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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Racing Without Expectations...

Sometimes, we have to get outside of our comfort zone. Even though we may not feel entirely prepared for something, it can be good for us to 'just do it' in the infamous words of Nike (and so profound) and force ourselves to throw expectations out the window.

I decided a few days ago to do the Jingle Bell 5k this morning. I did this 2 years ago and won it, getting this kick-ass gift basket packed with fun things like fancy sauces, olive oil and a gift certificate for Run Tex to be outfitted head-to-toe! I think I pulled off a 17:30 or something. I am not sure where it came from, as I was far from it today...but, back to my story. I knew it was 'just 3-miles' so I could get through it, and I have been running semi-consistently lately. I am about to go to Indiana for 2 weeks to spend time hanging out at my parents cabin, enjoying the cold, seeing family and doing some nice mellow runs. So, why not go out and hurt myself for 3-miles today? And for a good cause nonetheless, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) sponsors the event.

I headed out there early this morning, solo, as Derick had to go to Houston for work. I ran into a few 'running friends' I had not seen in awhile, which was fun, and saw more dogs in a race than ever before! All dressed up as reindeers and such. I felt mediocre warming up, and just figured if I did something 'slow' like 18-flat, so be it. Oh boy was I in for a surprise!

I saw a good friend Chris Kimbrough right at the start line, who is just flat out speedy. I laughed to myself, thinking "I hope she does not school me too much..." We took off and my first mile was about 5:51. Not bad, but it felt more like a 5:40...meaning, it kind of hurt. So be it! Damn the goals, Kelly! I continued on, a small ways behind the 2nd place woman (Cassie Heinkel, also a pretty speedy Austin-ite) and came through mile 2 at 11:52ish... 6-min for second mile. Wow, this is my 1/2 marathon pace! Awesome! (insert sarcasm here).... We had a slight downhill towards mile 3 and heading back towards the finish, but holy shit did it hurt! It was a particularly humid December morning which made it even tougher, but I pushed on to a painful 18:30, which if I were feeling motivated could have been an 18:25 but I just kind of strolled those last 100 yards... OUCH! What was I thinking, "18-min would be acceptable"? After this, I think I'd change that to 'impossible'!

So...bottom line is I went out there and did it. I enjoyed myself, and I think that it is so good to occassionally go out to compete knowing we may not 'all be there' today. It is like putting your pride right on the line. And walking away saying "Well, if that's the best you've got today, it's the best you've got. So be it."

Big Picture? I am fully aware that an 18:30-5k is a very respectable time. But I seemed to rip of these mid-17's a year ago...from where?! I do not know...but I am glad I went out and participated. It hurt and today, it was the best in me! It was also so great to see a few runner-friends that I had not seen in quite some time. I met Cassie, whom I have heard a lot about in Austin but had yet to meet...a very cool girl. I also saw many kids, parents and dogs all out there running 3.1! Way to go everyone, and especially to Tim, Peggy, Colleen and Kristin Pletcher...the whole family was out there running, even Comet the dog! It was great to see all of the smiling people, along with the spirit of Christmas (despite the 70-degree humid conditions) out there having fun and being active. Yet another reason, Austin is one very cool town.

Thank you for reading, and take-home lesson is, just get out there and compete...let the results fall where they may! It is healthy on occassion... for all of us!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Small Mention in Statesman "Fit City Blog"

I just wanted to mention a nice article (blog) that Pam Leblanc, who writes for the Austin American Statesman, posted this morning on her "Fit City Blog". I met with Pam last Friday at Austin Java, one my my favorite little hangouts, as Derick had mentioned that we should 'meet'. He spoke with her a few weeks back and he learned that Pam is a swimmer. I think that in Derick's eyes, anyone who swims by choice more than 3x/week and has done so all of their life has something bizarre in common and therefore are 'linked' in some way. Well, come to find out Pam and I had more in common than just swimming (mountains, skiing, inability to sit still...) and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her a bit. I felt as though we could have sat there and talked for hours.
Thanks Pam for the little write up. And imagine this, she was so 'accurate' in what she wrote! Not always the case, so it is much appreciated!

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Muhnday!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Down Time...What you been up to?

I guess you could say I get 'off schedule' with blogging once the racing slows down/stops. In all honesty, since Clearwater, I feel like this is the first weekend I have 'truly' slowed down! What has been going on since November 8?

The weekend before Thanksgiving, Derick, myself, Adam Mills and Joseph LaFico (representing Source Endurance) all headed to Shreveport, Louisiana for a 'triathlon clinic weekend' with the Sunrise Triathlon Club. We took off on Friday, arrived back on Sunday night. It was a good weekend, as we did a 3-hr bike skills clinic on Saturday morning with about 20 of them (in 34-degree weather...they were troopers, and we had to act like it wasn't cold!) followed by a brief transition clinic later that afternoon. The evening consisted of mexican food and a presentation by Derick on 'Specificity of Training'. He is so good at this stuff...it seemed people were just hanging onto his every word. We got out of there at about 10:00, so it made for a long day, but we got to put in a 2.5-hr ride on Sunday morning before heading back, and had a great turnout, probably close to 30 people. I think that people had a good time, learned a bit and came away a bit more excited about their '09 seasons.

The next 'big event' was our Thanksgiving trip to the south to see Derick's family. We took off Wednesday (2 days after Shreveport) and flew into Greenville, SC. If you have not been there, it is a very cool town to check out...almost reminds me of Portland, Maine. But we didn't stop there! We got into the car and drove right to Roanoke, Virginia to see his grandparents, aunts and uncles. So Wednesday was ALL travel! But we stuck there for a few days, to come back on Friday and spend a long weekend with Derick's twin sister Kristin, her husband and Derick's parents. Our plans to come back on Monday night were thrown off, as there were plane delays...so we got back on Tuesday 10:00 AM, which was alright but Derick had 2 exams that week and I took the GRE on Thursday!

On to the GRE. That is the stupidest, most ridiculous exam ever invented. I do not recommend this test to anyone. If at all you can get into graduate school without it, do it. I studied for hours on end just to familiarize myself with what to expect...that is about all the good it did. I knew the 'kinds' of questions to expect but it still throws you for a big loop, no matter how prepared you are. Unless you are like our friend Scott Dwyer, who breezed through it with 2 days notice. I hate people like Scott. (Sorry, Scott)... :) In any case, I did good enough and my scores are now with Texas State San Marcos, and I am looking into other various Health Psychology programs across the country. All in 'desirable cities', of course (some being Burlington, VT - Ft. Collins, CO - Missoula, MT - Boone, NC - Durham, NC - ...we miss the mountains!)

Other than that, life is life as usual. This morning was the Decker Half Marathon. I debated up until yesterday doing it, just 'for fun' (but can I really DO that?!) but after a 2-hour very hilly and very tiring bike ride, decided I was not really in the shape to do it and would just hit up a long hilly run this morning. I have not had the itch to race much lately, but I think that it is good to listen to your instinct sometimes...13.1 hilly hard miles did not sound fun to me, but the Jingle Bell 5k next Sunday kind of does...maybe I'll do that one instead?

I hope ya'll are having a nice holiday season and enjoying it, December comes and goes in a blink each year and it really is a nice time to try to take a deep breath and think back on all you are thankful for from the previous year...so slow down and relax! (and I'll finally try to do the same)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Prepare - Compete - Walk Away - Enjoy...

Well the 2008 Season has officially come and gone! Technically, it was 'shorter' than previous years, not kicking it off until June. However, having trained for the Austin Marathon in February, I guess that my 'racing season' has technically spanned about 10 months. Thus would explain my excitement at the prospect of sleeping in, unstructured activity and a good solid break lying ahead...

Clearwater was a solid day. I felt that I had to 'tweak' my expectations a bit, having had a bizarre and sudden sore throat the week prior. However, absolutely no excuses...I feel that the added rest was good for me, as I ran on Thursday after arriving to Florida for 30 minutes and it was quite nice to feel springy and 'fresh' legs! I then rode Friday AM for about 30 minutes, and again, felt very strong and wanted to ride longer. I felt as ready as I could be for Saturdays race, and I was excited that my parents were both there to support (as they have been in both '06 and '07).

The morning was beautiful, a bit cool but very comfortable. As usual the transition area buzzed with activity, though I cannot say I got very 'amped up'; I rather try to simply keep myself calm on race morning. The nerves start to crop up, and I just do my best to keep it all together until the gun goes off.
We lined up on the beach, and I made a stupid mistake before we even started. I had loaded body glide on my neck to prevent chafing, and for some odd reason, then touched my goggles. I looked through them with a few minutes to go and yikes; it was very blurry! I had to run around asking person upon person to use their shirt to wipe them off. Luckily I found a nice woman with a furry-lined sweatshirt that worked perfectly.

Right at about 6:47 as planned, we were off to the sound of the horn. Beach start and we all ran into the Gulf. I felt I found a decent position, as I could see the quickest few women bolting out in front of me, with some clear water between us. Suddenly I began to have a mild panic attack. Having not worn my Zoot long-sleeved wetsuit much this summer (only in Racine), I think that I felt a bit of 'suffocation'. I really had talk myself out of it, which I did, but only after a quick 2-second 'treading water' stint and a LOT of strict self-talk. I honestly debated stopping and taking it off. It is very scary when this happens...yes, it happens to even strong swimmers...and you really have to be focused and 'realistic' in talking yourself out of it ('I am fine, I can breathe, Just relax, Stop being ridiculous, You are not dying', etc).

I felt even better once we turned back to the beach, and picked up a bit more speed, putting a small gap on a few women I had been swimming with. I exited in 24+ minutes, not stellar, and about a minute behind the lead pack. ,
On to the bike, which simply just FELT HARD today. There was no fixing it; my legs felt quite flat. I acknowledged this early on, and I knew I was in a bit of trouble when standing to change position seemed to induce even more fatigue in my legs (I typically love to climb). But hey, what choice did I have but to just keep on pushing. I exited in a split of about 2:29, unfortunately 3 minutes slower than last years split, but all I could do at this point was to run my ass off and hope to make up a few places.

I grabbed my 4 gels and was off. The sun was heating up a bit but conditions still pleasant, by no means 'hot' and definitely not 'Texas hot'. Since last year I 'cracked' on this course around mile 9, my goal this year was 'control' the whole time until mile 9 or 10 then try to lay out all I had left. I followed my plan well, and was able to finish in a 1:26 run split, again a solid time but interestingly enough, the same time I ran on the Longhorn course which was significantly tougher than Clearwater!
I was a lucky soul who crossed as the 14th pro woman (5th American, doesn't that have a better ring?) and then got yanked for drug testing. Seriously, why do they put us through it if we are (well) out of the money?! But in the bigger picture, I am glad they do it and of course I obliged, which did not get my parents and I out of there for about another 2 hours. We hit up Subway, ate some lunch, and I toted my tired, beat up body back to our hotel where I proceeded to go lay by the swimming pool in the late afternoon Florida sun.

IN SUM? Not entirely the day I had hoped for, a time of 4:24 in 14th place (oddly enough I was 18th in '06 and 16th in '07). I had visions after doing Spirit of Racine in 4:23 of cruising to a sub-4:20 here to end my season. Actually I firmly believe that I can do that. But for whatever reason, it just was not in me on this day.

I have been doing these crazy endurance feats all of my life; and I mean ALL my life. I was racing summer swim meets at age 5, competing with the boys in soccer at age 6. I used to beat myself up at age 13 for a bad swimming race, cried after numerous Junior National sub-par performances in my teenage years...in college I grew up a bit (maybe the alcohol mellowed me out), but I am willing to bet that my college coaches will say I worked my ass off and often still beat myself up after races. I guess that is just part of who I am.

But I feel that today, and even this entire season, I have taken a step 'forward' and I can approach each race as a challenge and an experience. This weekend, it was a challenge against the 'best in the world' (or at least the best who were here!) and an experience of yet again testing my limits, but also spending a few quality days with my parents, who never cease to amaze me in their unconditional support. We enjoyed the trip immensely, despite a performance that was not what I had hoped. I have learned not to let a bad race ruin a quality trip.
I hope that ya'll had the season you had hoped for. And if you did not, by chance, I hope that you grew a bit through the ups and downs, and that you are walking away from it with a new perspective and a light heart. We are likely all pretty hard on ourselves, as conscientious, hard-working individuals. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and know you left it all out there, and there are many more important things in life...and none of us are ever as good as we are on our best day, nor as bad as we are on our worst...and that it all just contributes to who we become, but it does not define it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

One Last Hurrah for '08...

After a week of some ups and downs, I'll pack up for Clearwater tomorrow. I got 'hit' with a very odd sore throat about a week ago. My friend Desiree and I had planned a Polvos Night (my favorite Mexican restaurant nearby, walk there...stumble home) on Thursday and I felt like crap walking down there. Which is odd because typically margaritas and good company make Kelly HAPPY. Needless to say we had a great alcohol-laden evening, however a bad sore throat and some fatigue just persisted for a few days. I trucked on through the weekend but scaled everything back, being a good tapering girl, but the sore throat kept getting worse. It felt like I had swallowed a tortilla chip that scratched the entire right side of my throat. Strange.

On Monday I went to the doctor (after which some severe frustration ensued, due to the bill...) but they said it seemed viral vs. bacterial and would likely clear up soon. Much to my surprise, this evening it is feeing a bit better and I even had a semi-solid run. So; decision had to be made, we'll give it a go! Originally I thought "If I cannot go and be in the condition to put up a solid PR, I'll bail" knowing I have done this race 2x and am not going 'just to go'. But you know, we never ever know how we'll feel come race day, no matter how well things go heading into it...

I think I just worry that if I bailed and felt great by Friday, I'd regret it. So I have to go into it with big but realistic expectations! I think I can do that. My mom said to me (as my parents will meet me there, kind of a tradition for this race, a good reason for them to escape Indiana for a few days), "Kelly you better not be pissed if you don't do well!" She is right; she is good to keep me 'honest', but in all reality, there is a bigger picture...

I have had a great year of racing (that started in February), have enjoyed it all and feel blessed with some big successes. Even more importantly, in September I married the man I have been with for 5 years now...and 2 years ago, that was something I was not sure would happen! So life is very good, and I have everything to be thankful for. If this race goes as good as I'd like it to, just a bit more icing on the cake.

...That being said, I DO like icing... :)
Thanks for reading and Happy November! Best time of the year.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Eat Your Spinach

...or rather, drink your energy drink, eat your gels and fuel your workouts; a novel concept for someone who has been competing in endurance sports for um how long? My whole life? I saw the 'proof' of this concept yesterday. Just give me a couple of minutes here...

Don't get me wrong, don't pin me as a complete idiot. I am very good about fueling up before a workout, though I am a big fan of 'real food' and avoiding gels, drinks, supplements as much as possible. However, I know that especially in a hot climate like Texas, there is a definite need for extra sodium thus energy drinks come in quite handy.

I went out for a 'hard bike' yesterday, following a tough Tempo run in the AM on already tired legs. I guess in my old age of 30, a day of recovery between 2 hard days did not quite cut it. In any case, I was heading out to go to Mt. Bonnell, a nice, short and pretty steep climb (about 2.5 minutes in duration) whereby my plan was to do 8x. Just going out there, I could tell the legs were a bit trashed...but, I had prepared! Being a very cool day here in Austin, I still decided to fill one bottle with water and one with Gu2O. I got to Mt. Bonnell and hit up my first effort; the average for my first effort was about 250W, good for me but not great. The second was 269W; wow, that is pretty flipping good for a little scrawny person like me. Each time I finished an effort, I took 2 gulps of my Gu2O drink and recovered, descending and then going up again. As I progressed, I just kept feeling better and better...it was pretty bizarre. At the end of my 7th effort, I saw mid-300's on my SRM. Wow! OK this is just crazy. I descended for effort #8, happy this was almost done but motivated as hell to finish it strong. I put my Ipod to (do not laugh...) Shakira 'Hips Don't Lie' and started it off. By the time I completed this effort, I had averaged 284W on my last 2 min of what ended up being almost 20 minutes of maximal efforts. Incredible!!!

So; long story short, consuming carbohydrates consistently throughout especially a harder workout likely DOES actually increase the quality of the workout and therefore the speed/power/intensity we can reproduce! Brilliance! (...No, I am not trying to be all technical and bookish about this...really just mocking myself because I am stubborn as shit and often times refuse to drink much more than water during workouts; I will note, however, that I am very 'good' in races, often times taking 2 gels in an Olympic distance race and up to 10 in a half-ironman).

Lesson? Do as I say, not as I do. In training, that is.

Happy weekend to ya'll...we have finally gotten a taste of fall here in Austin and I am loving it; 'football weather' has finally arrived.

Monday, October 6, 2008

PERSPECTIVE

Seeing that 90% of my blog posts are triathlon or sport-related, it was quite refreshing to post something with pictures nonetheless that was completely not related to triathlon. However; only 2 weeks later, and I am back to this topic! Not a bad thing, but I'll explain that as I continue...

I ended up racing the local Longhorn 70.3 race yesterday. I was completely back and forth about doing it, as ever since the wedding, I have been struggling to find 'inner' motivation to train. I was very shocked to find that the weekend really had an impact on me. Seeing that Derick and I have been living together for 4 years prior to getting married, I figured "Ah, it will just 'make it official'..." Which it did, but the 3 days spent with incredible friends and family really hit home with me as to what is 'truly' important in life. Not to dismiss ones passions, but it made me think about where I spend my time and what I do this for....

On to the race, I woke up Sunday morning and really did not want to race. I almost even had a pit in my stomach...and it was not nerves. I could not really figure it out, was it because in Malibu I had raced quite 'mediocre' (in addition to having a hideous swim)...was I just lacking confidence? Or, was I feeling something I had really never felt, that I just did not want to do this triathlon? I tried to not 'over-analyze' as it was about 5 am, but Derick and I drove out to Walter E Long park and I got to setting up. I started to get more 'excited' and told myself, "Kelly..just race because you love to 'do' this stuff. Swim to swim, bike to bike and run to race." And that I did. I was able to find my 'groove', and had a solid swim...a bit off where I probably should have been, but did what I could. On the bike, I got excited the first 10 miles, and from then on, it was quite painful. I had so many crazy thoughts..."So THIS is why people put in big bike miles...so they do not feel like this..." and "Oh my GOSH this hurts! 8 days off was not too good for me..." to "Ah...there are a lot of ruts out here, maybe I'll flat...that would not be so bad...". I am not kidding! I think I was looking for an excuse to make it stop! Then as I neared the run, I got more excited. This is usually where I can shine, but today, will it be there?

I came into transition, kind of laughing silently at myself because I had to of been in about 11th/15 women. But hey, you never know what can happen, 13-miles is a long way. I took off and felt great. I think my first 1-2 miles were low-6 min pace. By the time I came through the 1/2 way point, I heard Derick and so many other great friends cheering. I knew I was making up ground, but from 11th? What could that really get me? This course is extremely tough, especially the run, and that second loop hurt, but I was able to take off a few more women (though I had to encourage everyone, because I am sure that we were all hurting together!) and by mile 12, I knew I had a top-5 spot secured.
I very happily crossed in 4th place, which was a great finish considering that my motivation and preparation felt less-than-stellar!

So, lesson learned - Sometimes racing without preconceived expectations can be a very good thing. I love to line myself up against the best, I love the challenge it presents. But to be honest, we all get 'tired' at times...I think I was just feeling mentally 'tired' going into this race. So, instead of pulling out because I feared I'd embarrass myself, I decided to just go out and do the best I could do on this day. I was really able to stay in the moment the whole time, without worrying that I had dropped from 3rd in the swim to 11th off the bike...I raced to enjoy the process and enjoy what my body allows me to go do. Of course, winning money and finishing 4th was a nice added reward!

But I can still walk away from this race with that perspective I went into it with...that no matter what you do, remember that motivates you. Make sure that it is something internal, something personal. Remember what is 'truly' important in life. I have heard people say that 'getting married is really one of the few big life-changing experiences you have'...I now know what they mean..and 'life-changing' in a very, very good way... Thank you for reading. :)


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wedding Weekend!

We got back on Monday, far far too early...from what could not have been a better weekend. The family, friends and 'events' were just perfect. My sisters and I had a little 'girls evening' on Thursday, as I drove up to Indy and we had pedicures and drinks/apps ('Beautiful Girls' reference there), which was great to catch up with them. I woke up a bit foggy Friday AM (this became a regular thing the next 3 days!) and drove to Trafalgar, where I met my mom, Aunt Sandy, Derick's mom Donna, his twin sister Kristin, my sisters Cori and Robin and good friend Laura all at 'Muddy Boots' cafe for a brunch. They gave me little gifts that I was embarassed to open at a coffee shop and we ate some good food...I think 1/2 of us had the grilled cheese. Then Friday was the 'No-Rehearsal' Dinner at my parents place (as we did not 'rehearse' anything...what's there to practice?) which went into the wee hours of morning, as Martha Berner got out her guitar and we all sat around the campfire, drinkin' and talkin'. Saturday was busy but fun, I got up for a solo-run (just 40 min or so) and then made some eggs. I figured I may not eat much as the day went on and I did not want to be a sloppy, drunken bride! ha! Myself and my bridesmaids (Robin, Cori, Emily and Laura) got our hair done at the only place in Trafalgar ('The Place for Hair') where they did an incredible job. Then it was off for the big event! The Story Inn was stunning, the weather was perfect and it turned out better than I had imagined....thank you so much to everyone who came to be there, it would not have been the same without you. Now back to 'real life', as I said, far too early...but with so many good things ahead moving forward...

Now for some pictures! Enjoy. :)
~ Kelly Marie Williamson






...this was at the bar, late late at night...notice Derick drinking water at this point? Um, I was too. And the one a couple above is when our friend Jonathon Vetato 'brought the flowers' to us (our boquets) to the room...it was so good to see him, has to be one of the nicest and most fun people you'd ever meet. And he has a beautiful 8-month old named 'Rowan'. Good times, good times...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Malibu Triathlon,...and some more important things...


Photos Courtesy of Daniel Derkacs

I am back in Austin, unpacked, bike built and laundry going from my trip to California. I even had a couple of margaritas and some good mexican food (my favorite, Polvos), since Emily Strong Wenger (yes this is her real name, she got married a week ago and Emily Strong became Emily Strong Wenger...prefers to go by Emily S. Wenger)...picked me up and took me out. Derick got 'swept away' to a little boys night/batchelor party.

I come back with a bit of 'smugness', as I am pretty unhappy with how my race played out. However, having been at this sport for 8 years, I know that each and every race cannot go perfectly and if it does not, then the best thing we can do is learn from it and move on. Meaning, note to self: Suck it up Kelly and stop moping.

It was an incredible setting, as we swam at Zuma Beach in Malibu, a beautiful ocean swim (another note to self, should have taken Zoot Zenith wetsuit as water was a bit chilly), biked up and back the Pacific Coast Highway and ran down along the ocean and back. This was the first year for this event (Nautica Malibu Triathlon) and one thing I will give them as feedback is do not start the professional men, professional women and men 18-24 all together. Our wave had to consist of 100+ people, and thus I had not clue who to 'stick to' and try to stay witn on the swim. Not to complain, as I was 2 minutes back from the lead woman!, but a bit frustrating as I feel this was really where I lost the race. However, I had no idea of this coming out of the water...I loved the ocean swim! You feel so bouyant and the waves are so large and rolling, I may have enjoyed it so much I found a Zen state and forgot about racing...but anyway...

The bike felt strong and I passed a few women, but I realized that a good 5-6 were ahead of me. I wanted to be Top 3 here, but as any race plays out, you learn to just do your absolute best and hope to catch people along the way. Coming off the bike, I saw many women heading out running. I did not like this. :) I knew I had a few mintues to make up. I bolted out of T2 and the run felt fantastic. Downside of this is, seeing the splits, it was 'solid' but far from 'fantastic'. I ran into what I thought was 5th place, however was told 6th...UGH! What do they say? A 'tie' is like kissing your sister? So is getting 6th when the prize money goes 5 deep.

However...there were many highlights to this trip. #1, my homestay. Tina Sathoff and her husband (she is part of the LA Triathlon Club) were beyond accomodating, made me feel so at home and bent over backwards to make this a relaxing and wonderful trip. I mean, she and I had drinks on Rodando Beach pier on Thursday night, and we spent Saturday night at her house watching Ohio State get pummeled by USC (not good) drinking good beer and eating grilled steaks...what more can one ask for? :) I also got to see and race in an area I have not before.

As odd as it seems, I feel very good about my personal race this weekend...I feel like I put it all out there and did not make any mistakes. That is tough to say seeing on paper that I got mashed like a bug by many other women, but I have to be honest...maybe I just got in a bad position on the swim, but I am not one to make excuses...I think all in all this just was not my day. I had a solid run time, but compared to the others, not quite as fast as it felt. But, I am thankful for a safe trip and having met some incredible people along the way...Thank You again to Tina and Blake and the organizers for having set up up in LA!

NOW, I can actually take a week and forget about good or bad training or racing and enjoy something so much bigger, getting married to an amazing person and spending a week with family and friends. As I often say, it is ALL about balance....
Thank you for reading.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Busy gal these days...

Yes I am right now. I am writing from Malibu, CA (well, technically Rodando Beach) right now. I arrived yesterday into LAX airport for the Nautica Malibu Triathlon on Saturday morning. I'll return to Austin Sunday 4 pm to then leave for Indiana on Tuesday at 2 pm for le'wedding next weekend.

You just gotta love those Saturday AM races. Before the weekend really gets going, you are done! Especially when it is a short one...you are done even sooner. I have a great homestay here in LA, a woman opened her home to me who is part of the LA Triathlon Club. Thanks to Desiree Friedman at MESP for setting these up, this trip has been so seemless for me! I was picked up at the airport, shuttled to her home, where I went to Albertsons to pick up some groceries and veg out all afternoon. We then went to Rodando Beach for a glass o'vino on Thursday night (right over-looking the water), heard some great singers and songwriters songs from a guitar-man at 'Old Tonys' (a little local joint) and came back home to make grilled chicken salads. As Derick says, "Sounds like what you'd make at home!"

So all is good here, though I have to say I am a bit nervous for the Houston-ites right now. I know that often times these hurricanes are over-blown, and I love severe weather, but I sure hope this one is being feared more than is necessary. It seems Austin will get some good rain out of it, I am hoping all on Saturday as I fly back in on Sunday afternoon. But most of all, I just hope that it fades down once it hits land...

It also looks like this rain will dump in Indiana, thus clearing it all out and cooling it down for next weekend...

10-Day Forecast for Indianapolis, IN

SatSep 20
Sunny
77°57°
20%

Wow! Looks like party weather to me!
Ya'll have a good weekend, send me good vibes from 7 am-9 am PST Sunday morning. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Savor the 'Good' Days....

Photo by Mario Cantu

...because they are not all good! Today was the Austin Triathlon, put on by Jack and Adams and to top it off they offered a $4999 prize purse! How cool is that...why all the 9's? Because they wanted anyone, not just professionals, to have an opportunity to win it. Those nifty guys...so smart.

Well I'll get right into this one, I hear some people (..ahem, derick..) say they do not read my blog because my race reports are too long. I woke up to a lovely 80-degree Austin day, this is typical...not alarming in any way. Took my nice 20-min walk down to transition area (we live 1 mile from the start) which I called 'warmup'. Set up my things, and headed to the swim start. I opted for a wetsuit this year, the sleeveless Zoot, desipte the toasty 78-degree water, since last year I won by about 50 seconds and did not wear one. There was money up this year, needed all I could get! We were off right at 7:00 and the swim felt great. I caught a lot of people by the turnaround, and then as we rounded the last buoy, I passed the lead woman which was nice considering there was a $500 swim prime courtesy of TYR that I was unaware of! Luckily, I snatched that up and had a very good swim today. Going strong...

Onto the bike where it was all Kelly Hammerfest Time. This weekend, however unlike Chicago, I actually felt strong! I think that the couple of long, gradual climbs today worked in my favor, as hills are a strength of mine. My mantra today was 'don't get caught, don't get caught, don't get caught'. However, Michelle LeBlanc out of The Woodlands was stalking me and finally caught her prey 2 miles into the 3 loop course. I got a nice few words of encouragement from good friend Paul Terranova, and just gritted my teeth and kept pushing...minimize the gap! I have to say, unlike many bikes; I thoroughly enjoyed this start to finish! Maybe it was taking 2 gels; it likely allowed me to feel strong and not see the energy fall off.

Off the wheels, on to feet. I transitioned smoothly and took off on our short cross-country jaunt. They changed the run to where we probably ran on grass for 1/2 mile or so. Fun. I saw Michelle out there and I think she yelled for me?! What a nice girl. Or perhaps it was someone else. I started out and wanted to catch her...now! But about 1-mile into it, I realized I was kind of tired. Go figure. This course has 5 out and backs on each loop, so a lot of chances to see the competition. She looked strong and while I felt smooth, I felt tired and a bit wobbley. First loop down and yikes, one more whole loop to go. This is where you just think '10 more minutes, 10 more minutes...' or whatever it is to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I managed to run a 37:30, however it was not quite enough as she still had a little less than a minute on me at the finish. HOWEVER; I was still pleased with this race, as I had a very strong swim, VERY strong bike for me (1:04 which I think may be a PR split) and still managed a 37-min 10k. Michelle deserved this win, she did a 2:02 overall and put out a whopping 1:00-bike split. Scary fast. And she has 2 kids nonetheless...I hear that makes women faster. Maybe I should just pop one out to help out the speed? Hmm...not likely.

All in all...a really great day of racing out there. This was a huge triathlon for Austin. The whole crew at Jack and Adams did an incredible job of putting this together, and seemed to be a fun time had by all of the participants. And, I have to give a huge congrats out to SE Athlete James Cotter, who had a stellar performance, winning the mens race by 2 minutes! James is a 'newer' pro but he has big things in store, and he deserved this win today...so congrats James!

Thanks for reading, I hope you all had a safe and happy Labor Day. Ah, and the title of this post...I don't mean to say that this was a 'bad day' by any stretch, but oh boy did that run hurt. There are some races that you can finish smiling and sprinting and feeling like you are on air. Today, for me, was not one of them. That being said, it is supposed to be hard and I love the fact that I feel like I worked for every ounce of speed I had today! That is what racing is about. Savor the good and learn from the bad! (was this short enough?)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chicago Triathlon...it's supposed to be hard...

I just returned from the Windy City. Yes, I know it is called that because of the POLITICS but this past weekend, I think it was called that because of the wind. I can take tough conditions...well, I try my best to suck it up and be mentally tougher than anyone else there...but wind can be so defeating!

I arrived Friday, Southwest Airlines on a direct flight. I even snuck by with only a $25 bike fee; FYI, Southwest is the way to go with bikes. I built the bike first thing and hit up a nice easy 30 minute run over to Lake Shore Drive, which I was familiar with from last year. It was extremely muggy but I got rained on which felt GREAT! I then hopped on the 'Brown Line' (chicago-train-talk) and met my friend Jen at the Expo to get our race bags, which we tried to do quickly. Those Expos can really suck the energy right out of your legs! We hit up a nice little italian place with her boyfriend Zach and were back to her place early. Saturday I took the day off, mostly due to the circumstances. She lives in Lincoln Park, not the best place for riding; so I just slept in, went out to brunch with our friend Noelle and really sat around all day. It was nice but boy did I feel LAZY by the time Saturday night rolled around! Good and ready to race (...kind of...).

This race is unique in a few ways. 1) It is the largest triathlon in the world, I believe, at ~8700 entrants! They start waves at 6:00 AM, but unlike many non-drafting races 2) The pros do not go off until 11:00. This is nice in theory (sleep in, not have to go to bed nervous, do not have to wake up to cram food in at 4:00 AM) but the waiting is AWFUL! I was up at 6:30 automatically, and I just ate breakfast and killed time until I left Jens condo at about 9:15. I am sure that they do this because it allows for more spectators to be out (as most Chicago-ans are probably up and about by 11:00 on Sunday) but I have to say, I definitely favor the 6:30 or 7:00 am start...less time to get nervous, the gun goes off before you actually wake up fully. It's great.

**NEWS FLASH**: My mom called me on Saturday night at 10:00 estatic about the fish she caught at their lake (pond?) in Southern Indiana...can't you just HEAR the excitement in that smile??? That fish makes her look miniature....

...OK back to the race now...
So; Sunday morning finally arrived and I got to the transition area at about 9:45, with 1 hr 15 min to spare before start. I had ridden my bike from Jen's apartment which was about 3 miles; more warmup than I do usually! Then factor in the 1/2 mile walk to the swim start and wow, I was good and warm. It was really fun to see Jen, her boyfriend Zach and a few other friends prior to the start. Soon enough we were treading water, waiting for the gun and off right as scheduled, 11:04! I made a HUGE improvement on last years swim...I got buried behind the lead 'row' last year, as we only have about a 25-yard distance between a rope and the wall. So, if you are not up front, you are BEHIND or jockeying for position. I stayed up front until our first turn buoy, when we headed back in the opposite direction and into a decent current. No wonder it took 2x as long to get back to the swim start (which we passed and had another 10 minutes or so to go). I lost the lead pack but I felt very strong and was only about 20 seconds behind. I tried a few times to bridge the gap to no avail; which was ok, I did see a very pretty large fish swimming below (at which point I said, "Focus, Kelly!"). I exited the swim in a decent position and began the 1/4 mile run to T1.
No beating around the bush here, the bike just sucked. I felt very flat. Lately having been working a lot on my cycling, I have been feeling so strong and looking forward to the bike, especially only 25 miles (instead of 56!). However today, I just had a lot of trouble 'getting going'. As we headed down Lake Shore Drive (away from transition) we faced a very tough head wind. I had trouble being very positive but I tried the saying, "It's SUPPOSED to be hard!" I think it worked well, because I kept my head in the game and tried to keep pushing when I saw my power (on my SRM) start to drop. Soon enough (after 2 loops up and down Lake Shore Drive) I was nearing transition and thinking about the run; wondering how many people I had to try to run down...

I had a lovely transition, as I dismounted my bike (feeling very swift; I cannot say much about my mounts, but my dismounts are good!) I then proceeded to drop my bike, watching the left side of it go crashing into the ground. Spectators watched, I said "Shit" and simply got back to work...thinking 'at least I wasn't on it...'. I knew I had serious ground to make up so after mounting the bike I was off quick on the run. I definitely felt tired, but I felt strong. You run on grass for a good 1/2 mile or so out of transition here and then onto a running path for the remainder of the 10k. I passed one girl pretty quickly and had moved into 9th. Ah...good but definitely not what I came here to do. I could not see anyone else yet but tried to just run as hard as my little legs would carry me. At the turnaround, I saw Amanda Stevens and Jillian Peterson a bit ahead of me...quick assessment: Both strong girls; Jillian a great runner, Amanda put up a solid result at Timberman one week prior...then I realized of course this does not matter! Just keep running and try to catch them.

There is a point in every race, usually on the run, where I want to just go FASTER...but I know that there is a 'maximal speed' so to speak...I had checked a few mile splits and seen 5:50+'s and knew that was probably close to my high end. At mile 4, it started to feel a bit tougher, so despite wanting to catch them NOW I tried to be smart and say "Keep on this pace and if you catch them you do..." I passed Amanda and she gave me some nice words of encouragement. I was able to pass Jillian at about mile 5 or a bit beyond, but I knew I had to keep the hammer down as she is a tough one. I held pace until about 1/2 mile to go then just gave it all I had. I saw the finish (AH! The best feeling!) and just tried to lay it all out there.

I crossed the line in 7th place. I had come here to get top 5 or 6 (well to win, but realistically based on the field to be Top 5). I am a bit disappointed in my lack-luster bike split but all things considered, very pleased with the end result. I get a double-whammy when coming here, I am able to re-connect with so many Illinois swimmer friends as well as get in a very quality race. I know that this race is huge, and I know the city comes with a few more headaches. but they do a very good job and I recommend this to anyone who has considered doing it before! Anita Kalhan coordinates the pros and she does a great job. I was able to enjoy a cookout with Jen and Zach that afternoon, followed by some margaritas with my friend Noelle and her parents that evening.

To wrap things up; I have to admit I was a bit nervous before the start. Some of the women that come here are the 'real deal'...yes, I consider myself to be part of this group but I don't know if you ever really 'feel' that until you have laid down the consistently TOP results that some top pros at Chicago have behind their names. That being said, I LOVE to compete against the best. I absolutely love it...I can come out of this race and see on paper, fair and square, where my weaknesses are and what is required of me to be in those top 3 places. Do not ever be afraid to jump into a competition or a situation where you may feel intimidated or over-shadowed. Admit the fears, then face them. And realize that your self-worth is not what is on the line. But when it comes down to it, we are all human and anyone can be on their game on any day. Take the chance, give it your all and learn from the experience! While the challenge may seem scary, I guarantee you that you'll come out stronger, more confident in your abilities and having learned something.

Thank you for reading! Next up is The Austin Triathlon this Monday, on Labor Day...wish me luck. :)
Oh, and by the way, my dad is showing off the SECOND one she caught; a 5-lb 22-inch catfish...but he is not as cute as the bass, catfish are scary looking creatures...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Swimming in Lakes...It Is FUN!

Austin Triathlon anyone? Anyone? Bueller...Bueller...Bueller...

Quick update here, I recently did a little article/column for the Jack and Adams monthly newsletter on 'swimming in Town Lake' (now, 'Lady Bird Lake') as the Austin Triathlon is just around the corner. Read about it at the bottom of my blog.

Let me dispell a few myths...it is NOT THAT BAD, people. One thing that really irritates me (actually it just makes me laugh) is people who get so freaked out about certain lakes to race in. Yes, some are not terribly clean. The little pond we spent a few minutes splashing around in for Jacks Generic (Texas Ski Ranch) yes, smelled somewhat of um...exhaust from motorized boats...but we all came out of in one piece. Some lakes are muddy! Unbelievable isn't it. Yes, some lakes are not totally clear and we may even encounter a bit of moss or seaweed or other crap in our swim. To me it is a bit disgusting, but it is funny, because we are all so accustomed to swimming pools which are clean and perfect. This is part of what makes triathlon so FUN! UNPREDICTABILITY! And, this is part of what makes getting dirty, tired, sweaty and oh-so-worked out there feel all the better when you get home, take a shower and eat a big meal.

So...Best of luck preparing for the race. And if you can, try to find some lakes and other swimming holes to get an idea of what race day may be like. Most of all...have the ability to roll with the punches and if it is dirty or smelly, suck it up and let it bother you LESS than everyone else! Then, you have created an EDGE on your competition, just by being a bit more laid back than everyone around you...

Training 101
With Pro Triathlete, Kelly Handel
Swim like a River: Preparing for the Austin Tri & Lady Bird Lake

Whether you are an Austin Triathlon veteran from 2007 or a triathlon rookie, Lady Bird Lake is a very nice swimming hole for a race. It is situated around the 'hub' of exercise in Austin, with the running trail lining its shores. Scouting this course is not too difficult, as it is essentially one large rectangle, most of which you should be able to view from shore before plunging in.

After setting up your transition area, head towards the swim start with plenty of time to spare (20-30 minutes before your wave takes off). Find out the wetsuit call. This is sometimes not made until race morning, so be sure you know if wetsuits are legal or not. In making your decision, remember a few things. While they are faster (up to 2-3 minutes over the course of a mile), they are very warm; so if you tend to get hot easily, consider how warm the day is and if you may overheat. Acknowledge what is most important to you, speed or comfort?

Scope the course. Look at the path you'll be swimming and try to see all the buoys you will pass. Note their color, location and also if there are any 'large, immobile' objects beyond these buoys. These large objects can be used to 'sight off' in case your view of the buoy is blocked from fellow swimmers, waves or sun. If you can, count the number of buoys you will 'pass' before making a turn. Try to locate the turn buoys, sometimes these are a different color or shape. Decide based on weather if you need dark or light goggles. An overcast day may call for lighter lenses, while a sunrise on the horizon may require dark lenses to eliminate glare.

This race will be a deep water start, so you'll be treading water. With about a minute to go, try to start to move to a 'horizontal' position. When many people standing in a small space go from vertical to horizontal, crowding entails. Try to 'mark your space' before the gun goes off, so you are ready to move forward. Start to the 'outside' of the crowd, so you can make a diagonal line to the first buoy or turn buoy. If you are directly in front of the buoy, you may have to fight your way 'around' it because people will converge there. Starting to the outside or to the back of the crowd may eliminate some fighting when swimming.

When the gun goes off, go hard at the start but be careful of maxing yourself out. Many people will sprint and fade quickly. If you monitor your intensity to a strong but sustainable pace, you will likely catch people as you swim and gain confidence in the process. These first few strokes focus on getting into a rhythm, and do not worry about sighting too much until you settle in and the congestion calms down. Once you feel comfortable, begin to sight often (every 6-8 strokes or as needed) and each time you look up try to get a glimpse of your guide buoys. Do not blindly trust the feet in front of you!

As you near the finish, start to think about what you will be doing next. Once you feel the ground (the swim ramp or the bottom of the lake), start to stand and get vertical. Catch your breath, and immediately begin to unzip the wetsuit (if you have one), remove the cap and goggles and get running to transition. As you run, think about the steps you'll do in preparation for the bike leg...congratulations, you are already 1/3 finished!

Kelly Handel is an endurance consultant for local company Source Endurance, and she has been racing triathlons professionally for 7 years. Contact Kelly at khandel@source-e.net to find out how she and Source can help you toe the line the most prepared! Check out Kelly's website...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Missing Snow....


This is me at Breckenridge back in 2006...2006! Oh so long ago....

Every so often (ok...about 2-3x/week) I check in on the weather in Manitou Springs, CO. Today happens to be the Pikes Peak Ascent...which starts in Manitou Springs at about 7,000 ft and climbs to the top of Pikes Peak at 14,-something. When I noticed a friend had posted a blog about 'Eric is warming up after cheering on runners' I figured 'what is Eric warming up from...?' Knowing they are probably being blessed with COLD. So I checked out Colorado Springs' forecast for today:

MANITOU SPRINGS:
Today
Severe thunderstorms are possible in the afternoon. Periods of thunderstorms in the morning...then periods of showers and slight chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Locally heavy rainfall possible. Highs 55 to 63. Southeast winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation 80 percent.
»
ZIP Code Detail
Tonight
Severe thunderstorms are possible early in the evening. Showers likely and slight chance of thunderstorms early in the evening...then thunderstorms likely overnight. Locally heavy rainfall possible. Lows 46 to 52. East winds up to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation 70 percent.


Just for shits and giggles lets look at AUSTIN!

AUSTIN:
Rest of Today
Partly sunny with a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 90s. Northeast winds 5 to 10 mph.
» ZIP Code Detail
Tonight
Mostly cloudy with a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Lows in the lower 70s. East winds 5 to 10 mph.


You are all intelligent people and can deduce that the highs in Colorado are LOWER THAN the lows in Austin. While this is what we have been dealing with since about May, it gets old! And Derick and I miss the mountains more than you could imagine however, I have to say while that sounds incredibly nice (a 46-52-degree evening), seeing that I rode my bike for 2.5 hours today and will be able to do this up until the week I leave for Clearwater in November,...at this point in my life, I am glad were are in Austin. I tell myself this often. To live and play, I want to be nowhere more than a Colorado-like environment. However for now, with a lot more to accomplish in this crazy world of triathlon, Austin is an incredible town and as much as it sucks to be soaking wet after any bike ride or run (at any time of day)...I would not change this position for anything! (note: We already booked our honeymoon in Januray, when Derick is off school, to BOISE Idaho! Yes you can say we are crazy but it will be an alpine skiing, XC-skiing and cabin-ing haven and I cannot wait!)

That is it for today. Side note, my friend Mel and I were riding and we saw a few cyclists out towards Manor where we rode. I noticed a guy who motioned something to us coming the opposite direction...I said to her, "Dog?" (thinking it was something alarming)...Mel kind of laughed and said, "No, he said 'hill'." It was pretty cute...very nice of him to 'warn' us of the upcoming hill but it really was not much of a hill, more of a decline in the road. But, hey, it puts things into perspective! It can force me to step back and realize that 'just a 2.5 hr ride' for today IS enough, despite it feeling pretty light.

Happy Weekend. Tomorrow is Derick's birthday. While I wanted to make him a nice dinner, he wants Fried Chicken. I told him, "I will make you anything you want but I will not fry you chicken." I am not opposed to it but why would I try to make some 'really good fried chicken'? I guess we'll hit up some chicken joint in town. Though, he mentioned a burger may be better...I'll push for option B. Thanks for reading my ramblings!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Jacks Generic : Today, I am a Winning Barcode

Today was Jacks Generic Triathlon, put on by none but Jack and Adams (and the entire crew at the shop). It was a fun time out there, as it always is, at the good ol' Texas Ski Ranch in New Braunfels. Derick and I both went out to this one (and he raced, too!) which is always fun...you see, last year, as I recall, he and I got into a little 'tiff' (argument) the night before Jacks Generic. Something stupid, I cannot even remember what, probably me saying "are we ever going to get married?" So once we made up, we decided to go and enjoy an evening 'out'. We had a nice dinner at Opal Divines (burgers, beer) and then hit up Zak's (local yellow happenin' place near our house) for some wine. Little did we realize, we both woke up with headaches the next morning...maybe that contributed to me leaving my helmet at home, and us turning around half-way to New Braunfels to get it. So we contemplated that again this year (tradition! we got a little tipsy last year pre-Jacks, we should again this year!) but over a very lazy Friday night of Bocce Ball and Gueros Tacos for dinner, well, we accomplished this the night BEFORE...so, Saturday night (pre-Jacks) was spent watching a movie at home, eating Austins Pizza. Good pre-race evening if I do say so myself.

We arrived early enough, about 7:00 am (what is there 'really' do do before the start anyway?) and were ready for the 8 am start. Gun was off and so were we, splashing our way through the little Texas Ski Ranch pond. I found Andrea Fisher's feet and stuck to them for most of this swim, which was pretty pleasant; clear water, no fighting, my kind of swim. We exited 1-2 and were off on the bikes, whereby Andrea quickly passed me a couple of miles in. This always kind of irritates me, however I had put in a good week of 'speed' in prep for Chicago Triathlon and could feel the fatigue in my legs. So, I just tried to keep her 'in sight', which I was able to do. I came off the 13.8-mile rolling bike course about 45 seconds or so behind her, so I knew I had to get on the run quickly. Surprise, surprise...my running legs felt quite snappy! But I don't like to wait until the last minute to do things, so I tried to overtake her as soon as I could (sorry Andrea...just the competitor in us!) which I was able to do by about mile 1, though she was very strong out there today. I believe I caught a run split of about 5:45 in the middle of the 5k, but I may be mistaken...anyhoo, I was able to finish strong (in 6:02/mile pace) for the win today which was great! I just love these races, as I know so many people out there, familiar faces...Derick had a very solid race for himself (especially the swim and his run, which was 5:29/mile pace despite not really 'training' much...I think the last time he swam was about 3 weeks ago!) and I guess that he lept across the finish line...that's my guy... :) While he can be just as competitive as the next, he knows how to keep it all in perspective and just have fun, which is so important. It's just a sport, after all.

Sidenote, Source Endurance's own Stefan Rothe was the 4th overall male out there...a day after finishing 3rd in the Texas TT State Championships! I think that Stefan could have a triathlon career for himself, if he so chose. And nice race to Andrea Fisher and Hollie Kenney (3rd), who is new to Austin! Thanks to Jack and Adams for putting on a hell of a fun day as they always do, to AJ Zelinski of Advanced Rehabilitation for taking care of me and my oh-so-sore (jacked up) back immediately post-race. Thanks as well to Zoot Sports for the continued support, and to Matt Tanner for helping me rig up my fancy ride with the kick-ass pink flowers on my wheels. Have ya'll seen them yet? Check out Wheeltags. Great little new biz out of Indianapolis. (See below)

That is it for me for today...amazing how a 1-hr race can really waste you. Derick and I hit up Taco Deli after the race and I ate as much as he did, I impressed myself. Thank you for reading...and if you are in Austin, please, stay cool! And if you do choose to do Jacks Generic ever in the future, remember, it is the only race where

"You're more than just a number, you're a barcode!"


P.S. 41 & Counting...Just heard on the news that we have had 41 days over 100 here in Austin, thus far...sounds awesome, doesn't it? Especially since I hate the mountains and love the heat...yea...riight......


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

You Gotta Have Heart....

Had to thank those who make it possible at the end (my mom!)
I just returned from a trip to Racine, Wisconsin by-way-of my parents place in Trafalgar, Indiana. I guess you could say it was a 'race and final wedding touches' trip. Well, of course 80% of my focus was the race on Sunday, however a lot of the 'discussion' in between race-talk was wedding details. It is just crazy, no matter how 'low key' you opt to do a wedding, I guess that inviting a large number of people (ie. wanting it to be a 'big party') involves a lot of details. However, I have many to thank (my mom, Donna, sisters, etc) for helping me out with it all...I am not sure why women get so stressed about it all, either. I mean, the details are just that...details! The key is just keeping the guests happy...good beer, good music, good vibes. That will be a given. :)

On to the race. This was Spirit of Racine, which I did in 2007. The reason I fly into Indy is that it is about a 5 hr drive from my parents place, so I can get some time in 'at home' as well as racing. I flew in on Thursday, and we drove to Racine, Wisconsin about mid-day on Friday. We arrived on Friday evening about 6:00. hit up a very nice Italian meal at Salute (the only good restaurant I believe in downtown Racine!) and walked around a bit, had ice cream and even walked along the water...I did something stupid which was feel the water. It made just my hand cold.


Thus, I began to get apprehensive of the rumor-ed 56-degree water. I probably would not have really cared, however I made (another) mistake of Saturday AM going to 'Slowtwitch.com' to see what people were saying about it. When I saw a guy I know James Cotter say "It was hard to keep my face in the water for more than about 50 meters", I got a bit freaked out. However, I had my trusty high-tech Zoot Suit (the Ultra) which I had faith would keep me warm, or at least as warm as possible.
Mike Caizzo (got 5th, I believe) pre-race...chatting and killing time...

Saturday was uneventful, actually my mom and I hit up Perkins for breakfast/lunch...living in Austin I am lucky that I *never* have to eat at chains. However, the eggs, pancakes and sausages were quite tasty. We then went to see the new movie "Wall-E." Very cute, got a bit long but was a good watch for a rainy day, one in which I 'had' to do nothing. (I so often find myself come Sunday AM nervous but anxious to actually DO something! Just one or 2 days off or very easy drive me up a wall).
There was some pretty crappy weather predicted for Sunday, so I was prepared for anything...actually looking forward do potential rain (not for the spectators, however) because at Buffalo Springs what made it scary was the hills...this race is very flat, so how bad could it be? We awoke to a very still yet VERY foggy morning...so the 7:00 start time became 7:15 which became 7:30, which became, yes...7:45. It almost seemed to get worse as time went on. We all just wandered to the start, and hung out..I believe I warmed up in the water for MAYBE 2 minutes. The water was a brisk 55-degrees, and shocking to the face. By the time 8:00 rolled around, I was truely hoping it would be a duathlon. However suddenly they said "We are cleared for the start!" My parents can probably tell you...I was really apprehensive. But, tried to quickly (in about 3 minutes!) get into race-mode. Go time!

The extremely huge womens field of maybe 6 people assembled behind the men, who went off 3 minutes ahead of us. Soon enough we were off, trying to swim away despite the EXTREMELY foggy conditions and bitter cold. Here is what our swim looked like....'
I am not lying when I say, I would pass one buoy and swim in as straight a line as I could until I could make out the next one. It was so bizarre, and a bit frustrating...but had to make the best of it! All was good until I noticed the finaly yellow triangular turn buoy I was approaching near the end was a barrel-shape, which was the 'guider' into shore...yikes. Quick correction, I bolted left as fast as possible to be sure to not miss a buoy! Luckily (just kidding) I took a few women off course with me. :) I had to laugh at myself for this mistake, though I am sure it was done by others (at least I hope).
I came out as the first woman but Becky Witinok-Huber was quick on my heels. She is an 'ITU' girl, so I know Becky is a strong swimmer. I tried hard to transition fast and get out of there. I know my cycling has come along, so I had to hammer from the start, which I did. Unfortunately Lauren Jenson (another great competitor out there, Lauren is an animal on the bike) passed me about only 10 miles in. This was frustrating, but I tried to stay positive. In comes the title of my blog...

I found myself being a bit negative on the bike. I would feel good and strong, then I would feel tired and the effort would feel very hard. I found myself saying, "Your heart is not in it today...maybe you'll flat..." off and on...I tried to assess these negative toughts and counteract them. The positive Kelly would say, "Come ON! You are doing what you love and you'd be pissed if you flatted! Hammer hammer hammer..." I don't think that my heart was not 'in it', I just think that I have found a different perspective this year on things...and I am ok admitting this every so often. However, I was able to stay 'in the race' so to speak because sometimes your heart has to be the driving factor, but in the heat of the race moment, it is about mentally staying in the game...maybe you have to be a bit hard on yourself, pragmatic...but I'll be damned if I'd ever just 'give up'.

I was passed near the end of the bike by Becky, which to be honest (no offense Becky!) irritated me...I was afraid I was slacking too much. So, I passed her back. :) This made me happy but I tried to do it with a statement and stay ahead, which I was able to do. I came into T2 from what people said "2 minutes back!" WOW! To have only lost 2 minutes to Lauren was very exciting! OK...back in the game. You can do anything for...1.5 more hours... ?!

I had a quick transition and was out onto the run. My legs were tired, but I still felt some very snappy turnover and tried to just find a good groove. I was able to reel in first place about 1-2 miles into it which was nice, however it was heating up (the sun actually came out) and I found my usual mantra 'Control, control, control. Don't blow this.' I knew that I was winning and the last thing I wanted to do was get over-zealous (ie. try to run a 1:20 off the bike and blow up) so I checked some mile splits and when I saw 6:15-6:20 on a few, I actually backed off slightly. Then I saw 6:45 and I sped up.

I came through the first loop in the lead, which was very cool...they run us through transition, which is so great for all the spectators! I was feeling strong, but knew I was only half-way. I believe I came through in about 42 minutes, so I was on pace for about a 1:24 split. The second lap did get tough at times, as I'd feel a leg/stride give out a bit, and I could feel some small cramping setting in...thus, I stuck to very consistent gel consumption (at about miles 2, 5, 8 and 11) and I feel that was a very smart plan. The volunteers were fantastic and I was able to get water to wash them all down with, and I FINALLY saw the 12-mile mark.

I knew now, I had it in the bag! I have to say, this was probably the most exciting 1-mile I have run in my life.

I felt like some emotions began to come forward.

I know that this was not a 'huge' race...I know that as in '07, Mirinda Carfrae was not here...but you know what, a win is a win and it was a tough fight for it. I always say, I do this because I love it and it fulfills me, but there is never a race I go into not planning to try to win it. No matter the competition, I want to be "my 100%" from start to finish.

I feel like I am good at not taking things for granted. So, this last mile, I really let myself think about how special this was to me. A win, finally a 'big win' for me! This was the most prize money I have won to date, and it was just so amazing to finally see the finish line and hear the crowd cheering. The minute I finished, on wobbly legs, I saw my mom and dad and gave them a huge hug. I just kept thinking, "Finally! Finally, a W-I-N!" And I have to thank my incredible parents for coming to support, my fiance Derick for being the first one I want to call to tell, and my sponsors (Team Zoot, Advanced Rehab, Karen Smith my accupuncturist, Spyder Optics, Source Endurance and Jack and Adams Bike Shop) for supporting me along this crazy journey.

I guess that this race just emphasized what I so firmly believe...that when we step on the start line, we are all gifted individuals...we are all great athletes, every one of us. But, what truely makes the difference in that good vs. great race is what goes on btwn the ears. Just as in life, often times things that are really 'worth it' are not easy to come by.

There are always going to be hard times...on the bike, it'd feel so hard then it'd feel easier...it came in waves. It is OK to succomb to things at some point, as we need to know our limits. But it is good to try to ask yourself, "Is this good hurt or bad hurt? Do you really 'want' to push through this?" The reward is often times worth that little extra effort. And even if the goal is not attained, then you likely learned something about yourself in the process.

And one final note...Never forget to thank those who help make it all possible! Noone ever gets tired of hearing that...

Thank you for reading and thanks for your support!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

BSLT 70.3 & COLORADO

Swim Exit of BSLT 70.3 (Photo courtesy of Mario Cantu)

Whew, just returned from a long drive back from Bayfield, CO. We left on Saturday at about 11:00 MST and drove to Santa Fe, then on to Lubbock (because we love Lubbock so much!). We spent the night there, then pushed on to Austin today, arriving about 1:00. It was a bit sad to leave the mountains, we literally slept in a cabin right on the Los Pinos ("Pine") river which ran out of Vallecito Reservoir, and could fall asleep and wake up to the river...Derick would fish in the AM, I'd ride my bike...this area is seriously cycling heaven. Any surroundings that make me want to ride my bike more than swim or run have something pretty magical about them! We had an incredible week of good company, good food, good drink and incredible outdoor activity...I have to say despite being sad to have to leave, I do feel a bit invigorated...and realize that sooner or later, I will end up in a mountain town.


Now on to the race, which seems forever-ago! I did Buffalo Springs 70.3 last Sunday, June 29th. I was feeling quite mediocre going into this race. It seemed that my quads were incredibly 'heavy' feeling for the past couple of weeks, as if I was struggling to fully recover from any workouts. However, I just chalked it up to the heat and tried to really rest up the 2-3 days going into the race. We arrived in beautiful Lubbock on Friday evening, and got a great green chile chicken pizza at Orlandos. Needless to day, it tasted great but kept me in the bathroom most of Saturday...note to self, do not eat this pre-race night. :) Saturday included the typical, sleep in, big breakfast, short (30-minute) bike ride, and a movie in the hotel room! "27 Dresses". Um...a good brainless watch, but terribly predictable. The pre-race meeting was at 3:00, whereby Mike Greer told us all about the creatures we may encounter on race day, the lead car which is a Miller Lite car (was Bud Light but they jumped ship, and well doesn't really matter b/c Mike is a Coors Lite guy...). NOTE: This race has a ton of CHARACTER!! Mike and Marti seriously love to put on races and if you think of a guy who would NOT be a race director, it would be Mike...a Harley-driving west Texan. However, I absolutely love this about him and the race in general. There were a few good laughs in the meeting and the 'atmosphere' felt pretty light, which is how it should be.


On to race day! Early 4:00 am wake up call...NOTE: The past 2 races (this and Eagleman), I have had a dream the night before the race of me 'seemlessly' going through the race...granted, I am usually running through obstacles and very strange courses, but I am smiling, and feeling light, strong and confident...this has never happened to me in all of my years of competing! Interesting.... We got to Buffalo Springs Lake with plenty of time to spare, set up transition and meandered to swim start. It was a chilly race morning with dark clouds looming overhead...could be an interesting day of weather! We waited until about 6:45 or so (6:30 start time), and suddenly as we were all moving towards the water, we heard what sounded like a dying animal...that was GO! It was crazy! I saw Brandon Marsh's big shoulders in front of me start running, so I took off! Some were running along the shore, some swimming...then around the bend, they started running on shore AGAIN! I was trying to swim but in that second run, realized, "I should probably be running, too." We finally got to swimming and I felt I had lost a ton of time, but what could I do now except swim? I did my typical 'work my way up' to some swimmers far ahead of me by the end, and came out feeling good but having not a CLUE where I was in the mix...I guess I was the 2nd woman out of the swim after Joanna Zeiger, but beat 'out of' transition by Mirinda Carfrae.


The bike was flat out TOUGH. Windy and rainy. I felt strong but my power was pretty low, however I just tried to stay positive and keep on chugging away. I love this course because there are some killer hills, and while I do not climb like I used to in CO, I still feel like I come off of hillier courses feeling better than flats. I was passed by a few but again tried to stay positive, knowing that a 'fast' bike split was not in the cards, but trying to come off in a decent position to run some people down. I was not a happy camper out there, but it was tough and I do like challenging courses...and, this weather (cool and rainy) was great to run in!


Into T2, I was stoked to get off my bike. :) The first 1/2 mile of the run felt very hard, the legs felt spent, but I was pushing a pretty solid pace. I heard my friend Katie White yell out some encouragement just a mile in, which was so nice and a good surprise as I did know she was out there racing! I have to say, I feel like I managed 'pace control' incredibly well today. Just as I started to feel good and want to pick it up, I'd hold back...this being because we have 3 very tough hills on the way out, and then a 1.5 mile flat stretch before the turnaround...if there were ever a mentally tough course, this is it. It was great. :) I believe for the first time ever, my run split was a dead-on EVEN SPLIT from first to second half...6:35 pace. I knew I was in 4th the last few miles, but I had seen a pretty strong woman running behind me. But, I knew I was pushing at my limit so I just stayed controlled. Another great thing about this race, the 'finish' line appears out of nowhere! You cannot see it until it is about 200 meters in front of you! Once I saw it, I felt a sigh of relief knowing that I soon could stop. I was 4th woman in 4:37, a bit faster than last year, but on a considerable tougher day (in my opinion). I was able to manage a 1:26 run split which I was very psyched about! The bike split was a bit mediocre, but I am not worried about that...it will come.


All in all I was pleased with this race! I 'wanted' to be Top 3, I 'wanted' to do a 4:30 or faster, however today this was the best I had in me and this is all I can ask for. I feel like I am moving forward step by step, and I find myself chomping at the bit for each and every 'next race'. Thank you so much to Derick (my fiance) for coming along and being great support, we chilled out so much on Saturday and it was just what I needed (and we can not talk about triathlon which makes pre-race so much more pleasant). Also thanks much to all of my supporters, Team Zoot, Spyder Optics, Jack and Adams in Austin, AJ Zelinski at Advanced Rehab for keeping me healthy and of course my family and friends. Also a huge congrats to all of the other fellow Austin-ites out there racing today! Terra Castro had a great day finishing 8th, Brandon Marsh was 5th among the men and miss Angie Ballentine who came back as a mommy to race her first 1/2 IM today since mommy-hood (I believe?). Pat Evoe had a great race, coming off a heavy training weekend to finish Top 10 among the pros as well. And, Brad Miller and Billy Harlee also had great races (huge PR for Billy!). It is so fun to see all of our Austin friends at this race.


Next up is Spirit of Racine Triathlon in Racine, Wisconsin on July 20th. Please do not tell anyone about this race as I'd like to finish in the top 2. :) Just kidding...the better the competition, the better the race. Thank ya'll for reading and Happy 4th of July!

KMH


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Quick Update from Durango....

I am currently in Bayfield, CO (just outside of Durango) for the week, visiting my aunt, uncle and cousins. Derick and I decided to 'trek on' from Lubbock Sunday, to Santa Fe, NM on Monday and Durango on Tuesday. It is incredible down here, this morning we rode our bikes for about 30 miles, going around Lemon Reservoir then up to Vallecito Reservoir. Truely a cycling paradise.

Buffalo Springs Lake Triathlon (70.3) was on Sunday, talk about a TOUGH DAY! I will write up a bit more upon my return, but I was pleased with the day...it was dark and overcast with a definite threat of rain from the start, and soon onto the bike course, the winds picked up and then some spitting rain...we never got dumped on, but it was enough to make the descents a bit nerve-wracking and the winds just seemed relentless. I got frustrated a few times but tried to stay positive, throwing out any 'time goals' for my bike split...I was able to come off the bike pretty tired but still positive and ready to try to run myself into a better position. I believe I came off in 7th and finished in 4th, so all in all a successful day. On the run, I kept saying "Steady, Steady, Steady..." It is very easy to pick up the pace on the downhills, but I saw that the top 3 women were well ahead so I did not want to blow up. It was so nice to have Derick and many other friends out there, both racing and cheering...This course is no joke and I have to say the past 2 years I think the weather has been 'perfect'...while the cool day made it great, the wind and rain made the bike leg a challenge and I loved it because it forces you to mentally stay in the game! Thanks to Mike and Marti Greer for putting on a great race...more updates in a few days. In the meantime, thanks ya'll for reading and all of your support, and have a great 4th of July!
Ooh, the afternoon storms are blowing in...so exciting.
KMH :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Be the Best Version of Y-O-U.

I thought of this concept today in my swim. Especially in this crazy world of triathlon, I think that we end up comparing ourselves to others more than we know we 'should'. This is something I do and I try so hard not to do...but inevitably, I find it happen more often than I'd prefer. Let's just think about the concept. We see someone else do very well in something. Suddenly we may feel that we actually did 'even worse', or we then compare ourself to this 'gold standard' and find that our confidence takes a bit of a nosedive. (Am I alone here? I sure hope not, or I am talking to a wall!) The flip side to doing this is, how does what someone else does have any bearing on what I myself do? Well, logically...it doesn't. So, therefore, if I am only comparing ME to ME then it seems I can always be realistic, honest with myself and on a continual quest for self-improvement. Problem solved.

We all have insecurities of some sort, I think it is just human nature. There is the very rare triathlete who just 'has it all' in terms of strengths (think Emma Snowsill...that girl is an animal across the board! In her case, big things do come in small packages!)...so I find this is a blessing of the sport, we all have someplace to always be striving to be better. I have always considered myself a very hard-worker. Grades never came easy, and while some may think I am 'blessed' with athletic talent, I beg to differ...I have not moved since I exited my mothers womb. I cannot sit still for the life of me, and since I was 4 years old I have been actively involved in sport. This does not make me special in any way, just set me up to be a lifelong 'athlete'. Seemingly never seeing things 'come easily' I think has been a great thing. I am used to hard work, and I try to see a positive in every failure that comes my way. I try to ride the highs as well as I can, and just take it all in...likewise, while the lows just suck...I try to use them to my advantage and figure out how they can make me stronger.

I don't want to get too (much more) long-winded...but I think that the mantra "Be the best version of ME" is a good one to remind yourself of. In the end of this big long journey we call life, noone is really going to care what place you finished, or what your best time was...but the kind of footprint you leave on the earth and in the eyes of those you encounter will be remembered. So, (and I will tell myself this as well), be easier on yourself...remember to pat yourself on the back a little more often, enjoy the challenges and simply be the best YOU possible.