I shouldn’t write about my dad on Mother’s Day. I should write about my wife and daughter, or my mom; I love my wife and mom. Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, mommas, mums, ohmas, mammies, madres, maw-maws and maws. However, since Lakeside of Smokies, the triathlon of which this race report is about, occurred on the Saturday before the Motha of Days and my Dad was there cheering me on, I want to write about him–and the olympic distance race.
I like to get to the race site early. During the week, I wake up at 4:30 am to get to the pool or started on the trainer. My body does not know that it is the weekend, so waking up ten minutes earlier is no big deal. I arrived in Dandridge at 6:00 after the hour drive from Walland. What a beautiful site! I’m not originally from Tennessee – I’m a Floridian – so racing offers me a conduit to gorgeous areas I might not normally see. Douglas Lake is amazing. In the dawn light, the calm water with a foggy mountain backdrop was serene. Even more tranquil were the clouds; overcast but withholding the rain. The day was to be perfect. Race Day Events had volunteers all ready for early birds like me. Everything was set-up and I found my spot on the rack as other participants started to flow in.
It’s cool to know more people and have teammates this year. I get to talk to friends and hear their stories. One particular story was that of Alex Ohman. I met Alex last year at the Springbrook Sprint. After talking a bit, and me needing something more than my 1994 college days Cannondale, I bought his Orbea Ordu and have made some upgrades. In January of this year, Alex was run over by a box truck in a freak accident at a mountain bike race. His pelvic bone was fractured, severely, and shifted. His doctor just allowed him to walk unassisted this past week. On Saturday, he was volunteering for Martin’s Race Day crew. It was awesome to see Alex. The dude is humble, and rad, and truly loves life. This is what makes triathlon cool – getting to see Alex again, and this is why my introductory sentence is about my dad.
My dad came up from Florida to see his 38-year-old son participate in a race. Right after my swim warm-up, while waiting in the chilly water for the olympic start, I saw my dad and my daughter on the shore. I knew he would make friends that day. When I returned to the water, my teammate, Mike Wyrosdick introduced me to his daughter. This was her first olympic-distance race; they were in it together.
I want to write the sentence: the swim was cold, the ride rolling, and the run hilly; I was lucky enough and fast enough to claim overall first. Everything was beautiful and the day was great. Do you really need me to explain that I tried to kept straight on the swim, my watts @230 on the ride, and my run evenly paced? If you do, well, I did. Additionally, I hung with Justin Cazana just like on the Trideltathon run. He is one heck of a competitor. I particularly like his style on the bike. Justin flies downhill and blocks car like a B.A. The dude owns the road. I only was able to breakaway from him at mile 4 of the run.
Back to my dad. He still does not understand all the particulars of triathlons. After crossing the finish line, hugging my wife and kissing my daughter, I asked where he was. Dad, stood vigil at the entrance to T2. Someone misinformed him about how many bikes had come in. He got caught up making new friends and playing with his granddaughter and didn’t realize I was out on the run. I found him cutting up with one of those new friends. I told him that I had won. He was proud and I felt like I was 15 again (but less rebellious).
Triathlon is not an easy spectator sport; triathlon is a participant sport. When talking to teammate Katie Dotson about our dads, she told me how at one race her visiting father decided to volunteer on-the-spot. There he was with a sharpie in-hand and marking numbers on calves and shoulders. We bring our families with us. Before the race, I saw my daughter. At the end of the race, I saw my wife’s beaming smile. My heart was light and I felt no soreness at that moment.
As participants rounded in I watched children run to their finishing mothers, brothers high-fiving, and loved-ones embracing. When I saw Alex Tucker Norris on run, she was walking. When William Norris saw his wife on run, she wanted to go to the medical tent. William told her there wasn’t a medical tent, that it was too overcast. Alex, his wife, became determined to finish. William stopped our discussion and went to her as she crossed the finish line. Alex finished with a 45-minute 10k and second place. Mike Wyrosdick and his daughter finished together. Mike said he drafted her the whole race, penalties be darned. Easy-going Kevin Sprouse had to leave early for his daughter’s ballet after finishing AG first in the sprint. Katie and Mike Dotson, the fittest triathlon couple in East Tennessee, took over trailer duties. There matching bikes were in the back-of-the-truck.
We bring our families with us on every run, ride, and swim. Some of us wear a bracelet with the names of the most important person and their phone number – just in case. At races we get to share all those early mornings with our friends and family. In essence, I am writing about all the mothers, brothers, sisters, wives, husbands, and my dad on this Mother’s Day. Mothers are the center post of families and triathlon is an individual’s family affair. Our families make our hobby possible.
Thanks for your love Mom. Thanks for being there Poppa Ed. I had fun and learned something. Thanks for our family Jess. I promise I’ll always quietly kiss you in the early morning and to return straight to you as soon as I can.
Thanks to my sponsors: Podium Sports Medicine, Visit Knoxville, The Feed, Harper Auto Square, Stoke Signal Socks, Yee-Haw Brewing Co., and Provision Physical Therapy. All are family friendly.