I got up at 4:30 (yes that is AM), and I got ready quickly. I had already laid out my clothes the night before, and my tri bag was packed and ready to go. I made sure I had my Garmin, and I went downstairs at Grams and Papa’s house to get my frozen water bottles. It is supposed to be over 95 degrees, so I figured that I should at least try to have some frozen!
Phil and I left around 5:30 after pumping up our tires and lubing the chains on our bikes. When we got to LP Field (home of the Titans and where the race began and ended), the traffic was a mess. There was a LONG line of cars to turn in, and it was moving very slowly. I thought it would go quickly – I mean, seriously, how many cars do they get for a football game? They must be used to this. WRONG. It took about 30 minutes to get parked. That made me a little nervous because I only had 30 minutes to get out of transition, but I was prepared so I wasn’t really nervous.
I took my tri bag, a small cooler with ice in it, and my bike and got my body marking. I still hate that they use the age that you will be at the END of the year which makes me 39. I will not be 39 until November, so that is not very nice. I am really going to hate it next year. Ugh. Anyway, I got my number – 846 – on my leg and arm, and my “age” on my leg. I quickly got my stuff set up, and I went to find Phil. I then waited in the very long potty line, and I enjoyed talking to the people in line. Lots of friendly people. Everyone seemed nervous about the heat for the run, and I was getting REALLY nervous about that. I don’t do well running in the heat, so that is a big concern.
Next, I went down to the water to check it out. When I lived in Nashville, I always thought the Cumberland River was NASTY. I could not believe that I was actually going to swim in it. YUCK. Everyone I talked to about the race was fascinated that I was going to swim in the river. It actually didn’t look too bad, and the current didn’t seem too strong. I swam out a bit, and I was glad that I got practice coming up the ladder as the step was higher up than I thought it would be.
Then, we waited. The sprint distance started before the Olympic for some reason. I would think with the heat that they would let the Olympic distance start first so that we could finish a little earlier in the day. I didn’t go into the water until about 8:40. It was a time trial entry, so we were lined up by number in order of expected swim time. I had put 30 minutes as my time, but I wasn’t really sure. I did have the plan to take it really easy on the swim so that I would have plenty of energy for the bike and run. Normally, I would try to go fast on the swim as it is my best, but I was thinking that it might not be so great since I actually hadn’t been swimming as regularly as I should be. Oops…
The swim started out to the left for about 350 – 400 yards against the current. Then, you went around a buoy and turned back the other way. This part was with the current and it was nice. It was hard to get around the buoy as the current was pushing you in front of it. At the other end, the current pushed you out away from the buoy which would cause more of a swim. I think I went pretty wide after the first buoy, but I did really well on the second one. I felt calm, relaxed, and I enjoyed it. I never pushed, but I probably should have. The last 400ish yards were also against the current. I felt it a bit more on the way back. Apparently, I took my dear sweet time as it took me 36 minutes to do the swim. I should have done it closer to 27 – 30, but I used very little energy which was good.
I had a little trouble getting on the ladder, but then I started up the ramp. It was between 1/8 and ¼ mile from the river to the transition, and I left slip on shoes in the grass. I grabbed them on the way up. I mainly walked and slow “trotted” to transition. I was not fast getting through transition. I dried my feet and put on my bike shoes. This was my first triathlon with bike shoes, so it was new. I got my glasses and helmet, and I went to take my sport legs. Oops…they had melted in the sun. Yikes. Hot.
I started out on the bike, and I immediately realized that my bike seat was too low. I had checked my bike on the plane, and I had it assembled in Nashville at Cumberland Transit. I thought it was a bit too low in the store, but then when I sat on the seat and put my leg down it seemed about right. However, I think it fell lower somehow as it felt very low when I got on it. This made the bike feel harder. The first mile was fairly flat, but then there started to be some hills. Until mile 4, there were some hills that were pretty tough for me. I definitely need to practice hills more. From mile 4 – 6, it was pretty downhill to flat, and then the return trip wasn’t too bad. There was one hill that was kind of evil, but the rest wasn’t bad. Once mile 8 came, it was easy as it was a lot of downhill. I went through the very bumpy end part before the turn and then started the second loop. I knew I just had to make it to mile 4, and then I would be ok. I never pushed hard on the bike, and I tried to let my legs recover after the hills (they were burning pretty badly at times). I knew I would need it for the run.
Once I got back to transition, I dismounted. I did ok with the clips, and I was relieved that I didn’t crash due to leaving a foot in or something. My legs were hurting in kind of a weird place – I think it was the adductor muscle on both legs that was NOT happy. I kind of hobbled to the transition, and I just sat down to put my socks and shoes on. I wiped my face. I got my hat and put some ice in it. I strapped on my water belt and my race number belt, and I was off. I thought I saw Phil at this point and was sad that I missed him. I knew I would never catch him on the run as he is a fast runner.
I jogged out through the water station toward the pedestrian bridge. I decided that I would conserve energy and walk up the pedestrian bridge as it is the very beginning of the run. It is VERY hot – definitely over 90 and very sunny. I walked up the hill, and then I started jogging again. I had my watch set for running 5 minutes and walking 30 seconds. I was doing pretty well, but I was very hot. I looked at my watch and my HR was 188. YIKES. Ok, time to relax a little as I have just reached mile 1 and there is a big hill looming in front of me. I decided that I would walk the hill. After the hill, there is a turn into the breeze (THANKFULLY), and then you went down 2nd Ave. This was nice as there were very brief pockets of shade and it was slightly downhill. At Broadway, we turned right and then turned right again on 3rd. Another hill was looming. Man. I jogged and walked and then I walked up the hill. Once the hill was behind me, there was a water station. I started dumping them on my head two cups at a time. I was very, very hot. I went over the Woodland Street Bridge, and it gave a nice downhill section to recover. Going around the stadium was very sunny and very hot. When I saw the signs that pointed in opposite directions – one saying “To Finish” and one saying “2nd Loop”, I wanted to cry. I wasn’t really sure I could do another one. But, I went through the water and kept going. Wet again from the cold water, I got to the bridge. I started walking, and I heard a voice say, “It is a good time to take a break.” We started talking, and I found out his name is Brandon and it was his first Olympic distance. I told him that I raised money for charity so I had to finish. He said that he was going to finish with me. I told him many times that he was welcome to go ahead, but I am SO very thankful that he was there. I cannot even tell you how much it helped to have someone to talk to. We would say “run to the car” or “run to the street” or “after the hill we will walk.” It kept getting hotter. I would dump water on my and then I would be dry and hot again minutes later. BRUTALLY HOT. It was nearing 100, and the heat index was off the charts. I was so happy to make it to that last water station before the Woodland Street Bridge because I knew we had the downhill and about a mile left. Brandon said, “tell that watch to shove it because we are finishing this thing.” So, we “ran” the rest of the way to the finish. What a great feeling.
As much pain as there was, I felt SOOOOO much better within minutes of finishing. It is amazing how your body reacts. The prize was a beer glass instead of a medal. I really like the medals, so I was a bit sad. Phil said he liked the glass better. Speaking of Phil, I was looking for him everywhere, and then all the sudden I heard his name being called. I screamed support to him and then went to meet him. I can’t believe that he was behind me!!! He started 20 minutes after me due to the time trial, and we never saw each other the whole race. We soaked up the atmosphere and the beer for a bit and waited for the results to be posted. Ours still weren’t posted even after we put our stuff away in the cars. That was a bummer. It was nice to get into transition so that I could call my family. I think everyone was glad to know that I survived the heat. Grams and Papa were getting worried as they didn’t know that you had to get into transition first to be able to get your stuff (my phone was there). I was so elated that I had finished, but I was also a bit sad as I was so terribly slow. It took me 3 hours and 51 minutes. The last one I did at St. Anthony’s was 3 hours and 14 minutes although the swim wasn’t long enough. However, even if you add 10 minutes to the swim, that would be 3:24. That still leaves 27 extra minutes. Most of those were on the run where I went from 1:14 to 1:29. On the bike, I took 1 hour and 37 minutes where at St. Anthony’s it was about 5 minutes faster. The swim was also 36 minutes so that is 9 minutes slower than my adjusted value for St. Anthony’s.
Overall – the race was brutal. I struggled and wondered if I could make it in the allowed time. 12:30 was the cut off, and I made it around 12:20. However, they had it open way past 12:30. Logistics, I really thought the race was very well run. The parking in the morning could have used some direction, and I highly wish that the sprint distance started after the Olympic. The water stops were placed perfectly, and the volunteers were very helpful!!!!! I loved the course, but the heat and hills were brutal. Not sure I will do this one again but I might do the sprint distance next year instead. :)
I did raise money for CureJM, and you can still donate through 8/31 on my donation page. Please help us find a cure for Juvenile Dermatomyositis! Click here to donate! Thanks so much to Mike, Janice, Gwenyth, Liz, and Chuck for the amazing donations!