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Ironman Chattanooga - Triathlon

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Chattanooga, Tennessee
United States
Total Time = 13h 17m 27s
Overall Rank = /
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

This race was a little weird from the get-go, since they cancelled the swim a few days before the race. We didn't have the normal 3:30 am IM wakeup call. Transition didn't even open until 6:30, so I had my alarm set for 5:30. When it went off, I got up and took a quick shower to help wake myself up and then went downstairs for coffee/oatmeal. Lisa's dad drove us over to the race site just after 6:30.

Because of the cancelled swim, they were doing a time-trial bike start by bib number, with two athletes starting every 5 seconds. But AG athletes didn't start until 8:30am, so we had a lot of time to kill. I just needed to check my tires, get all my nutrition set up on my bike, and add a couple things to my run bag. Then we had some time to just chill and talk to people. Got to meet Amy and Tammy from BT and some of Lisa's Atlanta tri club friends and take some pictures.

I had a little panic moment when I asked a lady to spray some sunscreen on my arms (I had been hesitant to rub too much of my normal sunscreen in since it was making the bodymarking numbers run) and she went to town on my arms. She sprayed on so much sunscreen that the permanent marker was running like crazy and making huge black splotches on my arms. Luckily I had a spare towel so I quickly wiped it all off and had a guy redo my numbers and then just patted some sunscreen on. As much as I hate tri-tats (they are such a pain to get off!) I might get them next time, so I don't need to worry about this again.

Other than that, it was a pretty straightforward process, and I think the race director did a good job organizing the alternate start. I even almost missed my group's line-up, because I'd made a last minute trip to the potties, thinking that we wouldn't start until around 9:10-9:15, but they were going fast - I started my ride at 8:47.

Event warmup:

The swim is usually my warm up, so....

  • 00m
  • 0 yards
  • / 100 yards
What would you do differently?:

Swim. It was such a disappointment to have this part of the event cancelled.
Transition 1
  • 00m
  • 7h 02m 54s
  • 116 miles
  • 16.46 mile/hr

I really enjoyed this bike. The short section out of town is mostly flat and fast and the two-loop section is beautiful. I was feeling really good at the beginning, strong and fast - but I also almost always ride hills in the city with lots of stop lights, so it wasn't surprising to me that my average pace was quite a bit higher than usual here. Still, I was getting passed left and right, so I figured I was doing ok with pacing myself.

I did need to pee again almost from the start. Luckily at the first aid station there was an open potty so I got that taken care of and felt much better. I was trying to make sure I stayed hydrated - even though it was cloudy and in the mid-60s, VERY pleasant weather for a ride - I knew it was going to be a long day. (I also made stops later around miles 55 and 84, so I think I did well on hydration.)

I honestly didn't think the first section south was hilly at all, except for the short little climb before the turn onto Hog Jowl. And I didn't think the road conditions on Hog Jowl were that bad either - I guess I was expecting enormous potholes from what some of the people on the race's facebook page were saying. So this was all going a lot better than I expected. And riding through Chickamauga was amazing - so much crowd support! Of course, all good things must come to an end, right? ;)

On the climb out of Chickamauga my knees started talking to me, and shortly after that the sun started to peek out from behind the clouds. And as much as I thought the first loop wasn't hilly, the second one sure seemed to have hills that weren't there the first time around. I actually thought this was really funny because several people on the facebook page had said that same exact thing and at the time, I thought they must be crazy. Nope! lol

I had averaged 17mph (not including stops) per my Garmin on the first loop, but by the end of the ride my average was down to 16.7, so I obviously must have gone out too hard on the first lap. But I never felt bad per se. And since my big personal goal for this was to have a moving average of 16 mph, I was really happy with how this went. (FWIW, my Garmin Edge measured 3991 ft of climbing for this course, a little less than I expected.)

I also - for the first time ever in an IM race - did not have terrible stomach gas/burping on the bike. There was a little discomfort, so I did take some gas x at hours 4:15, 5:15, and 6:15 (along with a little amount of pain meds for my knees), but it really never got bad. Makes me think maybe it relates to swallowing air on the swim after all.

What would you do differently?:

Nothing. This was a fun ride!
Transition 2
  • 12m 2s

T2 was pretty much a normal IM transition. Had a long run through the chute of run bags, which were wet (apparently it rained a while back in Chattanooga while we were biking), but thankfully I'd put all of my gear inside Ziploc bags so it was all dry. I had made myself a very detailed set of instructions on an index card so I just followed that so I didn't have to think about anything. I had a great volunteer that helped me get my fresh sports bra/top on. She was wonderful! I'm sure it would have taken me forever to do that by myself. I wished I'd still had my red wristband to give to her, but I'd already given it to a lady at an aid station on the bike. After using the potty outside the change tent, I stopped by the sunscreen area to get some put on.

What would you do differently?:

Nothing against the sunscreen volunteers here, but I am never going to let them put sunscreen on me again! For one, you still have to make sure they really get everything covered, so it's not much faster than doing it yourself in the tent. And more importantly (more disgustingly) I woke up the day after the race with my entire face horribly broken out! I looked like a greasy teenager. Granted, I can't completely blame the sunscreen station but Dave pointed out that I had let people put sunscreen on me with hands that they've been rubbing on tons of people's legs that have been peeing on themselves for hours... not to mention all the sweat/grime. So disgusting! Note to myself for next time: bring a wet wipe to wipe off my face in T2 and do my own sunscreen there!
  • 6h 02m 31s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 13m 50s  min/mile

At the start of this run I was just glad to be done with the bike and moving on to the next thing. I knew it would get painful later, but it started off ok. My plan was to do my normal run/walk (walking 30 seconds every half mile) and then play it by ear on the hilly sections north of the river, depending on how I felt there. The first stretch east on the highway seemed to take forever... it was pretty hot, in the mid 80s I think and sunny. But then coming back on the bike path was nice. The aid station volunteers were great, especially all the kids out there.

I saw Dave at the corner where we turn to go on the bridge over the river. It was great to see him out there and get some encouragement. Then across the river I got my first glimpse of the infamous Barton hill. And people were not exaggerating, That thing is a beast. I didn't even try to run up it. Pretty much everyone was walking here, so I was in good company. I walked the Hixson hill too, but ran all the downhills and was still following my plan for the most part. I saw Lisa coming up Barton as I was going down and she said she wasn't good, so I was a little worried, but I was hopeful that she'd start feeling better. I didn't see her again until the finish line.

Just after the start of the second loop was the low point of the race for me, since my knees were hurting and my 2nd toenail on my right foot started to get irritated. I was a little worried because I was only at around mile 14 here, still a long way to go. I retied my laces to be a little tighter up higher, and this seemed to help. But I had to tell myself to just run and try to ignore it... if it came off, it came off. Luckily, it seemed to hold out and I was able to keep running. It started getting dark on the return section here, and I was walking more at this point. It was hard to convince myself to run more, when there was no possibility of PR'ing the race without the swim. So I just enjoyed talking to people and being in the moment.

I was a little worried about my digestive system, since I've had some issues after long training sessions/races. I had to fart at one point, and you know what they say about trusting farts this late in an Ironman... so I stopped at the potties to make sure I was good to go. It was just gas thankfully! I did take some pepto around mile 11 to help ward off any issues, but it never got any worse.

I ended up walking a lot of the back half of the second loop, but had plenty of company. Ended up chatting with a guy who lives in the town right next to mine, but didn't realize it until they announced it at the finish line. Small world!

You could actually hear the announcer calling out "You are an Ironman!" across the river around mile 25. It was crazy knowing it was so close but still so far away. But I definitely picked it up in the last couple miles, knowing that I was going to make it. And the finish line - as always - was an amazing experience! Makes all the months of training and hours of racing worth it!
Post race
Warm down:

After I crossed the finish line, I just got my medal/hat/shirt and walked out of the chute. I saw Dave right away and got a big hug. Then went to grab a couple slices of pizza and sat on the curb for a little while. My feet were hurting, especially that one toenail, so I actually took my right shoe off. We cheered Lisa in for her finish, and met up with her afterwards, then gathered my bike/bags and headed back to the house. Ironman #5 in the books!

Event comments:

Ironman Chattanooga is a great race! The race organizers had to deal with a lot of last minute changes this year due to weather/flooding, and while it was disappointing not being able to swim, I do feel that they ultimately made the right call in cancelling the swim. They still put on an amazing event for us, with a ton of support and lots of wonderful volunteers.

Last updated: 2018-10-03 12:00 AM
00:00:00 | 00 yards | / 100yards
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Start type: Plus:
Water temp: 0F / 0C Current:
200M Perf. Remainder:
Breathing: Drafting:
Waves: Navigation:
Time: 00:00
Cap removal: Helmet on/
Suit off:
Wetsuit stuck? Run with bike:
Jump on bike:
Getting up to speed:
07:02:54 | 116 miles | 16.46 mile/hr
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Wind: Little
Road:   Cadence:
Turns: Cornering:
Gear changes: Hills:
Race pace: Drinks:
Time: 12:02
Riding w/ feet on shoes
Jumping off bike
Running with bike
Racking bike
Shoe and helmet removal
06:02:31 | 26.2 miles | 13m 50s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2018-10-03 10:53 PM

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Extreme Veteran
Olathe, KS
Subject: Ironman Chattanooga

2018-10-04 9:38 AM
in reply to: #5250168

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Extreme Veteran
San Diego, California
Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga
Congrats on a great race!!!
2018-10-04 10:50 AM
in reply to: #5250168

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Roswell, Georgia
Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga

I'm SO PROUD of you - you had such a great bike and run, and I love that you were in the moment on the last part of the run, that's what it's all about. As always, racing Ironmans with you is the best - thank you for the encouragement, support, belly laughs and friendship through another IM training season. 

IM Wisconsin 2020, here we come 

2018-10-05 10:19 AM
in reply to: #5250168

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Falls Church, Virginia
Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga
Congrats on a great race!!
2018-10-08 11:12 AM
in reply to: #5250168

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Subject: RE: Ironman Chattanooga

Really solid bike! Glad that the toe pain was the worst of it with the calf problems etc. that you've had in training. Nice that you finally got to feel good for a race!

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