Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ironman Chattanooga 2014 Race Report Part 1/4

Last things first.

On Sunday, September 28th 2014 I completed Ironman Chattanooga in 13 hours and 5 minutes and 18 seconds. Yay Me!

Now down to the details. I know that many people won't care about the details but some actually will. And also more importantly it's part of my pre-race decompression to put it all down. To remember, to decypher, to share with those who might be planning to do this race themselves.

I've decided to break it down in to four parts.
  • Logistics/Goals, 
  • Start / Swim, 
  • Bike, 
  • Run/Finish. 
Today is part one: logistics/goals.
Gratuitous photo of me at the Riverfront after packet pickup.

This was the first year for Ironman Chattanooga so the logistics part of this event will hopefully improve for next year and thereafter.

I registered online. I was one of the very lucky folks who had no issue registering when it opened. Many others ended up either registering through a charity slot, foundation or through Endurance Sports Travel.

This event has not sold out yet for next year. I think it will sell out. I predict that it and all the other South-Eastern events will sell out the week after Ironman Florida. Basically those who can't get into Florida will overflow into Maryland, Louisville, Chattanooga and fill them up.
random photo of the swim buoys before they went into the river.

I also booked my hotel at first through the Ironman travel partner and that was a disaster. I was waitlisted for one night and could not get information about whether I would ever actually have a room. It was very stressful. I really hope that works better in the future.

I ended up booking my hotel through Endurance Sports Travel which was great because I had a room to sleep in and also just really expensive.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express a little over a mile from transition and the Expo. It's a great option for sold out events but be prepared to pay a premium. I would use Endurance Sports Travel again but for a domestic event only if I really needed to. For an international event I would definitely use them because some of the services they offer are more helpful for international travel. The Holiday Inn Express was a perfectly fine hotel. My kids love the pancake machine. The staff was very helpful.
EST had shuttles for us to and from the Expo which was handy. It was walkable but best to save our legs. They took us to the store and to the race start the morning of. It's a good service but pricey.

If I was to make my first choice for best hotel for this race it would be the Marriott Residence Inn downtown. You are right next to the Expo/Finish Line and you get a kitchen. I've decided that I prefer to cook my own pre-race dinner so a house rental or a hotel with a kitchen is my first choice going forward.

I sent my bike to the race with TriBike Transport. I don't have it back yet but everything with them was fine. I did not ship a bag or use the valet service they offer but I will do both of those things next time. Having traveled with my bike in a bike box this is much easier especially after the race. In fact my husband took my bike from transition to TBT while I was running. I recommend TriBike Transport. Book early and look for a discount. I booked in November for this race and paid $150 for the service which is less than it would have cost me to take the bike on the plane. Closer to the race the rate was $380.

 I flew to Chattanooga from Miami. Most other people coming from Miami made the drive. Driving was not really an option for us with my family and I personally cannot imagine driving home after the race. The tickets were reasonable and I had no travel issues.
You connect from Atlanta to Chattanooga on this little plane. Teeny tiny little overhead bins and my kids loved that the door became the stairs.

The Expo and Registration were at Ross's Landing in Downtown Chattanooga. We went Friday morning and everything was quick and easy. The expo was all outside and luckily the weather was good. We ate at a restaurant right next to the Expo - The Blue Plate. Everything was good.  We hit the gear tent and I was early enough to get a size small tri top.
Little Debbie is the title sponsor and they had free snacks all over. Yum. And handy too when you're hungry at the expo. It's a local company to Chattanooga and I hope they stick with it. Sponsors are important for good events.

We ran into crazy lady and fellow Floridian Susan at the expo. She's wonderful. This was her 76th Iron distance event. 75 was one week before at Ironman Maryland. The expo was great but if weather was bad it would be a drag to be outside.

Chattanooga Stuff
We found the people of Chattanooga to be amazingly nice the entire trip.We were just stunned over and over at the kindness of the people in the city. We were coming from Miami but still I want to say that this town is very nice.

This was our favorite restaurant. City Cafe I think it's called. It's a 24-hour diner. The staff is amazingly nice. The menu is huge, the portions are enormous and the prices are reasonable. We ate there I think 4 times including after the race.
This is the first year for this event but it's clear that they were happy to have us there. There are plenty of local and chain restaurants nearby  to eat. We at at a 24-hour diner, Lupis Pizza, Cupcake Kitchen, A restaurant at the Choo Choo hotel (which I don't recommend), Alleia and River City Brewery. Other than the restaurant at the Choo Choo Hotel they were all terrific.

My son's name is Jack. So we loved this. We're on our way here to Lupis Pizza for dinner.
My family had no trouble finding family friendly things for them to do before and during the race. While I'm busy getting all the "stuff" done they are tourists with my husband. It works out well. They went to Lookout Mountain, Rock City and Ruby Falls, they did a corn maze, the Ducks tour car/boat, we visited the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, they did the IronKids race, while I was racing they went to the Aquarium, saw an Imax movie and went rock climbing. 
The Ironkids race was a little disorganized but it all worked out fine. Jack was 5th in the half-mile which was pretty awesome. Dylan did great in the mile. She got knocked down part way but finished strong in 8:20 which is pretty great I think.

Last logistics tidbits. My family rented a car for the weekend and they were able to find parking downtown in a garage by transition race day. They came to see me finish the swim which is only important so that you know they didn't get that spot by getting there at 5 am. My inlaws also came to town and stayed out by the airport and were able to get into downtown without issue race day.

I didn't publish my goals before the race. But they were a 1:20 swim, 6:45 bike, 4:46 run and 2 7 minute transitions. Which totals 13:05 
In case you don't believe me that these were actually my goals. This is my email to my coach earlier in the week.

My results 13:05. Cool, right?

It didn't quite happen the way I thought it would but I did meet my goal spot on the nose.  I'm pretty happy.  I also just tried to start chewing a piece of gum with the foil wrapper still on it so I'm still pretty tired too. Let the recovery begin. Next up a detailed report of race morning.
Me racked and ready the night before the race. This was my shivvy's first full Ironman distance.

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