The first mile was around 8:37 (a tad fast) and included the first, and one of the smaller, of the few hills we would encounter on the run. My next few miles were also on the faster side, 8:26, 8:27, and I was passing a TON of people. Also, the course seemed kind of empty, which make me realize it was because many were ahead of me or had already finished. Due to the swim course change, fewer people could enter the water at once, causing it to take twice as long. It was frustrating. However, I was very grateful they held the swim, so I tried to remind myself of that. Also, I thought about those that started the swim after me, I was in the 35-37 wave, what about the poor people in the later waves? I got in the water 30 minutes later than planned, how much later did they start? Beginning the run that late in the day in the heat is just awful, and then also to have a thinned out course makes it more tough. So I kept shutting my pity party negative thoughts down and just focused on one mile at a time.
However clearly it had gotten into my head a little because my pace did slow, miles 4 & 5 were 8:53 and 9:03, and then mile 6 included the REALLY big hill that many people were walking, so, I did a little walking but tried to keep some sort of running pace. Then we ran up the bridge crossing over the river which had a slight incline, and even though I knew I was close to halfway done, my next split was anther slow mile at 10:03.
Finally when I got to 6.5 miles, I felt a little better knowing I really was halfway done with the run, but then had to cross the river again and this bridge was REALLY steep. The lady behind me was babbling on and on about why would people run up it, their heart rates will explode, blah blah, so I succumbed to her stupid commentary and did a little walking. Once we crossed the bridge and we made the split to turn to the finish or go onto the second loop, I noticed that lady was turning to finish. I don’t know why but I was pissed at her. I wish I had ignored her and kept running- of course she was walking hills, she probably ran them all the first loop when she was more fresh. My mile 7 split was a 10:38 which also added fuel to my anger. I channeled that anger and miles 8 and 9 were better (and it was a flatter part of the course) and ran 9:31 and 9:20, but then I lost my angry-wind and miles 10 and 11 were 10:17 and 11:04 (which included that huge steep hill while I allowed myself to walk again, it was huge).
With a little over 2 miles to go I was finally in the homestretch, my focus and determination had returned, and wasn’t allowing myself any more walk breaks except through aid stations. I wish I had kept this focus during the entire second loop, because even through everything hurt, I could still keep moving at a decent pace, so I need to work on my mental game. Miles 12 and 13 were not awesome, but better, coming in 10:11 and 9:45, and I crossed the finish line sprinting.
Run Time: 2:05:42
Total Time: 5:31:33
I finished feeling tired but strong, and not defeated like I have felt on other courses. The run wasn’t what I had hoped it to be, but I didn’t crash and burn like I did at St. George (mentally I wanted to cry the whole second loop) or at Steelhead (I wanted to pretty much quit the second loop). So I went into a dark place for a little bit, but I was able to come out of it, so to me, that was a mini victory.
Overall I am happy with how the race went, I didn’t lose my sh*t during the swim (no panic attacks) and well, it was 20 minutes of downstream so, I don’t have any more thoughts on that. Transitions went as well as they could. The bike was good, I still think I can do better, like my legs have a few more minutes in them to knock down time-wise, but I have a couple more races to test that out before IM Chattanooga. And the run, well, definitely room for improvement, but I do feel like I walked away from this race with a little redemption and lessons learned (AND I didn’t get sunburned). I am sad that the swim was cut short so my final time doesn’t really mean much, but looking at the times individually, the bike/run weren’t horrible.
After I got my morning clothes bag and wandered around for a bit and realized my legs were TIRED. I willed them to keep moving and headed to transition to get my bike and gear. When I got to the parking garage I realized the elevators were on the opposite side of the building, so carrying everything up three flights of stairs was really fun (but I did it!) Then I changed, went back down to the athlete area and ate FOUR pieces of pizza and had a coke. On my way back to the car I stopped by the tent where my new friends I met at the swim start were hanging out and chatted with them for a bit about the race, and finally headed back to my car to drive 7 hours back home.
I’ll save you the drive details but I made it home safe and sound 🙂
I really had a great race experience, Chattanooga was a very welcoming and fun city, so I can’t wait to bring JMR back in September! (I also can’t wait to go back and eat at more of the fabulous places).