Everyone seems to have their own take on the ‘right’ way to approach the off-season. If you ask 3 different people, you’ll no doubt get 3 different answers. I have been racing since 2002 so seeing that it’s now 2012, that is a lot of off-seasons I’ve been through. I like to approach it similar to how I approach nutrition. Listen to your body, be smart, have a conscience, and everything in moderation even moderation itself. Which leads me to my next point, I am not terribly good at sitting around on my ass for 2 weeks and literally doing NO training. I just cannot do it. I am too antsy, and I do this stuff because I really love it. I’ll get moody and irritable and not nice to be around, just ask my husband! I have always enjoyed 4-6 weeks of doing something most days, not too much, but whatever my body tells me that it needs on the day. That is often a bit of a sleep in, a light swim of a maximal of 2-3k, and if there is a second workout it is something along the lines of a 1-hr trainer spin (accompanied by the Real Housewives or Patty the Matchmaker or something else intellectually stimulating), or a 30-40 min run. I may also head to the gym a bit for some core strength stuff. I don’t go too crazy with drinking beer or wine or eating ‘bad for you foods’ (which I don’t really believe in anyway) because those are things that I never deprive myself of, even in heavy training cycles. But, I may enjoy a 2nd one knowing that the alarm will not sound at 5AM.
When this past December rolled around, I was about 1-2 weeks out from having done my last of three Ironmans in 2011. That is a pretty hefty year for me, but I also dialed back racing in general from August on. The only racing I did in September, October and November was Ironman Hawaii and Ironman Arizona…no 70.3’s (my first love). I felt good and ready for Ironman Arizona, but I was also fully ready to enjoy some downtime. In short, I was ready for the off-season but did not feel like I had totally buried myself.
I have always loved doing 5k’s when triathlon training is not bogging down my weekends. They are cheap, they’re over before you know it and you can throw yourself deep into the hurt locker knowing that even if you hit a wall, the end is not far off. It’s a different crowd (all runners, some young kids who always jockey for the starting line position, many people who dress up, and those amazing 70-80 year olds). Given that I took a week entirely off (well, mostly entirely off) after Arizona and did very little the 2nd week, I was feeling antsy to jump into the Austin 5K scene for the month of December. Thus began my Off Season 5K Quest. (As a side note, I really wanted to go sub-17 but by a hefty margin, on really no training specifically for a 5k!)
The first one was the good old Jingle Bell 5k up at The Domain. I of course dragged Derick into this quest, which he went along with begrudgingly. We awoke Sunday morning December 4 to the sound of cold rain. Yes, you could tell it was cold by the sound. We headed up there and jogged around a bit in the cold rain with all the other crazies and off we went. Santa started us. I was in a sports bra and shorts, but one guy was even crazier than I, in just shorts. The course is nice and fairly fast with few turns. I managed a 17:12 in this one, and Derick managed a win as well, and we walked away with $200 in Rudy’s BBQ gift cards. Well worth the early wake up and the cold rainy run, especially since we enjoyed a big breakfast for all of our effort at Galaxy Cafe and hot coffee post-race. Total running time that day was maybe 45 minutes at most. We’ll let you all know when we have a BBQ catered party with a keg of beer.
Next up was the following weekend, December 10, the St. Judes Jingle Bell 5k in New Braunfels. Again, it was cold yet dry for this one but seemingly colder and windier. There was a huge turnout and I was ready to attack it, it was a sub-17 day! There was a clock at the start, counting down to race start time, and for some reason with about 2 minutes to go suddenly we heard a gun. So, we went. Like a flock of sheep, we ran out oddly enough in the direction opposite the cones. Seemed strange to me, but I went with it. After about 100 meters, we hit a dead end and all turned ‘right’. After another maybe 300 meters, a truck turned around so we all did too. At this point I was laughing at the absurdity of it but of course thinking “Damnit! So much for my PR!” Then, I figured what the hey… just run hard. Out we went, down the road, through the neighborhood, and back to the finish. I clocked a middle mile, just for the hell of it, and saw a 5:20. Well, if that’s correct, that’s good! Finished up at 17:09 on this one, not sure if it was accurate or not, but…a little faster. Again total run time maybe 40 minutes today. It was cold, and the car was very warm. (As a side note, the Badass Award went to the man who pushed his walker the entire 5k!)
Final chance was the Reindeer 5k on December 18, which was also the day we’d start our drive to Indiana. What better way to kick off 17 hours in the car than with a 5k? Derick bought into it! This one was at Camp Mabry, and upon warming up, seemed to be a bit hilly. It was a smallish race, but it seemed fairly well organized. I spoke with a guy at the start who was pushing his son which he had done at the Austin Marathon twice, running a 3:15-3:20 both times. I also met a guy post-race who had lost his leg 5 years prior in a cycling accident; he ran with a prosthetic an incredible 18:15 today, and he looked so smooth running. Very inspiring. The gun sounded and off we went, out and around Camp Mabry. Derick was running this with two high school kids he coaches and Derick being Mr. Controlled at the start of every race was trying to get them to start out no faster than 5:20-5:30 pace. I was just ahead of them and came through Mile 1 at about a 5:32 or so. Eek, gotta go. I immediately picked it up and encountered a few hills the next 1.5 miles. The finish put us onto a dirt path which was kind of fun for a change, and I saw 16:05 or 16:10 when I hit the 3 mile mark. Oooh! That’s good! I tried to drop all I had in me the final .1 and crossed in 16:45, YESSSS!! That’s what I was going for!! Victory. 🙂 The morning was made even more perfect when we hit Taco Deli before the drive started and not only got tacos and coffee for us but of course bacon for the dog. One big happy clan in the family truckster as we drove North.
So, what’s the point of this blog? Really not a lot, but I do think there is a good message here. For me, ‘the 5k off-season’ is something I look forward to. It’s nothing I have ever done on purpose, but I look back and realize that often in December, I find myself often hopping into these things. IF it is something that SOUNDS FUN to you (that is of utmost importance during your down time!), I think it’s a great thing to do as a compliment to all of the long, grinding training we do all year round. It is over quickly, it’s a nice change of pace and environment, and it fulfills your need to ‘still do something’ without needing to run too long. It definitely prevents me from doing too much at this time of year. And to top it all off, I believe that they can make you a much faster runner. The kind of pain you can put yourself into in a 5k is very different from that of any triathlon. I have wondered a few times if it’s a problem that I like 5k’s this much and I am training for a 9-hour event, but…for simplicity sake…let’s just not go there.
Thanks for stopping by. Now go sign yourself up for a 5k this weekend, just for the hell of it, and embrace the pain! It is over before you know it!
Over our Thanksgiving trip to South Carolina, Derick and I had the privilege of speaking to a group of 5th graders at Merrywood Elementary in Greenwood, South Caorlina. This is where Derick spent the first 18 years of his life (in Greenwood, not Merrywood…) =) His mom Donna (my mother-in-law) is currently the school guidance counselor there, and she was able to set this up fairly last minute. Unfortunately I didn’t have my bike with me, as that would have surely been a captivating item for show and tell, but I did have my aero helmet and a few photos which we were able to put up on the ‘smart board’ (I guess this is the modern day chalkboard!).
We spoke with 2 classes each with about 30-40 kids in it, each for about 30 minutes. I talked first about what it was like to be a professional triathlete, how I got to where I am and how many years it has taken me to get there. Then Derick spoke on his education and how being a runner helped him get to college, and how his running really pushed him to his graduate degree and also current job of coaching and having his own business.
Amazingly enough the time went very quickly, and we both were able to allow a few questions during each of our talks. I loved the comment when the slideshow started that went something like “Hahaha…she isn’t wearing any pants in that picture!” Some of the Top Questions included:
“Why is the helmet pointy at the end?”
“How many races have you won?”
“Do you have sponsors?”
“Where have you traveled to do races?”
“What do you do each day?”
“Do you run on a track?”
“How fast do you go on your bike?”
“Who’s faster, you or her?” (to Derick)
I have to hand it to these kiddos…they had very good questions! One little guy even knew the exact distances of an Ironman! When I told them that riding 112 miles was like riding your bike to Greenville and back, that got a lot of “ooohhs” and “wows”. They were so attentive, even when we talked about the boring stuff like ‘even when you don’t want to get up and do a workout, you have to, much like how you don’t want to do your homework sometimes… because in the big picture, it is what you have to do to get to where you want to be.’ My favorite part of chatting with them was when they called me “Miss Kelly.” So cute.
I have to say that we both really enjoyed this, and it is something I would love to do more of. If you or someone you know would like to have us speak to your students, please feel free to contact me. It’s something that I have not initiated enough, but especially in the off-season when time is more available, it is an excellent thing to do. These kids were like sponges; and even if this planted a small seed in their head (about dedication, sports/being active, hard work, goal setting, etc) then it was very much time well spent!
It’s that time of year when we step back, reflect on the past year and think of what’s to come for next season. I have a lot to be very thankful for looking back over 2010, and while it has been many years of hard work in the making, there is no question that success’ do not happen overnight nor do they often happen alone. It is only fair that while I have talked of how races played out and what has happened over the course of the season, I also take the time to recognize and appreciate all of those who have been right alongside of me through this journey.
Derick – My husband for believing in me and putting up with me for many years of hard work, little financial return, and what felt like at times more wheel-spinning than progress. Funny how perseverance and belief in a goal (but moreso believe in oneself) can reap rewards, as we have seen not only with my racing but with his business success’ with Durata Training. I have to thank Derick for being an amazing partner and husband for the past 8 years. I could not have gotten to where I am today without him.
Family – I was lucky enough to get to have so much family support this year, with mother and father-in-law Donna and Fred being at Knoxville, to my mom being at Quassy, both of my parents at Steelhead for my first 70.3 “W”, my Aunt Sandy, Uncle Del, and cousin Brian and his wife Leigh at Branson for my second 70.3 win, ending with my parents and Derick all in Hawaii. Despite having taken a ‘unique path’ (to say the least)though my life at age 33, my family has stood by me the entire way, with unwaivering support.
Zoot Sports – I have been with Zoot since 2007, and I love their products; from clothing to wetsuits to running shoes. They are a small but powerful company with an amazing staff who simply loves the sport and are dedicated to their athletes. Have I mentioned how much I love racing in these shoes, namely the Ultra TT and the Kapilani? They have powered me to many PR run splits this season!
Quintana Roo – This was my first season aboard with Quintana Roo, and the CD0.1 seemed to fit me like a glove. From flat races such as Lonestar to hilly and very tough courses like Rev 3 Quassy, I felt comfortable, powerful and always in control on this bike; even despite the crosswinds in Kona. I am excited for more years to come with this awesome company out of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
PowerBar – I cannot stress this one enough, if you live in a hot climate, you should be using PowerGels for your training! They have 200 mg Sodium to most gels 50 mg. Not only are their products palatable and tasty, but they work miraculously well on my stomach and fueled me to a 9:39 first Ironman this year in CDA, and a 9:36 second ever Ironman in Hawaii. What do I use? Half IM: 7 gels on the bike, 4 on the run. Full Ironman: 15 gels on the bike, 2 bottles PowerBar Endruance, and 6-8 gels on the run. Works like a charm.
Katalyst Multisport – I came to Chris in late 2008 interested in working together, and while he was full and unable to bring me on, I persistently approached him again in 2009. He has been an instrumental part in helping me truly be able to make triathlon my ‘career’ this past year, and for this I am so grateful. So Chris, thank you for believing in me!
Xcis Software – This is a software company out of Houston, and they were nice enough to financially support me in both 2010 and already for 2011. Racing comes down to a lot of financial balancing, so any extra bit helps, and I am so appreciative to Arnie and the Xcis crew for their support.
Jack & Adams – If you live in Austin, and even if you don’t, you probably know of Jack & Adams. And hopefully you are also lucky enough to know Jack, the owner, who is not only a sincere, honest, reputable business owner but he knows this sport inside and out and he simply loves triathlon. And it shows in all he does. It is in part due to Jack that I believed I was capable of racing and racing well in Hawaii; not sure if Jack knows that, but now he does. Endless thanks to James as well, who keeps my bike squeaky clean and in working order.
Hill Country Running – The ONLY place to get your shoes if you live in Austin, people! Jamie and Andrea have got the running store business dialed and they have everything you could possibly need, including a treadmill to do a quick gait analysis to ENSURE that you are in the correct shoe. And, they put on quite possibly the best race ever, the Donkey & Doggie Dash 5K. If you have not been in here, you are going the wrong shoe store!
Advanced Rehabilitation – Dr. Zelinski has built this business from the ground up and when it comes to active release technique for injury prevention and maintenance, he is your man. Plus he has a great crew in his office to take you through exercise and treatment. He has learned from the best and in a few years become the best.
Go with the Flo Acupuncuture – This is my good friend Karen Smith’s business, and while I had never had acupuncture until 2009, I never knew how good it could be. The way I see it, Karen is a little blonde busy body runner who never stops moving; anything that can get her to stop for 2 hours to poke needles into someone (and moreso spend years learning how to do it) MUST BE WORTH IT. Fatigue, tweaks, aches or pains, headaches, recovery,…possibilities are endless.
3 Cosas Massage – Another local business started by good friend Cecilia Llanos Hernandez, who has been a triathlete herself but is now looking after her new little one as they recently started a family. That said, Cecilia is an excellent massage therapist who knows what I need without tearing my muscles to shreds; in short, this is not my 4th workout for the day! She has helped keep me healthy for the past 2 years and it is much appreciated.
Road ID – This is a new sponsor who came on board late in the season, thus I was well-equipped in Hawaii for any potential meltdown with my brand new Road ID. I spent far too many years training without one of these; I now have two and always have one on. I do 90% of my training solo, including 100 mile rides out to Johnson City and back. It’s a pretty easy measure to take to ensure your safety when out training; simply put, these save lives. So stop thinking about it and drop the $30 to potentially save your own.
Friends – ALL OF YOU! From my closest Austin friends to those who are all over the country, to those of you who leave comments on my blogs, drop me good luck or congrats notes here and there, facebook messages; no single note ever goes unnoticed! It all means so much to me. Looking back at Steelhead, and the ‘waiting at the finish’ incident… something that I really did not think was much of a big deal, the reception that I got from my fellow competitors was overwhelming. I think that it showed that no matter our finish, no matter who wins, podiums and who struggles to finish on the given day, we are all in this together and the sport in its entirety is about much more than times and results.
Seeing that my ‘thanks’ blog got a bit long-winded, I will wrap this one up and let you take a breather. Next up, a quick season re-cap of 2010!
Thanks for reading,