Having fallen asleep to thunderstorms, it was SO NICE to wake up to a gorgeous sunny day. I made a b-line for the coffee pot, at my pre-race breakfast of toast with banana and peanut butter and tried to wake up. Blasting “I Don’t Care” by Icona Pop really helped.
We went through our pre-race checklist for the 5th time, pumped up our bike tires, slathered on sunscreen and loaded our gear in the Jeep and set off to the transition area. We cranked up the music and ironically “Don’t You Worry Child” by Swedish House Mafia was playing… probably to remind me not to worry about the swim.
Since we already had our timing chips and our TriTat’s on, we didn’t have to make any stops, so we headed to the transition area to stake our claim. Although we arrived early, we were the last 2 people to arrive to our assigned transition section, but we managed to score spots next to each other.
We set up our gear and then walked down to check out the river. We were pleasantly surprised that the current wasn’t really any stronger than yesterday, but to my dismay, there were trees and branches floating around. I guess it was time to face my fear.
We weren’t allowed to warm up in the water, so we stretched and tried to warm up on land as best we could. Before we knew it, it was time to line up… in number order. Triathlete number 1 was a kid who was on the Tennessee National team. We chatted with him a bit and he said that the swim wasn’t his strongest sport which made me feel a little bit better. However, he finished it in 4 minutes and ended up placing 6th overall. Wow.
The horn sounded and the #1 kid ran off the dock and jumped in. Three seconds later I jumped off the dock and started swimming. Davey wasn’t far behind me and for the first straight away, we were swimming side by side. I had never experienced a swim start like that and it made for a nice, less-crowded swim.
Even though it was a rolling start, I still got bumped around and kicked by faster swimmers, but that wasn’t as bad as swimming into the trees and branches. At one point, I got so mad, I stopped swimming, picked up a branch and threw it aside. Real mature, I know.
The current wasn’t too bad until we had to swim across it to get to the ladder. Both Davey and I misjudged the current and ended up having to swim a bit extra to make it back to the ladders. Davey beat me at the swim this year and I’m SO proud of him! His hard work and practice really paid off and is a great example of how you CAN do a triathlon even if you don’t think you’re a strong swimmer!
When we got out of the river, we had to run by the rest of the triathletes who were all lined up to jump in. This was pretty fun and they cheered me on as I ran by and I smiled back saying “Good luck! The swim wasn’t that bad!”
As I ran into the transition area, Davey ran out on his bike. It is so fun to catch glimpses of each other during the race!
Since I was the second person in the water, I expected to get passed the whole race. And I did. But instead of getting frustrated and discouraged, I focused on my own race and said good job to everyone that passed me. It was pretty funny because the most people looked surprised to hear that.
The last few bike rides we went on, my chain fell off my bike every time I shifted, and even though I tuned my bike up before the race, I was afraid to shift into the higher gears. I didn’t want to have to stop and fix my chain, so I rode the whole race in my lower 10 gears. That meant I couldn’t really pedal down the hills because the gear was too small and so I coasted on the down hills. This is definitely something I need to work on for next race. Who knows, I might even use my clipless pedals again!
The bike course was awesome and since it was an out and back course, I got to see Davey! We yelled from across the 4 lane highway we were biking on and seeing him not that far ahead of me gave me the motivation to push myself on the way back.
I thought it was cool because we got to ride on the freeway, but the whole first half was tough because it was an uphill climb with a headwind. I felt like I got a slow start but I’m chalking that one up to the hills and the headwind. I felt really good and I had a fast transition.
T2 is always fast for me because I don’t wear bike shoes so I don’t have to change. I just rack my bike and run. My legs felt a bit wobbly and so I concentrated on shortening my stride and hoped the shakiness would go away before the first big hill up the bridge. There were spectators along the bridge cheering us on and I asked them for a push and we all laughed. That helped get my mind off the hill and before I knew it, I had made it to the top and I actually felt really good!
One of the young girls on the TN national team caught up to me and we ran together for awhile. She was really fast on the uphill’s so I’d shout a “you go girl” as she widened the gap between us. Although I was getting passed, I felt strong and like I was keeping a decent pace.
Running is not my strength, but I kept on smiling and I actually really enjoyed the run through downtown Nashville. The mile markers seemed to appear quickly and before I knew it, I was running to the finish!
One of the girls who we met while standing in line for the swim was standing along the final stretch cheering for us slower runners. That’s what I love about this sport! Davey was also standing there at the final stretch to cheer me on and that gave me the surge of energy I needed to finish strong! I ended up knocking TEN minutes off my time from last year… 41:48 to 31:14! WOW!
Our brick training really paid off because I found my running legs pretty quick.
I felt like I settled into my pace quickly and was able to charge up the hills. I felt strong on the run, but I missed the mile 2 marker and if I had seen it, I probably would’ve picked up my pace for the finish a little sooner. And I just HAD to stop and get a wet towel from the cutest little girl who was volunteering at the water station with her family.
The last part of the run was downhill and I picked up speed and finished the race strong with a 21:34 5k!
We may not have won the race or ranked in our age group, but that doesn’t matter. We both have a blast training together and racing together and we both beat our times and reached our personal goals for this race.
We took a few days off and followed our own recovery advice and then jumped right back into our training. We’ve got an Olympic tri coming up in September and we can’t wait!