Monday, August 27, 2007

Chicago Triathlon

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 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.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Newest Member of the Yellow Tower House

This is our house in Austin. It is yellow and it has a tower. No, you cannot go up into the tower unfortunately and read a book or spy on neighbors. It is just a facade. The ceiling is all 'even', it is just a little ...nook.
Anyhoo, last fall upon moving to Austin we adopted a pet chicken. I thought it was a rooster, but I guess I don't know my birds very well. Ruby was a nice little addition, but little did we know it is quite common to have chickens around here. Thus, after a month or so of luring her to stay under our steps (see little brown steps to left), our landlady swiped her up to add her to her chicken coop down the street. What can I say, Austin has not gotten the motto "Keep Austin Weird" for nothing.
On to our newest pet, Tripod. Tripod is the cutest little kitten that started hanging around our back porch. Derick named her Tripod so lovingly as, well, she only has 3 feet. 3 FEET, not 3 LEGS. She has one back leg but you know how cats have their 'thigh' that is rounded, and the long foot attached? Well, Tripod is missing just the foot. So, she seemed to like to sit on our back porch and look up at us. She is a-dorable, and this coming from someone who is 100% dog-person. Well it didn't take long before I started feeding her (she does not like soymilk so luckily I had a can of tuna fish). She ate it and of course, she has come back for more. So now I get to wake up in the AM and first thing I can check for her. And when those big green eyes are staring at me longingly, I cannot even make the coffee before attending to her.
She now has her own cat water and food bowl, even personalized. "Tripod's Water" and "Tripod's Snacks". Sometimes I see an UGLY RACCOON out there in the evening trying to finish up her leftover dinner, and good lord those things are tough to scare yell, bang on the door, they just look at you. Eww they are gnarly looking creatures. So now I feed Tripod only enough for her to eat.
Speaking of which, I think it is time for her dinner. And time for my beer. Ah! There she is. If only she'd let us get close enough to pet her...all in due time, I guess.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

"Gooin' to the chapel, and I'm..."

No no no, I am not getting married. But this weekend was a wedding filled event. I went to Pensacola, FL for my good friend Laura Reid's wedding. It was a fun weekend, though I was ready to get back and into the swing o' things. I really 'girled' it up...we had pedicures and manicures on Thursday upon my arrival (which I have to say...I really like my nails, which usually I cannot stand to paint. My toes are ALWAYS painted but never my hands...feel like it suffocates them..?!) and Friday we went out on a mini-sail boat. It had a name, something like a Hobe? It was great! Very cool. Then it was the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, drinks of course, and Saturday was just filled from start to finish. We even went to an Aveda salon and got our hair done (as I was in the wedding). The wedding was at 5:00, went off without a hitch in one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen, I believe it is one of the oldest churches in the country? I will post a pic if I get one from someone...and the reception was just a fun time. I am not into going out to bars to dance, but I sure love to at weddings! This morning I returned at 6:30 AM, which meant my wake up call was 4:30. So...needless to say, I am pretty tired and managed to ride for 1.5 hours this afternoon but in the 99-degree Austin heat it was a struggle. But, a very fun weekend! A refreshing change of pace, for sure.

Also...I decided to 'go for it' and sign up for Chicago Triathlon! This was on my schedule, but I was feeling 'raced out' a bit. However, I have some great college friends who will be competing as well and I will stay with them. And I have been finding myself very excited to race this year, which is a change from past years. I have NEVER 'disliked' racing but usually I am happy saying "I'll skip it..." and just keeping my races limited. But you know, I do not wake up at the crack of dawn to train most days only to hit up a second workout mid-day for nothing! The races are the reward...even if they don't go as I want them to, I rarely walk away without learning something and/or just enjoying myself!

So this week will be a big bike week! I just re-wrote my schedule based on doing pretty little all weekend, and I am anxious to stick to it. The weather in Austin is at its hottest of the year, predicted to be upper 90's all week, which means I have to try my best to either ride in the later morning or do a 'key ride' on my trainer. It is a STRUGGLE to say the least in this heat. Well it is time for dinner and some relax-time now. I hope you all are well...and thanks for reading. :)

Sunday, August 5, 2007

One Generic Triathlon

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 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.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

To Race, Or Not To Race?

...or just drink a beer instead of worrying about it?

I have enjoyed the week of getting back to my routine, which despite being quite busy this week, it is good. There are a lot of little 'opportunities' that have come up which are exciting. I can get stressed easily, yet I probably get bored even this is a good thing. I finally got on my new Orbea Ora TT bike! It feels awesome. Odd, definitely; That whole shifting thing is totally new to me. I even got my SRM on it this week, so I can start to see if I am a power machine on this bike. :) One could only hope...

I really jumped back into training, only one week off and I was rearing to go. Maybe a bit too much, as I have been pretty tired. Which is OK, but I think when you 'go' as much as I (and many of us) do, you really need to monitor those fatigue levels well. I decided to sign up for the Redman 1/2 Ironman which is September 22, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I have a lot of family there (aunt, uncle, cousin, etc) and my parents will come down as well, so to me it will be a great time to visit and get in a good training effort as well. It is a smaller, low-key race which is nice for a change. My debate is Chicago Triathlon, as I am in limbo. One minute I think I want to race it 100%, the next minute I feel like I have been going non-stop for a few months and maybe I need some more time at 'home base'. I'll need to decide soon, as it is on August 26th, just 4 weeks away. We shall the meantime, I will get ready for the 3 Stories Racing MOONPIE TRACK MEET tomorrow night (I'll help out, as I am running in the AM) and JACK'S GENERIC sprint triathlon on Sunday..."Where you're more than a number, you're a barcode." What an awesome slogan?!

That is it for me right now. Rather than mulling this over, I am going to enjoy my STONE IPA (Yes, Stone Brewing in San Diego, CA...I LOVE YOUR BEER, you can sponser me if you want...just product will do) and make an omlette for dinner. Happy Thursday. :)