2015 Y Tri at Old Hickory Lake


Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

After a year’s hiatus my hometown race The Old Hickory Lake Triathlon returned – now called the Y Tri at Old Hickory Lake. 

Going home to race in Hendersonville has always been the highlight of my race season. I’ve raced at Old Hickory Lake now in 10 of the race’s 13 runnings. 

We went to Nana and Papaw’s house on Friday afternoon; the home I grew up in. Izzy, you stayed home and went to a sleep over with your swim team friends, so it was just me, mommy, and you two little ones. I slept in my childhood bed that night. The same twin size bed I slept in between 1985-1993. In previous years I’ve laid awake and stared at the ceiling while memories raced through my mind. 

This year though I drifted to sleep almost immediately, only for a moment watching the ceiling fan move in slow circles I tried to remember being a child or a tired teenage wrestler – but I drifted quickly and into a dreamless sleep. Our life has been fairly stable the last few years. I’ve come to terms with who I am and who I was then. I accomplished a lot at a young age and my mind has often puzzled on how success happens in certain areas of life, but comes much more slowly in others. I don’t think that way much anymore though. I know that all hard work brings a profit now, just not always in the timing we’re expecting.

I used to let your Papaw wake me up for the race, but this year my iphone alarm went off beside the bed at 5:00am. A far cry from the old wind up alarm clock I had as a teenager in that room. As usual, Papaw was already up when I came into the living room. I prepared a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee and sat at the table while trying to eat an early breakfast for energy. 

Papaw drove me to the race as usual while the rest of you slept in. Once on site I saw a few old friends from high school and prepared my transition area before walking down to the swim start. I’d hoped for the #1 bib like I’d worn in 2013, but was excited to get my old wrestling weight class, and lucky number, as my bib number instead – #112. That meant I’d go into the water 12th starting at 3 second intervals. 


THE SWIM: 400 yards in Old Hickory

I entered the water a little farther back than I should have, but managed to quickly pass most of the 11 swimmers who started ahead of me. The Y Tri at OHL swim course remained the same: enter down the boat launch at 3 second intervals, make a hard right at the boat dock and then swim a rectangular course for 400 yards keeping the bouys on your left. 

I hadn’t swam in nearly 2 months because of the nerve damage caused to my ear by an infection. I didn’t notice  a big difference in my speed, but the time off was evident as I exited the water for T1. I was tired, breathing heavily as I put on my running shoes for the uphill 1 mile run to transition. 

I entered the water 12th and exited 4th. A trio of very fast triathletes were the only ones ahead. I could see them running out of transition as I took a deep breath and started the run.

RUN #1: 1 mile uphill

The first run segment at Old Hickory is extremely challenging. The tendency has always been to go “all out” because its only a mile – but, it’s a mile significantly uphill with a few steep sections. I ran hard, but was still feeling my lack of swim fitness. Half way through we hit a steep section. I ran 3/4 of the hill, but then felt sick. I pondered if I should push through and perhaps get ill, or if I should walk a few steps and gather my composure. I decided to walk for 20 seconds up the rest of the hill. By that point I could no longer see the 3 runners ahead of me and there was also no one in sight behind me. 


It wasn’t a great run for me, but I held my place on the road.

THE BIKE: 12 rolling miles

I was alone in transition with the 3 leaders already out on their bikes. I quickly put on my Rudy Project Aero Helmet and sunglasses and Pearl Izumi cycling shoes and set out for a fast ride.

I tried to remain calm for the first mile, easing into my pace instead of blowing up too soon. I was still reeling a little from lack of swim fitness and a hard uphill mile run. The course follows Gallatin road for a short distance and then climbs a ramp onto Vietnam Veterans Parkway for the majority of the out and back course. The course is closed to traffic which is always nice. I rode alone most of the way the 3 ahead of me out of sight. I glanced back a time or two for oncoming riders. 

Eventually a couple of riders caught and passed me. The “out” portion of the bike is mostly downhill, so speeds are fast. We also had a hard tail wind going out, so I went between 25-30mph most of the first 6 miles.

At the turnaround though, we paid for that free speed. Immediately when I turned back into the wind, sudden driving rain, and “back” portion of the ride my speed dropped – 12-15mph most of the way back. It felt like a 6 mile climb into the wind.

The head wind affected everyone’s times on the bike. In most years I average around 22mph on the bike. This year it was just under 20.

Overall it wasn’t a terrible ride, though I conceded a couple of positions on the road to stronger riders.

RUN #2: a rolling 2 mile run

Back into transition I pulled on a running visor and a pair of Altra tri shoes for the final leg of the race – a 2 mile run. You kids, Mommy, and Nana and Papaw cheered for me as I left transition for the run. 

This section of the course isn’t terribly difficult, but it’s slightly rolling. I ran my best, but the voices in my head were telling me I wasn’t ready yet. I wasn’t fit enough yet for a really hard effort. Once you start hearing those voices in a short race it’s hard to recover. I did my best to focus on my running form instead. I breathed deeply, gritted my teeth, dumped ice water over my head at the turnaround and pushed on to the finish.


Overall it was another successful running at Old Hickory Lake. I finished in 11th overall out of about 160, and 2nd in the 40-44 year old age group. Afterwards we all went to Cracker Barrel for a big breakfast.

from childhood to almost 41 years old, my parents have always been there to support me at my athletic events.

from childhood to almost 41 years old, my parents have always been there to support me at my athletic events.

I’ll be back again next year for another crack at 1st in my age group – a feat I’ve only accomplished once in my 10 attempts (2008).

I love you,

– Daddy


Sat: race

Sun: rest

Mon: swam 1200

Tues: biked 17 miles

Wed: Ran 4 miles

Thurs: Swam 1200 / Biked 17 (planned)