North East Triathlon 2015 Race Report

North East Triathlon

I almost always sign up for races last minute but I think this one is a record.  Kimberly reached out late Friday night just as my eyes were shutting to go to sleep. Obviously I did not read her message clearly when she asked if I wanted to race North East Triathlon in Maryland on Sunday. My initial response was no because I had a long run scheduled for that day and because it sounded too far to travel with a friend I train with locally here in Philly.  Something made me read the message a few minutes later again and I’m so glad that I did.  It wasn’t the Kimberly I thought I was chatting with and when I read it the second time I was wide awake and determined to make this race work.“Instead of a half marathon on Sunday you should come and do the Northeast Tri with Jim (smiley face)”  She told me it would be Jim’s first triathlon since June 2013 before his transplant and that she wouldn’t tell jim…it would be a surprise.  My coach, who rocks, fully supported this change for training and was excited for me.  He told me we’d make up for that long scheduled run later in the week. Um, that’s now scheduled to happen tomorrow…

Jim sent me an email four month ago and introduced himself on April 10, 2015. He gave me permission to share a little of his story.  “Hi Keli – I just saw your video on a Triathlete’s Facebook page. I wanted to thank you for racing Ironman Lake Placid for the MMRF. I am a MM survivor in near complete remission after a stem cell transplant last year. I will be at IMLP this year to volunteer. Perhaps we can meet up at the MMRF events scheduled that week. A little of my history – I was scheduled to do IMLP 2013 (would have been my first IM) when I was diagnosed with MM. The doctors said I could do the race as long as I felt up to it. Well, 10 days before the race, I fractured my L4 vertebrae (as a result of the disease) and had to scratch. So, my return this year will be bitter sweet. At any rate, thanks again for doing what you do. It means a great deal! Take care, Jim Mitchell” I met Jim and his wife Kimberly for the first time in person as my guests at the MMRF reception, the night before Ironman Lake Placid.  I saw Jim twice on the run course twice and I remember smiling the first time I hugged him around mile 10 on the run.  His support at the race was awesome but yesterday racing with him was even more awesome.

3:00am Two and half hours of sleep and up at 3am for a short road trip to North East, Maryland. Turns out it was much closer than I expected.  Just an hour and 20 minutes going and 2 hours coming home.

3:45am Let’s just say I didn’t plan this race far enough in advance to be prepared, beginning with the breakfast.  Coach advised me to practice my nutrition exactly as I will for Kona.  Breakfast at 3:45am with race at 8:35am was not ideal. I should have packed more food.  I forgot a lot of things for the race too…No excuses, it’s my fault…Just reminders and lessons learned.

4:45am  Arrived, parked the car, and heard  ”Heaven is a Place on Earth.” I realized tomorrow is 10 months since Kara passed away. Haven’t been on my bike one day without thinking of Kara. Told myself I would hear her voice and words from the last big hill we rode together…and I did. I registered for the race that morning and looks like I arrived with plenty of time.

North East Triathlon race report

I ran into Jim and Kim right after registration. Awesome to see both of them again. The morning was chilly so note to self ALWAYS to pack pants and long sleeves regardless of what time of year it is. It felt like I was using energy trying to stay warm for the hours leading up to the race.  I set everything up and realized that forgot my tri top, transition towel, and ran out of Base salt the day before on my ride. How do you forget your top though?  Opened the trunk hoping I would find something to wear. Looked down and Kara’s cycling jersey she gave me was right there.  It was time to wear it for the first time.  Happy that I did. Met an IMMD guy who recognized me from the videos and turned out Paul was a friend of Jim and Kims.  Small world.  Borrowed an extra Gu from him and some salt tablets from the guy next to him. I ran out of salt on my 55 mile the day before. I’m telling you, I was unprepared for this race yet none of it mattered in the end.

north east triathlon race report


Sprint race started 7:30am, Olympic men 8:30am, and Olympic women 8:35am.  Even though it was wetsuit legal, I decided to swim without one since I won’t be allowed to wear one for Kona.  Water was warm yesterday anyways.  I was glad I forgot my transition towel, good practice to just hop on the bike wet.  Swallowed a Gu, Gatorade and water 15 minutes to the start.  Hug from Kim and I was off.  I rushed into the swim and I did not feel as calm and steady as I need to be getting stared.  I am always comfortable in the water, but my breathing was not calm enough. I remember thinking there’s no way I could swim just 0.9 miles at this rate. Zero visability, could not even see my hands but water was calm.  Pretty normal for most of the races I’ve done and it’s good practice. Was a little tricky for me to site the first bit and reminded myself it’s not that hard…you just follow the people. I don’t know why I’ve been training with 3750-4300 meters swims and somehow 1500 meters seemed like it might feel long.  If you think it will feel long, it probably will be long.  Told myself to just focus breath by breath and once I reached about half way I felt smooth and steady. It was done within 31 minutes.

Ran out of the swim and grabbed water from volunteer before entering T1.  Spent 1:25 in T1 tearing open a pack of shot blocks before getting through Bike out. I was starving and felt ready for breakfast #2!  I usually settle in 15 minutes into bike before eating but ate 3 clif shot blocks and drank immediately on the bike.  5 minutes into the bike could feel my 55 mile ride and run from yesterday. My legs felt like lead, and felt a little discomfort behind my knee. Not pain, just a little discomfort.  Did some yoga moves on the bike (yup, I do that) and kept moving.  Five minutes into the bike I thought about pizza.  I seriously thought about how I wished I had my phone to order a pizza for the finish line! I never think about food outside the nutrition plan on the bike or run.  Never mind my clean eating lately, I kept wanting pizza on that ride.  The course was rolling hills throughout the course and although they were small I looked forward to the downhills more than the uphills in this race. I was happy for the hills though, it’s great practice.  I thought of Kara when I got on the bike and started hearing her voice the last 6 miles. Nutrition?  That’s a secret that only coach has access to but I ate every 30 minutes and always drink when I feel thirsty.
Unloaded my trash in T2 and rushed too much. Spent about 1:30 there and I ended up unloading my full Clif Shot Block package which was my entire nutrition to practice with for the run! I had zero no salt either. Fortunately I had one Gu in my back pocket which I had to use at mile 1.5 and that was all I had the entire time. I know that’s all I need after the bike for a 6.3 mile run, but the plan was to practice my nutrition for Ironman. I can’t believe I rushed so much that I dumped out the full shot block package.  I wasn’t mad, laughed at myself although I am not sure how I did this.  Lesson?  1)  Learn to move quickly through Transition but don’t rush. Double check to see that I have everything I need before I run. 2)  Have backup. At least I had that extra Gu that I wasn’t planning on using for the run. Mile 2.5 as I was approaching the turn around guess who was headed my way? Jim crossed over and gave me a hug. I was so surprised and happy to see him! I thought he was just behind me the entire day since Kim was still at the swim exit when I ran out.  I was wrong, he was ahead of me the entire race and she had just waited for all three of us to exit the swim. Kim, you rock!  I also saw Paul and Chris from IMMD on the run.  Two little things challenged me on the run… I was still a little uncomfortable behind my knee so I didn’t stop because  I was afraid it would be harder to get going again.  I didn’t see a porta potty on the entire run and had to go to the bathroom the entire time. Since I’m not a dude I wasn’t going to pee on the side of a busy road on bright sunny day. Run took about an hour and as I came in to the finish line Jim, Kim, and Paul cheered me on.  I stopped before the finish line to stand on my head, flip, then run across the line. Paul beat me by exactly 30 seconds and Jim finished 2 1/2 minutes before me!!  So awesome.  This race completely rocked and none of my errors mattered in the end.  Just good stuff to learn from.  I loved the course and having the chance to race with Jim rocked! It was a completely perfect day, one of the most special races yet and one of the highlights of my summer. “1st one since stem cell transplant 15 months ago! Jim = 1, cancer = 0!” A victory on so many levels for Jim. It was so special to share this experience with them. Jim, Kim and I went to Woody’s for lunch to celebrate. Mmmmm, Maryland crab cakes.  By the time I reached home around 4:30pm I was beat and in bed at 8:00pm. Woke up exhausted today but felt normal once I had coffee and a peanut butter banana chocolate protein shake for breakfast. Happy today is a rest day.  Back to work now and a quick week three Kona training update this evening. Thank you Jim and Kim for an amazing day. I will always remember North East Triathlon.  Let’s do this one again next year!


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