By Wendell Scott
Of all the Tri the Parks races, I had never been able to do John Tanner until 2012. Having registered for it a couple times, I had never actually competed there. One year it was stormed out and turned into a 5k. Another time, my son qualified for a track meet and I really didn’t want to miss seeing him compete.
After a great experience in 2012, I decided to return in 2013.
With John Tanner Park being practically in Alabama, I arose at my normal time with the car pre-loaded and hit the road. I have traveled to Birmingham many times on business, and I know that section of I-20 well. It’s not the most exciting drive, but I settle in with a tennis ball on my back, coffee and pre-race food.
I arrive early but, even with lights in the transition area, it’s very dark.
I wait as long as I can and then get my bike out to ride around the campground to warm up a bit and to ensure everything is operating as it should.
The swim is a one loop affair and it goes without incident. The starting time puts the sun very low on the horizon so sighting is a little tough at times, but I hit the beach with only one, maybe two from my wave in front of me.
The one loop bike ride isn’t hilly, but it does roll, so you definitely give your gears a workout. I’m catching people one after the other, and I fortunately don’t see anyone from my AG as I pass. Always good news!
Around ten miles into the ride, I start to get a tightness in my left hamstring so I start to work my gears even more to make sure I’m not pushing too big a gear. The pain eases, but doesn’t go away.
Finally, I reach transition and am very happy to see that there no bikes on the racks near mine.
I start the run comfortably and go through the first mile without any real strain, but my left leg is still objecting. As I top the hill and head onto the dirt/gravel section, I get some relief temporarily, but feel it again as soon as I get back onto the hills and pavement.
As I approach the run turnaround I begin to check faces for anyone who may be hurting and would be valuable for me to try to catch. Just as I start up the last hill to the turnaround, my left hamstring begins to affect my hip. I cautiously run down that hill babying my hamstring and hip. Forget catching anyone, I tell myself, focus on keeping yourself together and get to the finish.
The rest of the run doesn’t do my leg any good. By the time I hit the final turn to wind around the lake to the finish, I almost feel like I’m limping. Not good, and I’m extremely glad that this is only a 5k.
Finishing is a relief. I head straight to the First Choice Healthcare tent. There’s no line yet so I am almost immediately on the table. Everything he does to me hurts and not in that good “this is making me better” way. This was of the variety where you lay there and say to yourself, “what the hell have I done?”
Although he gives me some relief, he warns me to take it easy over the next few days to see how my leg/hip respond. I do a small-chain ring cool down ride to see if I can loosen it up. With the Sprint the Gaps coming up the following weekend, I have to be healthy to compete on that very tough course.
Wendell with his winnings after the Race.
Oh, the Goat Man you ask? Last year at John Tanner my wife and I chatted with a grizzled local guy who raises and farms goats. Not knowing anything about goat farming, he schooled us on the finer points of the goat varieties that he worked with and their market value. Apparently, he has favorites and often brings them to the park for a walk. This guy is a real character.
If you get the chance, chat with him for awhile. You’ll definitely get an education!