Monday, May 16, 2011

South of the Mason-Dixon Line

Sophie & Leo helping me cross the finish line!

Never did I dream that a 12 hour drive to Knoxville, TN would change my outlook on myself as a triathlete. Months ago Kevin and I thought it would be a good idea to go to Rev3 Knoxville for a triathlon - he had done Rev3 in CT last year and it was a great race. They put on a great show and coincidentally, I have a friend that lives in Knoxville - just seemed like a perfect match so we registered. Ever since the day Kevin registered us I've been extremely nervous. I've never done a race that long and the 3 sprints I've already done were really hard for me. My coach, Justin, Kevin and all involved were convinced I could do it...everyone but me.

We left on Thursday for the long drive to TN - I was fairly certain my car would implode when passing the Mason-Dixon line but alas I'm still alive to talk about it. I was surprised by how nice Knoxville was and we had the BEST hosts people could ever have. J, How, Soph & Little Leo were so excited to have us and made us feel so at home we did not want to leave. We went straight to the Expo it is always greatly uplifting and gets you in the mood to race - I love nothing more than shopping and shopping for Tri gear puts me in doubly happy mood! At the Expo we met Matty Reed and I was over the moon to meet him in person. I was also so happy to buy a "Finisher" shirt that I could wear the following day when I actually finished.

Race morning - up early, had my usual oatmeal, buttered bagel and tea for breakfast. We got all 4 billion water bottles ready and were off to the Knoxville World's Fair Park for the start. Kevin's swim start was 30 minutes before mine so he got all suited up and out he went into the water (the not-so-lovely Tennessee River). That left me for 30 minutes standing on the dock in my wetsuit to think about the race but I vowed not to let one negative thought into my head for this race. I was going to give it all that I had - leave it all out there on the road. And I did just that - not one negative thought (ok 1 during the run but that was it!).

Finally it was my turn to jump into the water and I had to pee so bad and figured I could just pee in my wetsuit while treading water waiting for the gun to go off. It turns out that peeing in your wetsuit is an acquired skill and I was unable to master it or even accomplish it at all. The swim went on forever. The guy the day before told me that we swim against current for 200 meters and then with the current for the remaning 1300 meters - yeah, that guy lied. Right to my face. We swam against the damn current both ways. At the 300 meter mark I looked at my watch and saw 10:00 and knew then I was in for a LONG haul of a swim. But the saving grace was it was all straight, no turns, not a lot of sighting was needed - put my head down and just kept at it. At the end of the swim there were no steps to get out - just had to pull myself up onto the dock but at that point realized I couldn't feel my arms. I got out sort of like a beached whale and just threw all my body weight onto the dock. Got out and had to go quite a ways to get to T1. While in T1 I could hear the announcer calling the race - the damn pro men were crossing the finish line!!! That's just not fair - I wasn't even out of my damn wetsuit yet (but they did start 1:50 before me!).

Bike was great - tons of hills but nothing I haven't done before, nothing I couldn't do. Many people were walking their bikes up the hills but I refused to get off my bike to walk it. This course was great bc as many uphills there were even better downhills. Still need to work on climbing and get my average speed up much, much higher but I gave it my all and felt great the entire bike ride!

The run is always my weakness and a weak, weak, weakness at that. Still never peed from the swim so I had to make a quick Porta-Potty stop on the way out. Figured the 2 minutes it took me to pee wouldn't hurt my run time. I was able to start running and then came the pains - I had the worst stomach pains - the exact same pains as contractions (but not quite that bad nor that long) but still severe enough to stop my in my tracks everytime to have to wait for it to pass. I thought I could try to stop at a bathroom but figured I might as well just finish the damn thing and deal with it after. So the run sucked but I did it and it wasn't terrible. I wasn't last and I had a GREAT time!

I was running to the finish line under the huge blow up REV3 sign and I saw Janice and the kids - they ran through the shoot with me and I was sooo happy to see someone I knew! Then I saw Kevin with the camera at the other side as well - I could not stop smiling and was over the moon. Great, Great, Great race, great city, amazing friends & hosts. Cannot wait until next year when I take off at least 30 minutes from this year's time.

Best part of the entire race, I believe now I can do it. I finally feel like an athlete and that I can do better. Up until this point I've been just trying to finish each race - just cross the finish line. Now I'm determined to work on my technique, form, nutrition (OK maybe not nutrition!) and really work on getting better and faster.

Thank you Pollock Family!!! If only ever city had a family like you for us to stay with and to cross the finish line with me!