If You Never Tri, You'll Never Know!

Featured Athlete: Trish Bayles

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Y'all, this is one my best friends and favorite people on earth, Trish Bayles. I'm not even sure where this girl came from! She just showed up one day and was like, I want to tri. So we took her under our wing and she has since become our triathlon diva. Having knocked out Tradition's Triathlon as her first, she knew she wanted more. She went on to finish Grandman, Sunfish, and the Heart of Dixie triathlon. And that brings us to Ironman Austin 70.3 which I just HAD to share with you...

Ironman Austin 70.3 Race Report
October 26, 2014
"Well, this may get lengthy, so grab a snack or two….Hell, get five…better to be prepared! It may take you as long to read this as it took me to do the race. HAHA! Needless to say, this undertaking was ROUGH BUT OH SO WORTH IT! As most of you know, I was scheduled to do a Half Ironman on September 6, 2014 in Nashville, TN. I was able to see about 3-4 weeks before that race that I wasn’t ready to take on this task. After hearing my coach’s take on that race upon her finish, I can GUARANTEE you I wouldn’t have made it physically or mentally. Work issues were getting CRAZY and my health issues were getting just plain STUPID and I made a wise decision to step back and find another race that provided me more time to train and the time I needed to get my head back in the game. A little research and 2,678 race reports later and IM Austin would be my race. I had one obstacle at that point, of which I only shared with one person, the day I made my decision to do Austin is also the day I fractured my right medial malleolus (small ankle bone). This would be a pain in my ass, but I was going to manage it in whatever way I had to. Decision made and no looking back!

When you compare these last few weeks of training to the last few before my other half, I was happy with the results. So, fast forward 8 weeks to the Wednesday before IM Austin. Lisa, my coach, and I depart Gulfport for Austin. 9 hours, 15 snap chat videos, 3 Facebook dance offs, one nearby side swiping with a semi and a lot of Red Bull later we roll up in Austin to our hotel at almost 1am to check into our room where apparently they were growing, smoking and cooking cannabis prior to our arrival. We both immediately got a contact high and wanted to put down a KING SIZE bag of Cool Ranch Doritos like nobody’s business. Needless to say, we had to switch rooms and go to plan B and find another hotel for the duration of our stay.

On Thursday, we got up and found a hotel that was not storing illegal street drugs. Then we did what most triathletes do during taper week…..We climbed up 22 stories of mountainous terrain and ziplined our happy (well not so happy for Lisa, until the end) asses down a mountain at 60 mph while one of us wore a unicorn horn. Our tour guides were totally amazing and made this one of the most hilarious days of my life. Day well spent!!!!

Friday, was GET YOUR PACKET day at The Expo. We scooted down to downtown Austin for a bit then rolled on over to The Expo and met Brian and his wife, Jeanne and their precious pup, Oddie to sign our lives away and get all our goodies! All went smoothly and we were ready to go get in a quick practice swim. And please note, LORD HAVE MERCY THERE WERE ATON OF HOT GUYS IN THERE. MERCY!! But, I digress so….we went to a place called Barton Springs which was spring fed and it was gorgeous! (Please note that spring fed apparently means it's fed by an Arctic Glacier. Water Temp 66 or 67...BRRRR!). Brian’s swim was TERRIFIC!! Mine, not so much. Cold water and I DO NOT mix well, at all. That was an epic fail for me and killed my confidence. I began to have doubts that I would even make it out of the swim during the race because of water temp. After some coach talk and a pep talk from Brian, we decided I would go to the lake at The Expo after bike check-in on Saturday and test the water out and see if I could handle the temps. That made me feel a little better, but I was still having a small breakdown inside.

On Saturday, I went to the lake with Lisa early to see if I could practice swim and GI JANE manning the gate said “HELL NO” and offered a plethora of reasons as to why I shouldn’t swim in that lake like “its nasty”“the catfish are huge” “it has bacteria and it’s not clean”, all while she puffs on her 43rd Marlboro for the day. Really, Lady, Really!! I politefully told her I didn’t give two shits about what all was in the lake and that all I needed was to feel the water temp. She said come back later after bike check-in and see if they will let me. Roger that ‘BERNICE’, see ya’ in a few! We go to drop Lisa off at the The Expo so she can get in a 5 hour ride. She was going to bike our course twice and tell us if it was really bad or really easy. I scooted on over to the kennel show on the Expo grounds and tried to adopt 482 dogs to no avail. Athlete meeting was at 11am and I met up with Brian there. That’s when I was told we would have changing tents at T1 and T2. Good thing because I wear a bikini under my wetsuit and bike shorts formy ride and I MUST change at both transitions. Don’t forget that piece of info!! After the meeting, Brian stayed by my anxiety ridden side and took me to the lake to get in the water for another practice swim and to drop our bikes at T1. I thought I was going to throw up everywhere. I was scared to death I would have the same experience I did at the springs and see my dream of making it through this race go down the tubes. So, I got in and slowly moved deeper into the water. I had a few spasms in my diaphragm but I kicked around and quickly got warm. Water Temp 74. I can handle that! Then I hear someone on the bank say “UH, IS SHE OK?” It kinda set a fire under me and and I said…”Screw it, face in, stroke, breathe, swim bitch….SWIM!!!” And I did! Got out and about kissed the muddy ground! Confidence back and I was ok. Made my plan for race morning to practice swim and warm up…I would be ok!! Remember this info, too!!!! Got Lisa and we were off to CARB LOAD and back to the hotel to SIT! Somewhere around this time, I found out they wouldnot allow you to get in the water prior to the race. I was instantly sad and worried as hell! Luckily, the Ole Miss game was on and so as to not torture Lisa, I went to the hotel bar and watched the game. Damn it Ole Miss, I needed you to win that game!! They lost and I went to bed SUPER PISSED!!! I slept TWO HOURS…..TWO FREAKING HOURSPEOPLE!! I was a nervous wreck! My mind would not shut off and I had every disastrous scenario going through my head until 2am when something kicked in and knocked me into a coma until my alarm went off at415am.

Race day!!! Alarm goes off at 415am and I woke up tired and PISSED AT EVERYTHING!!! I didn’t want to race!! I didn’t know why the hell I signed up for this and even the planets rotating the sun was pissing me off!! I was not a happy camper. I ate what Lisa said eat, drank my coffee, got all my stuff together and was ready to leave. Off we go!! We get to The Expo to meet up with Brian and Jeanne, drop off our run bags at T2 and get on the buses to go to the lake. It was dark and hard to navigate around all the people but we got that done. We arrive at the lake to find out that….YOU GUESSED IT….there are NO EFFIN’ CHANGING TENTS!!! Did I mention I was already a ball of anxiety and pissed at planetary rotation???? Yeah, well, now I was pissed that Mars has rocks!!! Ya’ dig!!! All I could think was “How in the hell am I gonna’ ride a bike for 56 miles in a damn bikini!!!” I wanted to say “EFF IT” and go back to the hotel and go to bed. Luckily, Lisa was there to keep my ass in line and came up with a plan of using Port-A-Pottys at T1 and volunteer help at T2. Thank God for Lisa!!!! Can we say that again…THANK GOD FOR LISA!!! So, we make it off the bus to T1to fill our bottles on our bikes and check our tires for air and get in our wetsuits, pee, etc. 

 MY GOD THE PEOPLE!!! All I could think and say TWICE was get the hell out of my way!!! Walking across the field Brian steps in what we thought was mud to onlyfind out it was really DEFICATION RUN OFF from the Port-A-Pottys. GAG!!!!! He was not happy! Lisa cleaned him up and off we go to fix our bikes. I go to check my tire pressure (mind you I have never before by myself) and lose the cap for my tire in the DARK but I found 4 stickers while looking in the grass for my cap. That made my mood even better!! Luckily, I finished that and prayed not to lose tire pressure during the ride and scooted along to put on my wetsuit because the announcer said “YOU HAVE TWO MINUTESPEOPLE…TWO MINUTES!” Again, I encounter the mass exodus and told the man next to me…”these people are inspiring my inner serial killer and I have a lake where I can hide the bodies …ya’ feelme!!!” He totally understood bc he was plucking stickers from his bleeding feet and was quite pissy, too. We were a fabulous pair of PISSEDOFFEDNESS! OH…Are you asking yourself why I keep referencing stickers??? Well, let me clear that up for you….THEY SETUP T 1 IN A GOD FORSAKEN STICKER FIELD (and yes I am screaming…just like I did when I plucked them from my feet)!!!!!! 

 Moving on….I went to get on my wetsuit with Lisa’s help and saw Kim, Lisa’s friend who is doing the race and in my age group! WOO HOO, If I drown Kim can tell Lisa where to find my body!! I am squishing myself into my wetsuit with a cliff bar hanging out of my mouth and still bitching while Lisa was telling me to get my attitude straight and giving me my last pep talk! Wetsuit on, pictures taken and off Kim and I go to what I thought would be my death when I hear the announcer saying theywere letting us get in and swim out to the first buoy and get warmed up for 5 minutes. HELL TO THE EFFIN YEAH!!! I am back in the game!!! Ok, anxiety dissipated some and I asked Kim, “Are you nervous?” To which she says “NO” and I immediately want to drown her! But I refrained, I needed that energy for later! Then she says,“Listen, look how much taller you are, I have to work twice as hard as you forevery step, stroke and pedal I make today!” I thought, “Man, the struggle is REAL for you short people!” 

 We line up, announcer says “OLD LADIES LIVING OUT YOUR MID LIFE CRISIS GET IN THE WATER!” (that isn’t exactly how he phrased it but you get the idea!) We get in, FIST PUMP with Kim and we are off. Swim went amazingly well and I was scooting right along. Sighting yellow buoys and having a blast! I had aproblem getting off course on the back side where the current took me off a bit. But I got back on course shortly. Got tothe last 200 yards or so and this one guy who had been tapping my toes forabout 15 minutes decided to be a lil bitch and grab my ankle to pull me back. Iremembered what Luke and JG told me in the lake at Robinwood and I kicked the shit out of his forehead. When we gotout of the water he had something to say but of course so did I!! Needless to say, he blocked my camera shot coming out of the water. ASS HAT, that was MY MOMENT!! I am running up the hill and the wetsuit strippers are laying people in mud filled holes with stickers to strip their suits. As inviting as that looked to have a sticker filled mud bath, I refrained and said PEACE OUT HOMIES...I got dis!! I was running and looking for Lisa when I came out of the swim and I couldn’t find her in the crowd. I was bummed and plotted her death for moment. Then I had to switch focus to the upcoming stickerfield where my bike was ALLLLLL the WAY in the back. Apparently, I paid for the bonus package for IM Austin in that I got to run the whole length of the field to get to my bikeand back to the Port-A-Potty to change. Question, have any of you fine folks changed out of wetsuit in a Port-APotty and put on biking gear? No…..No one…..Not one soul……Ok, well good,because I am sure I beat your time if you did!! It did sound like assault rifle was going off in there with as manytimes as I banged an elbow, knee, my head or other body part into the wallswhile trying to get the wetsuit off!!! You are getting a good mental image right now, aren’t you? UMMM HMMMM...enjoy your giggles at my expense. Exiting the Port-A-Potty I hear the volunteer say “Bahahahaha, that was like Superman changing in a phone booth!” Me, “BA----HA----PLEASE, DIE (mentally flipping him off in my mind butsmiling bc I may need him to help me get back thru the sticker-mine field)!”Then he reminded me it was the Pros Port-A-Potty to which I told him...NOT ANYMORE!! (dude, seriously…the pros were all finished by now and at home eatin’ a SAMMICH!!)

Back across the field to grab my bike and CARRY it out so we don’t get stickers in the tires. I go to mount my bike at the line and almostzoom down hill head first into the bait shop because my damn bike shorts gotcaught on my seat and I was zig zagging out of control through a gravel parkinglot “F” bombing everything in site. Finally, they came loose and I came back upthe gravel hill to hear the volunteer say “That’s the funniest thing I haveever seen” Again, I am mentally flippinghim off!!

The first 15 miles of the bike ride were FAST and FUN! I was zipping along and never saw my speed drop below 17mph. I was thrilled for thefirst time all day and praying to God that the rest of the course was the sameway. Then to my dismay, I got my asshanded to me by the hills and winds of Austin, Texas. It’s true what they say, ”EVERYTHING’S BIGGERIN TEXAS!!” I don’t train on hills, people (my fault, ofcourse)and I have absolutely no clue how to use my gears on the left so I can spin up those mountainous hills like all of you. So, let that settle in for aminute and imagine what fun that was to go up those hills!! At one point, I am pretty sure I told Godthat being drug behind a Chevy on an asphalt road in mid July in South MS would be more enjoyable than that bike course. The course was ROUGH, in more ways than one…not just hills, butliterally felt like you were riding a jack hammer the entire time. Chip sealed and lots of cracks that sentpeople off into a ditch or over their handle bars. At that point, I began topray and beg God to please not let me have anymore bike wrecks. I saw so many between mile 15-and 25 that Iwas scared to death. The roads werelittered with nutrition paraphernalia and water bottles that fell off bikes because of the rattling from the bumpiness. It was more like an obstacle course than a bike course. I just kept looking for bottles andcracks…bottles and cracks!! I had planned to stop at mile 25 to pee but I was feeling pretty good and following my nutrition plan and figured I could make it to mile 35 or 40 where the next potty would be. But, I saw Kim and shelooked like something was wrong….so, I pulled over and stopped and I am so glad I did. She was not feeling well so Igave her some of my stinger waffles and she perked up and scooted back out there. I hopped back on without a wreck and fell back in line with all the riders. A few minutes later, along comes Jeffrey. He tells me “Don’t be mad if I don’t finish…My leg is in bad shape!” He has apretty rough hamstring injury and it was whopping his ass good out there. Itold him that was not the plan today…and I would walk him through the ½ marathonif I had to. We chatted a bit more andhe took off. Go, Jeffrey, Go!! Such a cool guy!! And I am back at and going up hills at 7mph and down them between 25mph to 30mph. This went on for what seemed like forever. I would just keep looking for amile marker showing me that another 5 miles was done. At some point around mile30 we turned into a head wind…..it was like a Cat 2 hurricane. Almost every person had something to say about the “lovely windy BLEEPING day we werehaving”. Its been almost a week and myface and lips are still chaffed, cracked and peeling from the wind. It felt like you were pedaling in peanutbutter and making no forward progress. Miles 40-45 were the worst. When I saw the 45 mile marker, I almost cried because I just knew it should have been mile 50 by then. The wind was thatstrong. When I finally made it to mile 48-50 I was met with the first of two hills that I had been warned about….”TheBitch” and “The Bastard”. Let me tell you this, those names are 100% spot on!!!! Ain’t no lying there! I started into “The Bitch” and met my friend I had been playing leap frog with for about 12 miles. He was in agony and cramping bad trying to get up the hills. I slowed by him (can you image me slowing down for anyone going up ahill…) and told him to sit his ass down and pedal with me at the same cadenceand we would get up the hill together. He warned me that I may get a penalty staying next to him and I reminded him that that only meant I would get a break, SO BRING IT ON BROTHA!!!! He laughed, I laughed and we pedaled together to the top. At the top, he looked up andsaw “The Bastard” and said “OH SHIT, NO, I can’t make it” (Mind you, peoplewere falling off their bikes trying to get up and stopping, getting off and walking up these hills!) I told him,“NO, we are going to do the same thing. Pedal together!! Just follow my feet and we will get you over it. Afterthis one….there are no more like this!! Now, lets go!” And we did!! It was a huge accomplishment for us both and I appreciated the distraction he provided so I didn’t think so much about the fire in my legstrying to get up those two Himalayan Mountains. We chatted for a minute and I told him to take off and go! It was like sending your little duckling out the nest! HAHA! The next 6-8 miles were great. The crowds and volunteers were amazing and super encouraging!! I did have a truck full of Mexicans throw me their phone number at about mile 52. Did they really think I wouldstop to pick it up??? A common misconception,but NO!!! I roll up to the Expo and there’s LISA!!! YAY!!!!! JJ J She told me what happened at the swim and I told her I would never forgive her (haha..just kidding) and tell me what my time wason the swim. She said 44 minute and I was stoked. Then I asked for the bike time…she said about 4 hours!! I was thinking…Hell, 4 hours, it felt like only 2!! At that point, I made up my mind…I didn’tgive a crap about my time any longer!! I saw crazy crap out on that bike coursewith people in severe pain from cramps all over, laying on the side of road,rolling around in pain. I was not goingto let that be me on this run. I was going to have a damn good experience!! My mom always told me, “Patricia Anne, It’s not how you start, It’s how you finish!” Her voice rang in my head loudly as I was changing in transition and I knew I wanted to finish happy! I could not walk away from this thinking”That was EFFIN MISERABLE and I never want to experience that again!” I just couldn’t. So, into T2 I snagged a volunteer and told her to hold a towel around me while I slipped out of biking shorts and intorunning shorts. She said “I can’t touch you!” I said, “Punkin, I don’t want you to, just hold this!” She failed epically and I am certain at least4 other triathletes and 64 spectators saw my nether regions. OH WELL!! I had to put on band-aids in transition because I was afraid of the blisters I might get. I should have saved that 6 minutes and justgone on because you all have seen the picture of my feet by now. GEEEZZZ!!! Oh and after arriving at home on Tuesday with a flat, I took my bike to the shop to find out I picked up a rock on the ride somewhere and it wedged in my tire and gave me a slow leak on the ride, as well. As Lisa says, GOOD GRIEF!!!

Onto the run, I had intended to stick to whatLisa told me to do which was 4/1 and walk thru water stops...which I call “grocery shopping”. You will see from my times, that I didn’t follow that plan - HA! So, to start my run, I stopped to pee!! (funny, right!) I drank so much for fear of dehydrating dueto the intense heat and no shade on the bike that I was about to BUST! Lisa waswaiting for me and told me that Jeffrey was just in front of me and was gettingsick. I caught up to him and told him no matter what we would get him through the run and he would finish this 70.3!!Like I said, EFF THOSE TIMES! There is a bigger reason why I do this shizzzz and I figured it out on that bike ride!!! Lisa gave him a plan to fix the problems he was experiencing; he followed it and in a few minutes he was ready to get backat his pace and run like a Kenyan! That boy is fast. He took off and I started my second lap and let me also add this, that run was STOOOOPPIDDDDD HOT! I poured ice in my shirt, my pants….everywhere.I looked like I was a cocaine smuggler. I had so much ice in my clothes at one point, I started shivering and Ithought, Hey DUMBASS EASY ON THE ICE! Needless to say, I was not going to overheat out there. I camedown one hill and was ready to walk up the next and found Brian not lookinggood. I started walking with him and hewas cramping really bad. His leg muscles were totally locking up. To useJeffrey’s phrase, THAT WAS GNARLY SHIT! I helped him massage out some cramps and walk backwards up a couple ofhills. He kept telling me to go on and he would be ok…but I told him that’s nothow we play this game. You don’t leave your buddies when they are in trouble. We walked a little more and got him up to the Expo and he was headed into cross the finish line…..and off I go to finish my last 4 miles. I socialized….Okay, Okay, I flirted alot….Don’t judge me…those guys were HOT!!! I met about 40 new friends. It was a FABULOUS last four miles and most importantly…I DID NOT WANT IT TO END!!!

So, I am coming into the finish and some guy jogs up behind me and says…”Let’s run in together, READY?” I said, “HELL YEAH!!!” We fistpump and OFF WE GO!! Coming into the Expo it hit me and I started to cry happy tears. I DID IT! I MADE IT!! It’s just like Lisa said so many times!!! A million thoughts went through my head but two stand out the most and they are this: 1) I can’t wait to see MY COACH & know that I have finally made her proud and show her that all she has endured to getme here is NOW worth it!! 2) How I wished My Mom could be at that finish line!! Well, my first thought did come true….I saw Brian’s wife, Jeanne, then Brian and then they told me to look and pointed over my shoulder…and low and behold LISA MCCOMBS had somehow become an Ironman Austin 70.3volunteer and she was waiting at my finish line in her volunteer shirt (that she probably stole..but, I digress--haha) to put that ridiculously expensive medal around my neck. BEST FINISH LINE EXPERIENCE EVER!! I hugged her and cried some more and then got distracted by this horrifically dressed chic behind us. It's amazing how your mind wanders when you are low on carbs…but If you saw her you would wonder to “DAFUQ IS THAT AND DID HALLOWEEN START WITHOUT ME?”

So, we go take pictures and then go eat. And, yes, I did eat a Cheeseburger and French fries. It’s a Christmas Miracle, I know. That’s when I got my phone and sawall the messages from you all. That justsolidified what I learned out on that ride that these triathlons are about building relationships for me, not race times or competition. If you are in my age group, by all means, please be better than me because I will be your greatest cheerleader. I LOVE to see others succeed and I LOVE helping them get there!! So many of you have encouraged me along the way and been there to support me just like I wasyour family. Some of you have taken time from your weekends to drive to myraces and support me or come meet me and train with me and help me get faster, stronger and better!! I LOVE IT and I have NEEDED IT!! My Mom’s passing was devastating for me and to have all of you as extended family after that loss has been life changing and I will be forever grateful!! The upside of all this….any Half Ironman I do from here on out will be a PR, FO SHO!! HAHAHA J

And, yes it was the best experience of my life and yes, I would do it all over again…every obstacle was worth it!!! IM NOLA 70.3 and IM CHOO 140.6…here I come. Prepare yo’self for this HOT MESS!"

~Trish Bayles