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.