Race Report: Riverbluff Olympic Triathlon – Ashland City, TN

I’m about five hours post-race at this point, and the post-race stiffness and soreness has begun! All a good sign of a legit, hard, gritty race.

The Riverbluff Triathlon is located in Ashland City, Tennessee, at Riverbluff Park. The park itself is gorgeous- there is a nice playground, lots of picnic tables, and a good spot for a boat launch (this is where the open water swim starts).  It is settled on the Cumberland River and adjacent to the Ashland City Bicentennial Greenway Trail.  This year it was held by Above the Fold Events & Sport Promotions.

My alarm was set for 4:30am, which gave me time to get dressed (everything had either been packed in the car or laid out to put on the night before), eat a little breakfast, run through my mental checklist, and drive to the race.  Riverbluff Park is about 35 minutes from Clarksville, so definitely not a big trip for us!

Upon arrival to the race site, I grabbed my packet and enlisted R.B.’s Cyclery to help me top off my wheels (couldn’t get a bite with my pump).  They’re based in Brentwood, TN (near Nashville) and were super helpful to have at the race!  I ran in to a couple friends from Team RWB Clarksville while picking up my timing chip, and once marked made my way to the transition area to grab a spot (first come, first served spots).

The weather was SUPER nice, a little on the cooler side to start out the day (upper 60’s), which meant the bike and run would be so much better than the 90s weather we’ve been having! The water was definitely not wetsuit legal, but I did see a few swimskins out there.

I wandered over to the swim start, and noticed a few people warming up in the water, so I jumped in to get a quick warmup in as well.  Water felt awesome, it was upper-70s, about a foot of visibility maybe (pretty typical river swim). They had closed down that portion of the river from boaters, so no risk of being run over there! The ramp in to the water was SUPER slick – it was actually hilarious watching everyone “slide” in to the water start.  They set down a carpet and had volunteers at the ready to help pull swimmers out once they were done.

My swim went OK, but for me it was better than expected.  The currents out there were fairly strong and the first and last legs of the swim were against the current. I swam past a man who was treading water and overheard him talking about swimming and just not going anywhere – that’s pretty much how it felt! After the first turn, I found myself being pushed by the current again, but this time I was swimming parallel to it. After the second turn, it was with the current and that is where I could finally get in to a rhythm. My swim ended up being 1585 meters vs the mapped 1500.

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My swim track! From the start we swam clockwise

A hand from the volunteers got me out of the swim, and I felt so relieved – I had really been worried about the distance.  Turned out it wasn’t a big deal at all!  I should have pushed myself more there. Running to transition I spotted my husband and kids cheering me on – that was a definite mood boost!

Running out of transition to start my bike leg.In transition I ended up taking a few seconds to right myself – I was feeling a bit wobbly from the swim. Out of transition with the bike and on to the course and my legs felt nice and fresh.

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Running out of transition to start my bike leg.

The bike course was well-marked and put riders on the highway. The right lane of the highway was open to cars but the left was blocked off by cones for bikes only. They have police directing traffic at the heavy and traffic light areas, and volunteers situated at various points along the way.  It was a two-loop course for the Olympic athletes, so there was a turnaround at one point, and then back towards the highway start another turnaround (so you make the highway loop twice).  Unfortunately, the turnaround toward the start had a bunch of signs, but there was also a police officer a few hundred feet ahead, so I thought the officer was where the turn was and missed my turn.  I had to warn the officer I was turning in front of him, and it definitely added on some time and about 0.5 miles to my bike course.I took a Picky Bar with me on the ride, two GUs and a vile of Base Salt in addition to my aero of Tailwind and an under-seat bottle of water.  Ended up taking two bites of the Picky Bar and deciding that wasn’t going to work for me (just too messy!), so I stuck to base salts and Tailwind.  Never used the GU because I felt pretty good with the liquids and occassional salt. That actually ended up being a great fuel plan.

Back at transition, hopping off my bike felt super weird, like my legs didn’t know what to do! I wobbled in, racked my bike, and started jogging out. At that point my body felt great from my bike fueling. The run course was really nice and pretty flat. The Olympic course ran a few miles out through the Bicentennial Greenway, and offered much-needed shade. It was really pretty out there and my feet just kept going!

They had fuel stations about every mile (6 total) with water and Gatorade. I stuck to Base Salts and sips of water for the run since Gatorade just doesn’t work with my stomach. I felt a little sloshy from the bike fueling but my biggest problem was that I had to pee SO BAD. My body wouldn’t let me “let it loose” on the bike like the pros do (hah!) and I refused to add on precious minutes trying to yank my trisuit down for a port-o stop, so I ran 6.2 miles with a full bladder.  The finish never looked so good!!

Running down to the finish line was awesome, and my family met me there.  My 2-year-old was SO excited to see me, so I grabbed her hand for us to finish together and she tripped and skinned her knee – I felt SO bad!! Picked her up, brushed her off, and we crossed the line together.

Overall this was a beautiful race, well organized and it was obvious they put a lot of thought in to it. The post race activities included a live band, screen-printing (on site) your race t-shirt or tank with one of two designs, free BBQ lunch, jerky samples, free beer (maybe the best part?!), and some pretty awesome awards, including hats for AG awards and some blacksmith-created stones for the overall winners.  I felt like the volunteers were always in good spirits and they were great with keeping my bike and gear safe in transition.  I would absolutely recommend this race and hope to put it on my schedule for next year!

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My on-site custom screen-printed race tank.
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Finishers medal

 

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