Posted by: kellietris | July 30, 2012

IMLP Race Report Part One! Roll with the punches.

Hooooooly crap you guys, I am an Ironman. Spoilers, right?!

Before I get to the juicy stuff, I have to thank the course support. My parents, Jay, and my friends Claire and Joe made the trip to Lake Placid to wait on the side of the road all day waiting for glimpses of me passing by and were awesome cheerleaders. My sister was following closely at home. My coach Denise, and Doug, also from the Sustainable Athlete, were in town as well, offering cheers and double checking my health along the course. In addition, countless people who I don’t know (and I few I only know from twitter!) were out there cheering my name or even just my number, and that is incredible. So thanks.

I drove up Thursday morning and spent Thursday afternoon and Friday hanging out in Lake Placid and at my cabin in Saranac Lake basically taking in the atmosphere and vegging out, trying to keep off my ankle as much as I could. Right, the ankle! So last weekend I swam the Nubble Light Challenge down in York. It was really fun, and incredibly chilly… down to the mid-50s at its coldest spots and never higher than 62-63 degrees. When I stood up after the 2.4 mile swim and went to run for the finish chute, through all the numbness I felt some pain in my ankle. By the end of the day it was uncomfortably swollen and painful to walk on. X-rays on Sunday were negative and I was diagnosed with a sprain of one of the tendons on the inside of my left ankle. No big deal, just gotta run an Ironman in seven days! I kept it wrapped and taped and in an air cast and lived on ibuprofen last week. By Saturday I was feeling optimistic walking around on it. I would not run on it at all until I came out of the water on the swim.

I have an obscenely terrible headache right now, but OMG my bike goes here!

As if that weren’t daunting enough, I woke up Saturday feeling like my eyes were going to burst out of my head. I woke up once and was going to have breakfast with Renee and Christina, my houseguests for the evening who were volunteering and spectating at the race, but decided I had to go back to bed immediately. I felt awful. My mom came over and got me up again around 10:30 and I made it up and out of the house. Still no appetite, the thought of food made me sick and my head was pounding despite ibuprofin. I had a migraine! I’ve only started having them recently and it took me a while to recognize this one. As in, we checked in my bike, walked all over 80-degree Lake Placid in search of food, and drove the bike course, and I was wanting to die about half the time. We went back to the cabins, I took a pill and a nap, and I woke up a few hours later with no headache and a slight migraine hangover. Props to my parents for putting up with me while we were out, I was wicked cranky as you can probably imagine. I obsessively-compulsively packed my transition bags Saturday night and was ready to go.

Pre-race! No jitters here. PVC ladies: myself, Erin, and Anne.

Sunday morning Denise and Doug picked me up at 4:45AM with my friend Erin who was also racing. I was still pretty calm through the car ride, and as I put the final items into my transition bags. It was when I got over to the front of the lake that I started getting really excited. Not nerves, just excitement. I did  manage to forget my sunglasses were on the top of my head and had to run back to transition riiiiight before it closed to get them in my bike bag, and I did run back to transition and forget that my cap and goggles were in the bag I left with my parents, but in the end all the pieces were where they were intended to be and that’s what counts!

I got into the water at about 6:40. The pros were set to start at 6:50 and the age groupers at 7:00 sharp. I had a plan. I wanted to be about 10-15 people deep off the dock and maybe 4 or 5 people deep from the front of the line at the start. I got exactly to that spot just before the pros were started and hung out treading water there for ten minutes as the water around me filled up. For the unfamiliar… Ironman races traditionally start with a mass wave. Unlike most smaller triathlons where there are wave starts organized by age, gender, relays, or whatnot, Ironman prefers they set off one cannon and BOOM everyone goes. In the case of Lake Placid, this means 2500 athletes squeeze into one end of narrow Mirror Lake and when they say go, everyone goes. People are pretty good at seeding themselves by ability- you’re not going to put yourself on the front line if you know it’s going to take you two hours to swim the course. Still, there are two thousand people vertically treading water and at the sound of the cannon they all try to go horizontal. It gets crazy.

Pre-swim, in the corral… so many wetsuits! And also, me. 

There is also a quirk to this particular course that is useful, and that is a cable that runs 5′ below the surface of the water which is used to anchor the buoys. In theory if you find this elusive cable, you can swim the whole way to theother end of the lake without looking up to sight the next buoy. 2500 people want to be on this cable. I knew not to dream that I could find it on the first lap of the lake, but hoped the second time around I might get lucky once the crowd had thinned out a bit and find myself on top of it. Well, to have a plan is one thing, to execute it is another!

My goal was to swim somewhere around an hour. I didn’t have a lot of true ‘goals’ for this race other than the most obvious and daunting: FINISH. That being said I thought I could easily pull off an hour in the swim based on training camp and my general swimming abilities. So I’m on the line, hearing people accidentally bumping into each other treading water, joking that ‘hey, it’s not the last time we’ll get kicked today!’ and ‘remember, don’t take it persoanally!’. Mike Reilly,  the voice of Ironman, got everyone pumped up, and the countdown was on. 7:00 hit.



I swam with my head up until I felt safe to put it in the water. This took at least 25 yards, closer to 50 for sure. No major injuries sustained in the melee! You kind of swim protectively- being aware of where the legs of the swimmers in front of you are, and where the elbows of the swimmers next to you are… and try to avoid being whacked by any of these. The course is a rectangle, with large yellow buoys heading out and orange ones coming back. At the far end of the lake are three red buoys- these three you must keep to your left. The others you are free to swim inside, but fewer people do. I had intended to swim just inside the yellow buoys, but quickly found myself waaaaay inside them, to the point I was swimming back at an angle to get  back towards the course. I kept swimming into people’s feet. Some of them were going towards the buoys, some were going in the complete wrong direction- I don’t like to draft off other people mostly because you can’t be sure they’re going the right way! The whole first loop went similarly. I found it very frustrating. I found the cable on the way back in on the first loop, and got super excited about it! I followed it for a short time until I came upon the person in front of me who had also found the cable, and was going just a tad slower than I was. It would have taken a pretty severe acceleration for me to get by them, which I didn’t want to do since I knew the day that lay ahead of me, but I also didn’t want to slow down because come on… I wasn’t slowing down!! In the end I had to abandon the line, hoping to find it again later. I went back to the inside and battled a bit more. The buoys went by one by one, and I got back to the dock. In this race you have to exit the water, run through a timing arch, and get back in where we started for the second loop. Song blaring over the PA system? ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ (Obviously)

ooooohhhhhhhh we’re halfway thereeee……(except that 1.2 miles is nowhere near half of what’s to come!)

I totally started singing at the top of my lungs as I got back in the water. At least one guy gave me a funny look. What?! Sometimes you just gotta belt it. I dove back in and got into another battle over which direction we should be swimming in. Mom was watching from shore and saw me get clocked a couple times in trying to go the direction I wanted. Probably looked worse than it felt! The second loop was a little less crazy than the first, but not much. I did find the cable, but every time I did I found myself in the same quandry, unable to pass without wasting a ton of energy but unwilling to slow down. I gave up on it and just swam to the inside. I just kept on keepin’ on, until I got back to the beach the second time. I climbed out of the water, took off my cap, and the swim was done.

Final time: 1:07:10, 11/38 age group, 484/2277 overall.

Obviously that’s seven minutes more than the hour I had been hoping it would take, but really? I don’t care. I did what I could given the space I had, and that’s alright. I’m glad I didn’t try to get in front of every pair of feet that I came upon and burn myself out. Yeah, I wish I could have had the lake to myself (I totally could have broken an hour in that case), but nobody else did either. Lesson learned. I don’t know where I would have started instead, but next time (yup) I’ll do it differently.

Bike bags waiting for their swimmers…

Out of the water there is a 300ish meter run to the transition. They lay down carpet over the whole thing which is way easier on the feet than the pavement, obviously, and the whole run is lined by people screaming and cheering and shouting for you. It was so energizing… the first taste of what was to come later on the bike and the run. I got out of the lake and immediately felt the pain in my ankle. Ugh. I tentatively took my first few steps since getting out of the water and running was how I had initially injured it, and it didn’t feel great. Mom said she saw me at that point and knew I wasn’t excited about it from the look on my face, and she was right. I was really worried about what it was going to mean for the bike and the run if I had trouble with the 300 meters to transition. I walked a few steps, and jogged a few more, and ultimately slowly cautiously ran the rest of the way. By the time I got to transition it was hurting less, and I honestly don’t remember it hurting at all when I took off on the bike. Whew.

Transition took me just shy of 13 minutes. I decided beforehand that I would rather take a few extra minutes and be comfortable than blow through transition and forget something crucial. I’ve heard horror stories about forgotten sunscreen, nutrition, sunglasses, etc., and I didn’t want to screw it up and be miserable! Off with the bathing suit (men’s and women’s transition areas are separate tents so people can just strip down), cycling shorts and jersey on. Sunglasses. Helmet. Water bottle full of nutrition powder stashed in my back pocket for the second part of the bike. Chap stick. Sunscreen liberally applied. Socks… oops. No socks. Somehow, despite packing every pair of cycling socks I own, none of them made it into the bike bag. I guess we’re going sockless! Never had blister issues with my cycling shoes before, hope I don’t start now!! The tape I had put on my ankle had come off in the water, and I wasn’t concerned about it hurting on the bike, so I decided to just go. No socks, no tape, no wrap, nada. Fingers crossed!

I ran out of the transition tent. Someone with a bullhorn yelled my number to the volunteers in transition. By the time I got to the rack where my bike was, a smiling volunteer was waiting for me with my bike in hand.

Time for a bike ride.

[This obviously took forever to write, I PROMISE I will try and get through the bike and maybe even the run by the end of the week…if you haven’t heard from me and you’re actually waiting to hear it, yell at me so I’ll get it done!]

Posted by: kellietris | July 13, 2012

Shut Up Legs!

When I started the countdown widget on my desktop, it was around 360 days until Ironman Lake Placid.

Now it says 9 days.


In all seriousness I feel like the last 50 days of those 360 have flown by. It feels like last week it said 30 days, and last month 65. But hey that means training has been fun, right?! If it’s not obvious, I haven’t had time for blogging my training adventures, since when I wasn’t in the lab or actually training I was either eating or sleeping or pretending I could still have a social life. The short and sweet version:

The Sustainable Athlete IMLP Camp crew

I have found an amazing community of athletes in the greater Portland area. Through my training group workouts with the Sustainable Athlete, the group runs out of Maine Running Company, continued support from my PVC cycling ladies, and early morning meetups with my polar bear swimmers, I was able to get through the toughest workouts with one part encouragement/one part commiseration with my new friends (and Coach Denise of course). 6AM bike TTs, frigid runs around the boulevard in the dark, 3-hour trainer rides, endless PRs in both time and distance… it’s been an awesome ride. Thanks guys 🙂

Tomorrow the countdown will say 8 days. I’m racing down at the Nubble Light Challenge, a 2.4-mile (perfect distance) ocean swim. Get into the racing mindset a bit.

In a couple days the countdown will be at seven. One week. I’ve obviously started taper, and people keep asking me if I’m going crazy yet. I’m really not! I enjoy not having to plan a little extra sleep, I don’t feel like I should be squeezing in one more ass-kicking, and I don’t believe I’m not trained enough. I’m ready for this. (I do want to eat everything in sight, but that’s not all that different than normal Kellie).

Thursday morning, three days. I’m heading to New York. Getting there a day early, checking in on Friday. Two days. I know the swim is going to be awesome, if warm. Nothing I can’t handle in my element. After facing the hills of the Raymond loop, and riding the course at our IMLP training camp, I know that I can physically handle the 112-mile bike course. The run is going to suck, but that’s just because running always sucks.

Saturday I’ll be joined by my parents, my boyfriend (who is amazing for putting up with a girl who lives 200 miles away and trains 10-14 hours a week), and a couple friends for race day. I’m really grateful to have had people in my life who, despite thinking I’m absolutely batshit crazy, have supported my endeavor.

Sunday. Athlete #450. 0 days.


Bring it.

One final note:

Wednesday night I was watching le Tour and Jens Voigt made a hell of a comeback to allllmost win the stage. Afterwards, he tweeted: “Ok that officially a very hard day, gotta admit. More than once i yelled at my legs” shut up legs” believe on that on.” (The english trailed off at the end but I’ll give it to him!) I love it. Apparently this is something he’s said over the past couple years- stressing the idea of mind over matter when the going gets tough. This is 100% my new mantra. Shut up legs.

Posted by: kellietris | March 19, 2012

Peaks to Portland 2012 date!

There’s an official date!

Peaks to Portland will be on July 21 this summer, rain date of July 22.

I’ve noticed a lot of page hits looking for the race date, and it’s not up on the YMCA site yet, but this is an email from the aquatics director, Terry Swain, sent out this weekend:

“Hi All, I am e-mailing to let as many swimmers know that I had hoped to get the registration going for Peaks to Portland for tomorrow but that is not going to happen. We have had a personal change and the new web person needs a little more time getting things set up. I hope to have it going by April 1st. Please look on our website for info. . I will try to send something out if it happens sooner. If you also could pass the word around that would help me out.
Some facts!
Price $125
July 21st rain date July 22nd ”

So spread the word, registration is coming soon. I won’t be able to do it this year… like I had guessed from looking at the tides, it’s the day before my Ironman so I’ll be up in Lake Placid freaking out 🙂 For more info on last year’s swim, check out my race report!

Yesterday I ran ten miles!

Today I cannot walk down stairs!

Moral of the story is: train before running 10 miles. I admit I did it wrong. I’ve been spinning like a fiend, and running only when guilted into it (and I was usually guilting myself). Now that I have a coach this will no longer be a problem, but yesterday I ran the Cape Elizabeth Mid-Winter Classic having run maybe ten miles in the last month. Maybe.

”]bring it on, tuckOne of the troubles with the mid-winter classic is that it takes place in mid-winter. Last year’s race was cancelled because of too much snow (they couldn’t peel back the snowbanks enough to let 800 people run), and the year before that the temperature topped out around 15 degrees with a stiff breeze leaving windchills close to zero. I ran it two years ago and still get chills thinking about it. This year’s forecast was for temps in the mid-20s, which I think is the worst weather to dress for. You can’t wear too many layers, because you’ll overheat half a mile from the start… but if you don’t wear enough your extremities go numb. Most people wore tights and long sleeved jackets, but I’m not most people, so I ran in my Tom Brady jersey with a tech shirt underneath. This turned out to be the perfect combination. Granted my definition of cold is a little off, and I was the only one I saw running in short sleeves, but I didn’t overheat and I didn’t freeze. I also got a lot of ‘go Pats!’ from the sidelines, and one excellent exchange in which a fellow runner first informed me I am a badass because ‘I bet Tom Brady wouldn’t be out here in short sleeves’, then proceeded to ask me if I could take a hit from a 300lb lineman… because it had to be established that I am not in fact more of a badass than Tom Brady himself. The winner of the ‘cook kids run in football jerseys on Superbowl Sunday was the guy in a Doug Flutie jersey. Kudos.

This course is not, how you say, completely flat. There are a couple super long stretches that are going up at just enough of an incline to make you hare your life. There are a couple real hills thrown in there too, but I actually prefer the 5-6% graded hills to the 0.5% mile and a half like what happens from mile 7-8.5 here. The last mile and a half is notorious for its headwind, too… straight on and pretty darn chilly.

not flat

Course profile. That last little bump there is a killer.

I went into this one with no expectation or explicit goal other than to go faster than I did when I ran it two years ago. in 2010 I finished 19th to last place, and averaged 11:20 per mile. I was secretly hopeful I would average around ten minutes this time around, but I wasn’t going to be disappointed with 10:30s.

The race started and as usual, I went out too fast. My first mile was a 9:07. I knew I was going too fast, and half my brain said ‘hey idiot, you should slow down’ but the irrational side won and I kept on chugging. Second mile was 9:09. I caught a glimpse of a couple friends about an eighth of a mile ahead of me and decided ‘hey! I should go catch them!’ so I did. I reeled them in and said hello, and after seeing my heart rate monitor basically flashing IMPENDING DOOM I let them get away again and settled myself down. Mile 3 was 8:53. I got my heart rate under control and took to conquering the real hills. I actually like running up the steeper ones, I’ve been working on picking up my feet and keeping a high cadence, and they felt pretty solid. My next few miles were right around 9:30. I saw a woman drop a mitten, and not notice. I picked it up and decided to reel her in like I did my friends, so I had another pretty peppy mile randomly thrown in there. It’s funny the things that motivate! That hill at mile 7-8 was pretty tough. I started getting passed by more and more people, people who I’d passed earlier (passing people on the road is still very new to me- being passed is old hat). Despite feeling like I wasn’t moving, those two miles were ~10:10s. A super fast friend who had finished half an hour prior helped pull me up the final hill towards the finish, and my last mile was back down to a 9:45. I crossed the finish line in 1:36:01, a neat 20 minutes off my 10-mile PR from 2010 on the same course. [I just went back and looked at my 10-mile split from the 13.1 I did in October, and it looks like I matched that time down to the second, which is kinda creepy].

I’m pretty proud of myself for how far I’ve come with my running ability in the last two years. I’m by no means quick, and I totally don’t train right, and I still have a huge mental hurdle to clear, but I’m making progress, and that helps. Especially the mental aspect. I like to see numbers that show I’m getting faster (the Garmin I have has changed my life), and running the same course as two years ago 20 whole minutes faster than last time makes me feel pretty good. I’m lighter than I was then, and I’ve run that distance a couple more times now, but it felt really good to cross that finish line yesterday.

I totally Gronk’d my mittens at the finish, too.

Today I’m dealing with the fallout. My calves are tight like you wouldn’t believe… I can’t stand on my toes to save my life. Of course today the elevator at work was broken so I had to climb the 4 flights of stairs a couple times, but that’s what I get. One week into my Ironman training, and so far so good 🙂

New goal: run ten miles, and be able to walk properly the next day.

Posted by: kellietris | January 29, 2012

Ironman Training Eve (omg)

175 days from rightnow I will be over ten hours into Ironman Lake Placid. I will be running (I use that term loosely), over 120 miles behind me, and I will be getting closer to the finish line with every step.

Holy crap!

Tomorrow I’m starting my official training plan, thanks to my friend/spin class instructor/awesome person Denise Goode at the Sustainable Athlete. I’ve been quiet on the blog front while I got through some school stuff, and training-wise I’ve been spinning a whole lot and not much else. I’m super excited to start having a structured plan to get me going.


Oh yeah.


Now that I’ll be actually training I’ll get some more blog posts up. So far the race schedule is kinda sparse except for IMLP… I’m doing the Mid-Winter 10 miler this Sunday in Cape (before the Super Bowl… go Pats!!), and I’m signed up for the Polar Bear Tri in May. I’ll probably end up doing the Pirate Tri again, and maybe another sprint. Unfortunately it looks like Peaks to Portland 2012 will be the weekend of July 21-22 (I know a lot of people are looking for an official date– I haven’t heard this is the official date but looking at the tides and when they’ve done past races, this looks like the most likely weekend by far). That’s the same weekend as IMLP, so I’m going to swim the Nubble Light Challenge instead.


One good night’s sleep and then BOOM. It’s Ironman training season.

Bring it.


Posted by: kellietris | November 11, 2011

Avantouinti! Translation: Brrrrrrr

Tuesday morning four of my friends and myself went for a swim! No big deal, except we went for a swim in Casco Bay, in Maine, in November. Chilly!

Way too early to be awake.

Maine. ❤

We did our last actual ocean swim back in early October, and joked that we should make it a once a month deal through the winter. November first showed up on my calendar and I sent out an email… and thus began the Portland Polar Bear Swim Club!

We benefited from the change of time in that we were treated to a gorgeous sunrise when we got to the landing, and the sun broke over the islands just as we were finishing up. Picturesque! Also we got super lucky that after a string of 20-degree mornings, Tuesday bottomed out at 40. Official club thermometer read 48 degrees in the water.

hurry up i cant feel my body!

Come join me! it's a balmy 48, I swear!!

I brought my wetsuit, and had it on andready to go until one of my co-crazies showed up without one. I figured if he can go without, I, the queen of polar bears, can certainly go without as well (sometimes my competitiveness gets the best of me, it’s terrible)! So off came the wetsuit and into the water we went.

I love swimming in cold water. This is well documented. This was wickedcold water. I loved it even more… after I went numb. The getting into the water part is less than pleasant, but as crazy as it sounds once your skin is numb and your fingers stop hurting and you catch your breath, it feels amazing to swim. I was wearing neoprene booties (walking on barnacles and periwinkles on the rocks when you can’t really control your feet on the way out is dangerous. See, I know what I’m doing!) so my feet never got super cold. I went in up to my knees and let the pain go away. Then up to my waist. Up to my chest, where I stood doing the flapping-arm thing you see people do when the poo temp falls to 78. One important thing to do is get your face wet before you just go for it. All of the major physiological responses to cold water are triggered by the cold water hitting your face. Your blood pressure skyrockets, you gasp and can’t quite control your breathing for a minute. This is the part that is dangerous for people with any heart issues, but the body can be trained to lessen these effects by repeated exposure. I splash water on my face and lean over and blow some bubbles to get myself ready for it. One of the last parts I put in the water is my hands. I hate how my fingers ache at the beginning. I start treading water, moving slowly forward, and then I put my face in and GO!


My skin almost matches my violently pink suit. That smile was actually frozen on my face. So much fun!!!

We used to swim a couple miles, to a wharf up the bay a little and back. Tuesday we picked a float that was maaaaaybe 50 yards away. I swam out, and back. Then I did it again. The smart kid in me wouldn’t let myself do it a third time. I felt fine, but this being the first time this year in such cold water, I didn’t want to risk anything. I would love to do it more often, and be able to increase my time in the water. All said and done I spent about ten minutes in the water. It’s going to get colder (I’ve seen ocean temps as low as 33 up here in January- and actually did a polar plunge in it), but I can’t wait to do it again!

Great job by my partners in crime, as well… two of the guys wore wetsuits, the others wore regular suits (and one of them swam to the float and back five times!!) December meeting date will be figured out soon, if you’re interested in joining me let me know!!!

One last note: the title of this post, Avantouinti, is the finiish word for ‘ice swimming’! They actually have a word just for that. In parts of eastern Europe (and in Harbin, China in the SongHua River), they will cut out blocks of ice and go swimming in it! Supposed benefits include better skin, and longer lives. There is a documentary I’ve foind that’s not released yet but there’s a trailer you should check out, linked below. The website is Maybe this winter I’ll go find me a lake and cut a hole in it… Enjoy!

Posted by: kellietris | October 4, 2011

Pleasuring the Plankton

This morning I experienced something brand new in the ocean.

Six of us gathered in Falmouth for what we thought would be the last ocean swim of the year. It was a drizzly morning, about 55 degrees, and the water was 60F. It was warmer than we expected, so we’re probably going to sneak in another ocean dip later this week. The coolest part though, was the bioluminescent plankton!!!!


Bioluminescent Flagellate!

I’ve seen it happen in the wake of boats in Casco Bay before, and I know that there are entire bays of bioluminescence in places like Vieques, but I’ve never swum through it. Tiny phytoplankton living in the water get agitated by the movement of the water and release a quick burst of light (science geek Kellie wants to go into the mechanism of this but she’ll spare you). Evolutionarily, the idea is that if the plankton light up when something tries to eat it, the light may attract an even bigger predator to eat the threat. Pretty smart if you ask me.

The effect when swimming is amazing. Just gliding through the water, your head makes them light up, and they streak past your goggles as you look down into the otherwise black ocean. Then every time you take a stroke, a trail of shiny sparkles follows your hand forward and then through your pull. Needless to say I probably swam slower because I was watching all the shininess! I stopped for a minute after swimming for about ten and just played around… when I lifted a leg or an arm out of the water there was a split second when my skin was sparkly too 🙂

We got in the water at 5:45 this morning; sunrise wasn’t until 6:40 and it was a cloudy, gross morning weather-wise, so it was pitch black when we set off except for our lantern and a few houses on shore. As soon as the clouds started to lighten up, the sparkles faded and were gone by the time I finished my swim. I’m not sure if we didn’t see the plankton before because they weren’t there, or because it was always light out, but that was definitely worth getting up early for! We celebrated the near-end of the open water swim season with coffee, donuts, and mimosas on the rocks (actual rocks, not ice rocks!). Jokes were made about the plankton we swallowed (‘I’m going to turn off the lights in the bathroom later and see if my pee lights up!’) and what the plankton were actually doing (‘every light is a tiny plankton orgasm! we’re pleasuring the plankton!!) and it went downhill from there. What more can you expect from six crazy sightly hypothermic swimmers at 630AM?

Post-Swim! Thanks to Jim for the photo!

In other news, I took 16 minutes off my half marathon PR on Sunday, finishing in 2 hours and 7 minutes, at 9:54 per mile. Tomorrow’s goal is going down the stairs without support! Baby steps, right?

The other goal is more frequent blog posts. I’ve discovered I don’t have to write a book every time I post!

Posted by: kellietris | August 23, 2011

Somebody’s Gotta Run Slowest: Mascomaman 70.3 Race Report

Half iron number two is in the books!

First off, this was by far the hardest course I’ve ever seen. Mooseman had more feet of climbing on paper, but that race had a few really big hills and was more or less flat afterwards. Saturday the bike course was constantly up and down and back up, followed by a run which was more of the same! At least the swim was flat… but I did almost get lost in the fog…

This was the first year of the race, which was organized by UNH student (and swimmer!) Casey Albert. It was a family affair, as her parents were assistant race directors, and I will say they did a great job bringing everything together. I’m sure they’ll get some good input for improvements from the athletes, but it went really smoothly considering the distance.

Carolyne and Lou and I stayed the night in White River Junction, VT which was

Cool kids

Pre-race, caffeinated and in the fog.

about a 15 minute drive to the start in Enfield, NH. HUGE kudos to the Dunkin Donuts in White River Junction across from the hotel which opens at 4AM, cause I would’ve been without coffee had they opened at 5. It’s the little things that matter on race morning! Coffee in hand we drove through the fog and were the first people to arrive in the parking lot. —>Cool Kid badge goes here <—-

The transition area looked comically small, since there were only 70 something athletes in the half (and the sprint athletes weren’t due to show up for two more hours). We racked our bikes, set up our gear, and realized… we can’t see the lake for the fog. Oops? The start was delayed 15 minutes in hopes that the fog would start to burn off. I decided on Friday that I would wear my speedsuit for the race, like I did at Mooseman last year. I have an Xterra Vortex 0.02, which is basically a wetsuit minus the insulation and buoyancy. Pure drag reduction. I only wear it when it’s a long triathlon swim (in swim-only events you’re often ineligible for placement if you wear any kind of suit other than a bathing suit). I squeezed myself into it as we waited. The 15 minutes made no difference, but after half an hour we could see the first buoy, kinda, in the fog. We had the re-race meeting and they told us the kayaks would line the course, and there’d be a motor boat at each buoy, so just swim from one to the next! Awesome. Someone chimed in, ‘or just follow the line in front of you! just don’t be first…’ Great advice, except…

I was in the first swim wave. You might be able to tell where this is going. The wave was the 25 and unders. I figured there were a few current college swimmers, I’d have someone to follow. There looked to be about 12-15 of us in the wave, and as we started heading towards the buoy that we reeeeally couldn’t see, we spread out pretty quick. I was all alone, with one guy ahead of me. He was a little too fast for me to comfortably keep up with, and he got progressively fuzzier and fuzzier as we got away from shore. I could see kayaks, but they move. I wanted a stationary landmark, but there was only fog. I found the first buoy pretty easily because the guy was still close enough that I could clearly see his wake, but after I turned I was so lost as to where the next buoy was. I didn’t even have an angle, since we couldn’t see them from shore. I headed for the next kayak, and then the next, until I found the buoy (which was one of the small ones which didn’t help matters). This was a diamond shaped course, so I knew somewhere out there was one more buoy. I swam blindly for a little bit, sighting a kayak, or a boat? I finally had to actually take off my goggles, look with my eyes, and then resume swimming. Not the quickest method I’ll admit, but it helped find that last buoy. By the time I got around it I could see the shore and had a big tent to sight. We had to swim two loops; at the end of the first we had to run out of the water, around a couple cones, and back in. I swam into shore, and popped out of the water. Casey was announcing names as people came out, and it was pretty funny when I heard her say “Here’s the second swimmer, number 52…… AND IT’S A GIRL!!!!!” Obviously the first swimmer had been a guy, and they were expecting the next few to be also, apparently. Surprise! I jumped back in and headed around again. Second time was a little easier, but I had two women from the second start wave hot on my heels. Don’t know who those two were but they caught me at the second buoy and kept it up. I finished the swim in about 31 minutes, definitely lost a couple minutes to getting lost in the fog! I was the third woman in the swim. Next time I’m breaking half an hour if it kills me!

I took my time in transition. I’m not aiming to win, and I’d rather add an extra minute in T1 or T2 to be comfortable later on. I lathered on the sunscreen in T1 despite the lack of sun; the forecast was for a sunny day and I was not going to get fried! The only thing that got left behind were my bike gloves. No idea how I missed them, they were right there, but there are worse things to overlook. In and out of T1 in 3:51.

This was my best attempt at a nutrition plan. I nailed it on the bike. It went super well for having no idea what I was doing! at 8:15 I had a power gel, and took one every hour on the :15s. at 8:45 I took two shot blocks, and again on the :45s after that. I mixed in some endurolyte tablets  especially when I felt my calves start to cramp up, but I never bonked and felt strong the whole way on the bike. In addition, I bought a water bottle for my aerobars on Thursday, and it was seriously the highlight of my day. I drank about 90 oz of heed/gatorade while on my bike, which I NEVER would have done with regular bottles. Good stuff!

This is where it gets hilly. I really don’t have a lot to say about the bike other than I seemingly have an inability to tell a false flat from an actual flat. There was a hill that began around mile 40, and ended around mile 48. Uphill juuust about the entire time. I had no idea! Carolyne mentioned it after the finish, and I didn’t believe her until I uploaded my Garmin that night. There it is, an 8-mile hill. It’s totally mentally beneficial for me to not know I’m going uphill (how ridiculous is that?!), but really strange. I do it in my car, too… when we drove to Lake Placid I kept wondering why my car was having trouble on flat roads until she enlightened me to the fact that we were in fact going uphill. There were plenty of hills on this course that I was fully aware of, but the 8-mile, 3% grade monster… I just kept pedaling and singing to myself until I was back at transition. I think I did pretty well to use what downhills there were to power into the uphills, and I tried to keep my cadence high so I didn’t destroy my legs, and for the most part I felt like a rockstar until mile 48 or so (coincidence?). I did start to feel my calves cramp at that point, and I got worried about the run. I strained my right calf (and probably my left, slightly) back in July and didn’t do a lot of cycling or running because of it. I popped a couple more endurolytes and kept on keepin on, deciding to deal with it on the run. I finished the bike in 3:14 (pi!), with a 17.6 mph average. Mooseman’s average was 16.4, but that was during a tropical downpour so I don’t compare them because I was terrified of hydroplaning off the road last time. Saturday’s ride was good for 6th among the 16 women who finished.

I wish I could stop here. I re-upped the sunscreen in T2 and put on my brand-spankin new New Balance Minimus Trail shoes. Brand new as in, I wanted to test-run in them on Thursday night but my sister asked me if I wanted to go to the ice cream place with her… and I like ice cream better than running. I know, nothing new on race day… but if I ran in my fivefingers the blisters would have been obscene (I’ll write more about this later, there’s a story). So yeah, brand new shoes on race day! T2 time of 5:02. Movin!

Lou told me to run 7 minute miles. I told him to... well, I gave him the finger.

My cardinal rule of running races is that I. Do. Not. Walk. I have the ability to just keep going, even if ‘going’ is 13.1 12-minute miles in the pouring rain with soaking wet 10lb Brooks sneakers strapped to my feet (Mooseman, again).


I walked. I don’t even care that I broke my rule. There was not a chance in hell that I was going to run those 13 miles, because it was 87 freakin degrees. It is my worst nightmare that Lake Placid will be a day like this next summer. Throw in the hills on this course, and I was done for. My Garmin is usually awesome motivation since I’m very numbers-oriented, but when you look down and see that you’re on pace for a 13-minute mile and you’re feeling like you’re dying, it’s not so motivating. I stopped at every aid station and downed a little water, took a gel here and there. The first part of the course was shaded and pretty, on a road running along the lake. Huge hills there. The second part was farther form the lake, and ran through downtown Enfield. There was a great rail trail that was shaded and cool… and a mile long (a mile short?). Then it was all open road, no consistent shade. I stopped sweating around mile 6, which as a lifeguard I recognize to be a warning sign of heatstroke. I forced myself to drink an entire water bottle at each of the following aid stations, and wet my baseball hat to keep my head cooler. I started picking landmarks ahead of me, running from one telephone pole to the next, then walking to the next driveway, and so on. I saw very few people because the race was so small, and it was quite odd. I’d look ahead and behind and see nobody. I talked aloud, sang to myself, and cursed running in general, and nobody was around to hear it. I suffered through the whole 13 miles at an average 13:07 pace. I was officially the slowest runner of the 55 athletes who finished on Saturday. All I care is, I made it to the finish!

Despite the hellish run, I had a great time overall. I finished in 6:54:10, good for 30/55 overall, 8/16 women and 3/3 in the women’s 25& under. Quirk of the day: Comparing my race with that of the girl who came in 2nd in my age group… I beat her by 20 minutes in the swim, and an additional 20 minutes in the bike. She beat me by AN HOUR AND FIVE MINUTES in the run. She gets a gold star for running 8:30 miles in that heat!!!

I probably won’t get to do this race again next year because it’ll be so close to Placid, but I definitely recommend looking into it. It’s a really challenging course, and I got the worst weather in the 85F+ heat, but I would do it again without hesitation. That’s why we do it, right? If it were easy, we’d find a new sport.

I drove the three hours home on Saturday afternoon and I’m actually feeling really good today. No ill effects from running with the new shoes except one angry tendon on Sunday which is perfectly fine now. I rode with the PVC women last night, a leisurely 20 miles that loosened up my calves really well.

I was looking at doing the Rockland Breakwater 3.2-mile open water swim this weekend (58 degree water, bring it!) but with the hurricane possibly coming I decided against it. Next up might be a relay at Lobsterman, and then either the Maine Half Marathon or (maybe) the Maine Marathon Marathon (if I can get myself to run more between now and October).

Pssst… winter is coming 🙂

Posted by: kellietris | August 4, 2011

I HIT A CAT: Tri For A Cure 2011 Race Report

It’s exactly what it sounds like. I hit a cat with my bicycle. Aside from that, not a terrible day!

I spent Saturday, the day before the race, at my frisbee team’s end-of-summer tournament. Ten hours of out-in-the-open, full-field-sprinting, come-from-behind-winning fun. My team got eliminated in the semifinals after four games, and got to kick back and barbeque while watching the finals. What I’m saying is, I didn’t exactly take it easy the day before, which I have a habit of doing, and I had no expectations for Tri for a Cure other than to finish.

First off, THANK YOU to all of you who donated. I was able to raise $500 this year!! In all the event raised well over one million dollars… woohoooo!!!

Race morning I showed up obsessively-compulsively early, about a half hour before transition opened. I got my race packet and applied my snazzy tattoos (first time I’ve had actual race tattoos, I felt pretty cool). I was setting up my transition and talking to my friend Amy, putting on sunscreen, and all of a sudden POP something exploded really close to us. We looked around for a balloon or whatever could have made that sound, and found that someone’s front tire had just exploded! They must have overinflated it in a cool place, and then set it to heat up in the sun. Crazy. Luckily Cyclemania was on-hand and Dave fixed it before the poor girl knew what had happened (she wasn’t there, who knows if she ever found out?!) Good job Dave!

Go Blue!

Some of the PVC ladies who raced on Sunday morning

The heat became a little evident during the pre-race events. It was warm in transition, but it got HOT when we were all corralled to the start area. This is an inspiring race, with the survivor’s wave gathering at the front and celebrating their triumphs and remembering lost friends and family members and reciting poetry. The opening ceremonies always make me tear up. This time though, it was stifling standing in a crowd of 700 women, 98% of whom were wearing black neoprene. They made the announcement that it was 86 degrees. At 10AM. Peachy.

I was in the fifth wave. I recognized one of the women I often race with, who always juuust edges me out in the swim. Historically I beat her by a few minutes on the bike, and she reels me in and wins on the run. Like I said, I had no real expectations, but when I saw her I got a little more motivated to try and finish strong. The swim started, and I took off. I lost her in the crowd at the first buoy and just kept on swimming. Honestly this may have been the worst I’ve ever done at keeping on course! I actually had to stop at one point and take my goggles off to see where the swim finish was! A lot of times there is an arch or a flag, but this time there wasn’t really anything to tell where the finish was, and we were swimming into the sun. The other compounding factor was that the wave two before me was wearing orange as a cap color… they all looked like mini buoys! I eventually found my way to the finish in a little under 11 minutes, and climbed out of the water. Overall I had the 12th fastest swim of the day (and was 30 seconds ahead of the woman I recognized)!

This tri has a mini-transition, which consists of throwing on a pair of sneakers and running a quarter mile up a hill to the main transition. Cause you know, all you want to do when you’re fresh out of the ocean is put on a wet pair of shoes! I chugged up the hill and into T1. Threw on the bike shoes and helmet, and off I went on the bike. Oooooh the bike.

Going Up...

Thanks to the PVC cheering section! Made the Fort Williams hill a breeze!

So it went like this. I cruised the first 13 miles of the 14-mile ride. I’m familiar with the roads, I know how to rock the downhills. The PVC chicas were on the side of the worst hill to provide that kick of adrenaline to get me to the top without breaking down. I didn’t get passed the whole time. Beautiful. Then I turned into the home stretch.

I love spectators. They get my adrenaline flowing like crazy. Not gonna lie, I feel like a badass on my bike sometimes. This was one of those times. One mile left, givin it all I got. Nice flat stretch, rocking out on my aero bars. Estimated speed of 20-21mph. Getting the last of the cool breeze while I can.

It came from under a car on the left side of the road. Mostly black, some white patches. Long hair. Quick extrapolations of velocity and direction told me OH SHIT but my brain does those extrapolations way faster than my body responds to them. The cat was making a beeline for the shelter of a car on the right side of the road. It’s path took it somewhere through where my bike happened to be at the same time. No time to get off the aero bars. Nowhere to swerve to avoid it; too late. I hit the cat. I was knocked off balance, I swerved, I wobbled, I somehow managed to not crash and burn horribly (and it would have been horrible). I heard a collective GASP from the crowd (in retrospect that was so cool). Apparently freaked out autopilot Kellie has mad bike handling skills, because I recovered. Physically, anyway. I was FREAKINGOUT mentally. I love cats. I am 100% a cat person. I turned my head back to the scene of the crime, and saw no cats (nor pieces of cats) on the road in my wake. Someone yelled ‘it’s okay, keep going!’ and I did, but OH MY GOD THAT JUST HAPPENED.

My dad was around the corner, a quarter mile from the dismout line. Approximately 45 seconds post-impact. He didn’t get the incident on video, but he got this:

Take Note:

1. The woman’s ‘OH NO’ was priceless.

2. My dad commented ‘That’s a bad thing’ to which the man next to him says ‘That is a bad thing…… hope it wasn’t a black cat!’

3. The panic in my voice is pretty evident, and sums up how I was doing mentally at that point.

I vaguely remember getting into T2 and putting on my Fivefingers, grabbing my hat and starting the run, but only vaguely. The next thing I clearly remember is the vast expanse of open parking lot this run course consists of. It was HOT, and I was not moving quickly. It was more of a shuffle. I was so not interested in running, but I kept going. There was one point, after we came around the lighthouse, when I wanted to ditch and jump back in the water. I recognized so many women who I passed on the bike, passing me. The last aid station I grabbed a cup of water and it was soooo warm. Gross.

The girl I had started the swim aiming to beat had reeled me in. I had five minutes on her when I started the run. She out-ran me by 6. Kudos to her, I was beat. I ran 10:12 miles. Ah well, next year!

I finished the course in 1:32. Third in my age group. 37th overall. HUGE congratulations to Anne Wilkinson, who for the third consecutive year won the whole shebang, repping the PVC women with a finish time of 1:15! Not only that but she’s a cancer survivor, too. Like I said, this race is crazy inspiring. So many people finished their first triathlon, or their first open water swim (Yay Jess!!), or bike, or walk. This one’s not really about who does it fastest, but about who does it. Though, it was pretty fun getting a light-up tiara on the podium at the end 🙂

Congratulations to everyone who participated on Sunday, Thank you to all of the volunteers and spectators, and I AM SO SORRY to the cat who I probably maimed but hopefully is safely resting at home all in one piece.

Posted by: kellietris | July 22, 2011

How to race on 45 minutes of sleep: Peaks to Portland 2011!


Sue and zombie-Kellie, waiting for the boat!

I’ve been trying to swim the Peaks to Portland race for about 10 years, and for one reason or another could not. This year I was finally able to get into the race, and I’m excited to report that I finished it on Saturday morning, which was an absolutely GORGEOUS morning for an ocean race.

Peaks to Portland is a 2.4-mile ocean swim from Peaks Island (an island in Casco Bay owned by the city) to the East End Beach in mainland Portland. In the middle of the course is Fort Georges (pronounced gorgeous), a small fort built in the 1860s, which provides some really cool scenery when you’re swimming past. Or an easy out if you decide to ditch? I don’t think that’s happened…

Saturday morning was the perfect example of why summer in Maine is awesome. Temperatures comfortable in the 60s when we were loading kayaks onto the boats, bright blue skies and sunshine, and most importantly for the race, calm seas. I read somewhere that the water temperature was 64F, just about as warm as it gets up here in the summer. There were definitely a few spots where it sipped into the upper 50s range, but overall the weather could not have been more perfect! Example of how NOT to rest up and veg the night before a race: Two of my friends got married in boston on Friday afternoon, and I was invited to the ceremony and then the reception in


Fort Georges, Casco Bay

Ashland. I have trouble saying ‘no’ to awesomely fun things, so the obvious answer was to go to the wedding on Friday, stay in the rented cabins on Friday night, and get up wicked early on Saturday and drive back to Maine just in time to hop a boat to Peaks. So, that’s what I did! I wound up with a grand total of 45 minutes sleep. I left Ashland at 3:45AM and landed at the Dunkin Donuts in Portland at 5:37AM (don’t do the math; I drove too fast). From this point on I was running on adrenaline, caffeine, and the awesome chilled salt water of Casco Bay!



Kayaks on the Machigonne

A member of my cycling club generously volunteered her time and kayak to be my spotter for the race (Thanks Lindsay!!), so I met her at the boat terminal, coffee in hand. My friend Ruth was also swimming, and we met up with her kayaker Sue, and loaded the kayak ever so slowly (along with a couple hundred others) onto the Machigonne. It was a really cool sight to see the pile of kayaks on the open deck (the Machigonne is usually a car ferry). So colorful! We disembarked on the island, navigated the kayak down to the beach, and headed up to the home of a friend who likes on the island and was also racing (Thanks Kim!).
I had looked into the logistics of getting from point A to point B ahead of time, and was vaguely familiar with the race tactics. My kayaker was a first-timer as well, so I primed her on what the plan was. There are two options: swim to the fort and cut the corner, which is the shortest route on paper but cuts diagonally into the beach with the current, or, swim past the fort, and basically hang a right hand turn and ride with the current into the beach (the current runs parallel as the tide comes in). I chose the first option. I’m a scientist, and the fastest way to get from point A to point B is a straight line, right? Cut corners! Could have been the sleep deprivation talking, and I know hindsight is 20/20, but the other way sounds like it makes more sense.
Everyone gathered on the beach to get ready for the start. There were three waves of swimmers this year, I was in the first. The kayakers went out ahead of the start and lined up, with the first wave’s kayakers farthest from shore. Lindsey and I had agreed on which side of the channel we would meet on, but I grossly underestimated what 275 kayaks look like floating offshore… she was way farther away than I anticipated and kinda tricky to find. Luckily we are all given flags to display on our kayaks and mine stood out since it was blue and almost everyone else’s was green (major perk to swimming without a wetsuit = different color!). On the beach waiting for the start I saw a lot of familiar faces from pools, lakes, and beaches in the area. Around half the field was racing P2P for the first time like me, but there are a lot of annual swimmers as well. We exchanged ‘good luck’s and ‘see you on the other side’s, I fielded incredulous looks and questions from approximately 8 people asking if I was really going to swim without a wetsuit, and we lined up for the start.
I’ve done mass swim starts before and they don’t bother me. I’ve been kicked in the ribs pretty good a couple times, and took an elbow to the face at Lobsterman a couple years ago, but that’s part of the game so long as you keep floating. This was definitely one of the bigger waves I’ve started in, but definitely not the most aggressive. The worst part was 
getting in the water; just off the sandy part of the beach is a large mussel bed… tough on the feet! About 100 of us took off in the first wave, and headed towards the sea of kayaks. Like I said it took longer than I expected to find mine, but once I realized how far I had to go to get to her it wasn’t too hard. I got caught up with one woman who kept swimming into my legs. She was slightly behind me and off to my left, and could not swim parallel to me to save her life (open water etiquette says the swimmer in front has the right of way in that situation). Eventually I put a little kick behind me and pulled away. We headed towards the fort, using an apartment building on the Portland skyline as a reference.

organized chaos

I haven’t swum with a kayaker until the week before the race, so it was difficult for me to get used to not sighting for myself. Normally in open water I pick a point I want to swim to, and every so often take a breath to the front to make sure I’m still going that way. Here, I had a kayak to keep me on course, so all I really had to do was make sure that I stayed parallel to the kayak. It was a difficult concept to get used to. I did sight myself more than I had to, not out of distrust for her but mostly because I wanted to see the progress we were making.
We hit the fort, and I made the call to cut the corner. When we did, we hit the only choppy part of the course. There’s a breakwater that comes off the fort there, a small one but big enough to create some small chop. I love swimming through water like that… you never know when you turn to breathe if you’re going to be in a trough and get some air, or if a wave is going to crash on your face and you get some salt water. Great game, right? I think it adds a fun new dimension to the swim. Also, I’m not all that sane.
Cool kids

Myself and Ruth post-race (thanks mom for the sign!)

Not too long after we cut the corner and made it through the chop, I realized I made a poor choice. The tide was a strong one, so the current was running pretty quickly parallel to the beach. It would have been way less work to keep heading towards the city, past the fort, and ride the current straight in. I ended up spending a bunch of time aiming far to the left of where I wanted to end up, to compensate for the current pulling me along to the right. In the end it probably cost me a few minutes, but I definitely learned my lesson for next year!

I try not to set time goals the first time I do a race because there are soooo many variables at play, but I’m terrible at it so I had 55 minutes in my head as a number to shoot for. I finished in 55:46, good for the 23rd/146 women and 4th woman without a wetsuit. There were 16 people total who swam without a wetsuit; 11 women and 5 men. I can say I did not get cold. The girl who won the non-wetsuit division came to the podium in a winter parka while I was up on the hill in the shade hiding from the sun because I was overheating! Yep, I’m a freak 😉 I went home and slept for a million hours.

Today Carolyne and I are hitting the road and going to Lake Placid! The Ironman race there takes place this Sunday, and we’re both volunteering. Monday morning I am standing in line at the high school there and signing my life away up for the 2012 race! July 22, 2012… one year from RIGHT NOW I will be on my bike somewhere in upstate NY. Hopefully the weather will be sliiiightly less abysmally hot than it is today, right?
I’ll take some photos of the madness that I witness this weekend, and I promise to post about it next week. Also, TRI FOR A CURE (pink letters!) is one week from Sunday, please check out my donation page! I got so busy this summer I didn’t get to organize any swim clinics, so I’m having to flat-out ask for donations which I hate doing, but if you have three minutes and $10 it really is a great organization and I’d appreciate your help!

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