IM Chattanooga Volunteering

What a weekend! We planned to make this trip way back when they initially announced Ironman Chattanooga (seriously, forever ago), and signed up for volunteer positions in the women’s changing tent back in February.  I originally had a pretty big group going, but it ended up only being two of us (because life?). We still had a pretty great weekend.

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In the name of not spending a lot of money, we drove over Saturday morning (after an 8-ish mile long run for me).  It’s only a little over 3.5 hours from Greenville, so we probably could have even made it a day trip if we had wanted to (a really long one). Anyways, we arrived in Chattanooga around 2 pm and stopped by our hotel before heading downtown to the race site.  I managed to get a hotel in August; there wasn’t much left, but the one I got turned out to be a pretty convenient location. It was right near Lookout Mountain, so we had easy access to that area and it was less than 10 minutes to downtown. It wasn’t very nice, but we were only there one night.

Then we headed down to transition to figure out where we’d be volunteering the next day. This was kind of a fail, because when we went to volunteer check-in to get our shirts they sent us away and told us to come back 5 mins before our shift on Sunday. We both agreed that this was a terrible idea because our shift started at noon and the volunteer area would be a disaster halfway through the race, but whatever. We left and walked around the area to see where the different legs came in and out of transition before going to do some sightseeing.

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We saw the Choo Choo.

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We did not see Rock City.

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But we did at least drive to the top of Lookout Mountain which was pretty cool.

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After dinner, we debated on whether we wanted to spend the morning at the race or do something touristy and decided to take the Incline Railway to the top of Lookout Mountain. This was pretty cool! Plus I had a little nerd moment about it since it’s a mechanical engineering landmark.

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Finally, we went down to the race – well before our shift so we could make sure to get our shirts and instructions. Getting downtown was super easy. The road closures in the downtown area were minimal and there was $3 all day parking at the Choo Choo with a free shuttle/half mile walk to transition.

We made our way back over to the volunteer check in tent, where we were told that we couldn’t get our shirts or wristbands again and needed to wait for our volunteer leader to come over. We stood around like idiots for a few minutes before I asked again (pretty insistently this time) that they at least let us get into transition and they finally agreed. Lo and behold! Our leader was in the transition tent with our shirts and lunch. I ate a whole bunch of pizza (and oatmeal cream pies) which I am so glad I did because the afternoon was super busy. Our volunteer leader told us we would not be too busy, but I think she was only thinking of it in terms of how it was for T1 because it was crazy.

Sea of bags

Sea of bags

While we waited, we got to watch most of the pro men come in before the 1st woman came in:

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She was way ahead of everyone else! Women started trickling in for another hour or so, then all the age group women started coming in – the next 3 hours were exhausting! I put on compression socks, tied shoes, pulled on bras, put vaseline on people feet. You name it.  The changing tent is an incredibly rewarding experience, but definitely not for the squeamish! It was gross. We started out with gloves but they soon got in the way of trying to pin bibs on or tie shoes and by the last hour, most of us had given up on trying to be sanitary and were grabbing some anti-bac as we ran from one person to the next. But. It. Was. Awesome. I got to interact with so many people – some were good and just wanted to get on with it, but some wanted to stop, breathe, and chat for a bit and it was really great to try and be their biggest cheerleader. I also got called a lot of really nice things: angel, god-send, wonderful person, etc.

The bike cutoff finally came by and it was kind of sad to think that anyone still out there wouldn’t be able to continue.  We cheered on the last few people to come through transition as loud as we could! Unfortunately, my friend and I had to be at work Monday morning, so we had to take off as soon as our shift was over to drive back to Greenville – this also meant that I wasn’t able to take advantage of Monday morning registration…The good news is, the race didn’t sell out, and I’m in!

WHAT HAVE I DONE

WHAT HAVE I DONE

I would definitely love to volunteer at this race again though. It obviously won’t be next year ;) but it was such a great experience – I think the changing tent is one of the most appreciated positions, but the most understaffed! (If you want a workout with your volunteering, sign up to be a bike runner. I’m pretty sure those guys ran a marathon on Sunday)

Pre-crazy volunteer shift

Pre-crazy volunteer shift

Anyways, I’ll end this crazy novel. Anyone have any awesome volunteer experiences to share?

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Swim, Bike, Done

This weekend, I did my first aquabike race – a highly underappreciated multi-sport event where you swim, bike, and then you’re done! What an excellent idea, since running is hard.

I thought it would be a nice change of pace, so I signed up for the aquabike race at the Tugaloo Triathlon which was only about an hour away from Greenville.

Unfortunately, the morning was a bit of a hot mess. I foolishly decided to pack Saturday morning before I left which meant I was trying to cram everything in a bag at 5 am – this obviously resulted in missing items. Thankfully my bike and helmet made it, but I didn’t bring my sunglasses or socks, which are generally on the “must-have” list.  The sunglasses turned out not to be a big loss since it ended up being overcast, but socks…oh boy. I never ride or run without socks so it was definitely good that I wasn’t running because that might have been painful.  I figured I could suffer through an hour and a half bike ride with blisters. And, oh, did I ever get blisters! Ouch =(

The fun continued when I got to the park where the race start was and I needed to pay a $5 fee to get in! I know this is bad, but I almost never carry cash, and this was definitely one of those times. I had exactly $0.  Normally, the race details will mention if cash is needed for entry and I’ll make a special trip over to the bank to get some $$$, but neither the race website nor the final details email mentioned anything about needed to pay a park entry fee. So I was definitely a little annoyed and frustrated when I got to the gate and the lady there wanted 5 bucks. I did convince her to let me in, and promised I would stop by the main office on the way out to pay with a credit card. Crisis averted?

The second unmentioned obstacle was the nearly 1 mile walk from the parking area to the transition area. Yea. I feel like this would be worth a mention in the final details or at least somewhere because it was a good long haul.  I checked it with my bike Garmin on the way back and had 0.8 miles. Good thing I was there super early, because when I finally got down to packet pick-up I had to stand in line for 15 minutes. They only had one poor volunteer there working and she was doing the best she could!

FINALLY, made it to transition to get everything set up – which is the point where I realized I had no socks. Way too late at that point!

SWIM (1500 m):
The swim was a time trial start. I thought that was a little odd for a lake swim, but it worked out in my favor since I was able to start pretty far towards the front. No wetsuits, which I already had assumed since we swam in Hartwell earlier last week. Even with the slightly cooler weather, the lake is still pretty toasty.

For some reason, this did go at all how I expected. I wanted to swim fast so I even skipped Friday swim practice but this swim was rough. I kept swimming off course, where I normally swim pretty straight and I swallowed a lot of water. Oh well! Not every one’s a good one!

Time: 26:20

T1: 2:35

BIKE (42k):
The bike course was slightly long and very, very hilly. But since I wasn’t going to have to run afterwards I had no excuse not to bike hard so I did my best! The hills in this area are very similar to what there will be in Anderson next month so it was good practice as well. I struggled a bit at first, but I started feeling pretty good about halfway through and averaged a solid 18.5 mph through the last 10 miles.  The last couple miles were pretty brutal but there was no to reason to let up so I tried not to give in and go hard up the last few hills to the finish.

Overall the bike course was pretty nice, but a a little smelly. There were quite a few farms along the route and they were extra stinky for some reason.

Time: 1:30:09 (avg 17.4 mph)

Overall Time: 1:59:03 (1/1 AG, 3/7 Overall)

Not a big group of aquabikers.  The race itself was pretty enjoyable, but I was not very happy with the general race organization, so I don’t think I will go back.

After the race, I hung around for a while, got some food (good spread this time!), put some clothes on, etc.  The announcer kept asking that we not remove anything from transition until ALL the bikes were off the course. Remembering that this was a time trial start…when I finished my race, there were people just getting started on the bike leg (on mountain bikes). It was going to take them 2 hours to get back!  While I totally agree that we should absolutely stay out of the way of people on the race course, by them time I had waited around for an hour, the stream of cyclists was pretty…sparse. There was plenty of room to leave without disturbing anyone’s race. But the announcer kept insisting that I was not allowed to take my stuff and leave. After another 15 minutes, I got kind of angry, so I lifted my bike over the transition fence and snuck out the back. A girl can only take so much!  I’ve never been to a race where they were so…unaccommodating. I know it’s nitpicky stuff, but races are not cheap and if I’m going to pay that much for a race, I would rather do a Setup race since their race organization is definitely better.

Chillin' out post-race

Chillin’ out post-race

They did at least have a good swag bag.  It was full of snack bar samples, sunscreen, water bottle, and a very nice long-sleeve shirt.

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Langley Pond Triathlon

I didn’t have any initial desire to do this race this year.  It’s not close to Greenville (2+ hours away), it’s in the middle of the hottest part of the year (UG), and I don’t care about SCTS season points.  You have to do 5 races to win anything and even though I’m winning, I can never get to 5 races so I don’t care.  But, I have friends who do and they dragged me down there, so oh well. I guess it was a fun kick-off to my vacation.

The race is in Aiken, SC which is not close to….anything. It’s probably halfway between Columbia and Augusta – party city, right there. There’s a sprint and international distance race so you can suffer in the heat at your own discretion. I should’ve picked the sprint….

The one big mistake I made was not having enough for breakfast. The hotel had set out the cold foods for us (bagels, cereal, etc), so I did eat, but halfway through the bike I was really, really hungry. I ate a whole pack of chews during the bike and 2 gels during the run and they really just didn’t cut it. So that wasn’t great, but it was my own fault.

SWIM (1500 m):
The swim was in Langley Pond, which you can guess by it’s name is small so the water was pretty nasty warm. The swim was originally supposed to be 1 lap, but they changed it on race-day to be 2 laps of the sprint course. I’m not sure when they sent off the sprint folks, but it was well after I had started my second lap.

This was a small race (maybe 120 people in the Intl) so everyone except the open folks, relays and aquabikes were in one wave. I appreciated this since it meant that I didn’t have to contend with a pack of slow-moving dudes halfway through the swim.  I was able to pull ahead pretty quickly and had some nice open (dude-free) water for most of the swim. I did pass a few people from the open wave and lapped a few from my own wave. I was definitely the first female out, but I think I was also the first age-grouper out because I never saw any one else out there near me.

Time: 25:34 (1/5 AG, 1/37 Overall)

T1: 3:19 – Ok, don’t judge me too much. Most of this was a run over gravel to the TA and most people were 2:30+ in T1.

BIKE (24 miles):
I had a pretty miserable slow bike split. Between the hunger, the hills, and my poor bike training of late, I just did not bike very aggressively so I’m not sure what I expected!  The course is 2 laps – 3 miles flat, 3 miles uphill, 3 miles flat, 3 miles dowwwnnnn. Then all of it again.  The uphill is exactly what it sounds like. 3 miles up a not very steep but relentless hill and it just didn’t feel good at all. Coming back down was nice (and very fast) but having to climb that nonsense a second time was not appealing.Untitled

Time: 1:23:04 (4/5 AG, 26/37 Overall)

Yea not impressive at all. Much slower than Lake Logan and the course was shorter.

T2: 1:53

RUN (10K):
I was told that the run for this race was flat and hot, and I would agree with that. No shade, but no hills (ok, there’s one but it’s small). I started out pretty well and hit the halfway point right around 31 mins. Then I found that wall and ran into it headfirst. Oh, man, it was bad. My legs were shaking and I was so hungry and that last 5k was ugly. I wasn’t the only one.  The last 1/2 mile is out and back on the dam for the lake and everyone I saw was out there walking on it. Man, was it hot. I seriously positive split this run and it’s nothing to be proud of.

Time: 1:07:11 (5/5 AG, 24/37 Overall)

Overall Time: 3:01:00 (3/5 AG, 17/37 Overall)

Not exactly my best performance. While the race was pretty good, I’m not sure I would do it again since I just didn’t like the bike course.  The way this post is written, you would think that I was super miserable the whole time, but it really wasn’t all that bad. I wasn’t super concerned about my pace most of the time -except for the last 3 miles of the run when I totally fell apart. I was pretty  miserable then, but the rest was ok.

The only thing I was really unhappy with was the post race food. I was obviously starving when I crossed the finish line, so I hustled over to where the food was…and there was basically nothing. A few chewy granola bars, an almost empty container of trail mix and a few cokes and waters. I know this was a small race, but I would have rather had good food than a t-shirt! I had a coke to tide me over but as soon as I met up with my parents in Columbia, I had to insist that we stop to get food because FOOD. So, that was disappointing, but easily resolved by bringing your own food, I suppose.

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Some Stuff I’ve been Doing

So it’s been a few weeks and I’ve certainly done more than putz around my apartment, though it hasn’t been that exciting.  Work’s been a little slow (because all of our European friends take the month of August off, I hate them) and that kind of brings my entire motivation level down a notch so it’s been pretty dull. My running…terrible. My biking…slacking off. I’ve been swimming pretty hard, but I can really only thank the team for dragging my lazy butt out to the pool because otherwise I would be seriously tempted to sleep in.  This would generally not be a big deal, but Rev3 Anderson is now about a month away and I’m seriously considering seeing if I can switch to the Olympic race. I’m a little overbooked and I think if I could take some of the pressure off on getting those 50+ mile bike rides in, I might be able to focus a bit more on running and really nail down a good Oly – which I feel that I really haven’t done yet. It would also be nice to not have to rush building mileage for a half marathon so I actually have a chance at doing ok at RnR Savannah in November. I haven’t made a decision for sure, but it’s a very tempting option right now.

Despite these somewhat negative thoughts, I have been productive!

-OWS out at Lake Jocassee – it’s much nicer than the lake in Rock Hill. So clear you can see the bottom and nice and cool.  It’s a bit of a drive, but it’s worth
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-Flight of the Dove charity ride.  I swear the gates of Hell are in Clinton, SC because it was so hot I was sure I would melt. I needed to get a run in, so I ran 6 miles in the early AM, then rushed down to Clinton for the ride and ended up starting 20 minutes late.  It took me 40 miles to catch up with my friends averaging 18+ mph.  I finally caught up at the mile 40 aid station, realized I was hot, sweaty and dehydrated and that speed dropped to like…14 mph. DEAD.  The ride was supposed to be 62 miles, but there was a shortcut that I took to make it only 50 miles.  Other than the heat, this was an excellent ride, though.  It’s pretty flat (~1400 ft of elevation gain) and the scenery is nice. Great cause as well – Hospice of Laurens County.

-Paid off my car – SUCCESS

-Did my first ever Fantasy Football draft – not interesting, but fun. I’m relatively knowledgeable about football, but I have no clue how fantasy works and it’s terrible.  I’m destroying everyone in week 1 though.

-Langely Pond International Tri – more on that later

-Went on vacation. It was awesome and I did nothing. I did some running and biking, but nothing hard and it was extra muggy in Charleston. We did a mini tour culinary tour of Charleston, and by that I mean we went to a bunch of the places featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and they were delicious and amazing.
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-Going away party for our Team USA athletes going to China! I’ve been training with my friend Elizabeth, who is competing at the ITU Worlds in China next week, and Pedal Chic threw a going away party for her and the other triathlete going from Greenville. It’s an exciting opportunity for both of them, so it was really nice of Pedal Chic to host the party.

-I’ve been talking with a triathlon coach (someone local) to potentially work out a plan for next year to do some run-only coaching within the triathlon season. It’s partly because I don’t need/want swim and bike coaching, and also because it’s expensive and don’t have room in my budget for full time triathlon coach. But I’m tired of running like crap and need help. So we’re going to meet later in October to talk about it. Either way, next year, something has to change because I can’t keep running like this.

Unfortunately, now it’s back to reality which means it’s also time to quit slacking and start training like I’m actually going to do thia race.

Also, don’t forget about the discount codes for the Asheville Marathon!  They are good for a few more days(Sept 15)!

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More than One 5K

So one of my goals for this year was to do more than 1 5k during the year (I only did one last year). I happen to like 5Ks, but I hate spending $25+ on a race that won’t take me any more than 30 minutes (usually) so I try to choose races that are fundraising for a non-profit (or a corporate shield event, which are just cheap).

I signed up for the Doodle Trail 5k, which was raising money for a rail-to-trail project in Easley – don’t ask me why they picked a ridiculous name.  But on the morning of the race, I woke up, got ready to go….then put my PJs back on and went back to sleep. Apparently I had a serious case of the unmotivated that day, but whatever.

Not quite two weeks ago was the Leftovers Prediction 5K. I knew I would drag myself to this evening race since I’d been wanted to run it for the last few years and it just didn’t fit into my schedule for one reason or another.  This is a fun little event with the Greenville Track Club where they use leftover bibs and t-shirts from other races over the last year and you predict the time you’ll run.  No watches allowed, and they use a different course every year so there’s no practicing before the race! This was also my first trail race because it is so not my thing, but the trails were well kept and pretty flat so it was a nice change of scenery.  It was 90 degrees that evening (even at 7 pm!) so running in the shade was definitely welcome. I didn’t have a great run, nor was I very close to the time that I predicted, but it was a good time – and there was a FroYo truck post run =)

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This past weekend was the Michelin 5K, which I do pretty much every year since it’s free for me.  They changed the course a tiny bit this year to move the start/finish line closer to Lost Swamp Rd., but other than that, same old stuff. I didn’t have a great run again and had to stop and tie my shoe < a half mile from the finish, but I felt pretty strong the whole time, so it seems like I’m still headed in the right direction. Slow, but getting better. After the race, a few of us changed and headed out for an easy 30 mile ride.

Some other stuff that’s been going on…last week I took a few days off running because side of my lower left leg was really hurting. It was probably a case of too much/too fast but it felt fine by Saturday and it feels fine today, so that’s good news.

The last few Saturdays, Greenville Splash has been doing open water swim out at Lake Jocassee. I haven’t been able to go, but this weekend they went up to Lake Wylie in Rock Hill for a swim with another group and they dragged me along.  It ended up being pretty fun – apparently this group swims every Sunday morning in the summer with kayak support and everything so it’s pretty well organized.  I did a 5k swim – a few others who are training for a 10k swim did a full 4 miles.  Did you know there are leeches in Lake Wylie. Gross. #ewewewwwww

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I also ended up buying one of these buoy things from the “coach”.  She had them for all of us to borrow, but I liked the idea of having the extra safety feature (will especially be good for Hartwell swims when we can’t find kayakers).  Plus you can store stuff in there, like water or a Garmin (I put my Forerunner in it and it actually worked pretty well). They’re a little expensive at $40 but it’s probably a smart thing to have for OWS.

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So what’s next?  It’s about an month and a half out from Rev3 Anderson. Next weekend is the Flight of the Dove – a metric century down in Clinton, SC. It’s really just a supported training ride, but it’s for charity so that’s cool by me.  Langely Pond Intl tri is the next weekend, followed by some vacationing with my family! I also signed up for an Intl distance Aquabike race in September for funsies. Then it’s Chattanooga weekend – I’ll be volunteering in the women’s changing tent! I’m really looking forward to the next few months, but hate to see tri season wrap up so soon. I feel like it always goes by so quickly – and it’s definitely longer here in SC!

That’s it for me. Anything exciting to share?

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Asheville Marathon – March 15th!



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Ok, so I’ve been selected to be an ambassador for the Asheville Marathon (or half) at Biltmore Estate. This was totally unexpected, but I’m still pretty excited about it since I was pretty seriously considering doing this race anyways based on some rave reviews from a friend who did it last year. The timing is good, Biltmore is BEAUTIFUL, and it’s not too hilly.

Seriously, this is good stuff

Seriously, this is good stuff

This event has sold out the last 2 years since it’s limited to 1300 participants. The good news is, I can give you a discount code good through September 15th for $20 off the full/$10 off the half!

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In an effort of full disclosure, I do get a free race entry for this (though I had to get one referral to claim it – so I bugged my running buddies first). If I get 10, I’ll be able to give away another entry which would be pretty exciting for someone.

So, if you do decide to use the discount code, do me a huge favor and let me know that you did since I have to track them myself – the code is not unique to me. =)

For $20 off the full marathon: AMAFULLMARATHON
For $10 off the half marathon: AMAHALFMARATHON

The codes go in at the end of the check out process – registration is from the race site here.

I hope you come run with me!

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Betty’s 5K Fundraiser

So, I have a favor to ask of my (small audience of) readers/commenters/lurkers/whatever. It’s always awkward to ask people to donate money, but this is a cause that is near and dear to one of my close friends and therefore dear to me.

My friend/running buddy Lynn lost her mother to Scleroderma last year – there is no known cause or cure for this disease. Lynn has been working very hard with the help of the Scleroderma Foundation to host Betty’s 5K to honor her mother and raise money for the foundation for research. Here’s an article in the Greenville News about it, if you’re interested.

For local folks, the race it at Furman University on September 14th (race info in the the link), but if the race is not an option you can donate to the fundraiser as a non-participant. Right now, they are about halfway to a goal of $10,000 and with a little over a month to go, I would love to see them reach their goal. I don’t have anything to give away, but it would definitely mean a lot to Lynn if you were able and willing to donate to the cause, so please consider it.

Thanks for reading

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