If You Never Tri, You'll Never Know!

RiverBluff 70.3 Triathlon

Grab ya a cup of coffee, it got long...

80° water temp. Booooo!! #gulp "downhills are too curvy to get any real speed..."  "Run is gonna be silly hot." #nervousbelly #triouradventure #triathletesarecrazy #riverblufftri

The unofficial water temperature is 80*. GULP! That's the first thing I heard arriving onsite for RiverBluff Triathlon 70.3. We all know I'm not the most confident swimmer and I tend to use my wetsuit much like a baby blanket ~hold on to it for dear life!!

Next I hear chatter about the course, "...downhills are too curvy to get any speed."
"...the run is going to be silly hot. Humidity is 90% today..."
"...I averaged 14mph on the bike last year."
GoodNESS, what did I get myself into!?

I'm not one to pick a triathlon based on the course. I don't care if it's river, lake, ocean, or pond. I don't care if it's windy, hilly, fast, flat, or otherwise. The run doesn't scare me if it's in the middle of nowhere or through a city of spectators. Other people's feedback rarely skews my decision either. I love reading race reports but everyone's take on a race is so different. I love training for triathlon and I love racing. I see a race that peaks my interest, I make sure we swim, bike, and run, and I sign up. When I find out what the course entails, I just train for it as best as I can and go for it. Having done some of the most difficult Ironman courses on the circuit, I'm usually pretty fearless.

This race, this course, well... I don't think I could have prepared for it at all. Not living on the Gulf Coast. And I don't think I realized what I had gotten myself into... Hearing all this about the course, I was SCARED! Not just race nervous, but scared.

Let me rewind to Thursday on my drive up. I didn't share this with anyone and debated telling y'all this part because 1) I didn't want any sympathy and 2) didn't want it to become an excuse...
Fever, achy, sneezy, coughy, sore throat, sniffly, stuffy ...yeah, I was the seven dwarfs of getting sick. NO!!! I refuse. NO. I stopped and got some EmergenC, orange juice, Tylenol, and more Vitamin C. I got into town early and went straight to bed. I woke up Friday feeling a little better but continued to overdose my body with Vitamin C. I'm racing this dang triathlon! I was forcing myself to be NOT SICK. Carrying on with race prep, Jake and I ventured to the race site - RiverBluff Park. HOLY BEAUTIFUL! You can see a couple pics here.

On the way back from the park I decided to stop at an Urgent Care just to rule out anything "serious" (we all remember the rheumatic fever nonsense). They swabbed me and poked and probed. Nothing crazy, probably just a bug trying to surface, keep feeding yourself Vitamin C. Deal.
"If you have a fever in the morning, don't race." Ha, this lady obviously has never met a triathlete. I'm racing. Another early night...

Woke up Saturday and started my race routine - oatmeal, shower, braids, bagel, peanut butter, Eminem... I didn't feel amazing but I felt...DETERMINED. Arrived onsite and got body marked and assigned my chip. In the midst of all the chatter (we're caught back up now), got my bike situated in transition. Did you SEE transition!? It was a GREAT set up! Click on the "here" link up there ^^ to see it. Start 2 Finish Event Management is LEGIT.
I got down a few more licks of peanut butter (no appetite) and went for a warm up swim.

We "launched" from a boat ramp. Seriously, the most slippery boat ramp ever in history. It was pretty amusing watching people slide in ~I wish I would have gotten some video. Some chose to sit on their butts and slide; others (bravely) "skateboarded" in. I sat on my butt ~safety first!! Swam about 25 meters out and back. The water actually felt chilly for 80*. Hmm. Whatever, I'm putting on big girl panties and I'm swimming no matter what.

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Swim: 1.2 miles in the Cumberland River. I thought I heard we were swimming out AGAINST the current and back with. Fair enough. SIKE! We swam WITH the current going out for .6 miles and AGAINST it coming back. Good grief that was a tough swim! I stayed on the feet of one woman pretty much the entire swim. I forced myself too. I figured if I distracted myself with this goal, I wouldn't notice that I was swimming 1.2 miles in a river, against the current, with no wetsuit on. Usually my nerves calm down as soon as I hit the water and get going. Not today my friends, I stayed nervous, heart rate up. Despite all that, it was okay. I knew I was going to do it. I certainly wasn't going to quit. I reminded myself of all the crazy ass swims I've done. And I argued with myself, but you were in wetsuit! And I brought myself back to the now: stay on her feet, stroke, site, just keep swimming. There were plenty of kayaks and canoes for support so WOOP WOOP, got it done!
I finished the swim in 52 minutes and 35 seconds.

T1: uneventful. It was super cool though because all the sprint and oly racers were onsite now, most in transition, and very supportive and cheering us on. Super cool. 58 seconds (my fastest discipline - TRANSITION ~ha ha ha!!).

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Bike: 56 miles described as "challenging". That was to say the least... I started out great. Had some impressive 5 mile splits in the beginning...
1 - 18.4 mph average
2 - 19.1 mph average
3 - 15.7 mph average
4 - 19.2 mph average
5 - 15.7 mph average
6 - 15.4 mph average
7 - 16.7 mph average
8 - 14.7 mph average
9 - 16.3 mph average
10 - 12.7 mph average (this is about where I fell apart - obviously!)
11 - 20.3 mph average
12 - 15.2 mph average
But then it got hard... The hills were super steep. I'm used to long endless climbs, I'm not used to THIS steep. There was at least twice I was in my lowest gear, standing, and moving at about 3mph. I saw people fall over! ~no joke. And these ugly little steep devils would keep going winding up and up and up. This elevation chart ^^ is a damn liar! 2,500 feet of climbing sure, but where are all the stupid steep devil hills I climbed!?

I WILL say, we were always rewarded with a bad ass decent. I'm pretty sure I hit 40mph. BUT...it was pretty curvy so I had to brake a lot downhill. My hips were so uncomfortable and achy too; maybe from the standing climbs?? AND, my darn shorts had chafed and I was so raw (p.s. I love my Smashfest Queen but the tri shorts, I'll never wear them in a long race again. The seam is in the worst place ever. SQ, you HAVE to fix the chamois!!). I was just hurting. I was over it. I wanted to throw my bike against a tree and walk off the course. I don't even know how I survived the last bit. I was passing people who obviously felt the same; had started out so strong but were now falling apart. The run is my favorite part but all I wanted to do after this bike was sit in an ice bath and take a nap! Get ahold of yourself Lisa!! It took a whole lot of digging to get back.
And so, I finished. And I kept my misery to myself; I was singing and talking to people, and cheering them on. We needed motivation out there and as I learned in the Army, false motivation is still motivation! So I kept my bright spirit (even though inside I was crying and whining like a little baby).
Super exciting part coming up...
Coming in from the bike, A FAMILIAR VOICE!! "Go Lisa Go!!"

Wait, what!? I'M LISA ~was that... WHAT!? And it wasn't until I zoomed through transition that I matched the face to the voice...DAVE!! Dave drove up from South Carolina to be here for my race! He had just made it into town (after getting up and leaving at 3am) to catch me wrap up the bike.  

Sweetest friend EVER ^^
T2: 56 seconds. Again - my fast discipline ;)

Run: 13.1 miles, flat and fast. Out and back along the rails to trails system. It was GORGEOUS!! I'm so pissy pants that the bike got me because this was a perfect run! It could have been SO fast!! But I was pooped. You know what though, it's okay! I met a bunch of people and chatted with everyone I could. Dave rode his bike with me/us and kept me motivated and smiling the ENTIRE run. I really can't express how grateful I am to this man. Who does this !? DAVE DOES!
We all cheered each other on and everyone was friendly and seemed so happy to be off the bike. A lot of people were cramping and walking too. No big deal, we were getting it done! It was so different and so much fun.

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The finish line is always my favorite part of a race because of all the excitement and that sense of accomplishment. This particular finish line was definitely lacking in excitement but I sure was glad to be done - I'm not even gonna lie! This was a tough course and I was just pooped. I still felt my sense of accomplishment and I was proud of myself for not giving in to my emotional roller coaster. I love racing; this is what I do. The good, the bad, the ugly, the easy, the hard...ALL OF IT!

There is always room for improvement and there's always that thought, could I have pushed harder? But I earned that medal fair and square. I worked hard today. I worked hard. My overall finish time was 6 hours and 55 minutes. It's my longest 70.3 to date (my shortest being 5:50).
At first I was disappointed... maybe even a little embarrassed. Defeated for sure. But then I asked myself, did you have fun? YES! Was it worth the pain? YES! Would you do it again? HELL NO! Ha ha, just kidding, I'll do it over and over, all day long. I LOVE IT. Then shut up and celebrate your finish!!


That pole is TOTALLY holding me up...
And so I did. With Dave. We spent the rest of the day celebrating by relaxing and the next day playing in Nashville.


Primary lessons: no more swim doubt. I swam 1.2 miles (mostly against a current) with no wetsuit on. I KNOW HOW TO SWIM! Check your bike EVERY SINGLE TIME. My seat post had sank a little and was loose = achy hips and knees. Keep a positive attitude and you will prevail. Going solo to a race was cool and fun and different but it was AWESOME having Dave join me! It really made the entire trip and race worth more. #ilovemyfriends   And just one more time: NO MORE DOUBT. 
In and out, easy and hard, swim, bike, run, I GOT this baby, ALL DAY!

Thank you for following along, I hope you enjoyed my race report ~laughed a little, cried with me, and learned something useful for your future racing adventures.