As we drove home after this race, Davey hit the nail on the head when he said, “Boy, that was sure a race to remember!” From the race not even being in Memphis to wandering around the hotel casino looking for something to eat for our pre-race dinner to a rainy and cold race morning to everything being covered in mud afterwards, this was, without a doubt, a very memorable race.
On Friday afternoon, we packed up and headed to Memphis. It was a beautiful and sunny day and we were optimistic and excited about our first race of the season.
When we arrived in Memphis, we were a bit surprised to find out that the race was actually in Mississippi and we had to drive another 45 minutes to get to the expo.
We stayed at the host hotel which was probably one of the best decisions we could’ve made because the host hotel was a casino in the middle of nowhere. We checked into our room, but we straight to the expo after getting our room keys. We got our race packets and walked around for a bit and decided to stay and listen to the race course preview and the talk about how to optimize your bike fit for triathlon.
By now it was 5:30 and we were starting to get hungry, so we left the expo and decided to check our bikes before grabbing dinner. Rain was in the forecast and so the bikes that were in the transition area were creatively covered with plastic bags, swim caps and tarps.
Davey thought it was kinda futile to try and keep his bike seat dry because you’re wet after the swim anyway so what difference does it make? But for some reason, it made me feel better to put a plastic bag over my bike seat, so that’s what I did. Also, checking our bikes the night before was AWESOME.
Next order of business was to find a place to carbo load. We wrongly assumed that the race was in Memphis and that we’d have plenty of dinner options.
The closest restaurnat was 45 minutes away and after wandering around the casino, we ended up getting bagels at Dunkin Donuts and a slice of pizza at the casino food court. Possibly the WORST pre-race dinner ever, but that was our only option. And we couldn’t stop laughing because we failed to take our own advice and plan. Lesson learned. And the pizza was actually pretty good!
Back at our hotel room, we went through our checklist and laid out our race outfits, packed up our gear and most importantly, set the timer on the coffee maker.
The next morning, it was indeed cold and rainy. The whole entire country was having a beautiful spring weekend except Memphis. Since we had already done a triathlon in the rain, we felt a little bit better prepared.
We stayed in our hotel room as long as possible and finally headed out to set up our transition areas. We made it with only 5 minutes left to set up our transition area and the grassy area that we were excited about having the transition area in had now turned into a mud pit.
DAVEY: While standing and waiting in the rain for the race to start, I did a few sprints, a bunch of arm circles and push-ups to try and warm up. We lined up in numerical order and before I knew it, it was my turn to jump in. Although the water was warmer then the air, it was still cold and it still took my breath away when I jumped in. The next thing I knew, my Garmin was beeping to tell me I had swam 400 yards, but I wasn’t anywhere near the finish. As it turned out, the course length, or at least my course length, ended up begin 560 yards. This wasn’t my best swim, but it also wasn’t my worst. I’ll take it.
JESS: I watched Davey jump into the lake and I cheered him on. I had decided not to wear a wetsuit and I looked around at everyone else who was wearing a wetsuit and I kinda wished I wore one… if only to keep me warm until I got in the water. Once I was in the water, I was fine. I felt pretty good during the swim… except that my hands and feet were numb and cold. That made standing up and running out of the water a bit challenging.
DAVEY: Getting out of the water, I felt a little bit lightheaded, but I didn’t realize how dizzy I was until I got to my bike. That’s another reason I like to practice running out of the water, to try and get used to that feeling pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey feeling. My feet were so muddy at this point and I decided to forgo socks for the bike. My body was warmed up from the swim and I thought about not wearing my jacket, but I’m glad I stuck with my plan and put it on because I was super cold on the bike.
JESS: As I ran to my bike, I rehearsed my transition in my head. When I got to my spot, I was SO GLAD that I had an extra water bottle to rinse off my feet. I was even more glad that I had filled it with WARM water. It felt amazing. Still shivering, I decided to put my arm warmers on under my jacket and it slowed me down a bit. Putting arm warmers on over wet arms isn’t easy. My T1 time was slow, but I didn’t care because I would rather be warm on the bike than have a fast transition. This was also my first race using clipless pedals so I was trying to psych myself up and not pass out in fear. Especially since the last time I crashed my bike was when it was raining. I ate a shot block, grabbed my bike and ran to the bike exit.
DAVEY: I got onto my bike and started speeding along. The bike course was awesome… at least until I turned and hit the head wind. Although they said the course was flat and fast, the wind made it feel like I was grinding up a constant hill. I didn’t drink as much water as I thought I would… probably because it was so cold and I wasn’t sweating. All in all, I felt strong on the bike.
JESS: Thank God there was a huge puddle before the bike dismount because my shoes were COVERED in mud. But after running through the puddle, I wondered if it was a good idea because now my feet were wet. Wet feet = cold feet. I had no time to think about anything and I clipped in easily and started riding, astounded by how effortless the whole process was. I clipped in and was riding with clipless pedals without being nervous! Woohoo! HUGE victory! I felt awesome on the bike and was maintaining a 22mph pace which shocked me. Then I hit the headwind and I realized the wind was helping me ride so fast. I rode as hard as I could against the wind and felt strong.
The bike was probably my favorite part about the race. Except that not one single person who passed me said “on your left”. This pisses me off SO MUCH. Especially since everyone who passed me had fancy triathlon bikes and aero helmets, so I assumed they knew cycling ettiqute. I guess not. “ON YOUR LEFT” PEOPLE. IT’S NOT THAT HARD.
DAVEY: By the time I came into T2, the grass was even more muddy than before and I sloshed over to my spot. It was a challenge to try and get my socks on, but I made it out of T2 pretty quickly.
JESS: When I entered the transition area, I realized that I had two options: #1 Try to roll my bike through 4 HUGE thick mud puddles to my spot, or #2 carry my bike and cut through the transition spots. I chose option 2. But once I got to my row, I couldn’t find my spot because someones plastic bags were covering my gear. Despite this delay, I found my spot and got ready for the run. I changed my socks, which was a stupid idea because I still had to run through the mud pit and 3 deep puddles at the start of the run. Oh well. I embraced the cold, wet mud, grabbed a shot block and a Huma Gel just in case, chugged a few sips of water and started running.
DAVEY: Right out of the gate, I noticed that my feet were completely numb from the bike. But I recently read an article about how short course pros try to reach their run pace quickly after the bike and so I gave it my best attempt to run hard and fast from the start. It seemed like the run was over before I knew it, and as I came into the finish schute, I ran, no sloshed, through a few huge puddles and I noticed my toes were still numb as I crossed the finish line.
I was pretty happy with my bike and run and I have my work cut out for me as I’ll be focusing more on my swim in the upcoming weeks. This was a great “dress rehearsal” race that helped remind me of some of the finer details that are easily overlooked, but make a huge difference. Details like goggle de-fog spray and being more efficient in transition and sticking to my race plan.
JESS: My legs felt shaky and I was still cold, but I felt like I was running at a decent pace. The run was honestly pretty boring. There weren’t any spectators and since it was on a road, there wasn’t much to look at. It was a loop course so I didn’t get to see Davey like I usually do when it’s an out and back. Seeing Davey on the course always makes me smile and energizes me. I tried to maintain a steady pace and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that I was running a 10:08 minute mile! Those speed workouts must really work! I crossed the finish with arms held high and I felt really good about my race… even though my teeth were still chattering and my lips were blue because I was so cold.
We didn’t get medals, which was disappointing because a medal somehow always makes the race feel more official, but whatever. It was a fun race regardless, and the post race meal was the best one we’d ever had.
I love racing with Davey and it’s so much fun to have a buddy to hang out with before and after the race. It’s also amazing to have someone to discuss the race with afterwards… and by discuss, I mean analyzing every single detail. This was a great start to our season and we can’t wait to get back into our training and have some more great races this summer and fall!