Renee Black - Tellico Summer Solstice Tri

My 4th triathlon of the 2017 season took me back to the Tellico recreation area for another race day adventure. My mom and plenty of friends came out on this hot and humid Sunday morning to provide lots of cheering and encouragement. After six years in this sport I am finally learning that not all races are “As” and don’t need to be raced as such. However, all races (except for that one labeled “you better rest up, taper and bring your A+ game”) can serve as learning opportunities in preparation for that A+ race day.

My A+ day is still 50 days away (but really, who’s counting) and I still have areas I would like to improve. Enter Tellico Summer Solstice Sprint. While I was hanging out with my coach on the yellow boom only a few minutes before race start I mentioned that I completely overhauled my pre and intra race nutrition plan and installed a new hydration system on my bike. All to be used for the first time today. He shook his head and said “Nothing new on race day, right?” Right. And with that thought I hoisted myself up onto the boom and waited for that race horn to blow.

Swim (800m) - honestly y’all it’s getting a bit better every time I get in that open water. I actually stayed with the lead pack for the first couple of minutes. I came out of the water 13th out of 31 females. I never thought I’d see the day when I would move from the back of the pack to mid pack. Always more work to be done but I will take it.

Bike (16 miles) - I know this course well and with my new hydration system in place I made myself stay aero the entire ride except for one steeper climb. I passed several folks on the bike and worked hard to make myself drink my Skratch Labs hydration mix and Thorne branch chain blend. I got about half of my 24 ounce bottle in. Again, more work to be done here but the ride felt great. Thanks to a hot tip from fellow teammate Katie Dotson and much persistence on the part of my coach I FINALLY conquered my fears and successfully learned the art of the flying dismount. So after a super quick T2 I started the run having moved up 9 spots to 4th female overall.

Run (3ish miles) – At this point I must say that my typically finicky GI system was on its best behavior with all the newness in nutrition. No slosh, no cramps, no nothing. AND my energy levels were feeling good. WOO HOO! I headed out on the run with the goal to push hard through the entire 3 miles and not trail off at the end like I have a tendency to do. I made the parking lot loop and saw 2 of the 3 ladies that were in front of me. After about a mile I caught up to the very familiar Zen Evo kit of Lizzy Miller. Lizzy is a beast and I knew I would need to find another gear if I was going to make the pass. We chatted for a bit and she told me to go. So I did. I ran the next 2 miles with her foot steps in my ears and crossed the finish line in 3rd. I wouldn’t have had that run if it had not been for Lizzy. She encouraged me and pushed me until the very end.

So lots of good lessons learned on this race day. I’m finally feeling like I am starting to dial in that nutrition enigma and it has given me an even brighter outlook on my run off the bike. I want to thank my coach and all of our sponsors for making participating in this fun sport possible!  Next up, Secret City sprint on July 1st!!