1. Once upon a time back in April, when I ran a half marathon at the last minute with some friends, we got to talking about the triathlon they had coming up in May. I told them that if we could just find someone who loved biking, Luke and I would love to do a triathlon relay. Betsy's immediate response was to find someone down in Knoxville so that we could join all of our friends traveling down for the tri in May. On the drive home from the half marathon, Jess suggested her brother-in-law who lives down there, and a few weeks later, we were all signed up to compete. Luke and I weren't sure if we should take the kids or not, but decided that it would be easier to leave them behind. And thankfully the grandparents all stepped in to watch them! The littles were certainly kept busy with going to the local hot air balloon festival twice, painting with water, playing with dirt, watching movies, and I'm sure so much more.
2. Luke and I decided to head down to Tennessee the Thursday before the race so that we could go to Nashville first. Luke's brother lives there, and we wanted a chance to meet our new niece (okay, mostly I wanted a chance to meet my new niece!) We made the 11 hour drive on Thursday and spent all day Friday with his brother and sister-in-law, and of course the baby. She is so stinkin' adorable, and also a high-maintenance baby. The key to her happiness: being held by someone (anyone!) who is bouncing up and down on an exercise ball. I happily filled that roll for a lot of the time on Friday, and it took me back to the days of cranky Jonah when only certain things would make him content. I loved holding her though, and I had so much fun catching up with and talking motherhood with Debbie.
3. Saturday morning, we made the three hour drive back to Knoxville and met up with everyone else who was traveling/already living there. We went to the race expo to pick up our race packets, and then headed downtown to grab lunch. We ended up getting Mexican at Soccer Taco, and it was delicious! After driving the bike course, and dropping our stuff off at our friend's house, we met up with everyone again for some carb-loading with pasta, salad, and bread. Then back to our friend's house where everyone got themselves ready for race day. Luke and I were feeling pretty relaxed since we were each only doing one part of the race, and we were each getting to do our favorite.
4. Our alarms went off at 5:20, and we quickly got ready and headed out the door to drive downtown. The race packet our relay team was given only had one blue bracelet, which was the key for getting in and out of the transition area. The bracelet had been put on our cyclist, and the volunteers standing guard would not let us in. We understood that they were doing what they'd been told, but we needed to get in because that was where we would be transitioning! Thankfully we were able to find a guy who worked for the company in charge of the tri and he gave us some volunteer bracelets so that we would have more access.
5. The swim was in a river, and Luke was in the last wave of all our friends. We wandered down to the water with them, and watched them all take off. Once Luke started, I headed back to watch for him to finish. It was fun cheering for each of our friends as they finished, and then Luke switched off to our cyclist! Our friend's wife figured he would take a little bit over an hour, so I ate some food and drank coffee and water so that I would be ready to go. It was a beautiful day- sunny and in the 60's- perfect for spectating, and before long, it was my turn to go!
6. For the Olympic distance, the run is a 10K. My Garmin took forever to connect to satellites, so I had to follow the mile markers on the course rather than the distance on my watch. The course was an out and back, winding alongside the river on the Knoxville Greenway Trail. There were sunny parts and shaded parts, and since it was an out and back, I was able to see all but two of our friends. My average pace was a 6:59, which I'm sure I was only able to do because the course was mostly flat. Once I finished, I caught up with Luke and our one friend who was already done, and then cheered the others in. We didn't stay for too much longer after because we needed to hit the road in order to get home at a reasonable hour. But we made sure to stop at Sonic and treat ourselves to delicious milkshakes!