Race 52 – Chattanooga Waterfront

We have done it. 52 races done in 52 weeks. It has taken me a few weeks to get around to writing this last race report because, in all honesty, I have felt busier getting caught up on everything that has been neglected in the past year.

The final race brought us back to Chattanooga, Tennessee to the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon. This race has always been a difficult one for me. The swim is not all that challenging but the bike course is a different story. The bike course is a beast. It is a 26 mile bike with the majority on the big rolling hills of east Tennessee. I always know that I am going to face hills and heat in Chattanooga. This year was no different. The hills are relentless and a bit treacherous on the way back into town. At this point in the season to say that I was nervous on the bike would be an understatement. About 90% of the time I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind that it would be one heck of a disappointing way to end the season on the side of the road or the back of an ambulance.

On a lighter note, I had received some advice from a fellow racer a few weeks ago regarding heat management. He suggested that I use the disposable ice packs that you pop to activate. I brought one of the packs with me on the bike. I planned on popping it and putting it inside my race kit to cool me off on the way back to transition. I hit the turnaround point, popped the bag and stuffed it between my shoulder blades for the ride back. To be honest I couldn’t really feel the cold although I know it was in fact cold. Thankfully I made it back to transition with no incident on the bike…safe and sound. I dismounted the bike and readied myself to jog the bike back to my spot. Two steps. I felt the ice pack slide all the way down my back and come to rest in my crotch. Great. I knew I could not head out on the run course with this down there. On top of that the way my race kit zips up I could not unzip it form the front and reach down to grab it. So, at my transition spot I wrestled my arm up the leg hole of my race kit to fish the pack out. I’m sure it was quite a sight for anyone so unfortunate to catch the show.

As I headed out of transition I saw my family and friends cheering me on. I stopped at the barrier, grabbed Maggie’s hand and told her that we did it. I knew at this point that there was no way I was going to be stopped from crossing that line. No more injury risks, no more life interruptions…just a tough and hot 6.2 mile run course.

To be honest I was so very distracted during the run course. My mind was flooded with the past year. All the places we had been, all the people we had met, all the times we got to spread the story of Team Chad. I thought about crossing the line. I thought about what I would do the next weekend. I thought about everything other than the race. I didn’t care how long the run took at this point in the season. I just knew it was all coming to an end..one step at a time. At the beginning of the year I certainly could not have compressed the rest of the season down to a fixed number of steps. I realized at this point that I could. No longer did hundreds of miles stand in front of me, rather it was hundreds of steps.

I finally made my way back towards the finish line. Down the chute. Family and friends there to welcome me home for the last time during this unbelievable season. I have had emotional times in my life that certainly trumped this moment (marrying Maggie, birth of Lincoln, etc.) but the crossing of this line is one that was significantly noticeable to me. I will never forget that feeling. There are just not that many moments in one’s life where they have that connection to a moment.

Well, we hit our mile goals and our race goals. I am still hoping that the season will inspire people to become connected to Team Chad…either financially or through donation of their time. I am still hoping (after an appropriate amount of time to decompress) that we can put together the Team Chad multisport team. Only time will tell but I think there is a need for such a group here in Nashville.

For all that have read this blog along the year thank you for your time and attention. I expect that I will continue to add a few posts as time goes on. We are planning amazing things for Team Chad over the next year so I don’t want anyone to think that my commitment to Team Chad is over.

Race 51 – Monster Triathlon

Another week.  Another race done.  This was just south of Nashville in Pulaski, TN.  Monster triathlon is a very grassroots event.  It has a very comfortable feel to the entire event.  Not comfortable because it is easy but comfortable because it is low key and relaxed.  This is an event run exclusively for the benefit of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America and the Giles County Help Center.

The swim is held in a local swimming pool.  It was a straightforward snake swim from one end of the pool to the other.  It was a short swim of just 200 yards.  Out of the water and onto the bike.  This is why they call it Monster Triathlon.  The bike course is really beautiful.  There are some very noticeable climbs on the bike but they certainly aren’t the worst I have faced this season.  The bike course (other than riding slow to make sure the rubber stayed down) was a lot of fun.

Off the bike and to the most unique part of this race – the run.  The run starts and finishes on the edge of a graveyard.  You start the run by heading down through the graveyard.  You then have a trip around a track and then onto a greenway to the turnaround point.  You hit the turnaround point and you head back to the graveyard.  Unique to say the least.

I was very glad that I got to race close to home again.  So many friends were at this race as they have been in the past few weeks.  It was great to share the story to others at the race.  As we were leaving and walking back to the car we were stopped by a group of athletes to ask about the bike.  I dove into the story and they interrupted and asked if I was the guy that was covered by the Tennessean.  I told them that I was.  It was wonderful to hear that the story had made its way out into the general public.  That made us feel really good.  For this group to know about Team Chad was what this whole season was about.

I am writing this blog just a few days out from the final race in this season.  It is amazing to me that we are on the doorstep of the end of an amazing year.  I am truly looking forward to Chattanooga Waterfront on Sunday.  I doubt that I will be “racing” this event.  Rather I expect that I am going to keep my head up with a big cheesy smile on my face as I make my way through the course.  I am really going to try and enjoy this experience.  I can say, with all confidence, that I will never have this experience again.  

Monster added another 19.3 miles.  That’s right…we are at 999.56 total miles.  This means that by the time I get out of the water Sunday I will be over the 1,000 mile mark and on my way to finishing the 52 races.

Race 50 – Storm the Fort Sprint

The big 50…that’s right.  50 races done.  Hard to believe that we have come this far in this period of time.  It has been an amazing ride.  Also we have finally struck a cord with the media and the coverage of the final push is starting to really take off.  The attention for Team Chad is starting to pick up.  Maggie and I were out Sunday for breakfast (that’s right, starting to have a normal life again) and she was wearing a Team Chad shirt.  Someone behind her in line said that they had just read the story about my season in the Tennessean and that they thought what we were doing for Team Chad was great.  This was an awesome moment because it was a realization that all that we have been working for over the past year has started to really culminate in these final weeks.  Awesome stuff.

Onto the race.  This race brought us to Kingston, TN over near Knoxville.  This was a race that I had always been curious about but it never fit into my schedule.  I was excited that I finally got a chance to Storm the Fort.  The swim was in the clinch river.  This was an interesting swim just due to the temperature.  (When you race this many events it is the little things..right).  The water temperature near the shore was about 15 degrees cooler than that near the middle of the river.  I am not sure if this is because of the steam plant on the river.  But it was certainly noticeable.  Many people who don’t swim distance don’t appreciate how uncomfortable water that is too cold or too hot can be to swim in.  The water in the middle of the river was definitely warm and not comfortable.  I was glad that I was not swimming further that day because it was warm.

Out of the swim and off onto the bike.  I have said this before but as I get closer and closer to the end this has become the part of every race that I worry about about incessantly.  I am fearful that I am going to have a silly wreck that will bring this to an end without finishing my final races.  So, I ride very cautiously and very nervously the whole way.  Sacrificing speed for safety at every opportunity.  Once I return to transition and get the bike racked I think to myself that this race is now in the bag.

It is not that the run is easy it is just that I know that the odds of me doing something really dumb that could seriously hurt me is significantly reduced when I reduce my forward speed from 20 miles per hour to my lumbering 7 or so.  The run course was the highlight of this course.  4 mile run out and around the fort in Kingston.  No great surprise, but the fort on the top of a hill..that meant a run up around the mid-way point.  I tell myself when I am running the hills that I am paying to the downhills.  That is what I was doing on the backside of this course.  I knew that I had a downhill heading back into the finish so I just had to pay for the downhills with the ups.

Across the line and number 50 done.  This race added 17.3 miles to our tally.  Bringing us to 980.26 miles.  This weekends race should get us almost to the 1,000 miles mark. 

Race 49 – Mach Tenn (and Sip, Support and Celebrate)

My 49th race was this past Saturday morning in Tullahoma, Tennessee.  The night before we had Team Chad’s largest fundraising event in history…that’s right, it was a great night.  During the event I was again awed by the generosity of our supporters.  In about 5 minutes we raised another $15,000+ for Team Chad as a result of my 52 races.  This was in addition to the approximately $100,000 raised through our other efforts at the event.  This was a huge night and we are still trying to get our heads around how wonderful this will be for all the patients that so desperately need the support.

Off the high from the event I woke up the next morning, headed east and arrived at one of my favorite races in the local circuit.  Mach Tenn is one of the most popular races in Tennessee.  They have been holding this race for 32 years so they have all of the “kinks” worked out and it went off without a hitch.

This race has a bit longer swim at around 1,200 yards followed by a 15 mile bike and a 4 mile run on a hilly run course.  Like I said, the race went off without a hitch and then we were onto the real reason you race Mach Tenn (not really but it is an added bonus).  Beer and local cooking welcomes you at the finish line.  The racers all mingle, share lies and talk about the rest of their season for hours.  This time gave me an opportunity to talk about Team Chad, where we have been over the past year and how much more I have to go.

It was nice to get race 49 done.  This race added 19.6 miles to the total.  I have now traversed 962.96 miles.  Oh so close.