About Kelly @ RaceFor50States

20-something University of Wisconsin MBA Candidate that is currently living like one of the locals in Madison, WI during the weekend and romping around the U.S. to different races on the weekends in pursuit of seeing all 50 states form the finish line of a race!

26.2 – Here Goes Nothing!

I’m writing this blog on my phone from my car at the start of the Heart of America Marathon in Columbia, MO. My brain did that typical ‘freak out about oversleeping and wake up too early’ thing this morning.

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I signed up for this race on a whim and I think it has me more nervous than races I’ve spent months preparing and training for. I guess that makes sense, since, ya know, I haven’t spent months preparing for this one.

This race is considered by some to be in the top 10 toughest road race marathons in the country because of the six major climbs along the way. Plus, temps average around 80-90, with humidity just as high. (Today’s high: 83)

I am approaching the race as just a long training run and not trying to set any records. That’s hard, because lately that is what I have been doing! This course has very limited course support, which I’m not used to for this distance. I like to be able to count on my precut bananas and m&ms along the way. Today it will just be me and about 200 others, with a handful of aid stations speckling the 26 mile course.

I did convince a few friends to come out along the way, including my girlfriend Lauren who will be at Mile 21 to help me through the last of the hills. At the finish I’ve talked my other friend Zahra into running across the finish with me too!

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It finishes in Downtown Columbia, which is where I did my undergrad. I have exactly enough time to enjoy a few slices of Shakespeare’s Pizza, shower, and then be Madison bound. I think the 8 hour drive home will honestly be the hardest part of the day!

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Well, I have killed enough time that it is finally time to go mingle with the other runners before the gun goes off. Wish me luck!

Signed Up for a Marathon in SIX (6) Days!!!

I think it is widely accepted that marathoners are pretty nuts. You have to be more than a little crazy to run 26.2 miles, for fun, and pay for it!

That being said, I don’t think it should be too surprising ┬áthat this morning I did something pretty insane and signed up for a marathon just six days away. Not just any marathon either. It’s the Heart of America Marathon in Columbia, MO – one of the most difficult, non-mountain road races in the country.

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This is all because this morning I impromptu decided to visit friends and family in Missouri over this upcoming Labor Day weekend. My training plan for the Quad Cities Marathon later in September called for one final long run this weekend, 23 miles, and I was a little worried about not getting it in while visiting everyone. Naturally, the practical solution was just to say “to hell with it, let’s go all the way!”

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I was already driving through Columbia on Monday and the race was only $40. How could I say no to a planned route, water and aid stops, camaraderie, AND a medal?! Once I thought about it like that it just seemed way more fun than running 23 miles solo. Plus, I might wrangle some friends into joining me for a few miles along the way.

So now I’m registered. Committed. Locked in.

Of course, it was after I paid my entry fee that I thought to look up the weather. 90 degrees.

Bring on the heat wave and the hills I guess!

Now let’s talk goals. I have absolutely none other than to finish this race. It’s so hilly that I don’t expect any PRs, and it is longer than I had planned to go. It will definitely just be a training run. BUT, it will help me achieve one other goal I made at the beginning of the year – to become a Marathon Maniac. If I finish Heart of America, Quad Cities, and the Madison Marathon I will meet the criteria to get my first star and become a Bronze Level Marathon Maniac. Whoo!

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Look for a race report soon and wish me luck!

Tri’d Something New This Weekend – Race Recap: Try Cambridge Tri

This weekend I decided to shake things up with my second ever sprint triathlon, the Try Cambridge Tri.

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Since moving to Madison I have been inundated with Ironman culture, and all of the biking and open water swimming around town made me a little jealous of the triathlon scene. Midway through the summer I decided it was time to make my debut in the Madison Multisport arena and I signed up for this triathlon with my friend Adam, who I did the Madison Mini Marathon with last weekend.

Going into it, my training was sporadic at best. My “plan” was to get in the pool and on the bike at least once a week. I did a few swims that amounted to a mile or more total, so I figured I would be fine there, and I was able to get a few 20+ mile bike rides in. I wouldn’t say I followed a program by any means. For usually being so structured about training, I was honestly pretty willy-nilly about the whole thing.

I think since I didn’t have a baseline for how to compete in a triathlon or how long it should take I wasn’t too concerned with the whole thing. Go out, have fun, “tri” something new.

The night before the race I did some pretty terrible race prep. Carbs were a bottle of wine enjoyed on a boat and sleep was in short supply.

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(Although, to be fair, the sleep was pretty deep because of the wine!)

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The race itself was a blast once I finally made it there and got settled in. I really started to get into it when I got my body markings. I swear, there is just something about having race numbers sharpied on your calf and bicep that gets you pumped up.

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While waiting for instructions on how the race would kick off I started chatting with Bailey, another 20-something gal who was also doing her first triathlon in years. We were definitely rookies compared to some of the other athletes. Bailey and I both agreed that the guys who showed up in wet suits were just WAY too serious for an 8 minute swim at a triathlon located in the middle of the Madison suburbs. (We may have just been saying that out of jealousy though, let’s be real – those guys looked pretty badass.)

BFF for race day!

BFF for race day!

The swim was in Ripley Park Lake and was prefaced by a stunning sunrise.

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Normally I don’t really believe in being at a race before the sun has come up, but I’ll make an exception for this morning!

I hadn’t done any open water swimming leading up to the race and I was admittedly a little worried about that. From my first triathlon in 2011 I remembered open water swimming being chaotic, disorienting, and kind of gross. My wave had a max of maybe 35 people in it though and the swim was a breeze. I veered off course a lot my first triathlon and this time around I found my head bobbing out regularly to check my course. The best part of the swim though – passing Adam. I knew I needed a head start because, as a UW Cyclist, he would pass me in no time on the bike.

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T1 (the swim-to-bike transition) went well. I mean, as well as putting socks on wet feet can go.Then the bike ride went a little something like this:

WHOOOOOOO!
I’m off!

::woosh:: ::woosh::
That’s the sound of people passing me.

HOLY $%!*
Massive hill at mile 3.

“Seeya Goldthorpe!”
Adam screaming past me.

WHOOOOOOO!
Clocking 25 mph on a downhill.

SCCREEAACCHH
As everyone does an abrupt 180 at the halfway mark.

HOLY $%!*
Sudden realization that the second half is uphill, into the wind.

::woosh:: ::woosh::
That’s the sound of MORE people passing me.

WHOOOOOOO!
Going down massive hill from mile 3.

Honestly, 15 miles is the perfect distance for my biking ability right now. Anything more and I probably would have gotten pretty bored/tired. I can already tell if I keep doing triathlons that improving my biking would be a huge help for my time and level of competitiveness at these things.

The 5k run to the finish was interesting. I never run 5ks, so I didn’t have the best pacing strategy. Plus, having legs that felt like bricks and jell-o, simultaneously, made it hard to gauge how fast I was running. I was pleased to see that I was clocking sub 8:30 miles the entire time!

The race ended and I met Adam and his friends and family at the finish, with a personal best! (Gotta love saying that, even if it is because it’s a new event!)

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I’m not ready to say I’m totally hooked on or addicted to triathlons yet, but it was a lot of fun! I think I really like how new I am to it – there is definitely a lot I could learn and a ton of room for improvement. Who knows, maybe once I volunteer at Ironman Wisconsin in a few weeks I’ll really get ambitious. I could easily see myself doing a half Ironman within the year though, that’s for sure.

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