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Bluffing my way to Vegas…An Update of Sorts

Paddling 2

I’ve been a little lax in my recent updates, so I figured while I am here at The Westin Lake Las Vegas relaxing before the race I would bring you up to speed. After Rev 3 Williamsburg, Derick and I took off for our 5-week stint in Salida, Colorado. All three of us have a purpose on this trip. I enjoy the cooler temps, altitude, and huge mountains to climb, as I put in the final touches before the big races. Derick gets his coaching work in while he carves out as much time as he can to to mountain bike and fly fish.  Amico enjoys playing in the Arkansas River at last twice each day, biting the waves, and discovering his inner fish. And we hit up Amica‘s pizza and beer (yes, our dog was named after this place) at least 3 times a week. Life is good, slow, and simple in Salida. I squeaked in a race while there, Rev 3 Wisconsin, which, simply put, sucked. Not the race production itself, but my performance. The awesome part was that my entire family (mom, dad, sisters, bro-in-law, 3 nephews and 1 niece) all came up to support, which made the trip great. We stayed at the Kalahari Resort which backed up to the largest water park (indoors and out) I’ve ever seen. Everyone wore themselves out on Friday and Saturday playing in the water, swimming, and ‘hydrating’, while I snuck in short stints with them outside (and two water slides) but otherwise tried to keep my feet up. Race day, I felt flat from the gun. Heavy legs in the swim, struggle on the bike, and mediocre on the run. When I wanted to quit due to feeling sorry for myself and acknowledging that I have had some struggles this season, I thought of my family who came to watch and the 4 kiddos there to cheer me on, and I did not want to have to tell them I quit because I “did not feel good”. I would have finished dead last before quitting, especially with them there. I pushed as hard as I could to the finish and, while frustrated (and in tears),  tried to still hold my head high. I was a bit upset, but nothing like family support when we feel discouraged and down on ourselves.

I’d love to say that I am bluffing my way to Vegas. That this is all part of my Master Plan… that I could have won many races this year, but I am saving up for the big one…trying to fly under the radar as I so like to do! In reality? Not so much. This result in Wisconsin was not just  ‘this one race’, but moreso the culmination of what I have been struggling with this season. Ever since January, I have found that my legs (more recently my left leg) have been feeling like they are ‘shutting down on me’, especially upon higher end efforts. It started only on the bike, but since late Spring been happening when running as well. As amazing as our Colorado trip is, it was also fairly stressful, as the leg felt worse there than it has all year. Bike workouts that started out as 6×6 minutes at max effort became 8×4 minutes when I realized my power plummeted after 4 minutes. The runs I so love to do in Salida (such as 10-12 mile Tempo Runs that start at 7,000 ft and peak at 10,000 ft) became 12-minute hill intervals up S Mountain, and on days my leg shut off  too quickly on those, they became 4 minute intervals up S Mountain.  Most of my training has always been things I can handle, yet that adequately challenge me…it is extremely rare for me to have to stop short of completing a workout.  But by July and August, it seemed the workouts I could nail were less frequent than those I had to adjust on the fly. It may sound minor, but look at it this way. At your job you may need to be “ON” 2-3 days each week; you prepare for those days mentally and physically. When you’re not, and you ‘fail’ on those days, it’s stressful, frustrating and can leave you with so many questions as to ‘why’. This is how the past few months have been.

We have some ideas as to what could be causing this, from the help of so many (amazing folks at Memorial Hermann, Devon Hornby, Kendal Jacobson,  my husband…always the ongoing support from all of my sponsors, and a few good friends who have spent time talking to me about their experiences) but we will not have any firm answers until late September. Deciding to race Hy-Vee and Vegas was a tough call for me. While this is not totally crippling me, it puts me in that gray zone where I can physically do most of what I need to do, yet the higher intensities to sustain are tough and on some days impossible. And it’s not a lack of will or lack of putting up with pain, it is precisely the lack of a cooperating leg that feels like it is suffocating; shutting off. It is ironic that I opted out of Ironman this season; I think I would be fine for a longer duration at slightly lower intensity.  But when we decided to push forward with Hy-Vee and Vegas, it was for a few reasons.

  • I’m not ‘unable’ to compete;  I just have to acknowledge that it ‘could’ be off of what I had expected before the season began…some expectation management if you will, a lesson we all must learn at some point.
  • I was qualified for both events. I had made it there, despite this, all season… hope is not completely gone.
  • Some days the leg feels better than others; and if I had gone out to train on race day, in Austin, and felt great, I would forever regret my decision; when given the option, I’d rather live with failure than live with regret.
  • The work has been done (for the most part)…while lacking some high end sustained training, I still put in the miles and fought through the frustrating workouts; I do believe that this has to count for something.
  • Rest can do wonders… my wise husband has told me to rest like hell and hope that maybe it will allow me to feel better than I would expect on race day. I don’t always do it, but this time, I have listened to him!

So there you have it. I was very apprehensive before Hy-Vee this past weekend; a huge field, and I was coming in with a gimpy leg, sucky training and little confidence.  As relaxed as I was (I used it as a chance to ‘take the pressure off’ myself, not expect something unreasonable), I actually felt better than I have most of the season. A decent swim, a solid bike (and sustained power that I have not seen in awhile), and a run that felt mediocre but was still fairly good. My head was in the game, and I was fighting for it out there. The fire was there, and it was strong; that was encouraging. Once I got into the race, I realized that I had NOT given up on myself…despite all of the uncertainties.

The plan was we would decide Vegas based on Hy-Vee. I came out of it wanting more; feeling like I had more in me. So from there, it was onto Vegas; where I am now. I feel in a good place, relaxed, and excited to toe the line on Sunday. Derick and I have tried to troubleshoot how I produced such good power at Hy-Vee yet lost time; we have decided I need to be good about staying aerodynamic as much as possible. I think I tend to come up too much. I simply cannot afford to lose more time to these powerhouses on the bike! One idea is we put superglue on my aero bars, so when I’m down, I’m down for good. Another is we hire someone to ride next to me and shoot me with a BB gun every time I come up unnecessarily. Any takers?! Bottom line is, I will get out there and swim with the strength and confidence I know is in me, bike like I can’t give up a single second, and run like hell; if the leg hurts, I’ll do my best to tell it to shut the f*ck up for 4.5 hours!

This season, thus far, has not been the one I had hoped for, but I am a firm believer that anything is possible; especially on race day. While I have the utmost respect for this incredible field that will assemble, I also know the fire and drive that is inside of me. I know the ups and downs I have felt this past season; they are some I’ve not dealt with in a few years, if ever. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, I almost felt like I was on autopilot; do the work, put your head down, see the results. I am extremely thankful for the success’, but I also believe that sifting your way through the shit in life makes you a stronger person. I believe that heart and vision can take you far. So on Sunday, I will do my best to push my doubts to the back of my mind; and as I always have, approach it not afraid to fail, but propelled by a lot of heart to succeed.

Edited Flower 1


D and Dog Fishing

D Mtn Biking Salida

Swim Exit High 5 Will

Dells and Kids!

Cottonwood Pass

Float Trip


3 replies on “Bluffing my way to Vegas…An Update of Sorts”

As usual, a forthright and gutsy account of where you are right now. As you note, anything-ANYTHING- can happen on race day. May the force be with you!

Kelly, I’ve experienced similar symptoms since January that have progressively worsened. Unlike you I didn’t have the mental strength to bluff my way through the season. You are one tough chick — physically and mentally! I wish I had that much strength.

I finally have a diagnosis and next week head to the University of Virginia in hopes of resolving my issue. Good luck to you in getting answers and getting your legs back.

I know you’ve already raced in Vegas (I’m a little behind on my reading…), but wanted to say that I’ve been thinking of you and hoping that you are close to solving the leg issues. As always, you have found some positive and hope in everything and you know that I love your insights into it all. Thanks for always being honest and real, and hopefully you get some answers and progress with the leg soon!

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