New Kid on the Knox_Rev3 Knoxville Race Report
The verdict? AWESOMENESS.
The weekend started early on Friday morning as I picked up Ryan and Ed in the Godesky family Subaru. I had borrowed this car from my parents in an effort to preserve some life in the Tracker I usually drive. Once the bikes were properly bungeed and the healthy snacks were within reach, we set out and things were uneventful until just south of Roanoke. That’s when we began to notice a sound. At first, it was just a noise that I could cover with the radio. Then it was a noise that made us go “hmm….I wonder what that noise is.” Then it was a noise that was like “ummm is there a helicopter landing on the roof of the car?” After it escalated to that, we did stop and to our dismay, 2 of the 5 lug nuts on the rear left wheel were missing. And the bolt had sheared off as well. And a third lug nut was so loose I could spin it with my fingers. Yikes! Luckily we were in the South where people are friendly so finding some good help wasn’t hard to come by, and we got things secured enough to make it to Knoxville. It did, however, mean an early wake-up call on Saturday to get to the Subaru dealer for repairs. But the Knoxville Grayson Subaru deserves a huge shout out for getting things fixed so quickly for us!!
I’m not sure if I was just out of practice with the pre-race routine, but somehow we managed to allow our packet pickup, workouts, bike drop off, and pre-race preparations take all day. It wasn’t until 6pm that we were finally able to sit down and breathe! We had a great dinner at the restaurant in the Hilton (eating at city square meant an hour wait!) and got some sleep.
It was kind of nice to be able to “sleep in” a little bit for a race – the 5:30 am wake up call was not bad at all. Race morning we walked down to the transition and set up our stuff (note – Rev3 lets you just lay out all of your gear, and you can just throw your bag in the corner – no need to deal with packing bags and dropping them off super early). As we made the walk over to the swim start I started to feel something…..NERVES! I am not sure if it was just because it was the first race of the year, but my blood pressure was definitely on the rise. Luckily, Ed had arrived and his parents came along to spectate (Thanks guys!), so they provided me with a great distraction while I waited for my wave to get into the water.
As soon as I jumped into the water, my nerves disappeared. With all this swimming lately I think I’m just feeling more at home in the water! Then I did something I haven’t ever done before – I took a spot on the front line. My plan was to go out hard, and try to get on someone’s feet in the front group. When they sent us off, this plan worked pretty well. I was working hard to stay on feet, but I was okay with that. I figured that before long the pace would settle in and we’d relax. Just as that was happening, we came upon the stragglers from the waves in front of us, and I lost the feet I was swimming on. I don’t think this was a big deal though as I had a good rhythm going and I just pushed on. I felt like the swim was over quickly and this was confirmed as the volunteers pulled me out of the water (and I landed on the dock stomach first with the grace of a large seal) and I glanced at my watch: 30:29! I was ready to retire from the race a happy woman right here, as this was a 5 minute PR for a 1.2 mile swim. I have never cracked 35 minutes – let alone getting close to 30! Alas, I opted to continue with the race and I made the long run up to T1. I decided to take off my wetsuit on the dock, then run with it in my hands and I think this was beneficial as I seemed to be moving much quicker than those whose stride was still confined by the rubber.
I hopped onto my bike and got ready to roll through the hills of Knoxville. Ryan and I had previewed the first 10 miles of the course so I knew I was in for a ride that was right up my alley. As I rode over the railroad tracks a couple miles in, the magnet on my wheel slipped so my computer went kaput and wasn’t going to be offering me any information on this one. I debated stopping to fix it, but really I don’t use those numbers to change how I ride anyway, so I figured I would just ride on feel. After about 10 miles in, I was caught by a few men and we played a 46 mile game of leap frog for the rest of the ride. I made sure to keep it simple on the climbs – small ring and steady pace – and then on the descents really worked to hold speed. This is somewhat tricky as the course has a few sharp turns at the bottom of descents but I can’t say enough good things about this bike course. Rolling country roads, some good shade on the climbs, I absolutely loved it and felt right at home after training on Baltimore County roads. I was passed by only one woman toward the end of the ride, but I had to just hope that I had held a good pace. As I crossed the bridge back over into downtown Knoxville I checked my watch and knew a 2:45 was within reach, so I hit that last mile hard going into T2. I came off the bike feeling great and not knowing what to expect for the run course. I was throwing on my running shoes in transition when the woman who passed me came over and asked if she could help me get anything ready for the run. Wait, what? Don’t help me! Get out there! Go run! I told her. She laughed and told me that she isn’t able to run, and was just doing the swim-bike today. Floored by her kindness I thanked her and said I was ready to roll and headed out.
In case you are out there wondering what to expect, do not be fooled by the first 2.5 flat miles of the run! The hills on the back-half are relentless and keep you honest. At the turnaround I saw the 2 women ahead of me – well ahead of me – and I also saw that I had a decent cushion ahead of fourth. I allowed myself to relax just a little until the flat roads returned where I tried to turn it up a notch. Judging from my splits I think I was definitely suffering a bit from the heat and the hills, but overall my run was solid for the day.
I headed into the finish line – with Ryan and Ed at my side of course (another great feature of the Rev3 races….who doesn’t want to cross the line with their friends?!) I saw a 5:06 and was told I had in fact claimed third place overall! I was overwhelmed (in a good way!) with the awards swag, AND picked up some great BBQ that was catered at the finish line for the athletes.
Unfortunately it was all over too soon and we were back in the car for a rainy drive to Maryland. But, I can say that without a doubt I am counting down the days until Quassy and the next Rev3 adventure!
Thanks to all of the Team Rev3 sponsors who helped me finish this race strong! Blue Seventy, Swiftwick, Pearl Izumi, NormaTec, Powerbar and Trislide – You guys are the best! Thank you!!!!!