Challenge Knoxville half - Pre-race part 2

Speaking of food, friends and traveling......

My friend and athlete Kelsey and her husband traveled from Maine to visit us in Greenville and to race in Challenge Knoxville (Kelsey raced the half aquabike). We enjoyed a delicious pizza from Mellow Mushroom on Friday evening (take-out) at our home.

It's a ritual for me to have pizza and salad two nights before a half and full Ironman. If anything is going to make me feel relaxed, it's going to be a piece of pizza in my belly. Yum!

On Saturday morning, Kelsey and I did an hour spin to wake-up our legs since we both were tapering for this race. I did my normal active recovery week two weeks out and then a bit of intensity (with lower volume) on race week. After the ride, Campy joined me for a 10 min run off the bike. I had no choice but to do a few pick-ups as Campy loves to run fast but gets distracted very easily.
It was a beautiful morning and enjoyed wearing my Oakley Women RPM shades. 

After breakfast (eggs and oatmeal w/ fruit, syrup and milk), we packed up and my mom came over around 10am. We all hit the road (in two cars) around 10:30am to make our 2:45 hour drive toward Knoxville. 

The drive was absolutely beautiful with so many mountains to drive through. We packed plenty of food for our trip and I enjoyed a delicious PB and fig jam waffle sandwich with some pretzels and plenty of water. 

We stayed at the Holiday Inn in downtown Knoxville, which was a real treat for us to be so close (less than a 10 min walk to the race finish/expo and 20 min to the transition area). Also, the hotel was pet-friendly (only $25 a night) and everyone who worked at the hotel was so incredibly nice. There was no fridge/microwave in our hotel but we had plenty of ice for our coolers and downstairs had a toaster and microwave by the cafe. 

After we unloaded the car and settled into our hotel room, we snacked a little and then headed down to the race expo. Campy enjoyed sniffing all around and checking out the pre-race vibe. We spotted Trimarni athlete and Challenge Volunteer coordinator Tracy and a few other friends. It was nice to see so many familiar faces. 

Campy also enjoyed his royal treatment - lots of butt rubs!

Not sure if you remember Ed from previous blog posts but when we raced IMWI, Ed and his wife opened up their home to me and Karel for a wonderful homestay for 6 days. Ed is an amazing athlete, cancer survivor and wonderful person. It was so great to see him and race with him (he raced the olympic and received an award for his age group!)

The check-in was super smooth and I started to get a little more excited (and feel more race-ready) after going through the motions of checking in. I really do love the pre-race vibe on the day before a race - being around all the athletes at the athlete meeting and registration, getting my stuff together and checking-in my bike -  the entire process of getting ready for a race started to remind me why I really love being a triathlete. 

The swag was awesome from Challenge and they really made us feel like family. 

Along with the hoodie sweatshirt, temporary tattoo numbers and drawstring bag, I just loved this handwritten note that we all received. 

We attended the athlete briefing at 4pm and then checked-in our bikes. The transition area was about 1/4 mile from the expo (which was also the race finish). 

Campy learned a lot at the athlete briefing like learning that he was allowed to run across the finish line with his mommy or daddy. However, we didn't tell Campy that he would be running across the finish line because he would be hanging out with his grandma and his mommy and daddy were racing. 

Karel and I rode our bikes to the transition area on the run path and then checked in our bikes. We just loved the added touch of seeing our names on the floor bike holders. There was a chance for rain on Sunday but I didn't really check the weather much so I didn't really stress about my bike getting wet. 

My bike was near the bike out and Karel's bike was near the run out. 

After we racked our bikes, Karel and I walked down to the swim start (across the street). The buoy's were set-up so it was nice to be able to make mental notes of the swim course. 

We then made our way back to the hotel and then time for dinner!

Rather than eating out at a restaurant, we found a Whole Foods just 6 miles away. Karel and I usually head to a grocery store the day before a race and "make" dinner in our hotel room with a microwave but this time, we opted for pre-made dishes. 

Kelsey, her husband, my mom, Karel and I all shopped the salad bar area and we all ended up with great options for dinner. I had mushrooms, eggplant, tofu, rice, sweet potatoes and chickpea salad.
Karel and my mom shared a rotisserie chicken.  Karel stayed back in the room because he was a bit tired from the drive and then he worked on my friend's bike (Katie Thomas who races pro) and plus we needed a Campy sitter so I got Karel a few sides - mashed potatoes and rice. 

We all ate in our rooms which was nice to be in comfy clothes, in bed. Karel and I watched the Tour of California on the computer while my mom watched TV. After we ate, Karel and I went through the course maps and by 9:30pm, it was time for lights-out. 

I didn't sleep very well which is not like me. Normally I can sleep straight through the night the night before a race but I guess something was on my mind. But then again, I did have a furry little one snuggled super close to me under the covers all night. Every time I moved, Campy moved so that he was always touching me. Love this little guy. 

At 4:30am, it was time to get up!
First it was time for tummy rubs and then Campy and I took a walk outside (which was actually a very calm way to start the morning - it was so peaceful and quite outside at 4:45am).
I brought our electric kettle so we heated water and made instant Nescafe coffee (and mixed with organic milk in travel coffee mugs) and by 5:30am, we were eating our pre-race meal.

Karel had a bagel with butter and jam and some of a yogurt drink (Bolthouse) and I had a rice cake dressed-up with lots of maple syrup, peanut butter, cinnamon, raisins and a banana.

We filled our sport bottles and Nathan hydration flasks with cold water (we poured our sport drink powder into our bottles the night before the race), made sure we had everything in our transition bags and around 5:45am, Karel and I walked down to the transition area. 

Stay tuned for the rest of the pre-race recap and 1.2 mile swim.