Chattanooga is a beautiful city that is tucked between the mountains. It is one of those cities that really makes you appreciate life (if you have never been you should go). It had been a good 9 months since the last time I toed the line against the top competitors in our sports. I had my normal pre-race nerves. Ok, Ok maybe a little more, I was probably talked off the edge of those mountains twice. See, sometimes I feel like I belong with those guys and sometimes I feel like I am not in the same stadium. My head kept rushing back and forth between the two, and I couldn’t control it, until the pro meeting.
The pro meeting was nothing special it just put all the professionals (men and women) in the same “room”, but after that meeting I came out calmer, more focused and ready to jump. We (the wifey and I) know that I get this way, so instead of sitting around we always plan to do a family activity, so in Chatty we spent all day pre-race at the Aquarium.
Race morning went off without a hitch, coffee, breakfast, coffee and Transition set up. Swim Start was .9 miles up the TN River from transition. So, I decided to walk to mentally get ready for the pain that I was about to put myself through. The swim was 350 meters up stream and then the rest down the river back into transition. I was the most confident I have ever been at this race about the swim. I have put in many yards this year to turn this weakness into a weapon.
The cannon goes off and we (the male pros and I) go from fighting the current to stay in place to a mad dash up stream. I was immediately in a pack of swimmers fighting for some clean water. The good news about swimming upstream is the strong swimmers had all separated from the pack about 100 meters in and by the turn buoy (350 meters) we had well established packs. I was pulling what seemed to be the fourth pack (by my estimates) with the third pack literally a body length in front of me. Two guys behind me realized that I was swimming hard to close it but wasn’t closing it fast enough so they surged to pull us on the feet, were I am happy to report, that we stayed the rest of the way down the river.
Coming into T1, I realized that the plan JB and I had written up for the swim, was executed flawlessly because I was in the pack with some of the targets we had set to pull us along on the bike. I mean mugged my way through transition to not lose my targets and boom we were on the bike.
The bike course at Chatty is pretty simple it’s an 11 mile stick out of town a large circle and then a 11 mile stick back into town. There is a really good climb at mile 26 and 44, but outside of that it’s a simple course. At roughly mile one I went over some train tracks and one of my bottles popped out. I made the decision to turn around and pick it up. At that moment I lost sight of my targets and never saw them again. Somewhere within the next ten mins I lost that same bottle again. I knew by 5 miles in, that my target bike power wasn’t happening. I was pedaling as hard as I could and the power was just not coming.
Typically, in this situation I give up. Things weren’t going my way, but I shifted my focus onto my run. Knowing I was going to have relatively fresh legs I tried to keep reminding myself that the power number didn’t matter.
Rolling into T2 I was about 8 mins or so off of my targets (according to the wifey). I drilled the first half of the winding course through the north and south shore of Chatty, but by 7 I completely checked out. I wasn’t having fun, the cramps were setting in and I couldn’t settle my heart rate. I finished the race and my head wasn’t in a good place.
Despite not having my legs, we accomplished the majority of what we came out to do. We had a great swim and my targets were right there. My mind stayed positive and alert for a majority of the day. Lastly, we finished our first pro race of the season. All that being said, I still made some bone headed mistakes and I am reminded that even though I have come a long way mentally the mountain top is still way up there.
Overall, I am torn with the performance. There is a lot that went right but also a lot that we can improve. One of these days we will put it all together and when that happens, watch out. Until that day though, we will keep entering the arena.