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Monday, July 23, 2007

Spirit of Racine 1/2 IM: A Personal Best!

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!)

3 comments:

Jennifer said...

Kelly! Great job yesterday! I loved seeing you and your parents! Thanks for the shout out! :) Hope to see you again very, very soon (I'm still hoping for a change of heart regarding Accenture/Chicago).

High Voltage Electrical Tech said...

Here are some photos of the Triathlon in Racine this past weekend.
http://www.4himphotography.smugmug.com/gallery/3193494#176976550

trigirl_330 said...

Hey, Kelly!
I was flipping through the channels a few Sundays ago and came across a stud woman CRUISING on her bike. "Hey, that kinda looks like Kelly." Then, the screen flashed "Top Pro Women Out of the Water - Kelly Handel by almost 2 minutes!". It was the Spirit of Racine on the local Comcast Sports Channel! Not only are you a rock star athlete, but now you are a TV star as well:) It was so much fun to see you and Jen race in Racine. You were amazing!