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 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!
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'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? :)