Biltmore Estate

The highlight of our Smoky Mountain road trip was taking a tour of the Biltmore Estate.  Kelsie L. Smoot Biltmore Estate

George Vanderbilt took his inheritance from his father’s railroad and steamboat monopoly and invested in 125,000 acres of land in Asheville, NC.  The Vanderbilts enjoyed this view designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead from one of their balconies.

George Vanderbilt Land in Asheville, NC

My favorite room of the house is the Banquet Hall which features a seven-story-high ceiling.  Mr. Vanderbilt was very generous and loved to entertain family and friends.

Biltmore House Banquet Hall

As a P.E. and Health teacher I can appreciate his dedication to recreation by having a home gym, a 70,000 gallon heated indoor pool and a bowling alley.  Mr. Vanderbilt also made sure to have plenty of private changing rooms for his guests.

Biltmore Estate Gym

On the lower level of the home is where the servants lived and performed most of their duties.  There was one servant per guest who stayed in the home.  The female and male employees lived in separate areas of the estate.

Biltmore Estate Servants

With 250 rooms and 43 bathrooms, the Biltmore has several kitchens, pantries, and laundry areas.

Biltmore Estate Tour

The Vanderbilts had separate bedrooms to suit their personal tastes.  They were also adhering to the social standard of it being inappropriate for servants of the opposite sex to enter into the bedrooms.

Mr and Mrs. Vanderbilt's Bedrooms

The estate’s library is a reflection of George Vanderbilt’s love for books.  I was impressed by the thousands of books and the size of the fireplace.

Bitlmore Estate Library

Every room is full of detail from floor to ceiling.  There are hidden doors to avoid disruption in the decor.  These photos show a seating room, the breakfast room, the organ loft in the banquet hall, and the music room.

Biltmore House Asheville

There is a portrait of Fredrick Law Olmstead in the Second Floor Living Hall.  The 50 feet tall, iron chandelier weighs 1,700 pounds.

Biltmore House Chandelier

The lower right photo shows the exterior view of the staircase:

Biltmore Estate Exterior

We walked outside to the Italian Garden where there is a concentrated display of Chihuly glass artwork.  There are Chihuly exhibits throughout the estate which took two years to plan and install.  The glass exhibits will be on display until early October 2018.

Chihuly Biltmore Italian Garden

Kelsie L. Smoot

This a view of the Biltmore home from the Italian Garden:

Biltmore House view from Italian Garden

We were in awe when we caught our first view of the four acre Walled Garden after walking through the Shrub Garden.  The beauty hits you out of nowhere.

Biltmore Estate Walled Garden

The conservatory was designed to nurture exotic plants and flowers.

Biltmore Estate Conservatory Hot House

Biltmore Estate Conservatory Cool House

Admission to the Biltmore Estate includes wine tasting that is about a 10 minute drive to Antler Hill Village and Winery.  I was surprised that minors were allowed at the bar.  The girls enjoyed their sample of grape juice while they tried to tell me how to swirl, smell and sip my wine.

Biltmore Estate Winery

Biltmore Estate Wine Tasting

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimension” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Kelsie Lou

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Road Trip: The Great Smoky Mountains

Visiting the Biltmore Estate has been on my travel list for about a year.  My Foster Daughters and I decided to make some stops along the way to make the most of our drive through The Great Smoky Mountains.

Kelsie Smoot

Our first stop was in Pigeon Forge, TN.  Food was first on the agenda.  I normally eat at Paula Deen’s, but I wanted to try another top ranked restaurant called The Old Mill.  The Old Mill was good, but the food at Paula Deen’s is more of a flavorful, down-home type of cooking.

Kelsie, Brandy, Cassie

What I liked about The Old Mill is getting a full course meal included in the menu prices.  We needed to-go boxes for the left overs that went to waste in the hotel’s refrigerator.  This is something to think about when people complain about Paula Deen’s family style dining that does not allow take outs.

The Old Mill Pigeon Forge

After dinner, we walked down the Pigeon Forge Parkway and enjoyed the change of scenery.

Brandy, Cassie

Pigeon Forge Go Carts

From Pigeon Forge, we made our way to Asheville, NC for a day at the Biltmore Estate.  I will follow-up with those photos in my next post.

We stayed overnight in Asheville by the outlet mall, if you want to call it that.  It was the smallest outlet I have ever been too.  The Nike store was weak!  The girls were happy with Forever 21.

The next morning, we drove to the Asheville Visitor Center to catch the Gray Line Hop-On/Hop-Off Trolley.  It felt good to let someone else do the driving.  We enjoyed learning about the history of Asheville.

Asheville Montford Historic District

Homewood Castle Asheville

The Grove Asheville, NC

First Baptist Church Dome Asheville

The Cathedral of All Souls Asheville

Asheville, NC City Hall

Asheville River Arts District

The tour started with the painful history of the Native Americans in the area and how they were moved West.  The guide mentioned there being a Cherokee Museum in Cherokee, NC.  I decided that we would stop there on our way back to Kentucky.  The Cherokee Museum is only an hour drive from Asheville.

Cherokee Indian Museum

Museum of the Cherokee Indian

Chamber of Dissenting Voices

The Five Civilized Tribes

Proclamation of 1763

The burning belt, Sequoyah, Thomas's Legion

Cherokee Women Walini, Agnes Welch

After a beautiful drive along Highway 441, we bypassed Gatlinburg and stopped in Knoxville, TN for dinner.  Sweet P’s BBQ is one of the top ranked in the area according to Trip Advisor.  The food was great, the servers were friendly, and we left full for our final stretch to Louisville.

Kelsie Lou

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Fit & Fabulous

Summer is officially here!  I am excited to near the completion of my capstone project for a certificate in Diversity Literacy from U of L.  This means no more project deadlines, and I can focus on 2018-19 lesson planning.

The school year ended on a good note.  I was recognized for being “Fit and Fabulous” and given one of four awards from the Multi-Tiered System of Support team.

Kelsie Smoot Stuart Academy

2018 will be a “go with the flow” type of summer break.  I spent the first week attending the JCPS Deeper Learning Symposium.  It was good to reconnect with my friend Brandi, whom I’ve known since my earlier years of teaching at Job Corps.

JCPS KY Deeper Learning Symposium

Between school and work, one thing I miss is running consistently.  My goal is to run as many local races this summer as possible.  First on my list is the Crusade Barnyard Dash 10K.  I ran it in a dress four years ago.

Barnyard Dash 10K

Crusade Barnyard Dash 10K mile marker 1.  The dreaded hill at mile 4.5.

I saw my time and knew I wasn’t going to place in my age group.  I finished eight minutes faster in 2014 and barely squeezed out a 3rd place that year.  I stuck around, ate strawberries and took a chance on the door prizes.

My bib number was called for a $50 check.  I wasted no time using my Chase app to deposit that bad boy.  Since I waited around that long, I decided to listen to age group awards.  I was shocked again when I was called for 2nd place.

Barnyard Dash 10K Results:

Time 56:24

2nd Place Age Group

63/132 Overall

Crusades Barnyard Dash 10K

To cool off from my summer runs I drink smoothies almost every day.  Something new I’ve added is baby spinach.  The taste is overpowered by the fruit and almond milk, but I know I am getting a vitamin boost.

Smoot Smoothie

Greek Yogurt, Almond Milk, Blueberries, Banana, Pineapple, Mango, Strawberries, & Baby Spinach

The next race I did was the Iroquois Hill Runners Pizza Pig-out 5K.  The all-you-can-eat pizza at the finish line was enough to persuade my foster daughters to run with me.  Brandy and Cassie got to experience what I go through trying to stay fit and fabulous.

IHR Pizza 5K Iroquois Park

IHR Pizza Pig-out 5K Results:

25:35, 8:14 Pace

7/76 Women’s Division

33/144 Overall.

Happy Summer!

Kelsie Lou

Posted in Education, family, fitness, foster parent, health, Indiana, Juicing, Louisville, recipes, running | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

5 Reasons to Visit Daytona Beach

My Memorial Day weekend trip to Florida was almost a bust due to the Alberto storm.  I normally visit the beaches along the Gulf Coast such as Treasure Island, St. Pete, Clearwater, and Siesta Key.  The Gulf Coast had rain on the radar for the entire weekend.  Something told me to check the Atlantic side and it was a go!

Daytona Beach Florida

The only dilemma was deciding between Daytona Beach and Coco Beach.  I picked Daytona because it is a straight shot off I-4.  Thanks to storm Alberto, Daytona Beach will be my #1 choice when I go to visit my Mom and Dad.

This is a quick list of what I loved about Daytona Beach:

1. Driving on the beach

A $20 fee will give you access to park your vehicle between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  I left earlier because the tide was getting too close for my comfort.  Although I am a great swimmer, I was not trying to get swept away.

World's Most Famous Beach

2. Daytona Beach Main Street Pier

Compared to Clearwater’s Pier 60, Daytona’s Pier allows you to walk to the end of the pier and fish without any fees.  The pier also has a few restaurants.

Daytona Beach Pier

3. Daytona Beach Boardwalk

There are souvenir shops, arcades, restaurants, and Screamer Park Amusement rides along the boardwalk.

Daytona Beach Boardwalk

The Daytona Beach Bandshell offers free weekend concerts in the summer.

Daytona Beach Bandshell

4. Food!

Food trucks on the beach made my day!  The fruit I packed in the cooler was less appealing after buying a “loaded” funnel cake consisting of two scoops of ice cream.  There are healthier food truck items such as salads and grilled chicken.

Daytona Beach Food Truck

5. Close to Orlando

Like I mentioned in the introduction, Daytona Beach does not require a lot of back road driving.  I believe the storm threats kept everyone away because I did not run into any traffic.  The only snarl was in the downtown Orlando area that has major construction underway.  It was nothing to stop off International Drive and grab dinner.

Hash House A Go Go Orlando

What I missed

  • I would like to visit Bethune-Cookman University and take a tour of Bethune’s home.
  • The water sports were in a different location from where I was parked.

I favor Daytona over Clearwater because there is more to do and the convenience of having personal belongings very close.

Daytona Beach ParkingClearwater has the advantage of facing the Gulf and offering beautiful sunsets along the horizon.  Overall, I choose Daytona Beach because there are more things to do and a more diverse population.

kelsie smoot


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Black Excellence

On May 12, 2018, I was awarded my 2nd Master’s Degree in Education for Teacher Leadership from the University of Louisville.  Upon completion of a capstone project during the summer, I will earn a certificate in Diversity Literacy.  This degree will also increase my Kentucky Teacher Certification to a Rank 1.


As a teacher in a priority school, this opportunity was made possible through a partnership with Jefferson County Public Schools and U of L.  In the Fall of 2016, I began taking 2 classes a semester, year around in the Competency, Awareness, and Responsiveness to Diverse Students (C.A.R.D.S.) Program.

I was blessed to complete this program DEBT FREE with tuition assistance from JCPS, Stuart Academy tuition reimbursement, and good personal budgeting.

My school work was with me all the time as I vacationed at Siesta Key Beach, Las Vegas, and moments prior to boarding a cruise to Cuba. I am very proud of my 3.93 GPA.  I had some classes that started off with low scores as I caught the hang of updated learning due to being out of school for 10 years.

Kelsie Smoot Foster Care

I’m not going to lie.  There were times when I wanted to quit the program to get my life back.  I would calculate how much money I would have to repay JCPS.  The money is not what pushed me.  It was the support from loved ones and the initial encouragement from the late Kevin Carter (God bless his soul) that gave me the strength to persevere.

Phillip L. Smoot Sr Alice Smoot Kelsie Smoot

Lucy L. Smoot Family West Virginia

I would like to thank my advisor, Shelley Thomas, my cohort group Aubrey and Pashun Barnes (another Detroit native), and my favorite professor, Dr. Kaila Story.

Kelsie Smoot Kentucky

Kelsie L Smoot Kentucky

For the current school year, I was elected by my colleagues as a union rep and I am the Related Arts Department Chair.

I love teaching P.E., but my plans are to perfect my craft in Health Education.  My goal is to be the golden standard for teaching strategies to reach diverse learners and to pass that knowledge to my colleagues.  I have already been asked to lead some trainings for the 2018-19 school year.

Kelsie Smoot Graduation Louisville


“Don’t complain about having too much on your plate when your goal was to eat.”

Kelsie Lou

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Busy is Good

I’ll just go in chronological order to catch up with what’s been going on with Miss Smoot.

After Christmas Break, we missed a week of school due to snow days.  I took advantage of a mild weekend to visit my Grandma in West Virginia.  “Once a man, twice a child,” is what my Grandma kept telling me as I helped her with daily routines.

Lucy L. Smoot Madison, WV

By the end of February, the melting snow caused flooding in the Ohio Valley.  My school formed a Polar Plunge team to raise money for Special Olympics, with a portion going towards our Unified Basketball Team.

Stuart Unified Basketball Team

The Polar Plunge turned into a No Splash Bash due to high river levels and debris.

polar plunge 2018

March went by with getting to know my two new foster daughters, ages 13 and 17.  I was also at the midpoint of two classes at U of L.  Spring Break couldn’t come soon enough.

Phillip L. Smoot Florida

I won 1st place in the Masters Division for the One Million Centimeters 10K in Sebring, FL.  It was a nice park location with a canopy of palm trees that helped me acclimate to the humidity.

Kelsie Smoot One Million Centimeter 10K Florida

Clearwater Beach was lit with all the Spring Breakers.

Kelsie Smoot Clearwater Beach

Aside from my regular stops in Florida, I wanted to try Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa.  I’m a Ruth’s Chris fan, but Bern’s was a better overall experience.

Bern's Tampa

Bern's Steakhouse

Following our dinner, Mom and I took a tour of the kitchen and the wine cellar.

Bern's Steakhouse Kitchen Tour

Bern's Wine Cellar

To top off our evening, we went upstairs to the Harry Waugh Dessert Room.  The seating is arranged in private booths made with wood shipped from California redwood wine holding tanks.  We had our choice of music and could pick up the phone to request a selection from the pianist.

Alice Kelsie Smoot Florida

Harry Waugh Dessert Room

During Spring Break all hell was breaking loose in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky with changes to teacher pensions and salaries.  Regardless of the sociopolitical climate, I’m going to represent that #TeacherThugLife and teach my Smootents to the best of my ability!

Kelsie Smoot Ketucky JCPS

Kelsie Louise Smoot

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Good Vibes


The last two months of 2017 were super busy for me.  I earned an A+ and an A in my two Fall courses at the University of Louisville, with an overall GPA of 3.9.  I am only 3 classes away from completing my 2nd Masters in Teacher Leadership and certificate in Diversity Literacy.  In August, I will also move up to Rank I KY Teacher Certification.

When I wasn’t studying, I took breaks to check out a few football games and a basketball game.  I had a ball tailgating with co-workers for the Clemson game. Murray State was a blow out, and the Syracuse game was on a rain delay that made me leave early. Seton Hall upset the Cards by two points in basketball.

Kelsie Smoot Univerity of Louisville


While teaching can be challenging, it remains a fun and rewarding career for me. My Smootents keep me on my toes, and I practice what I preach to keep up with them. I have the Physical Education part down pat. I want to focus on professional growth by teaching a skills based health curriculum with restorative practices for behavioral management. I started a twitter account, @KelsieSmoot to promote what my Smootents are learning.

Kelsie Smoot P.E. Teacher

Kelsie Smoot Health Teacher


On Thanksgiving, I returned to the hills for the 38th running of the Iroquois Hill Runners Thanksgiving Day Run. There are other turkey trots in the area, but IHR knows how to put on a race with plenty of cash prizes, giveaways, and food at the finish.


5 Miles- 42:57

3rd Place age group $10 prize

51/336 Female Overall

Kelsie Smoot IHR Thanksgiving Day Run 2017

During Christmas vacation, I ran the Santa’s Run for Our Kids in Winter Haven, Florida. The course was a double loop around three lakes and a residential area. The lake breezes blew my antlers off.


10K- 49:22

1st Place Woman Masters (40+)

2nd Place Female Overall

12th of 93 Overall

Santa's Run For our Kids Winter Haven FL






My brother Brad has been visiting Louisville more often now that he lives in Indianapolis. My Aunt Vera came to visit and show support to my cousin Maria who is battling cancer. I got to visit my Grandma before the weather got too cold. When I’m craving stuffed chicken, Ruth’s Chris remains as my favorite splurge dinner.

I’m still fostering teenage girls which seems like a revolving door sometimes. We were all that age and know the struggle. My job is to provide as much support and stability to help them transition into womanhood.

Kelsie Smoot Smoots


I went to visit my parents in Florida for Christmas. We did a 45-minute session in the Salt Room in Lakeland. My breathing was so much better when I raced the following day. My Dad felt relief from his breathing conditions as well.

The Salt Room Florida

We kept it laid back with most of my time spent pool side and enjoying the lake views. The beach shore temperatures were too chilly for me to waste a day playing in the sand. Between my Mom’s cooking and dining out, I ate plenty of good food.

We ate at Hash House a go go in Orlando for the first time. The chicken and waffles rival my Las Vegas favorite in Grand Lux Café. Harry’s Seafood in Lakeland was absolutely scrumptious! Shrimp and grits with Oreo beignets for dessert gave me life.

Phillip Smoot Michigan, West Virginia, Florida

During the holidays, I was missing my Aunt Mary who passed away in Detroit back in July. She was always festive, immaculate, fun-loving and throwing down on some food. Her spirit lives through me.

Happy New Year everyone!!!


Kelsie Smoot Louisville


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Iron Horse Half Marathon Review

Iron Horse Half Marathon Recap

Location: Midway, Kentucky

Date: October 15, 2017

kentucky horse farms midway952082726..jpgI heard about the Iron Horse Half Marathon in Midway, KY a couple of years ago from a Daily Mile friend named Tiffany. It was no coincidence that Tiffany approached me after the race to say “Hello” and to formally introduce herself. After all, I am easily recognized simply by being one of the few Black women in majority of the races I do.

Initially, I wanted to PR this race because I had some good training runs leading up to it. I did not consider the elevation changes and the warm fall temperatures to start the race. The weather for this time of year can be hit or miss. The wind was strong throughout the rolling hills with temps around 67° and humid. The saving grace was the cloud cover.

iron horse half marathon course319380541..jpg

Midway is only about a 45-minute drive from Louisville. I arrived in the small town and went to the Midway Christian Church for packet pick up. The church allowed use of it’s restrooms which was nice to avoid the porta potties near the start line.

iron horse half marathon midway683841595..jpg

Going through Midway towards the 2nd loop of the course.

The national anthem was sung by a group of young women. For the first time in my life, I questioned what I was standing up for. I observed how it was not a big deal for people to mill around, but there is so much controversy about athletes taking a knee to protest social injustice.

iron horse half marathon midway ky1477072792..jpg

Start Line



The Iron Horse Half course can be described as a figure 8 course. There is a down and out for the first 6.5 miles that loops the farms and back towards the heart of Midway.

iron horse half marathon course map1214132826..jpg

First loop turn around.



The entire course was very scenic and I stopped to take photos along the way.

iron horse half marathon route325873067..jpg

Plenty of activity to distract runners from a hilly course.

kelsie smoot kentucky1631055302..jpg

Only because I took a selfie at Run the Bluegrass in Lexington.


The next down and out went past the college towards more farms before looping back into a residential area. The hills on this section were grueling.

iron horse half mile marker 11508646560..jpg

The difference between running down and being defeated by having to walk up the hills.

The race towards the finish line was intense as with all of my finishes. One guy tried to hang with me for the final sprint, but he gave up and told me to take the lead.

Tiffany and I walked back to the starting area where she took a photo of me at the caboose and we signed up for free massages.


RJ Corbin Caboose

Another perk to running the Iron Horse Half Marathon is free professional photo downloads.

Kelsie Smoot

I was happy it was over.



I ordered a medium in the race shirt, but I cannot wear it because the sleeves are too tight in the forearms.

iron horse half marathon ky1892456956..jpg

Poster, finisher medal, Brooks tech shirt, bag.



Overall, the Iron Horse Half Marathon was a good race to check off my list for Kentucky racing.  The course was more difficult than Lexington’s Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon.  I liked the scenery of Iron Horse more, however, I was not a fan of the figure 8 course.

Iron Horse Half Marathon Official Results-

Finish Time: 1:53:04, 8:38 pace

Age Group Place: 5 of 47

Women’s Overall Place: 24 of 306

Overall Place: 104 of 586


Posted in fitness, half marathon, health, Lexington, Louisville, running | 13 Comments

TRI Something New

Cycling is something I have always wanted to do in addition to running for a few reasons:

1.       I have been inspired by triathletes while volunteering for Ironman Races in Louisville and Panama City Beach.

2.       Attending Spin Class at the Southeast YMCA, under the instruction of Paul and alongside wonderful people like Steve increased my passion to want to cycle.

3.       Knowing several cyclists who love the sport because they can no longer run based on sports related injuries.

4.       To have longevity as an athlete with a sport that is less damaging to my body compared to the continuous pounding of running.

Over the past few years, I never got into the excitement of getting a bike until I was guided by someone, who is deep into the sport of triathlons.  I picked out a 2018 Trek Émonda ALR 4 in California Sky Blue. 

Trek Emonda ALR 4 2018

Getting a proper fitting at Scheller’s Fitness & Cycling in Clarksville, Indiana.

My pedals were originally the type where I could have the option of clipping in or wearing a regular shoe.  It was odd for me to have to purchase pedals in the first place.  That is like buying a running shoe without laces.

After practicing clipping in and out in the grass and eventually pavement, it was determined that I need the straight clip in pedal that would be easier.  I remember riding for blocks and being frustrated about not finding my left clip.  The new pedals are much easier.

My second official ride was with a women’s only group in Louisville.  It was my first time on a group ride, and I was very uncomfortable with being on busy streets and clipped in while the other women were in sandals and sundresses.  It turns out that the group is more of a social club that will bike 5 miles to a bar, drink, and bike another 5 miles to the next bar.

It was a total waste of my new, and only cycle kit.  A cycle kit is the jersey with pockets and shorts with padding.  I never knew all of this until now.  Running gear is so much easier, and less expensive!

Anyway, after the first bar stop I knew there was no way I was drinking and cycling all while having two foster kids at home and having to be up at 4:30 a.m. to run.  I ended up riding back to Tyler Park alone via Bardstown Road in the Highlands.  Thankfully, I purchased lights, so I was more visible as the sun set.

I ended up falling twice because I was unable to clip out when I needed to.  I scrambled to get up the first time because there were a lot of people around.  The 2nd time was on a residential street as I was trying to go up a hill.  I cried out of frustration, but I made it to my car and home to treat my bruises and scrapes.

At this point, I learned about the Louisville Bike Club and options for various distances and experience levels.  My next opportunity to ride and gain some experience was on Labor Day weekend. I did a 9.5-mile ride in just over 40 minutes.  That is slow in the cycling world, but it took me a few miles to feel comfortable around a bunch of bikes. 

Louisville Mayors Hike Bike Paddle

I considered the Hike, Bike and Paddle as training for the Oldham County Parks and Recreation Sprint Triathlon on September 9th.  After making this investment, I want to dive into the sport and not let my bike collect dust.

Kelsie Smoot Hike Bike Paddle Louisville

I hate that my running shirts are not the same for cycling. 

The last time I swam laps was during spring break down in Lakeland, FL.  The distance for this swim was only 400 meters, so I wasn’t worried too much.  I still run at least four days a week, so I was unbothered by a 1.86-mile course.  

My greatest fear was the bike portion.  I watched transition videos on You Tube and mentally prepared for the transitions during my meditative runs.  Ironman volunteering also helped prepare me.

I arrived in Oldham County at the crack of dawn to set up the transition area.  Athletes were complaining about how cold the water was.  The air temperature was about 52° and the water was around 58°.  

Everyone was making their comments on how long its been since they’ve raced and how poorly they expected to perform.  I had to focus on my race and not the things beyond my control.

Beginner Triathlon Transition

Meticulously planned transition area.

 Due to a late race registration, I was one of the last athletes to start.  I saw several people get into the pool and get out due to the frigid temperature.  I was determined to swim those laps regardless.  I didn’t come this far to quit before I began.

When they called my name on deck and said to get in, I was like “WOW!”  The water was cold!  When I began my freestyle, it was a brain freeze.  It took four laps for me to block out the shock.  I could feel my triceps engaging as a reminder of what 5 months without lap swimming feels like.

Oldham Country Sprint Triathlon 400m Swim

We started on the far right about 1 minute apart.  Swim down and back, go under the rope to the next lane, and repeat for all lanes.

Getting out of the pool was almost as bad as being in it.  I took off my swim cap and goggles as I ran to T1.  I put on my helmet, cycle socks, shoes, gloves, glasses, and half a GU and walked my bike towards the mounting area.

Again, I was freezing cold as I faced winds in a wet tri suit.  I saw several people with jackets and immediately regretted not having one.  I felt comfortable with the clips.  My deal with cycling is knowing the mechanics of the gears and brakes.  I did good for the first few miles and passed several people.

Oldham County Sprint Triathlon 10 mile bike

Mounting area for the 10 mile cycle portion.


I was in a heavy gear and was not able to gear down as I hit a steep hill.  The pedal was too heavy.  I was losing control.  I unclipped my left foot and laid the bike down, because it was tilting over with or without me.  I attempted to get back on, but it was still in the heavy gear.  I said screw it and walked the bike up the hill. 

Again, I wanted to cry but I knew I had to stay focused.  It was my race, and I was going to finish.  I lost at least 10-15 minutes walking in the grass so I would not damage my shoes.  The same people I passed were going by and asking did I need assistance and if I was OK.  That just made me even more upset.  I wanted to have a meltdown.

Finally, I reached the top of the hill and clipped back in.  The course was open to traffic in a rural area.  There was traffic behind me I thought, “Why don’t they just go around me?”  It turned out to be a truck with a trailer and he needed enough clearance to pass.  The situation was nerve-racking.

I gained some confidence after the turnaround.  I did good on the flats and passed the same people again.  My core was engaged, so I knew I was doing something right.  

On mile 8 of 10, I hit another snag.  My gears were stuck in a super easy mode.  I felt like Ice Cream Jones from the cereal commercial.  I said forget it.  I was not fooling with the gears.  It would be stuck on easy for the last two miles.

T2- I had to change from the men’s church socks cycle socks to my running socks, and out of the Bontrager circuit shoes to my Brooks Glycerin.  A volunteer was encouraging me and suggested I use a bucket to sit on next time.  I also got a compliment on matching my gear with my bike which was VERY intentional.

Oldham County Sprint Triathlon 1.86 Mile run

Finally made it to the run.

 It felt so good to be on solid ground for the run.  It took a moment for my quads to adjust.  Although the run portion was a short 1.86 miles, it was similar to a cross country course.  It was pavement, gravel, and grass with a lot of turns and minor inclines.  One guy said, “I see you made it off that hill,” referring to my bike portion.  I told him I didn’t have a choice and passed him as he struggled on the run.


Overall Place: 63/99

Gender Place: 6/8

Swim Time (400m):  9:10.3, Rank 3/8

T1:  2:35.4 (4th fastest of my age group)

Bike Time (10 miles):  47:42.2, Rank 6/8

T2:  2:00.1 (slowest out of my age group)

Run Time (1.86 miles):  15:34.7, Rank 1/8

Oldham County Sprint Triathlon Shirt and medal

Gender specific shirt and finisher medals for all finishers.

 Clearly, I had the edge on the run, and the swim was good for me not having any training.  If I would have not lost so much time on the bike, my 6th place would have easily been a 2nd place age group award.

The only accomplishment I felt was completing my first triathlon.  I felt nothing physically because I did not give full effort on any portion.  Most triathletes say swimming or running are their toughest areas.  Those are both the easiest for me, especially swimming.  I am confident that once I master my bike, I will be winning medals.  This is just the beginning.    

Kelsie Smoot Triathlete

Why be great at one sport, when you can be good at 3?


Posted in Cycling, fitness, health, Louisville, running, Sports, triathlons | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas Review

Great Stirrup Cay (GSC) is a privately owned island by Norwegian Cruise Lines in the Bahamas. As much as I wanted to visit a beach in Cuba, there were too many historic and cultural elements to experience there.  Besides, the final day of the Sky cruise would be spent on GSC from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Great Stirrup Cay Bahamas

Cruisers had to get tender passes for a short ride to the piers.  Unlike Havana where I was able to work around the excursion prices, everything for GSC must be booked through the ship.  I wanted to go kayaking and jet skiing, but the remaining times overlapped.  I reserved the wave runner excursion for $99 for single riders and $139 for double.  The ticket was delivered to my room early in the morning and also served as my pass to board the tender.

The group of Quinceañera girls were organized in their own activity.  They were well behaved and at no time did it feel like the large group was taking over the island.

GSC Bahamas NCL

The Norwegian Sky has an open bar concept that carried onto the island.  There was food set up for lunch.  Bring along some cash to purchase souvenirs.  The t-shirts with the beads were very reasonable.  Havana had way better deals on clay, jewelry, and wood work items so pass on those.

Great Stirrup Cay Bahamas Open Bar

The Sky offers reservations of clam shell cabanas.  I do not recommend paying and extra $35 for a rental because there are plenty of lounge chairs available in shaded spots.

Great Stirrup Cay Bahamas beach chairs

The space around the bars were the most crowded, but not to the point where you could not find a beach chair.  For more privacy, walk towards the left. 

Great Stirrup Cay Beach left side

The water temperature was warm and very clear.  Several fish swam around me.  I did not like the sand texture.  It was rough and a sure way to ruin a pedicure.

Sand texture at great stirrup cay

I went to the meeting place for the wave runner excursion.  We watched a quick safety video.  I met some cool people who turned out to be marathon runners also. 

We rode the jet skis around Berry Islands for a good hour. 

We stopped at an area known for starfish. 

wave runner bahamaskelsie smoot Norwegian Cruise Wave Runner Excursion

The guides allowed us to jump off the wave runners and swim for about 20 minutes.  I had a ball!  Its moments like these where I pause to thank God for everything!!

Starfish Great stirrup cay

I had about an hour to relax at the beach before catching the last tender to the ship. 

NCL tender to great stirrup cay

GSC exceeded my expectations and the open bar and lunch made it even better. 

Kelsie Smoot Bahamas



Posted in landmarks, running, Travel | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments