Chattanooga is a special place for me because I grew up in Collegedale, about 15 minutes from Chattanooga. I have a lot of great memories there. My aunt, uncle and cousins still live there and my sister joined me on the road trip this weekend. I was really looking forward to the weekend and the race. We stayed with my aunt and uncle, I got to spend time with them and my cousins. It felt like home!
My sister and I decided to drive by our old house which we haven't seen since we moved, over 15 years ago. Its strange how things really don't change too much over the years. If you have heard the song "The House That Built Me" by Miranda Lambert, I think of our house in TN every time I hear it. It was great going down memory lane! :)
Saturday, after the pro meeting I checked out the transition area and the river. It is beautiful downtown and I was excited to race. I heard it was a down river swim so I assumed it would be a fast swim but we also had to swim up river father than I had expected. During the swim I didn't feel much of a current. It was like swimming in a calm lake.
Race morning I arrived around 5:15am. We were told it would not be wet suit legal for the pros, fortunately I brought my Xterra speedsuit. The swim start was about a mile from transition, there were shuttles but I decided to walk to the start with my aunt and sister. I had left my shoes in the car and I really didn't want to walk a mile barefoot so my sister ran back to the car, which took longer than expected and I was getting worried about getting to the start on time. There was no one else walking across the bridge we were walking on and that worried me. I think I made them speed walk/jog faster than they wanted to that morning! I was relieved to get there with at least 15 minutes to spare.
After the pro men started we were allowed to get in the water which did not leave us with much time to warm up. Before I knew it, it was go time! The river temperature was perfect. (71 degrees) I enjoyed the swim. At the turn to head down river I could feel someone drafting me on the side and by my feet so I knew I was in some kind of group. The three of us worked together and drafted to the swim exit. I was around 9th place coming into transition.
Starting out on the bike I was happy my legs felt much better than they have in the passed two races. I tried to settle in on my goal power and it helped having some other cyclist around to keep in sight.
The bike course had rolling hills. Seemed like a constant up and down but the hills weren't very steep. We rode through county roads with mountains around us. Even though it was raining it was very pretty. 56 miles later I was back in transition. It wasn't one of my fastest bike rides but my legs felt much better and I had a faster run than at my last two races.
The run is a 2 loop course. I prefer the two loops because on the second loop there are a lot more people on the course, it feels more like a race than when you are running alone or only have one person in sight.
Within the first mile of the run there is a fairly big hill to start things off. There seemed to be quite a few of these hills on this run course. I had been running a lot on the bridges (only hills this FL girl can find in my area) before this race and was glad I did. I heard I was only 1 minute behind the next pro girl and at the turn around I saw a few girls who weren't too far ahead. I also saw one girl a little too close behind me. I tried to hold her off and close the gap on the girls in front of me but I felt like I was staying the same distance. Around mile 9 the girl behind me passed. I tried staying with her for as long as possible. I did pass one more girl around mile 10. I felt like I hit a wall at that point. The next aid station I ran through I grabbed some coke and red bull and that seemed to give me the energy I needed to get to the finish line.
I finished in 9th place (4:40). 6th-9th place were all within 5 min (4:35-4:40). I would loved to have made the podium in 6th place. Close but no cigar! I gave an honest effort and it didn't happen this time, but it will...
I really liked this course, they had it marked out very well on the bike and the run. You couldn't get lost. I recommend doing this race if you get the chance.
Thanks to Outspokin bicycles , Xterra wetsuits, First Endurance, Zoggs (my favorite goggles!) and Epix Gear for the support so far this year.