By: Bill Hafferty
I wasn’t quite sure how the day was going to go from the start. In the week before this race, I had completed a 50-mile trail run up a mountain and a 230-mile bike ride a few days before that. The morning of the Patriot 70.3 triathlon in Freetown, MA, was business as usual. It was muggy and, as always, I was in a rush to set up the bike and the run shoes and then to head down to the water.
The extra sweat from rushing around in the early morning and the humidity made putting on my wetsuit sticky and difficult. I knew it was going to be a long swim and I knew this type of weather was prime for cramping. Everyone is different when it comes to cramps. I can usually manage my way out of the water without any problems and 90% of the bike I can pedal hard without any issues.
Transitioning off the bike is always a wild card. From the second I unstrap myself from my bike shoes and start running into transition, I never know what to expect — especially when it comes to cramps. Sometimes, I’m fine, but some days it’s like a wild hyena gnawing at my calf — more specifically right below my calf and above my heel. Once they set in, I can’t do anything about it. They take over my race and hijack my mental focus. That is usually where my story and race would end.
I started packing HOTSHOT into my run shoes last year before I raced IRONMAN Cozumel and punched the ticket to the IRONMAN World Championships (after five previous failed attempts, all due to sub-par runs). I’d take one right after the bike while trying to focus on the run, and one more every 6 miles or so.
Not only did it completely calm the hyena clawing away at my legs, but the shot of ginger and spice would refocus me and bring me back to the present moment when my mind started drifting off with negative thoughts. I had a completely new race strategy and it seems to be working extremely well. I finished fifth overall for the local race and now I’ll start ramping up for the race on the Big Island of Hawaii in October!
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