Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Ice Breaker Race Report

Oh Ice Breaker....will I EVER get it right?!  I don't know, but, WHO CARES?!  I have a TON of fun racing you every year. :)

So, this Ice Breaker review is a little late....but I've been a little off this season, with EVERYTHING, so better late than never. :)

I'll sum it up with for you:

3rd place....again. 

Swam great, transitioned ok, biked one great lap and one not so great lap...had an ok run.

As for the race course, it was well marked, well attended and FUN!  Loved it!  My one regret is allowing the 2nd place gal to pass me on the second bike loop when I COULD have held onto my lead.  I chased her on the run hoping to catch her but ran the EXACT 5k time she did, which wasn't fast enough.  Big disappointment.  I knew I couldn't beat Krista, but I should have been able to bike this course faster and hold that lead.  Guess I'll have to Tri again next year!

As for the race company.... Our Racetri guys are always putting on a great pre-race show, and running a fantastic race!

Can it be that I, Kelly K. Jones, can be not-so-long-winded?... It's rare I know, we'll savor this rarity. :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

To Hell and Back in 70.3 Miles

St. George Ironman 70.3

Tuesday before the longest race of my life I sat down with CK to discuss the upcoming event.  As I listed the challenges I faced going into this race she scribbled down some notes on a piece of paper.  When I was done going thru it all CK turned the paper around and asked me, "If I showed you this persons list of issues, would you recommend they do this race?"... 

The List:
Severe ankle sprain
IT Band pain
Shoulder pain
Sick for past 3 weeks
Chest Cold

"No, I would suggest they get a wheel chair and see a doctor.", was my response.  But... since when have I ever listened to sound advice?!

Jared and I had decided to do this race for our 10th anniversary and we had planned to do it together.  I couldn't let him down, I couldn't not try after all the time, money and work I put into this race.  More than anything I couldn't DNF my first IRONMAN event.  I was pretty scared to begin with and I didn't want to set myself back in the one aspect of triathlon that I'm pretty good at, mental strength.

So I committed to do my best to get well enough by race day to toe the line.

Race Day:
3:45am comes quickly no matter what time you get to bed.  Surprisingly I had slept pretty good despite a midnight wake up call by our youngest and having a chest cold with the regular coughing fits.  We got our gear together, headed down to breakfast and caught the shuttle over to T2 to drop our run gear off and catch the next shuttle to Sand Hollow.
From the moment you get off the bus you could sense the anticipation and scale of the massive crew of people it takes to make an event of this size run smoothly.  It was pretty awesome.  Having checked our bikes in the day before, things felt pretty relaxed.   I got my wetsuit on, took some pictures, chatted up some friends and team mates and headed for the swim start.

The Swim (41:53):
With temps at the Sand Hollow res being pretty chilly, I was looking forward to my ice bath before the bike and run.  I knew it would help all my aches and pains and give me some confidence I badly needed.  When the swim started I got kicked in the chest right of the bat.  This sent me into a coughing fit in the water.  But I don't stop to cough, I just cough into the water and then breath out the side and cough some more.  Unfortunately, the bubbles lifted one side of my goggles just enough to let in some water.  Good thing Sand Hollow has awesomely clear/fresh water, I just kept swimming as it wasn't much of a bother.
For the most part I had a pretty good swim.  I felt the chest cold, felt the fatigue of missing weeks of training but I enjoyed it and came out of the water feeling fairly well, didn't push myself very hard and still came out of the water in a descent time.  The swim is always the easiest on me though...

Jared was waiting for me as planned and I hustled to get my bike gear on and join him. 

The Bike (a torturous 4:17:01):
I knew going in the bike was going to be the hardest part of this race for me.  My bike fit was off, my injuries were exploited and my illness was getting the better of me.  Every breath was labored, my heart rate was soaring and my nose was running at full drip!  I was expecting all this for the most part and had planned to just do my best.  What I wasn't expecting was the hamstring pain that showed up to play on the bike.  From the first hill I could tell I was going to have a problem I hadn't counted on.  I managed to make it 26 miles before the stabbing pain was too much and I had to stop and stretch it out.  Jared had been leap frogging me on the course and was there to help me get a good enough stretch to calm the pain.  That stop got me thru to the base of Snow Canyon before I had to get off and repeat the process.  Again Jared was there and stretched it out and again it bought me a few miles.  It's too bad those miles were heading up into Snow Canyon!  Being that I'm not currently a strong biker, and I'm a weak climber, I was already struggling to keep up with my pacer (Jared) and the climbing was starting to cause my IT Band to become extremely painful.  I had to stop two more times up Snow Canyon to stretch and ended up walking my bike long enough to let my lungs and legs recovered.  My one strength was starting to waiver, I was very near an emotional break down.  I was getting passed by EVERYONE.  It was emotionally very difficult for me to keep my confidence and belief that I could not only finish the bike, but add a half marathon on top of it.  Self doubt was creeping in and I was struggling to tell myself that this was "fun".  It wasn't fun at that point, I was hoping at that point that something would give so I wouldn't have to quit.  I could tell Jared was getting discouraged by my progress and I could see the worry in his eyes that we wouldn't finish with enough time to do our planned run/walk.  
When I finally did make it to the top of Snow Canyon I started to get some hope back, I started telling myself that I could do it, that hard things can't stop me.  I was flying on the down hills and hardly feeling the ups and then... I dropped my chain!    I think I may have dropped a few choice words as well? :)  Not a problem, I popped it back on and went to catch a rather annoyed looking Jared.  The downhill was what I needed to recover my legs enough to power up the last uphill with some respectable speed. 
I have never been so grateful to be off my bike in all my life.  I was hurting and I wasn't having any fun and I was SO done.

I sat myself down and changed shoes, wrapped both knees with my IT Band straps and the usual visor, grabbed my water bottle and slowly got to me feet.  "You CAN do this.", I was telling myself.  After a quick stop for sunscreen we headed out for our last leg.

The Run (3:07:46):
By the time I got my legs under me and through the first aid station I felt my old self coming back around.  I had some cramping in my back and neck but my legs were surprising me with very little pain.  We had planned to walk the uphill's and run the downhill's to preserve Jared's back (after all he did just have two back surgeries!).  Our goal for the run was to maintain a 14:00 pace to come in under the 8 hour and 30 minute mark.  That plan went swimmingly and although the run was difficult, I was starting to find the joy again.  I made a focused effort to drink some PowerAde Perform (NASTY), Coke and water at every aid station to rid myself of the cramps.  Nothing seemed to do the trick until I came across the Lay's Potato Chips!  Oh my gosh, that was WONDERFUL!  Better still, after I ran out of chips my hands were still nice and greasy/salty and provided me a nice 'salt lick' for a while.
When we made the turn around and headed back I was on top of the world again, I knew it was going to be an ugly finish time, I knew it wasn't going to be anything other than crossing the finish line and getting that finishers medal but I just didn't care, I WAS going to finish!

Just about that time, Jared and I passed a lady we had been trailing for a while.  She didn't look so good and was stumbling down the trail in Pioneer Park holding her neck.  I knew all too well what was headed her way if she didn't get some salt in her STAT.  I asked her if she was okay and when she didn't make a clear response I started searching the horizon for the aid station and let Jared know I was going to help her.  As I turned up the trail I saw a Roctaine someone had dropped along the way and ran over and grabbed it, I also remembered a packet of Chomps I had stuffed in my shorts pocket on the bike.  I handed them to her with my water bottle and she just held them in her hand with a vacant expression on her face, that's pretty much when I told Jared I was going to run to the next aid station and find some help. 
I felt light as a feather for once in the race and ran until I found a volunteer to call for help.  When Jared had walked her up to were I was waiting she looked pretty bad and readily accepted the offer of an ambulance.  We wished her luck and took off to catch back up to our virtual pacer.  As we ran we watched the ambulance and police cars head back the way we had come and at that point I hoped karma would send us a cloud or a breeze or a piece of cheesecake. :)

The last half of the run was much better for me, other than getting my socks wet and rubbing blisters between my toes, I felt pretty good and ready to run.  However, it was about this point (11.5 miles)that Jared's running limits were being met and with his back getting sore we kept our pace slow but on target.  My lungs felt like iron and breathing was a chore but the exhilaration I felt to be finishing moved me along.

The Finish:
We came down the shoot and Jared took my hand to run the last 100 yards, it was amazing.  I felt so relieved and happy and in love with my sweetie.  He carried me thru this race, he didn't leave me when I told him to go and he put my needs above his own.  He encouraged me, pushed me, helped me and believed in me.  When he could have easily finished his race in under 7 hours, he waited for me and finished just under the 8:30 mark.  This was a one of a kind experience in racing and very, very worth it.  I finished 108 out of 115 in my age group, but I'm pretty sure I'm the only one there that got to do this race with their best friend and fall in love again reflecting back over 10 years and 70.3 miles into to hell and back.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rock Cliff 2012

Rock Cliff Race Report
1 mile swim, 24 mile bike, 6 mile run
Pre Race:
Did all the usual pre race stuff that I normally do, you know, start your morning with a nice big green protein smoothie, help friends evacuate from a fire zone, move 3 families into the house for the night, pretty standard stuff really? :)
All joking aside, there's a strange thing that happens when you find yourself in a position to help your friends, it's a little peaceful feeling for me that lets me know everything is going to workout juuuust fine. So even though Jared and I found ourselves thrust (jumped into willing) into the middle of chaos Friday morning, it didn't faze me.
I arrived up at Rock Cliff feeling excited and energetic and grateful. It was so beautiful and I found myself wrapped in a moment and spell bound by God's awesome gifts. So the rest of the pre race stuff didn't even really matter! I was suffering a deep stabbing pain in my hamstring and knee, feeling the drive up in my super bad back and sleeping on a soaking wet air mattress in the back of our Suburban and I couldn't have cared less.
What's more I was motivated by the numerous volunteers that were provided by Travis Hess of the Hess Cancer Foundation and by Travis himself, and the many other inspirational triathlon stories like Racetri's director Aaron Shamy and his inspiring little boy and Emily B. who finished last year (after being pulled from the course) and 1st in her division this year! This is what I LOVE about triathlon, why I keep coming back for more body punishing races, to be inspired. Rock Cliff delivered in a big way, and here's the scoop...
The Swim: 1 mile open water, wetsuit required
Our serendipitous Friday morning couldn't have been timed any better for this race really. I was FREAKING OUT (inwardly) over the distance. I hadn't trained for an Olympic distance race and was fighting shoulder and knee pain among other "discomforts" I was having on the bike.The distraction was just what I needed to turn my mind off of the negative self doubting thoughts and onto the needs of others. It was calming and brought my mind back to 'center' on the important things in life which I found very helpful.
Staring out over the beautiful Jordanelle Reservoir I didn't have a nervous quiver detectable in my body, total zin mode...rare for me.
The horn blew and I dove into the water intent to draft the first person that leaped out in the lead, that person just happened to be Laura Harris, a Coach Keena athlete and a very fast swimmer. I trusted that she would keep a fast pace and stay on course so much so that I didn't even spot until we neared the first buoy. Pretty good strategy, worked like a charm until I got a little too close just after the turn and touched her toes! She took off at that point and as much as I tried I couldn't catch her. At that point I was pretty much alone in the water, a lovely way to race a tri swim. It may play tricks on you if you don't swim straight, but I'm pretty much an arrow in the water provided the wake and current aren't too strong.
Swimming silently through the water was peaceful and I found my groove a just tried to stay relaxed, keep my elbow high, finish each stroke and enjoy the swim.
Approaching the end of the first 750 meter loop I heard the familiar percussion of a floundering Clydesdale (something I would greatly like to avoid) and I searched the water ahead to steer clear.  With an enormous whoosh of his legs I was startled off course as I wasn't expecting him to appear so suddenly. Not a big problem, but I lost some momentum I now had to work to get back.
I think that may be the cause for the extra 'boost' I felt through the second lap of the swim? No matter, the faster I swim the better I felt and the more I was enjoying myself. I passed many of the male swimmers on my second lap and even got to smile at a team mate as I passed by, recognizing his Leukemia Foundation wetsuit I was tempted to yell, "Hi Mike!” into the water to see if he could hear me. :) At that point I had one turn left and a sprint to the boat ramp and I was so happy I was nearly grinning into the water, I had nearly swam a mile at race pace effort and was passing people! (That’s a huge boost in confidence that's always appreciated during an endurance event.)
Coming out of the water and up the boat ramp I felt strangely...good. I glanced down at my watch and blew into T1. Final swim time: 30:33 2nd in division, 6th overall female, not baaaad.
What can I say, I LOVE to whoop up on the Jared in transition. :) He has made it into a race within a race for me and I just love to see how efficient I can be...and of course if I can beat him at his game I'll take it! T1 was near flawless, everything went pretty smooth. I'd love to give more details and what I think really makes the biggest difference in my times getting faster...but I have a husband to beat. ;) Final T1 time: :59 1st in division, 1st overall female, 3rd OVERALL. I'll say I have the 4th triathlon discipline pretty well oiled. :)
The Bike: 24+ miles of hills, wicked crosswinds and beautiful scenery
Starting out on the bike I was in a great state of mind and very happy with my swim and T1. I feel great and had a good pace going up and out of the Rock Cliff area. I knew the course was going to seem really long and it was all uphill for the first 13 miles out, not difficult climbing but just enough up to keep my heart rate really high my pace began to drift. My batteries in my cadence sensor had died on my last long ride and I had forgotten until race morning. This is a bad thing for me as I rely on my cadence feed back to manage my gears better going uphill's. I tend to lighten things up a bit too early when the going gets tough and seeing (rather than feeling) how much work my legs are doing has really helped me break through to the next level on my bike.
Well, life and racing doesn't always hand you lemonade and I was going to do my best to squeeze every last drop I could from my legs. I tried to maintain my mph the best I could and when I got frustrated with the constant up and down feed back of my GPS I decided to just keep pace with the next person who passed me. Well the next person to pass me was team mate Mike and there wasn't any way I could pace him, "Bye Mike!", yeah it was fun to have a lead on him as temporary as it was. :)
The next person was a 53 year old man and we played leap frog pretty much from that point till the end of the race. It made the long process of my first Olympic distance a lot less tedious for a person with my short span of attention. :)
It was also funny, thanks to race director Aaron Shamy for giving Jared and I a ‘Shamy Shout Out’ during the pre race meeting, as one person passed me he nodded and gave me a, "Mrs. Jones.", salutation before leaving me in the dust. I was slightly amused thinking of Shamy's words, "They give 'Keeping up with the Jones' a whole new meaning...” ya dee ya da... yeah, and this guy was not just "keeping up" but LAYING WASTE to this Jones!
Besides having my thoughts to amuse and occupy my mind for 25 miles, I had Jared to think about and nearly half a mile from the turnaround I finally see him blasting down the road. Ohhhh, he's SO CLOSE! If only he wasn't so fast on the downhill I thought I might have a chance to at least hold him and not let him get any more distance on me.
With that in mind I shift into a much stiffer gear and give the last half mile to the turn everything I had. As I was turning however, “SQUIRREL!”, I was totally distracted from my thoughts of just seconds before... "Hey, there's the Barbacoa racing team, they must be training... ACK! Focus Kelly, FOCUS!" "Hmm, I wonder if they'll make them wait since we're having a race on this road and all."... Okay, so you get the picture... A.D.D. much? :)
Well the answer to that question came in the most unexpected way as just after hitting my top speed, post turnaround, the racing team catches me. One of them smiles and nods politely and shouts, "We'll bring you on into the finish!". I yell back, "Not in this race! Drafting is ILL-LE-GAL!” Well, like it or not they passed me and the guy I was leap frogging. Their seamless line of bikes shuffling front to back gently swept past us, silently and effortlessly, gliding down the smooth surface of the road.  It was a struggle to NOT draft them as even 4 bike lengths back I could feel the break in the wind and the pull of their bikes. I moved far right of them to make sure I wasn't going to get penalized and I fretted until they made enough distance that I could feel the wind push against my wheels once more. Both my leap frogger and I could not believe how fast Team Barbacoa was riding and I felt silly with all my carbon and aero junk being passed with such ease by a bunch of roadie's just out for a stroll!
Well, after we could no longer see the racing team we continued exchanging the lead until the road hit a nice downhill stretch, I tucked into my aero bars, put my head down and made a good enough gap that I didn't see the guy again until the run.
Coming into the park I hit a max speed of 49 mph and one serious adrenalin rush surged through me. I slid out of my bike shoes, and after some hesitation (where's the dismount line?) I flew off my bike practically over the timing mats. Final bike time: 1:20.06 2nd in division and 9th overall female, not as great as I'd have liked but not bad.
Since Jared and I always seem to manage a sweet spot on the bike rack I literally jumped off my bike, took a few steps and tossed my bike on the rack, it was pretty sweet. But in my excitement to be off the bike and onto the run I completely lost all since of direction and had NO idea which way the run out was! Being quickly pointed in the right direction I took off with a T2 time of: 41 1st in division, 2nd overall female and 3rd OVERALL! Daaaang, I am loving that flying dismount! :) (And of course I have my little secrets that help make for a quick T2, shhh DON'T tell Jared!)
The Run: 6.2 miles, 2 loop difficult course on all terrains
The END.
Just kidding, boy do I wish that's where my race finished...on a GOOD note, but it wasn’t. Heading into the race I was yet again suffering left leg issues that were nagging me on the bike and followed me right into the run. Right off the bat I was passed by several people I had fought so hard to catch on the bike. It didn't matter what I did on the bike really, if you can't run, you can't keep a lead and the longer the race the larger that lead needs to be. My one comfort was Jared, my talented husband who can out swim me, out bike me, and when just running... outpace me. But as everybody knows, Jared is not a distance runner and I had seen him running out while I was biking in and I knew he was no more than a mile ahead of me on the run.
That little bit of information was nearly my undoing. Catching glimpses of him I knew I could catch him if I pushed myself. But unlike Grand Junction were I didn't know my run course and paced myself just in case, I DIDN'T pace myself AT ALL. I ran my first 5k loop a lot faster than I should have and it caught up to me around mile 4 were I started feeling my hamstring seizing up on me and a cramp in my calf. The pain was shooting threw my knee and every step was agony, I slowed to a walk to recover what I could of my race and attempted to down a GU pack. My body was getting to the point where your stomach wants nothing to do with anything heavier than water and I knew I was going to have to force it down to make it the last couple miles to the finish. So I choked it down and took a big swig of water in hopes the nutrition would make safe passage to my stomach and STAY THERE. I walked a few more steps just to be sure nothing was coming for revenge and then took off again, agreeing with myself that I would walk through the aid stations and then run as far as I could.
Well at the last aid station my leap frogging bike buddy catches up to me and we make small talk up the big hill. Again, I'm confronted with the curiosity spurred by race director Aaron Shamy and I am being asked all about my husband and who he flies for etc. a somewhat welcomed distraction from the pain that is my left leg.
Well, to make this painfully long story a little less long, I finally see Jared again, but this time I'm walking and he's running. My hopes of catching him are dashed and I resign myself to just finishing strong. I had been caught by another Coach Keena athlete and we were encouraging each other on threw the last mile of the run and I briefly remembered I was supposed to be "having fun". :)
Fun is relative in triathlon.
I was having fun, but my left leg was not. My muscles were screaming at me, my knee was screaming at me and now in the last mile of my run I feel the familiar sting of a torn blister right in the arch of my left foot. I couldn't get away from it and I couldn't out run it, so I just kept running hoping to find the finish line before I couldn’t tolerate anymore self inflicted "tough love".
Running into the finish I half expected to find Jared, hands on hips, with a proud 'I beat you again' smile on his face but he wasn't there, so I threw my hands up in small self victory celebration and felt the satisfaction of another goal accomplished. After a little show for the Go Pro, I threw myself under the closest table (and out of the sun) to regain my strength and peel my feet free of their confinement.
Final run time: A dismal 1:02:06 2nd in division, 21st overall female. Disappointing, but in the end I am happy to have finished strong.
Post Race:
Race results were coming out slowly but with the little results we had Jared knew he would take 2nd or 3rd and I was in the same spot. The awards were called and I had finished 2nd in division with a total time of 2:54:23, Jared had finished 3rd and had beat me by 20 seconds.
After the finish we went about helping the volunteer force break down the course and headed back home for R&R and a movie night out with our newly acquired refugee's.
For the Record...
Later that evening as race results were posted online (a very speedy posting, thank you Racetri!) I was looking to see where I had placed overall and by how much I had lost 1st. I was doing the usual comparison of times when I notice I can't find Jared's time anywhere. I looked again and again starting just above my name and tracing a finger up the page. I opened my mouth to say, "Jared, you're not on here!" just as my finger landed on his name.
You really would have thought it I had just won a lottery and you surely would have thought the worst of my outburst, unless of course you knew me and you knew Jared. :)
I had beaten him...by 6.8 (for the record) seconds. :) All is fair in love and racing, and two things I know for sure, I love Jared, and I love racing him...but I LOVED the expression on his face when he realized he'd been "chicked" by his wife.
Final times:
Kelly 2:54:23.0 2nd in division, 14th overall female, 49th overall
Jared 2:54:29.8 3rd in division, 37th overall male, 50th overall
The Race Company & Venue:
I can’t say enough about Racetri and the amazing string of events they’ve put on this year; it’s been a blast racing and volunteering alongside the Racetri crew.  The setup, awards, tech shirts, finishers’ medals and communication have been FANTASTIC!  I love the addition of the ‘Go Pro’ camera at the end of the finishers shoot to capture the moment, although I’m sure when Rock Cliff’s finishers video is released today I’ll be beet red!   (Cameras and Kelly- a toxic mix, don’t believe me?  TLC has further evidence of my crimes against camera lenses!  You’ll see, just please, try and pretend it didn’t happen.)
Anyway, Joel and Aaron have been great as the co-talking-heads of Racetri and we are officially Racetri junkie’s, I’m sure we’ll have a notch for each Racetri event held this year at the end of the season.  So really, what more do you need?!  SIGN UP AND COME PLAY!  www.racetri.com
Rock Cliff was a beautiful place to hold a triathlon; the roads were in pretty good condition and the traffic well managed by the local sheriff’s department.  The water temp was perfect for a wetsuit swim and the run course, while difficult, keep it interesting!
Safe to say the Jones' will be coming back for more Racetri events. I mean, I have to have the full set!  Check out this sweet blingin' finishers medals!
Ice Breaker, Salem Spring, Rock Cliff
Next Jones Family/Racetri stop: Herriman Black Ridge , then THE UTAH HALF and
...last but not least, Camp Yuba!  You really should come play. :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Highline Hustle, Race Report

The Highline Hustle
500m Swim, 16 mile Bike, 3.5 mile Run
Grand Junction Colorado, June 9, 2012
Race Report

"The next time someone blows by you on their $6000 aero carbon fiber rocket ship or swims over the top of you like they are wrestling an alligator, smile and say, "Thank you. Have a great day!"."

The week leading into the race I took it pretty easy, my back was acting up and I didn't want to go into the race with back problems or sore worn out legs like I did for Rage and the Salem Spring the week before.  Things were shaping up to be a pretty good race weekend, if you discount our oversite in packing the vehicle, we had completely forgotten our suitcase! But at least we had all our race gear, right?!

We where up bright and early (4:15am) to read out to the lake from my MIL's home in Clifton and arrive before any other athele's, true to Jared's insistance that we get there before the next guy and we were indeed the first pair of bikes on the racks! Wasting no time, Jared racks his bike by the handle bars at the closest point to the bike out, I *attempt* to rack mine by the seat just left of him.  But just as the year before, the racks are TOO SHORT for any 'adult' sized bike to hang from (or even fit under). I try by the handle bars and my bike falls over into Jared's as it's not propped against the end post like his. I hook the brakes over the bar and giving Jared my reservations over it and I turn to start setting up my spot. When I turn around Jared has re-racked my bike on the second rack back against the post. He asks me if that's ok and I agree it's a much better position.  Problem solved...for us atleast!

In the process of getting set up a man racks his bike next to mine, "Nice bike." I think to myself...he must be here on 'business'. As we continue getting ready he makes remarkes about various things that lead me too believe he is, a) a great swimmer and b) a little cocky, which is distracting me.  Trying to ignore his commentary, I continue my prep for the swim with much focus on getting out of my wetsuit with ease (I must have used half a bottle of TriSlide). 

Slightly excited but nervous for the un-practiced course, we head down to the water.

The Swim:
After a short warm up and a 'cork screw' lesson from Jared, we head to the beach for the start of wave one. Jared and I will be starting together. I inwardly stressed over starting with men on all sides, and barely hear anything the RD says about the course.
When the mega phone goes silent I turn, take a deep breath and follow Jared to the far left side of the other swimmers. He gestures towards the course but I don't hear much through my ear plugs and double caps.

Right on the dot, the bullhorn blares and the swimmers are off in the usual mass start of wildly thrashing arms and legs.

That's about where 'usual' end's for my swim.
I immediately follow behind Jared in an attempt to draft him the whole 500 meter triangle but my plan is railroaded. Like a train set between two tracks I find myself suck between two tall, and very big male swimmers. One is wearing a blue 'Valor' Tri suit, the other has the anonymity of a standard black wetsuit and race cap. Both are swimming towards each other with me in between. I'm not sure how a person swims with half a free style arms and breaststroking one leg, but Mr. Blue Suit was trashing away and some how keeping a good pace, or was I not keeping a fast enough one?
I wasn't sure, but I wasn't going to hang around the sweeping leg that was ever so close to my notoriously bad arm. I try to go right. The guy to my right is swimming strong and throws my arm easily away from him, pushing my shoulder under the water several times. I change plans and attempt to go left and sprint ahead of Mr. Blue Suit. I quickly find that he is not going to let me pass him even if he has to push my face under the water to keep me back. I pulled and kicked with frustrated strokes with no success to take the lead or escape being 'herded'.
My best efforts were getting me no where but half drown and tired!
Swimming with women is a whole different experience as I am usually the 'bigger fish' and can push a straight line or 'guide' my competition by swimming the direction I want to go. I was completely unable to move either of these guys. Not something I'd like to experience again.  It wouldn't have been so bad if either of them was swimming a straight line to the buoy!  They each seemed determined to swim on a zig-zag and I just wanted to go STRAIGHT!
Rounding the buoy I deploy the 'cork screw' and amazingly I drop the big guys at the turn as they swing wide around the cone. FINALLY! I'm thinking I'm in the clear for a smooth swim into the beach. WRONG! I can't SEE the beach! Between the glaring sun, splashing swimmers and no other directional buoy's, I'm swimming blind. I take two strokes and spot, two more and spot again. I repeat the process till I realize the 'herd' is moving toward the flags up ahead. My gut says that's wrong, I spot again, and again until I realize the flags are NOT the swim flags but the FINISH flags on the hill above. It was very deceptive being so close to the swim flags and given the dark tree line and glare off the water. I stay on course trusting my instincts, a gamble that is rewarded with a nice solo swim into the beach and as soon as my fingers feel the sand and gravel below I throw my feet down and dash out of the water. 
Out of the water I grab at my neck to un-zip my wetsuit and to my HORROR I can NOT un-Velcro myself. Puzzled, I flash back to Jared zipping and securing my suit with a tug and a slap just before the swim. CRAP! I have been welded into my wetsuit! JARED!!!! I am near panic as I run up the hill through transition, nails tearing at neoprene and flesh (it was first time I've ever felt closterphobic in my suit, get me out of here!!!). I manage a Houdini just shy of the mats and rip my arms out, just in time to switch my watch to T1. Swim time 9:08 to the mat a tie with the overall female winner. :)

Freeing myself from Jared's welding, I feel a since of urgency to really transition fast! I run through transition , rip my wetsuit off with great ease and as I glance to my equipment I notice the guy next to me, the cocky guy with all the opinions, was STUCK. He could not get his wet suit off his right ankle. I don't hesitate, I reach a grab his suit with a swift pull but it doesn't come off! Dang, he's really suck! I grab the wetsuit at his heel and jerk with all my might and chastise him with a quick, "Body Glide dude!". Just as this thought hits me I snap out of my 'helping' mode and wonder what on earth am I doing?! I inwardly hope he's not in Jared's age as Jared was just rushing out of T1. Boy would he have words with me! :)
I jam my bike shoes and helmet on and run to the mount line, jump on and I'm off to a great start with not so much as a wiggle.  A pretty good improvement over T1 in the past! T1 time: 1:01 2nd in age group.

The Bike:
I hit the bike hard right off the bat and assumed the aero position grabbing my sunglasses off my aero bars as I sped around the corner waving to my MIL who was just arriving a little late. :)

Right out of the park I see someone just ahead who is pulling over to the side of the road. I quickly realize that jersey belongs to my own personal race competition for the day. It was Jared and (thinking he had a flat) I gave my brakes a tight squeeze to stop and help him. (Not that he needs any help, he could change one in his sleep!)  As I brake I see him yank his shoe from his pedal, ahhh, he doesn't have a flat after all... (insert picture of evil Kelly)
I go from, 'dutiful wife' mode to 'eat my dust' mode and I shout a drawn out, "Bye honey!", and blast past him. :) It was my opportunity to get a jump on him, you see, we had a little side wager on the outcome of this race and since we started together (a first for us), I knew I was now in the lead. :)
That lead was oh so sweet and way too short lived, as Jared will tell you, he jumped on his bike and dropped it into 'time trail' mode to chase me down.
Yeah, my lead didn't last very long, but it was still awesome. :)
Soon we hit the turn around and Jared and I cross paths. He lets me know I'm number three, I know I'm more like 4 or 5, but it still motivated me as I knew I needed to catch one or two ladies to podium. I glance at my watch several times and know I am smashing my pervious bike averages which drives me even harder. Best part was having my legs feel so healthy with only a few miles left to T2, also a welcome change from races past.
I see someone up ahead and I make my move to catch her, raising my hopes even higher for a great finish. Bummer part of an out and back course happens about then. Bikers headed out are holding up traffic which moves into our lane to pass right as I'm making my move to pass my target. I brake and pull right behind her completely killing all the momentum I had built coming into the next climb. I still manage to get past her but I soon lose that lead as a roadie passed me in return (she would go on to win our age group). We play a little back and forth on the next few up's and down's, she out climbs me, then I over take her on the downhill, repeat, repeat. Our final stretch of the course is a long up hill followed by a left turn at the top and a false flat into Highline State Park. I can't hang onto her up the hill and I have no more downhills to take advantage of. She smokes me at that point and I am starting to feel the extra miles I've spent in the aero position. I flash to Jameson King's race report on Ironman St. George I had read a day or two earlier. He had excruciating back pain from being aero for an extended period. I'm thinking to myself, "BABY! This is just 16 miles!".
Well, I got threw the back pain by sitting up, but that caused a frequent problem I had with my saddle to rear its ugly head. Every 10-15 feet down the last stretch had a seem in the assault and as a result the 'thump-thump' was increasing this pain. I had to stand on my pedals over the last few just to keep the tears at bay. Finally entering the park the road smoothed out but I know I've lost time managing the issue. I prepare for my dismount and hit the ground running. Bike time: 50:30 with 19mph average (a personal best) 5th in age group.

Learning to fly off my bike has been revolutionary for my T2 (with exception of my botched Women of Steal attempt!)
This time it went flawlessly and I transitioned with the best precision to date. I did make sure to clip my race belt on securely and bring my own gatorade along. Jared had told me not to expect aid on the run course and I wanted to be prepared! I couldn't be happier with my T2: :42! That is SECONDS! Yeehaw! I look at my watch as I pass the timing mat and smile, I had just smashed the T2 and now I was pumped for the run.

The Run:
Oh boy, a hilly 3.5 mile TRAIL run around a LAKE! My body is hesitating as soon as my feet hit the gravel. I remember my training, to keep my feet up, chest up, head down (and try not to let my mind play games with me). I was feeling really good and running at my target pace up till the first hill. It's practically sand and difficult to run up. My heart rate sky rockets and the grade is zapping my muscle strength. I take a mental inventory and slow to a 'hiking' pace. Managing to catch a few of the guys that had walked from the bottom. As I got to the top I was passed by another female but as they didn't mark age groups on our legs I had know idea if I needed to chase her down.
Not knowing the course and the kinds of hills or number of that I'd have to run up I decide to hold my pace which has slowed to a painful 9:45. It was hot, I was now feeling the burn of the climbing deep in my calves and my mental game started to get weak.
I needed something to distract me so I scan the trail ahead for the one person I would LOVE to run down. I don't see him at first. As my eyes switch from the trail to the trail up ahead I catch a glimpse. I smile big thinking I have a chance, he looks close enough and I know his weakness (evil grin). My disadvantage is he knows I'm coming for him and he knows I'm close enough that he needs to push it.
Turn after turn and hill after hill I see him disappear and reappear and he doesn't look like he's getting any farther away.  Odd?  It then hits me that the trail (meant for mountain bikes and atv's) is making a series of switch backs as it rolls over the hilly desert terrain.
I have to turn my focus to the trail as I hit the first switch back. Good thing too, the first corner, hidden by under brush, was a near miss!  That is it was a small 6 plank "bridge" over a narrow ravine and I nearly ran right off the side.  I had to laugh at myself at that point, I was starting to have fun and starting to realize that I was stronger than I gave myself credit. I starting thinking about the advice Coach Keena had given us 'just enjoy it, have fun'. I also thought about my friend Carriann and how'd she'd love this run course. At that point I'm having fun and I'm passing people one by one, which doesn't usually happen! I come to the top of a large hill and see Jared has made it to the dam, DANG! He's on the home stretch and there's no catching him. But I do see someone closer that I think I'd like to target for a pass. It was none other than Mr. 'I will drown you if you pass me' Blue Suit. I pick up the pace and close the gap.  The last switch back was a mean left hand turn that is nearly 180 degrees followed by a quick sharp right turn and a steep climb to the top of the dam. Mr. Blue Suit does not like the idea of being passed and picks up the pace, which I match and hold on just a few arms length back. It's always fun to punk someone in the shoot, right? :) Well I had plans to. But my shadow seemed to have given me away, as soon as he saw it he took off. I pinch my brow in disappointment as I know I can't sprint too far out without running out of steam. I glance behind me to make sure I wasn't going to be passed by any other female competitors and decide to hold off on the sprint just incase someone gets too close. I let Mr. Blue Suit go being proud that I caught him and held on just long enough to annoy him. ;)
I came into the finish to see Jared, hands on hips, with a slightest victory smile on his lips. I sprint over the mats and into his arms for a big hug and a celebratory smooch. :) I know...get a room, right?! :)
I feel really good post race, too good, and I immediately knew I could have run so much faster, run time: 33:03, not so good, and I was left to wonder if it was good enough.

Post Race:
We wait around a while for results to slowly start trickling out and it looks good for Jared but he signals to me a 4th place finish. My heart sinks. I am off the podium again and it's my run that makes all the difference, I was a little down. Jared had taken 3rd in his age group and I was trying not to rain on his parade.  Curiously I look at the overall results...
"HEY! Jared LOOK! Overall female 1&2 are in MY AGE GROUP!". I am practically jumping out of my skin with excitement! "That would mean 2nd!" I squealed. Before I let myself get too carried away I suggest we check if they pull overall's out. My hopes are dashed for the moment. Jared returns with only a little good news, they pull out overall's but only the number 1 male and female. That would land me in 3rd with a total time of 1:34:27, considering the extra distance on the bike and swim, I'll TAKE IT! :)
We grabbed our catered 'Which Wich' sandwich's and take a seat to tide our now monstrous appetites and await the awards.

The Venue & Race Company:
While this course intimidated me right up through the final 2 miles, I will give it a big thumbs up! Highline is a beautiful, small, desert lake and the surrounding trail run made for a pleasant view while racing. The water was a little fishy, but after the duck poo last week, I'm not going to complain too much! :) The trail was challenging but more fun than running on a road with hills.
Highline Hustle is put on by the city of Grand Junction and as such they don't have the plentiful opportunities for packet pick up before race day. They did however have the packets ready to go race morning right when they said they would, and it was just out of the transition area making it quick and painless.
The transition area was set up well but the racks where no laughing matter, they were seriously waist high, which would be great for a kids race, for anyone over 4'11, not so great.  The bike course was well attended too with a volunteer at every intersection. Another plus on this course is has a very light traffic load. It's a lot of farm land and good ol' country folk, if you know what I mean! My fear of dying on course was greatly diminished after seeing mostly horses and cows the night before. :)
The run course surprised us with not ONE, but TWO aid stations! The draw back was having to run off course to grab your water and not having it handed to you, trail side. Looking back throught the site info they did state there would be 2 aid stations on the run, a welcomed change from last year.
The finish was pretty much a family thing (I you had any there). No announcing names or finishers medals or buckets of chocolate milk or tables of food. No body to take your timing chip off and one person handing out semi cold water.
With that said, they had a great chiro and a massage therapist working people over and lots of freebies from 'GO FAST' and it was catered with 6" subs, chips, cookie and beverage...only they didn't have any cups for the gallons of liquid refreshment! WHOOPS! :) I bet they also left their suitcase at home! ;)

Any and all flaws with the Highline Hustle were washed away by the fun I had racing with (and against) my best friend, and the best husband and co-parent a girl could ask for. Jared won our little wager with 3 minutes and change to spare, but I did't mind.  Next time I won't go so easy on him. ;)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Last Tri For Glory, Salem Race Report

Finisher Medal
I had just one goal for Salem today, win my age group. Not too much to ask for, right? :)

Well, I didn't win, didn't even come close (which isn't really a surprise) :). But I gave it everything I had and left it all on the course, except my race bib... :)

Once again, the week before a big race I managed to burn out my legs on training days that didn't have to happen.
Monday, this week I went down to Salem with a bunch of Coach Keena athlete's and did the whole course start to finish...or did I? Turns out we cut the run course short by, A LOT.
No problem, I knew the course and I knew what to expect, and I hate being so darn RIGHT all the time! :) I'm almost glad we DIDN'T do the whole run course Monday, it's just better that my legs don't know what's coming some days. :)
Tuesday, Jared and I did a little trail running in prep for Grand Junction next weekend. It was a short run but it was extreme hills and extreme terrain. Not something I've ever done before without a horse doing the leg work for me! My knees, back and ankles were hammered pretty good on that short run and I spent the evening icing and rolling my legs and hoping I didn't ruin my up coming race.
Wednesday, I did the 'Never get Hurt' workout from the Runners World webpage. It added to the leg problem but I really didn't feel like I did a whole lot and didn't really over do anything, so I skipped the ice and rolling (mistake)!
Thursday, I must have left my brain on the shelf in the closet when I left for the days Tri class bike/swim. I think, but I can't be sure, that I told Jared I wasn't doing anything too crazy, BECAUSE...I DIDN'T WANT TO RUIN MY UP COMING RACE! Ok, now I'm sure I was operating on low level brain waves because, for whatever reason, when they said we're riding up AF Canyon I hauled booty up that canyon trying to catch Jared an the rest of the lead pack. I completely disregarded my own instructions. To make matters worse I hit the swim with everything I had. Hypoxic/sprint drill's and mass start (Tri simulated) laps battling my husband Jared, brother in law Jeremy and 3 other training buddies. All serious athlete's and STRONG swimmers. It was tough but fun and I tried to keep in the thick of it, can't be getting whooped up on in the swim!
That night I spent icing my knees, massaging my sore arm with the Biofreeze and rolling out my now unbelievably sore legs.
Friday, we "rested". If you call moving a neighbors fridge, yard work, shopping, taking the family to lunch and a movie and spending hours setting up for the race "resting".
We rolling into bed just after midnight.
Ready or Not!
Saturday morning we rolled out of bed just after 5am and packed up to head back down to Salem for the race. Before the race we helped out some more then we donned the wetsuits and headed to the water.
And this is where I'll get down to race business. (expression becomes somewhat serious)

The Swim:
With wetsuit on and goggles adjusted I was so ready for the swim to start! I got myself right up to the front of the pack and half marched, half danced. with anxious anticipation. Just before the start 5 ladies came around and stood in front of me and a few others in the front of the pack. I wanted to give them a heads up that I was about to bulldoze over the top of whoever I had to when that horn blew but I didn't want to make those kinds of friends. :)
When the bullhorn sounded it was a frenzy of arms and legs and I swam right over the top of several ladies.
My advantage in a mass start swim is my size and ferocious kicking and pulling. It's not pretty, but we're not painting ceramics we are RACING. Game. On. >:-)
The rest of the swim was pretty good. I felt like I was swimming a little slow but I caught the Clydesdales well before the first buoy so I thought I must be cruising along pretty good. I made a nice straight line from each buoy and just after the second I thought to myself, "no one wins in the swim, don't get too excited!". Just as I was contemplating my pace a lady swam perpendicularly over the top of me. I was REALLY surprised as I watched her swim across to the fourth buoy cutting the course by roughly 300 meters. I was bugged by the whole thing and spent way too much time watching her swim away from the me. As I indignantly went about my swim, I was bugged by "the nerve" of some people. I let my mental game slip and slide, I kept telling myself she must have decided to call it quits, maybe she got confused, perhaps she panicked and was headed for a kayak?! Anything was better than thinking the worse of someone. But until I hit the beach my thoughts consumed me -a very regrettable lapse in my game mode. Swim time 14:42

Running out of the swim I heard people cheering for me, offering help with my wetsuit and lots and lots of cow bells! It was so much fun I immediately put everything from my mind and got my game face back on. I ran over the timing mat and looked at my watch, 14:11(actual time 14:42), aaaaalright then, I. WAS. BACK. No more head games, let's get it done!
Found my rack, put my bike gear on, (struggled with my shoes a bit) ran out to the mount line. Nothing spectacular. T1: 1:39

Bike to T2
The Bike:I came out on the bike feeling where I had gone wrong earlier in the week. My left hamstring was a problem right from the first hill climb. I kept the gears light and my cadence high and just tried to keep it moving in smooth circles. The funniest thing happened on the bike today...I Kelly K Jones, passed my male counter parts, and not just a few of them, LOTS of them! What's even cooler, I only got passed by ONE female! CrrrAZY! I was feeling pretty good about THAT. Anyway, made the second bike loop, ran out of water, did a pretty good flying dismount and ran into T2 hoping I was far enough ahead to hold off the fast chicks.

I was not. Bike: 40:32

The Run: (Because who cares about my T2 -right? Btw, my T2 was the fastest in my age group) :) T2: 1:05

I head up transition and on the way out a friend of mine, Amber, shouts that I'm the 5th girl off the bike. I pretty much figured I didn't hear her right but I knew just what she meant, HAUL BADDASS!
I ran out as fast as I could wondering how fast was just fast enough to get me up and over the hills I knew where waiting for me. I was holding a 8 minute pace for the first flat stretch and knew I couldn't hold it up the long hills but decided I would just give it everything and hope the aid station would bail me out with some Gatorade to give me a boost.
That aid station was no where in site at mile one. But a fellow Coach Keena athlete, Eric Oscarson was. Now, at first look you don't see a runner, but that dude can RUN! He's lost over 170 lbs training for and racing triathlon's and I will tell you he is an inspiration!
Seeing him up ahead gave me something to focus on besides my legs that were balling up on me. I just wanted to catch him...took me over a mile to finally pass him and just after doing so he started shouting at me. A lady was running me down and he was yelling for me to catch her and not let her go! It was both motivating and crushing to attempt for a brief moment to match her pace...but I don't run at a 7:40 pace when I've just swam and biked and I knew I was going to burn my tank up trying to! I was running on low fuel for sure and my body was crying for something, ANYTHING! It was really hot and I was pouring buckets of sweat and my mouth was parched. Where is that aid station?! I was loosing heart with each girl that passed me but worse than that I was hurting up those hills and not sure if I could hold of anyone else.

But Eric gave me something, he gave me an idea. (insert imaginary horns and devilish smile) I had to do something to hang onto this race.
I was running out of energy and I could feel the wall coming, I knew I would hit it at some point without something but I had nothing. I was at the mercy of the aid station, the aid station that at mile 2, still had not come. But I had an idea to employ for the milking of what I had left! Thank yooou Eric! :)
With a renewed sense of strategy I kept running, planning to give it a fast pace until I was caught by someone in my age group, at this point I had been passed by 3 ladies and I knew I had no chance of qualifying. But that didn't matter to me at that point, my race was now about not getting punked by anyone else!
When I finally passed the aid station I reach for both cups and tossed one on my head and one down the hatch. I THOUGHT the next guy had my precious refueling cup of Gatorade and I pulled it from his fingers as I passed him just about missing it all together.
It was NOT the Gatorade he had said he had in one hand but the WATER he had in the other! DOH!
There would be no relief from the pulling muscles in my legs other than and stretch of downhill road to take a load off. As I tossed my cup in the trash I felt a 'pop' followed by something dropping from my waist. I had mis-clipped my race belt, and remembering the story of a team mate who lost her bib at Salem last year, I hit the breaks to go back and get it. That cost me a few seconds time and all the momentum I had going. Crap! Crap! Crappity, CRAP! That is seriously what I thought, intellectual, I know. :) I should have left it.
Heading downhill I started gaining ground on someone from my age group that had passed me on the uphill stretch. That was a happy, brief, moment as another age grouper passed ME at the same moment! And THAT'S when I made my move.
I sped up and matched her pace and held onto her, planning to punk her in the shoot.

At least that was the plan... 

As I hit the bridge we had to pass one very broad guy running down the middle. She got past him on his right no problem, I got hung up trying to pass him on the left AND dodge two very unforgiving iron poles at the end of the bridge designed to keep atv's and other vehicles off. So she got a little further ahead of me than I had planned!
Again, I was met by Amber, who's extremely BADDASS, and she yells at me to "get her!!!" and I'm yelling at myself to GET HER! I crank the engine and hit my sprint juuuuust a few seconds too soon.

5 yards from the finish line I felt it.

My left hamstring and my right calf were calling for surrender, waive the white flag, they were done. I had beaten them down and they wanted no more of it.
I literally felt the strength drain out of my legs like water pouring out of a bucket.

And I missed catching her, by 1 second.
I had been passed by 4 age groupers. :(
Run: 27:38

The Finish:
Crossing the finish line my legs left me and I spent at least 15 minutes drinking everything they handed me and rubbing my hamstring that was now fully balled up and "giving me what for".

I liked it though. Nothing says you gave it everything you've got like legs that just handed you notice. :) It's nice not feeling like you're going to DIE after you finish, but after those races (like Women if Steel) I second guess that I gave it my all. Today, I will say with 100% certainty that I did. And that's cool. :) Finish time: 1:25.32 good enough for 6th place.

The Race & Venue:
I hate Salem "Lake" or whatever they call it...it's stinky and murky and slimy and I would rather drink molasses than swim in it! But, it's a GREAT venue for an event such as triathlon. It's viewer friendly and a spectators best bet of catching great pics of their racer's in all 3 disciplines. The course is a beast of a sprint but it's done every year by young, old, novice and elite. This course was what started my triathlon journey and while the roads aren't in the best condition and I HATE swimming in duck poo water, I will probably come back for more. That is, if Racetri is running it!
Big shout out to Aaron and Joel and all the volunteers at Racetri, the race was fantastic in appearance, set up and awards. And as long as there are Swedish Fish...I will come and swim in stinky waters. :)

Jared Jones, David Hodges, Kelly Jones

David had his first DNF at Salem because he was hit by a CAR!
Here he is sporting an ice pack and his "Sorry you got hit by a car" medal. :)

P.S. When you get your friend a race entry and a ride to the event, it's kind of a
downer when they get hit by a car racing!  SORRY MARISA!
At least he was returned in one piece? :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Women of Steel Race Report

There comes a time in every athlete's game when you take a good long look at the things you COULD have done better and the thing that you COULD NOT have controlled. Today was that day for me. While confident in my fitness and having a belief in myself I know there are things that are completely out of my control. BUT. The things a CAN control make a much longer list and are the main contributors to today's sobering race results. But instead of dwelling on it lets get right down to what I had control over today.


Ok, I admit it! With a record of high swim finishes I went into today's swim with an, ahem, an over developed sense of confidence. Aaaand...it wasn't bad, BUT, it could have been better! I jumped into the pool running and swam hard, my arms burned and my legs were whining like little babies. It felt hard but in reality, I came out of the pool and to the transition mat in a nearly identical finish time as Ice Breaker. Sooo, no excuses, it was good for me, but only yielded a 14th age group finish. My one regret is not trying out my Tri suit in the pool without a wetsuit covering it. It provided the extra drag I believe my arms and legs were complaining about...but hey, we looked gooood! :) 6:21 Swim


Okay, my T1 was an EMBARRASSMENT to the establishment! I could have pulled up a chair and knitted a sweater! Okay, that is a stretch but it reflects how silly my goofed attempt at T1 was. Not only would my shoes not go on my feet but I LAID MY BIKE OVER when I lost my grip on it. Wet hands, shiny carbon paint job, botched handling, bike goes down, I fumble the mount and get a sloooow start on the bike. At least I laid it over on the grass, I would HATE a reminder on my pretty frame for the rest of our collective Tri lives. 1:57 T1


Taking off on the bike was almost as bad as Ice Breaker. No webble-wobbling drunkard action, but slooooow. Could have parked my tucas on a beach cruiser and sipped a limeade and it would have been less un-comfortable to watch.
But I got it together and had a pretty good first loop.
The second loop was a frustrating mix of dodging the tired, the inexperienced and the unaware. I did a lot of shouting, a lot of braking and a lot of coasting. I get it, big event, crowded course and newbie's that didn't hear the 'ride single file' bit. Even still, I biked it as fast as I thought I would so really I was my own Mrs. Poppy Pants.
Coming off the bike was probably a mix of tightly drawn breaths threw clinched teeth or a half giggle snuffed out by a hand over mouth! Yeah, it was THAT bad. Turns out, a flying dismount does noooot work so well up hill. And we'll leave it at THAT. 41:19 Bike


Oh boy. T2, it was okay, bikes dont rack themselves,frozen toes need a little more concentration going into running shoes, and sunglasses that fly off your face with your helmet all make for a slow T2. 1:42

The RUN:

Now the run was much better than expected. Excluding my watch freezing on the first mile, I felt good. I was keeping pace with gals that "looked fast" and did NOT fall on my face. :) My back felt good, legs felt good and I enjoyed most of the run. The only part that was not so enjoyable were the aid stations. At the last moment a biker rider cut me off and STOPPED right in front of the aid station. I missed the water and ended up grabbing what tasted like watered down lemon-lime Gatorade or was it water with a touch of Gatorade? Whatever it was my stomach did NOT want it. (I left out the barfing on my bike part, you're welcome.)
The next aid station I stayed clear of but a guy did jump over with some water which also did not go down and I tossed it. Should have skipped it altogether it was just a little 5k after all!
I must admit, when I hit that stretch of sidewalk from Ice Breaker I was thinking about this report, 'fell on my face AGAIN', did cross my mind and I did not want to have to write that AGAIN! It worked though, I kept my head down and feet up and had a great finish. That is up until I got punked in the shoot! Man I HATE it when that happens! 26:18 Run

I finished 22nd in my age group and 70th out of 701 starters, failing to qualify for nationals by 1:32. When it's all said and done, none of those little details caused my failure to reach my goal today. I failed myself. I failed to take seriously my coaching, to ditch the junk and feed myself like an athlete. I failed everyday I chose to ignore my nutrition and carelessly treat my body like a trash can leading up to race day. Despite the things that were out of my control going into the race, I am completely responsible for this failure. I kick myself for letting me down! I kick myself for letting my coach down and one more for letting my cheering squad down. They all sacrifice a lot for me and I squandered it.

And guess with that there's just one thing left to do...

My name is Kelly Jones and I... am a sugarholic.

It's been 3, no wait, 2, no... At least ONE hour since my last taste. *Sigh*

P.S. TriUtah put on a really fantastic race! I could skip the bracelet and necklace though. I'd much rather have real race bling, but my daughter loves it! The food was great too! Served up on a plate with a chocolate chip cookie (which my kids ate) and plenty of massage therapists! Fantastic!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rage in the Sage - Race Report

I love Triathlon, can I just say that 10x's over again?!
I love a great course and tough competitors...and I love finishing well even MORE!
No such luck sneaking onto the podium this go round. BUT! I had a great race none the less.  Here goes nothing... my 2012 BBSC RAGE Triathlon Report. 
So, let's start at the night before the race...no no...let's start at the beginning of the week!
In the beginning, there was pain...
Monday morning I woke up feeling my "wheaties" and jumped right into my workout outs with excitement! CK (Coach Keena) had us doing 200 meter repeats. After swim I needed to get my bike in but IT band issues, that plague both Jared and I, wouldn't let me spin light and fast for my 2.5 hr ride so I opted for uphill sprint repeats and did a few of those. I was pretty fatigued but Track class was starting that night and I didn't want to miss out on the run coaching so the kids and I tossed the scooters in the Suburban and headed off to a fantastic and challenging workout.
Turns out my enthusiasm for Mondays workouts was actually INSANITY which btw, runs in the family! (So I really can't help myself!)
The punishment I gave myself Monday lasted clear through the WEEK and taunted me in the days before the race. The night before being the hardest (psychologically) on me.
I had myself a little DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and my legs were so unhappy and I skipped the rest of my workouts leading up to the race with my legs hardly hauling me up the stairs each night and I basically LIVED in my compression tights. Mentally I was writing off the race as a 'I'm just a recreational athlete' triathlon and figuring it'd be a long hot disappointing day and that was before we even left for Vegas!
Me and my BFF -Compression tights!
I don't know if Jared outed me or if CK caught me wincing but Jared told me she wanted to talk with me that night. CK really cares about her athletes and she takes the time to check in with us and help whoever she can, but I always hesitate taking up her time when she has 'serious' athletes to tend to. :) I let her know that my legs were hurting and she offered a much needed leg massage that was nearly worse than a visit to the PT (CK really knows how to bring the hurt)! Along with the leg work I have generous and wonderful team mates that came to the rescue with 'Sports Legs' to help relieve the soreness. 

And then there was still pain...
Race day morning I woke up hoping to step out of bed onto fresh legs and bounce down the stairs ready to kill it.
-No such bouncing occurred-
The mental game began and I knew I had to stay strong and keep a positive attitude! The head games I play on myself are hard to over come and its become a focus of mine to over come that little voice inside me that convinces me I can't do it hard things.
This time I had a little phrase in my head, thanks to FB and Biggest Loser Tara Costa... "Watch Me!"
Only I was talking to ME, mentally coaching myself threw the morning and visualizing each phase of the race and what I expected to do.
So onto the race experience!

And then we raced...
Race morning we where greeted with a pot of hot steel cut oats thanks to the guys of CK Elite (Bart & Jared) and it was the perfect fuel for the race in my view. We then packed up and headed to Boulder Bay at Lake Mead.
Upon arrival I discover that my race number had blown off my bike and is sitting on top of the vehicle (lucky!) And Jared's number had blown off his bike and was gone complete (unlucky!).
It's too bad our evening Pre-race prep was wasted because we were pressed for time after having to carry our bikes a good 1/2 mile from the parking space to the transition area.  (Jared did manage to 'wing' it with a spare race bib and a borrowed marker.)  The parking was on rocks with lots of weeds and stickers and no way do you want a small little sticker causing a big flat!
To make matters worse the transition set up was end to end down the entire boat ramp effectively limiting each athlete's transition space to a 12inch by 48 inch space for all of your equipment. 
Last years strict enforcement of bike placement on assigned racks was completely over looked leaving CK athlete's to scrap for rack space and there were few if any volunteers to remedy the many bikes on the wrong racks. We found ourselves in the unpleasant postion of 'relocating' other athlete's equipment (okay, so we moved them a few inches to the left and right, not a biggie, just more time wasted).
Also the assigned rack space proved to be a handicap for Jared and I as I am use to being next to him to share sunscreen, body glide, baby powder and the last minute reminders not to forget anything!
This hoopla caused me to feel rather rushed and worried that I had everything and Jared had nothing! So I pulled on my swim gear, paused to take a picture and rushed off to find Jared. Only I didn't find him and I then realized I was out of time and had forgotten the finer details of triathlon...ohhhh say, my heart rate monitor strap, GU gel, Pre workout Baddass, and SUNSCREEN! (and yeah... I. AM. FRIED.)

Carriann Harlan, Myself, Kristen Cambridge
After I realized it was too late to run the 400 meters up the boat ramp to grab my stuff, I settled into the water to make sure I had a good seal on my goggles and my wetsuit was on well. Both were great (so I thought) so I made my way to the front of the pack to avoid as many kicks to the face as possible!

At the bull horn I took off and swam right over the top of whoever was in the way. It was the most aggressive I have ever been in a swim and I was pretty surprised by the speed I put out to get ahead of the pack. I could only spot one girl to the side of me and she pretty much swam along side me for the majority of the swim. I quickly realized that I had made a small mistake with an unfamiliar wetsuit as I felt the Velcro tab cut into my neck with every turn to breath. But I don't stop to fix something unless it's intolerable pain and I was just going to tough this one out.
My wetsuit loves me
During the swim my legs felt great and I was so happy I picked up the pace and started kicking just a little bit harder.
At the third cone I took a nice hard kick from a breast stroking Clydesdale we had caught up and my elbow locked out feeling like a nice arm bar in a gabbling match! For just a moment I broke my focus to pout about my already sore shoulder and how this was just what I needed! Then came the mental toughness clinic and I brought myself back into focus. I applied more rotation to take the pull off my arm and more into my lats (which is how I should have been swimming to avoid the shoulder pain ANYWAY). I also thought to pull back and draft my 'swimming buddy' to recover my arm for a few hundred yards.
Both ideas paid off, as I came out of the water in 3rd letting my 'buddy' beat me to timing mat and another lady snuck by us at some point as well!  However, I still had something left in my legs to run through transition.

Transition 1:
T1 went pretty good other than fumbling my aero helmet with wet hands and getting slowed down by people who were walking their bikes in the narrow lane between the racks.
Like Icebreaker, I missed my clip several times but managed to keep it straight and dodge 3 other bikes that were doing the same crazy swerve I had going on at Icebreaker.
Never the less, I got off to a good start coming out of T1 in 3rd amongst my fellow age groupers.

Climbing out of Boulder Bay I could tell my legs were going to be sore, they were very sore in fact. It's a good thing there is a down hill to every up hill as I was able to gain some ground, time wise, but I was still passed on the final up hill stretch heading back to the lake and couldn't regain any distance thanks to my painfully sore legs.
Coming into T2
The best part of my bike was my dismount. I narrowly made it out of my shoes before the dismount line and got my leg over my bike to jump off and hit the ground RUNNING! And I DIDN'T even fall! :) Ok, so that's only amazing to other grace-challenged athlete's like myself. It was my first attempt at a flying dismount during a race and I really did think it would be much scarier.

Transition 2:
I flew into T2 with surprising speed and over took a number of people on my way down the boat ramp. Only problem was the path was split with trash cans every 20 yards or so and other athlete's coming up the ramp heading out on the bike. I literally had to but the brakes on and WALK behind a guy who had a nice weave pattern going on with his bike. The whole 'guide your bike by the seat' is not as easy as it looks, at least that guy didn't quite have it down. I was half irritated at not being able to get around him and half amused at what I must have looked like the first time I attempted it myself.
After getting back to my rack there were only TWO bikes there and I had high hopes of finishing in the top 3 at that point. Only my legs running down the very long transition area didn't want to cooperate an I knew what lay ahead for me on the run.
As if I had already tripped, I slowed my pace as soon as I approached the turn out of transition and onto the course. As I did Couch Keena was there taking pictures and assured me she got it as if to say, "What are you waiting for?!".

Run:As mentioned I hesitated heading out on the run course. I knew all too well what running on lake bed could do to my ankle.
Flash Back to October 2011:
Ragnar Lake Mead to Las Vegas...read it HERE .

With how that race ended it should go without saying that race has weighed heavy on my mind since then and I went into Rage with a lot of mental road blocks.
Turning the corner from the paved boat ramp to the rocky lake bed I felt the brakes applying themselves to a slow but steady pace. Mostly I fought myself over pushing faster or running gingerly and avoiding the rocks. It was my main concern from start to finish, DO NOT FALL ON YOUR FACE, DO NOT FALL ON YOUR FACE!
Crossing the finish line
As I tip toed the first stretch of the run my team mate breezed past me and I felt that desire to go faster. I KNEW I could run faster, but I was in my head over thinking every step. I wanted to pick up the pace on the paved parts of the run but my watch had froze just out of T1 and I had no idea what my pace was. I didn't want to push too hard too soon and get passed at the finish line so I paced myself on perceived effort and that worked pretty good. When I turned onto the final downhill stretch of lake bed I took a chance and pushed harder to the finish.
I couldn't have been happier to cross the finish line with out so much as a wobble on the rocks. I felt strong but spent.
Despite holding back, the heat, and the sore legs I had started with, I had a great race and felt I had accomplished my race goals.

In the end...
I had raced the course 59 seconds off of my predicted time and had pushed past the pain and self defeating thoughts to finish 5th in my age group. I was pretty sure my best would land me in the top 15 and I was delighted to find I had finished in the top 5. I gave this race my best training days to date and I can't wait for the rest of the season!

Kelly (me), Kristen, CK, Jeanine, Carriann
Venue and Race Review:
Lake Mead as a venue is in a word, perfect, in my opinion. The water was super clear and so refreshing. The smell of the water is still fresh in my mind, it was so crisp like a fresh stem of cold celery that breaks with a crunch between your teeth. I wanted to drink it in and could have enjoyed the clean cool water all day.
The start was a little crazy, no one could hear the bull horn and the sun was blazing into our eyes leaving us to guess where the cones were. But the annoucer said to swim into the sun and you'd run into to first cone an that worked well.
The boat ramp, while long and at a nice incline was great for running barefoot and made for a good transition area.
The transition area itself was set up differently than last year with the racks lined end to end making one long rack down each side of the boat ramp.
The bike course was great, the road was in excellent repair, traffic wasn't bad and rules were enforced. The only iffy place on the bike for me was coming into the bay area, the road had a lot of gravel on it and had a number of curves making it a little a nerving for my flying dismount.
The run course, other than being rocky, sandy, and having zero shade, was straight forward and well marked with a perfectly placed add aid station with both Gatorade and water.

-Unlike last year-
The transition area was completely unguarded and there was ZERO help with course directions. While this didn't effect me personally many people over ran the run start from the transition area and had to back track. Apparently when it was pointed out, the response was unsympathetic as it is the athlete's "responsibility to know the course".
Also unlike last year, but a pleasant addition, were the ice cold 'transition' towels they threw over our shoulders at the finish. There were barrels of gatorade, chocolate milk, coconut water and regular bottled water all chilled and a much welcomed refreshment along with the staple citrus, banana's and bread.
Last years sponsor was back with their beer tent, the massage therapists (both of them) :) were there and they had a catered meal but it wasn't anything special. It seemed this event lacked sufficient volunteers to really make the event what it could be.  Altough I give the old ladies dishing up pasta in the Nevada heat a big thumbs up!

Don't get me wrong, I liked the race, I just think that Lake Mead National Park with their rules against loud music, baby powder and balloons and all things merry really put a damper on what could be a really amazing race experience.

That being said, when you travel CK Elite style and kick it in a sweet pad with the best people around you can't help but have a great event experience no matter where you're at!