I wrote a preview of the women’s professional race for witsup.com (can can find it here) so I thought I would also write a personal race preview as I sit in my condo the night before the race.   This is a tough race for me as its been a tough year.  Rapid weight gain at the beginning of the year coupled with foot surgery in August have hurt my mental preparedness for the race.  Physically I am prepared as I am going to be at my current weight.  Its difficult for me to compare my fitness this year to 2011 or 2012 because I was significantly lighter.  I may very well be “more fit” this year than I have ever been but I know I am not going to see that fitness reflected in my race times.  This is really tough for me and something that I struggle with even as I sit here the night before the race.

Kona champion Mirinda Carfrae at the pro panel.  

With that said, Shaun and I arrived in Panama City Beach on Wednesday afternoon.  As is usual, I was poorly behaved on the trip mostly because I hate travelling so much.  When we finally arrived, we learned that South West had lost my triathlon bag, which contained all of my clothes. All I had to wear were the (very cute) Oiselle sweat pants and t-shirt I wore on the airplane.  I was less than pleased.  Thankfully my bag arrived (from Houston of all places) late on Wednesday night. I was so happy to take a shower and put on clean clothes.

The very angry Gulf of Mexico.  
Thursday morning I woke up at 4 a.m. (central time), waited for the sun to rise and headed out on my bike.  I haven’t been on the bike outside since I had an encounter with a flying kayak in Maine so it was nice to be off of the trainer and on the road.  I followed the bike with a quick run and swim in Gulf of Mexico.  This is my third year doing Florida and the Gulf was the choppiest I have ever seen.  There were 3 to 5 foot breakers and a nasty rip current that was trying to pull me to Texas.  The waves were even worse on Friday morning and the beaches posted a double red “No Swimming” flag.  A cold front is supposed to pass through tonight so it will be interesting to see what the swim conditions are like on race morning.  
Kim and I at bike check.  

After finishing up my training, I had a lot of time to think about the race.  I have no quantitative goals for this race.  I know there is no way I’m going PR (well, if the swim is cancelled I could technically have a faster time than I did in 2011) and I don’t really know how fast I’m going to be able to go on the bike (because of all the indoor training) or the run (because of the weight gain and foot surgery).

With those unknowns there are a few things I do know.  I know that I have a ton of base.  I’ve been very consistent with my training for over three years, I have thousands of miles on both the bike and run and I will be able to rely on those miles tomorrow.  I also know that the 140.6 distance is my strength.  I’m very comfortable at long aerobic events (5Ks and sprint triathlons are my least favorite distances to race).  I also know that I’,m smart at this distance and I know what I’m doing.  This is my 6th 140.6 distance race and my 3rd at Florida.  I know the course, I know my body, I know how to survive a crash and keep going and I know how to suffer and push on the back half of the run so I have as little time running in the dark as possible (my ultimate goal is to someday finish Ironman Florida while there’s still daylight, which requires me to go about 10:58 or so, some people chase Kona, I’m chasing the sun).

Checking my run bag.

So where does that leave me for tomorrow?  I’m going to swim hard.  Conditions may make it a slow swim but I want to feel like I pushed the swim when I exit the water.  I’m going to get comfortably uncomfortable on the bike, let my hip and glute loosen up, hold my heart rate and drink.  I’m not going to let the packs or my speed get to head (doesn’t mean I won’t bitch about them on Sunday).  If its a good day, I’m capable of a pretty fast bike.  If its not a good day, I’m capable of finishing the bike strong and entering T2 ready to run.  On the run, its going to be all heart.  I don’t have the body to run a PR.  When I wake up every day and look at myself in the mirror I am reminded of this fact.  While my body may not be there my heart and my mind are.  I want this.  It may be slow and I may suffer from a fear that my foot won’t hold up but I’m going to run 26.2 miles with a smile on my face.  I love running marathons off of the bike, its four hours that is all mine and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it tomorrow.

The time on the clock when I finish is going to be whatever it is.  I’m pretty confident it won’t be my fastest 140.6 but I’m also pretty confident it won’t be my slowest.  Success tomorrow will not be measured in hours and minutes, success will be measured by my ability to stay positive, keep moving and quiet the demons in my own head.

Female side of the pro panel (and Tim O’Donnell).  

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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

1 Comment

Replay the 80's for fun! · November 1, 2013 at 10:35 pm

Good luck and, I’m sure, you’ll finish strong!
~ Denise

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