IM Louiville

IM Louiville
Bikes racked at Ironman Louisville 2010

Monday, May 21, 2007

Memphis in May

It’s been so long since I made a blog post. In the past 2 weeks, I have been terribly busy, yet I’m not quite sure why. I have lots of things to write about, but I simply haven’t been able to find the time to get the thoughts down.

So, the recap of Memphis will be short, but sweet, as the event was almost a week ago already.

Since there were 5 of us, we planned to drive down in 2 cars and caravan all they way down to Memphis. We started our 8 hour journey on Friday because Lori was racing on Saturday, and the rest of us would race on Sunday. Thankfully, Lori and Chuck packed some good sandwich food which we really appreciated! We had a little picnic on the hood of their Durango.

One we got to Memphis, we decided to head right to the Expo so Lori could pick up her packed for the next day. We parked the car and as we walked toward the Expo, I started to remember all the things from when I did this race in 2005. Memphis’ expo is outside, under tents. They were pretty strict about presenting your USAT card and BC had to go back to the car to get his current card before they’d let him pick up his packet. And though there were only about 5 people in front of me in the packet pickup line, it seemed like an eternity before I actually got through the line. I forgot, things down in Memphis move really slow compared to what we’re used to. Everyone is pretty friendly and they have that southern drawl that distinguishes the visitors from the townies.

The rest of the day was just grabbing some southern BBQ and getting some rest. Saturday’s mountain bike race didn’t start until 9:00am, so we all were able to sleep in a bit and have a quick breakfast at the hotel. The transition area was set up with wooden racks on the ground with a slot for each athlete’s bike tire. This was quite a difference from the usual aluminum poles where you hang your bike. Security was very, very lax for this race and everyone, athletes and spectators alike, were allowed in and out of the transition area without question.
I was able to sit in the transition area as I waited to see JQ and Lori run in from the swim so I could get some good pictures of each of them.

The weather was near perfect and I was told it would be a little warmer for tomorrow’s race. This was only the second time I’ve ever actually watched a triathlon without participating in it. It was nice to be wrapped up in the excitement of the race without having the pressure to do the race itself.
Once I saw Lori and JQ leave T1, I went to find out where the rest of the crew was. It seems they had been put to work by manning a water station right out of the swim.

Once we saw both JQ and Lori finish, Pat, Chuck, BC and I decided to get a quick ride in. We figured we’d ride a portion of the course and we started off OK. Unfortunately, once we turned around, we’d forgotten how we got there. We saw other triathletes riding around, so we weren’t far, but we couldn’t figure out how to get back! Chuck decided to ask one of the locals for directions and we made it back just fine, going about an extra 8 miles or so! We followed up the ride with a quick run and then BC and I wanted to jump in the lake just to test it out.

If given the opportunity, I really like to get in the lake before a race. Each body of water seems to be a little different. It could be temperature, color, weeds at the bottom, things floating in it, or a number of other things that are just nice to know before you get in for the race. Most importantly is the sighting on the way in. We like to go to the last or 2nd to last buoy from the finish and swim it in just like we’ll do on race day. It leaves you with fewer surprises.

I’m not sure sushi is the best pre-race meal, but that was the decision that was made. I’m not even sure what most of that stuff is, but I took Randy’s recommendation and it was pretty good and I know it’s rather loaded with sodium, and that’s got to help for tomorrow, right? I tried something that had some orange eggs on it, and though it didn’t taste bad, just the thought of chewing on eggs freaked me out a little bit. I seemed to keep Pat entertained with my hesitation to try any of this stuff and my questions about everything we ate. Then again, it doesn’t take much to keep her amused.

On race morning, we packed up all our things and were heading down to the lobby. Pat was a bit quicker than me to get out the door, so I did a last-minute room check and picked up a few remaining items. I then went to the elevator that already had 2 women in it and I got in with my bike. Two more triathletes ran down the hall with their bikes, but there was no room in this elevator. Before the elevator door closed, they hit the button again, our door opened. OK, just let us leave before you hit the button. Door starts to close again and one of them hit the button again – elevator door opens up. You’ve GOT TO BE KIDDING! QUIT IT! But they just giggled and I couldn’t have shot them a more disgusted look.

I finally get to the lobby, loaded down with my bike and bags, and it looks like we’re ready to go! Then my lovely elevator button pushing happy friends walk right over to the vehicle next to me. Great! They turn out to be from Chicago and are pretty friendly (though they need to learn how to work elevator buttons). They also look like they are in my age group and now I’m on a mission.

We caravan over to the race site, pump up our tires and walk the bikes over to the racks. There are about 5 times more athletes today than yesterday and the place is pretty much a zoo. If I hadn’t done this race before, I think I would’ve been a little frazzled. There were people lining up to be body marked when, if they just would’ve moved closer to transition, there were people with markers standing around with nothing to do. I saw Randy in transition and it seemed his rack was missing! I was proud of him as he was handling this little problem rather well. It ended up being a blessing in disguise as he had a sweet spot on the rack once they finally set it up.

With just a few minor last-minute re-arranging, I left transition with plenty of time. Memphis is a time trial start, so they start just one racer every 3 seconds. Most people really like this because it does lessen your chances of getting knocked around at the beginning of the swim; however, it’s not really my favorite way to start. First, I can’t find anyone to draft off of. Second, there seem to be people EVERYWHERE during the swim, as opposed to the “packs” of swimmers you find in normal wave starts. This causes me to sight way more than normal (and I sight a lot already).

The water felt refreshing and cool when I jumped in. It was getting toasty standing there with a wetsuit on! Right away, there were people to pass everywhere. And it got more crowded the longer I swam. I felt someone on my toes several times and I was only a little frustrated by it. But then about half way through the back stretched, she pulled around me and I thought “Wow, she’s really fast!” and I swam like hell to jump on her feet. And just as I started to settle into a nice draft behind her, I noticed her turning right…wait, this isn’t where we turn, we have one more buoy to go to! I slowed, picked up my head and looked to the right. I saw about 6-7 swimmers turning right and I wondered if I should go with them. But then I looked ahead and I was certain I saw another orange buoy with other swimmers headed toward it. So, I swam straight and let the fast girl swim off to the right.

I started to push the pace a little bit as I moved in closer to the shore line. I felt better toward the end of the swim than I did in the beginning. I got out of the water and glanced at my watch. I saw “20:16” and thought to myself, “dammit, the course is short!” When swimming is your strength, that is the only leg of the race that you do NOT want to be short! It bummed me out for about 30 seconds. I had a decent T1, though I always feel very shaky when I’m trying to put on my bike shoes.

Once out on the bike, I was shivering. Getting out of a lake and immediately jumping on a bike in the cool morning air never feels really good to me. I was passed by 2 women within the first mile. I came back to get in front of one, but the other one dropped me with ease. The course was hillier than I remembered. I noticed my bike computer still read "SLEEP" and there was no way I was going to stop and try to get it to work. It was frustrating, but it was also my own fault as I didn't check to see that it was working once I got the bike set up in transition. I jockeyed back and forth with a guy on an Orbea for at least 5 miles. This dude would get in front of me, slow down, I'd pass, then he'd come back with a vengance just to make sure he was in front of me. Really annoying! The course also had more turns than I remember and there were lots of people taking them wide. I was yelled at by another athlete because he thought he could sneak by me during a turn...on my right. WTF??!? And HE'S yelling at ME??!?! The anger was good for a short burst of energy.

Two more women catch up with me, both in their 20s, and I pick up the pace to try to stay with them. Orbea guy is just ahead and I tell them that they MUST pass him. The road was pretty narrow and I think they must've changed the course from 2005 because I don't remember this. But then we went by some military station and I DO remember that...I also remembered that it meant the bike was almost over. I try to push a little harder and get ahead of Orbea boy just to show him who's boss.

I roll slowly into T2...couldn't go fast as it was a bit crowded with athletes dismounting. I get to my rack and I'm bummed that I see 2 bikes already back. See, if I didn't beat them in the swim and the bike, it was highly unlikely that I'd catch them in the run. But since we all have different start times, you just never know who's really ahead of you.

I rack the bike, take off my helmet and switch shoes, grab my had and some gels, and I'm off. I feel pretty sluggish, but I've come to learn that the feeling is mostly in my head. I missed the first 2 mile markers, but I started to notice signs on the side of the road "Just 3 and you're free" and I looked down to see a pink number 3 painted on the side of the road. I hit my watch as I passed it and realized I was on a pretty good pace. That's good, because I heard myself breathing heavy. I was actually PASSING people on the RUN! I wondered to myself if I was going too fast because I was really feeling it. The course was an out and back, so I was able to see Tobey, JQ, BC and Chuck on my way back in. I was so happy to be on my way back IN! I counted the miles down backwards and tried to convince myself that I could keep this pace until the end. The run course was every bit as hilly as I remembered it to be. We were now in the parking lot on the other side of the park and as I turned the corner I could see the finish. The Memphis run finish is a long stretch down a grassy area...I forget what they call it..a burm or something like that. I call it hell. At least, that's what I called it 2 years ago. This time, I felt much better as I was running down that last stretch. AND, I even passed a guy on my way in. I'm so used to being the person that is passed left and right, it feels like a major accomplishment when I can actually pass someone else on the run. Right toward the end, there is a steep, small downhill and I heard the announcer butcher my name as I came down that hill. I crossed the line and hit my watch...not at fast as I wanted, but still a time that I'm happy with.

I stood around at the finish cheering everyone else in. After a while, I went over to the make-shift showers they set up for the racers. Some guy heard me say I was from Chicago and he asked in amazement, "You mean, you came all the way from Chicago for this little race??" Yep. Memphis is a race that's definitely worth the trip.


Anonymous said...

Rice=carbs, Soy=salt, Fish=protein.

Very little fat, high salt, high carb, low fiber.

Why not sushi, but ya gotta eat the rice.

NIce write up.


Anonymous said...

first of all you must be mistaken about passing someone on an orbea,that just doesn't happen and second of all the swim was about 100yds long and i'm just getting faster

Griz said...

Sounds like you guys had a great time. HIM in Rockford 6.10.07

John from Grand Haven, MI said...

yeah, but did you go to graceland?