Whew! First tri of the year is done! It was also quite the adventure since I traveled to Chattanooga solo, as JMR had a race in Quincy, IL the same weekend. I left Saint Louis around 8:15a on Friday, and overall it was a pretty uneventful drive, but hitting rush hour traffic in Nashville made the 6ish hour trip closer to 7 hours. I was pretty darn tired when I finally made it to the hotel around 4:30p, but rallied and after hauling in my bike and gear, I headed to Athlete check-in. Athlete check-in was a breeze, from there I headed to Big River Grille & Brewing Works for dinner.
Dinner was so-so, typical bar type food. I was also cranky from the long day of travel and a little limited as to what I could eat for my stomach to be safe for race day, so maybe in a different scenario I would have liked it more. After dinner I headed back to the hotel, took an Epsom salt bath and was in bed by 8:30 (which was really early for me since it was 7:30 Saint Louis time, but I was tired!).
Saturday I got up and walked to Starbucks in a hotel nearby, had breakfast at my hotel (love free breakfasts) and then decided to do a little bit of exploring since I had several hours before bike check-in and the 3p athlete briefing meeting I wanted to attend. I decided to check out Signal Mountain which was about 15 minutes away and it did not disappoint! The view was beautiful, I will definitely have to take JMR when we are back in September.
After doing a little walking around and taking in the beautiful view, I stopped by Wal-Mart for a few last minute items (gas x since my stomach had been grumpy from nerves since I left STL and also Emergen-C since my throat felt scratchy). Once I got back to the hotel I headed to a restaurant within walking distance from my hotel for lunch. Sidenote: ok, so my hotel was in a weird spot, and really anything ‘within walking distance’ was at least .5 miles since that’s how far away the hotel was from the actual downtown streets since it was on the other side of the highway. It wasn’t terrible, but I am relieved we are staying in actual downtown much closer to transition for the full IM. Ok, back to lunch, this place was AWESOME and we are definitely going back there – Community Pie. I had the Chicken Caprese sandwich with the Kale salad and it was delicious. I’m sure the pizza is really good too, but my stomach doesn’t fare well with that much bread the days leading up to races.
After lunch I hung out at the hotel for an hour and then rode my bike to drop it off at transition. The first thing I thought when I got into transition was….man, transition was looooong. I don’t remember being in a race having one this long. My bike was located at the very opposite end of bike out/bike in, so I was going to have to attempt to hobble a long way in my bike shoes, which really wasn’t ideal as the new tri specific shoes I got for Christmas have cleats that are located much closer to the arch of my foot making it really hard to walk normal at all. In fact, I had a slight fear of falling in them! I texted my coach to get his thoughts, whether I should run with them in my hands and put them on/take them off at mount/dismount, or attempt to hobble in them. He said the concern of stepping on a rock or the hot ground would probably outweigh the time saved running barefoot and suggested just trying to shuffle in them. Ok, then, so that was my plan.
Next I headed over to the athlete meeting, which was short, and other than the announcer mentioning the possibility of the swim being shortened due to the current, I didn’t hear anything else important for race day. Oh well, glad I attended for the heads up about the swim. After the meeting I checked out the swim start and saw how long of a distance it was from the water exit to transition. Oh man. Between that and my hobbling in bike shoes, my transition times were probably going to suck.
Then I walked the 1.5 miles back to my hotel as it just made more sense to ride the bike and walk back then pay $8 to park and fuss with the parking garage. Once I got back to my hotel I relaxed for an hour and then DROVE to Public House where I had dinner reservations. I checked my watch before leaving for dinner and saw I had walked almost 8 miles already. Woah. I slightly regretted walking the 1.5 miles back to the hotel after dropping my bike off, that was way more than I wanted to walk the day before a race! To (hopefully) calm my nerves I checked my steps the day before Louisville and I had walked just about as much, I guess with the hotel being in the city, you are walking everywhere, plus to and from transition…it adds up! Ok, back to dinner, like lunch it was also amazing. I had the Salmon with a side of Asparagus and ate every bit! This will be a great pre-race dinner spot for the IM!
After dinner I took another short Epsom salt bath, and then decided I should practice my transitions. Since I wasn’t going to put socks on until the run (usually I put them on before the bike) and really needed to save any time I could because of how long transition was, I figured a few practice runs were in order. After practicing about five times (I figured out a new, faster way to put on my aero top, hence that many times- I know how to put socks on :)), I felt confident that I was ready to fly through transitions the next day, well fly and hobble. I hopped into bed around 8:30 and tried to fall asleep, knowing I had a 3:30a wakeup call, but tossed and turned for a while. I eventually fell asleep around 10:30 and the next thing I knew my alarm was going off.
Oh boy. I went through the motions of eating breakfast, getting dressed, sunscreening and then headed to the car around 4:20a. I was parked in the garage within 10 minutes, and got into transition a little after it opened. I aired my tires, set up my gear, went back and checked my setup like three times, went to the porta potty, went back to transition for one more check and then was in line for the shuttles by 5:45ish.
Once I arrived to the swim start, I got in another porta potty line and finally got to my swim corral around 6:15a. I left my phone in the car because 1. I was afraid to leave it in my morning clothes bag in fear it would fall out or just having it sitting in the heat for hours didn’t sound good. 2. It was an hour earlier in STL so…. no one would be up anyways for me to text with. So, then I sat and waited, and also noticed how TIRED I was. I had a cup of coffee but clearly it wasn’t enough, and also the time change wasn’t helping. I hoped that once I was in the water I would wake up. Unfortunately this would be a theme until the run. I did a lot of people watching, and ended up hanging out with another small tri/cycling club from Saint Louis. Small world! They were SO nice, and after finding out the swim was being shortened due to the current, they were fun to hang out with and pass the extra 40 minutes or so we spent waiting to get in the water.
Finally….we headed to the dock and after high fiving a few volunteers on my way, I jumped in!