Swim, Bike, Bake
I picked Chattanooga Waterfront as my first Olympic for a number of reasons, mainly being that the swim was down river. A mostly flat bike and run were also fairly enticing. This turned out to be a good decision with one caveat, summertime racing in the south is brutal.
After my first race I felt a great sense of relief preparing for waterfront. I was more familiar with how transition worked as well as what to expect on race day. My training was pretty consistent and I felt like I was in a good flow. I continued to keep a strong focus on cycling with a few more long runs here and there. Even managed to get some long course swims in an outdoor pool.
On to the race
Meg and I arrived at check in after traveling through quite a storm. Perfect racing weather. After debating about leaving my bike for the overnight check in I realized that if people with P5s and Speed Concepts were fine leaving theirs outside in the rain I had nothing to worry about.
After dinner I double checked my race bag and attempted to call it an early night. After the surprise fireworks show I drifted off into dream land and actually slept pretty well. My alarm rang at 4:45 and I was up and ready to go.
I used a small coffee cup to cook my oats in the hotel microwave. This ended up becoming a poorly done elementary school science project volcano as the oats overflowed from the cup. Nicely done Pat, off to a great start.
Downstairs I was greeted by a familiar face in the lobby of the hotel, Ashley Powell. She would later dominate the female sprint and take first overall.
I had everything set up and ready to go a little after 6. I double checked that I had a good mix of Skratch in preparation for the heat. Also made sure to have my Cliff blocks ready as this was really my first race where fueling would start to play a role. Meg met up with me to take my bag and keep me company before heading off to the swim start. I was very honest with my swim speed so I was starting well towards the end of the line with a bib number of 597.
The water was a welcome reprieve after baking on the UTC practice field waiting to start. I felt very comfortable swimming which was quite surprising. I kept a smooth cadence and sighting was easy with the buoys, kayaks, and bridges. This was my longest open water swim so I had a welcome surprise from my Garmin, vibration alerts every 500! I felt great in the swim and was very surprised at how smoothly I was moving. After a left at the orange pyramid buoy I was out of the water in 29:07. Still slow but under my goal of 30 minutes and my expectation of 35.
I was excited to get on the bike as this is my favorite leg. I struggled less with my shoes this time but had a long run around transition to get to the mount line. The course started with a slight uphill but after that It was smooth sailing. I settled into my aero position and kept my power and speed right where I wanted. After the turn around there was a slight head wind but I kept my cadence consistent and worked through it. Another lap and I was back and feeling pretty good. I held the speed I wanted and just barely missed my goal by one minute putting me around 1:16. I let up a little on the tail end of the race reminding myself that I had a run ahead of me.
The run did not go so well. I felt great for the first mile but then the heat set in and I quickly slowed down. Of all the races and events that I’ve done this run was by far the hardest. My legs weren't that tired I just couldn’t pick up the pace. My heart rate was pinned and the sun was relentless. I took advantage of all the rest stops and the few hints of shade that were available. I was hoping for a surge of motivation at the turn around but that didn’t happen. It was nice to see familiar faces out on the course as this kept me going. I crossed the finish line dazed and confused looking for a cold beverage and shade.
Overall I’m happy to have my first Olympic race done. I didn’t hit my time goal but I shouldn’t really have even had cone considering this is still something so new to me. I’m proud of my swim as I only started swimming this year. I’m proud of my bike as I held good speed and felt confident heading into the run. I’m glad I finished the run but definitely know what I need to work on moving forward.
Big thanks to everyone who gave words of encouragement out on the course, the volunteers with cold towels, Podium for letting me take runs and look professional in a speed suit, and most importantly my family and girlfriend Meg for traveling with me to Chattanooga.
On to the next one.