School of Hard Knocks

Posted on May 18, 2011


justin harris rev3 knoxville pro triathlete

First Professional Triathlon Race

I’ve had a lot of time to chew on my experience of my first triathlon as an Elite. I mean, I REALLY had A LOT if time since I drove the 12 hours down to Knoxville and back solo. So how was it?

I had a very” eventful” (SEE: Stress) week leading up to my departure on Thursday evening. Luckily, I have the most awesome-est Mom in the world, as she let me borrow her nearly brand new car to drive down since it was too expensive to fly. And, she left me with a full tank of gas and a couple $$ in the glove box! Mom of the Year award!

Since I left at 10:30PM, my goal was to get as far as I could, sleep in the car and then hoof it the rest of the way. I a brought pillow, yoga mat, and sleeping bag, but they don’t make up for a short car! I basically slept hugging my Cervelo P3– bring “I love my bike!” to a whole new level.

Arrived in Knoxville, found my homestay, Terri, and settled in. Laurel, a professional triathlete and one part of a kick ass training duo that I workout with, stayed with Terri the year prior and asked if I could join last minute. Terri was extremely comforting and helpful. Thanks Terri.

Pre-race day is full of meetings, checking out the course and crashing. Wait, crashing? Yup, wasn’t on the agenda but, Laurel and I ate it on some wet railroad tracks that were at a 45 degree angle across the road. Came up on them quick and before I knew it I heard Laurel hitting the deck and I followed shortly thereafter. Laurel ate it pretty good with road rash, a dent in the helmet, deep cut on her hip, and a broken front shifter. I, having a heads up when Laurel went down that I probably was going to be joining her shortly on the asphalt, had some road rash.

Not the way I intended on starting my career. But, it’s funny that any life changing opportunity for me seems to start this very way. That is, I have these expectations, and through a series of quick events, those expectations come crashing down and I’m left to real evaluate why I am doing this.

“Well, Justin, that was only one event.”


The other was getting my ass handed to me on race day by not only the Pro Men but, also 3 age groupers and Leanda Cave, the winner of the Pro Women’s field.


But, like I said, I had a lot of time to think about this and here is my take:

  • I had a solid day. I had a good swim, and ok bike and run.
  • I rebounded from my allergies and illness two weeks ago well.
  • I executed my race strategy perfectly. That is, don’t go out too hard and die or start hyperventilating due to allergies.
  • I over came the challenge of driving down, sleeping in my car and crashing the day before.
  • I felt like I could hold that effort for much longer, which is great with REV3 Quassy Half Ironman coming up in 3 weeks.

It’s tough to not look forward and question if I have what it takes. I mean, I lost by 14 minutes. I don’t care if it is Matty Reed, one of the top triathletes in the world (I think 3rd or 4th best technically). I think I was the most frustrated that I was that far out of the money. I could use some of it but, Laurel, the seasoned Vet that she is, put it into perspective for me, and I needed that the most at that time. She said that we do this for the challenge not for the money.

Well, I now know what the challenge is and I’m ready to do what it takes to get up to the top. Maybe not tomorrow or this year, but I’ll get there.

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