Monday, July 11, 2011

Muncie 70.3 : Controlling the Controllables

Muncie 70.3 - The site of my first half ironman distance race back in 2004, The Muncie Endurathon. That one played out something like this. I lost all my nutrition on my bike (one gel flask) but was too frazzled to stop and get it. Some random guy on a cruiser (not racing) kept passing me on the bike (I could not shake him), laughing; I yelled at him to stay away from me so that I would not get a drafting penalty (as if they would have cared where I was... far, far behind...). My dad yelled out to me when I racked my bike "Kelly, where you been?" and laughed loudly to which I replied "Shut UP, DAD!". And to finish it off, Derick caught me with about 100 meters to go. He started 30 minutes behind me. I was not happy about that. Our parents all thought we had 'planned it'. No, I told them, we didn't plan it.

So coming into it this year, I figured it couldn't be much worse than the last time. In all honesty, I was hesitant to race this since I had come back from Ironman Texas strong at Buffalo Springs just 2 weeks prior. I knew I did not need to race for points, and I am at the point where it is about time to do the big build for Ironman Hawaii. But, I had been planning on this race, and I like to try to stick to my plan as much as possible; race BSLT 70.3, recover, do a few big training days, race again, relax in Indiana then head out to Colorado. I was very laid back going into this, which I think is a good thing; the question I had was if I could snap into 'race mode' on the morning of the event! As usual, that was not hard to do. It was very cool to arrive to Prarie Creek Reservoir early on Saturday morning; driving through the cornfields with my parents to get there, it really felt like 'home' to me and I could feel the excitement starting to build.

I'll just get right to the race details. The swim was a nicely marked course, a simple rectangle, in a calm, clear lake; non-wetsuit which made it perfect. We had many strong swimmers assembled! So, I knew there would be a pack of at least 3-4 of us; more if people snuck in behind. We were off right at 8:03 AM, and I felt amazing on the way out; myself and Tenille led the pack. We made the turn back in and I fell to the back of the pack and suddenly thought "I'm tired, this feels hard." Not good! But, I told myself to snap out of it and keep on moving. We were swimming directly into the sun, so I was not entirely sure we were heading right to the finish; which we weren't, we were far left. We all moved over at the end and exited, heading into T1.

I ran quickly to my bike, knowing that the 3 ladies with me were ALL strong cyclists. I needed every second I could get. Needless to say, I ran out with my pink camo QRCD0.1 equipped with my Reynolds RZR 92's but was quickly in 4th place. It was all good, I expected this and just tried to find my groove. Leanda seemed to just drift off into the distance, quicker than I would have liked! But again, I just kept my head down and did my thing. I was passed by a few ladies, putting me into 6th place by the time the bike ended. I had a few thoughts out there. About 5 or 10 miles in, I thought, "This was not a good idea. This hurts. I should not have raced this weekend." Soon after I thought this, Margaret Shapiro passed me and something good happened; I was able to keep her in my sights for quite awhile. Margie is a strong cyclist, so I told myself this was a positive, my power was good, and just keep on keepin' on. You won't always feel great and you won't always be in the lead. That is racing; you give it what you've got on the day. I was happy to be out there racing and without getting too introspective, it was a pretty awesome feeling to be out there cruising along so much stronger than I was 7 years ago on these same roads. On the flip side, the run could not come soon enough for me on this pancake flat course! I did not want to lose any more time on the bike.

And the run did come, and my dad did not yell at me this time; though, he could of. I thought I was at least 8th place, but I later found out I was in 6th. I flew through T2 knowing that I had no time to spare if I wanted any chance of getting back into the mix. Zoot visor and Ultra TT4.0's on, PowerGel's in hand and I was outta there. A friend told me right out of transition that I was 8 minutes back, to which I replied "9?" and he said, "8", and I said, "shit". (I wonder if he and all the others heard that?!) I figured I had my work cut out for me, and a podium would be good!

I headed out on the winding, rolling out and back course. We were told we ran 'around the reservoir', but I recall thinking out there that we could not actually see the reservoir, which was kind of a bummer. Anyhoo, back to the run. I was able to slowly pass a few women, and by the turnaround, I had worked my way into 3rd. I was feeling very strong and loving this run course; definitely challenging, especially compared to the bike. By the time I hit mile 11, I could see many age groupers heading out on the run course the opposite direction. It was cool to hear quite a few yelling my name, but the stressful part was they were all saying "You can catch her!" It was stressful because I could not see 'her'! So I knew that I still had to stay on the gas, hoping I could reel someone else in before the finish.

I finally hit mile 12 and I could barely see the lead bike ahead of me, which meant that was 2nd place (there was a lead bike for both
1st and 2nd woman). When I hit the mile 12 marker, I started my watch as a motivator to try to run a very fast final mile! I started pretty much sprinting as fast as I could, which is quite painful after 4+ hours of racing. As we crested the hill just past mile 13, I finally passed Leanda (I am sorry, I know that is so mean... but as we all know, it's racing and I am usually on the receiving end of this one!) and took a left turn down a long gravel hill to the finish.

On the final stretch, I saw this:

which was so awesome! My parents, sisters, Derick's parents, nephews and niece were all right there cheering. I was afraid Leanda may answer back, so I moved right along to the finish, sprinting all the way; and stoked that I had redeemed myself to finish 2nd in a PR on the distance of 4:12! A good day without a doubt.

At first, all I could think was "WHO was the girl who won?" as I believe many others were too. Turns out, Melissa Rollison is one legit athlete! She was an Olympic level steeplechaser, and she is an amazing runner who has also seemed to pick up the bike much easier than some of us... :) But I knew that I had put together a very strong effort, within myself. Being the competitor I am, I of course was a little disappointed to find out she had also out run me! But again... how do we all get better? The bar gets raised, and she set it high today, by putting up a time of 4:08; it made me run very hard in turn to try to catch her. I found it a bit humorous to see that a few media outlets had mentioned what a 'slow bike' I had, and how I must have been having an 'off day'. I literally laughed at this. I knew I would give up some time on the bike, and I did the absolute best I could do; I truly could not have biked any faster out there. That said, I ran like hell to get back into the mix and that I did! So it's all good. I love to race! And this was the epitome of racing, being forced to push it until the very end. I could sit here and be upset that I was 2nd to a girl who I never expected to be so far ahead. But in reality, we cannot control what others do, in any situation; all we can control is what we do and how we react to the given situation. When looking at it from this perspective, I am all the more proud of how this race turned out.

A huge thanks to my sponsors, Zoot, PowerBar, Quintana Roo, Reynolds Cycling, Recovery Pump, Katalyst Multisport, Road ID, ISM Saddles, Jack & Adams, Xcis Software, Oakley, Giro, Hill Country Running, Advanced Rehab, Go with the Flo Acupuncture, and 3 Cosas.
It was so special to be able to have my entire family at this race! The only person missing was Derick, but he is off in Colorado preparing for our upcoming camp. Next up is a few weeks out west to enjoy some cooler weather, big mountains to ride up, and the Arkansas River for the pup to play in every day; accompanied by a big training block to prepare for Kona!

Thanks for reading & be safe out there,

~Post race hanging out at 'The Cabin'~

~Fireworks over Cordry Sweetwater Lakes~