While I never travel far for a 5K, I happened to have friends in the Cincinnati area, which allowed me an excuse to run a race there. One of my friends there is an avid runner and triathlete and told me about the Tri For Joe events, at the Coney Island Amusement Park, that took place on May 26th. It was a pretty unique experience as the events included a sprint triathlon (with the swim in a giant pool), a duathlon (run, bike, run), and a 5K that began just after the other two events started. It sounds chaotic... it was anything but.
I'm not much of a swimmer and while I was tempted to take a shot at the duathlon, my wife reminded me that the last bike I had ridden may have been a Huffy Thunder Road. Additionally, last year I displayed amazing coordination when I received a gash in my knee while attempting to get off a stationary bike in my basement... so sticking with the 5K seemed like the right move.
The number of people in the events was manageable. Approx: 340 in the Triathlon, 44 in the duathlon, 129 in the 5K. The day was a scorcher, with temps nearing the mid-70s by the 7:00 - 7:10 AM start times. The event was organized incredibly well, with each of the start areas near each other and the transition area for the triathlon and duathlon staged right next to the starting areas. The start of each event was separated by about 5 minutes, so there was no confusion. The courses were not particularly scenic, but certainly flat.
I did not care much for the 5K course, as it wound through the amusement park and involved lots of broken blacktop. Additionally, if I would have found myself in the lead (not going to happen), I probably would have gotten lost as the only real indicators of the course were arrows of masking tape on the ground.
Nevertheless, I charged into the blacktop jungle of parking lots and park rides and in spite of getting very little sleep and having not trained well since the birth of my daughter, I managed to crank out a 22:16, only 34 seconds from my 5K PR. I was thrilled to see how few people were in front of me as I came down the final stretch and I realized that I might finally obtain the elusive age group medal that I had yet to earn... ever. After catching my breath, I went to see the results and celebrated as I discovered I finished tied for 10th overall! And then I groaned when I saw I was 4th in my age group. Incredible. Stupid 35-39'ers.
But, most impressively, my wife ran with our 8 month old in the running stroller. She had trained all of one time with the thing, and like I said, it was very hot. Apparently, the dynamic duo would not be denied on this day as they easily won the stroller division earning... yep... a medal. 8 months old and my daughter has a winner's medal and I can't place in the middle-age divisions. Oh well. At least my daughter was modest about the whole thing.
The only real confusion came when we waited around to collect my wife's and daughter's medal. We assumed there would be a ceremony or an announcement. Eventually, we figured out that there was a volunteer handing out the medals near the results table.
So, if you ever have a chance to compete in the Tri For Joe, you may want to give it a chance. And it's all for a good cause -- The Down Syndrome Society of Greater Cincinnati.
Oh... and a special "shout out" to my friend Jeff who placed 6th in his part of the Clydesdale Division for the Triathlon. However, I later became very disappointed in him when he disclosed to me that he has been using performance enhancing drugs for the better part of a year. Apparently, due to his impressive fitness level, he has become dangerously close to dropping below the 200 lb Clydesdale threshold. Therefore, he has been consuming large amounts of his home-brewed beer in order to stay above the Mendoza (waist) line. The shame.