Last thursday I adventured out of town and headed to the BEAUTIFUL state of Tennessee for the Rev3 series season opener! This was the first race of the year that I would travel alone, have a homestay and really kind of experience what my new "life" is all about. When Chase dropped me off at the airport, he looked at me and said, "This is your life"! For some reason that really stuck with me this weekend, and I am seriously so lucky to be able to do this.
I flew into Nashville because it was $400 dollars cheaper and rented a car to make the 3 hour trip over to my homestays house, Joe Peeden. Joe is a super cool guy and I am SO thankful I got to hang out with him, his wife, 2 dogs, and the VIP service they treated me too (My personal chauffeurs, cooks, and training buddies!). Thanks Rev3 for the hookup! On the drive over I couldnt believe how beautiful it was outside, and how ugly I knew it was going to be come race morning (the calm before the storm!). The hills were among me, and apparently so were the time zones. I noticed my phone had gone to eastern time. When I arrived at Joe's, I asked them what time it was...Whoops! I was an hour late. I didnt know Knoxville was in the eastern time zone!
Friday Morning I took to the streets to check out the bike course and came to find myself a little ill-prepared. I knew it was going to be hilly, but I didnt think it would bother me that much. The long hills were fine.
I had a 12-27 cassette and knew I would have plenty of gearing ratios to play with. In the mean time, it was the steep ones that scared the poo out of me.
Not my typical Houston roads, but a challenge none-the-less. After a little exploring, I went to the pool to get back into my comfort zone. Joe's wife, Alex was nice enough to drive me to the pool, wait, and then take me to lunch at one of the best places in town--TomatoeHead! I actually ate here twice because it was so good! Next up we headed to the race site because rumor had it that the water temperature was 58 degrees!! A few of their friends met up with us and we all jumped in. COLD! It was def cold. After a few minutes though, I noticed my face got a little used to it, and I knew I would be okay come race day. I can do this...
We went out to eat at a really cool brewery with some friends and then it was off to bed, because everyone knows its the 2 nights before the race sleep that really counts! :)
I am going to skip Saturday because thats really basic pre-race stuff, and get right down to the knitty gritty.
Race Morning: Welp, it had been raining officially for 24 hours now and the town was a big flood. It was 55 degrees outside, the water temp was 58, and the storm was definitely not going anywhere. This was going to be a tough race both physically and mentally. The Rev3 transition area was actually (luckily) located in a parking garage which made it really nice for warm ups. Due to lovely mother nature and her soaking ways, Joe was nice enough to bring his trainer to transition and let me use it to warm up. I remember that this was the only time during the whole race that I was actually warm.
Rev3 does an AWESOME job keeping their fans up to date on whats going on in the race. My mom even said she saw this pop up on the screen and it made her happy to see me! I was just happy to stay dry. They let us stay in transition until 20 minutes before the race started to keep dry but then it was off to the docks. Thank goodness we got to wear wetsuits because we would have been soaked and freezing if they were not water resistant! I chatted with a few of the other girls and we all stood on the dock and looked at each other like we were crazy. I knew I wanted to get in as soon as they told us to so that my face would get adjusted to the water as quick as possible and to prevent any hyperventilation.
All the girls were getting antsy and they kept creeping up. Before you knew it we were off. I have been practicing getting up to speed quick and I knew that this was the time to do it. I had worked for 4 months trying to get my swim better and I was highly motivated to do it today. I grabbed some feet and didnt let them out of sight. We rounded our first sets of buoys and I was still near the front pack. I could see the last couple girls starting to drop off. I was feeling comfortable and into my pace now and started to just "wheel" them in. I noticed one girl had dropped off and was having trouble sighting. I could tell that it was 1 of 2 people because of their wetsuit they were wearing, but I was exactly positive. I surged and caught up. We looked at each other and I could see through her blue goggles that it was Rinny! The almighty! And like the swim was over and we were transitioning1 1/2 mile on the cold hard ground.
I knew I had swam well and my energy levels felt really good. My swim time was 18:22, a new PR by over 2 minutes! I was about mid-pack, and I was still in this race. There was no giving up!
The Bike: 1 mile into the bike I Had to take my glasses off and put them on my strap because the rain was fogging them up too much. I pushed hard and tried to find my comfort level out on the slick roads. Around mile 4-5, there was about 3 of us girls going back and forth on the hills/descends. Little me goes up the hills quick. Little Scared me, goes down the hills slow. I was riding the breaks. I was SO scared of crashing, my wheel spinning out, or just plain not knowing what was around the corner. They started to fade into the distance around mile 8. At mile 12 there was a quick out and back where you could see where everyone was and about 4-5 girls were only about a mile up on me. Gradually the cold began to take over and I began to shiver. I was so cold, so wet, and still so scared. I made it back to transition, frozen and biked my slowest bike EVER! I was embarrassed. Extremely embarrassed. But Liz never quits, so off my frozen toes went to the run.
The run was covered in puddles up to your knees. Splish-Splash- I was taking a bath. Well I guess I was taking a bath the whole race? I couldnt feel anything for the first 2 miles. In fact I had to use my mouth to push the button on my watch to start! Finally about 4 miles in, my legs were coming back and I was really feeling just fine. Thats what happens when you bike really slow...You can run really good.
I missed the top 10 by one spot, but knew that if I had my Normal bike I would have been up there with those girls. I can only look forward and learn from everything. I am taking both the positives (a new swim PR!) and the negatives (my bike skills suck!) and using it to motivate. Its early in the year, and this year is all about Learning. I will piece it together soon. I cant wait to race again and stay highly motivated. Big THANKS to my Homestay Family and Rev3 for putting on such an awesome event and for finding me a home. I HIGHLY suggest Rev3 to anyone. They treat everyone like a Pro :)
Also, Thanks goes out to my travel sponsors Bay Area Schwinn and Xsics for helping me get to this beautiful place.OutRival Racing for support and coaching, Tim Floyd and Magnolia Masters for patience, pain, and support in the swimming worlds. Tru Tri Sports for bike maintenance and ordering a climbing cassette. And of course my family and friends who are always cheering me on, no matter what place I am in!
Next up: Memphis in May!