What a weekend it was. I’m very glad that I went because I learned a lot: about the course, about IM training, and certainly a few things about myself.
I drove down to Chattanooga Friday afternoon after working a half day since I didn’t want to get in super late. My GPS definitely took me on the….scenic route instead of through Atlanta (traffic) so I was definitely a little aggravated getting in. Trucks and windy mountain roads don’t mix. We stayed in a hotel near downtown so we were able to walk into town for dinner. We ended up at Mellow Mushroom since several of the restaurants we had tried to go to didn’t take reservations and the ‘Shroom had plenty of room for a big group. But everybody likes Mellow Mushroom.
The plan for Saturday morning was to get up and be ready to roll at 7 to ride the entire course – all 116 miles of it. My friend Justine and I had decided beforehand to stick together since we are a similar speed so we wouldn’t be alone in case we ran into any trouble (there was plenty).
The first few miles out of town we picked up some other riders that weren’t a part of our group and they were riding really erratically – like all over the road. I know it was early, but COME ON people. People like that are what give all cyclists a bad name so don’t act like that. Unfortunately for me, less than 10 miles in, I got a flat on my rear wheel! I was right near a gas station so I could pull over and change it and a couple of people who were out for a run stopped to make sure I had everything I needed (like they had bike tubes?? but still nice). I checked over the tire for a puncture but never found anything, so I fixed it and took off again.
But…we were back a ways from the main group after that first flat which then caused us to miss a right turn to stay on the course. We rode up a giant hill that was much harder than anything on the actual course, back down the other side and found ourselves on Hog Jowl rd. That road is on the course….but we weren’t in the right place. There was a SAG for another team there and she told us that we definitely missed a turn. DANG IT. We called our coach who was driving our SAG vehicle around and she told us to ride back to where we missed our turn and keep going. This gave us almost 5 extra miles – and how I ended up at 120 miles instead of 116. Oops.
Finally, we got back on the course only to encounter a crazy aggressive dog! He was gunnin’ for a piece of Steph and there was a lot of panic before I was finally able to out pace him. We hit the other side of the loop and think that things are finally going to settle down when BAM! Flat #2. It was also a rear wheel and ripped a solid hole in my tire. I pulled my wheel off while waiting for my coach to arrive since I didn’t have anything to patch up a tire with and when I set my bike down, the chain somehow managed to get completely and disastrously tangled. By the time we fixed the tire, installed the new tube, untangled the chain and got my bike put back together, the stop was almost 40 minutes. We were now hopelessly far behind the rest of our group (this made for a really, really long day). Most of the rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, thankfully (we did see a HUGE snake in the middle of the road), but our time out on the road including all stops was 9.5 hours. Like I said, a long day. Hopefully this training ride means a perfect day on race day!!
On Sunday, we went for a 3 hour run on part of the course (the riverfront path and the residential loop). I’ve spent the last year listening to horror stories about how hard this run course was…like what are these people even on? I guess I can understand it from our poor flatlander friends in Florida but I feel like my Greenville friends should know better. It was not that bad. There are some hills in the residential loop but it’s really only about 3 miles of the total loop (so 6 miles of the full? not really that bad). None of them were horribly steep and there are several nice downhills. What are people so worried about??
Anyways, I was pretty damn slow from being so tired but my coach was very pleased how I looked and I ran with my coach’s husband who gave me a lot of good advice on pacing and when to walk and things like that.
We all headed home Sunday and it was pretty much all I could do to unpack everything before crashing for the night. Chores? Who even does that? Haha. So, it was definitely a productive weekend and I’m definitely glad I took the time to go.
PS: Yes I’m posting this now…after the race. Go with it.