Sigh. I pretty much already gave away the exciting part of the story here, but I’ll start from the beginning anyway!
I was super excited to head down to Knoxville with Leslie, Nate and Max. It’s always better with a crew! The drive down to Knoxville is easy but borrrrrring. There’s not much to see on I-81 other than huge 18 wheelers. The guys acknowledged Leslie and my superiority and allowed us to comfortably lounge in the back seat while they drove Even better!!
Pre-race was easy, it’s always good when I’ve been to the race before and know the in’s and out’s of the town and the shuffle. I also got to catch up with SO many people – the Rev3-turned-Challenge Family racing team members I have missed, the one and only Holly Bennett!!, and I was able to share the pre-race dinner with one of my athletes, Deanna and her friends. I’ve become pretty accustomed to the “remote” coaching atmosphere, but whenever I have time to see things in person I am reminded how valuable it can be. Deanna was definitely fit and ready to go after a very LONG and cold winter in the mid west!
Race morning came and Leslie and I headed down to transition. As soon as we arrived, the sprinkles started. Little did I know that this was not just a passing shower! We headed down to the swim start where and met up with Maggie. They both were like “oh let’s put on our swim caps” (I did) and then were like ohhh PSYCH let’s have our picture taken to be tweeted all over social media. Ha! Joke’s on me
Anyway, the swim started and I tried my darndest to stay on feet but it just seemed from the gun like a really weird race. It was as if every swimmer went off on their own direction. There was very little organization, and even though people were pulling away it wasn’t like normal where one pack got away. It was just like confetti out of a cannon in all different directions away from me. Still, I couldn’t find feet and ended up pulling in the back group on my own. The bright side is that this is still much better than last year’s swim where I was really solo, AND, for a non-wetsuit swim not bad. It also meant getting onto the bike with a pack!
We had a group of 4 for the first 10 miles or so. Taking a look at my power I knew I was biking hard. Too hard? Maybe, but it was going to be close so I was determined to hang on as long as I can. I was a little stressed out about the stagger rule we were following for drafting. By this time, the heavy rain had begun. Rain, plus a course that is open to traffic, plus some technical windy roads that aren’t in perfect condition, PLUS the stagger rule?….well, it was just a lot to keep in mind. Our pack of 4 had decreased to 3 with me hanging on by a thread at the back. I looked up to see where the girls were and make sure I was staggered appropriately (at this time I was riding close to the right white line). I took a look down and all I remember seeing is: puddle, pothole…..no road.
What, no road? Shit! I had gone right to avoid the hole — in my head I needed to stay right to be staggered. But in doing so, I basically staggered myself off the road because the white line disappeared — the road was caving in on the one side into a ditch. At this point, I just remember my front wheel going over, and nothing else until I came-to sitting upright, facing away from the road, in the mud. UGH.
First thoughts: Check body, no bones sticking out. Stuff boob back inside tri top (awkward, and weird.) Assess damages: blood, but I’m okay, it hurts, but nothing too bad. Tri shorts have a hole in them. UGH my new tri suit, Unbreakable! UGH of course I’m wearing a tri suit called Unbreakable.
That prompted me into the decision making phase: what do I do? I was around mile 12, so I could ride myself back (no one was around at the time). But that would take awhile, and nothing was so broken I was really down for the count. Then I’d have to call Hillary and tell her I’m okay but crashed, and if she didn’t make me do a run workout today, I’d probably have to do one tomorrow since I need a hard hit-out in this time frame. Hmmmm. Okay, I’ll get back on the bike and see how I feel. If I’m even close to what I was riding before, I’ll just keep going.
So, I got back on my bike. By this time another female had passed, checking if I was okay (thank you!). I said yes, and then another one (or two?) passed as I was collected my bottle and other things that had flown off and putting it all back together. I hopped on and used the last woman to try to keep me riding hard. Numbers were never near what they were pre-crash, but honestly they weren’t the worst I’ve ever raced with either. So: onwards!
It became clear that I was not going to be the only crash of the day. Hoping that all I saw out there ended up as okay as I am now!
Coming back from the ride I was greeted with soggy socks and running shoes: sweeeeet. I put them on and started to run. All I could feel was the road rash on my quad, which was cool because the actual pain of running fast wasn’t there, but also not cool because it was just not comfortable. I’ve trained to learn to run through the leg-pain from running hard, it’s a bit of a mind-trap when it’s a different pain to deal with! So, I just did the best I could, pushing as much as I could for the run. I was catching a few women so that was reassuring, though, it definitely wasn’t my finest run day.
Coming through the finish line I was greeted by my friends…..who all came looking to blot my chin/face. Uhhh….what? It’s my leg that’s all messed up. Ha! Apparently I had a nice little chin bruise/scrape that I hadn’t even noticed. They assured my my face otherwise was in tact, though. Medical was awesome and cleaned me up, and then it was a fun afternoon of meeting SMASH teammates, old friends, and watching Leslie pick up her first pro paycheck!
Then for the LONG drive home…….once again, always better with friends I’ll get my redemption at the 70.3 in a couple weeks, at Challenge Williamsburg!