Just over one year ago my Challenge Atlantic City ended in the hospital rather than at the finish line.

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Post-Crash at the Atlantic Care Center in 2014

Since that crash there’s been a bit of tumult in my life — both related and unrelated to the crash itself.  Despite a less than perfect year, I really wanted to go back and finish Challenge Atlantic City in 2015.  I knew I wouldn’t be in shape to finish the 140.6 strong (knee surgery 4 months ago will do that) so I signed up for the half.  In reality I wasn’t in the best of shape to race a 70.3 but I was still excited to head down to Atlantic City on Saturday morning.

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On the beach in Brigantine. It was so windy I got sand in my teeth.

While the weather in Connecticut was really nice on Saturday morning once Ryan and I got to Atlantic City (or more specifically the Pirate’s Den in Brigantine where we stopped for pancakes) it was cool, very windy and starting to rain.  The weather stayed nasty as we headed to Bader Field to check in our bikes and hand out some #5Q goodies to supporters (huge thanks to everyone who rocked the #5Q at the race (and Jocelyn Wong you are so badass so great seeing you out there).  By the time we left Bader Field for the hotel it was pouring.  Buckets and buckets and buckets of rain and driving rain.  The rain, rain, rain came down, down, down for the rest of the night making for some pretty fierce weather.

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Lots of quotation marks to go with the KBG.

When race morning arrived the rain had stopped BUT Bader Field and several of the local roads were drenched (it was a muddy piggy puddle).  Race start was delayed to allow the swim buoys to be put back into place after the massive storm and I finally got into the water close to 7 a.m.  Once in the water I swam a course of my own design (this happens way too often).  The buoys were fairly far apart and I had a really hard time both sighting and finding good feet.  By the time I hit the half way mark I was navigating through tons of men all of whom seemed to be swimming double armed back stroke.

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Repping for #50WomentoKona at the bike check in.

After what seemed like forever, I finally hit the swim dock.  Before the race, the race morning and even throughout the swim, I was terrified of the bike.  All I could think about was not crashing.  No matter what I just wanted the wheels to stay down.  I rode the first five or so miles on the Atlantic City Expressway with huge trepidation.  Ever bump, every strip of  wet white paint (it decided to rain for the first part of the bike), every section of rumble strip scared me.  BUT, I made it through.  Once I got off the Expressway and onto local roads I opened it up and actually started to ride.  Booyah.

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Bike would have been even better with working aero bars.

Unfortunately the Booyah did not last long.  At about mile 14 my left aero bar started to rattle and then completely fell out.  I shoved the bar back into the headset and tried to pull it in tight.  Within a mile it was loose again.  I thought about just letting the bar hang and riding on the uprights but the bar was rattling and I was afraid it would rub on the front wheel.  I figured if I stayed in the aero bars and pulled in for the rest of the ride I could hold it together.  While it wasn’t the most comfortable ride, it worked.  The bar popped out a few more times over rough pavement but for the most part I was able to hold it together and keep riding.  While not my fastest ride, it was a solid effort and I finished really strong.  Plus I MADE IT TO T2 WITHOUT CRASHING.

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Finishing with one of my favorite little people — Aly.

Once out on the run, it was really a victory lap, a hot, windy victory lap.  I’ve only been running since April and I wasn’t sure how I would hold up over 13.1 miles.  The first mile was through the streets of Atlantic City followed by three different out and backs on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.  I was super happy to be running (and super happy to get to see Ryan three times on the run and Stacey and Aly twice) but there were a couple of issues: (1) it got hot and sunny and aid stations were sometimes more than two miles apart; and (2) there was no segregated lane for runners.  It was a gorgeous day and the Boardwalk was full of people who had no idea that there was a race.  The Boardwalk had awesome people watching, but there was a lot of navigating and avoiding and trying not to run over unsupervised small people.  Thankfully, despite my lack of co-ordination, I made it through the run without tripping.

 

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Stacey, Aly and I post-race.

 

When I approached the finish line Stacey and Aly were waiting for me.  I grabbed Aly and we got to cross the finish line together.  Aly missed finishing with Stacey at Quassy so hopefully crossing with me at Atlantic City helped to make up for it.  Once we crossed Ryan was there waiting for us — I actually made up some serious time on him on the run — and the four of us headed out for the best post-race treat ever frozen custard in a waffle cone with rainbow sprinkles.  While Ryan and I were fairly trashed, we still had work to do.  After showering and eating for real we headed out to help at the last water stop on the 140.6 run course with the Mediocre Triathlete herself, Laura Pyott.  There’s nothing like being able to help out athletes completing their 140.6 mile journey.

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Someone was a little sore and tired from racing.

While I wish I raced faster (faster is always good), nothing beats the feeling of actually being able to finish.  I can’t think of a better way to spend my crashiversary and I’m ready to try to kick a little ass at Challenge Maine and Beach to Battleship.

 

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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

Jen4Tri · July 2, 2015 at 8:38 pm

Very proud of you and what you over came. Can’t wait to hear about your other races.

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