Sunday, July 12, 2015

Renaissance Man Triathlon -- July 12th, 2015 -- Florence, Alabama

The Renaissance Man Triathlon in Florence, Alabama is my hometown race.  It feels a lot like having a pickup game in my back yard.  That means this race is an absolute blast for me; its a party from packet pickup all the way through the post-race party.

This season, defending the RMTri title meant that I had some serious get-busy ahead of me.  There were a couple names on the start list that I recognized, but my fellow Team Zoot'er Chad Williamson was the biggest threat.  The man just has an impressive ability to suffer in the closing miles of close races.  To be real honest, I wanted no part of a showdown with him on the run course.

The plan was to minimize my loss in the water, do what I had to do to get to front on the bike, and hope there was a big enough gap that I didnt have to find out "what it takes" to out run him.  

This year's Renaissance Man Tri featured an elite wave start for the top contenders.  That meant a handful of us piled into the water and waited for the cannon to fire.  Since it was as small wave, the MMA fight that breaks out at a typical mass start didnt happen.  Aside from feeling like I was losing the race the entire time, the swim went perfectly.  I came out to find I was only a few seconds down and mounted up in 5th place.
The 22:08 swim time is my fastest yet

Chad chasing his way up.  I am the farthest dot you can see.
Lori Williamson leading the race on her way to 1st Female
(after crushing us all out of the water)
To my absolute joy, I immediately spied the lead vehicle once I hit the bike course.  Within a few minutes, I caught Chad and made a big move to get a gap open as I passed.  

57:21 bike split was good for the fastest ride of the day.  Strava Link
From there, it was chasing the lead moto around the flat and fast course while racing my Garmin all the way back into transition.  

Off the bike, I knew I had precious little time to skit away from Chad.  Seeing him coming into T2 as I ran out was a little spooky, but I knew my task was simple:  RUN!

The RMTri run course starts in McFarland Park following the marina side trail.  Then it presents a gradual climb up to the University of North Alabama campus, around the a huge fountain that tends to collect triathletes late in the race, through the lion exhibit, and back down by the iconic Frank Loyd Wright House.  

37:21 top run split Strava Link
Lion Exhibit in the background.
It's all so very easy to write, but running it is a constant battle.  The entire ascent feels like a death march; then descending hammers and tenderizes what ever is left.  The final mile is a runway approach back to McFarland where the crowds and cheers await.  

Fortunately, the little gap I managed on the bike held long enough for me to see the finish line before I had to see Chad again.  I feel a lot like I got away with a lucky W.  Fortunately, the next time I face him, I will be cheering for him to KQ at IRONMAN Chattanooga in September.

I was pumped to knock out my first sub-2 hour olympic with a 1:57:56.

We immediately started dissecting the race day.

Glenn Rudolph took his Age Group title

Me, the inspiration, and the genetics.

Mostly the Borden Dental Racing team.

Best Cheerleader EVER!  

The Race Fairies were at body marking providing so go-fast sprinkles for everyone.  

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon -- 2015

If you've been following me very long, you know that I am reluctant to race very often.  At least from my experience, it takes a while for me to forget just how badly it hurts.  I need more time between races for my courage to grow back, I guess.

lipstick luck to start the swim
this has become a pre-race ritual

Well, this season has been a different approach.  I have been racing every few weeks, and I have to say its getting a lot more tolerable.  I've also had the added benefit of constantly setting new personal bests at some point in each race.  The Team Magic Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon was no exception.

I went in with no expectations.  I just wanted to put a solid ride out there, and see how well I could run off the bike.

19:23 swim time meant that I was in 53rd place
The race is 99% awesome, but the 1% that sucks is a major set back.  Having to queue up in a thousand athlete line to trickle into the river doesnt feel very much like racing.  I started 172nd because I was very honest about my swim time; this is undoubtedly uncharacteristic of most of us.

Getting onto the bike, the race was far and away, long up the road from where I was.  Granted, our times would be recorded as our actual time on the course, but there is no pure racing outside of toeing the start and moving between the lines with or against your competition.

I settled into the ride, but there were ~120 other riders ahead of me to navigate through.  The course is a simple out and back along a rolling freeway, neat and tidy, completley uneventful.  Not having anyone to really race, its a lot like racing the Garmin.

off the bike with the Top Bike Split at 62:26 -- Strava
38:11 run split finishing right behind my man, Bill Beecher -- Strava
Rolling into T2, I knew I had a hot bike split and I needed to chase it with a breakthrough 10k performance.  I quickly settled into my pace and was fortunate to have a rabbit just a few yards ahead of me.  We tango'd for nearly the entire race, each mirroring the others move.  He was a stud on descending the staircase, I'll say that.  (Yes, there is a staircase!) Fortunately, we stayed together until the final approach to the finish.  He kept me engaged and pushed me into a great run split on a challenging course.

This was immediately after the finish  She asked my what place I finished , but I HAD NO WAY OF KNOWING.
2:02:47 was good enough for 3rd Overall, official results

After crossing the finishline, I found out that I placed 3rd overall.  I wasnt ever a contender for 1-2, but the rest of the top 10 shouldve been a close battle.  Instead, most of us never even saw each other.
Don't get me wrong, I loved the event.  99% awesome, like I said.  Team Magic did an amazing job and puts on a big league show.  That 1% though, its a killer.  Its that dangling nose whisker on a smokin' hot chick.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Gulf Coast Triathlon 2015

Edgewater is a welcome change for the host hotel at Gulf Coast Tri
The mistakes in Pontchartrain were still fresh in my mind three weeks later as I got ready to dive in to the Gulf of Mexico for the start of the 2015 Gulf Coast Tri.  Back in '11, this race was my first half-iron distance race, and I've steadily improved my time and standing each year.  To celebrate my five year anniversary, I wanted the win and the 4th amateur at NOLA 70.3 meant that I had some demons to exorcise.

This is how I left the bike. Queued up and ready to rock.
I just opened these goggles.
I am not happy.
If there is such a deity as Lady Luck, she was an evil mistress the morning of Gulf Coast.  I arrived to transition to find the prime real estate I had promptly claimed at transition opening the previous day had been re-purposed.  Someone decided to punt my bike into transition hell. In the middle of the rack, with a flea market of tri goodies, buckets, and towels scattered all around, hung my new challenge to negotiate.  I'll be honest and say that it was a significant effort to remain cool as I surveyed the damage and regrouped.

Watch your step, dude.
And dont dig in too deep.
Moving on, as I went to don my wet suit, I discovered my goggles had been snapped into.  Fortunately, I always carry a spare.  Two is one and one is none, right?  Regardless, things were beginning to feel wickedly ominous.

I managed to get my head right and settled by the cannon.  The new Edgewater venue for Gulf Coast Tri meant that the first 20-25 yards of the swim were too shallow to swim.  I elected to try a few dives to move through the break water and must've planted off the sea floor a little too assertively and felt one of my little piggies cry wee wee wee.  Fortunately, there was no way my luck could be worse than a broken toe.
My cheerleader is way more dedicated than yours.
only 70.29 miles to go

This is what transition hell looks like.  I cant pull the bike through easily because the cross bar is too low
and there's not enough room between bikes to lean mine over.
I cant back out because someone is having a yard sale behind my bike.

Getting small and staying lonely out there.
The bike course was sparse immediately, but being in a later wave meant that I at least had a few random marks on occasion.  The new bike course gave me another opportunity to get splits on the front of the field by adding a third out&back leg.  Although I was moving through the field, I wasn't making any progress on the front of the race.  Our race leader wasn't coming back to me.

The new Team Zoot suit is clearly Red, White, and Blue.
Bike Split : 2:12:18 -- 25.4mph
---Bike Data---

When I got off the bike, the bad news came; I was 5 minutes down to a guy that I was pretty sure could out run me. The right call was probably to bag the hunt and trot into a soft 2nd place.  First place was at least 3/4ths of a mile up the road already, its a stupid chase.

Still, winners win long after quitters quit.  I had to roll the dice and put myself in the position to win if I had the opportunity.  

Run Time: 1:23:15 -- 6:22 pace
 ---Run Data---  
The course was full of cheers.  The new venue meant no more death circle in the "park" voided of spectators.  I felt like, for the first time, the crowd wasn't just cheering, they were cheering for me.  I was the underdog and everyone was giving me splits, telling me I was closing, giving me their hope.  I kept getting time back, every corner, every section, the time was dropping.
2nd Over All -- 4:09:48

Ultimately, I ran straight out of real estate, 75 seconds too soon.   Granted, at a 6:20 mile pace, 75 seconds is a hike.  That means I never even got a look at the leader; I was never really a threat.  I had lost the race in the water 4 hours earlier and was just way too far back and way too ambitious to accept it.

It's one thing to miss the mark when you can find lost seconds laying all along the course.
It's so much more defeating when you do all you can and its just not enough.  

So yeah, its hard to be too sad.  I hit a new personal best at the race by 10 minutes along with setting new bests on the bike and run course too.  My run has been stagnated for the last few years, so it is a massive dose of encouragement to pluck out an 83 minute run split.

Given the choice between a soft win or a hard loss, I'll take the loss any day.  For now, looks like its back to the pool!

Cheering me up
Wining the shortest shorts challenge. 
and the hottest wife contest.
the aftermath,
when somebody wants your spot more.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

IRONMAN New Orleans 70.3 -- 2015

No swim warm up? I cant even get wet before the race!  Those first few minutes of a swim, my shoulders start screaming as they begin to ignite and the burning gets all my focus.  I absolutely hate it and  getting that little bit of agony out of the way sure takes the edge off.

I qualified for my USAT elite license at IRONMAN Chattanooga, but I had also qualified to race the amateur world championships in Chicago and in Kona.  By the time I finish those races, my qualification will have expired.  I am not sold on racing as a pro next year, but I like the idea of having the option. So, I decided to try to re-qualify at IM NOLA 70.3 in the beginning of the season.  That meant I needed to finish 3rd overall amateur or better.

As I stood in the queue waiting for my chance to jump off the pier and into the fire of Lake Pontchartrain, I tried to move my thoughts away from my shoulders and towards what I could control.  As soon as I hit the water, I realized I hadn't bothered to seal my goggles.  I was too busy pouting about not having a warm up to spend my attention preparing for not having a warm up.

I stopped the leak, but I didn't clear the water from my goggles. I figured I could just chase toes and not lose any time.  To my surprise, I was moving up quickly and found myself in clear water. Sighting was a challenge, but I didn't realize how much of one until I arrived at the wrong buoy.  A kayaker sent me back across the lake and back on course.  Maybe I lost a minute.  Maybe it was 90 seconds.  I just told myself I had spent my only mistake and to tighten up and get out of the water faster.

The bike was uneventful.  It was actually terribly uneventful. I was alone for the entire ride.  We had a huge tailwind going out and I averaged 37 mph to the turn around.  I knew it was going to be a tough go getting back.  Occasionally, I would get to move passed a female pro, but for the most part, I was on an island out there with no prey or predator in sight.

Strava Data -- 2:15 split -- 250w Average Power

I arrived into Transition, 2nd in my wave.  The staggered start meant that I actually didn't know where I was in the overall field.  Running out of transition, the announcer called my name and the name of the guy behind me.  I recognized it; he had beaten me at the 2014 Nationals in Milwaukee.

Strava Data -- 1:25:55 split
He ran up beside and we did the race tango for a few minutes countering each's mini advancements.  Once we made an aid station, I decided to pull up for grub and water as he kept going.  After 4 miles, I was out of contact with him, and I started mentally checking out.

Officially: 4:10:49 -- 4th Amateur -- 24th OA -- 1st M35-39
Its an interesting little turn in psychology that happens with perceptions during the race.  Tactics can seem so important, but I always just stick to the facts.  I know what I can do and I do no more, it seems.  I wonder if I should be more aggressive? Am I sacrificing winning opportunities for podium scraps? Or am I brave and cunning, racing with perfect execution of my fitness?  The lonely front of the NOLA race gave me plenty of time to debate myself.

I made the turn around in 43 minutes shocked to see I had made up all of the gorund I lost early as I made the pass into the lead of my wave. I turned up the throttle and went on to set a new personal best 13.1 mile time of 86 minutes and seal up my age group win.

I crossed the finish line as the first age grouper.  Unfortunately, as the later waves trickled in my placing started dropping until I was bumped to 4th overall, just outside of elite qualification.

70.3 World Championship qualification
slot roll down party.

Meet Blick and test drive
 a Dimond at your next race!
Sister Madonna asked if these
goggles came from Kona.
She should know!
Overall, I think its a big plus.  I set new bests across the board and finally had the run I wanted.  Missing the overall podium stings, for sure, but just as I said after Chattanooga, if I am good enough to be pro, I will re-qualify. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

2014 Ironman Chattanooga Race Report -- 1st Amateur

Kona was my 2nd DNQuit.
Walking down the Queen K highway last October, I was done with Ironman, but still thirteen miles away from finally closing this chapter for good.  Naively, I had hammered the three Ironman races as full-tilt pursuits of that golden ticket into the 2013 Ironman World Championship.  By the time I made the finish line in Hawaii, I was over Ironman.

Longest 140.6 miles ever
After a little pouting and whining, I wanted one more shot at the distance. I planned to go to IRONMAN Chattanooga in 2014 and just try to rock one single day and end with a positive.  I wanted a day where my goal was to simply do things right, all day long.   Defeated after chasing Kona all last season, I had absolutely no interest in showing back up to that finish at the tail of the pack.  I decided I wouldn't challenge the Big Island until I could be competitive.

Straining to carry that bike fuel with tri-arms
Ditching the goal of qualifying for Kona made success much more tangible.  I was in control of expressing my fitness and measured victory by how well I executed the day.  It's a surprisingly calming, reassuring feeling to know I wasn't responsible for what I couldn't control, and my best was actually going to be good enough for me to be happy with my performance. 
Click for final build
Standing in transition on race morning, I felt surprisingly confident as I squared off to take on Chattanooga.  Typically, I would arrive on the soft side of the Ironman starting line full of hope, luck, and wishes, searching for a seam to sneak through to Kona.  Now as I lined up for the swim start commute, I felt tranquil. 

I figured I was now an hour swimmer after surviving the year of black line fever.  Since Stover had me basically living on the bike this season, I was showing up to race day with >4.5w/Kg FTP which seemed an absolute fairytale just a few months ago.  I steadily ticked 3:20 run splits last year, and with the extra fitness of this season, I was expecting big things.  My goal was simple: execute to my potential. It's so very simple.

lots of buses rolling to swim start for athletes and spectators
My race started 15 minutes after the first age groupers were wet.  The time trial Chattanooga swim start had us queuing up for over an hour before being herded to a floating dock and shunted into the water in droves. 

Ray is my boy.  Its hard to get him to talk, but its easy to learn once he starts.
 He's another Accelerate3 athlete and is one good knee away from crushing the M60-64s.
He ran straight out of knee cartridge after IMCanada.  A recent surgery, a cease & desist from his MD, coach, and wife wasn't about to keep him away from Chattanooga. 
They don't know Ray, and Ray don't know quitting.

this is what swimming looks like in a current
Everyone asks how the current felt.  Well, It felt like a swim.  Maybe I am not a sophisticated enough swimmer, but inside the reference frame of the moving water, there isn't much to gauge.  I did notice that the buoys were lined up well, but as the river snaked along, the current would move us off target.  Also, there's a pretty good lull in the flow as the mouth widens under the first bridge.  Its really the only time I was aware of how quick we were moving, and that's just because I had the reference of the bridge. 
Regardless, I focused on my goal for the swim: execute to my potential.  I kept the mantra of "swim better, not harder."  I chased toes and sighted often.  When I started to fatigue, I sucked it up instead of chilling out.  When I cramped a bit, I kept swimming instead of feeling sorry for myself.  When I hit the steps to climb out, my legs cramped like mad.  I waddled on like a champ. Simple goals and forward progress were my motivation.

the various starting times meant that transition was a zoo.
Spending "sofa king" much time get bags!
Seriously nice kit, dude!

race day payload, locked and loaded
Running through T1, I nabbed my swim-to-bike bag and found a seat in the changing tent.  When I sat down, my legs seized up so I couldn't get my swimskin down.  A volunteer began handing my someone else's gear out of the bag; that's when I realized I had grabbed the wrong bag.  Since I couldn't move, I asked that he run really freaking fast to put back 119 and get 118.  (thanks, dude.  You are the man!) By the time he returned, I had been stood by another volunteer and ditched my swim kit, then donned my bike gear, and with a lickety split, I was out and on my bad mother bicycle, ready to crush the bike course.  Thankfully, my legs started bending somewhere along the trot to the mounting line.
I usually dally the first bit of the bike settling in, but I found myself dancing on the pedals immediately.

There are lots of arguments to be made about what all the Dimond does different/better/faster/greater/blacker, but one undeniable attribute is making me feel like an absolute beast of a cyclist.  I began moving up quickly, finding strong swim/bikers that I hadn't expected to see most of the day.  The first 2-2.5hrs, I stayed on my 240w goal, but as I began riding into "P-stamped-calves," I began second guessing my wattage plan. 
bogies at 6 o'clock.  These guys kept me company a long time.
The second lap, I cooled down and targeted 230w instead.  As the course thinned out, I could tell the age groupers were getting to be much strong riders, taking longer to pass and drop.    I picked up a nice train of wheelsuckers that rode my conga line for a lot longer than I liked.  It gave me something to think about for an hour.  I kept wondering if I should let them hang around, hoping that my effort was enough to hurt their run splits, or if I should ditch them so they wouldn't get a soft bike ride and show up fresher to T2 than me. 

Herbert Krabel singled the Dimond out the day before IMChoo for a pictorial!
Ultimately, I did spit them off.  Instead of putting in hard efforts, I decided to go fast in places they probably wouldn't enjoy very much. It varies a bit, but we all go slow up and fast down. If you're savvy, there are several places on the bike course where slow becomes a choice, a really popular one actually, but still a choice.  I have a lot of confidence in the Dimond, so I tend to choose differently than most in those situations.

Traffic in Chickamauga was rolling at parade speed and made forward progress a challenge.
Challenges present opportunities for excellence, though. Right?

 Finishing up the 2nd lap, I backed way down and wrapped up those final 45 minutes at ~200w.  I knew I was getting really close to the front of the race, and knowing the monstrous run course that lay ahead, I decided to protect my legs a bit and throttle down.  Rolling back into town, I managed to make a few more passes including catching Bruce Gennari tangling with a FPro.  Knowing Bruce's reputation as being a missile to T2, I was confident I was way out of my element.

How cool is it when the pro's take pictures of you?
James Haycraft has taught me many lessons,
but he's been my mentor in humility.

Official time -- 4:48:44 puts the Dimond a few minutes into being the fastest amateur bike.
I couldn't love this bike any harder, but I am committed to giving it a solid go in 2015.

This is as good as you are going to feel for the next few hours, chief.

another visit to swim exit before heading out
I didn't realize I put on my number like a Greek statue
Rolling into T2, Emily told me I was on track to bust 9 hrs if  I could nip under a 3:15 run split.  I knew there was an outside chance, but I needed a perfect day to get there. 

The first 10k of the run was a challenge to run easy.  I self imposed a 7:30 floor the first 5k and planned to reassess from there.  I settled in and started dreaming of a 3:10 run split as the mile markers started coming in too soon.  Heading back, the course spilled onto an exposed freeway with a slight upward grade.  For the only time all day, the sun popped out and things started getting toasty.  Unfortunately, its pretty lonely at the pointy end of the race, so all I had to think about was how hot it was getting and how relentless the grade was becoming. 
Still ignorant enough to believe this was a big hill.

When I finally aimed toward the north side of the river, I saw Emily again and got the update that I was leading the M35-39 age group but losing time to the next two guys.  I knew things were about to get unpleasant; the north side of the course is packed with full on demoralizing climbs followed with quad-busting descents.  It's a pretty dang tough marathon course to chase after a 120 swim/bike race.

The MPro in front jockeyed with me a lot
as he went from blistering pace to port-a-loo.
 I was fortunate to have the energy to feel sorry for him.

Fortunately, starting the second loop I made it into some first-lap traffic.  I knew my pace was dropping, I had already gotten comfortable with being uncomfortable, and I was barely getting into the second lap.  I decided to focus on what I could control and just pursue my simple little goal: reach my potential.  I got this.  I committed to only thinking about my run form.  I sifted through the mental noise, honed in on what my form was doing, what it should be doing, and making it happen.

Unfortunately, the race started getting loud inside my head as I crossed back over to the north loop. Hitting the final 10k, I got more updates. 

<--Heath Dotson of HD Coaching warned me it was time to start grunting
 just before E drops the bomb on me.
Emily came clean with her story; she said I was 14 minutes up on the next M35-39, but I was actually leading the amateur race.  The bad news was those guys were putting 30 seconds into me each mile.  It was a hopeless situation as I began to come to terms with the inevitability.  I had faith in holding my pace, but there was no way to control the time hemorrhage. Suddenly, I was chasing a goal I couldn't reach.  I started settling; I started conceding defeat; I started shutting down.

well for maybe a minute.

I shoved all that racket back out of my head and did all I could in each moment. My "thing I do well" is not slow down as much as most.  I can go "not that fast" a very long time without slowing down much.  I had a 10k remaining, and all I needed was to reach my potential. Its just so very simple.

Thanks for the pic Mr. Krabel!

The final trip back into town, I felt the impending doom of losing by precious few seconds.  Closing in on the last mile, a late spur from Brice came as calm, imperative statement, "son, you've got to go."  I don't remember much of mile 144, but I knew I wasn't going to spend any sleepless nights feeling weak because I gave up when it really counted.

For the first time, I finally heard Mike Reilly call my name: Our first age grouper, Christopher Borden of Haleyville, Alabama, you are an IRONMAN. 

9:07:09 Officially -- First Amateur

The Race Course :2014 IRONMAN Chattanooga -- 144.68 miles of opportunity

Being an inaugural event, of course there were some bugs to workout.  The interesting thing was just how publicly it played out online.  It made for some pretty entertaining commentary, but by race day, whoever is calling the shots at IMChoo had done a solid job of it. 


So what you need to know about the course:

Lots of buses wagging spectators between
swim start, transition, and Chickamauga

Swim -- The TT start means racing is against the clock.  This really detracts from being able to race the competition on the day.  Its very valuable to know the guy blasting by on the bike is pushing you farther down the leaderboard if you let him go, or the runner prancing away may be taking your dreams with him.  If its hard to be intrinsically motivated on race day, this should be a big draw back to IMChoo.  Another big negative, the first competitor in the water had a much different race than the last one in.  Had I've been early to the queue, I would've been racing solo virtually all day instead of juking and jiving along the bike course.  Also, here particularly, the tacks tossed onto the course effected late racers tremendously.  If you were early in, you were early off the course and less likely to be sabotaged. 
this is just a random picture she snapped along the run course
Pretty snazzy scenery to run through
 The current cost us ~10' on the day.  Sure that hurts good swimmers, but it also hurts those of us that prefer more racing to less.  Ultimately, it was a river swim and we knew it going in. I say no whining about this.

Glen Rudolph on his way to the first off the bike M25-29
Bike --
The story is they are scrapping the North Georgia route in favor of a more Tennessee'ly bike course.  Regardless, this course rocked.  There were some less than awesome administrative miles getting in and out of transition.  Once out onto the course, it was buttery smooth asphalt, rolling hills with a few decent ups, and handful of technical turns.  It really is a great bike course for a strong, savvy cyclist.  Choose one and it'll most likely punish you more than you expect.

Rudolph feeling uncharacteristically
 good on the marathon
Todd Allan about to PR @IM#9
Yeah. It is legit.  We had a perfect, mostly overcast day with a few cooling sprinkles.  On a hot day, this bad boy will be brutal.  The initial segment along the river is well supported with lots of shade and scenery.  The turn back to the bridge is a gradual, unprotected uphill freeway that felt desolate early on.  If its hot, this is going to concentrate a lot of suck.  Be warned, there be monsters on the north side of the river.  Its either on or off, up or down.  There's no break from the suffering, the only reprieve is alternating what's hurting. 

Don't go into the light, Ray!
6th M60-64 despite not being able to run

Overall, the race is very well supported along the entire course.  Chickamauga was a little too supported for me as I got some helmet love when a volunteer decided to reach for me with a bottle as I was squeezing through, and a sitting spectator elected to stretch his legs into the roadway just as I zipped by.  Big crowds, lots of energy, but keep your head on a swivel.  The run course looked like a huge party on the second lap.  At times, it was a little annoying getting around all the action, but overall it was really nice to have the distractions. 

Tim Ferguson providing a tremendous amount of support for the fellas.
Believe or not, this Rainbow Unitard disguises himself as smokin' fast triathlete on occasion.
My vote for IMChoo, don't change a thing.  (except for this unicorn gimp thing )

The Venue : Chattanooga, Tn 

Very fun city, for sure.  I had a blast, the support crew were always occupied, and the grub is amazing.  I was a little butt hurt when Asheville was passed over by WTC, but Chattanooga hit all the marks for us.  Lots of images below followed by a short list of the best food we found from Emily.

not posing for a pic between the Village and Blue Plate.
Soaking up the Ironman Village "energy"

This is my "I'm so sick of you taking pictures" face.
So the AWA program meant I could skip the epic packet pick-up line.  It just seemed rude to me, though. I'm all up for being a jerk to my friends but not strangers.
 I had a special bib with low number.  Then I got preferential racking in transition close to the pro rack.  I don't know, but I felt like a WTC-whore playing along.  If I am honest, I do like the attention, but I just don't feel good about it. They did give me a white and gold AWA swim cap that I didn't wear and a snazzy trucker hat(!) that I gave to Dad.  (Looks pimp on him, he can rock anything like a boss.)

This ran all weekend scrolling through AWA names. 
The image is jacked, but it looked normal. 
They also had one at awards.
Pro-talk and athlete briefing

I don't know the deal with this thing, but it was imperative that we stop a stranger to make a picture of us.
Great use of parking garage. 

Lots of relaxing at the IMAX.
The Majestic 12 theater had recliners, grub,
drinks, and a waitress.
 It was a great place to chill out before race day.
This is my crazy happy fun face. 

Mellow Mushroom Carb loading
I hope everyone approves of the
 more conservative short length 

Rickard Family rocked the IronKids

It's been a very long journey to tick this box.
Glen Rickard, You are an IRONMAN

Another Accelerate3 guy, Bobby Craig, just
missed out on a KQ after ageing into the 30s
Thumbs out or thumbs in?
2nd Amateur Andrew Lipscomb seemed to
move around pretty well Monday morning
despite stalking me all afternoon Sunday.

The Ghost tours are a great way to noodle around Chattanooga and walk off some of the previous day's 146 miles.  Word is these bright sparkles are spirit orbs...

Warning to late night finishers. 
Walnut St Bridge is full of apparitions.  
More spirit orbs can be seen the night of the race

The Terminal had a small selection of good brew.
Alleia-worth the visit

Right before we left, we found Farmer's Daughter.  Farm to table food, small menu, but really good.  The coffee is served in these wee faux-French presses.  If you are a coffee snob, this stuff is good.  Make sure you try the coffee soda thing.  Coffee, seltzer water, simple sugar.  Man its good though.
I love cold treats.  Its a vice.  Milk & Honey gelato was on the best list, and it was phenominal.  My personal favorite was GiGi's fro-yo.  I'd never had frozen yogurt that was so creamy. 

  deliciousness at the Bluegrass grill
Yummies at the Blue Plate next to transition

Lots of stuff for the fam' to do including the Frisbee Dog World Championship

Free shuttle all over Chattanooga makes urban travel easy and disgusting.
The Good Dog was a hit. Word is all their sausages are homemade.
Easton wants to be a hustler when he grows up.
like Snoop Dogg

Sometimes Mom photobombs the finish photo. 
Dad is rocking the AWA trucker hat.

If you made it this far...
Cheers to accountability, y'all!  Next Goal: sub-9 @ Kona 2015
Looks like I am going to need a few more muscles.

Emily's must eats in the Choo!

As a foodie, one of the best things about traveling is trying local restaurants, and Chattanooga did not disappoint! Most of the restaurants serve lots of farm to table goodness, and I created my very own food tour to give several of them a try! I have listed my favorites and what I tried at each of them. 


Aretha Frankenstein: Small restaurant, huge portions, crazy looking cook. The food is great, but consider sharing.
The Farmers Daughter: Cool little farm to table joint seeded in an renovated gas station.  Its got a small breakfast menu, but it was good eats and amazing coffee served in individual mini faux-French presses.  Make sure to try the Iced Coffee Soda.
Blue Plate Café: Right beside IM Village, super convenient, good eating too
Bluegrass grill: There is a line wrapping around the corner.  It is worth the wait.  Family owned and operated little dinner.


Taco Mamacitas: Think funky, trendy tacos and fresh homemade, fresh squeezed margaritas.
The Good Dog: homemade gourmet hot dog
Lupi's: We should've had this instead of Mellow Mushroom, but we did make finally get to eat here.  Lots of unique pizza ingredients.


Beast and barrel: this was our first stop. Great fries, cool atmosphere, and Chris loved his chickpea burger
Urban stack: great burgers, great brew.  The burgers are seriously unique. Chris rewards himself with a burger after a big race, so we always find a cool burger spot.  This one didn't disappoint. 
Alleia: This place is absolutely phenomenal.  Very unique menu of farm to table grub.  We chose to order a variety of apps and small plates:  grilled romaine salad, bacon wrapped dates, eggplant frites, and homemade pasta. We did not want to quit eating! 

Dessert: We love some fro-yo!

Gigi's: Chris's pick for creaminess. 
Top it off: Right beside a trolley stop, lots of flavors, seriously good stuff. 
Milk and honey: Gelato that packs a much richer punch than frozen yogurt.