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!


apinkin said...

Great race, Kelly! Grats!

Anonymous said...

Rock Star!

Chris said...

Congratulations! That's exciting!