After an early morning bike/run workout (~90 minutes) and a massage, it was time to pack up the car and head off to Chatty!
We left on Tuesday morning to drive 4.5 hours up and over to Chattanooga (through Knoxville). For our first time to Chatty, the drive was scenic and we had little traffic. The only negative to our drive was the pouring rain that lasted the last 3 hours of our drive. Thankfully, we made it to our rental house safely, around 5pm. Campy is joining us for our trip because he does a great job of keeping us both calm and stress-free on race week.
To make it easy for us, I did some grocery shopping and a lot of meal prep on Monday before we left. Although we have a kitchen at our rental house, I wanted to avoid the hassle of grocery shopping when we arrived and then making food each day. Having a stocked fridge as soon as we arrived was a great thing and it made it easy to get to bed early for a good night of sleep on Tuesday evening. We won't be eating out during our time in Chatty before the race so all meals and snacks will be in our control and we will stick to our normal daily diet and pre-race diet as we both know what foods work best for us. We have lots of food for snacks (ex. fruit, yogurt, pita chips, raisins, chocolate) and meals (potatoes, eggs, chicken for Karel, tempeh for me, waffles, croissants, bread, soup, rice, cheese, OJ, milk, hardboiled eggs, eggs, pizza, Kefir, nut butter, syrup, etc.) so eating is familiar and easy to accomplish every day.
For our first official day in Chatty, we drove the 5.5 miles down to the race venue/village with our bike and swim gear for a longish morning workout. Our athlete Natalie met us at the swim. I really looked forward to getting in the water and experiencing the changing current. The water temperature felt great in my swimskin and I enjoyed the challenge of navigating the current, especially with it to my side or swimming against the current. After the swim, I was a little chilly (as the air temp was in the 60's) but I reminded myself that on race day, I would warm up fast. Plus, I wanted to practice in my same gear as race day (one piece tri suit and same sport bra) to feel comfortable swimming with sleeves and a swimskin, in the case that it is not wetsuit legal (which I am hoping for).
After the swim, we all got ready for a 2ish hour bike on the course. I was really looking forward to getting on the course and experiencing "the climb". Although I had a rough few weeks around the time I was racing Lake Logan half Ironman, my legs have really come around and I am itching to push hard and race. I took it rather easy on the climb to save my legs a bit for Saturday and wanted to soak in the view before I am laser focused on race day. After "the climb", there was another long section of rolling hills, with about 4 big kickers. I couldn't help but think "am I in Greenville?" as the terrain is very familiar to me and reminds me of our normal routes in Greenville (just with less farm animals but I did manage to say hi to a few horses and saved a baby turtle). We covered the first 18 miles of the course (and warmed up nicely) and then turned around to head back to the venue.
Natalie and I checked in and picked up our bag and we briefly checked out the expo as we were all ready for some food.
As for the rest of the day, it included eating, laying around and relaxing. Campy had a little playdate with Natalie's dog Kona which was fun to see Campy (who is 10) play with an 8-month puppy.
It was early to bed and we slept great (about 9 hours).
After previewing the swim venue and some of the bike, I was anxious to get out on the run course. Around 8am, we parked near the village and met Natalie for an early morning spin. It was rather cold out (in the upper 50's) but it warmed up nicely as the morning went on. Like the bike course, the run was marked with arrows so it was easy to find our way around (although we did get turned around a few times). Like I was told, the course is hilly but once again, it reminded me of my terrain in Greenville and the type of run course that I love to run on in my races. As we covered the course, I couldn't help but think "this is going to be a tough run" and then I followed that thought with "I am so excited to run two loops on this!" Karel keeps telling me that this course could not be better designed for me as it is very challenging and requires great strength, smart skills and resilience over speed so Karel's confidence in me is getting me very excited to race. And the weather couldn't be more perfect for race day.
After we biked the run course, we went for a shake out run. Karel ran by himself and Natalie and I did 15 minutes out and 15 minutes back on the run course, just nice and easy, all conversational pace. The course, although very challenging, is also very pretty. I imagine that the course will be lined with spectators in certain areas of the course, which will be great for an energy boost on race day.
After the morning workout, Natalie and I strolled through the expo and merchandise tent as Karel checked in for the race. Around 11:30am, we left the venue, headed to Wholefoods for a few items and then made it back to our rental house around 12:30pm. The rest of the day included eating, a little work on the computer and in a few hours, I will enjoy my pre-race pizza and then we will head downtown for the mandatory pre-race athlete meeting at 8pm.
I am getting super excited to race and I can't help but think back to my previous training and all the hard work that went into the preparation for this race. Years of experience and a season of athletic development to get to where I am right now. No matter the outcome, I feel excited, healthy, fit and confident and I am looking forward to the opportunity to race my competition in the 35-39 age group and give my best, with what I am given on race day.
Here are some pictures from the last few days: