June was a rough month for me — a trial at work, filing for divorce, lots of trips to and from Maine and then racing Challenge Atlantic City.  By the end of the month I was completely burnt out and sick.  Ridiculously, unhappily, miserably sick.  I spent the first two months of July with a non stop sore throat, so sore that for the first time in my life the doctor prescribed lidocaine for my throat (sadly it wasn’t strep, which would have been treatable with antibiotics).  I would wake up in morning, have a cup of coffee and then promptly fall back to sleep because I was so exhausted.  Not a good way to live.

After two weeks of miserableness, I finally started feeling normal by the middle of the month and got back to regular training.  While it probably would have been smarter to do something more long course specific than race a sprint triathlon this past weekend, I really love little local races and I wanted to see if I could go fast.  With that in mind I signed up for the Charles Island Y Tri — a .5 mile swim, 12 miles bike and 3.1 mile run in Milford, Connecticut (the race befitted the Race4Chase Kids Triathlon Program, which is a pretty cool program).  Ryan (after attending his brother’s wedding on the Cape) also decided racing would be fun and decided that since his TRS kit was in Maine, wearing my Coeur kit was an awesome idea.

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Ryan taking his advocacy for #50WomentoKona very seriously.

Race morning we were up around 5 a.m. and waiting outside of Starbucks for the door to open at 6 a.m. (hooray, iced coffee).  We then made our way down to the shore and were among some of the first to arrive in the parking lot.  We checked in, picked up our numbers and found two good spaces in transition for our bikes.  While big races are fun, sometimes its nice to race small and have no hassle.  We hung around transition chatting with other racers and scoping out the competition (as is normal I completely psyched myself out that every female in a nice kit was fitter, faster and going to kick my ass).  Around 7:30 a.m. we made out way down to the water which was almost balmy at 74 degrees.

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Pre-race beach selfie.

After some pre-race instructions the men’s wave took off first followed by the women 5 minutes later.  Lining up for the swim I positioned myself at the front with the first turn buoy right in front of.  Not smart.  As soon as we started swimming I realized there was a strong current pushing me off course.  Instead of being able to swim straight to the first buoy, I had to continually course correct.  Once I turned the first buoy I started to run into packs of men from the previous wave.  Men back stroking, men breast stroking, men treading water.  Not only was there chop and current, the swim also resembled a game of Frogger as I tried to avoid contact with wayward wetsuit clad bodies.  I knew my swim was slow and as I exited the water I was surprised to hear that I was the 3rd woman overall.

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Post race happiness.

I got through a speedy T1 (unlike who took forever in T1 because he had to be cut out of his wetsuit) and headed out to the bike.  While the bike course was fairly flat, it was also super technical and a busy (way too many cars for my liking).  There over a dozen turns, many of which were incredibly tight as the turn was cordoned off by cones and the road quality left a lot to be desired.  I felt like I spent most of the bike hitting the brakes and then standing up and pedaling as hard as I could to try to get back up to speed.  It was not pretty.  I held my position until mile 10 of the bike when I was passed by other woman.  I kept her in my sights until we biked by a church just before transition.  A woman pulling out from a street parking space came within inches of hitting me because she never looked behind her.  She only hit brakes as I screamed at the top of my lungs “Please do not hit me!”  I reached T2 in 4th overall position, pulled on my Cliftons and headed out to run.

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Ryan with his first ever age group win (M30-34).

As I was leaving transition the timer told me “they’re right in front of you.”  At that point I wasn’t trying to catch the women in front of me, I was worried about the women behind me (yes, I was running scared).  The first half mile of the run was uphill and my quads were not happy.  I did my best to just run as hard as I could.  Its a 5K, its supposed to hurt.  It helped to see Ryan heading back to wards the finish line.  He was flying and I couldn’t look like crap when he ran by me.  Just before the 1 mile mark we turned onto the board walk and did an out and back to the turn around.  At the turn I saw there were two women close behind me.  I tried my hardest to hold them off.  Both passed with with less than .25 miles to go.  Try as I might, I couldn’t re-pass.  Grrrrrrrr.  It wasn’t all bad.  I finished as the 6th overall female and 1st in F35-39 (let’s note I’ll be 34 until December).  Ryan ended up 4th overall and 1st in M30-34.  It was his first ever age group win and he was ridiculously elated.  Best part of the race was that as we waited around for awards, I realized that none of the “fast looking” women I was worried about before the race actually beat me.  After all these years, I should get it through my head that when it comes to speed, looks really don’t matter.

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The best part about racing, post-race breakfast.

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Kelly Burns Gallagher

mccarter english employment litigator / oiselle team runner / coeur sports triathlete / sonic endurance coach & race director / witsup.com writer / dartmouth '02 / emorylaw '05

2 Comments

Lauren @ Lauren Runs · August 11, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Awesome job on your race– especially after feeling “struggling” for a while! Ryan looks cute in Coeur!!

Victoria · August 14, 2015 at 11:37 am

“when it comes to speed, looks really don’t matter.”

So completely true, especially in triathlon, where different body types excel in different disciplines, but mastery of all three is essential to racing the field.

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