Sunday, May 18, I woke up to unsteady legs but tried to put that out of mind and start to prepare for the walk down to transition. I decided to put my wetsuit half way on in the hotel to keep warm which was definitely a good choice. I gathered my bag, jacket and plugged some music in.
Since I was doing the olympic, transition closed later for us but it was weird walking to transition as there was hardly anyone around; everyone was at the river or already in transition. I had plenty of time to pump my tires, check my bike, set up transition and double and triple check things. I said hi to teammates, watched the pros come in and out quickly and cheered teammates who were already out of the swim headed onto the bike.
Eventually it was time to make the long walk along the Tennessee River to the dock outside of Calhoun’s Restaurant. The more we walked, the more nervous I got. It seemed like such a long distance to swim and I was worried about the temperature as I was cold the day before. I just wanted to get in the water and acclimate but I had to wait until my wave, the last wave, was called. Thankfully I had some teammates around to help ease my nerves. I chatted with girl who was doing the olympic distance for the first time and was experiencing her first open water swim. She was handling better than I was! She made a good point “everyone is struggling the same”. I remembered that during the race. Sometimes, even though you have done these things for quite some time, your mind decides to go funky on you.
The last wave was called and I hopped in the water. It didn’t take my breath away quite like the day before. I swam to the start area and just kept taking deep breaths and tried to enjoy the scenery around us. I did pee before the swim and let me tell you, that made me very happy! The horn sounded and we took off.
I started in the middle, a couple of rows back and just started calmly. We had to swim about 400 meters up stream, make a right and then another right to swim down stream. This is the first swim in quite some time when I didn’t feel that exhausted feeling during the start. It gave me a boost and I just kept swimming. As I made the turn back down stream, the river pulled me to the center, further from the buoys and shore. I tried to get closer but it was difficult and it made me swim 1 mile instead of the .9. As I crossed under the bridges, I knew I was nearing the end of my swim and it made me smile. I never had to pull up and catch my breath or question what I was doing. I only choked on water once! I reached the dock, had an excellent volunteer literally pull me from the water onto the dock and off I went up the ramp, unzipping my suit and running.
Swim: 34:06, 16/19 AG
Transition was bustling with racers and spectators. I had some trouble with my wetsuit getting over my timing chip but otherwise things went smoothly. I was warmed up and knew I didn’t need my jacket which was a smart move. The beginning of the bike was along the river and then out of Knoxville. Let me just say, this course was hard! It was technical and steep with lots of climbing and not many flat areas. I would love to try this course again and see how I do with more hill training.
At some points I was going 5 mph up a hill and then later going 30 mph back down. While its fun going down, the air temp was about 57 degrees and caused my feet to freeze since I don’t wear socks while biking. Luckily my hands were okay and my legs were fine. I tried to stay on top of my nutrition but that river water was lingering! As we came back into town, it felt like all we had been doing was climbing and we had several more steep hills to get to before T2. I tried to keep a high cadence getting into T2 to get ready to run. I had no idea how my legs would be feeling!
Bike: 1:31, 10/19 AG
I racked my bike and got my sock and shoes on. My jacket I had left covered my bib and I started to leave without it but luckily a teammate was there to remind me to grab it.
Made a right hand turn out onto the street from T2 towards Neyland Stadium where the FLORIDA GATORS have upset the Vols on several occasions 🙂 Anyways, the run course was pretty quiet heading out since I was in the last wave but getting towards the park, I started to see teammates coming from the other direction so it was fun to high five and cheer each other on. My feet were bricks for the first three miles but I tried to ignore it. The weather could not have been more perfect for running and biking. Nothing like Florida, thats for sure! I walked some of the aid stations to drink down water and flat coke as I did not want my gel I had with me but knew I needed some source of calories. I know the flat coke will come in handy at Raleigh and Placid.
I hit the turn around kept thinking about the last mile that was uphill leading to the finish line. I was feeling good but my quads were starting to tighten. As I got up the hill and closer to the finish line, I heard people saying “go girls, you got this”. Apparently I had a girl from my age group lingering off of my shoulder. Right when we went to turn into the finisher’s chute, she cut the corner and I saw her calf and just cursed under my breath. She blocked me and and then we went to sprint and I had no kick left. I am not a sprinter! I knew it wasn’t for a podium spot but I hardly have girls pass me on the run! I don’t remember really crossing the line, just stopping all of the sudden and putting my hands on my knees wondering why no volunteers were coming up to me. They made me walk to them!
Run: 57:51, 11/19 AG
Total: 3:07, 11/19 AG
I got an iced Gatorade towel and my medal and staggered out. I found my teammates and started rehashing the race. Everyone seemed in pretty good spirits afterwards. I was happy with my race effort as I knew that bike course was tough, especially for not having much hill training under my belt.
My goal was to go sub-3 hours but I walked some transitions as that is what I’ll be doing in Raleigh and Placid and had a slower time on the bike due to the course. It was a great Olympic race as a tune up for Placid and has provided me with confidence for the swim heading into Raleigh.
Overall, it was a great weekend in Knoxville and a race that I certainly plan on coming back to. I want to see how much time I can shave for next year! Now, its time to focus on Raleigh as we’re 4 days from race day! Just 60 days til Lake Placid, holy moly!!