Summary: Rain rain rain rain rain rain rain (But had a blast)
This was my first race as a member of the Rev3 team and it was so much fun to have a "family" there to hang out with pre-race - kind of like having an MMTC tent! I got to drive down with teammate Frayed Laces (her blog is really neat if you have ever read it) so it was very fun to pick her brain on the ride down. This year Rev3 is holding Glow Runs before their events, so Friday (my birthday!) I headed out with some teammates for a 1 mile fun run (there is a 5k as well) complete with lasers and a smoke machine. Plus 100% of the proceeds went to help a local athlete injured at Boston, which was really awesome.
Saturday I went for a practice swim in the chilly river (58* water brrr) which was a good idea - if only to know what the water would feel like on race day. I haven't swum in water that cold before, and it was nice to know that once I got moving, I would warm up and be fine. I think if I'd gotten in for the first time on race day I would have been a little shocked at how cold it was.
The pre-race expo was amazing! Lots of great booths with samples, bike mechanics on hand, and lots of helpful volunteers. Everything was really well organized and not stressful at all. I racked my bike in transition (I love the Rev3 bike racks that are labeled with your name and number, and everyone in your age group is in the same area).
Race morning I had toast with almond butter and walked down to transition with some friends. THANK YOU AMY MOORE for again (again!) letting me use her wetsuit. I probably would have frozen solid without it. I really need to get a wetsuit.
Swim: 36:11 2/4 AG 15/79 Women 1:52 / 100m
We (the ladies) were in the third and final wave. The setup is that you jump off a floating dock into the river, swim upstream, turn around, and swim straight back downstream. You don 't exit the water at the same place you enter, so you end up swimming more downstream than up. I ran into some sighting issues (I think it being dark and overcast contributed to this) but I found some feet and followed those to the swim finish. I hauled myself up onto the dock and started the run up to transition!
SLOW. First, transition was a good .3ish miles away from the swim finish, so running barefoot took some time. I had cut my foot open earlier in the week (thank goodness for bandaid advance care) and didn't want to reopen it so I took it careful. Transition itself was in a parking garage, so at least our stuff stayed dry! I pulled on some sun sleeves (to keep the rain off) in addition to the usual bike gear and headed out.
Bike: 3:35 2/4 AG 22/79 Women 15.6 mph
The bike was hilllyyyy! 4500Ft of climbing over the 56 miles according to my garmin. I would really love to tackle this course in better weather to see what I can do on those downhills, but as things were – twisty technical descents in driving rain – I decided to take it easy on the descents and keep my bike vertical. The hills here were longer than the ones around us in Columbia, and there were a couple good climbs. I think the bike course was gorgeous but with my glasses fogging up and getting rained on I am not really sure!
It was so nice to do a bike course for a half that was one loop instead of two. Even though this bike was a lot slower than I would have liked (3-3:15 was my goal) I was glad for the experience of racing in the rain. I ate 100 cal every hours (400 cal total) on this bike and I am going to try to up that to 200ish cal/hour. 100 just isn't enough.
I both really did want to get out on the run – it had to be better than the bike – and really didn't want to get out on the run – it was cold and rainy and the last hour of the bike was kind of demoralizing as I realized I wouldn't make my goal time. But I swapped my shoes out, grabbed my rev3 visor, and got myself out on the run course!
Run: 2:06 2/4 AG 20/79 Women 9:39 / mi
The run is really where I wanted to be strong on this race. I've been focusing on my running this winter and my goal was to run a strong half off the bike. Well, this is my second fastest half ever so I'm going to count this as a win. The first few miles of the run course are heading out on the roads, but you quickly get into the greenway which runs along the river. Due to the rain there was a lot of flooding along the course, at some points up to my mid-calf/knee, but it wasn't anything I couldn't run through.
Rev3's aid stations along the course were amazing. There was one every mile or less, which is just so so nice. You don't have to feel like you need to carry your own hydration, and there were nice things like power gels and pretzels and coke at the stops as well.
The hills were pretty intense on the run too – 1500ft of climbing according to my garmin – with a few steep grades (one was 23%, I was glad it was relatively short). After the turnaround at mile 6ish I was out there by myself wishing I had a running buddy with me, and I may or may not have had a conversation with my dad in my head. I was very happy to see the finish chute, and what made it even better is that I knew my parents would be watching me finish using the online webcam.
Finish: 6:28:07 2/4 AG 20/77 Women
I crossed the finish line, got my super awesome medal (Rev3 has the best race bling) got myself a shiny blanket, and tried to get somewhere dry. After hanging out in the tent for a bit I decided to go check my finish time (I love how you can check your time and AG place right away after you finish) and pick up my #2 AG medal! I was really missing the MMTC tent at this point, as I was not looking forward to walking back down to transition and packing up all my stuff by myself.
Post-race we hit the town - had some great mexican food and margaritas at Soccer Taco, ran into Mirinda Carfrae in a bar, and then hung out for pickle chips and dessert at a hotel bar. Then it was time for some quality recovery with my Compex unit and a ton of sleep. Driving home was not so fun with the rain and the whole "sitting in a car after a race" factor, but I made it home in time for the MMTC meeting so all was well.
All in all, I was happy with this race. I am proud of myself for not quitting in the tough conditions (1 in every 6 racers DNFed) and for putting up a strong run despite a slow bike in the rain. Knoxville is a great town for racing, and Rev3 always puts on a great show. Even though my time was slower than what I would have liked, I will try again for my sub-6 in Williamsburg next month. Between now and then I'm going to be putting in some quality miles on the bike :)