What a day! I wanted to put my thoughts down rather quickly from yesterdays event, Rev 3 Tri Half Ironman at Quassy Amusement Park in beautiful Middlebury, CT. I had this event on my schedule in 2009 and opted out at the last minute for fear of a back to back race weekend with Eagleman, and I regretted it ever since as I heard such positive things about this event. So, this year I planned for at least the first two races, Knoxville Olympic and Quassy Half Ironman. Thus far, I have been 3rd and 2nd, and tackled beautiful and challenging courses both times. Here’s how it all played out…(above is my mom and I at end of weekend, not sure why it is so small…!)
I flew in on Friday and met my mom at the Hartford airport, as I figured this would be a great trip to spend the weekend with her in a gorgeous part of the country. We settled in and before I knew it it was 7:00pm Friday night and we had not stopped; so we found ourselves a great little seafood restaurant and sat outside, enjoying a relaxing dinner with some wine and some much cooler temps than I am used to in Austin. Saturday I did my brief bike ride on my QR CD0.1 (about 20 minutes) and a quick run (12 minutes or so) and proceeded to chill out and get off the legs; Zoot compression socks and all. The pro meeting was at a very convenient time of 2:30 on Saturday, allowing my mom and I time to have an early dinner and be back into the hotel room by 6pm to relax for the never-welcome 4 am wake up call.
The weather was a bit threatening, with storms predicted for Sunday morning. I don’t mind rain, in fact I can enjoy it for the cooling factor; however I had heard this course was very winding and hilly, so I was hoping for as dry a course as possible. We very much lucked out, as it was humid and warm but for the most part dry on race morning; we had a few sprinkles on the bike but no downpours. I arrived much too early to transition, out of character for me but better safe than sorry. I had everything set up in approximately 4 minutes (more or less) and proceeded to do a short run warmup and prepare for the 6:53 start.
The swim was in beautiful Lake Quassapaug, which fell pro friend and local Dom Gillen told me was one of the cleanest lakes in the area. It was crystal clear water and flat as glass, just as I like it. I tend to get pummeled and buried in choppy conditions. The entire course was visible from the beach; each buoy and all of the turns. We were off promptly, and I positioned myself right with the top few women from the gun. I felt strong, relaxed and confident from the start; very in control. We had a nice little group of about 4 of us, with no pushing or shoving; just swimming, the way it should be. The only tough spot was turning into the sun on the furthest part of the course, but luckily the feet before me swam a nice straight line and we all stayed on course! I exited on the heels of Joanna, Mary Beth and Julie, all very strong swimmers and I knew that I had put up a solid swim. Part 1: Done and onto the monster of a bike I had heard of.
I immediately began taking my PowerBar gels once on the bike, as I was feeling a bit light-headed pre-race and wanted to make sure I stayed ahead of my nutrition needs. I had put my typical flask with 4 gels on the bike as well as taped 3 more gels to my top tube. I took my Double Latte PowerGel immediately and settled into a rhythm. You had to be ON YOUR GAME the entire bike course; the terrain was either going up, down, or twisting and turning before you. I felt so strong on my QR CD0.1, especially on the hills. I tried to stay low and fast on the descents, and immediately get into climbing mode on the hills, which were alternating so frequently. I was able to come out of transition in 4th and worked my way into 2nd within 10-15 miles. I knew that Mirinda would come by me sooner or later, and that she did about 25 miles into the course, with some nice positive words as she did so. I was quite shocked and encouraged to find that I was able to work hard to not let her get away too quickly! But by the time we were nearing 40 miles or so, I could start to feel the course and I knew I needed to stay within myself. She and Mary Beth rode away a bit, but I stayed strong, proceeded to down all of my gels and by mile 45 I was thinking “I will not be upset once this bike course is over with.” That said, I thoroughly enjoyed it and was hoping that my running legs had not decided to stay out on the roads far behind me as I neared transition.
I entered T2, racked the bike and thanked her for carrying me along so swiftly, grabbed the PowerBar visor, gel flask, race number, threw on my Zoot Ultra TT2.0’s and off I went for more hill torture; this time for a ‘brief’ 13 miles, by foot rather than bike.
I was sitting in 4th place out onto the run and I knew I had some work cut out for me. As I always do, I tried not to think about where the women were ahead of me but moreso what I could do to move forward as quickly as possible. I settled into a rhythm, checked a few mile splits but for the most part focused on getting a steady stream of calories and water into me and just kept looking ahead down the road. Talk about BEAUTIFUL! Long roads nestled among tall green trees and nothing but farm houses and lakes around you. Absolutely a stunning place to host an event. That said, I knew that a punishing hill started at mile 3.5 and went for ~1 mile, so I mentally prepared for this (on a gravel road nonetheless). I was able to run into 3rd place by approximately mile 6, but I tried not to alter my pace too much. I know what I am capable of and a race like this truly is a race against yourself. I knew we were all suffering in our own way out there, so as I then moved into 2nd at about mile 9, I offered a few words of encouragement to Julie; what an incredible competitor; I had to contain some excitement when I realized that I has passed her by. You know a course is challenging when people of her stature are struggling. That said, I knew nothing is a sure thing until you cross the finish line, so I continued to try to stay on my pace, take my gels and just take it one mile at a time.
I did not let myself start to ‘celebrate’ until about mile 12, at which point they did the unthinkable… ANOTHER HILL! One last hill to keep us honest, guess you could say! I pushed myself up it and the best part was that when you turned the corner at the top of the hill, there was the finish chute. What a welcome sight!
I then proceeded down a short grassy stretch, at which point my legs felt like they may give out on me from fatigue, the uneven terrain and the short downhill. Wouldn’t that have been entertaining; the second place pro women falls down and trips 100 yards from the finish. It’s definitely something that I of all people would do… luckily I kept myself upright, and I enjoyed every second of the celebrating down the finish chute.
Words are hard to describe how I am feeling from this race. I knew that I have had this in me for awhile, but it is so rare that we go to compete it all just ‘comes together’. I said going into this race, I would be stoked with Top 3 finish. I truly thought that would be enough of a challenge. That said, I knew that I was capable of more. That is something I think is very important to differentiate — Set your goals high, but also know what you are CAPABLE of doing. Had I of not thought that I could be 2nd or even 1st place, my emotions could have gotten the best of me when I found myself sitting firmly within the top 3 and it could have been my downfall. But when I moved into 2nd, I had to think to myself, “Kelly – This is where you deseve to be. Go with it.” I am humbled to have performed so well among a field of such amazing women competitors. I am excited to see YEARS of hard work finally coming to fruition. And, I am confident about what else lays ahead. Nothing is ever a sure thing when we toe the line; what we have done in the past, what others have done on paper, or what our bodies will give us on the day. That is what makes this sport and the challenges so unique. It always comes down to competing smart and competing within yourself.
I have to give a huge thanks to my sponsors: Zoot, PowerBar, Quintana Roo, Katalyst Multisport, Xcis Software, Advanced Rehabilitation, Jack and Adams, 3 Cosas Massage, Hill Country Running, and Go with the Flo Accupuncture. The support and belief ya’ll have in me means so much; I have such an incredible support network. Thank you to the Rev 3 event crew: Heather, Charlie and Eric and the amazing volunteers – you all know how to put on a top-notch event and I see big things on the horizon. Also thanks to my biggest and most enduring supporters, my husband Derick and my parents, who have seen me through this journey since my ITU days of getting dropped off of bike pack upon bike pack upon bike pack. Here’s to perserverance!
Thanks so much for stopping by, and see you at the next one…