Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ironman Chattanooga: The Lineup

Do you sense a little deja vu here? I know I do. Don't worry, I'm going to keep this one short and sweet because the good Lord knows I've my work cut out for me in this game called life during the month of September.

I can officially say that my body feels ready to go again in a few short days. I mounted my bike for my long ride on Saturday (1 week post Worlds) after some low-key workouts during the week and I instantly considered turning around before I reached my parents driveway to pick up Mark (which is exactly a quarter mile away). My legs were heavy and full of lead. I willed myself to meet up with the Wise Men (you'll meet them soon) down the street to give my legs a hot second to wake up. It worked. But I wasn't about to push it. On a normal Saturday morning, I usually pull the Wise Men behind me during our ride. Today, I was 100% ok with being the caboose. 

So here we are. 10 days post Worlds. 4 days pre IMCHOO. There was an awkward "am I tapering or am I recovering" period and I'm pretty sure I've officially hit the taper, no longer recovering. That mountain lingered deep in my quads for a lot longer that I'm used to and I started to get a little worried. But I can safely say with confidence now, let's do this shit. But first, you have to meet this year's crew.

The 2017 Rybread Racing IM CHATTY Lineup

Kati Petry

So we're going to start off with all the newbies (Ironman newbies, that is). Kati joined the RyBread Racing team just before the Spring season kicked off. She came from Chicago Endurance Sports, working closely with a mutual friend at CES. But changes happen, and RyBread was graced with Kati and all her spunk and sass. This super smart consultant (don't ask me what she actually does, she consults something, I still can't keep it straight) was born to RUN. This girl has been running for a LONG time and her resume is quite impressive. Fleet Feet is lucky to have this girl on their racing team, because her petite 5' frame can seriously fly. This girl has the kind of drive I look up to. Many of our conversations over the past months have lead to me to believe that this girl loves an internal abusive argument with herself during a race as much as I do. She has that level of crazy that many are afraid to find inside themelves. And as much as she is a creature of habit, she embraces the joy and thrill of a new challenge. And I'm positive that's what I love about her so much. The swim will always make her apprehensive and as much as she might want to sell her bike after every single long ride, she always comes back for more and wants to know how she can do it better than the last time. I gurantee you this girl will shock herself in a few short days, whether she believes it not.

Nathan/Jeffrey Vannoy

So we're not 100% sure what Nathan's real name is. He keeps telling us his name is Nathan, but when bib numbers came out, his bib had "JEFFREY" splattered across it. Nate/Jeffrey is a friend of Mark's from college. He's a traveling nurse who's made his way around the country saving lives, racing bikes, and drinking a few celebratory drinks along the way. He decided to dive into the triathlon world only 4 shorts months ago. He called Mark and pretty much said, "HELP ME." Of course Mark directed him to Ryan, who immediately whipped his ass into shape. Since April, this kid has signed up for an Ironman, purchased a TT bike, spent all his free time training, and moved across the country for work. He finished his first ever triathlon (half ironman distance) only 10 days ago, placing first in his age group. So, to any men in the 25-29 age group reading this, watch out this kid has some serious hidden potential. Technically none of us (besides Mark) have every met Nate/Jeffrey, but of course we've introduced him into our lovely RyBread group chat. I'm almost positive he was like, "woah, get me outta here" as soon as he was added. But he had no choice. Welcome to Team RyBread Jeffrey. You're gonna love us. Promise.

Matthew Mohrman

You remember Matt from last year at Ironman Lake Placid. That's right, remember Lauren's boyfriend? The one who we so desperately tried to convince that he'd be good at this Ironman thing and should give it a shot? GUESS WHAT WE GOT 'EM! Hook line & sinker. Except... He really doesn't know which way the zipper goes when wearing a wetsuit. And... he's gotten really good at changing flat tires this summer. And... he's collided with a few brick walls while riding his bike. But that running thing? He's got that one down. Matt's another runner to the core, throwing down multiple sub 3 hour marathons like it's his full time job. And, if you ever want the truth (and I mean the honest to goodness truth) about triathlon and that all that it entails, ask Matt. His lack of filter makes me laugh until my face hurts when you get him on a roll about this sport. Don't let his humor blind you though, he's another athlete that isn't to be messed with on race day. This kid was a swimmer in high school, has some riding legs that can average some serious watts, and always seems to have his running legs handy. That 30-34 age group better watch out.

Lauren Schorsch

So technically Lauren isn't a newbie by any means. But after that curb came out of nowhere last year and tripped Lauren during Ironman Lake Placid and broke her foot, she has yet to cross that Ironman finish line. A girl of her word, she promised herself this was something she was going to do once in her lifetime. A quitter she is not. She's battled a few minor injuries throughout the last year but has never turned her back on this sport. She's been given every reason to walk away and live life any other way she'd like. But the will inside this girl is contagious and vibrant. This birthday twin (yep, same birthdays for us!) is someone you need in your life. Her charm and and wit keep me grounded when I'm about to lose my cool. She reminds me daily that you can do anything you want. Just put your head down and do the work. I need more Lauren's in my life and to say I'm excited to race with this girl on Sunday would be an understatement. She deserves that finish line more than anyone. 

Nathan Tamayo 

Mr. Tomato is headed to IMCHOO with the group this year. In fact, there hasn't been a full Ironman that I've raced WITHOUT the Tomato couple since IMLP last July. It's turning into our thing. This night loving mortician has come to realize the benefits of the daylight and what it can do for your training. So this summer he's sacrificed sleep more often than not in order to log some miles, push some watts, and get as fast he can. In the same breath, he's been known to sleep 20 hours at a time on his days off. His recently purchased bike is ready to throw down the hammer and see what Mr. Tomato is really made of in just a few short days. If I want any shot at beating Mr. Tomato on Sunday, I need to keep the gap between us on the bike as minimal as possible. He's turned himself into quite a cyclist and he's gonna make me do some serious work to find him on that run. 

Trina Tamao 

Talk about another cyclist in the group. This unicorn loving, full bread sass queen, makes riding a bike look like her day job. Mind you, this overnight critical care nurse has a completely separate demeanor on the race course than she does with her patients (and friends). She's the mother hen of the group (who will still laugh at you as you squeeze your cheeks while you run to the nearest portta potti) that turns into a hunter on the bike. She takes no prisoners when she rides, but when she passes you she'll tell you how beautiful you are and then make you stare at her ass as she giggles her way past. Moral of the story: keep your eye open for this one, she shows no mercy and she laughs in the face of fear. 

Mark Hode 

Remember last year when I was over emotional about this kid's first Ironman? Because I was scared his lack of training was going to get the best of him? And how timid I was to share the course with him in the mountains? Yeah, that's all gone now. The little brother, BFG, has turned a new page and is also someone who will surprise himself for sure. Not to worry, he still hates the water and continues to average about 1.5 swims per month. But everytime he gets in the water he gives me a run for my money and I hate him for it. The downstream will surely help him find the shore quicker than he's anticipating. And his cycling legs.. holy hell. One of my secret goals that's not a secret anymore is that IF I make it out of the water before this kid, I pray to God I get off the bike before him. The kid can hammer pretty well on the bike. But, notoriously he excels in the shorter course on the bike. So Sunday will be pretty damn exciting battle for the Hode kids. And while he'll still tell you he despises the run with everything that he is, I'll be the first to tell you, I've got my work cut out for me on the run. All around this kid has made some drastic improvements this last year and I promise an exciting race out of his one. 

Bill Gagne

So remember a little bit ago, I mentioned one of the 3 Wise Men? Well, here's the first. Bill is a local family friend in good ole Crystal Lake. Our paths have crossed over the years and as of late, we seem to find ourselves sharing the road on Saturday morning rides. He raced IMWI in 2014 as I tackled my first Ironman. I remember seeing him on the run course. And as he waved to me while heading to the finish shoot, I remember thinking, "one day I'll be able to race like that. One day I'll finish in the daylight." And fast forward 3 years, here we are training together side by side with Mark. Bill insists this is his last full Ironman, but I'm pretty sure he said that back in 2014 when we finished Madison together. So, time will tell. But for now, just know that it's not over til the fat lady sings.

Lance Lane

Lance on the right, all intense looking

Lance, Wise Man #2. A decorated Go-Kart racer (like, the real kind. The super fast kind that practically sit on the ground) has found another hobby over the years that involves putting 3 sports into one. (Because racing go-karts and building his own cars wasn't enough.) Lance and I met a few years ago through Bill and turned himself into one of the Wise Men. This directionally challenged man is also tackling his first full Ironman in Chattanooga. We've nicknamed him Magellan for a reason. For so long I was convinced that the guys liked to give him a hard time. But it wasn't until we got lost on a long ride together (on what he calls his "home base route") that I started to understand. It's a good thing the course is marked, that's all I'm gonna say. 

Yours Truly

Heading back to Chatty for the third time this season, I can practically do this drive with my eyes closed. The roads and hills of this course are becoming more and more familiar. I'm hoping that serves as an advantage in a few days, but only time will tell. The entire RyBread crew is here to play, and I'm not one let them play alone.  

So there you have it, your 2017 RyBread Racing IMCHOO crew. Of course we're not complete without our spectators. Kati's husband Rob is sacrificing his birthday weekend for his wife's happiness (awwww, true love!). Mr. and Mrs. Tomato are welcoming Ma and Pa Tomato to Chattanooga again as well! Mark and I are thrilled to share such a passionate day with BOTH our parents yet again. Bill Gagne will be racing with his wife on the sidelines and his daughter working the event, ultimately being able to medal her own father (I still want to tear when I hear that). Rob WILL be gracing his presence in Chattanooga again, this time no surprises or last minute plans. This PTO was requested months ago and I can rest easy knowing my spectathlete will be able to send me off with a good luck kiss. 

But who are we without the man himself? The one that has whipped us all into shape, calmed our nerves, whipped some tears, and answered the same questions umpteen times a day sometimes. The mastermind behind it all, Ryan, will be in Chattanooga to support us every step of the way. Which reminds me, I better pack one less bag so he can fit in the car tomorrow. 

2016 Ironman Lake Placid Champion
Choo-Choo here we come! 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ironman 70.3 World Championships 2017

It’s a little hard for me to believe that last weekend has already come and gone. I anticipated it for so long, worked my ass off for it, and just like that.. *poof* I knew that I was in for an experience, but I never anticipated what I actually got.

My name.. on the World Championship banner 😍

Mark and I rolled into Nashville pretty late Wednesday night (technically Thursday morning) and shacked up with some of my college friends (Lauren and Ben, who also joined us later for the entire race weekend). We got some precious shut eye, woke up to some amazing coffee, an adjustment and PT work performed by our lovely hosts, and we hit the road. Less than 2 hours later, we entered Chattanooga and the energy in the air was electric. We emptied our car at the house we rented while Ryan was out riding the bike course and headed straight to the Ironman Village so I could get checked in.

Middle of the night welcome notes from Lauren - simply the best 💓

Nashville Chiropractic: Getcha some

I’ve been through the check-in process umpteen times at all the various events I’ve been a part of throughout the years, but never has the process been more thorough and detailed than it was for the World Championship race. There are no newbies at this race considering you have to qualify to enter, but the attention to detail was immaculate. Maybe it was because I was one of the earlier ones to check-in, I’m not sure. The volunteer who checked me in also happened to be the lead Kayaker for the swim course and he whipped out a swim course map and gave me some magical tips on how to swim my best race against a current. This guy, he was my savor. As he packed up my envelope of stickers and bib and last minute instructions, he also handed me a hand written note from a local grade schooler. It was a goodluck letter that made my heart melt. Her drawings also made me realize that I needed to do some bike upgrades 😉

After some expo browsing and a quick lunch nearby, Mark and I stumbled upon the Parade of Nations. A chance for all the athletes to walk in a parade with their fellow countrymen and proudly wave their flag to the streets filled with family, friends, and locals of Chattanooga. I even had the chance to hold the big American flag and represent the Stars and Stripes. 

Such a cool honor
Mark and I wrapped up the evening with a quick shake out run followed by dinner with Ryan. As soon as dinner was over, we started to greet the rest of the group. Nate and Trina arrived shortly after we got home and Jacqui's flight landed ahead of schedule, despite being delayed. I desperately needed some good sleep but couldn't imagine laying down as the band pulled into town. Finally, it was time for some solid sleep, tomorrow was going to be a busy day. 


We all woke on Friday morning and headed to the river for some open water swim practice on the course. I had secretly been anticipating this moment for quite a while. Swimming in this river in May (downstream) was not going to compare to swimming the course for this race (800m upstream). I'm not a terrible swimmer, nor am I the best. But I've never had a professional swim lesson and I was seriously worried about what swimming against a strong current would do to me on race day. Alas, I made it out of the water, albeit slowly. I overheard some officials say that the water was moving 2-3x faster than normal today and they would most likely slow the down the current at the dam on race day. There really is as God! It'll be a birthday miracle! To top it off, the water temperature was sitting at 76.2 degrees... exactly .1 degrees away from a wetsuit legal race. Lemme tell ya, I said a few extra prayers that night before I went to bed.

Me & my girl 😉

Trina may or may not have been in a porta pottie and Nate told us to take the picture without her 😲

At this point, I'm sure you're wondering where my better half is, right? Well, in the weeks and days leading up to the race, his appearance in Chattanooga for my 30th birthday celebration with the best athletes in the world was looking to be more and more of a slim possibility. He was only promised so many days off during the busy season (which is right now) and this trip was added to the calendar at the last minute, so his appearance was never guaranteed.. but we were always the most hopeful. I was mentally prepared to spend this weekend without my rock. I didn't want to do it, but I knew it was a great possibility. It was Friday morning at 11am and I still had not heard word of Rob getting Friday night off work so he could travel to the race. We call this, life. It happens. But then, as we were all headed our separate ways from the river my phone rang and it was Rob. He should be sleeping, he has to work in a few hours, what is he doing? 

"So my rental car was supposed to be available at 9am so I could be down there for a dinner surprise, but now I can't get a car until after 2pm, so I had to call you and let you know that I'll be there in the middle of the night." - Rob

I ugly cried right where I stood at the RyBread Racing tent (as Ryan tried to assemble the tent solo while I cried like a baby). I couldn't believe it, my number 1, my ride-or-die, my rock. He wasn't going to miss it after all. If my math stood me correctly, he'd be arriving about 1am Eastern time. I gave him quick instructions on how to enter the house and find the room where I'd be sleeping. As soon as I hung up the phone, I felt like a new person. I never realized how heavy my chest had been, until now. I was light as a feather and officially ready to race.

Mark headed to the bike course with Nate and Trina to get their long rides in for the weekend while Jacqui and I took our bikes for a quick spin around town to make sure everything was in working order. And they were, including the 10 millions stops we made because of all the traffic. Apparently Chattanooga is busier when there are 60+ countries in town, who knew?

But the important thing is we both survived with no flips over the handle bars 
After Ryan had to go pick up Mark on the top of Lookout Mountain because his derailleur busted and exploded from the climb (I kid you not), and a quick lunch at Aretha Frankensteins (I can't make up these names people, I swear it was the weirdest breakfast place I'd ever been to), it was time to check in our gear.  OMGGGGGGGGG, there's no turning back now! Once they have my bike I have to go through with this! 

Ryan handles Jacqui's bike like a toy

Jacqui is OK with this

I'm holding onto mine for dear life

Ready or not, here we come!
The process was simple and just like any other Ironman event. Drop off your bike and your gear bags, Get out. However, while in transition Jacqui ran into a girl she knew. That's Dani Vsetecka, she won Madison 70.3 and her slot rolled down to you because she already had a slot. YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME. YOU MEAN THAT GIRL YOU WERE JUST TALKING TO IS PART OF THE REASON I'M EVEN ABLE TO BE HERE!? I had to introduce myself and personally thank her. She truly had no idea how much this weekend meant to me. She was so sweet, and sincere, and pure. Oh my gosh, I'm SO happy I was able to meet you! And it's your birthday!? THAT'S AMAZING! 

So happy!

It was officially time to head to the pre-race meal. We changed into something a bit nicer for dinner and were at the restaurant by 6pm. The host took us to our table that happened to be covered by a curtain. The curtain was drawn and the table wasn't empty. There stood my cousin Michael and his wife Carrie, video cameras in hand to capture my reaction. You have to be kidding me! I told Ryan NO SURPRISES this time! They had this trip planned within days after I qualified and didn't tell a single person until earlier in the week. I've said it once and I'll say it again, my support system never ceases to amaze me. 

Turns out, I'm pretty easy to surprise!

I had so many emotions going on throughout dinner. Omg you're going to be 30 tomorrow, you're going to be racing against the best triathletes in the WORLD, you're going to climb a MOUNTAIN. But nothing could fill my mind more than the the fact that I knew Rob was on his way, and he wasn't going to miss any of it. Soon, it was time to head back to the house, welcome Lauren and Ben into town, greet Ryan's dad from the airport, and head to bed. I laid in bed and did a terrible job at the game "close your eyes and try to sleep". I had some serious adrenaline in my body. I must have drifted off to sleep because soon I awoke at 12:30pm to a cell phone light that stood in front of my ride-or-die. My spectathlete was officially in Chattanooga, wishing me the first Happy Birthday and gave me a smooch as we both zonked back to sleep. Four hours later, it was time to get this show on the road. 


I made it to the kitchen to find Nate already setting up the coffee station. No regular coffee pot for this coffee snob. Aero press with only the best coffee. "One birthday coffee coming right up!" he said as the living room inhabitants had no choice but to start waking up because I was not about to sip my birthday coffee in the dark. Before I knew it, it was time to head to transition. I woke up Rob like a giddy school girl. Part of me was still in shock that he made it. He moved his car, kissed me goodbye, and promised to see me after I was done fiddling with transition. Ryan started the car, and Jacqui and I were officially being chauffeured to the 70.3 Ironman World Championships.

Chattanooga sunrise: priceless
If I told you that as I walked into transition behind Jacqui, that it wasn't until THEN that the enormity of the day I was about to go through finally hit me, would you believe me?  My throat started to tighten up and my vision became very blurry. Jacqui turned her head back to say something to me and I immediately rubbed my eyes and swallowed hard. Save that shit for later, you'll never make it out of the water if you start crying now. Transition setup was painless and easy. I even heard rumor that the announcer made sure to wish me a happy birthday! Soon, we reunited with the group and it was time to wait.

Pre-race shot on the river

Pre-race adjustment from Dr. Lauren Johnson
The gun went off and the pro women hit the water. I officially had 41 minutes until it was my turn to jump in. Jacqui and I started to suit up (in our WETSUITS! 76.1 degrees, YAY!!) and say our goodbyes. Imagine some of the worst butterflies in your stomach that you've ever had. Now, multiple that by like 10. You're not even close to how nervous I was to start my day.


Jacqui and I entered the swim area and were promptly handed our swim cap and ushered to our corral assignment. Standing in the crowd of purple swim capped 30-34 women, I started to feel the urge to pee. Not just "I'm nervous" pee, but "holy cow I haven't peed in like 12 hours" kinda pee. That's the level my nerves were at. We walked to our "holding area" and waited our turn to enter the water. We had heard that they were letting athletes in the water 10 at a time. They'll probably just guess and let a small group go at once. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Purple caps, ready to start the day.
Rob was able to make his way to the pier and we caught his eye seconds before we started

Jacqui and I were pretty lucky, we literally got to start this race side by side.
So I imagine you've seen the Kentucky Derby? Or at least heard of it. Horse racing is a sport like no other, and the starting process is enough to make any equestrian lose their cool. Horses are corralled behind gates, jockeys mounted and ready for the gates to open. THE START OF THIS RACE WAS JUST LIKE THE KENTUCKY DERBY. Jacqui and I entered 2 separate corals that had a line of people in them (each line had 3 people in them, guaranteeing we'd start together), secured our goggles and officially said goodbye to each other. Volunteers stood at the end of the corals, arms up blocking the athletes from crossing and jumping into the water. Every 10 seconds their arms flew into the air as the horn blew, releasing the next 10 athletes in the water. Before I knew it there was no one in front of me, and I had 10 seconds to say my last prayer.

I jumped off that dock and instantly felt better. That's all you needed, you needed the gun to go off so you could get this day started. The first part of the swim swims ACROSS the current. I did the best I could to swim straight and not let the current drag me farther south than necessary. And I'll say I did a fairly decent job. I swam in line with the buoys the entire time. I hit the red turn buoy and knew this was the moment I had been dreading, the 800m upstream portion of the swim. I made my strokes strong, fluid, and efficient as I could. I focused on high elbows, strong pulls, and treated my legs like propellers. It was very clear, the current had been slowed down quite a bit. But it was still noticeable. I knew I had to swim under 2 bridges before the next turn out of the current. I counted off the buoys and did my best to pull as hard as possible. Soon I hit the pedestrian bridge and saw the next turn buoy, You're almost out of this current. One more buoy and you're home free. Once I turned away from the current I could feel myself FLYING down stream. Most would assume this would be "rest" time to give the body a break before the next leg of the race. WRONG. PULL STRONGER NOW. USE THE CURRENT TO GET YOU OUT OF THE WATER ASAP.

If you look closely, you can see both Jacqui and I breathing at the same time!
I reached the dock and was grabbed by the volunteers by my armpit and yanked out of the water onto the dock. Time check: 41 minutes. I'LL TAKE IT. A pretty average swim for me for this distance is about 37-38 mins (36 mins is my PR) so I expected to be as much as 10 minutes slower than normal in the current. NOT TODAY KIDS. OK now it's time to have some fun and play bikes in the mountains.

T1: 4:13

Wetsuit strippers were ready and waiting to help us but I had my suit well passed my hips before I even found them. I passed on the strippers and went straight to my gear bag and made the awful run up the ramp to transition. My heart rate skyrocketed up that ramp and I sat and put my bike shoes on {because I'm not super fancy at all and like to keep this shit simple, duh} and secured my helmet. I took off and heard my name from all corners. Snagged my bike and spotted Lauren and Ben sprinting along side all of the bikes screaming their faces off. I couldn't help but grin as I was about to climb Lookout Mountain.

Running in bike shoes is cool

Makin' passes on that red carpet
Ain't no one got time for a slower than needed transition
Lookout here I come

Taking off on the bike I knew the first 5 miles were going to be very similar if not identical to the first 5 miles of 70.3 Chatty in May. These were some fast miles, thankfully giving our legs a chance to warmup before we started the dreaded 5k climb. I made sure to take care of business before I hit the mountain. Take in nutrition, take in plenty of water, and (most importantly) apply chapstick. {No one's got time for crazy chapped lips from a sunny day on the bike.} The day before the race Ryan gave some very solid advice. "As soon as you reach the base of the climb, and you'll know when you get there because it's like a brick wall, flip it into your little ring. Right away. You DO NOT want to stress your chain at all and risk a mechanical on that mountain and pay the price." Noted. I reached the right hand turn and knew this was where it was time to change gears. I flipped it into the little gear and nothing happened. Try again. Nothing. YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME. I was forced to dismount my bike about 100 feet up the base of climb and manually shift gears. Except... how do I get back on the bike? I was ready to run back to the base and mount at the bottom. But thankfully a spectator saw me and directed me to a driveway and told me to mount in the driveway and get my momentum back. Thank you perfect stranger, can I kiss you now?

I've thought alot about how I could describe this climb. It was definitely like nothing I've ever done before. It was twisty and curvy and it never seemed to end. Every mile there was a small break that allowed you to check yourself and get ready to start again. Every time I glanced at my watch I saw speeds that read "5.6mph" or "7.1mph" Whenever there was a short break I'd glance down be tickled to see some double digits. In the same breath, the climb was when I did the most passing all day long. I've been putting in some work over the past few years and climbs are slowly becoming my "thing" if you can even say that. Pretty soon the crowds grew thick and I felt like I was on one the Sisters in Madison. I was ready to see John come out of the woodworks and start drumming next to me. But the crowds meant one thing, we made it to the top. As soon as we reached the top we took a left hand turn and IMMEDIATELY started to descend. I checked my time: 23 minutes to climb 3.5 miles. I'll let you sit on that for a bit.

Climbing mountains.. no joke 😲
The descent was quick and not complete. We made it probably one quarter of the way down the mountain before we were forced to start to climb again. I had been warned about this. As soon as you think it's over, think again. Always spin as easy as you can on the climbs. Let me tell you, today was NOT the day to be unfamiliar with your gearing on your bike. By the time we completed the climb the 2nd time around I was a pro. And then, the true descent. It took me less than 10 minutes to get to the bottom. I weaved my way down these twisty and windy turns, traffic signs that read, "SLOW, SHARP TURN" separated me from the edge of the Earth to my right. Being the chicken shit that I am, I rode the breaks a few times while still seeing 40+ mph flash in front of me on my computer. Once we finished the descent the rest of the ride was just that, a ride. There were some steady efforts on the back half of this course, but the true effort was thrown at you in the very beginning. I rode the best I could and made sure to make myself uncomfortable the rest of the ride. You didn't get here so you could go for a Joy Ride, time to kick it into gear.

The inclines never truly stopped

My chin was dropped a majority of this ride. 
In case you're curious what the bike elevation profile looks like
This is what my watch read 

Soon the roads started to look familiar and I could tell we were nearing the end of the worst part of the day. I kept my head down and powered through. I was ready to have some real fun, it was time to run. Bike: 3 hours 9 minutes. 17.75mph. {Just to give you an idea of how different this course is from the 70.3 in May, I biked a 2:41 on the normal 70.3 course just 4 months prior 😂}

T2: 1:42

Pretty uneventful. I dismounted awkwardly per usual. {I'll never understand Ryan and his flying mounts and dismounts.} I handed off my bike, grabbed my run shoes and hit the road. My legs were definitely in good shape. I knew I had biked an honest ride and my legs were still ready to run. Guess Speedy knows a thing or 2 about this coaching thing huh? And now I was more than ready to have some fun for 13.1 miles. 


I left transition and could not believe that I was 2/3 of the way done with this race that I had anticipated for SO long. I immediately spotted Rob and not to far from him were my cousins, Michael and Carrie. The first half mile might be the only flat part of this whole race, so I was able to smile and let them know that Lookout Mountain was no joke. 

First few steps outside of transistion

I took off and entered the land of hills, the first one meeting me slowly and gradually. I could tell that I really had to pee but was hoping that the urge would go away after a mile. But it got worse and worse. Generally I would make myself wait until the end of the race, but I knew I wanted to enjoy this race to it's fullest so I stopped at the first available porta pottie and clocked 30 seconds stopped to pee. That was literally the only 30 seconds I was stopped the entire race.

Does this smile require a caption?
Just after mile 1 I spotted an adorable dog on the side of the road, attached to 2 humans that I know quite well.  BETH & JORDAN! They were all smiles and Rookie dog was not impressed with everyone on the road. {Standard, she didn't care last time either.} After I passed them I got a little extra jolt and was sayin' my prayers that this feeling of euphoria would stick around. I made my way around the Riverfront and hit the first significant hill {The RedBull Hill} and saw Jordan and Beth again. This time, less smiles as I was pretty gassed from the hill. After you catch your breath the course spits you out onto your first bridge. I took the sharp right hand turn and was greated with Lauren and Ben screaming in my face. Lauren made sure to remind EVERYONE that the birthday girl was racing, which then prompted all spectators and athletes to wish me a happy birthday. 

Real life? Yes, yes it is.
Once you complete this first bridge, you start the climb up Barton Hill. Barton Hill is the dreaded of all hills on this course. It's a steady, looooong climb. And at the end you're rewarded with a pretty fast downhill, in case your quads needed a little punishing. Half way up the hill I saw a small portion of my posse! Mark, Nate, Trina, Ryan, and his dad! I was still feelin' great despite being mid climb and noticed that my pace never faltered at this point. 

No one said climbing hills was pretty
I could go on and tell you that the next hill was worse but I'm really not sure which one was the worst. All I know is that they were constant and had 0 mercy. Coming out of the neighborhood we exited back onto Barton heading down and let me tell you, if your quads weren't destroyed before, they sure were now. This was an AGGRESSIVE downhill that reminded me of running down hills as a kid and losing control of your legs. 

Oh Hey Nicole! I know you!

After this wild and crazy downhill, we made out way back towards the river and cross over the Pedestrian Bridge. This bridge.. I said it back in May. It is... the worst. The climb is the most gradual and slow, but it will literally suck the life out of you. Once you get up and over the bridge, you have to get ready to start lap 2. Thankfully, I saw Rob at the end. We high fived and were so exact with our hand placement that our elbows actually clicked. Talk about being on the same page. 

As promised, misery over the Pedestrian Bridge
I started my 2nd loop and the hills were still there. My pace was pretty steady for the next 4 miles. My support crew continued to pop up all over the place, and always right where I needed them most. I remember reaching mile 9 and thinking to myself, "Megan, your big day is almost over. How is this possible?" A small part of me wanted to realllly slow it down so I could make those last 4 miles last just a little bit longer. But that's not what the best triathletes in the world do, now do they? I completed my 2nd loop and was able to take the left hand turn towards the finish line. One last downhill to destroy the legs before this day is really over. I started to get a bit emotional. Just before I hit that red carpet I saw Lauren and Ben along the fence. I acknowledged them with the biggest smile and looked behind me, I wanted this red carpet to myself. 

Happy Birthday!

To ME!

My most favorite picture 

1 hour and 54 minutes after I left T2, my race was over with an official time of 5:51. I came in 147th out of 211 women in my age group, and 817th out of 1,433 women overall. For someone who didn't own bike shoes about 3 years ago, I'd say I held my own against the most talented athletes in the sport.  

In case you're curious about the run course elevation..

I reunited with everyone, and insisted on post-race pictures. {That may have been the post-race beer talking, still undecided.} 


Beth & Jordan & ROOKIE!
This duo will be back in 1 week for round 2!

Thank you Nashville Chiropractic!

Spectathlete 💕

70.3 World Championship Finishers

New friend Nicole! Met in Muncie, raced in Chatty ;)
We're not to good at stopping traffic
If you thought the rest of the trip was full of RnR, think again. Jacqui and I picked up our bikes and gear, walked home, showered, and prepped for dinner out before Ryan's race and to celebrate my birthday! The night was full of laughs, beer glasses, and amazing company. The next morning, we all arose bright and early again so we could make sure Ryan had our support on the course. I've said it once and I'll say it again, watching him race is truly fascinating and awe inspiring. 

This picture, I'll laugh every time!
Speedy wasn't too impressed with his race, but I say otherwise. When a bad day is coming in 2nd in the World, I can see how you wouldn't want to settle for anything less than the best. His skill and knowledge in the sport of triathlon is continually confirmed and reassures me that I've made the right decision by using him as my coach for all these years.

Mark and I drove out of Chatty on Monday morning with some heavy eyelids. But the fun sure as hell isn't over just yet. In exactly 1 week we pack up the car and head back to the same exact location to race again. But this time, I get to race with Mark and a slew of the RyBread crew. And we all get to double the race distance. That's right, my body isn't done for the year just yet. One. Last. Test. 

Chatty, we'll be back soon.
This town has given me more than I've bargained for this year, and I'm still not quite done with it.