Shameka Pollard


I have been nervous about this race for a while. I was nervous because this would be my first triathlon of the season and my first triathlon since I found out I was iron deficient. I was nervous because I was not sure how my body would respond.  I was also nervous because I didn’t know how I would respond emotionally. The last time I raced a triathlon, it wasn’t pretty and it broke my spirit and my heart. From the moment I was cleared to train again, I have been working hard. Mostly to rebuild my confidence in myself and work towards enjoying training and racing again.


I figured Trideltathon would be the perfect event to reintroduce myself to racing. The goal was to have fun. So, why not race in a fun kit. I decided to race in my Wonder Woman inspired kit. You can’t help but smile, feel inspired and feel confident while basically wearing a super hero suit.

So, I picked up my packet Thursday night. I was excited to see my race number was 101. I immediately thought of 101 as in “the basics”. My goal for this race was to have fun and get back to the basics. I wanted to race like I did when I first started: show up with no expectations, try hard and have fun. 

The great thing about this race is that it is local. Everyone knows each other. Race morning was like a family reunion. It was so much fun catching up with people I hadn’t seen since last season as well as meeting new friends. 

Before I knew it, I was lining up to start the swim. As I approached the timing mat to jump in the pool, I heard many of my pals cheering for me. These folks know how to make you feel like a rockstar. Before I jumped, I reminded myself: “you’re here to have fun. No other expectations!!” I jumped in and before I knew it I was heading towards the swim exit. I’m so thankful that the days of panic attacks during a pool swim are behind me. If I could just master open turns to my right without busting my head on the lane line, that would be spectacular. 

I was off to T1 in the rain and ready to head out on the bike. The bike was thankfully uneventful. The main goal was to be safe since the roads were wet. I am not exaggerating when I say there are more turns on this bike course than miles. So, I took it easy. 


I headed into T2 and was then out for the run. At this point, I see my teammate Renee Black who was spectating. I yell to her: “Guess what!!! This is kind of fun!!!” as I roll my ankle and almost fall. All was good. I recovered, didn’t actually fall and didn’t get hurt. 

The run was tough because it was humid. I remembered thinking to myself that these were my least favorite running conditions. Somehow today, it was a little different. I knew the humidity was high and there were some irritating climbs on the run course. I was working hard, but was having fun. I think I just embraced the situation and focused on cheering on the other runners and thanking the volunteers. 


I was able to race without looking at my watch and it felt so good to just be out there. I remembered heading towards Andy Holt to a crowd of spectators at the corner. It felt good to almost be done. I was excited to make the final turn to head towards the finish with visions of an awesome sprint to the finish line. To my dismay, we had to take it off-road and run through this muddy mess. All I could think of was how I didn’t register for a trail run and that my beautiful shoes were now muddy. I finally started laughing because I wondered how silly I looked zig zagging and hopping towards the finish trying to unsuccessfully avoid the mud. 

As I crossed the finish, there was Renee screaming like a wild woman!! She has been one of my biggest supporters from the very beginning. She has also been one of the core people who have helped me find my way back to enjoying training and is helping me with rebuilding my confidence in getting back to racing. I’m so thankful she was there today!! I’m also thankful for Ken “Paparazzi” Moore for the photos, but especially for capturing this finish line photo. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This picture definitely sums up my journey over the past 8 months. 

I also want to thank Mike Tarrolly for his guidance and encouragement. He’s been vital in making me process how I am doing both physically and emotionally. I know I can be very stubborn and a little hard on myself. He’s been the check engine light that I didn’t realize how much I needed.

I can’t end this without thanking Dr. Sprouse. Without him, I don’t know where I would be with my health. I really don’t want to know. I’m just so happy Knoxville is lucky enough to have him. 


Today was definitely a reminder that I can have fun racing. It also

left me excited about racing!! I’m looking forward to seeing more racing friends at upcoming events. Next up for me will be Lakeside of the Smokies Sprint Triathlon.  I’ll see you guys out there!! And don’t forget #thefunteam is in the house!!! 

Patrick Morris