The road trip to Challenge Knoxville was great one and a long one. I left Thursday afternoon after a short work day at Cobb Cycling and a massage with Amanda Kitchings in Tyler. I was feeling fresh and ready to go. I was also super hydrated too, which meant a rest stop every hour sometimes less than that. The drive took longer than I thought with all of my rest stops. The first night I stayed with Cobb Mobb teammate Les Carr in Meridian, MS. I had a great 10 hours of sleep because I forgot to turn my alarm on. We headed out for a humid 20 minute loosen'r upp'r run and a big breakfast at the Waffle House before I left for Knoxville.
On the way to Knoxville it was the same situation. I was hydrated and making lots of pit stops every hour. We had a nice Cobb Mobb Dinner at Cafe 4 that I barely made it in time for. We have a fun and exciting group from Cobb Mobb East side in Tennessee and Marianna Clement made it in from Dallas.
I stayed with the Deane's from Cobb Mobb. Jimmy and Sharon that is. They have their on little bike shop down in the basement. There is never such a thing as too many bikes. This doesn't include 4 of their main bikes with all Cobb saddles on them.
Saturday morning I slept in and did a spin and short run. We then headed over the expo and did a short swim. Thanks to Clay Emge for letting me borrow his old wetsuit. It gave me more flexibility in the shoulders than my old blueseventy suit, but unfortunately is DNA need not rub off on me.
Sunday it was on. I chatted with my Sports Psychologist, Craig Williard on the drive to Knoxville and it was about keeping Forward Focus throughout the race and not getting distracted by others. I made sure to note that and I also put Evan in writing our baby to be born in July to hopefully gather some of that "Old Man Daddy strength".
The Cobb Mobb Cheer squad was on in Knoxville.
I got off too a good start on my swim and thought I was swimming my best ever. No problems sighting and got some good drafts on some faster people. I still only swam 34 minutes but a few other guys reported slow swims. It had started raining while we were in the water. I knew this was going to make for an interesting bike. The bike course was no joke! It was hilly and technical going down hills with sharp curves and turns something we do not get a lot of in East Texas. I was hoping the mountain bike skills that I had developed would help but the roads were just too slick for me to be fancy. I had a bit of trouble getting into a rhythm and finding my legs. We were usually either going up or down and riding on this course in the rain made things sketchy. There were a lot of people crashing out and I saw one guy face down in the ditch. Not wanting be one of them I rode relatively conservatively and even then I almost went down on a right hand turn going over a bridge. At mile 42, I heard the awful noise "sphhhh" of my rear tire going flat. Dang it! I "ripped" the tire off and put my spare on. When I turned the C02 cartridge it leaked from the valve stem. I shot from the hip for good measure with my other cartridge and did the same thing. I guess I have a long 14 mile walk I told myself. I started walking and the next aid station was right up the corner so I was able to get a sag back.
When we finally made it back to transition I turned in my timing chip but preceded to get in a run anyways. My first two miles were great, but then I hit the great wall. I guess waiting so long to get a ride back and not finishing some of gels on the bike did me in. I scarfed down a lot of the food at the first aid station and that felt much better and that carried me to the half way point just under 6:30 pace. Coming back was awful, the struggle was real! I kept going and I had been pausing my watch and not walking my rest breaks so I actually ran all of it, just with stops.
The drive back was the real success of this race and trip. I'm saving the vacation days that I can and use those after Evan is born. I drove all the way back after the race from Knoxville to Tyler, Tx and was awake for over 25 hours. My fueling strategy after 10pm consisted of 4 of the largest cups of coffee at the Loves service stations along the interstate. I made it in at 5:45am and was up at 8:30 am to be at the office ready to sell Cobb Cycling products.
As it didn't go to plan I think we realized where we've been lacking and how to go forward with the limited time for now on the road to Kansas.Thanks to God for letting me have a fun race and experience in Tennessee. Thanks to my beautiful & pregnant wife for all the support, my family, Cobb Mobb, Cobb Cycling, Team Extremus, and Coach Jeremy!