Thursday, December 6, 2012

The One Where I Fell

   There have been several races this year that, for whatever reason (laziness), I didn't write a recap.  Now that I'm in the off-season, I have a little more time. So let's play catch up, shall we?
   First, we'll take a trip back to July. Yes, July. If you can remember back that far, when we last left our heroine (um - that's me), she had just come off of her stellar performance at the Old Hickory Lake Sprint Triathlon after a summer full of drama. Next up was the Team Magic Chattanooga Waterfront Olympic Triathlon. (Imagine the Wayne's World wavy line flashback effect here.)

483 is SUCH a better starting number than 1222 like last year.

   Considering this was the race where I wanted to cry last year, I was REALLY hoping for a different experience. And since my summer was so crazy, I wasn't overly concerned about my time. I just wanted to finish and not cry. I know, I know - I have huge expectations for myself.
   Anyway, we (Dudley and I) headed down to Chattanooga on Saturday. The expo is on the waterfront right where the transition area is. Man, was it HOT. I know, Chattanooga in July is hot. But while you're standing in line you're just thinking "I'm racing in this tomorrow? I'm insane!" Check-in went fine though. I had a moment of panic as there was a little glitch with the system and some fast racers (like Coach Andrew from FTP) were seeded later then they should have been. Fortunately, this didn't affect me and Andrew was able to move to the front so all was well. 
   The group from FTP then all met up for dinner, which was cool. It was kind of humbling though because I knew everyone at the table was going to have a better finishing time than me. That's what I get for hanging out with amazing athletes. 
   After a decent night's sleep, it was off to the transition area to set up. Unlike last year, we stayed in a downtown hotel within walking distance of transition. I CANNOT express how much better this was than driving down, finding parking and schleping everything to transition. I don't care we paid a little more. It was worth it. I ran into a few FTP, East Nasty and even work friends while I was setting up. Always fun!

Michael and Jason from my office.

With Meg from EN. Forcing smiles at this crazy early hour.

   After setting up, we headed down to the start. It was same set-up as last year where you wait for the start in a large field with no shade. Always fun when it's on the way to 98 degrees, but I did the best I could to stay cool. Remembering my experience from last year when I almost got sick from drinking too much Gatorade, I only drank water. And, since I had a decent starting number, I didn't have to wait too long to start. 
  
SWIM - 27:16
   The swim wasn't too bad this time - no open water freak-out which was good. Just kind of cruised along. It's a downriver point-to-point swim. I like that. I would pick a point in the distance and think "swim to the bridge - just swim to the bridge. OK - now get to the boat." I only wish I knew if there was some sort of meaning for the different colored buoys along the way.  They would all be the same color (yellow, maybe?) and then I'd see an orange one in the distance and think "YAY! The end!" but no. It would just be some random orange buoy silently mocking me in the river.  
  The good news is that the finish is pretty loud, and you can hear people ringing cowbells and cheering when you get close to the finish. That kind of stuff helps me. The bad news with this finish is that you have to climb about a million stairs to get to the transition area. Ok, maybe it just FEELS like a million stairs, but there were a lot.

A decent look at stairs. This is Coach Andrew from FTP. Who puts stairs like that after a swim? That's just mean!  

Spectators admiring my amazing athletic ability as I speed by.

Me cursing the stairs. Notice the hot pink toes. Yes, I just had a pedi. Because pedis make you faster.

Oh - there's a camera!  Hi Dudley!  

Bike - 1:24:40
   Feeling OK out of the swim, I was still a little hesitant for the bike. I really had a hard ride last year. I know I should have been all "forget last year! Redeem yourself!" But all I could think of was how I felt at this point last year. Fortunately, as the ride went on, my confidence grew. "Hey - it's mile 5 and I don't feel like crying like I did last year!  GREAT!" I even started making up songs in my head. "AAANNDD this is where I'll pass this girl, pass this girl, pass this girl. This is where I'll pass this girl,  all through the town." Yes, that's a really bad version of "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round & Round."  Whatever. You do what you can to get through a race and my creative juices weren't firing enough to come up with a new last line.  

Waving at Dudley again. I wonder how much time I could knock off if I 
REALLY focused on the race rather than the camera. 

Fixing my shoe while riding. We triathletes can multi-task like that.

   I felt like I had a decent bike leg. I wasn't killing it, but it wasn't killing me either. I passed a lot of people, which is always nice. And I didn't cry once. WINNER! 

Run - 1:13:23
   I started the run feeling pretty good. I felt like I actually could run, which helps in triathlon.

Oh yeah - I'm running.  One more leg to go.

Starting the Garmin. See - multi-tasking again.

   The run was hot - upper 90's. I was much better with my nutrition (Honey Stinger waffle anyone?) and hydration than last year, so that helped a lot. I was tired and hurting, but in a manageable way. The first mile had a bad hill which takes you up to the greenway, and then you have to climb some stairs (what is it with Chattanooga and stairs?!!). I ran all of it, where as last year I saw that hill and was like "Nope. Not running that." But this year, I just cruised right up them. I kept a pretty decent pace for me in a tri - about a 10:00 mile. I basically had the plan of "just run to the next water stop," which were near the mile markers.
   So - I passed through the mile 2 water stop and I'm pretty happy because I'm feeling good. I remember thinking "WOW- I'm almost halfway through the run! GREAT!" And then it happened. I fell. BAM. Right on the greenway. It was definitely one of those surreal moments when you KNOW something bad is going to happen, but you can't believe it. "Surely, I'm not going to fall" was the last thing through my mind as I hit the pavement. I didn't trip over anything - I just twisted my ankle and fell. I looked around to see if there was some uneven pavement or something, but nothing was there. I guess I have weak ankles. Still don't know why it happened. 
   The fall definitely took the wind out of my sails. I wasn't injured (not even a scratch, which was annoying because if my time is going to suck, I want proof as to why!!), but my ankle hurt. I wanted to keep moving though so I tried to run a bit, but it hurt too much. So I kind of did a walk/run thing for the rest of the race. A funny thing happened around mile four when I passed Meg from East Nasty. Bless her heart, her seat post broke on the bike and she had to ride with her seat on the frame the entire time. Since Chattanooga was an out and back course, and I passed her on the way back to the finish. She yelled to me "My bike broke!" and I yelled back "I fell!" Some random racer looked at me and said "Bad day for East Nasty." I say this was funny because 1) it was true and 2) even though I fell, I was STILL having a better day than Chattanooga 2011.

I'm on a bridge!  

Shuffling my way back home.

Finish - 3:10:32
   The finish was completely downhill, which was awesome. I couldn't really run that fast, but at least I had gravity pulling me. There were a lot of people at the chute, including friends from EN, FTP and work. It was cool to hear people cheering my name as I crossed. 
  Team Magic had a tent set up at the finish with chairs and fans, which was fantastic and much needed. After finding Dudley, we just hung out for a while. We had a late check-out, so we were able to go back to the hotel to shower before the ride home. Definitely the way to go.


FTP Coaching Crew - Lindsey, Jessica H., Sam, Jessica M., Andrew and me.

   Even with the heat, this has become one of my favorite races. Can't wait to do it again and break 3:00!

Chattanooga Olympic Triathlon:
Swim - 27:16
T1: 2:57
Bike: 1:24:40
T2: 2:17
Run: 1:13:23
Total: 3:10:32 - improvement of 21 minutes from last year and no crying!!