Flashback to Knoxville in May 2012 and you will find not a cloud in the sky, the sun shining bright, and temps in the 90s. These were the conditions when I did the HalfRev in 2012 and the two H’s, hills and heat, kicked my butt resulting in my poorest half performance to date. That’s why I decided to take it down a notch and do the Olympic distance race this year, which proved to be an excellent decision. However, it wasn’t the heat I would have to battle this time, it was the complete opposite: cold, rain, and cold-rain!
Matt and I got down to Knoxville Friday afternoon and headed to the expo to meet up with some of the Rev3 staff and team, get our race packets, and get my bike checked out by the mechanic. I was having issues shifting after cleaning my bike on Thursday when the wind knocked it over on the component side of the frame. Thank goodness I took it in on Friday instead of waiting until Saturday because it turned out I had bent the tab that connects my rear derailleur to the frame. Oooops! I guess that’s what happens when buy a $19 Target brand bike rack and leave your bike unattended on a windy day. Thankfully they were able to call the shop and bring the part in to fix it on Saturday. A huge thank you to the Appalachian Bike Co. for helping me out!
After quite a bit of time with the mechanic we met up with Rodney for a light dinner prior to the 5K Glow Run. At 6pm on a beautiful Friday evening it was difficult to find a place with open seats, but we managed to get seated at Uncorked and enjoyed some spaghetti and meatballs. It wasn’t too long after that we found ourselves at the starting line of the 5K. Now, this event was a charity event for a local girl who was injured at the Boston bombing. It was advertised as a non-timed fun-run complete with costumes and glow sticks. Some people were pretty decked out, head to toe with glow sticks and tutus, but I am clearly biased in thinking that my husband had the best ‘costume’ of the night! You see, we have a little thing on Team Rev3 called the shimmer suit! The girls have super cute bikinis and more functional one-piece suits which can be purchased at the merchandise tent at any Rev3 event. The poor guys only have the option of a speedo, no shorts, no jammers, JUST.A.SPEEDO. So, I decided to purchase one of these fantastic suits for my husband with thoughts of blackmail flashing through my head ;) But when it comes to Matt, blackmail is hard to come by. You see, he is all too willing to participate in attention grabbing shenanigans, which makes it difficult to find anything that he is embarrassed by.
Seeing as this is a family friendly event, we checked with a few teammates and the race director, Eric Opdyke, to make sure Matt’s apparel was acceptable. And with one quick, “Why not?” from Rev3 teammate Elizabeth Kaplanis, Matt’s shorts were off and the shimmer speedo was revealed, pasty white thighs and all. Now, you had to have been there to get the full experience, but it was as if the entire crowd turned and stared at Matt at the exact moment he took his shorts off and revealed his shimmer. There were quite a few snickers, and OMGs, some people that wanted to get their picture taken with him, a few jokes about it being cold out, and even a direct call out from the race announcer, but Matt took it all in good fun! That’s also when he decided that this was no longer a fun run and he wanted to show this crowd that a big boy in a shimmer speedo can also run. My favorite comment of the night was, “look that guy is wearing his underwear….and he’s FAST too!” All in all, I think the Glow Run was a fantastic addition to Rev3’s family friendly race series and I hope they offer them at all future triathlons! I also wanted to note that Rev3 raised $25k from this event and every penny was donated to the local victim of the bombing! What a class act company!
|Matt and I waiting to start the 5K, shimmer suit, glow paint and all!|
Saturday rained all day which made the meet ups and race preparation seem like more of a chore than the pre-race excitement that they normally are. I got my bike fixed first thing in the morning, then headed down to meet the team to promote one of our amazing sponsors, SBR Sports and their line of Tri-Slide/Foggle products. I also took some time to jump in the water during the practice swim and feel how my body would respond to the 58° water temperature. It turned out that the first two minutes were freezing, but once you got going it warmed up and was quite comfortable. The only thing I was worried about was my hands and feet going numb. Thankfully I had a neoprene swim cap which kept my head and my ears pretty warm. Matt reminded me to make sure I wiggle my toes and hands throughout the swim to keep the blood flowing. I took note and followed through with that tip and it seemed to help a lot.
Next on my list was to pick up our new team kit, which is amazing! Pearl Izumi always does a phenomenal job with the design and comfort of their apparel! I also went to the mandatory athlete meeting where they urged us to be extra careful on the bike since the roads would be wet and slick. I managed to get in a two hour nap and then it was time for dinner. We met up with Rodney and Beal at Olive Garden, my go to restaurant for pre-race meals. Plain spaghetti and meatballs with sauce on the side never fails!
Sunday morning I got to sleep in a bit as the half started before the Oly and they gave us until 7:45 in transition. The first thing I did was look at the weather forecast: 53° and rain. Great! Knowing I am a freeze baby I over packed my transition bag with any garment I thought I would possibly need for the race. The two key pieces of apparel that got me through this race turned out to be my neoprene swim cap and my Pearl Izumi waterproof cycling jacket. I also appreciated the black garbage bag I wore down to transition and to the swim start to keep me dry and warm for as long as possible in the rain. It’s a cheap and simple solution to stay warm pre-race and not have to worry about leaving a good article of clothing behind.
The Swim (28:48 - 1:59/100m):
Having done the practice swim made me a little more confident that I would survive the cold temperatures, but the swim is my least favorite part of the trifecta. I always have anxiety going into the swim and minor panic attacks prior to getting into a groove. I was happy this was a deep water start as it gave us a little bit of time to acclimate to the water before the gun went off. I lined myself somewhere in the middle of the pack knowing I would be looking at a 30 min swim time. My swim is consistently 2 min/100 m no matter what the conditions, so I know my place is definitely not up front.
The gun sounded and us ladies, the last wave of the day, were off. Like I said, it took me awhile to get into a groove and I had my mini panic attack within the first 100 m. Thankfully, when I bobbed my head up for a bit, I saw a familiar face bob her head up too. It was my teammate Jill from @tribirdie. I looked at her and said, “Hey,” super-excited to see her! She seemed to be struggling a bit too and made the comment, “I can’t do this” to which I responded, “Yes you can! LETS GO!” and started swimming again. That’s all it took for me to find my happy place and get into a groove. So, I have to send out a huge thanks to Jill for being the support I needed to start swimming. And in case you are wondering Jill ended up kicking butt on the swim and the run (her relay legs)!
The swim was an out and back with the first .3 miles against the current and the rest with the current. To finish the swim, we had to swim to a floating dock where they had volunteers waiting to pull us out of the water. Matt volunteered for this position so I made sure to swim to him. He told me I was doing good and I was on my way.
T1 included a quarter mile run to the parking garage where the transition was staged. This year, Rev allowed you to stage a pair of shoes, but I opted not to, knowing this would only be a hassle and waste time. With the cold temperatures and having just come out of cold water, the pavement felt like needles stabbing the bottoms of my feet. I tried to run on grass where possible, but it definitely didn't make for a fun run. I also took a little extra time to put my cycling jacket on and blow my nose….I have not mastered nor do I care for the snot rocket technique.
The Bike (1:26:13 – 16.7mph):
The bike is where things got interesting. It was cold, it was pouring down rain, there was standing water on the course, and there were two sets of railroad tracks we had to cross twice. I couldn't feel my feet or my hands which made shifting quite a challenge. I literally had to shift with the palm of my hands. It also made taking in nutrition a chore. I knew there was no way I would be able to open the PowerGel’s I had packed, but I was thankful to have thought ahead and pre-opened my PowerBar Energy Blasts. Those were difficult to grab though as my hand coordination was lacking and the rain made them very slippery. I kept dropping them, but did manage to eat at least four throughout the 24 mile ride. I also had PowerBar Perform and water that I sipped on, but with the cold conditions I didn't really take in much fluid.
This was only the second time I had been out on my tri bike this season, and I wasn't 100% confident with my riding skills in the rain. I wanted to maintain aero as much as possible for the obvious reason of speed, but also because it was much warmer to be in this position than to be sitting upright. However, the conditions of the slippery road and the technical hills and curves of the course made it difficult. I took the downhills with extreme caution, not able to go the speed I would have preferred to go, but this was not a day to go all out. I saw many people standing with their bike on the side of the road: a few with obvious mechanical problems, and others that just seem to have been defeated by the weather. I felt bad for them having to stand out in the cold rain waiting for a SAG vehicle. I also felt really bad for all the volunteers battling the elements all day. The only thing I could think of was to be thankful I was able to ride my bike to stay warm and get back to transition as quickly as I could. I really had no idea what my time was or how fast I was going because I opted for safety reasons not to wear a watch this race. I thought it would be too much of a distraction on the bike when I really needed to focus on the road ahead of me.
All-in-all this bike course is a beautiful country course and I wish I could have enjoyed the scenery more than I was able to. I was just happy to have finished without incident and without being too cold, other than my feet and hands. I was not super happy with my time, but I accepted it given the conditions.
I hopped off the bike and started running to transition. This is where it got interesting. My feet were completely numb and it felt like I was running on stumps. As I got to my rack I saw teammate Pam and another girl standing nearby. Pam apparently had some bad luck in the swim and made the decision to pull out early. It was nice to see her as she gave me a recap on what was happening with the other athletes. Apparently a lot of people had been pulled out of the swim due to hypothermia. Not good! I told her she made the right decision as it was freezing and extremely dangerous out on the bike course.
As I was chatting and trying to take off my helmet I realized I had no feeling in my fingers and couldn’t unbuckle the latch. I began to panic as I didn't know what to do. The girl next to me offered to take it off and my immediate reaction was, “NO don’t touch me, I can’t take outside help.” I tried a few more times to unbuckle the latch and even tried to pull the helmet off without unbuckling it. I really had no idea what to do and thoughts of running in my helmet were going through my head. The girl next to me tried to calm me down by saying she had helped others with their helmets and she thought the race officials would understand given the conditions. Not wanting to waste any more time I gave in and let her unbuckle the latch. Honestly I felt super guilty about this and thought that if there was a chance of me placing in my age group that I would tell the official that I had outside help, but it turns out a lot of people ended up having outside assistance in taking their helmets off and putting on their shoes/socks etc. And I didn't place so it wasn't as big of a deal as I made it out to be in my head.
The Run (52:01 – 8:23/mile):
Honestly, the run was a blast! It reminded me of my old-school cross country days. There were giant puddles everywhere and there was really no option except to go straight through them, splashing like a little kid! My only goal for the run was to keep my breathing under control and I think with the cold temps I was able to do this pretty well. It did take a good three miles for my feet to thaw out and the sensation of running on stumps to go away, but it did, and I ended up being very comfortable temperature wise. I would even say that I was a little bit warm running with my PI jacket on and probably could have done without it.
I saw a lot of teammates on the run and made sure to cheer them all on as they returned the favor for me. Rounding the corner to the finish, I saw Matt and he ran the last 100 meters in with me for a fun finisher’s photo! I am very thankful to him for his support all weekend and his fun loving sense of humor which makes every event more fun!
|The pain face, nearing the finish.|
Overall (2:55:00 - 7/20 AG - 28/104 F - 159/355 OA):
Overall I was happy with my performance. My only goal was to be under three hours and I accomplished that. I was 8 minutes over my Olympic distance PR, but given the conditions I don’t think I could have safely gone any faster on the bike, which is where I thought my performance was lacking the most, besides the obvious slow transitions.
Unfortunately we were not able to stay for the after party with my Rev3 teammates, which looked like a blast. I did have an awesome time otherwise and cannot wait until Rev3 Maine (I may try to sneak in another earlier Rev race, but shhhh, don’t tell Matt). I want to thank all the staff, volunteers, and friends/families for battling the elements to make this a very well run and fun event! I think they had a more difficult job than the athletes for sure! I also want to thank my teammates and our sponsors for their support! There is never a dull moment with Team Rev3 and I am so happy and humbled to be a part of this wonderful organization. Here’s to hoping next year in Knoxville will be just a little bit warmer and a little bit drier!