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 '' 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/ 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 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 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


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 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!


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 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 exciting.
KMH :)