Realist = A person who accepts a situation as it is and is prepared to deal with it accordingly.
I like to think that I’m a realist. Sure I may set big goals and I have no problem going after them, knowing I may fall on my face; but I’m always willing to accept what it is, be it good or bad, and I try to deal with “life” as best I can. Given this approach, I thought a nice way to recap last weekend in Galveston boiled down to simply a lot of very awesome stuff and then some not so great stuff. Given that I grew up always eating my vegetables first (to get the crap out of the way, and look forward to the good part; we always had to finish our plates), let’s delve through the not-so-awesome first; and save the good stuff (the steak) for the end.
Not-so-awesome in Galveston was finishing 7th. I don’t race for Top 10, and truth be told my goal was Top 3. If I’m being honest, my goal is always go for the win. But given that I’m a ‘realist’ I try to set realistic goals and I know I race best when relaxed, taking a little pressure off myself. 7th is far from 1st and further than I’d like from Top 3. But I ran my ass off, fighting for each spot I gained back on the run and given this, I’m willing to accept that 7th was the best I had on the day. Six girls were just better; and that’s okay.
Another not-so-awesome part of Galveston was the middle 56 miles of the race. I wanted to push the bike hard. I had the mindset, and had seen myself do the work to be prepared; but it felt like my legs didn’t get the message. I pushed but I just felt uncomfortable, and then the other not cool part was that pro women kept passing me. I didn’t like that part. I recall saying to myself, when the eventual winner blew by me, “I think she’s 12 feet tall.” Come to find out, she’s only 5’8”. (Was there another super tall professional woman? Maybe she has long legs? All due respect to Kim, she crushed it and deserved the win!) But I think it means I was in a really in a bad place when she appeared THAT MUCH bigger than me, at the time. Clearly, I felt like a kitten comparatively. That part sucked.
And in sum….I think that caps off the not awesomeness. Which really isn’t that much, but to me, it’s a lot. I race because I’m passionate about getting the most out of myself but also because I’m competitive. The result was simply not where I wanted to be. The very good part about this is, with Ironman Texas in a couple weeks, it fuels the fire to correct what went wrong and have another opportunity. Opportunity is a very good thing.
Now the fun stuff, the awesome from Galveston! With regards to my race, a great swim and a great run. I was more confident and more aggressive than I was in San Juan, and I’m proud of that. It is one thing to fall short; but to learn from it, gain something and turn it around; that is failure turned good. I truly felt like “Kelly of old” in the swim and the run, and that gets me really excited about upcoming races.
Another awesome – Project 13. If you haven’t heard, this was the 13 people out there racing on behalf of Multiple Sclerosis; 9 of whom have MS, 4 who passionately support MS, and many of whom this was their first half Ironman, possibly first triathlon. I had the privilege of helping 7 of these individuals get to the start line. In 3 months. Yes, they all “trained” for a measly 3 months for this. I’ve been doing triathlons for 17 years, half ironman races for 12 years. Add to this massive challenge they took on that most of them don’t talk much about their MS; it is just something they deal with. Personally, I think that half ironman races are damn tough and I have nothing to complain about. They deal with symptoms such as numbness, a leg (or two) that won’t really fire, added fatigue, dizziness at times; perhaps ‘dropped foot’ which makes it difficult not to fall down. The symptoms are wide-ranging and can be sporadic, unpredictable, and inconsistent. To be out there racing with them, supporting them, and witnessing them tackling their fears; now that was awesome.
Honestly, I was more nervous for them than I was myself in any capacity. When the chop picked up in the swim, I thought “crap, I hope they can handle this!” When the winds were relentless on the bike, I just hoped so hard that they could all make it through the 56 miles. And the best part of the day? Hanging out at the Meat Fight tent to cheer for and support all of the Project 13 athletes on the course; with the crazy ass Meat Fight gang; toss out cheers, high fives, and any encouragement I could to help them finish this journey. And the awesomeness of this group, and the energy we all derived from their efforts and accomplishments; this trumped any negative of the weekend. And then to see the athletes bask in their achievements the following week just made me smile. One of the guys who I reached out to back in December was a very experienced triathlete. His first race “that hooked him on the sport” was back in 1992 at Gulf Coast, back in the day when Bud Light sponsored the races; as he said, they would pull the beer truck right up to the finish and you could drink as much as you wanted post-race (no wonder he got hooked!). He has since done a wide array of endurance events (70.3’s, Ironmans, half and full marathons, open water swims) but he was losing motivation having struggled in his past few races (haven’t we all been there?!). He said before he got my call, he had resigned himself to hang up triathlon and was going to stick to only swimming. At Texas 70.3, Jack swam 34 minutes, biked 2:57 and finished with a PR at the half Ironman distance since his MS diagnosis. Suffice to say, I’m glad Jim Casey thought up the concept of Project 13 – I’m glad he allowed me to be a part of it – and I’m even more happy that Jack accepted the challenge. Again, this is just one of the many success stories we saw in a short 3 months time; people taking on a task that seemed almost insurmountable but with the support of others and facing their fears head on, they came out the other side smiling, proud, beat up (in a good way) and hopefully a little more optimistic about what they’re truly capable of; how far they can push the limits of both their body and mind.
It was a very different spin on racing than I’ve ever had. I recall treading water in the swim and I said to a fellow pro woman, minutes before we started, “It’s kind of a cool feeling to be more nervous others here than you are for yourself.” Triathlon has given me so much. The ability to challenge myself, aspire to be stronger and achieve things I never imagined possible – but through this process what I really value is what I’ve learned about myself, the people I’ve met along the way and the invaluable life experiences. To be able to pass this along to others, specifically the MS population, is really special. A big thank you to Alice Laussade for the brilliant idea to start Meat Fight and give funding and support to her brother Jim’s idea of Project 13; mostly just a thank you for letting me be a part of this mission. I’m happy to say, I think this is just the beginning of more awesomeness to come.
Race morning! This part sucks…all nerves…
Project 13 ‘Founder’ Jim Casey & Amazing Attitude Man
Kelly Jean finishing!
Linda exiting a tough swim!
Laura, first triathlon, smiled all day long….
Not sure I smiled as much as they all did…
Pig & Cow cheered all day long! (Pig<—Meat Fight founder)
Well deserved to say the least
Let’s do it again soon, gang.