quarter mile around heard me yell this. So did the driver. Done with the bike ride and still ahead of the young dude. 1 hour 8 minutes
Merrill told me that once I finished the bike ride she knew I would finish, no matter what, because, again, I AM STUBBORN LIKE THAT. I wasn't not finishing!

T2: I hurried around with my bike to my spot. It's easy to find when almost all the bikes are gone. Racked my bike and got to work getting ready for the run. Helmet came off. At that point the guy behind me came in. I knew my lead would be gone soon. Darn gloves wouldn't come off. This took work. I grabbed the wrist and pulled them off inside-out. Threw them down, only to discover after the race that one ended up in the front spokes of my bike! LOL I drank some more water, got my visor and bib belt. Then I took off. I was still ahead of the other guy. 1 minute 42 seconds
Waiting for Dad to finish!

RUN: Follow the blue arrows on the ground. That was the instructions I received as I left T2. Are you kidding me, three steps to go down?!?! “Oof!” When I was about 100 feet away from those I heard the same exclamation from guy behind me. LOL He then passed me after another 100 feet.  This was then followed by a good sized hill. At the top were Merrill and the girls! This was a great thing to see. They cheered and we briefly chatted. The 3.1 mile run was just that, a 3.1 mile run. The water volunteers were still there and extremely friendly. I think they got excited when I told them I was the last one to come through and they were done. The last part of the run went along the cart path of the 17th hole and then the path to the 18th. So beautiful! As I came down the wooden path and saw the finish line, I would in a minute or so be a TRIATHLETE. My only worry was that since I was DFL (Dead Freaking Last) and the inflatable would be deflated and no one would be there to give me my medal. I was wrong. I saw Merrill, M1, M2 and G standing near the finish line. This was the moment I started getting emotional. Then I crossed the finish line with my arms raised and heard the announcer say, “Here is the myth and the legend…Brian Hacker from Matthews, North Carolina. You are a 2016 Triathlete!” I AM A TRIATHLETE!!!!! This was nowhere near an IRONMAN competition, but to me at that moment it sounded like Mike Reilly announcing that someone is now an IRONMAN. I got the medal and a high five to complete my finish. The funny thing is that I had fun telling the kids that were handing out the medal that they were all done. I was THE LAST finisher of the 2016 Tri at the Trump sprint triathlon and am extremely proud of that. 41 minutes 29 seconds.
TOTAL TIME: 2 hours 31 minutes 38 seconds. Many people have much, much faster times, including 147 other finishers that day. I don't care at all. This is my PR (Personal Record) and I am proud of it. It is MY time.
AFTER THE FINISH: The emotions and soreness overcame me quickly. The girls all congratulated me. They got to see their 48-year old, somewhat out of shape, average Dad do something that he in a million years never thought of doing before a few months ago. Then Merrill came over and gave her sweaty, exhausted husband a hug! She said the words that still make me teary, “YOU ARE A TRIATHLETE!” Finally, Hello Kitty congratulated me. It's been a rough few months for us, but my training partner was there. It was then that Merrill told me how much comfort Hello Kitty gave her during the whole race, but especially during the bike portion. She gets scared anytime I am on my bike. We went and got my bike and other equipment, loaded up the car and then drove home. The long morning was done. I went home, showered and collapsed on the couch. The aches, pains and headache did eventually come, but I worked through them.

How did I finish this: I AM STUBBORN LIKE THAT!
WHAT'S NEXT?: Charlotte Half-Marathon on November 12. As an Instagram post from Jones Racing Company said, the triathlon season is over. I was their final participant of 2016. I will continue training, but not as frantically as I had been. There aren't any 2017 triathlons listed, yet. My long term goal is next September, IRONMAN 70.3 Augusta. There is a lot of training that needs to be done.
In the meantime, I will be flying to California in November to go speak to a group of children and families who are patients at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, specifically the Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia Clinic. Dr. Mitch Geffner, co-director of the clinic, was kind enough to invite me to talk to them about being a grown adult who competes in strenuous activities with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. Specifically, to the best of my and anyone’s knowledge, as the very first CAH patient at CHLA. These kids and families are so lucky to have the clinic and another organization, Cares Foundation, to support, care and advocate for those with adrenal insufficiencies. That is something that my parents, brother and I didn't have growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s.


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