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.