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!)
Well, this one will warrant a pretty hefty race report which I will publish later this week. All in all a fantastic weekend, as I had the nicest homestay and Geneva is simply a beautiful place! No big city here, a small little town tucked in upstate NY (or at least, I think it is considered ‘upstate’?), green rolling hills, Seneca Lake (a 40-mile long river and at its deepest part, 400 meters deep) running through the town and dozens of wineries. What more do you need?
Getting there was seemless, as I arrived on time, got my rental car and was in Geneva by Thursday afternoon. The return was not so smooth, as I was overcharged for my bike at the airport ($150! BEWARE OF UNITED, all you triathletes, I am warning you now) and had to return my rental car with the gas tank 1/2 empty…this stuff ate at me the whole flight home, but upon reflection, the race was a very solid effort and considering that I really am not training myself to go 100% max effort for 2 hours straight, I did all I could in the end. I was 9th out of the swim, not very good but again I got a bit buried in the washing machine start and by the time I found clear water the front pack was far ahead; Solo-ed most of the bike, which I believe was the norm for the 25-person womens field as there were some good rollers and technical sections on this 8-loop course; and ran like hell. The run was great, second fastest run of the day and I probably passed 8-9 women on the run. In 6 miles, not too shabby! It was also 6-1 mile loops through a beautiful park, and at 5:00 in the evening, it had become overcast and we were running right along the water…very cool! I ran myself into 7th place and to put it mildly, was toast at the end.
I forgot how incredibly hard those races are. I don’t like to go maximally hard, I don’t have those fast-twitch fibers in me. So I fight really hard to find them. And that fighting hurts, really bad. 🙂 But again, I enjoyed the challenge of it…but it confirms that I truely feel like I am in the right place right now, sticking to non-drafting and 1/2 Ironmans! So…check out the race report later this week, which will be on my website (www.kellyhandel.com). Thanks for reading~!