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Kelly Williamson – Never Give Up!

July 2, 2013 10:54AM EST
Kelly Williamson – Never Give Up!

One of the unique things about competing (age and level of competitiveness regardless) is that it allows you to constantly be learning about yourself. There were two things I learned about myself from Rev 3 Williamsburg. 1: I absolutely love to be in a position when racing whereby I am forced to be the hunter. There is something about the thrill of being far behind knowing I will have to dig hard to have a chance to win, knowing that I may pull it off or I may completely blow up (or even suck trying) that really gets me motivated. The risk is big but the possible reward is bigger. 2: When in doubt, I draw inspiration from those around me.

I went into Williamsburg pretty relaxed. I have had some questions lately about my bike strength and found there could be ‘answers’ as to the recent struggles, so with my mind a little distracted, I knew the race could be up in the air. But I was healthy, rested and as ready as I could be; this is nothing major but enough to throw a small curve ball my way. We headed there on Friday, and I tried to put aside any of the ‘questions’ and doubts and simply put myself into race mode. I may not have been as nervous and eager and amped up for this one, but I have raced long enough to know how to simply put myself into the mindset of getting race ready, no matter the prep. I was also excited for a new event, a new place to explore, and a new race experience; with a lot of Derick’s family there to support, the race was able to double as a chance to connect with family which is always a bonus.

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My plan going into this one was to swim hard and try to come out first or very close, bike rather controlled given the recent revelations (not so ideal given that hard efforts have still lost me time this season, but it was the plan and I would implement it) and do my usual on the run; just run my ass off and go for broke. When I was jogging before the start, I looked up at the sky and rain was opening up to some blue sky. I told myself: “Enjoy this one. Take it in, race within yourself, let the chips fall where they do. Appreciate the ability to go and push yourself. And despite whatever is going on coming into this, never count yourself out.” I just felt at ease, relaxed, and appreciative this morning.

The goal of first out of the swim did not happen. That went to a very strong Tenille, with Lauren quick on her heels; I had to settle for third, about 40-50 seconds back. This swim course was a bit challenging, as it threw some unexpected currents and waves at us, especially the second half. It felt like the final red turn buoy kept drifting further away from me! I just kept my head down and did what I could, enjoying the final 100 meters or so of dolphin diving. This was one of the longest ‘shallow water’ stretches I have ever seen. Dolphin diving is a workout in itself!

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Next up was about a 1/4 mile run to T1 through a grassy field, and it was onto the 56 mile bike course. Just as planned, I took it out mellow. I actually looked at my SRM this time (as I usually cover it up) and tried to gauge my effort, keeping the power below whereby I had been feeling this bizarre quad pain all season at the start of my races. I have to say it was a little refreshing to not feel like I was scrambling right off the bat to crush the bike, as I always do (and always have done, barring Ironman races). I plugged along, enjoying the flattish to moderately rolling course; it was very pretty, constantly surrounded by green trees; until I came to T2 on the William & Mary campus, exiting the bike in 4th place, 9 minutes back from first (my usual lately).

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I started the 13 mile tour around the campus, and quickly saw Charlie of Rev 3 about a mile in and asked him if they had a new baby yet. (His wife was due any day now!) A sign that I was still fairly relaxed, despite a big deficit! At this point, I was telling myself that I would give it all I had, and bottom line is I’d either claw my way back into the podium (and maybe to first if I was lucky) or I wouldn’t…I didn’t get too bothered by the big time gap. The first loop I realized this run had it’s challenges, namely that there were many turns but also some small yet deceivingly tough hills. I moved into 3rd at the 5 mile mark. Yahoo! But tried to just keep the pace steady. I was literally hearing “6 minutes back! 4 minutes back! 2:30 back!” as I plugged along. I passed 3rd place at about mile 8 but knew that Margie (Shapiro), a good friend of mine, was still far up ahead and was having stellar day. Truth be told, I was so stoked for her that I had figured I’d be content with 2nd today. I found myself yelling words of encouragement to those folks out there who looked to be overcoming far more obstacles than I, and even threw Margie a high five about 6 miles in. I was pushing hard, but I was also really enjoying myself and soaking in the atmosphere. I saw a ton of Team Red White & Blue members racing. I heard many people cheer for me, which is always so appreciated; even when I cannot acknowledge it. I just seemed more at ease than usual.

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Until about mile 11. At this point, I was told I was less than 2 minutes back. Damnit, doing the math… I may catch her at the line. Now I realized if I wanted to try to win this, I should focus and pick it up. I started to put on the tunnel vision, tuck the head down and began digging deeper. At mile 12, I ran through the crowd (and by the finish line) and I was told “49 seconds down Kelly!”. I thought to myself “Shit, I have to go HARDER?!” The body was definitely feeling it now. There was one final out and back, and I could start to see my carrot (Margie) but I knew it was a fine line; if I pushed too soon, I may blow. I kept on the pace. Final turn, and 1/2 mile to go. She looked to be maybe 20 yards ahead. I figured now I had to give it all I had. I picked it up to as much of a sprint as I could muster, and managed to move into the lead with maybe 1/4 mile to go; and even then, I kept sprinting, knowing it didn’t end until we hit the line.

When I finally did see the finish, it was just pure relief and joy that I had managed to pull that off! I was greeted to the usual excitement of Rev 3 finish lines; a hefty crowd, an absolutely ecstatic Sean English jumping up and down like a mad man, and thankfully huge grin on my face. It was such a nice feeling to have finally managed (although barely!) that highly sought after first “Win” of the season!

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Truth be told, I was elated with this finish. I have tried hard lately to overcome self-doubt, stay positive and realize that this is all ‘part of the process’. I realized that any day we can get out and do this is a day to be grateful, but additionally any day I can come out with a win is a huge added bonus. I was also so pleased with myself that I kept my head in the game and remained positive even when I knew I was far behind. Margie deserves huge props for such a stellar performance, forcing us all to play chase all day long to her. It’s funny. While we can get frustrated with times in our life when we struggle, it makes the success’ we encounter so much more meaningful. Today was one of those days.

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Check out the Pro race recap:

Thank you to the MANY who continue to support me, not only my incredible sponsors but my husband Derick and his guidance, my family (especially my mom and dad, I am fairly certain my mom gets more nervous for every race than I do) and my many friends; your notes and messages mean the world; I feel very blessed! Oh..and now to the best part about this entire trip…

We opted for a 1 week off mid-season break, which entailed 6 days in Southern Indiana at my parents cabin. I knew if I stayed in Austin I’d be inclined to just go to Masters swim…or just go ride easy… and I needed NONE of that. I slept in (until 11am one day), drank coffee, enjoyed good food, plentiful happy hours, and a lot of time in Lake Barbara (their man-made lake my father claims he named after my mom). My biggest workouts came in the form of rope swinging. And on that note, here’s to B-A-L-A-N-C-E!

Thanks for stopping by,

Kelly

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Kelly

Williamson

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Growing Up I was raised in Zionsville, Indiana, the youngest of 3 girls, and divided my time between swimming, soccer, gymnastics and of course some learning thrown in there. I started swimming and playing soccer at age 4, and I was constantly saying to my parents “I can do it MYSELF.” I was stubborn and extremely active. By age 10, I started putting all of my free time into swimming, which took me through my high school years and on to University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. I swam all 4 years there, studied Kinesiology, and had an awesome college experience. I focused on the 1650, 500 free, 200 fly and 400 IM. While my improvements in the pool seemed to plateau about my Junior year, I still loved the sport and once I finished Senior year, I was left thinking “What now?” Olympic Dreams…Or Not I started doing triathlons the summer after finishing swimming, all local events, and discovered what fun they were. I said that I would ‘not take it seriously’, but when I was given a chance to move to Colorado Springs in 2003 and train at the Olympic Training Center, I could not pass it up. I moved to the mountains (which was my ultimate goal!) and trained there through 2005. I had a few big success’, winning Pan American Championships in 2002 and qualifying for the World Championship Team in 2002 as well. I had no idea what I was doing and I am not quite sure how I did these two things, I think in large part due to being young, naive and simply doing what I was told. In 2004, I was starting to realize that my heart was not with the Olympic format racing; I just did not enjoy the drafting and the feeling that your race all depended upon tactics and external factors. I have always liked to do my own thing, be given my own space, and accomplish my goals individually. This seemed to show, and in 2005, a bike crash (resulting in a double compound fracture of my left arm, and then 3 surgeries in 8 months) seemed a good transition point in my life and my career. Colorado to Texas & Going Longer My husband Derick and I moved to Austin, TX in 2006, much to (yet again) my resistance, as he was headed to UT for Grad School. I was honestly a bit sick to my stomach moving to Texas from living in Manitou Springs, CO; but we have been beyond pleasantly surprised with this AMAZING town. I began dabbling in the longer racing, while also doing some online coaching on the side. I tackled my first marathon in 2008, my second marathon in 2009, and finally an Ironman in 2010 (Coeur d’Alene). I love the 70.3 distance races yet I realized that I just had to give this Ironman thing a shot; it was an unknown, and to me that it exciting. I was 3rd at my first ever Ironman in Coeur d’Alene (9:39) and qualified for Kona, finishing in 15th overall female in 2010 (9:36). I saw my first 70.3 victories in 2010 (Branson & Steelhead 70.3), a few more in 2011 (San Juan 70.3 & Buffalo Springs 70.3) while finishing 2nd at Muncie 70.3 and Boulder 70.3. I proved to have some talent for Ironman as well, finishing 2nd at Ironman Texas (9:07) and went on to Kona for a 13th place finish (9:29). 2012 has started off with a bang and I just hope to continue this progress; stay healthy, enjoy myself and continue to push the limits of what my body is capable of doing. Along with big results come big goals…and no doubt, I’ll attack them with the same excitement, intensity and focus that I have for the past 10 years.

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