Tennessee is home to a some great races, from sprints to iron distance. With a love of triathlon but without the time to train for something longer, I’ve decided to race four of the biggest Olympic tris in the state. In case you want to try one or all of them, here’s a lot at four of the biggest- Challenge Knoxville (formerly Rev3) in May, Chattanooga Waterfront in June, Music City in July, and Riverbluff (formerly Nashvegas) in August. (Note: Memphis is May is a classic and an obvious 5th option- would have have made for a very cool 5 races Olympic logo symmetry- but with some changes going on with the race and location, it was hard to do course comparisons. Hopefully next year.)
To start, here they are by the basics and numbers, but I’ll also get into the background and a few stories for these great races.
Knoxville- wetsuit-legal, 2/3 downriver
Chattanooga- generally non-wetsuit, 100% downriver
Music City- generally non-wetsuit, circle swim
Riverbluff- generally non-wetsuit, circle swim
(note: wet-suit notes are based on general water temp)
Knoxville- 1640 feet of climb, 1 cat 5 climb
Chattanooga Waterfront- 578 feet of climb, 1 cat 5 climb
Music City- 676 feet of climb
Riverbluff – 698 feet of climb
Knoxville- 190 feet
Chattanooga- 173 feet
Music City- 339 feet
Riverbluff- 41 feet
With a look at the basics, Chattanooga looks to be the easiest in the swim, followed by Knoxville.
On the bike, the elevation changes are virtually the same for the the June to August races, with Knoxville being vastly more difficult. One year I stumbled across the finished line and happened to come across pro Matty Reed, who had won an hour earlier and was waiting for the awards ceremony. I said hello and followed that up by saying, “Wow, that’s pretty hilly!” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well…rolling.”
On the run, even with the change of moving the 6.2 miles to a flatter course instead of running up and down hills in downtown Nashville, Music City still clocks in as the most difficult.
Personally, I love this race. With pros racing, it has a big feel to it. The finish line is great, the support is great, and the fact that it is so family friendly is huge. This was my first ‘big’ race. Until then, my wife wasn’t very much on board with the whole triathlon thing. But when the kids got to do a scavenger hunt and then run down the finish with me at the end, something clicked. She said, “Hey, let’s do this one every year.” And for the most part, we have. There are Challenge logos on the clothes and signage, but it’s still very much a Rev3 event, which is a good thing. The hills on the bike are difficult- I actually do better on road by than tri bike for this one- but to me, that just adds to it. I’ve really enjoyed meeting several pros there, listening in on the pro Q&A, and getting to a fan. All in all, it’s certainly a favorite. With the addition of Challenge, it’s nice to be connected to the “other” global triathlon race series. (Note: There is also a half iron distance for you over-achievers.)
Every year I want to do this race, and every year something comes up. So far, we’re in the clear this year, and I’m excited about racing it for the first time. Although I’m not a fan of time trial starts for open-water events, I am very excited about the downriver swim, the relatively flat bike and the flat run. If I’m getting a PR this summer, it’s likely going to be here. From a family perspective, it’s hard to get better than Chattanooga. While you’re off on the bike, your family can check out the amazing Tennessee Aquarium or hop the trolley for free to get back and forth from your hotel. Team Magic always puts on a great race, so I’m expecting good things!
Pop quiz- Which race is older than Escape from Alcatraz, Wildflower, and Challenge Roth? It’s the Music City triathlon. The race began in 1979, just a year after the Ironman Hawaii, and is one of the oldest continuous triathlons in the world. The course has moved around the city several times but has found a downtown right on the river. This was my first Olympic distance race, and therefore is stuck in my head as crazy difficult, but if you’re racing in the south in the middle of the summer, you’ve got to expect some heat. Doing well in such an historic race is certainly something to talk about with your friends, and a must on your Tennessee triathlon bucket list. (Note: There is also a sprint option, which is a lot of fun, too.)
The newest of the bunch, Riverbluff is great for scenery if you prefer the outdoors to the big city. Says Kat Williams of Start2Finish, “The venue is beautiful – Lake front with the post race party under a grove of trees. You can also camp at the race site. The bike course is hot, hilly and hard (especially the half). If you’ve ever heard of the Wildflower triathlon in California, the future of this race is inspired by that one.” For me, it’s been a good race to close out the season. With the move from early September to early August, it promises to be hot and challenging, but still keep the great atmosphere. (Note: There is a sprint option. There’s also normally a half as well, but due to road construction, the half is taking a year off.)
Out of these or others, which is your favorite Tennessee Olympic race? Comment below!
I’m excited to try all of these races, and I hope you’re inspired to race one or more as well.
Why Older Triathletes Are Freaks
There a few things potentially more potentially obnoxious than wine. French poetry perhaps. Maybe indie bands that none but a few have heard of (and, boy, are those few proud of it). Also, people who constantly tell you what something means in the original Latin, Greek or Sanskrit. But wine is definitely up there on the obnoxious scale, especially to a simple farm boy from Indiana.
That’s why it’s always thrown me off when my cousins Taylor and Jeremy talk about wine. Somehow they can get away with talking about it and it doesn’t sound obnoxious at all. At first I thought it was because they’re my cousins and I like them better than most wine people I know. (And aren’t Taylor and Jeremy cute as toddlers? That picture has nothing to do with the content of this post- it’s purely to get page views as that photo is friggin’ adorable). Then I realized why their comments about wine were different than those from most I’ve heard.
They’re talking about it so you can know it. They actually want other people to learn, to be able to enjoy wine like they do. It’s not about showing what they know and you don’t, it’s about how you can get there, too. And that’s a huge difference. Some people talk to hear themselves sound smart, and that’s obnoxious. Others talk to help others learn to be where they are, and isn’t that better?
We’re all experts on something, so next time you’re expounding on something potentially obnoxious, check to see if you’re doing it to help others learn, or if you’re just showing off.
My daughter Sydney and I both got to interview Bob Goff, a very talented speaker, best-selling author, founder of Restore International, and a guy who has had many crazy adventures both in business and with his kids. Which interview do you like better?
Comment below on whose interview you like better!
P.S. I’m voting for Syd
What do you ask an actor and speaker who was in your favorite movie (Empire Strikes Back), one of your favorite sit-coms (Cheers), and all those Pixar movies you watch with your kids? Anything you can! (Thanks to all of you who emailed questions to me in advance!) Here’s a sampling of those questions- make sure to watch the video to hear John’s answers!
Without further ado, here’s my exclusive interview with John Ratzenberger:
Also check out:
Here are a few steps to follow.
Call and talk to your subject (a relative or family member) before to ask their permission and set up a time. Sometimes with an elderly family member, you’ll want to enlist the help of one of their children to help. My cousin Linda was a big help in collecting photographs and helping out my great aunt ahead of time.
This is basic, but easy to forget. Make sure to clear off your phone so there is plenty of room. You’ve completed Angry Birds Star Wars 3 times already, so you can delete and win it again.
I recommend doing several smaller clips rather than one really long recording. Let your interviewee know that you need to do these in shorter clips, where you’ll need to stop them every few minutes between questions.
Here is a great list of 50 questions for oral histories: (http://genealogy.about.com/cs/oralhistory/a/interview.htm)
A picture is worth a thousands words in interviews as well. Pick photos of events and family gatherings and ask your subject to describe
– Who was there?
– What do you remember about that day?
– Where did it take place?
– Why was it so important?
One of the things that drives me is not just know birth, marriage and death dates to make a family tree, but also what made it a family. What were people like? What do you remember most about a person? What did people say about him or her? What did they do for fun?
Chances are you’ve recorded things no one else in your family has. Make sure to save them as soon as possible. Depending on your comfort level and those of the people you’ve interviewed, you can put them on youtube either as public, unlisted or private links, and share with family and friends. You can create a Facebook group or a free blog where you can post these as well.
Just doing these simple things can create and save memories for generations to come.
What have you done to make a family history? What has worked and hasn’t worked for you?
Christmas time is one of the most popular times for fires, what with putting a real, dry Christmas tree in your house, all those candles and all that paper wrapping and what not. There is no better time to learn how to use a fire extinguisher. I myself had never used a fire extinguisher before, so I asked my brother-in-law Dave, an actual firefighter, to teach me and my kids how to use one,with some help from my twin niece and nephew, too.
Let me tell you, there is nothing kids love more than firing off a big, surprisingly loud extinguisher. They had the time of their lives, and I actually learned how to use a fire extinguisher myself.
We had an actual firefighter with us. If you don’t have one of those, just set up some kind of target outside- you don’t need to start an actual fire for target practice. Please observe all safety precautions. Kids, make sure to have your parents permission and supervision.
1 fire extinguisher for ever 1-2 children or adults.
1 target, with 6 feet of space between you and your target.
Here is your video to see how it works:
1) PULL– Pull the pin out of the fire extinguisher.
2) AIM– Aim the fire extinguisher at your target.
3) SPRAY– Pull the trigger and spray at the BASE (not the top) of your target.
4) SWEEP– Move the spray back and forth at the base of your target.
Make sure to watch the end of the video for some bonus tips and answers.
Are you going to try this? Let me know how you like it!
Create your list of what you need. Last week, I wrote about how to do your Triathlete Off-Season Inventory. If you haven’t done that, make sure to do so now. It’s no use shopping if you don’t know what you need!
Once you have your list, do your research. Call up or visit your local shop, check online at a variety of stores, and sign up for to get emails on sales and discounts. Make sure to factor in shipping and handling costs- some online stores will do big discounts on products but raise the price.
Did you know Amazon is going to start doing local how-to clinics, lead weekend rides, offer in-person service, and volunteer at races? You’re right, they won’t, and they never will.
There are some things online stores can never replace. Studies have shown that just a 10% shift in buying more locally can have a huge impact on your area. Make an effort to shop and support your local triathlon, bike, running and swim shops. I do buy online, but I don’t try it on in a store and then buy it online from someone else, and I also try to buy at least one thing I need from each of my favorite local shops.
A couple years ago, I found my favorite shoes marked down from $110 to $40. I stocked up, and will go about 2 1/2 years without having to buy shoes.
BONUS TIP: Don’t forget to check out deals on races- many race promoters will also do deals this weekend.
One year I saw a great deal on cycling knee warmers. I never used them, but they were only $4, so it wasn’t a huge loss. However, sometimes more expensive items I’ve never used are tempting.
There’s also a great story in the book Decisive by The Heath Brothers about getting what you need vs. what you want. A guy is stuck trying to decide between a stereo that’s $700, or a stereo that’s slightly better for $1,000. The salesperson, who must not have been on commission, asked him this question- “Would you rather have the $1,000 stereo, or the $700 stereo and $300 worth of downloads?”
So before you decide to make a crazy purchase, even at a discount, make sure to figure out if it’s worth it or if you’d you’d really like something else more.
Make time to think of someone else by donating items or money to a running or endurance related organizations for those in needs- Soles4Soles, Barefoot Republic, Challenged Athlete Foundation, SoleHope or Bikes Not Bombs are some great. Help someone swim, bike or run!
Do you have any tips for helping another triathlete shop well? Comment below!
Brian Lord is a very average age-group athlete who loves to help encourage others in the sport, save money, and write bylines about himself in the third person.
For most triathletes, the season is over and we’re well into our “off-season recovery program”, aka, “laziness”. With a little more time on your hands, you can conduct your first annual triathlon inventory. Now is a perfect time to do your inventory before Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit!
1) Throw out what is old. When do those Honey Stinger waffles expire? Are those GUs too gooey? Now is a much better time to figure that out then when you’re on a bike ride 40 miles from home.
2) Organize and put away what you have. For me, I love feeling like I have a little store with gels, bars, and waffles and drank tablet tabs all in their own boxes. (I think this comes from always wanting a full box of baseball card packs as a kid.) My wife thinks I’m weird, but she married a triathlete, so she should have known ‘weird’ came with the territory.
3) Make a list of what you need. How many gels do you have? Do you have enough endurance drink powder to last the long winter of biking on the trainer? CLICK HERE FOR 6 Step Checklist To Take Advantage of Black Friday
I basically take everything and dump it into a big pile. With shorts, tops, socks, jammers and everything else spread between drawers, closets, car, and bags, I’ll often find something that’s been missing forever (and hopefully wasn’t dirty!)
1) Organize and put away what you have and want to keep. Sometimes it’s just so nice to see all your clothes actually folded. It’s the simple things.
2) Donate what is still in good condition. Connect with your local triathlon or running club, bike shop or Y to see if there are any running, cycling, or endurance related nonprofits in your area. Don’t wait till your gear is past doing any good before donating. If you don’t have usable gear to donate, thing about making a monetary donation. It pays to help the next generation!
3) Throw away or recycle what you’re not donating or keeping. Bonus tip- Check your helmet. If it’s more than a few years old, you need to stop using it, even if you’ve not been in a wreck. I thought this wasn’t legit until I asked several veteran triathletes, and they all said it’s true due to natural breakdown. One triathlete who worked in construction said they’re required to get new hardhats every year for the same reason.
4) Make a list of everything you need for the next year. Are those compression socks still compressing? Are you good on goggles, both clear and tinted? Keep this list to figure out how to take advantage of Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals (CLICK HERE FOR 6 Step Checklist To Take Advantage of Black Friday)
1) Hang out, don’t work out. There is no 2). Since you’re probably not doing as many group training bricks as you normally do, pick a night to get together to just hang out, celebrate the year you’ve had, and burn as few calories as possible. Talk about the glorious races, failures and victories, mechanical and bodily malfunctions and all those things that only fellow endurance athletes would understand. You’ve earned it!
What tips to you have to share about taking advantage of downtime and getting ready for next season?
FOX has been replaying Jim Sundberg’s famous game-winning slide for the Royals from the 1985 World Series practically non-stop. I caught up with Jim and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about the series.
This year’s Royals team is looked on as a Cinderella that came out of nowhere. Was your ’85 team looked on the same way?
Similar in several ways in that we didn’t win our division until one day remaining in regular season. We had strong pitching, good defense and timing hitting. I believe we had a better rotation and the current KC Club had a better back end bullpen. We hardly used our bullpen outside of Quisenbury in WS, whereas, the ’14 KC team will hope they use their last three guys out of the pen. If they have a 6th or 7th inning lead, KC will win the series.
What do you think made your 1985 World Series team so special?
Our starting rotation ended up being the best in baseball the last three weeks of regular season and all of the post season play. I believe both Toronto and St. Louis hit around .150 – .160 as a team. Good defense and grinding out guys with key hits.
Catchers are often called the quarterback of the baseball diamond, especially with a younger team. What do you feel made you a good leader?
KC manager Dick Howser said that I was a missing ingredient that would help the Royals win a WS because of KC’s young staff. Our young pitchers, Brett Saberhagen, Danny Jackson and Mark Gubizah along with veterans Bud Black and Charlie Leibrant were great to work with and very talented. A great roation to a catcher is like a great bullpen to a manager, they make us looks smart. We had great chemistry, good communication and they respected what I brought to the table, experience! A good leader knows his staff, what makes them click, how to get the best out of them and they know that he cares about their success and is respected for those characteristics.
What lessons have you carried over from the experience into being a successful baseball executive?
I have learned that the characteristics mentioned above about a good leader is true: knows his staff, what makes them click, how to get the best out of them and they know that you care about their success and is respected for those characteristics. An executive has to be ab le to “show the way” (walk the talk), communicate the way on a regular basis (sale it internally to staff) and willingness to adjust vision details (adapt to cultural changes).
When you speak to audiences about leadership and teamwork, what can they learn from that special 1985 World Series team?
Baseball is a great example of how people need to except and appreciate what the others around them can do. Every player on the field has a role and supported by those playing around them. A group of people need to decide to come together, excepting each ones’ skill set and appreciate what others bring to the table and there is a buy-in because the gain far outweighs the pain. From this point, momentum will come from consistent successes and will chemistry will add to coming together and the cycle starts again.
Jim is currently with the Texas Rangers organization and is a sought after motivational speaker that you can check out here.
Also check out: What’s It Like To Spend A Morning With Peyton Manning?
What is the single best step an age-group triathlete can take to be successful?
How do you come back from a tough defeat? (Dave lost the Ironman world championship six time before overcoming his arch rival Dave Scott to win six straight himself).
What are the universal tools people need in order to be successful in sports and business?