I will be honest, I was really nervous about my first tri of the 2009 season. I had a lot of goals and expectations when the year started. But just like racing, things happen mid-way and you need to adjust. I can usually adjust pretty well during a race, but ask Andy, I am not so good at adjusting to changes in life. ;-)
The past 4.5 months have been the most exciting, stressful, & happiest. Andy and I have accomplished what we set out to do and are living the life we wanted. Granted, we would like to be making more money...but who wouldn't, right? All that being said, this triathlon was sort of a test I had for myself. I wondered if I could take a very important part of my life in Illinois and move it to Tennessee successfully. Verdict? Affirmative. The tri was great!
A little over a month ago, Andy's cousin Jacqueline (she moved down here about 2 years ago) asked if I would be the swimmer on her relay team for the Waterfront Triathlon. I said yes. I also thought that since I would be swimming, why not just do the darn thing myself. I e-mailed the race director and asked if I could do a relay and an individual entry. Come to find out, they don't do that a lot down here. Back home I hear of people doing the swim on a relay and individual race all the time. Well, "Team Magic" a.k.a. "Team let's mess everything up" never heard of this concept before. They let me, but there was a lot of confusion prior. I was the ONLY person doing a relay and individual amongst 1300 participants. Every time I mentioned I was doing both to ANYONE (race staff, participants, or spectators) they thought I was doing the race twice...ugh.
Race morning: Anthony Brown (Andy's friend from high school who moved to Knoxville, TN) was doing the race too. He came down Saturday night for some homemade lasagna and a place to crash before the race. He and I headed downtown @ 5:00 am. After some sprinkles on the commute, we got into Chatt early and ready to race. We unpacked our gear and headed into transition. I lost Anthony pretty quick amongst all the people, but I did find Jacqueline (our team runner) and Crystal (our team biker) pretty quick.
Swim: Since there were 1300 participants and we were swimming in the Tennessee River, they had a TT start (time trial). Pros went first @ 7:30 am, oldest age groupers next, then age groupers, and finally relay teams. Since I was doing the swim on a relay, I had to start at the very end. I got in the water at 8:45 am. Honestly, I think there were only 40 people that got in the water behind me. I had done some swimming in the months prior, so I was feeling ok about the swim. It was a point to point going down river. My fastest Olympic swim was in MIM 2 years ago. I think it was around the 26 minute mark, but everyone says the swim at MIM is notoriously short. For this, I was shooting for just under 30 minutes. Personally, I didn't feel the "current" everyone said would help me "float" down the river. I think I was swimming too close to shore to be in the current. Also, the water temp was 80* -- so no wet suits. I also forgot to start my watch when I got in the river. Ugh. Even with all that, the swim felt good. My shoulders were burning, so I knew I was pulling pretty strong. I got out of the water and ran up my first set of stairs of the race, hit the landing and then up the next set of stairs. There were 4 sets of stairs on the race course. I think I picked off some people in the swim, but not sure. I ran into transition gave Crystal our team timing chip and off to my bike. Swim time: 26.29 (individual) 26.33 (relay)...how that happened, no clue. Maybe my right ankle was 4 seconds slower passing over the timing mat than my left?
Bike: As suspected, my bike was almost the ONLY one left in transition. Not too big of a deal when you are doing a tri of about 500 people; but when you have a transition for 1300 people, your bike looks pretty lonely out there all by itself ;-) I grabbed my bike and headed out. I felt pretty good. Turned my power tap on and put the metal down. The course was an out and back up highway 27. They shut one lane of traffic off for us. It is a nice rolling course. No mountains, thank goodness. I picked people off and almost never got passed. Nice feeling. I guess starting DFL has its perks. The wind in TN stinks. You never really get a tail wind, but you always seem to have a head wind. Darn mountains. I caught up with Crystal (our biker on the relay) with about 3 miles left to go. That felt pretty good. She rides a lot and is on a team. But then she found that "hidden" gear and got me back with 2 miles left. I thought if I kept her in my sights I would still be in pretty good shape. Bike time: 1:21:04 / 19.2 mph (it was a 26 mile bike, not a 40k).
Run: Trying to catch Crystal took a little out of my legs, but I got my running legs under me pretty quick. The rain started just as I was pulling into T2. Running in the rain is awesome. The only evil part of the race is the first mile of the run. They stuck this horrible hill at the very start of the run. Once you are done with the hill, you run UP a long set of stairs. UGH. After that, we were running on the River Walk. Very similar to the Constitution Trail back home. Nice and flat. Whew. I knew I would never catch Jacqueline, she is really speedy. With the swim and bike over, my only goal was to run and not walk. I didn't care what my finish time was going to be. I thought I had a decent swim. I knew I had a nice bike. So I just tried to pick people off one at a time. I actually caught some women in my age group. That felt great, especially since they started their swim about 30 minutes ahead of me. I saw Jacqueline on her way home and my way into the turn around. She looked amazing. Run time: 56:22 / 9:06 pace.
Finish: I saw Andy on my way into the finish. He rode his bike down from our house into downtown. I always love seeing him cheering for me. It really lifts my spirits and gives me a boost. I found Jacqueline and Crystal right away. We all looked like drown rats because of the rain. Thankfully the rain stopped 5 minutes after I finished. We got some food, changed, and waited for awards. Our team got 2nd! We got to stand on a podium and receive some cool gifts. It was an awesome race. I got 16th out of 60 women.
Finish time: Individual-2:48:49 / Team-2:39:18
Individual -- Swim: 26.29-T1: 3.10-Bike: 1:21:04 / 19.2mph-T2: 1:46-Run: 56:22 / 9:06 pace
Team -- Swim: 26:33-T1: 2:24-Bike: 1:21:35 / 19.1mph-T2: :39 -Run: 48:07 / 7:46 pace
All in all, I am very happy. I did my first tri in TN at a pace a little faster than my PR for a similar course. Not sure what race/goal I have next. I will have to put my thinking cap on and get back to you on that.
Well, that is all for now. Take care, Heather
Chattanooga, TN @ 11:15 am 81* feels like 85* (sunny) Wind S @ 5mph - Humidity 69%
Bloomington, IL @ 10:15 am 74* feels like 74* (cloudy) Wind SSW @ 14mph - Humidity 90%
Aurora, IL @ 10:15 am 75* feels like 75* (cloudy) Wind SW @ 11mph - Humidity 79%