Last weekend was heavenly. I took a solo roadtrip (complete with eight-hour, one-woman karaoke sesh), I got to race in a beautiful part of the country, and I got to see my sisters, brothers-in-law, and magnificent niece and nephew. I did the things I love the most with many of the people I love the most. The only conceivable improvement would have been having Dave there with me, but that might have caused me to explode with happiness… I am thankful for the weekend with my family and am much more content undetonated.My baby sis lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, which has become one of my favorite places to visit since she moved there in 2005. Knoxville is a charming, deliciously Southern city on the Tennessee River and its people are as lovely as its scenery (read: quite). Said lovely people are polite and gracious and their local food is fantastic (they have a biscuit festival- a biscuit festivaaaal), so even if I hadn’t had a super fun race planned, I was delighted to be spending time in tasty, sunny, welcoming Knox.
The race that brought me in, the Rev3 triathlon, is held in World’s Fair Park and was a three-pronged race this year. There was a 70.3 distance, an Olympic, and a hybrid Championship distance for athletes who qualified at various Rev3 events throughout the season. 2014 marked the last year Rev3 would host a professional race with a prize purse- controversy! They’re trying out a new age group-based model that eliminated the pro race entirely. I’ll miss the excitement of watching the pros and it’ll be interesting to see how the races change with the offer of money for age-groupers. Will lower-tier pros race as age groupers? Who’s going to come out of the woodwork now that there’s money on the table? Will participation grow or shrink? Will this raise the likelihood of doping among age-groupers? How will testing work and will it be more frequent? So many nerdy triathlon questions, aagghhhh!!
Anyway, I raced the Olympic Aquabike, a funky little combination that not a lot of people participate in- it’s just a .9 mile swim and a 24 mile bike. No run. My right knee is the devil, so swimming and cycling are much more fun for me. It was a perfect combo- I was able to compete and get a great workout without collapsing for the rest of the day. The swim was in the Tennessee River, upstream for about 1/3 of a mile from the dock at Calhoun’s, then downstream the rest of the way. Water temp was 68- a little chilly when you jumped in but not bad at all as long as you had a westuit.
The bike was super hilly- rollers and a few long climbs. Living in the Midwest, I have to seek out hills to ride. The lush, green, winding Knoxville back roads were very different from the pancake-flat Missouri and Illinois trails with ancient, time and iceberg-worn Ozark “hills” I’m used to, so the change was challenging and welcome.
Other than a girl in front of me almost getting hit by a car going uphill around a bend (yeesh) and seeing a pack of guys drafting (lame-o, blame-o), the ride was perfect. Breathtaking, well-supported, and realllly fun.
My sisters came out early in the morning to support me in my weird hobby (amazing. they’re amazing) and brought the kiddos. I even lucked out and took home some swag. And that was the race! Thanks, Rev3, for another great event and thank you, sisters, for being so very loving and wonderful and encouraging.
For anyone traveling to Knoxville for the Rev3 in the future, I highly recommend Tomato Head for an awesome pre-race meal. Tomato Head serves up pizza for every taste, from vegan to chicken with pesto and walnuts to Margherita. By the slice, too, all crazy kinds. It’s incredibly family-friendly and has a top-notch local beer list, to boot.
Post-race included a trip to another Knoxville fave, Stir-Fry, for pad Thai and sushi and hot and sour soup (why else would I race?! for the food, the FOOD!!). But the kicker was breakfast the next day…. Tupelo Honey Cafe.
Tupelo Honey Cafe was my last hurrah before hitting the road back to MO. Diana and I grabbed an early breakfast there on a green, rainy morning. The restaurant has several locations, all in the South; Knoxville’s is on Market Square, the heart of downtown.The atmosphere was great- the place is basically a pinner’s dream come true- open kitchens, blue glass bottle chandelier, or hanging reclaimed window dividers, anyone?
We each ordered the quiche-like “breakfast pie,” she the vegetarian, with asparagus and herbs, and I the omnivore, with ham, red peppers, and Brie. Each pie was topped with an edible flower. Come ON with the cuteness, woudja? Geez, Tupelo Honey Cafe! It’s like you’re reading my mind!
The crusts on the pies were perfectly buttery and flaky. Diana ordered sliced tomatoes on the side (the South is getting to her) and I had luscious, tart, creamy goat cheese grits. Say whaaa? Total elevation of goat cheese. And of grits. Continuing the elevated dairy trend, we also ordered whipped peach butter- butter whipped with chunks of fresh peaches (you probably guessed that, eh?). The peach butter melted over the complimentary biscuits we drizzled with house-branded honey. Basically, I was carbed and caloried-up for another race when I hit the road.
If you have the chance to stop by Tupelo Honey Cafe, and you like happiness and good things, do. There’s just something about well-made Southern food that warms the spirit (even if the restaurant has more than one location). Your spirit will be warmed. Mine was- all over Knoxville, in fact. Another amazing trip for the [cook]books.