July 22 I raced Music City Triathlon: an Intermediate distance race in Nashville. I had read reviews: hot, humid, hilly, but a good race.
I decided to ask my sister (who lives in central Illinois) and parents (who live in Michigan) if they wanted to join us. It was a bit of a drive for them, but not too bad. And to my surprise, they said yes! OK – I was more surprised by my parents. My sister Mary has attended a few of my endurance adventures, and I enjoy having her there at events. For all three, though, this was their first triathlon. I was a bit nervous, but my husband, Carlos, took the helm at guiding them through the morning. And luckily it is a condensed course and pretty spectator friendly with little movement.
We drove up Saturday morning and met my family, and spent the afternoon relaxing and taking the free buses offered by the city of Nashville. In short, we had fun. My sister and I look nothing alike, but we certainly do sometimes think alike – saying the same thing at the same time several times. Mary had also broken her foot, and was on crutches, so that limited our wandering, which is probably good the day before a race! I was all for relaxing that day.
I went to sign in, and passed someone who complemented my RUNATL shirt (he was wearing a Big Peach 5k shirt). A bit later I saw him again and he asked if I was Katie. Yes. He is Jeff Rainwater – we had ridden together before at Cartersville and both knew Brenda. We were friends on facebook! Ha! So we chatted and he introduced me to Wendy, a woman he knew from FL who was racing, and (funny thing) Brad had texted me about earlier while Carlos and I were making our way to Nashville. Small world? Yeah, but also a small event. We chatted, and got to know each other a bit, Jeff and I caught up, and soon we parted ways. I had to return to my family! I left them with Carlos watching a criterium race going on in the Titans stadium parking lot while I did my thing at registration, but it was time to go back to them and get some lunch!
I learned something that night: if you are in Nashville and actually want to sleep – don’t stay in a hotel downtown. We had a group of guys in about 3-4 rooms near our room, and they kept the rooms open with the safety bar. And I heard doors drop and bang against the bar about 20 times before I got really grumpy and went out and asked them to stop. They did! I was not the nicest of people, but I did appreciate. The relative quiet lasted until about 3 a.m. when people who were drunk returned from the bars. This resulted in shouts down the hallway (“Room 338!”), loud knocks on doors and yelling telling friends to “open the door.” Really? Actually, the “really?” may be more that Carlos seemed to sleep through it all!
So when my alarm went off at 5 a.m. I was already awake and ready to go through my routine. Oh well – like I said, lesson learned. Sometimes it is worth it to stay farther away from the event in return for a good night’s sleep!
Carlos drove me to the start/transition area and hung out. My parents and sister were joining later – about 8 when we thought I would be getting in to the water. I got in at 8:39. They did a time trial start and the people doing the sprint went first, and then the intermediate distance. It was a long wait, but I was OK with it.
While setting up the news came across that they were shortening the swim from 1,500 meters to 1,000 meters due to a very strong current. I was a bit disappointed but OK…understood. It was for safety.
I saw Jeff again, and his friend Wendy. I asked if she had body glide and she did! I needed it at that point and was grateful.
I hit the porta potty line a few times, and actually got in line behind someone I knew – Cameron. He and I swim in the same lane at Dynamo. We compared hotel experiences and talked while waiting in line. We were close to each other for the swim start too.
Eventually we started lining up to start. I was a little nervous that I had never seen the swim course but would be siting on an unknown course. Most others were in the same boat. OK. Hopefully things work out. They did.
On the way down the boat ramp my family waved at me from the bridge above. I was surprised to later learn that they basically followed me the entire time I was in the water – when they related my actions to me. Wow! That’s impressive. We were all in the same color swim cap, and it is hard to tell people apart. A bonus to wearing a red top I guess!
I started swimming and felt great. I was strong and comfortable. Maybe a little too comfortable…need to work on pushing. A couple of times I got tangled up with people – once while rounding a buoy and I had to back off as we both weren’t going to make it around. When I reached the ladder someone let me up ahead and…I slipped. Of course. So I had to steady myself and work my way up the ladder – noting that there was a handle bar only on the right side and NOT on the left. Sheesh.
I quickly headed up the ramp and even passed a couple of people. I headed right to my bike, put on my sunglasses, helmet and shoes and was off. I am not sure what I am doing wrong, but my transitions are always slow, and this was no exception. It is on my list to not just practice, but to talk with people who have fast transitions and walk through it with them and learn how to go faster. And then practice what they know. Pitiful.
Once I was on my bike my heart rate was up and I was going. I loved the space on the course. Usually people are close and you just hope the judges realize you can’t easily keep 3 bike lengths between you and the other person. On this course it was easy to do. I felt like I had the whole road to myself. I kept peddling – passing people, and playing back-and-forth with a couple of people before eventually passing. The usual suspects of people flying by and don’t even look like they are riding hard are pretty much the only ones that passed me. You can hear the smooth “whoosh whoosh whoosh” of their race wheels as they slip by.
The course is an out and back loop done twice. You have two primary up/downs over the 6.25 (or so) mile stretch out, and repeat back. I made the turn around and hit…a head wind. Grumble. Suck it up and go….and I did. Once off the parkway you have to go through a series of turns and avoid construction to get back on another ramp to head back out. It was at the turn around point I saw my parents, Mary and Carlos cheering away. I smiled and kept going. I loved the ride and soon was at the turn around again, and the wind was stronger this round. Oh well – keep at it! These small loops really fly by, and soon I was passing my family again and heading in.
I dismounted and started my run in to transition….and got lost for the first time ever in transition. It probably ate up about 30 seconds. I was close, but unable to recognize where I needed to put my bike. Argh! I am already slow! And now this? Overall – between both my transitions I could have easily taken off 3 minutes…if I could be more efficient. My T2 was one of the slowest in my age group. Once I found where I put my bike back I racked it, threw off my bike gear and threw on my run gear and headed out.
My legs felt tired. I grumbled. I need to work on my strength to support my new found speed on the bike. But, I sucked it up as best as I could. The run was hot. Very hot. But well supported. Loved the volunteers! There were also 3 main hills: one up a pedestrian bridge, one up First street, and one up Third. You also got to run down the hill on Second street and down the bridge back over to Titan stadium. The hills were tough, and I kept positive talk to not let the course win. My run wasn’t as fast as I wanted – in fact – slower than my other Olympic in Knoxville (where I didn’t even think about having to move my legs – they just did). But, I didn’t quit even though my legs argued. I finished the first lap and headed back up the pedestrian bridge and I saw my family on the bridge…cheering away! I smiled and kept going. I was almost done already! I wasn’t as strong on the run as I wanted to be, but, I didn’t quit either: I didn’t let the feeling of not wanting to run stop my efforts. The last 0.5 miles I picked up my tempo and was near a relative sprint (relative please – to many it may have been a stroll) thinking “This is where I need to be the entire run!” And…I kept my pace up to the end.
Once over the finish line I saw sprayers so I took off my shoes and walked under them. Soon I saw Pam and my family came around as well. We chatted, talked about things. I wanted to wait for the results, and my family was ready to go. So we said good bye, I gave them my appreciation for them making the journey (I didn’t hug them…I was soaked!) and it was soon all over. The weekend was over.
Pam and I talked, Carlos waited at the car. Once the results were posted Carlos and I went to get my stuff from transition. We had to race to the hotel so I could shower before the drive back to Atlanta. And then Carlos had another 4 hour drive to Savannah. Talk about supportive!
Overall – a good race. It is more about effort than a PR (although, if the swim had been complete it would have been one for me), and I loved having my family there sharing something I enjoy so much. You can’t ask for too much more!