Reston Area Triathletes RATS.net Logo

Race Result

Racer: Jamie Roberson
Race: FloraBama Mullet Man
Date: Saturday, April 16, 2005
Location: Perdido Key, FL
Race Type: Triathlon - Sprint
Age Group: Female 40 - 44
Time: 2:49:00
Age Group Place: 2 / 2
Comment: Fun Race at a Legendary Bar

Race Report:

When I saw that the infamous Flora-Bama Lounge and Package Store was sponsoring an annual sprint triathlon called the “Mullet Man,” I just had to enter. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Flora-Bama is a beachfront dive bar on the Gulf Coast that sits on the Florida-Alabama state line. “Mullet” are the fish that jump and scoot along the Gulf and bay surfaces, not the haircut, though there were plenty of both in attendance. But hey, a tri that starts and ends at a bar? Sounds perfect for a slow, fat triathlete like me, so I entered the Masters Athena division. Heather and I packed up my bike, our gear, and Farley into the Element and headed south. I grew up in nearby Panama City, so this would be a nice homecoming treat.

Although we had been forewarned about post-hurricane damage, I was still shocked on arrival. It still looks awful near the beach. It had been tough to find (1) a condo (2) near the Flora-Bama (3) that was open before Memorial Day (4) that accepts 85-pound puppies, but we were lucky to stay in deluxe quarters in The Pass. We joined by The Squaw, my fun friend from Orlando who earned her name due to her allegiance to the FSU Seminoles. We brought a blender, she brought a blender, and there was a blender in the condo. There was no shortage of frozen blender drinks fit for a Masters Athena.

But first, the race. The swim was originally supposed to be a 400-yd swim in a brackish estuary across the street from the Flora-Bama. However, when picking up packets on Friday night (it was a rare Saturday race), we were told that the swim was moved to the Gulf due to high bacteria counts in the lagoon. That, and the fact that there were still trailers, appliances, homes, and goodness-knows–what else in there. I had taken a brief trial run in my wetsuit that afternoon, and it was scar-ee.

Swim - 600 yd (15:39): I set up my transition area and decided to skip the wetsuit, since the water was reputedly warm. Since I was going to be dealing with the uncertainty of open-ocean-type swimming, I also did not want to deal with the claustrophobic feeling that I get from swimming in a wetsuit. The water temps were fine, the tides were rolling our way, and we were off in waves.

Well, kinda. I bounded out to the first buoy about 50 yards out and started to swim, but could not put my face in the water. I figured I would try again after I rounded the buoy, but no go. My face literally would Not. Get. Wet. (without severe freaking out). My HRM was no help, since it had no reading – not an “00,” but a “—“ - so I had to go on PRE. We swam about 350 yards (so I was told) diagonally-ish away from the beach, then rounded a second buoy and swam the remaining 100 yards to shore. I did a weird breaststroke-dog paddle-dry face kinda stroke. Not pretty, but I finished.

T1: Uneventful but coulda been quicker. It helped being cheered on by “GatorJamie’s Road Crew” – as designated by Heather, who had brought blue Dri-Fit shirts for herself and our friends and pre-marked them.

Bike 15 miles, includes T1 & T2 (1:19:33): This was a pretty straightforward out-and-back along the Gulf coast. There was a nasty bridge over Perdido Pass near the beginning and end. It was fine on the way out, but hellish on the way back. I could see whitecaps on the Gulf that indicated a kicked-up wind that made its presence known on the way back. I couldn’t tell how fast I was going – somehow my speedometer got dinged in the transition area, but I’ll guess that I averaged 20+ mph out on the smooth, new asphalt roads, and 10-12 coming back.

T2: My philosophy is that if you’re over 40 and overweight and love this sport, you’d better have fun. So I declared myself the “MULLET QUEEN,” complete with pink satin sash and tiara, and crowned myself in T2.

Run - 4 miles (74:01): Mullet Queen or not, I was revisited by my old enemy, high ankle pain, immediately on the run. I’ve been working on ways to beat this, but nothing helped that day. My bike time had been so slow on the return that I knew that I wasn’t going to make my goal time of 2:15. I was reduced to a walk. The pain eventually subsided but too late to make up any kind of time when I returned into the headwind on the same course as the bike.

Total: 2:49:12

Still, I managed to finish my longest event yet. I figured that I had finished DFL, so we all packed my gear and went back to the condo to clean up and dive into the first of endless dozens of oysters. Imagine my surprise when we later headed back to the Flora-Bama for post-race liquid-carb-loading and were advised by the event staff that (1) I was not, in fact, DFL, as a 72-year-old man had finished after me, and (2) I finished second in the Masters Athena category! Woo hoo! Luke N. had said to “Bring home hardware!” when we were on a W&OD ride just before I left, and… I did!

All in all, a great race. Highly recommended for first timers and serious athletes. There were plenty of both in abundance. I learned some lessons and made some tough decisions based on this race, though. Primarily, I’m going to skip Columbia this year in favor of the Open-Water Swim Clinic held 5/22 in conjunction with the Jim McDonnell lake swims on 5/29. I also need to work on running, build leg strength, and drop a few pounds so that headwinds aren’t as onerous.

Next up: Having decided to skip Columbia, I added the Worldgate Sprint this coming Sunday. Though my limiters are what they are, I love that I now have the ability to say, “hey, I’ll do a sprint race this weekend.” Good thing it's in a pool.