At first I neglected to write anything since St. Anthony’s because I didn’t feel like I was doing much. Then I realized that I was actually racing a lot, and feeling the need to write about every race was overwhelming. Here’s the quick and dirty about the whole mid season:
Despite a lack of tweets about training all off season, I have been hard at work. Mostly with instagramming pictures of my dog, but I also mixed in some training.
The theme of this spring has been fun times on bikes. Kyle and I joined the La Prima Espresso cycling team which has led to some awesome long ride adventures, bike races with real cyclists, lots of espresso, and I get to be teammates with some of the most badass women and men on bikes this town has to offer.
This spring was off to an excellent start, 3 for 3 in a few ABRA series bike races! Bike racing and really learning how to push myself hard on the bike has been a total game changer for my bike fitness and success as a triathlete. Giving yourself a massive lead off the bike is also an excellent strategy for winning races, so I would recommend more bike racing to everyone that wants to be a better triathlete.
For as much fun as I’d been having on bikes, I had been having exactly no fun with running. Running over the winter actually went spectacularly, at first. Then in February, all the spectacular running caught up with me and I ended up with a hamstring strain that left me doing a whole lot of not spectacular running. A few weeks before the first tri of the season at St. Anthony’s I was starting to be able to run at least 6 miles at a time, but boy did I feel out of run shape. I already had paid for the race, and was mostly looking forward to visiting friends in St. Pete, so the plan to travel to Florida to race was still on.
My main goal was to make it through the race and not injure myself even more, but I can’t help getting caught up in the competition. There was a chance I might just implode on the run, *but* there was also a chance I wouldn’t. And if I wouldn’t, then I wanted to win. Second places are starting to become a sore subject.
Any day the swim isn’t canceled is a good day, even though I would gladly welcome a rough non wetsuit swim to slow down the weaker swimmers. No such luck at St. Anthony’s, so I just enjoyed cruising through the swim on the feet of some dudes that started in the open wave with me. The bike is where I expected fireworks, but all I got was a dinky sparkler. While I still had one of the top bike splits, I expected better. I don’t usually have races where I inexplicably “just felt flat”, but that’s what this was like. I still was first off the bike, but figured I didn’t have as big of a buffer for the run as I was hoping for. I tried to execute plan A, which was to not allow myself to run any faster than 7:15/mile which I figured was the breaking point for my hamstring. Since I have very little self control, my first 3 run splits were 6:58, 6:56, 6:59. “But it just felt too easy!” Isn’t that what you always say before you crash and burn? The run was an out and back, so I could get a glimpse of how far 2nd place was behind me at the half way point. Less than a minute. Damn. That was probably the worst time gap. If she were too close I could just let myself accept that I’d be overtaken, or if she were minutes back I could still keep first even as I start to die. I knew I shouldn’t have had the run fitness to keep running sub 7:00 pace, so 1st/2nd could go either way at that point. I needed to muster whatever I could to not let her catch me. I’ll let my face tell you how the rest of the run went.
Progression of the run:
As I came down the finisher chute, I heard the announcer say: “And as we expected our first place female amateur finisher is Sally Jane from Oklachusetts!” (note: I don’t actually remember who they said, but it wasn’t me.) “Uh, wait, hold on, no it isn’t. It’s Kelly? From Pennsylvania?” And there you have my moment of glory of my first overall win at a major race, qualifying me for my pro license if I choose to take it.
Up next is a whole lot more bike races, some local tris, and trying not to break myself between now and USAT Olympic Nationals in Omaha in August.
Happy summer friends!
As soon as we got home from ITU Worlds, it was race week again! Kyle (his race report here!) and I headed out to Oklahoma City to race the Redman Tri Half which was this year’s USAT Long Course National Championship. Oklahoma City was a cool place to visit, it’s like a little Texas except everyone is friendlier! The city really got on board with the race too, which is so encouraging to see as an out of town athlete. Much better than when the locals resent you for causing weekend traffic jams. When we checked in to our hotel, there was a big “Welcome Redman Athletes!” banner up, the front desk clerk was wearing a Redman shirt, and we even got goodie bags! Seeminly small things, but they go a long way in making athletes feel welcomed and excited about the race. Even in a non-championship year, Redman would be an excellent race. Very well organized, all details and even unlikely contingency plans are clearly communicated, and the RD and great volunteers do a great job creating a fun and enjoyable atmosphere for athletes and spectators. If it’s not on your bucket list of races, it should be!!
Le sigh. I’m a person that loves to plan, schedule, and prepare everything going in to a race. ITU sure made my compulsive planning difficult. From getting late, incomplete, and conflicting information about rules and schedules, it certainly was a good test and learning experience for dealing with the stress and unknowns of race week. I’d probably give myself a C- on this test.
I’ll spare going in to too much detail, but it resulted in a lot of hauling bikes and gear down impossibly narrow staircases, standing around aimlessly for hours unsure of where to go, and then there was the disc wheel debacle.
Forget Disneyland, I’m pretty sure Milwaukee is the magical, mystical place where dreams come true. This was my 3rd year racing USAT Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee, and every year it’s the race where I surprise myself, completely exceed my own expectations, and opens up a world of possibilities for the future. This championship race is a perfect setup for a PR day, and as in the past, it delivered.
I started writing this in my workout feedback for my coach, but then felt like it turned into a nice little story about weekday workout struggles and the daily choice of victory or defeat that I’m sure a lot of athletes can relate to. I usually have big race day glory on my mind when I’m training, but sometimes these little day to day victories make the process feel worthwhile regardless of the race day outcome. Just wanted to share a feeling I hope many of you can appreciate.
For background, The Dirty Dozen is a bike race to the top of Pittsburgh’s 13 steepest hills. Center Ave/Guyasuta Rd is climb #1 and on the milder side of the 13.
When I train through tough days, or I try to motivate myself to get out of bed and do my scheduled workout, I usually think about an upcoming goal I have. It can’t be too distant or unrelated to that specific training session like “I want to go to Kona before I’m 40”. And it can’t be too easy or attainable that I can still accomplish it without even doing that training session like “I want to win my age group at a local race”. It’s got to be a reach goal, one that I don’t know with certainty that I am going to accomplish, but success is possibly just within reach. I had a goal to finish in the top 3 amateurs at TriRock Philly, and spent quite a bit of time dreaming about it and my path to success for the better part of this spring and summer.
After an amazingly solid spring of training, the last 6 weeks of prep for TriRock Philly was a bit bumpy following Lake Raystown Half.
Some people like to dust off the cobwebs with an early season sprint or olympic tri to get back into the swing of racing. Not me. All of my A races are short course, why not use this tune up race to do a distance that I don’t usually get to fit into my schedule? And so Coach Matt Mauclair thought it would be a good test of early season fitness to sign up for a low key local half iron distance race at Lake Raystown Triathlon.
There are the people that line up at the front of the race, and there are people that tuck themselves away in the pack. Each time I line up at the front of a race, I wonder if I actually belong there. There are so many others that look fast, seem confident that they’re in the race for an overall win, and appear ruthless when it comes to throwing elbows if anyone gets in their way. One of my goals this year isn’t just to line up at the front of the race, but know that when I do, I belong there.
2014 was a solid season, but I ended it feeling eager to get to work on a few weak areas that seemed to stand as barriers to achieving any real high level potential. These being 1) I just don’t run very fast. Comparative to my swimming and cycling ability, I am far below my competitive peers. I might be able to eek by in a 10k, but anything longer than that starts to become disastrous. 2) I get cramps in my legs off the bike every. single. race. And sometimes on training rides. This bike fitness and strength issue gives me two options: slow down or get stronger. Then the previous 2 area seemed to fuel # 3) lack of confidence and belief in what result or progress is even possible. So in December Kyle and I started working with a new coach, Matt Mauclair and Trust the Plan Coaching.
What a wild year. 2014 will be a tough one to beat. Thanks for everyone who was a part of it! Here’s a little recap of this year in business, the wonderful world of triathlon, life and times.