It was't until last week that I made the final decision to travel to Rev3 Quassy. As my teammate (and friend) Kati mentioned, going to Rev3 events is like going to see your second family. I have gotten to know my Rev3/Trakkers teammates well, and with each event I get to know the Rev3 staff a little better. I look forward to seeing LJ smiling in the volunteer tent, Charlie and Eric in three places at once around the venue, and of course our Mama Bear Carole. The Rev3 crew is great. Despite little sleep in the days surrounding the race, their attitudes are resoundingly positive. You know that feeling you have when you see a family member or dear friend who lives far away? That is how I feel about my Rev3 family.
Of course these weekend trips to races wouldn't be possible without my first family. Tommy never complains, never balks when I ask to go to a race. As long as the kids are covered when he works, he is beyond supportive. I am so very fortunate in that respect.
I road-tripped to Quassy with my tri club friend Robin. Of course I was eager to get to the venue, and reunited with my teammates. I saw some of them a few weeks ago in Knoxville, but there were also teammates I hadn't met before. Meredith T. has become a great friend this year, and I finally got to meet her and her adorable son Soren. One of the great things about our team is the support of one another. My kids were home, well taken care of by Tommy, so it was easy for me to offer to watch Soren for a bit while Mer got her bike fixed and got settled. We had a team dinner (minus several of our teammates who were still working at the venue), which was a great chance to get to know some of our newer teammates and hang with good friends. What could be better than a team dinner? A team slumber party of course! Laura was still working at the park when 6 of us showed up at her house to "check in" for the weekend. Thankfully they have a huge basement with lots of sleeping space, and her husband Tom was a gracious host despite just returning from a trip to China. Thank you, Laura and Tom!
Hanging with Soren pre-race
This weekend I graduated from JV to Varsity in the triathlon volunteering arena. Laura was coordinating volunteers with LJ, and still needed someone to drive sweep for both races. (This essentially means going behind the last cyclist/runner and picking up anyone who won't make the time cutoff or is broken down. It also means releasing all of the volunteers/police on the course and thanking them profusely for their help). Hmmmm....so I have to drive slowly, smile, and say thank you a lot. Seems right up my alley. I was excited but a bit freaked about driving the Rev3 Suburban. (I did not want to wreck Charlie's car). It was interesting perspective to be in transition until the very last athlete was out.
One of the cool things about Rev3 races? They designate a last place finisher. Someone volunteers to finish the swim, bike, and run last. That way, no one who is out there fighting to finish the race has the stigma of being last. For the Olympic, Pastor John from Multisport Ministries was the last place finisher for the race. He stuck with slow swimmers in the water, and showed immense patience on the bike (the last biker was really struggling). The challenging thing about being the sweep is deciding when to pull people off the course. You want to give them the benefit of getting a shot at things, but also don't want to hold course marshals and police out on the course for two people who aren't going to make the cutoff. I ended up pulling two people off the course, and driving Pastor John to catch up with the last place runner. I hate upsetting people, so I was worried about telling anyone their race was done. Thankfully the two ladies were very nice, and just happy for what they had accomplished to that point. Awesome attitudes! Pastor John was so patient and he ran the last two miles with the last runner. I only pulled one runner off the course, and she was amazingly positive. This made up for the woman in transition who came back in after a few minutes off the bike.
Athlete: "I got a flat"
Person who shall remain nameless: "You know you can fix that"
Athlete: "But if I'm not going to win, why race?"
Hmmm...because you should finish what you start...because it is a good training event...because sometimes maybe not winning is better for you than winning...because you are a BIG OLD SPOILSPORT! (rant.over.)
In the end, I didn't wreck the Suburban, I figured out (after 5 minutes and asking the gas station attendant) how to open the gas door to put gas in the car, and I "swept" the course successfully. When I say I graduated from JV to Varsity, I was getting calls from Eric the race director and being trusted to pull athletes at the appropriate time, etc.
I got to spend some time hanging in the Recovery Pump tent, and helped with odd jobs around the venue. After another team dinner, I crashed HARD.
Team Trakkers (Mark, Kelly, and Kel) hanging in the Recovery Pump tent.
Another early wake-up, and time to work the Tri Slide Pit Stop. (I've got another blog post cooking on that experience). There were more racers for the 70.3 than the Oly, and I watched the bikes slowly thin out in transition. Pastor John was again the last place swimmer, and Stephanie (Charlie's wife) was to be the last place biker and runner. Sweeping was definitely more challenging in a longer race. This bike course is HARD. Stephanie hooked up with one of the last cyclists and rode with her. I did pick up an athlete who blew out two tubular tires (on 650 wheels so few options for replacement). The volunteers at the water stop and along the course were awesome. One of the motorcycle state troopers was kind enough to help with the sweeping. When we got to mile 40, it was apparent that several athletes wouldn't make the cutoff. It was harder to give the news on this day. Unfortunately the athlete riding with Stephanie went off course a bit and eventually had to be pulled off. She was really bummed, and we both felt badly for her. Our last cyclist on the course didn't make the cutoff, but he pushed hard. He was one of the last out of the swim, so he was at a disadvantage on the bike.
I did get yelled at by a Connecticut trooper on the bike course for being on the phone...when I explained it was to pick up a stranded racer he lightened up on me. (It was much better to have the Rev3 Suburban when sweeping the course- no one questioned my purpose, but it was needed to lead the pro race). The funny part? Several of the calls I got while driving were from the police Command Post. So it is illegal to talk on the phone while driving, but you are going to call me when I'm driving to ask me questions...funny. In the end it all worked out. I misjudged the ability of a few racers to finish in time, but got them off the course before it closed. It was an amazing experience, and new perspective on all that it takes to put on a race.
The Rev3 crew is AMAZING. It was an awesome weekend with my teammates, with so many great moments that I can't fit into this post. I feel privileged to know such a great group of people, and to be affiliated with these incredible events. If you you are a triathlete and have never volunteered, you should. You get a chance to give back and get new perspective on the course. If you aren't a triathlete, but have a friend or family member who competes in triathlon, it is a great way to pass the time.
You can see a great video review of the event here, including the pro race.