Well, I *was* waiting for race photos to go online before posting this, but then I saw them. How utterly depressing. I look like a cow in all of them. So, onward with this race report.
Kate and I had an easy time walking down from our hotel to the transition area to set up our gear next to the bikes we’d dropped off the night before. I was able to execute my ceremonial pre-race shit-fit when some Multisport Ministries guy in the next bike rack decided to test his cleats’ ability to clip into his bike, with a friend holding him up, in my row and repeatedly banged his bike into mine. (Actually, while trying to keep my racked bike from being bashed any worse, I very calmly remarked that perhaps there was a better spot to do this, like the open aisles between bike racks, and was rewarded with a snarky reply from him) I was pleased later when I ran into T1, shed my wetsuit, geared up and ran out again, all while he sat there still fiddling with his gear.
Kate and I walked the ~1/3 mile down to the swim start and hung out with her friend Lynn and ran into other people we knew. Appropriately enough, I squeezed in one more trip to the portapotty during the pre-race prayer and then I was ready to go. So ready, I felt like barfing. When my wave was called down to the dock, I had to jump into the water right away because the motion of the dock was making me nauseous.
Swim: 0.9 miles 34:45 (2008 time: 45:58)
Our course started off heading upstream for about 1/3 mile to the red turn buoy and then back downstream for roughly 2/3 mile to a finish dock at the UT boathouse. Early on I knew I was doing well when others in my wave kept popping up to sight, freak out, or use their asthma inhalers and I just kept swimming. The water temperature was LOVELY – about 70 degrees – which more than made up for the lack of swim warmup allowed to us.
After the turn buoy the next wave of men started to catch up with us and I used them to draft off of as much as I could. Why do the sighting work if I can let someone else do it for me? It seemed like not too long before I was trying to aim for the volunteers standing on the finish dock. When I got there, one of them hauled me up onto the dock and I took off running. From there it was up the dock, up several ramps and into the boathouse to the finish mat. I’d pulled the upper half of my wetsuit down at that point and could see my watch – BINGO! Huge swim PR, accomplished!
T1: 2:43 (2008 time: 3:47)
As I ran up the next ramp to the road, I smiled big at the photographer, thrilled with my swim improvement. Then it was across the road, up a hill and into transition. My bike was racked towards the back of transition but easy to find as I’d memorized the number of racks to pass. My wetsuit came off easily, my shoes went right on (no socks), helmet on the head and I was off running back to the road on the other side of transition.
Bike: 25.8 miles 1:39:11 (2008 time: 1:42:23)
There were about 2 flattish miles on this whole bike course and they came in the first and last mile. Careful reading of the race literature made clear that this course was 1 mile longer than standard distance so I knew going in that my time would just be whatever it would be.
The bike was all up and down, relentless rollers. A fun course out in the country with more BEAUTIFUL scenery, but not a course to get aero and cruise. Holding a steady pace was mostly impossible, it was just steady up and downs. I was surprised at how many people were walking the 2 big climbs. I would pass people on the uphills and then some of them would pass me on the downhills. Eventually I'd shed them though as there were so many uphills. There were a few unsafe parts of the course, like a steep downhill into a construction area with rutted road. But overall it was very nice.
At one point a baby cow full-on mooed at me (you’d have to understand, I love cows) and it totally cracked me up and motivated me at the same time. On the note of wildlife, let me just say that Tennessee boasts some impressive quality and quantity when it comes to roadkill. I wonder how many of the lead pros hit that dead raccoon that I saw smudged all over the road on a steep downhill.
Somewhere in the back miles past the 1/2IM turnoff, I realized things weren’t rolling quite right and I’d flatted on my front tire (thank goodness not my back one!!!). I got really good at changing tires during IM training last year and I used a CO2 cartridge to hurry things along – I did not take the utmost care with seating my tube but just busted through it with speed.
As we approached the biggest climb of the day, I had a USAT official pull up behind me and then smile and give me a thumbs up. Further up the road, he caught up with some guys riding together and as he sat there watching, one continued to ride right behind the other. Hellllooooo, penalty! And then after he gave the penalty, they kept riding that way so when the official came up behind them again (after stopping at an intersection), he said something to the guy again. I passed them in a hurry on my way onto the ~1 mile climb so as not to get caught up with their ignorance of the rules.
Finally, I dragged back into town and up and down the final hills. In the last mile into transition, I spotted Rachelle and then Meredith headed out on the run and gave them each a holler of encouragement.
And then, I got my foot out of my shoe and managed to dismount the bike and run into transition barefoot – another first for me!
T2: 1:44 (2008 time: 2:20)
Back to the back of transition, bike in rack, pulled my racing flats on with no socks for the first time in a race (Asics DS Trainer, because someone asked in a previous post) and took off with race belt and visor and gel in hand.
Run: 6.2 miles 51:32 (2008 time: 1:05:26)
I hadn’t been sure how my legs would feel on the run after all those hills but it turned out…they felt darn good. I knew I needed to pace things carefully so I tried to hold back but mostly I just held a pace that felt comfortably hard the whole way.
We headed back out on the bike course and then onto one of their greenways (so many of them in Knoxville!) and then back. My pace and effort were pretty steady throughout and it was good to see so many friends on the out and back and cheer for each other. With about 1/3 mi left, I saw Dave and Meredith and Rachelle, who had already finished, and they yelled at me to pick it up. I jetted past the couple I’d been stuck behind, uphill, and then wondered if I could hold that sprint till the end. Just before the finish chute, someone I passed yelled, “Yeah, come on, you can catch her” to someone behind me and I thought “oh no you can’t!” and sprinted to the finish.
Shockingly I came within 10 seconds of my open 10K PR, which I never thought would be possible in a triathlon.
Total Time: 3:09:55 (2008 time: 3:39:56)
After getting my medal and possibly the world’s ugliest technical finisher’s shirt (I don’t see myself wearing this one EVER), I hung out and waited for Kate to finish. I’d seen her out by the run turnaround so I knew it wouldn’t be too much longer. She had a great race as well!
So great, in fact, it gave her 3rd in her AG!
After a quick trip to transition to collect our gear and return it to our hotel room, we came back to the finish to wait for Kate’s friend doing the 1/2IM to finish. I was happy to get into flip-flops for the rest of the day – my feet fared quite well sockless but I did get one itty bitty blister. Now I know a spot in the shoes that will need a little lube!
I wandered over to the ART tent to see about getting a little work on my ankle and then I saw the ice baths. Aaaaaaaahhhh, that would be good for me, especially with flying all day Monday. A fellow athlete in the next tub over talked me into it. And then a nice Rev3 lady came over and asked if I wanted a mimosa. How can you turn that down?*
*It doesn’t remove the taint of all the major issues I felt occured with the race, but it certainly makes the final memories good ones.
The day ended with steak. And margaritas.
And goofing off with the sunsphere.