....or how to place in your age group without even trying!
Getting to Knoxville
Saturday morning I was up and out of the house by 5:30. I was anxious to get to Knoxville early enough to have time to check in, drive the bike course, hang with Molly, Lynn, and possibly Kari. I had never driven farther south than Lexington on I-81. I don't know quite what I was expecting (other than lots of tractor trailers), but it was a beautiful and scenic drive. Winding through Blacksburg, I thought about my friends signed up for Mountains of Misery in a couple weeks. Such a shame that I can't join them for it (NOT!), since the ride is 2 weeks before Eagleman. Just as I pulled into Knoxville, I got a call from #1 son, home from Iraq. Poor guy was greeted at the door by just the dog--everyone else was gone. He was able to have a nice lunch with Maddy in between her outings and sleepover.
Molly met me in the lobby of the hotel and we schlepped bike and bags upstairs before hitting the expo/athlete check-in. We walked down to find transition and the swim exit. The river looked quite nice, and there were still people in the water. After a quick lunch of barbeque and chatting with Lynn, we headed out for a preview of the bike course. Can you say technical?! Narrow, narrow roads. No shoulders. Winding, blind descents. Some steep climbs. We doubted how they could close the course, given all the homes along the way, and hoped it wouldn't be much of a problem (more on that later). On the way back to the hotel, we laid in some food and post race libations and made plans to join Lynn and her mom for dinner.
Our dinner was ok--the food was decent, but the service was far from it. I think we had the newest, youngest waitress who asked us 3 times what kind of wine we had ordered. Salads came after the dinner, as did the soup. After several pleading looks at passing managers, they got it right--with 2 comped deserts for our troubles. We were back in the hotel and lights out by 9:30. I was surprised how easily I fell asleep, and stayed zonked until the alarm went off at 6.
(What the hell is up with those bags under my eyes?!)
While I was saying good morning to Michael Lovato, dear dear Lynn showed up with a Starbucks latte for me! That is how I like to start Mother's Day. Bless you Lynn.
It was so cold out, I think the air temps were in the 40s. I was a little worried about the water temps given I decided to wear my own john style wetsuit. After setting everything up in transition, we walked barefoot down to the swim start and met up with Lynn's mom and Brian. I was in the last swim wave, so I got to see everyone off, including Tara Costa who was participating in her first tri (and she kicked butt!) Soon it was time for my wave to get in the water. The water felt great! So warm in comparison to the air temps. Time to go!
Swims are always funny things for me. I knew I had a good start, since I lined up at the very front and there were just 2 or 3 people swimming at my speed from my wave. Sighting was ok, even given the sun coming up straight ahead of us. There was a riverboat close to the turn, so I just aimed for that. Not much current either. I still dick around too much on the swim, popping up to look around, wave at kayakers, and check out my surroundings. I made the turn easily (there was no one else there...) and headed back down stream. Sighting got a little harder, since there weren't enough bouys marking the course. But I knew the swim exit was just past the railroad bridge so if I swam straight for one of the piers I'd be ok. I got to the dock in about 24 mins (someone said the course was short) and held on for a second extra. A couple volunteers asked if I needed help getting out, but I told them I needed to pee before exiting. They were a little surprised at that. Peeing done, I hopped out and started the jog up the ramp to T1. Total swim time: 25:42 an oly-distance swim PR of about 2:45 (so I don't think the course was short).
What a gorgeous morning it was turning into. It was a little breezier than I would've liked, given I had just put my race wheels back on my bike. (See here why I'm not a fan of race wheels, wind, and hills.) T1 wasn't my fastest ever. I struggled to get the arm warmers on, but knew I'd need them.
On the way back into town, I had to face those two hills we climbed up. I should've pulled up the big girl pants and bombed down, but the wind had picked up quite a bit and I chickened out. I'm sure the cops directing traffic were wondering this one chick barely inched down the hill when everyone else was flying down. Oh well. My next race is blessedly FLAT! Total bike time: 1:39:53, 4 minutes slower than my Columbia bike time.
T2 is always so nice. Throw everything on the rack, sit down, and pee while putting on the shoes. Some lady in the rack next to mine was bemoaning having to pee heading out and I told her to just sit and do it while she put on her shoes. She was surprised, but it saved her from stopping in a nasty portapotty.
I got out on the run, picked what felt like a quick pace/cadence and thought to myself, "Let's see how long you can hold this." Turns out I held it pretty well! I felt good and was passing people (which NEVER happens to me on the run). Just before the first mile, I saw Kari on her way back in. Water and gu at mile 2, and some over the head. The breeze was nice and kept the temperature just perfect. About a 1/2 mile before the turn around, I saw Molly and gave her a high five. I wished I could have caught up to her. I ran the first segment at an 8:51 pace and the second half at an 8:56 pace. Turns out I ran a 55:09 10k!!! Which is an oly-run PR. I was so happy with that.
While waiting for Lynn and Brian, Molly wandered off and found an ice bath AND mimosa. Then they started the awards ceremony. Molly wasn't around to see that the young chick who was paced by her volunteer boyfriend took third in her AG. So annoying. When they got to my AG I was curious to see how fast these women looked--but then they called my name as having placed THIRD!!! Holy sh*t! Had I known I was going to get called onstage, I would've worn something nicer. I got a nice plaque and a new fuel belt.