On Sunday May 15 many IronTeam members participated in the Rev3 Knoxville Olympic distance triathlon. We were not alone - the Georgia chapter for TNT spring team was there, as well as many other TNT teams.
Let me start by saying that Rev3 put on a quality event. It was well run, easy to navigate, and many volunteers to really make it a success. Although Rev3 had no say in it, the weather was also perfect - overcast and cool.
Many IronTeam members drove up on Saturday - carpooling. My car was full - Pam Wiener and Cameron Thomas joined Carlos and me in our car. Gear for three triathletes, including three bikes, overnight luggage for four and four adults all fit easily in to my buggy. Well, the bikes were on a rack on the back! We left at 6:30 a.m. and the mood was laidback and easy going. No one slept much. Pam shared her "Knox Knox" joke (as in "knox knox; who's there? A triathlon!") and it went downhill from there :)
We arrived in Knoxville about 10:15. We were after the official swim, but were still able to get in the water. It was COLD! We swam some and got out. Went back to the car, threw our wetsuits on the car, started to hop on our bikes when a fellow participant (a pro) returned from her ride dinged up - she had hit railroad tracks wrong and crashed. Plus she and her mom had accidently locked the keys in their car. It was not their day. We patched her up with the first aid kit in my car. We weren't sure if she would race the next day. She did (and came in third overall! Imagine if she hadn't of crashed). She and her mom were both very nice and approachable. They even recognized Carlos the next day.
So, we went on our recon ride - taking in a little of the run for the next day. It started to rain. Our shoes got drenched. Newspaper dried them out. Then off to register where we saw some of our teammates.
Dinner was with most of the team at Rev3, and very relaxed. I slept well...until 3:20. Then I woke up, heart racing and knew I was awake. Carlos put his arm around me which calmed me down, but I never really slept again that morning.
We met in the lobby at 5 a.m. Amy Dyer and I walked down together, leaving a little before other teammates. She looked calm, but had butterflies just like me, and wanted to get down to transition to set up.
At transition there were many familiar and friendly faces. We started getting things ready for the day. So much equipment with a tri. Rev3 uses temporary tattoos so you don't have to use sharpie markers for your age and number. I messed up on my age, and luckily Mike Gaw had a sharpie in him bag. Otherwise my age was 3 on my calf!
Amy and I headed to the swim start about 7, making our way slowly - talking, stopping for a last porta potty, and then walking to see teammates where we put our wetsuits on. Time flew as we chatted and joked. We started to line up. Mary asked if I wanted her to stay with me at the start of the swim. She knew I was concerned about it - last year in Augusta I freaked in the water, couldn't breathe, and did the first 700 meters on my back. It had been a rough swim. I was concerned it would happen again. Back to Mary - I thanked her but Joanna and I were going to start together. She could know I was close by at the start, and I could focus on her and not me. That's the amazing thing about this team - no need to ask. People just do help. All the women started in a single wave. It was huge (150 - 200 women).
We jump in and the water is warm! Not close to the water we jumped in to yesterday. Hooray! Joanna and I find each other, and stay near the back. The horn blows and we are off. I had a rough start, but stayed mostly on my stomach. I flipped on my back a couple of times for a total of less than 20 yards the entire swim. Within the first couple hundred yards I had it. I looked back, and saw Joanna. I saw her face. I don't know what I saw exactly - I am wondering what she was thinking, but I turn forward. Next time I look back I don't see her. I am on my own...and I feel good. As the swim continues I take is slow and steady, and keep my form. I run in to people, swim around people, and sight, and I feel fine! I could have gone forever. I kept Rachel Mudd and our swim in Lake Lanier where I took it slow and felt good in mind the entire swim I was alone. It worked.
Are you getting the image that I was not alone on the swim? I wasn't. I had my team with me, and it was a terrific feeling.
I exit the water and see Mary Liebman cheering loudly, smile and keep heading on.
Looking at my time, I need to shorten my transition when I compared it to others. But, there is a lot to do including removing my wetsuit.
I got to see Sally and Lindsay as I ran to transition. To say I loved seeing them there is an understatement. I was surprised at the number of spectators I knew along the way, and just loved getting to see them.
The bike was hilly, but I decided to push it. I figured this was the time to learn what I can do. It was a fantastic ride. There were cars on the road with us. At times it was annoying as they were unable to pass riders, and I was caught behind the car. At one point I was upset at a rider riding 2 abreast, keeping a car behind him. But, things cleared up after a short slow down, and I rode on. I nailed the hills - thinking of Chris Hartley's advice - going up hill I popped out of aero and was passing people on the hills (up and down). It is an out-and-back course so I got to see teammates along the way, and cheered them on.
I also saw Carlos about 1 mile out, and in the same place coming in. On the way out I called to him - and he cheered me on. He saw me first on the way back and kept telling me to push it...so I did!
This one was shorter, but still long compared to others I looked at. Maybe I need to practice transitions at home? Maybe that is a little bit too much :)
Lindsay caught me in T2 with the camera getting one last drink from my bike. I also got to see Nancy as I ran out of transition. Like I said - I had a team with me the entire way. It's a great way to do a race.
I got out to run and was pleasantly surprised that I felt good, and ran with it. It is an out and back run so I got to see teammates ahead of me on the way out and behind me on the way in. It was terrific. I smiled the entire way. I felt great and comfortable with my run.
As I came back and passed Lee he was sweet and said "You're back already?!"
Beth said that I was smiling WAY to much for that part of the race. I passed Cristen and Mellisa heading walking along the course and they said they would see me at the finish!
I came in towards the finish to see Carlos, Lindsay, Chris and others which were a bit of a blur. I decided to sprint out the end.
Total time: 2:52:26
I never expected a sub-three hour finish. I was very proud and excited by what I had done. I saw Mike at the finish line and he gave me a hug and congratulated me on my accomplishment (it was for me). I started spotting teammates and Carlos. I joined in the crew cheering teammates in.
I called my dad - and I stopped talking twice to cheer teammates in! It was a wonderful feeling to be there with my teammates and seeing other teammates finish strong.
Kathryn and I went over to grab food, and then went to go look at our results. I had finished third in my age group! Holy cow! First time ever. I was proud and a little confused...not sure what to say. I guess I learned that I can push myself, and I can compete. I can be fast. I am not near pro level (they finished about an hour faster than me) so I am not getting delusions grandeur...just having fun. As long as I can have fun and love what I do, I will continue to push my limits and see what I can do.
Whether pushing myself means I end up in the top 10%, or the last one in, or realizing that this isn't my race doesn't matter (even if that last one causes temporary disappointment - and I will admit, hoping my DNF doesn't happen 11/20 but who knows). What matters is being comfortable with what I can do, and having fun: living joyfully. Obviously I have been thinking!