The good, the bad, and the ugly.
I’ll dive into a bit more detail about this race, since I don’t believe anyone has posted about Rev3 Knoxville here on Trifuel.
Got to Knox on Friday afternoon via AA. By the way don’t ever fly AA with a bike. I did some pre-planning after I purchased my ticket and found out that AA was going to charge me $150 each way to take my bike (despite the fact I was taking no other carry on). WTF? The bike charge cost as much as my ticket! I’m typically a SWA kind of guy, but since they don’t fly to Knoxville (only Nashville). Did some checking and could actually send the bike 2-day ground FEDEX for $56 each way. DONE! This actually worked out really well. No more hassle at the airport lugging a big bike around. Anyways got to Knox, headed to the FEDEX office and pick-up the bike. Packet pick-up was at the world’s fair park in downtown Knox (Fri and SAT). The expo also served as the finish line as well. There is a city play fountain for the kids and there were lots of bounce houses to keep the family entertained. Definitely a plus when traveling with the fam. You can stroll at your leisure at the expo and not worry about the family being ancy or bored. Chances are you’ll want to leave before they do. When you pick-up your timing chip they also take your picture (wasn’t sure what this was for). Ends up that when you are about to cross the finish-line your pic pops up on the giant Jumbo-tron. Pretty cool! Had some good swag (Rev3 visor (headsweat) and blue seventy goggles). The goggle were actually really good and I used them for the race as they were better than mine.
On Sat. I reconned the bike course (through the Smokey mountains). The bike course is well laid out and all on smooth paved roads. The first 6 miles takes you through downtown Knox (they could’ve just cut over the bridge from transition if they wanted to). Part of the 6 miles takes you on the Freeway (which they closed down). The next 44 miles sends you on a “journey” through the outback and into the Smokey mountains. There are some really technical parts (almost ate it twice), challenging ascents, and hair-pin turns. Except for one 5-mile stretch (more on that later) this is a looped course, so definitely no boredom. Then its back through downtown and into transition.
They opened up the river for practice swimming from 12-2 (water is COLD, like low 60’s cold). After the swim I checked in my bike into Transition. They actually opened up transition for bike check-in the day before like it was a full IM. Transition was actually in a parking garage next to Neyeland stadium (University of Tennessee). No metal pole racks for transition here. Everyone got the same treatment as the pro’s. Wood box set-set up and about a full 12 inch space between you and the bike next to you on both sides. Thus far, impressed! Tried reconning the run course, but after mile 2 it goes on a run path, so I gave up. The run is an out and back (6.25 out and 6.85 back). The best way to explain this is that the expo and finish area are about ½ mile up the green belt from where transition and the swim are. So on the run when you come back through and hit Transition, you still have a ½ mile to go to the finish. Its really not that bad and works out quite well.
Got to the venue about 5:45 and parked about ½ way between the finish and transition (1/4 mile each way). Plenty of parking all around downtown and there wasn’t a mad rush of cars creating a traffic jam as most athletes stayed at the neighboring hotels next to the expo. First flaw I saw was that there were only about 20 port-a-potties at transition, which by 6:30 created a huge line. I will say this though. These are the first port-a-pots that were supplied with 2-ply charmin (my rear thanks you). There were plenty more port-a-pots at the swim start, but no one knew. I was actually standing in back of Matty Reed and in-front of Cameron Dye waiting to go. I guess not even the Pro’s get special treatment for the port-a-pots.
The swim is a point to point race, and the start is about 800 yards from transition (about a 10 min walk). The swim is such that you swim one direction for about 700 yards and make a u-turn and then swim back past the starting point and then to the swim exit, which is about another 700 yards to go. The half had 3 waves and we were off at 7:30am. Special note here- The race waves were started by the Long Brothers. If you don’t recall this is the boy that is about 10 who has a younger brother with Autism and does triathlons in which he pulls his autistic brother in a raft, pulls him on the bike, and pushes him in a running strolling on the run. Here is a link all about them in case you haven’t heard about them. [url=http://www.usatriathlon.org/news/articles/2011/11/110411-e60.aspx/] the Long brothers [/url] there was even a ESPN 60 on them a few months back as well. I actually met up with the father after the race and told him how proud I was of his boy and that he was raising a fine young man. Back to the race.
Gun goes off at 7:30 right on time. A little fighting at first but then it opens up. I changed my swim strategy a couple months ago and now start off slow and steady for the first 2-400 yards and then build as the swim comes to me. Aside from the start, nothing exciting. The swim was well marked with large buoys and was pretty accurate too. Exited the water @ 29:xx. Hells yes! I was in the top 10 coming out of the water and the leader was only seconds ahead of me. From the exit you run up the ramp and through the UofT boat house and then across the street (major street, which they closed for the race) then down the sidewalk about 300 yards and into transition. Definitely a bit of a run. No wetsuit strippers so you are on your own. Both of which I’m fine with as long as we are all doing it. On the bike and off we go!
Through the first 20 miles I was up with the leaders (about 5-7 of us). Wasn’t trying to play their games and just held my watts steady at 235-240. At about mile 20ish all of a sudden everyone seemed like they pulled away from me and fast. I was like WTF? Do I push and keep up or just maintain and catch them later down the road and on the run. I went for the latter. I didn’t realize till after the race, but something was causing friction and was dragging me. I felt so slow at times. Even on the descents, it was like I wasn’t moving that fast. Kept thinking I had a flat, but no that wasn’t it. Wheels weren’t wobbling so no rub on the brakes. Come to find out I had used some tape on the inside of my disc cover and that peeled off and it got wrapped around my hub. UGHHHH!. My gears were also jumping all over the place as well when I shifted. When I would shift my gears would either jump 3-4 cogs or not move at all. Finally figured out that if I wanted to go from say gear 3 to 4, I had to go up 2 then down one (frustrating). As the ride went on I was keeping my watts but people were passing me like I was standing still. When the first guy passed me, I was like OK, he’s a shitty swimmer, but a dam fast biker. Then one after another I was being passed (very frustrating). Not to toot my own horn, but I’m at the point now on the bike, where its not often that I get passed, so when every Tom, Dick, and Joe was flying by me I knew something was wrong. At mile 40 you hang a right and there is a 4 mile out-n-back section. Hit the turn-a-round and headed back. ODD, there was no timing mat (that I was aware of). HMMMM, that means if I wanted to I could have turned-around about a mile into the out and back? Good thing I’m honest. I sure didn’t but knowing some guys they probably did for sure. Bike of 2:40:xx. Seriously that’s like 17 min slower than my last race. Granted, this bike course had some challenges as well, but definitely not 17 min of challenges, OH well, on to the run.
At mile 54 on the bike I took in my first gel (used Gatorade on the bike), and also took in 100 mg of caffeine in the form of a caffeine pill on top of the caffeinated power bar gel. Best thing on the bike and run is there is none of that watered down IM Perform crap they serve at WTC races. Hit the road and was cruising. When it usually comes to running in training I always do well, but at races I always run to tense and tight and worry about pacing too much and it wears me out. This time I kept telling myself all week, treat the run like a training run, stay relaxed and just let the run come to you. And oh boy it did! First 2 miles were about 6:50-7:00 pace. Each run aid station (about 1 mile apart) had Gatorade, salt, and water. However, the water was not in a cup. It was an 8oz bag of water that you tear open with you teeth. I knew that going into this race, so my plan was the following- gel at beginning, and then at miles 3, 6, and 9.5. Caffeine tab at beginning and then around mile 7-8. 2 salt sticks every other mile. I used water bags before at Cozumel and knew these would be great. On top of nutrition planning I planned on grabbing two bags at every aid station. Consume 4 oz, then pour 4 oz over my head, then save the other bag for about a half-mile and repeat. Nutrition and water consumption went off without a hitch! I don’t think I ever consumed that much water during a race before. Usually its throw a cup of water into my mouth and hope to catch an oz of it. This was definitely a plus for REV3 in my books. Good thing too, the run was somewhat hot (mid 80’s), and humid.
At mile 3.5 the race begins. You have two very steep hills to climb (which I didn’t know until I came to them) about 200 yards in length at about a 5-7% grade, then there is another long hill about ½ mile long that just seemed to go forever at about a 2% grade. Each of these hills has a down hill so in total there is 6 good climbs. Towards the turn-around I started counting runners coming back. Saw the leader about 1.5 miles out (3 mile lead), not going to catch him. I kept counting 2,3,4,5….. 15, so I was 15 spots down. Up to the turn-around I passed no one, but I was running smooth and calm and holding steady at around 7:15-7:20 except for those hills of course. AT the turn-a-round I noticed no timing mat again. SERIOUSLY? Someone is definitely going to cheat. As soon as we hit the turn I started picking people off and counting backwards- 15…. 14, 13 all within a mile. Nothing sweeter than passing someone on a hill on a run for sure. Made it through the last hill and knew the rest was relatively flat with 4 mile to go. 12,11, 10. OH HELLS YEAH! Saw #9 with about ¾ of a mile to go, but he had a 300 yard lead on me, I was closing, but just not fast enough. Didn’t catch him! 1:37:xx
Like I said at the finish you pic comes up on the Jumbo tron, and if you have kids at the race you can actually run with them through the finish chute. VERY COOL! Crossed at 4:57????? UGHHHH! Not a PR by any stretch of the imagination (1st time I didn’t PR on a race). Although this wasn’t a PR, I was still proud of what I accomplished- a bitchin swim, increased my power from 230 to 240 on the bike (and felt even fresher) and extremely confident in my run. Equalled my best run, but too add to this my previous best run was on a completely flat (like 5 ft of total elevation gain) and I had so cheesed the bike that I felt like I was had not ridden at the start of the run.
Hardest part- Had to go back to transition, get my bike and gear and then break my bike back down, pack it up, drop off at FEDEX, and still make my flight.
Rev3 Knox is a challenging course and in a fun and family filled environment. Although the location is a bit away for me for a Half, I think I’m gonna do this race again next year and definitely recommend this race to anyone looking to do a half and get a way from the WTC.
Also, instead of the usual paper taped to some random wall. they had large Jumo monitors and you could search by your bib and see where you placed. Very cool!
Finished 20th OA and 5th AG- Not sure How I finished 20th OA, when I counted I was 10th from the out and back. Granted I had to take into consideration that some of the 40+ guys were in a wave 5 min behind me, but seriously 10+ guys over 40? Not saying anyone cheated, perhaps I was dillusional, or there were some quick old guys. Who knows, and who cares. It is what it is. Just a training race for IM Louisville.