Monday, April 27, 2009

Champions Triathlon Visits Austin

...well, it was the first one ever, but the title sounds good, yes? :)

Yesterday was the 'inaugural' Champions Triathlon here in Austin. It was out at Pace Bend Park, which is a park northwest (I think?) of Austin, about 45 min away. I will be entirely honest here, I did not really want to race. I am not sure if it was 'my legs feel crappy because of the half-marathon' or if it was 'I want to relax and 'nest' in our new house for a weekend', but whatever it was, it took me saying many times, 'suck it up and go race, there is a great prize purse on the line and put your ego aside'. And to be entirely honest, being the first race, I think I subliminally had pre-race jitters in that I was not sure I was 'ready' for a competitive race and I did not want 'to fail'. (Yet again, suck it up, sister.) I sure am glad I stuck it out, as it turned out to be a great day and an awesomely hard course (which I love!).

They had a 'pro start' at 11:00 am, which allowed Derick and I to sleep in a bit. We headed out to Pace Bend Park and arrived at about 9:00 on Sunday AM. The #1 cool thing about this was the park rangers. They were an absolute riot. The first one had on a bright yellow vest, to which he and Derick went back and forth referencing how nicely tailored it was to him. Few can match Derick's quick and dry wit; this guy was one step ahead of him. This had me laughing pretty good and, suddenly feeling more relaxed. The next ranger we came upon told us the direction to take ahead, telling us that we needed to say on the LEFT side of the road. To which Derick replied, "Just like Paris?" to which ranger replied, "Yes, and you may even see the Eifel Tower ahead too!" These guys were great!

Onward to the race. We arrived with plenty of time to spare, and I set up transition on the grassy knoll. I like grassy transition areas; make the race feel very laid back. I checked out this crazy 350-meter run from the swim to transition... wow! This made the race really a swim/run/bike/run, good for runners. I opted to put an extra pair of my Zoot Ultra TT shoes down there, just so I didn't nail any rocks and hurt a foot. Or knowing me, I'd trip over my large feet and faceplant.

We were off sharp at 11:03, right behind the professional men! This was a non-wetsuit swim, so I had on my Speedzoot which was great; chilly at first but then PERFECT! I hate getting hot in swims, and I also battle this 'clausterphobic-get-me-out-of-this-thing' feeling in wetsuits. Hailey Piersol (yes, sister to Aaron Piersol, Olympic swimmer) took off like lightening. I noticed Amy Marsh way to the left of me (and later told her, 'Amy where were you going?!) but luckily by the first turn buoy, I had caught Amy and she and I swam very well together until the finish. We came out together, threw on the shoes and were off on Run #1. A long, rocky dirt path. But the legs felt ...surprisingly good. Good deal. I got to transition, undressed (un-speedsuited) and was off on the bike course.

This was a 3-loop bike course on open roads (no traffic, or very little) and oh boy was it hilly! But, something about "3 loops" that makes it seem easier. I think in my head it is that you are never too far from home. :) Amy swiftly passed me right off the bat. I won't lie, that pissed me off. But, I just tried to hunker down and keep pushing. It actually took me until the end of the third lap to catch Hailey, but that was ok, I seemed to feel better on each lap. Finally off on to the run!

Yet again, I will reveal my insecurities. I was nervous for this because I have done a lot of run racing lately and the legs have felt rather trashed lately. But, I tried to ease into this. As I took off on the same dirt path that we ran on post-swim, and headed towards the woods, I told myself, "Aaah; this is just a run through the woods." (Self-talk does help!). I felt great out there! It was really cool because you could see fellow competitors running ahead and behind you on little out and backs. In all my years of racing, I have never done a run course like this for an on-road triathlon! Props to Leilani and all the crew @ Red Licorice Events for doing some different! I saw Derick, Brad, and Lisa (friends of ours) at about mile 3. I said to Derick, "That mile was a 6:10!" Then I saw him again, after having backed off, and said, "That was a 6:25! I am backing off..." He didn't like that. Ha! I am not sure if they were entirely accurate (I always assume yes!) but I just did not want to blow up. By mile 5, I began to feel like crap. Luckily I had a strong 2nd place position that was not in jeopardy by slowing down a bit, which I did, and finally could see the finish line. It was probably the best thing I saw all day long; and we grilled out and drank beers that night, too; yes, the finish line was more enticing. That says a lot.

All in all, a really great first time race put on by Champion System and Red Licorice Events. Thanks to all the hard work and the volunteers out there supporting us, as well as the fellow competitors who came out. Today was about swallowing your pride and your insecurities and just going out and putting yourself out there. My mom is so great; she said the other day, "Kelly, why are you so nervous about it? You are more fit than you realize. You will do great." I kind of needed to hear this. Sometimes, we think we have to be in tip-top shape to go and do a race (especially one that is more competitive). But really, any time we go out and challenge ourselves, it is a chance to get better, and a chance to learn something. I have learned over the (many) years of doing this stuff, it is usually when you least expect it that you perform the best. This was far from 'the best' to me, but it was a bit better than expected. So; my take home message is to not be afraid to get out there and simply give it what you've got, on the day, a good honest effort. After all; this is all we can do anyway, right? Enjoy the process and appreciate every moment. Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 20, 2009

St. Louis 1/2 Marathon - Take 2...

(Check out the video posted in the St. Louis Today newspaper!
Down on the right hand side...)

This past weekend, I met my parents in St. Louis after a busy week of m
oving in to our new house! We moved all of last weekend (April 11/12), so I was pretty wiped out on Monday. Derick and I did it all on our own, which was not 'so' bad as we do not own that much stuff. But, anytime you spend a full day from 7 am until 10 pm moving furniture, organizing and loading/unloading boxes, it will wear you out. Needless to say, were were completely settled by Monday morning and I had unpacked most boxes by Monday night. To say I am a 'busy body' is an understatement...and I cannot stand disorganization. =)Derick's parents arrived on late Tuesday night, so we spent a few very relaxed days with them as they helped us 'tidy up' our house. They did all the things that we would have never gotten to, such as making the flower garden in the front look nice, fixing some light fixtures and painting small spots on the walls that needed it. Unfortunately, I had to leave on Friday night so I missed their last night here, but it was a cool and rainy evening in Austin, so they just stayed in and ate pizza; early night as they flew out at 6 am on Saturday.
A dark and wet race morning

Friday evening, I flew into St. Louis on a direct flight; just myself and my backpack. Gotta love running races. My parents and I had a great dinner (albeit late!) and I was actually up until almost midnight; but, we slept in on Saturday and after a short run and getting my packet, I even took a 45 min nap in the afternoon. The weather was expected to be cool and very wet for Sunday! But this does not bother me. I have learned that if you let adverse conditions get to you then you are at an immediate disadvantage to your competitors; so, I try to roll with it and remind myself that everyone has to deal with it. Though, I do feel bad for all of the great spectators and volunteers out there standing in the rain!

Sunday AM, I have to be honest, I did not feel great. Not 'bad',
but definitely NO snap what-so-ever in the legs. I was not very well 'prepared' for this race, as I took a good 3-4 weeks of little running to recovery from the marathon and just kicked it up a bit these past 2 weeks. But I had been cycling a LOT for me and, well, running may help cycling but cycling is not going to make you a faster runner. However, I came here to try to win this race for the second year in a row, and make some money to help get me to more races! I kept this in mind when the gun went off... just be smooth and steady, view this as a strong 13-mile training run. Ice Bath tough, but so good...

I was lucky to be able to run with the womens marathon winne
r for the first 10 miles (Megan Earney), and we had a very smooth 6:15 pace going. She split at the 10 mile mark and then I was on my own. I cannot say it ever hurt badly, because my legs just would not go into that 'hurt zone'. They didn't have the zip. But, from 10-13, I did hit some hills that were challenging. I could have really used a Gu, but I think I was just stubborn, and pushed on. I never looked back, but by mile 12, I had a good feeling that I had this race won. I actually did push the last mile to probably just over 6-minute pace, though the finish time was just over 1:23, which is honestly the slowest 1/2 marathon I have done in a few years! Yet, all things considered, I was pleased with it. A win is a win, and I knew that going into this, if there was a strong woman who showed up and could run well, she would deserve to win this race. I lucked out. With a time 3-minutes slower than last year, I still managed a win.
Pasta dinner at Lombardo's - Amazing food; I think I ate half of my moms lasagna...

Thanks to Zoot for sending me some great new training clothing! I tried out a new top on race day, and it was comfortable, bright and made me easy to spot (or so my parents said). Also thanks to Cecilia Llanos at 3 Cosas for her awesome massage work, which has helped keep me healthy these past few weeks, and to Hill Country Running, Advanced Rehab and Jack and Adams. Your support is much appreciated! And thanks to the race organization at Go! St. Louis for helping me come back to this excellent race this year.
Awards post-race (with Nancy Lieberman of Go! St. Louis)

Lesson learned today? It can be tough to go and race, give it all you've got and come away with a time that is 5 minutes off of a PR. But, I think I had to consider the situation... I have come off of marathon training, and the bottom line is my legs are still a bit trained for the longer distance. That is OK, as my goal is Ironman Canada in August. But, racing can show you what you need to work on, as this race did. I know I am due for some (moderate) 'speed work' to sharpen up my running. But the BIGGER picture is, I was very fortunate to be able to go out and compete in a huge field of runners (15,000!) and enjoy the day. I have nothing at all to be 'upset' about. Having my family there made it even better. Sometimes, our times that we post have to become irrelevant; it's moreso about enjoying the process and appreciating the moment. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wake Up Call to Slow Things Down...

Just a few days ago, I got a good lesson in "slowing down". I feel like I am pretty good at this, but judging from what others tell me, I don't really stop too much. I am a crazy multi-tasker. I get up about 10 times during a 1-hour TV show. I have always been antsy, but I think that sometimes it carries over into my daily lifestyle and then my energy just crashes...

I have not been blogging frequently, really because since the marathon I have been recovering (well I only did that fully for about a week) and then training (mostly cycling and swimming)... and who wants to hear about workouts all the time? I know Derick doesn't ... he tells me! The topic can get quite boring. You do them and you either do them well, or you suck. If you suck too many days in a row, then you probably need to recover. I learned this lesson this past weekend. I was riding in insane wind with a bunch of GUYS from Jack and Adams. I knew from the start it would be tough, as we were flying the first hour. Then, good friend Brad Miller (Brad, James; I am not sure what is 'real' name is) was kind enough to turn back with me as they guys were going a crazy 120 miles. Not quite yet for me! Brad and I battled together in a persistent headwind for over an hour back into town. I had a nice run on Sunday (as I cheered on all the locals in the Cap 10K! Great results all around, Desiree got first, Amanda Lovato second and Derick 4th among the men!) but from then through Monday, it was all I could do to keep moving. Monday my eyelids felt like sandbags. I slept from 5-6 pm on Monday evening and was still asleep by 10:00. I am not really a napper, so this was a big sign I needed to back it off.

This can be the tough thing about coaching yourself. It can be hard to see from the outside in, and really make that 'call' and force yourself to take a good few days easy. But, I am trying. I actually had trouble sleeping last night (Tuesday) so; go figure, maybe all I needed was one day! But, in the big picture, I am realizing that trying to do school (I am taking 2 classes @ Austin Community College as pre-req's towards a Masters in Health Psychology), working with Source and training (a lot) will just not work. I don't like to half-ass things, I am a pretty driven and focused person and I like to do things well, or at least to the best of my ability. So, something has got to give. I am not ready to nix racing quite yet, I mean I am 31...don't women just keep getting better up to like 40 these days?! :) I will finish out this semester, maybe continue on with one class at a time just so my brain does not turn to mush. But, I am very excited about deciding to FINALLY give Ironman a shot this year (Canada in August!). I want to do well and I really do believe that I can do well, but the last thing I want to do is show up exhausted, or not even make it there because I have worn myself into the ground. So, I see it as a 'sign' that I got so tired and a wake up call to be sure I take care of myself these next few months. You all do the same!

On a side note, I am listening to Ben Harper as I study. I miss Ben Harper. I recently got an Ipod, and I need to convert all of my Windows Media Player music to my Ipod. All of my Ipod music came from Derick. He has no Ben. Anyone who knows how to do this, pass your knowledge on to me, please...

Happy April Fools Day and remember to slow down and smell the wildflowers. They're all over down here in Texas! Sorry, Colorado, but your wildflowers have nothing on the ones here in Texas...
Thanks for reading.