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.



  1. Kellie! It’s Hilary from the Maine Running Company/Sustainable Athlete running group last summer. How are you!? I’m volunteering at the Tri for a Cure tomorrow- and was researching more about the event and came across your blog! Enjoyed your posts! Just bought my first road bike this spring and hoping to do a triathlon this year! Hope all is well! And I hope to see you at the race tomorrow!

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