We woke up to a foggy morning and rolled out of bed while it was still dark out. We were both pretty surprised by how fast we fell asleep and by how great we slept. Happy Anniversary to us! (We did this race on our 6 year wedding anniversary!)
We took our Plexus supplements, drank our coffee and ate our usual pre-race breakfast: Ezekiel bread with peanut butter and banana for me and oatmeal with chia seeds for Davey.
We went through our checklist one more time, packed up our gear and headed to the race. Everything was really well done and there were volunteers out on the road directing us to the parking lot. It was about a 1/2 mile walk to transition and it felt good to get our blood flowing and mentally prepare for the race.
This was a small race, so it was easy to find our transition spots. And since our numbers were 155 and 154, we got to set up next to each other! Although we never see each other in transition (Davey is too fast!), it’s fun to see Davey’s transition area and gauge where he is in the race.
Since we didn’t know what to expect because we’ve never done this race before, we made sure we arrived early and so we had some time before the race started. We tried to take a picture of our feet so that we could recreate a few of our wedding photos and we probably looked so ridiculous, but the picture turned out great!
Before we knew it, they were closing the transition area and we headed over to the beach. This race had 5 wave starts– Davey was in wave 2 and I was in wave 4.
This was a overall good swim experience for me. I felt strong and well-prepared. Although I started in the middle of the pack, I let up a bit to get some more elbow room and find my groove. As my usual strategy, I start nice and slow and easy, then I pick the pace as I go.
It was so foggy we could not see the first buoy. Kayaks made a channel for us to follow. I learned to not necessarily follow the pack because they veered far off to the left.
Jess: The water temp was an AMAZING 82° and so it was really easy to dive right in and start swimming. It was so foggy when we started that I couldn’t see the buoy that we were supposed to swim to, so I just tried my best to swim in a straight line and hoped that the buoy would be more visible the closer I got.
I really enjoyed the swim and felt surprisingly good for having only had 3 weeks of training for this race. I even caught up to a few of the stragglers in the previous 2 waves and tried to enjoy participating in my strongest of the 3 sports, because I am always passed on the bike and the run 🙂
Davey: My shirt rolled up again. The volunteer helped me pull it down. I don’t want to talk about it.
Jess: The run from the lake to T1 was short and I was feeling good after the swim, however, I felt a little bit discombobulated in T1. I put on one sock and bike cleat and then my shirt, helmet and shades and then the other sock and cleat. But even with my totally un-systematic T1, I made it to the bike mount with everything I needed. Seventeen miles, here I come!
Out the chute, mount, turn the corner and instantly there’s a monster hill. “Haha, suckers! What you call mountains, we call hills in Asheville!” I could hear the announcer in my imagination. At least we trained on a handful of hills in Crossville a few weeks ago.
Mostly I have mixed feelings about the bike. My contact lens got stuck in my eyelid as soon as I started. I stopped once and could not retrieve it. Although at first I tried to bike on, eventually I figured I’d better fish it out. It took way too long, but at least I could resume riding with full visual capability. I’m glad I did because it was the most beautiful bike course I’ve ever experienced. Asheville has gorgeous countryside.
About half way through the course, I came up from the drops to the hoods and my handlebars fell all the way forward. Ack! I had adjusted them a few days earlier and they finally worked loose. For a while I simply dealt with it, fearing for my life on every downhill and hairpin turn. Then finally I remembered that I have a multi-tool in my bag! Not wanting to stop again after the contact lens debacle, I decided to reach back and unzip the bike bag. I fished around to find the tool. While riding, I found and opened the correct size allen wrench and gave the screw a couple turns. It did the trick.
From there I continued riding with one hand, holding the tool in the other until I finally realized that if I got it out, I could probably put it away. Fiddling it back into the pouch, I found the zipper, closed it, and pedaled on.
I think we should coin a new term, “race brain.” It’s what happens sometimes during races when the excitement clouds judgement.
Jess: The bike course was described as having “rolling hills” and we met one of those hills right away. It was surprisingly steep and people were even walking their bikes up the hill. I made it to the top and since we had biked on quite a few hills in our training for this race, I figured if there were a few more hills like this, I’d be fine.
It didn’t take long to realize that their definition of “rolling hills” is a lot different than mine. It was more like a mountainous bike route and it may have been the most challenging route I’ve ever done in a race. I made it my goal to gain speed on the downhills and power up the hills as best I could and try to avoid having to walk my bike.
At one point of the race, there was a huge line of traffic. We were riding a downhill and gaining speed when all of a sudden a big red pick-up truck does a K-turn and, seemingly on purpose, backs up right as I’m speeding by. Had I not swerved into the grass, he would’ve hit me. With my adrenaline pumping, I yelled at the car and, to my delight, so did a few of the other drivers who saw the whole thing happen. I know being stopped in traffic because of a triathlon probably sucks, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to try and hit a biker.
Although this was an extremely challenging course, it was absolutely gorgeous and I really enjoyed the route.
You had to ask… I somewhat embarrassed about my T2, because I must have looked like a goof. I took off one bike shoe and put on my sunglasses. The I put on a running shoe and took off my helmet. Then I took off the other bike shoe and put on my race belt. Then I put on the other running shoe and put on my hat. I was all over the place.
Finally, after all that, I took off running toward the bike chute, realized it was the wrong way and started doing circles. Problem was, there were two sections to of the transition area, which I had forgotten about. (later I discovered that I was not the only one confused about this, and that made me feel less dumb.)
Jess: I didn’t realized how tired my legs were till I dismounted my bike and almost collapsed. I wobbled to T2, and thankfully I had an extra pair of socks because the ones I was wearing were soaking wet. Nothing is more amazing than a fresh pair of socks before the run! T2 was much more systematic and without even thinking, I went through the motions that I had practiced. I grabbed a Mango Huma gel and off I went.
This was a perfect run course: wooded trail around the lake. Well, I thought it was great until a hill so steep that I thought it was a cruel joke.
No, seriously, I thought it was a prank!
I came up to an intersection and the race volunteer waved his flag for me to go left. I did and there was this hill that got steeper and steeper like a graph from algebra class. Half way up, gasping, I was really suffering. At that point I had no arrows, no signage, and had no one else around. “That guy pointed me wrong!” I thought to myself. “I can’t believe the race would have us go this way, this is ridiculous!?”
Sure enough, I eventually summited the peak, saw arrows, and continued. After coming back around to rejoin the lake path, I saw the same volunteer herding other unsuspecting cattle to the slaughter. “That was brutal, just cruel,” I panted. All he said was, “yeeuuup,” as if everyone gone before me said the exact same thing.
Jess: The run started out on a gravel/dirt path and wove through the woods around the lake. It was really beautiful and my knees and hips were thankful for the soft surface that the dirt trail provided.
I felt really sluggish on the run and just tried to keep moving forward and make it to the next water station. The run was pretty flat until it took a detour into the neighborhood. I ended up walking up a few of the hills because, let’s be honest, I could walk faster than I was “running”.
I ran out of gas and hit a low point with about a mile left and this angel of a triathlete came up behind me and said, “You got this girl! We’re less than a mile to the finish! Just keep running!” Oh how I love the camaraderie and encouragement of other triathletes. Not far behind her was a guy running the other direction giving out high-fives. These small things gave me a HUGE boost and I ran as fast as my tired legs could carry me.
At the finish, I was greeted by the announcer wishing Davey and I a happy anniversary and it was awesome!
This race had the BEST post-race food and we really enjoyed every part of swimming, biking, running and eating!
Cheers to many more races, many more anniversaries and many more adventures for Team TwoTri!
*professional race photos via