My name is Chad Soileau and this is my
account of swimming, biking and running the Heatwave Classic
triathlon in Jackson, MS. This race marked my 10th
triathlon of the year and my 17th race of the year.
Hard to believe I've participated in that many races this year
but I have. I have the race bibs and finishers medals to
prove it! What's harder to believe that just two short
years ago, at 464 pounds, the only race I would have been doing
is from my lazy-boy to the fridge.
The long and short of my experience with the
Heatwave Classic Triathlon it is that I finished. The
weather was pig sweat soaking, retardedly humid and hot.
The MOST important significant personal fact is that I finished
with BOTH socks this time. I wasn't blazing
fast in any of the events and I pretty much struggled the entire
race. I wasn't as prepared as I wanted to be for the race
but that wasn't going to stop me from doing it. I
missed almost an entire week of training after
TriAmerica licking my
wounds and most of the week prior to Heatwave was spent nursing
my mouth from the THREE root canals I got early in the week.
First, let me say that I REALLY enjoyed the
course that Heatwave had to offer. The swim was in the
Jackson resevoir, the bike on the rolling hills of the Natchez
trace and the run went right through the woods on a paved path
they call a 'multi-use trail'. The event was well
organized and the volunteer staff was top notch.
They even had sponges on the run course. ANY race
that has sponges is top notch in my book.
Beth the kids and I drove up to Jackson, MS
the Friday afternoon before the race. After picking up my
race packet at a local bike shop we met my niece Cheree' for
dinner at a restaurant that she bartends at. The
evening was uneventful and I'll even go so far as to say that I
got a good nights sleep. The only concern that I had
was that I left my prescription 'Don't Poop' pills at home.
I didn't eat anything after 8PM and I didn't plan on eating
anything race morning either. The thoughts lingered
in the back of my mind of the gastric distress at
TriAmerica but Beth
helped prepare me by giving me a little packet of toilet paper
that would stuff nicely into my race belt.
After a 5:30AM wakeup call we were out the
door and at the race site at just after 6AM. The
purple hue of the overcast sky as the sun started to rise gave
me some hope that the heat would be held at bay. I
got body marked and wheeled my bike and gear bag into transition
to start my pre-race preparations. Time always seems to
fly by because before I knew it the race director was calling
out a 5 minute warning for the triathletes to get to the swim
start. I was in the 2nd wave so my start would be in
9 minutes. Beth wished me luck as a walked down the
hill to the entrance of the water. No wetsuits
allowed today since the water was 80 degrees. The
water temperature really wasn't bad and I adjusted to it rather
quickly as I waded out to the starting line.
The first wave started and I treaded water
over to the starting line to prepare for my day. The race
director gave us a 30 second warning and then counted down from
10. 10 - 9 - 8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1!
GO! My start for the Heatwave Classic Triathlon 2008 was
I find if comforting saying to myself as I
started the swim that, "Hey, it's only a half mile swim.
You'll be out of the water in no time!"
It seems like only a month or two ago I would
have looked at a half mile swim as an insurmountable mountain.
I still look at the Ironman distance of 2.4 miles as crazy long
distance but a half mile? Cake... Or rather
cake batter! The small, choppy waves made things
interesting by making navigating to the buoys a little difficult
but other than that I felt great throughout the swim. I
did freestyle for the majority of the time only switching up to
breaststroke to navigate. Before I knew it I was passing
the last buoy and was on my way in for the last 100 meters to
the swim exit. This swim was my best so far.
I'm still dreadfully slow but I wasn't the least bit concerned
at any point. I exited the water feeling fresh and
was ready to tackle the 24.5 miles on the bike.
I got to my transition area and pulled off my
speed suit, slipped on my bike shorts and Team 464 jersey.
I sat on my 5 gallon bucket to put on my shoes. What
a difference having the bucket makes. I'm glad I saw
someone using one at one of the other races because I wouldn't
have thought of it myself.
I clopped out of transition after 3 minutes
or so and mounted my bike. I struggled clipping in for the
first 100 meters before I finally fumbled around hitting the
'spot' and hearing the snap of my left shoe. With both
feet secure in the pedals I increased my cadence and headed out
on the course. The first couple miles skirted
through a couple neighborhoods before making a hard right onto
the Natchez Trace. The course was an out and back so I
knew that I had approximately 10 miles to go to the turnaround
point. The part of the course on the Natchez Trace
was one of the nicest and most scenic that I've experienced so
far in a biking environment. There were plenty of
hills but they weren't anything that I couldn't handle. I
was around 3 miles from the turnaround when I saw Patrick Keenan
pushing his bike along the side of the road. I
shouted out, "Pat you OK?"
He replied back, "Yeah, freakin' flat tire!"
as he pointed to his flat tire.
I was already 100 meters away when I realized
that I had a tire repair kit and a spare tube hanging under my
seat. I wouldn't be able to change his tire because I have
no idea HOW to change a tire but Pat's a pro. I'm
sure he knew how to do it. If the bike support didn't pick
him up before I did I would stop and attempt to help.
I continued on to the turnaround as the sun
burned off what was left of the overcast sky. The
heat was rapidly approaching 90+ degrees and I was starting to
get the first twinges of intestinal discomfort. I
continued to hydrate but I kept that in the back of my mind as I
hit the turnaround point and started the path back to the bike
I came upon Pat again walking his bike and I
pulled over and offered my tool kit, spare tire and patch
repair. He pointed to the huge gash in his tire.
There was no amount of patch goo or anything else that was gonna
fix his flat. Unfortunately, his race was over.
There are plenty of jeers and jabs from the members of BRTri on
the message boards and I took the opportunity to bust Pat's
balls by setting a new goal of going "Sub-P" by the end of the
2009 season. As I rode off Pat yelled out, "Hey, you
bastard! You beat me!" with a big smile on his face.
Yeah, technically I did reach that goal but that's not how I
wanted to do it. The truth is I will probably never
go Sub-P. Not next year or the year after. Pat
is a pro and he always finished up front and unless he lets me
punch him with everything I have in both kidneys before the race
I'll never be able to beat him.
I made it to the dismount point of T2 a
sweaty mess. On top of mild intestinal discomfort, I
was starting to feel the twinges of exhaustion in my shoulders.
When I feel that in my shoulders I know I'm in trouble.
The run wasn't gonna be easy.
I waved to Beth as I shuffled out on the run
course. At this point it was well over 90 degrees.
Hot, humid and just plain nasty! I envied the guys I saw
running back in towards the finish line after completing their
run. One thing I can say about the run is that there
was tree canopy for pretty much the entire course and an aid
station at every mile. The canopy helped a little
with the heat but not much. It was still
rediculously hot. Miles 2 - 5 were on the 'multi use
trail' which is a 5 foot wide paved path that goes right through
the woods. The course was flat for the most part and the
hills that were on the course were rather small. I
realized a couple miles into the race that there was just no way
that I was going to be able to run the entire race. I
devised a plan to 1) keep moving forward and 2) run in spurts.
My spurts would last for a half mile to a mile then I would walk
for a quarter mile to a third of a mile before I'd run again.
The final aid station at the turnaround point
had SPONGES! Sponges are gifts from heaven and Lone Star
was the only other race that had them. I grabbed
three and squeezed the wonderful cool water over my head.
I tucked one in the front and one in the back of my compression
shirt and held on to them until I hit mile 5.
The last mile was on the levee embankment
that skirted the resevoir on the way back to the park where the
finish line was. The last mile was brutal and my
run, walk spurts were about equal. I finally caught
site of the finish line and picked up my pace. I
guess the race director thought it to be a cruel joke to put the
finish line at the top of a huge hill. My
increased cadence crawled to a VERY slow jog as I crossed the
I finished. I didn't finish last.
I finished with BOTH socks!
I still have 11 triathlons left on my
schedule for the rest of the year with the 'hardest race in the
south' Holy Toledo triathlon and the Pumpkinman triathlon in
Vegas towards the end of the year. Thankfully the
next three that I have are short courses.
Heatwave will be added to my annual schedule.
It was a well organized, challenging race and I hope you guys
enjoyed my account of it as much as I enjoyed writing (and
Best of luck on YOUR life journey!
May you reach all your goals and achieve all your dreams!