Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Runner Up: Buffalo Springs 70.3


This was my 4th time in Lubbock, Texas. Despite the reputation that Lubbock has, for some reason, I really like going to this race. I am sure it has to do with the very laid back atmosphere of the race that directors Mike and Marti Greer assume, and the entire setting of the event (the middle of nowhere!). It kind of takes me back to my triathlon roots, doing the local Indiana races out in the middle of cornfields. Though, Indiana does not have the Canyons and climbs that Lubbock has, it is held in a park with lots of camping spaces...also taking me back to my roots (we camped more than we hotel'ed growing up).

I had to solo this trip, since Derick was up in Portland, Maine for the Natio
nal Mountain Running Championships this same weekend. However, I was ready for some Kelly Time. I am a big fan of being alone, especially when I feel the need to just relax and unwind. I drove out on Friday, and had a great dinner with an athlete of mine that evening who was tackling this event for her first time. I then felt the need to go to Dairy Queen (they were everywhere in Lubbock) and get a Blizzard. Great pre-race food, eh? I did only eat half of it...a cookie dough blizzard...not that I cared about eating it all, but they are RICH. I didn't want to have any regrets (and this is on top of eating 10, yes 10 prunes in the car en route to Lubbock; they just tasted so good! and did you know they are high in ANTIOXIDANTS? we all need those!). Luckily, there were no serious repercussions of my ice cream, or my prunes. :) However had there of been, I would have spared you any details.

I took it very easy on Saturday, but I have learned in the past that to
o much rest actually makes me very lethargic on the bike. Friday I did an easy open water swim before leaving town (about 20 minutes), so Saturday, I did a ~15 min run first thing in the morning then went outside, checked my shifting and took the bike indoors for a 20 min trainer spin. The advantages of driving to a race! I was racing on tubulars, and I did not want to risk flatting on rough roads the day before the event. Pro meeting was at 3:00, which I snuck into the back of the room for and left immediately after it finished. I headed to Orlandos, the local Italian joint for an early dinner (4:00!) and enjoyed some pasta, salad, bread and a Peroni (mmm....) while sitting in the bar reading my 'Sun' magazine. I was in my room and chilling out in bed by 6:00pm. I highly recommend this, especially when the alarm is set for 3:40 AM! I had the lights out by 9:50 and for once in my life, slept so soundly. This is VERY rare! I often wake up constantly, anticipating the all-too-early wake up call. Maybe I was very relaxed?

Sunday morning arrived, and I was out the door by 4:45. Since I did not have th
e luxury of Derick dropping me off, I decided to allow plenty of time to get into the park and into transition area. As I pulled in, I noticed... HOLY WIND! I had never in 4 years seen this much wind at the park! I have to admit I was a bit freaked out by it. But, what can you do? The others did not seem too concerned, so I could not show my fear. :) I set things up and headed down to the water for our 6:30 AM start.

One concern: Goggle color. I had a pair of pink goggles with mild tint, and it was a very dark morning. I was barely able to see the buoys when we took off, but luckily I could. Note: ALWAYS have a light and dark pair of goggles with you. I definitely could have used even lighter lenses this morning. Stupid mistake. The swim was a bit choppy (non-wetsuit for us, so I used my trusty Zoot Speedsuit which was great) but not too bad. I somehow ended up swimming far to the right. I noticed another pro woman far to my left, but she seemed to me to be swimming an odd line, so I ventured out on my own. Seeing that I ended up 2nd by less than 90 sec
onds, I would hate to think that I lost time by taking a longer line in the swim... so I won't think about it. I came out as the first woman, feeling strong and ready to ride.

I headed out on the bike and felt very strong from the git-go. You have to climb out of the park, and it is almost 5 miles to simply get to the main roads. I got down into my aero position and just went for it, from the start. I had a terrible bike at Eagleman and knew I could not afford to lose any time. I was riding strong but somehow Amy passed me and I did not even notice! Then about 25 miles or so into the course, Joanna Lawn passed me (so I was thinking I was now in 2nd... which was ok). However, I saw Amy go by me on a turnaround in the opposite direction.. How did she get there? I then just rode harder, thinking I may have missed more women! Then the rain started and was actually pelting us for awhile. For some reason, I was loving it. The roads w
ere slick so I was (very) cautious on the descents, but talk about crazy weather! I literally smiled and thought, "Bring it on, Lubbock!"

I was pretty stoked that when Jo Lawn went by, she did not do it swiftly. I was able to keep her in my sights for some time, and even make up ground on the tough climbs. I took in my entire Gu flask (which held 4 gels) and also 3 more on the bike leg... that is, 7 GELS on the bike! This is probably on the high end, however, I was stomaching it and I was feeling the need for energy near the end. Last thing I wanted to say was to run out of gas.

I came into T2 in the pouring rain to a soggy towel and some soaked Zoot shoes, but grabbed the shoes, Jack and Adams visor, Gu flask (first time I have ever done a flask and not individual packs on the run; thinking 'Ironman!') and was out of there. I had 2 people to try to run down! I knew I had my work cut out for me, as I expected Amy to be pretty far up. I started out the first mile and did not see my split but knew I was going pretty fast and actually told myself "SLOW DOWN". I could see Jo Lawn up ahead and was fairly confident that I could catch her if I just held steady. This has become my mantra starting the run, I am always so anxious to make up time; "steady, steady, steady". I ran through puddles and up and down the hills; while it was tough, this run course really is kind of fun because you cannot see too far ahead for the first 4 miles and you know the hills are just waiting for you. Again I focused on calories; I carried a Gu flask with 4 gels in and sipped it every mile or so. I caught 2nd place at about mile 5, and tried to keep my pace steady. I then hit 'Energy Lab Road' as they call it, a LONG straight out and back stretch between miles 5 and 8. I saw Amy coming back and knew she still had a couple of minutes on me. Damnit! Was my only thought. I kept on plugging away, tried to bomb down the hills on the way back in and finally hit the final 3 miles; winding through the campgrounds, around the lake, towards home. Unfortunately, I ran out of time, but I was giving it all I had at this point. Amy put up a great race, and I fell short by less than 1.5 minutes. My finish was good for 2nd place, and I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face and a happy heart.

This race was a big turnaround from Eagleman 70.3. Then, my cycling legs just did not want to work. Today, I felt like I was constantly pushing pushing pushing harder and harder on the bike. I never looked back, to see who was there. I feel when you do that, you succumb to's just a thing for me, but I have to focus on my race, what is ahead and doing my best; despite if women are 'cycling me down'. I biked this course like there was no run; and, when I came onto the run, I was a bit nervous if I had blown myself. But it w
as so encouraging to see that the running legs were still there, enough to give me a 1:26 and best run split out there by 3 minutes. This race really gives me some much needed confidence towards this Ironman push. Canada is in just 2 months! Derick and I have a short trip planned to see family in North Carolina this weekend, but then it will be a big training block for Canada. And, a short trip to Colorado for a friends wedding. Hopefully my weaknesses out there (The Loop, Kinfolks and Wooglins) will not ruin all this hard work. :)

While I wanted a win out there in Lubbock, second place was all that was in me on this day. When I know that I gave it 100%, then I am satisfied; even if it was 2nd place. Thanks to Mike and Marti Greer for putting on yet another spectacular event (20 years in the running) and all of those who support me to help me make this happen... Hill Country Running, 3 Cosas, Zoot, Advanced Rehabiliation, Go with the Flo, and Jack and Adams. Next time, I will hopefully have enough time to make up those 90 seconds... I'd imagine that 140 miles should be enough time to do a lot of things!

Thanks for stopping by...
Amy Marsh and I at the finish (Courtesy of Mario Cantu)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Yellow Belt!

My nephew Ben just received his Yellow Belt in Karate...I had to post a picture. He is so happy! Even little Ben is 'aiming high'! He is the one in the middle grinning ear to ear...Go Ben Johnson!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Eagleman 70.3: Irony and Persistence

Irony and sport. Some days, we can walk away from an event and despite a lackluster outcome, realize an even greater 'victory' than what a win could ever provide. When I reflect on this years Eagleman 70.3 event (that I competed in yesterday), I keep coming back to two concepts: Irony and Persistence.

Why irony? I have been focusing on my cycling for a few months now. I went into this race having logged 6 rides of close to 80 or more miles; for me, this is a huge accomplishment and also a significant increase in my training on the bike (mind you, they have all been at least a week apart from one another). I was feeling strong, confident and ready to test out my 'new' cycling legs. Sure, I was fortunate to have done a PR marathon back in March, but in need of some run-recovery, I had greatly shifted my focus away from running (as in, 3-4 runs/week) and over to the bike, my glaring weakness in triathlon. Looking longer term, I am planning to do an Ironman in late August, and I am bound and determined not to let my race result (or lack thereof) be decided by yet another slow bike split.

Irony? I got out there on Sunday, in Maryland, and from the first 5 miles, I felt flat. It hurt. I literally had nothing in me for the bike. To have 56 miles to go on flat legs and an ensuing negative attitude, it made for a rough 2 hours and 36 minutes (yes... the slowest professional bike split by, oh; about 5 minutes). Multiple times, I wanted to quit. My thoughts: 'What is WRONG? Why NOW? I am rested! This is not supposed to happen!'

Persistence: I could not quit. I did not even have an excuse. As much as I would have welcomed a flat tire, or a mechanical, there was none of it... just me, my non-cycling legs and lots of open road. I cannot be so proud that, simply on an 'off' day, I give in to pain and a sub-par body. My thoughts out there on the long, lonely roads (as I cursed at myself each and every time another woman would pass me), "Quitting gets you nowhere. You know you are better than this; we all have bad days." Unfortunately, countered with, "Kelly, give it UP! Who are you kidding? Throw in the towel. Do you want to have another 'great swim, great run' race? Enough is enough."

Lesson: Days like these are 10x harder than any day that you have a big win in you...
because on the days you are off, or struggling, you have to battle not only a body that
does not want to perform, but a slew of negative thoughts along with it.

Irony? The end of the 56-miles did eventually come, though none too early, and what did I find? My legs! My running legs! I came off the bike and I felt very strong, it was almost as if I could barely keep up with them.

More irony? A PR 1/2 marathon run split off the bike by over 2 minutes. (...what? how?...) I probably passed 6 or 7 women and was lucky to sneak in for a 5th place finish and even felt stellar that last mile (as I even timed myself to see what I could do on mile 13!). While I came into this race having been 3rd in 2008, and with a goal of trying win it this year (as my blog title says, aim high!), I was quite graciously humbled out there, but pleasantly surprised by a strong run at the end. It was a very strong field, and I have to thank all the women out there battling it out and forcing me to find something there at the end I was not sure that I had in me. I even had a 'support team' that I did not want to let down. My parents came out from Indiana to watch, and my husband Derick even surprised me on Saturday to watch (getting a ticket completely last minute). I am so glad I could make this exciting for ya'll! (um, it was all part of the plan). :) Additionally, a big thanks to those who believe in me and support me: Zoot, 3 Cosas massage, Hill Country Running, Jack and Adams, Go with the Flo, and Advanced Rehabilitation.

PERSISTENCE - Motto of the day: Don't give up.

It may sound cliche, but if you are doing what you love in life - if you are attacking your passions with genuine enthusiasm and honest hard work - and if you believe in yourself, giving up when shit happens simply gets you nowhere. (that was my other recurring thought, 'shit happens').

We learn so more about ourselves on the tough days than the days it all just comes together. Remember to try to see some perspective when you find yourself in this situation (as we all will, at some point)... How bad is it, really? A mediocre day of racing (or even training) is still a glorious day because you are out there doing it. And I believe that when we can finish the task on the tough days, even if it it ugly (and you want to cry; not that I wanted to cry...) this is what gives us the strength to have the good days. Had I of quit on the bike, I would not have allowed myself the
chance to redeem myself on the run. And THAT would have been a wasted opportunity. So, keep at it; you never know what may be hiding around the next corner.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Deep Eddy Makes Me Happy

Everyone in Austin raves about Barton Springs. Barton Springs is nice, but in my opinion, in the HOT of Austin summer, Deep Eddy is where it's at. It is a spring-fed pool (as I believe is Stacy Pool as well), and the temperature is usually around 70F. I think it settles around 72, which is just perfect to be refreshing without too shocking. In the winter, it will get down to the upper 60's... a bit too cold for me, so I go to Stacy which is a constant 80-ish. The thing about Deep Eddy is just the entire experience. For $3, you walk down these endless stairs (ok going down, but very tiring coming back up) and head to the left where the 8 lap lanes are. If they are all full of 2 people each (not circling) then people simply 'wait' in an unspoken 'line' for people to get out. Sometimes people are asked to circle...the length is 33 yds long, so circling is not that big of a deal; it is usually only 3 people per lane. Even if I am doing a workout, I am very open to sharing the lane. It's just the Deep Eddy vibe.

You cannot stop too long, because then, even in the HOT of summer, you start to get cold. I try to do my usual 'get in and warmup then go right into a main set without talking to anyone or inviting conversation', hammer out 3K or so then take a breather. If I am lucky, I will see someone I know and start chatting... at which point about 15 minutes later, I realize how cold I have gotten and voila! My workout is done! And the next happy customer takes my spot in the lane; it's such a nice flow of traffic.

Then comes the best part, the showers. After drudging up the 62 steps (ok maybe not that many, but it feels like it some days), they have this outside shower/change room and excellent showers. By 'excellent' I mean good pressure and hot! Even though it may be pushing 100 outside, after an hour in the brisk water, it feels good to bask in the hot showers. The best part is, when you leave, you usually have a bit of a chill from the swim that seems to help keep you cool for awhile. As I said, to put it simply, Deep Eddy makes me happy. If you are in Austin sometime, you should check it out for a splash.

Other news:
- Derick and I are having a house warming party on Saturday night! Quite exciting, I guess this is what you do when you 'buy' a house. We really do love this little house and I think our cat Shackleton does, too. Though, Derick thinks he may be depressed; we don't let him out since he got nailed by a truck as a kitten and I saw it happen. He ran straight to it. It was awful. I don't think he is depressed, though I must admit, I did search 'cat depression' the other day. He does not have many signs... he still grooms himself, eats, and will hang out in the house near us. I just think he wants to play outside. I debate allowing it every so often, but I think I am too attached to him to come to terms with the fact that he could get hit again...

- This Ironman training stuff is for real. I am starting to ramp things up for Canada in August; the 30th to be exact. I think I have done a handful of 70+ mile rides, and this past weekend was my biggie -- 90 miles! Since I didn't have my TT bike (my SRM had to be sent back for some TLC), I was on my road bike and didn't have any 'data'. So, I came home and Mapped My Ride (I know, I am a dork but I HAD to see if I hit 90!). My riding time was 5:15, and it was about 89.5; which in my book is definitely 90 miles. It was a pretty hilly course in/around Austin, and the most amazing part was that I ENJOYED it! I did this solo...

- Then came Saturday night, post-ride, when we went to see BRANDI CARLILE live here in Austin @ UT. She is one of the most amazing performers ever. Derick and I decided for some odd reason to take it upon ourselves to, well have a bit too much sangria before the show. Why? I really do not know. Maybe I was celebrating my biggest bike ride ever, maybe we were excited that we were 'out on the town'. In any case, we had dinner, some Sangria, then visited Mellow Mushroom across from the Texas Union Ballroom and had some Dogfish Head beer. Tasty stuff! Good beer is one of my vices. The show was beyond amazing, as she always is, but why, for a very chill show of 325 people (seated, might I add) did we do this to ourselves? Not so sure, especially since Derick did the Rogue Trail 10K the next morning at 7:30 AM and I did a 15 mile. Lesson learned? I cannot do this to my body when training for 7 hours in a weekend! But, it's all good. We have to learn these lessons somehow, don't we?

That is about it here. In all honesty, I am really enjoying my new routine sans-school (I took 2 classes @ Austin Community College this past spring). Currently, I can divide my days up with training sessions and work (Source Endurance). Work is going great, and I am really enjoying it; we have to count our blessings in this economy to be 'busy' with work, I cannot complain. It seems that minus just that one element, 2 classes 2 days/week, my time has opened up a bit and I can balance things very well. I just have to be cognizant of recovery, fluid intake and time management with this increase in training. But, the new challenge is great! That is what life is about.

And one more thing...a HUGE congrats to Dede Griesbauer, who recently NAILED an Ironman in Brazil. Dede trained here in Austin a bit a few months back; seems like a very cool girl. She won it with a 9:10! Absolutely stellar performance. And the most amazing part? I believe Dede is 40, or pushing it. I think that is simply awesome to see women doing lifetime PR's at that age. More power to her, and everyone else out there challenging themselves...

I am off for some dinner and a movie. Thanks for reading; and if you are in Austin, training in this heat, drink up! ...And, by that I mean water. :)