A Revolution 3 HalfRev Race Report
Call me stooopid call me what you will...
Say I'm old fashioned say I'm over the hill.
Yea, so I opted to referee a soccer match Friday night. I figured I would take it easy, have a good time, not wear myself out too much. LOL... The players were having none of it. They played fast, furious, and hard, and I ran much much more than I wanted or needed. It ended up being just plain stupid, and I got what I deserved. I seriously undermined my ability to race, AND I only gave the players a percentage of what they deserved. Everybody lost that night...
I slipped the recovery sleeves on when I got home and ate a descent dinner. I was home and packing everything by 9:30 PM. All of my gear was on display at the kitchen table from Thursday night. I even oiled my chain. Call that a first. All that was left to do was pack the car in the morning and go. I actually slept pretty good. I woke up a few minutes before Dee Dee came home at 6:30 AM. We were able to exchange some alone time together before sharing kisses good bye. She went to sleep, and I headed downstairs for breakfast and coffee.
It's nice traveling to a race in a stress free manner. Knoxville is about three hours from my house. You basically travel north, then hang a right. The ride itself was both enjoyable and easy. I made it to downtown Knoxville around 11 AM. I decided to head to the boathouse and meet Andy and possibly Sarah for the practice swim. Somehow or another, I ended up driving beneath Neyland Stadium, ROFL, which was actually fortuitous as the way out dropped me off right next to the parking lot near transition and the boathouse.
I touched base with Andy before running back to the car to change into my swim suit and grab the wet suit. Quite a few people showed up for the swim, and some of the Rev3 people were putting on a clinic which was nice. Andy and I dilly dallied in the water for a bit, not really swimming, but just getting used to the temperature and shaking out the arms. When Sarah showed up later, we were able to actually head up river for a short swim.
After drying off and changing back into my clothes, I was able to head down to Calhoun's for a bit of lunch. I probably should have gotten the rib sandwich, but for some reason, I was in the mood for a burger, so a burger it was. It was a real treat sitting out on the patio enjoying the river and the beautiful day. When lunch was over, we headed up to the World's Fair Park to register and get our pre-race stuff.
Since I parked right next to transition, I was able to register and walk back down to transition to get my bike. I wasn't too happy with my spot in transition, but it turned out great.
Once the bikes were racked, Andy and I said our good byes and headed separate ways, he back to his hotel, and I off to meet my homestay, Beverly. Bev and I had been exchanging emails for months in preparation for this day. When I arrived at her house, she was waiting in the front yard to great me, and the link was complete. To no surprise, it was just like old friends meeting for the first time in years. Beverly helped me unload my car and get situated before cooking me a simply wonderful pasta dinner, and all this despite a family emergency that she and John had had just the night before. She went out of her way to make sure my stay was pleasant and stress free. Having Beverly and John's support was a blessing I did not take for granted. Her dinner was awesome. The bed I slept in was muy comfortable, and I had the best pre-race sleep I've had in a long time. I woke up three times that night, 12:30, 2:30, and 4:30, and I had no trouble getting back to sleep each time. When the alarm went off at 5:30, I was ready to get on with my bidness.
Down in the kitchen, I figured out the controls on the oven and toasted my bagel. I had a hard time downing the bagel and the yogurt, but I made myself eat. I knew it was going to be a long day. Bev and John got up a little bit after me. They drove me down the race site and dropped me off in a parking lot right behind transition. It doesn't get any better than that.
It took me probably half an hour to get my spot situated. One of my neighbors, an elite age grouper, was pointing out little tricks and tidbits that I could do better. I laughed it off and took some of his suggestions. The temps were in the high forties. I lathered myself up with sun screen and slipped into my wet suit. I had purchased a new sprint john from Neosport for this race. Needless to say, it was a bit chilly waiting for the swim start. I walked down to Calhoun's and hung out with Andy as the first couple of waves went off. They called out the wave before mine when I remembered to power up the Garmin and slip it into my cap.
The elite amateur wave went off, and the half Rev men, myself included, made our way down onto the dock. Parts of the dock had gotten wet, and it was brutally cold on the foot. Was I ever happy to finally jump into the water to get warm. LOL... The water temperature was 68 degrees. I made my way over to the far right side of the swim start and staked a spot out for me at the front of the line. When the horn sounded, I pressed start on the Garmin through my cap and started to swim.
The washing machine started up right away. I have never been so jostled in any race in my life. I was sticking to the feet of the guy in front of me, and people were constantly grabbing onto my feet and bumping me from the side. Some dude with a windmill for a form came thundering up beside me, and once he got in front of me, he stopped going faster than me. Every time I tried to pass him, I had arms all over the place! We headed up river for 500 meters or so before turning around and heading back down stream. Somewhere in that time frame, I lost windmill guy. They had shut the dam off during the race, reducing the force of the current. As per usual, my nose was acting up, and I had to stop and degunk my throat a couple of times.
About two hundred meters on the way down stream, I found myself swimming alone. This was much preferable to me. The rest of the swimmers followed the shore line. I took a straight vector towards the landing. I drifted a little too far to the outside before making a minor correction. I did manage to cut off a significant chunk of that curve at the end. I stayed a little bit too far to the left and had to cut to the right to make it to the docks. John had mentioned that they had seen somebody out there swimming by themselves, and I was sure it was me. Despite my tired arms, I managed to pull myself up on the dock with no problem. I saw 34:32 on my Garmin when I pulled off my cap, and I was happy with that. I had intentionally held back on this swim. This race was all about pacing and saving myself for the run, and pacing started with the swim!
I ran up the ramp and across the street to transition. It took me about 5 minutes to get out of T1. No, I'm not proud of that, but I did everything I thought was necessary. I put on my HRM, and my race belt. I had rolled up my arm warmers and managed to unroll those over my arms. I remembered how cold I was at IM FL, and I did not want to repeat that. After slipping on my helmet, gloves, and glasses, I pulled Aerown from her rack and walked to the mount line.
The bike course started out heading down river along Neyland Drive. It was a long gentle coupla miles down hill until we made a right turn onto the university campus. I knew there would be a couple of uphills to get to the bridge across the river, I just did not expect them so soon and so steep. My quads were already screaming at me, and my ride had barely begun.
Over the bridge, we went across the railroad tracks and made a right onto a two lane road with construction. It seemed like during the first part of this course, there was nothing flat. It was literally the hills from hell. There were a couple of hills that were really brutal. I remember thinking this thing has got to end, only to round the corner and see more uphill ahead. I consciously reminded myself to save my strength. This race was all about the run. Despite my best efforts, the damage to my legs was being done.
For every up hill, there is a down hill, and I flew down the backside. On some of the hills, I pedaled, on others, I just coasted and used the free speed to recover. Once we made it through the hills, we were treated to a flat section of the course that first went through some hills, then a few rollers, and finally followed a creek/stream out to Walland. My Garmin kept beeping at me every mile, and I, unfortunatley, forgot that I had swam 1 mile, then hit the lap button twice for the end of the swim and transition. I kept looking for the turnaround after lap 28, but it didn't come until like lap 31.
On the way back, the wind was blowing full force in our faces along some of the flat stretches. There was a break around the trees and rollers. Up ahead, the same hills we crossed on the way out were looming. It was about this time that I wondered what I was doing out there. By then, I had realized that I wasn't going to come in close to three hours. I figured 3:10 or 3:15 or so, only it was much worse. I think my slowest mile on this course was 12.9 mph, while my fastest mile was 27 mph. I quashed the negative thoughts and reminded myself that this was who I was. I had goals for the day, and they had nothing to do with time. I allowed my cadence to drop significantly as I climbed the hill, and at times, I thought for sure I would fall over. As a matter of fact, I had to stop at one point because I think I ran off the road. I walked a short distance up the hill. When I got passed by 4 riders, I decided to get back on my bike and go.
Up until this point, I had had plenty of company on the ride. Now, the riders were few and far between. I made my way back into town. Where the construction was, there was another steep steep uphill to get to the bridge, and my quads were just crying. A few more hills inside the University, and boy was I ever glad to get off my bike. I had my slowest bike split ever in a half Iron distance race, coming in at 3:21:44, or sumfin like that.
Fully realizing the sub-6 wasn't going to happen, (it wasn't even a goal), I took my time in T2. I put on my shoes and socks and took my time putting on sunscreen. Yes! For the second time in a race ever, I did not get sunburned (ha!). My second T-time was about the same as my first. In reality, it could have been much much faster.
The run course followed the bike course on the way out. The long shallow downhill was welcome. It was perfect for making the bike to run adjustment. My legs felt very heavy and I was hungry, despite taking six gels and 64 oz of fluid on the bike. I ate my bar at the first aid station and grabbed some water. Actually, I took a couple of huge bites and threw the rest away. I ran with my water for about a quarter of a mile before I finally managed to get it all down.
When we made the right following the bike course, I thought, "DAYUM! We are going to have to run up that !@#$%! hill..." Fortunately for all of us, we made a left and got onto the greenway. The greenway is a trail that runs along the river and creeks in downtown Knoxville. I, personally, thought the run route was very pleasant. It was an out and back with a few spurs. I got to see everybody coming and going. The race was recording our run splits in multiple locations. About three or four miles out, Missy came running over a bridge heading in the opposite direction. I high fived her and told her to keep kicking butt.
There were aid stations about every mile on the run course, and they were fully stocked. No worries with running out of liquids or fluids here. I had a gel and banana before my hunger subsided a bit. The turn around was near a shopping center with a lovely Mexican restaurant on the corner. I really could of used some Mexican, and a margarita, at that point. The volunteers thought I was hilarious as I raised my arms and crossed the finish line. I asked them how I was supposed to get back and was very disappointed when they said run.
On the way back, I caught up with a guy who introduced himself as Tom. We shook hands and ran together for a while. He was running about my pace. I continued to take in grapes and liquids. At about mile 8 or 9, I felt brain dead and just drained. I decided to take two gels at one time and some grapes, and that seemed to help. I had been basically doing the entire race needing to go to the bathroom (not pee :-), and I finally gave in close to the end of the greenway, I dived into one of the bathrooms after saying good bye to Tom. I spent a couple of minutes in the restroom before heading back out onto the race course. I used this as an excuse to try and run Tom down.
Off in the distance, I could see Tom on the road back to transition. The gentle downhill on the way out was replaced by a gentle up hill on the way back. Except for Tom and one other guy, we were running by ourselves. Did I mention yet how great the volunteers were? They clapped and yelled for every athlete ALL DAY LONG. They were wonderful. When I reached transition, the first out and back torture session arrived. We had to run up the hill at the end of Neyland Drive, then turn around and come back to transition. Tom high fived me as he ran by.
Damn, Wes! You've already caught back up? I trust everything came out OK in the bathroom!
We both got a good laugh out of that. I never did catch back up to him. I got more laughter out of the volunteers as I practiced crossing the finish line for the second time. I made a right at transition onto the University greenway. My Garmin buzzed indicating I had just crossed mile 12. Up to this point, my body had been behaving beautifully. Not fast, just beautiful. No cramps, no problems. Just me and my internal demons.
The last mile. The longest mile.
I could see the tower up ahead and hear the announcer. The sign said half Rev peeps go left, but I wanted to turn right. There was one last out and back torture session to go through. I had to run up this steep steep hill for about a quarter mile before turning around and coming back. The little girl at the turn off was trying to be so cheerful.
What goes up, must come down!
I chuckled at that and walked up the hill. At the turn around, I broke back into a run and came down the hill. I made a left turn then another left turn and found myself running into the park. There was an enthusiastic crowd of Rev3 peeps there cheering the runners in, and that made me tear up a bit. I don't know why, but I always get so emotional at the end of these events. I crossed another timing mat, and my name was announced over the loud speaker. I crossed the finish with my arms raised, glad to be done, glad to be back in the game. It was a good day.
The volunteer at the exit handed me a medal and took my timing chip. They were out of medium shirts, so I grabbed a large. I immediately found the food and grabbed my lunch box. I walked through the expo and found a bit of shade, where I could sit down and enjoy my lunch. Thankfully, my cramp free day continued. While sore, I had no cramping at all the entire day. That made me happy. After eating, I walked over and talked to Molly and some of the athletes from Multisport Mastery. It was great seeing Molly, Missy, and Andy again. Molly had had a great race, as had Missy, and Andy fought through some adversity to complete the Olympic distance race in fine style. I took my leave from Molly and her friends an went back to transition to get my bike and wait for Sarah.
No sooner had I exited transition then here comes Sarah looking strong! I yelled something stooopid at her, and she smiled as she headed up the spur from hell. I walked up the hill to meet her on the way back and asked her if she wanted a hug. Fortunately for me, she was in the mood, and I gave her a big hug. I told her that it was one mile from the transition to the finish line, and she was doing great.
I walked up the off ramp and asked the police officer if it was OK for me to walk up there to the street. He laughed, and I grimaced when I saw the huge steep hill I had to climb to reach the street. I zig-zagged up the hill and finally made it to the top. I put my tri bag on my back, climbed onto Aerowyn and took off down the road towards the bridge. I had plenty of energy to pedal, although I took it extremely easy across the bridge and up the small hill on the other side. I made a left and took the road down by the river. Bev and John pulled up beside me and asked me if I had enough energy to make to the house. I did indeed, even though I walked up the last two hills to the house. John and Bev both laughed when I collapsed in the yard and said, "Geez, I should have reffed a game Saturday night instead."
Bev was kind enough to offer me a shower before I hit the road. I told her she had NO idea what a special treat that was. At most races, the hotel's checkout time is way before the race is over, and I end up driving home under ripe conditions. I cleaned up, packed the car and spent a few final minutes sitting with John and Bev. They really helped to make this experience special, and I can't thank them enough.
On the way home, I called my mother to wish her happy Mother's Day. We had a long pleasant conversation. She asked me how my race went, and I said that it went perfect. She teased me in her humorous way about racing on Mother's Day, and my quick response was, "but I dedicated it to you!" Yea, she had a good laugh out of that.
Despite being tired and worn out, I made it back to Woodstock in one piece. I stopped off at a local pub for a beer or two and some dinner. Three beers would have put me under the table, and besides, I had boyz and dogz at home that needed my attention. Yea, these little race jaunts are fun and keep daddy happy and on an even keel, but the real world is always waiting for me to slip back into the flow, and that's the way life goes...