Aug200727

I am still in Chicago, at my friend Jen’s house, waiting for my Airport Express so I figured it would be a good time to write up how the weekend was while it is all still fresh in my mind. I arrived in on Friday, plenty of time as I did not race until Sunday (yesterday). I came to my friend Jen’s house and got to see her parents, which was great. I swam with she back at University of Illinois, and actually, we both were milers. And very close to similar times, as well! Friday I put the bike together, went down to the Expo to get my race ‘bag’ and that evening we enjoyed some excellent Italian food and quite enough wine as well. To put it bluntly, I woke up at 7:00 Saturday morning and had to pop a few Advil. Took me by surprise, we were just visiting and enjoying ourselves! Guesss it is good we did that Friday night instead of Saturday night.

Saturday Jen and I went out for a nice easy 30 minute jog down towards where I would be riding my bike on race morning to get to transition area. We then went to breakfast at Ann Sather, an amazing breakfast place here in Chicago with about 6-8 fellow U of I swimmers. It was so great, these girls I had not seen in 7 years! And the coolest thing is, many of them have recently gotten into triathlon too! After this I tried to come back to her place and just chill out as much as I could, as I had to head back downtown at 4:30 for the pre-race meeting. I don’t understand why these are always so ‘mandatory’ when they usually take about 20 minutes and they do not ‘take roll’. ANYWAY…I got to catch up with a few friends I had not seen in awhile so that was nice.

Friday night we decided to ‘order in’ which was a good call, just going out to eat gets old very quick. I did not race until 11:00 on Sunday, so I was not actually in a huge hurry to hit the hay early but I did get in bed around 9:00 and watched TV for a couple of hours. It was so nice to stay in a ‘house’ vs. a hotel for a change. Sunday AM was the usual, roll out of bed, eat some breakfast and some coffee and (well maybe not ‘usual’) wait around for a few hours. I left her apartment at about 9:00 and took the 30 minute bike ride/commute down to the transition area. It was actually a nice way to warmup.

Race started at 11:00 sharp! Well, a bit later because the mens field ‘jumped the gun’ and had to all be pulled back. It was quite funny, actually. I guess someone sounded a cowbell and BAM they were gone! Half of them, that is. So they swam a good 100, 200 yards until they were finally stopped! It was hilarious. Guess they were rearin’ to go. We started about 3 minutes behind them, and this was one messy swim start. You go directly in one direction only to turn around and come back. Thing is, there is a rope to one side and the harbor wall to the other, and this is all a span of …maybe, 20 yards I’d say. So there is this swarm of people all going the same direction, and no room to ‘maneuver around’ the pack! I hate fighting early in the swim and while I KNOW I can swim w/ these women, I get left behind easily. Gotta work on that.

I came out almost solo, a few behind me but a good 45 sec-1 min off the lead pack. Which kind of sucked but again, nothing to do but keep on pushing. Then I had the longest run to T1 I have ever had! I was getting tired. Probably 2 minutes at least. Grabbed the bike, on with the helmet and off on the bike. I was feeling pretty strong (the view was AWESOME!! Lake Michigan on one side and the city on the other, very cool!) I took in a gel almost immediately as I was getting hungry. I actually dropped a water bottle about 1/2 way through the bike which was not so good but again, what can you do? I got in 2 gels and I felt strong but I didn’t feel ‘great’. The bike course was deceivingly tough, as it was mostly flat with a few ‘rollers’ but you could really hammer the whole way. I am better at hammering hills, but this is my perpetual challenge, and I am working working working at it (bike strength).

I came off the bike knowing I had a lot of ground to make up. For the first time all year, my legs felt ‘tired’ off the bike. Not ‘bad’, just tired. I didn’t shoot out of the cannon as I have felt I have done at other races. I tried to pick off whomever I saw ahead of me, and it helped that Jen and Noelle were SCREAMING at me every time they saw me. I came off in about 12th and finished in 10th, but the end was quite excting. I saw a girl ahead of me with about 1 mile to go. I thought, ‘Oh, no…I am going to have to pick it up to get her and I am really tired…’ So I kept plugging along, until with about 1/4 mile go Jen and Noelle started YELLING “10, 11 here Kelly, 10-11! C’mon get her you’ll be in top 10!” They yelled and yelled and yelled until I gave them the ‘CUT IT!’ sign as I didn’t want her to drop the bomb, too! I wanted to do a sneak attack. 🙂 I decided I was sick as hell of getting shut out of money and I sprinted about the last 1/4 mile, which hurt like hell but I was so glad I put myself into a Top 10 finish. Among this field, that is an accomplishment.

So, the weekend was a good one. It is the VERY rare case you will finish completely satisfied and no complaints, but I guess that is why I keep doing it. I keep searching for that ‘perfect race’. And every time I come out to mix it up, I gain experience and learn a lot as to what needs to be done to get to where I want to be. I was a bit upset to see the womens field was so solid, but I truely would rather go up against the absolute best than anything else. It only raises the bar that much more for me. Even though I see the splits and I know my cycling (still) has a ways to go, I just have a very firm and deep-seeded belief that it is going to come around.

Thanks to my friends in Chicago who all came out to watch or participate themselves! You all did amazingly well, and it is great to re-unite after so long. Thanks to Zoot (was cool to meet fellow teammate Steve Hackett, who had a great race with a solid top 10 finish as well), Jack and Adams back in Austin, 3 Stories Racing, Zipp, Orbea (for my soon to have new TT bike!), NutraFig Cheetah bars, View, Karen Smith and AJ at Advanced Rehab…I think I will be paying you all a well-needed visit this week as the season is starting to wear on my tired body. 🙂 Thank you all for reading!!

p.s. If you have looked @ the results on the event website, just FYI…my splits are quite incorrect. Unfortunately, I did not average 24.4 mph on the bike (one can wish) and go a 1:02, and fortunately, I did not run a 43 min 10k. If I had my choice, I would take the wrong bike time of 1:02 and add that to the right run time of 37 and change and make those my ‘real’ splits. But, I guess I cannot legally do that eh? So much for ‘chip timing’, note to self, it is not always accurate.

Aug200705

Why was I dragging my feet on this one? Well, I was not ‘dragging my feet’ but I guess I was thinking about how much more enticing it would be to sleep in and eat pancakes on Sunday morning. NEVER! (well, yes, sometimes…) but this was one FUN RACE to wake up early for. Well we almost didn’t make it as I forgot my helmet and about 15 min into our 40 minute drive we had to come back home, but it all turned out just fine. This was Jack and Adams ‘Jack’s Generic‘ Sprint triathlon. It was out at the Texas Ski Ranch about 40 minutes south of Austin, just a sprint (500 yd swim/15 mile bike/3 mile run). To me, this is hard. So short you have no time to ‘get into a rhythm’ but you have to GO. From the GUN. Which = Hurt. But the good side is, it is over with quickly. The pain is temporary.

The swim was warm and short. Just one little ‘loop’ of the Texas Ski Ranch lake. They do all of these cool skiing events there, like we saw people being pulled by some pulley’s water skiing afterwards. Looked like FUN. Anyhoo…back to the race…came out just on the heels of Amy Marsh, a great local triathlete and swimmer. And cyclist, bad for me. 🙂 She got on the bike and she was gone. Whoosh. But that was ok, I put my head down on my new Orbea Ora TT bike (I felt so fancy on it) and powered away to the best of my ability. I came off the bike feeling ok…tired and ready to dismount. Off on the run, a short 3 miles out and back. My legs were tired but they were still there, and MUCH to my surprise I clipped off a very solid run of about 17:36, woa…I think that was 5:52/mile pace? Honestly, I have no idea how b/c it felt TOUGH and not that fast. But, I’ll take it!

It was an awesome event! I wish I had been able to partake in the previous Texas Tri Series races (Couples Tri for example) but the travels have not allowed to do it all…in any case, the next local one will be The Austin Triathlon, September 3. But this one was just a very cool event. Tons going on afterwards, games, beer, food, and tons of friendly people. Jack and Adams team and many other local Austin-ites did great and it was a fun time. Thanks Jack and Adams ‘crew’, you all work your tails off and it came together nicely. And thanks to AJ Zelinski and ATX Rehab for being at the race and giving treatments, ya’ll keep us healthy and it is so much appreciated. Thanks as well to Zoot for my awesome race gear, especially the new blue ride (Orbea)!

I feel lucky to be able to go out and have such an enjoyable Sunday morning…blessed that my body can do these amazing things, sometimes we get so wrapped up in the daily ‘grind’ of what we do we forget to stop and realize how appreciative we should be to use the gifts we are given. Also, to note, the 3 Stories Moon Pie track meet (‘The only one on the planet. We hope.’) Friday night was a huge success. It was a lot of fun to watch some very tough runners out there, enduring the hot Austin evening, running into the dark. Inspiring to watch! Thanks so much for reading.

Jul200723

I just returned from Racine, Wisconsin late last night, where I raced the Spirit of Racine Tri 1/2 Ironman Sunday morning. The trip was great! My parents and I drove in (as it was only about a 5 hour drive from their place, south of Indianapolis) on Friday, settled in and enjoyed a relaxing evening. Saturday I got in a nice 30-45 min easy ride, and we went to the pre-race meeting that evening. The greatest part about this race was that I had the chance to meet one of my athletes whom I have coached for 2 years, as well as ‘re-unite’ with 2 friends from Illinois Swimming that I had not seen in over 5 years! So in addition to simply being excited to race on Sunday, I had some other things to look forward to as well.

The race was a nice early 7 am start, which outside of the 4:00 am wake up call, I love. We were off promptly at 7:03, 3 minutes behind the professional men, into the beautiful 64-degree waters of Lake Michigan. I felt strong on the swim, but I did not really swim with anyone so I don’t think I pushed myself ‘too’ hard, but I found a nice rhythym and thoroughly enjoyed it. I wore my Zoot sleeveless suit, which was absolutely perfect for these conditions; in a full suit, I would have definitely gotten too toasty. I came out and started the long run on the sand to transition area, grabbed my fancy new aero helmet and was off on the bike. I found myself a bit hungry, and began taking my PowerGels (in my gel flask) early in; I even grabbed a Hammer Gel at an aid station in case I needed ‘more’. I lead about the first 10 miles of the bike and then got caught by a few women, but tried to hold a strong pace. I didn’t feel too fantastic on the bike today, not terrible but just not particularly ‘strong’. I tried to push that out of my mind and just focus on keeping my power up.

Eventually, I saw the mile 50 mark (Yahoo! This is always a welcome sight) and started getting in all of my remaining gels, some more water and thinking about the run. I had a great dismount off my bike into transition and was off and running…I checked my Suunto watch, which said ’10:13′ so I could get an idea what kind of pace I was running. Although my legs felt HEAVY, they came around quickly and I was able to click off 6-min+ pace from the first mile. I felt strong! However, I was also pretty tired so I told myself ‘control and dial in the pace’. Which I did, I knew that there were some very strong runners up ahead of me (Lisa Bentley, Heather Gollnick) and I knew the had a few minutes on me. A few people yelled out ‘2 minutes back! 1 minute back!’ but at this point in the race, I knew I had to hold this pace for at least 6-10 miles before picking it up. I took in 3 gels the run, at miles 3, 7, and 10 and maintained a very strong pace…strong enough to pick up speed at mile 12 and push to the finish. I saw the clock ticking away at about 4:33 and change, meaning, wow! I was a 4:30!! My best time to date is a 4:37, which I did at Clearwater last fall and at Buffalo Springs in June, so this was a good 6 minutes faster! I also ran a 1:24, personal best run off the bike and 3rd overall fastest run. I saw my parents and smiled to them, and finished in 6th overall and took home a bit of cash…not at all the place I had hoped for, but on a day when I felt about 85% (not ‘great’) I would take this in a heartbeat.

It was an awesome weekend, the weather could not have been better (high was mid/upper 70’s) and I had my parents and a few great friends there as well. Also, I have to say…AWESOME JOB to my friend Jen Peters, who finished her FIRST 1/2 IM in a phenomenal 5:02…all the while, smiling and cheering along the way! Nevermind the fact that she is a lawyer, as well…way to go stud! I highly recommend this race, great organization and a beautiful transition area, swim and run course., and a bike course on mostly country roads…I have to be satisfied with another successful weekend. Thanks so much to all my sponsors, Jack and Adams in Austin, Zoot Tri team, 3 Stories Racing, Suunto, Zipp, and Orbea. Couldn’t do it without all of your support. It is easy to be a bit disappointed that I have not been placing quite as high as I would like to, however I have gone up against some very talented women and, I am dropping a good chunk of time on each race. So, the improvement is there! It is just nice and steady…which, I am ok with. 🙂 I am moving in the right direction.
(Ah! I almost forgot, another BIG CONGRATS to fellow Zoot Tri team member Mike Caiazzo, who finished 3rd among the professional men…way to represent! And thanks for cheering out on the race course, Mike!)

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