Friday, July 18, 2014

Mussleman 70.3...I AM A HALF IRONMAN!!!!

Musselman 70.3
Sunday July 13, 2014
Geneva, NY

Half-Ironwoman!!!!! 70.3 Conquered!

This is going to be a long one.....

Welcome from my favourite bike store: Geneva Bike Center

In what were the worst swim and bike conditions in the history of the race, I DID IT! When I finally clicked 'register' for this race I seriously worried about being able to make the bike cutoff.  It never even occurred to me to worry about the swim.  It has always been my strength. This is how it all went down....

A beautiful morning for the mini-mussel swim start!

It's important to wear your 'swag' glasses when competing ;-D
We had planned a long time ago to make Musselman weekend a family affair.  It is such a family friendly event that it was a natural choice for all of us to get involved. We drove up Friday and stayed in the Athlete Village at Hobart & William Smith College...a super-great deal btw! Thing 1 & 2 were signed up for the mini-mussel (the sprint race). Thing 1 has done a couple before but it was Thing 2's first tri.  He didn't really want to do it but stated that it was better than 'waiting around for all of you all weekend'.  SD was also signed up for the Double Mussel (the Sprint race on Saturday and the Aquabike on Sunday...he had no interest in the half marathon at the end so chose the aquabike option). Still a badass weekend for him in my opinion!
My boys <3

They all did well! The best part of it for me was seeing Thing 2 clearly just doing each leg of the race at his own speed.  I saw him in one of the transitions and he was just taking his time, getting his stuff, having a drink.  Being himself. Weather for the sprint was lovely on Saturday.  Sun was out & the lake was calm.  It was a little windy on the bike so that was a little slow, but all in all, a great day! I have to say, though, it is TOUGH to try to spectate 3 different people! I was so proud of all of them!

After the race, we went back to our rooms, showered and went to the mandatory meeting for Sundays Half-Ironman & signed our names on the Wall of Mussel!

A great feature of this race is being able to rack your bike securely the night makes race morning so much easier. One of the unique things that Jeff Henderson (race director) does is ask everyone a question during registration and then uses the answers for little messages that are left at your rack spot.  This years question was "What is one word that people would use to describe you?"  I answered CRAZY and this is what I got:

And btw, all 3 of my guys guessed correctly what it would say ;-D

Going into this my main goal was to finish under the 8 hour time limit.  Unfortunately, because I was in the 2nd last wave starting at 7:20, my time limit was cut to 7:40.  I felt that I could realistically finish in 7:30.  10 minutes cushion is a scary place to be!

Waiting on the beach to start I commented to SD that it seemed like it was getting windier.  The water didn't look too bad actually, a little chop but I didn't really think about it...and though it was overcast, we worried only about the bike.    The weather forecast that morning said the rain would hold off until almost 11am.  How wrong we were.....

SWIM 1.2 miles: 48:07:

As I stood on the beach I had the same thought I have before every tri: Geez those buoys look so very far away. But I reassured myself that I would be fine. I have always been fine on the swim. It is by far my strongest leg. Waves went off every 5 minutes and finally it was time for wave 5. I waded into the water and we were off. The water was shallow so most people started to run/walk forward. I did this briefly and my legs started to feel like it was going to be more work than necessary so I started swimming. It was not too bad for the short swim out to the first buoy...a little wavy but not too bad. As I made the left turn into the very long longest section of the swim it was instantly clear that Seneca Lake was very very angry this morning. The water was crazy choppy with huge swells that were tossing me way off course. Usually I have no problem sighting but several times a kayak yelled at me to change course. I was swimming as hard as I could and making very slow progress. It was the closest I have ever come to plain quitting a race. All I could think was 'just get to the canal and it will be ok'. The last aproximately 550 meters are in a narrow canal with a current in your favour. I have no idea how everyone survived except that the kayakers were totally on their game and kept an eagle eye on everyone. I was making slow progress and actually passing some people from all the earlier waves but for every 2 strokes I took I was pushed back and off course by the waves! When I finally got into the canal I expected it to be smooth sailing but no. Overwhelming nausea overcame me. Not kidding. I had saliva overload and that taste in my mouth. It took every ounce of mind-over-matter to not hurl into the water. I KNEW that was something I wouldn't be able to carry on after. Queen of the high seas I am not. I finally...FINALLY...reached the boat ramp exit and almost cried when a volunteer grabbed my arm to help me stand up. When I looked at my watch it said 47 minutes. I was stunned! This was 12 minutes slower than what I am capable of and it never ever occurred to me that I would be BEHIND after the swim. By my Garmin I had swum 1.35 miles! That is a LOT of extra from being thrown off course!

T1: 4:23:

I was so tired I walked into transition and slowly dried off and got my bike shoes on. I was well over 4 minutes in T1. I also didn't see my boys which was disappointing but I also knew I was so much later than they were expecting. Turns out they were there but didn't see me and waited until every last swimmer was hauled out of the water before going to see if my bike was still there. They were relieved to see it gone. That day 28 swimmers were hauled out of the water and their race was over. Many of those stayed and volunteered....what a testament to the wonderfulness of the organizers and community surrounding this race! I spoke to a guy after the race who told me he chose to not wear a wetsuit at the last minute and thought he was going to die. I am so thankful to race organizers for having so many kayakers etc out on the water keeping an eye on us.

Bike 3:42:08: 15.1 mph

Starting out on the bike I am almost 15 minutes in the hole. The bike is my weakest leg and my whole training cycle has been geared towards making the bike cutoff of 12:30pm. I now have only 4:15 to make cutoff...15 minutes less than I bargained on and 30 minutes less than my ideal situation. I had wanted to have 3 hours clear for the run just in case my legs felt like crap. The pressure was on.

Starting the BIG climb. That is NOT me all happy & jolly.  I am the one dying behind and to her left!
The first hour was horrible. Not only did I hear 'on your left' constantly but the wind was fierce! After an hour I had gone only 12.7 miles. I was scared. If things didn't change I wouldn't make cutoff. Around this time the rain started and I saw lightening several times. It was a little nerve wracking to say the least. By 15 miles I had picked up my speed to the 14 mph range but I was still desperate. Something had to change and quickly! Somewhere around that time the rain got worse but we also turned a corner and the wind, my personal kryptonite, changed. I flew! I gave it everything I had. I knew I was probably trashing my quads but if I didn't give it everything I had my race was over anyway. I knew I'd be mad at myself if I didn't put it all on the line. I clocked 18 & 20 mph splits (my Garmin clocks splits in 5 mile segments). Then came the one HUGE climb and some rolling hills and I dropped one 5 mile split below 12. But except for that I was cranking hard and shockingly, making up some time. My goal for the bike (under amazingly ideal conditions) was 3:45. I biked this course on a training ride and only did it in 3:48 (14.7mph speed). When I got to around 40 I knew that if I could just keep up the pace I would not only make cutoff but maybe even make up some of the swim deficit. I kept repeating "don't get a flat, don't get a flat"! Thankfully I didn't.  I rolled intoT2 in 3:42:08! My best long bike ride ever despite horrible rain, wind & hail! AND it was only 12:05pm! I had beat cutoff by 25 minutes and given myself almost 3 hours for the half marathon! 

I. Was. Thrilled! 

Plus I heard a volunteer yell at me "hey that's a great cheering squad you brought!"  I looked up and there was Thing 2 beside me making sure I saw him! Thing 1 and SD were there too & grinning (and looking slightly relieved!). Just what I needed! 

T2: 4:09

When I arrived In transition I thanked God again for giving me the forethought to have put my shoes in a ziplock bag. I was beyond soaked...I was dripping and so was all of my stuff in transition except for my shoes. And just by chance I happened to have an extra pair of socks in my bag and they were blessedly dry! Changing into dry shoes and socks felt like heaven! I grabbed 3 more powergels for the run and set off.

Happy happy coming on to the run course!

Run: 2:19:15:  10:28 pace

I ran out of transition to lots of cheers from my crew, the volunteers and all the other spectators. It was fabulous. As I was heading out I saw several fasties finishing. It boggles the mind how fast they are! But very cool too. 

While the bike leg is through the rural roads of the Finger Lakes, the run is through downtown Geneva and the residential/college area. Even in crappy rainy conditions the whole town was out to support us. Very cool! As I started all I could think was that if Mother Nature truly hated us the sun would now come out.

In a stroke of luck, the run was my perfect running conditions: light rain and overcast. It was glorious! It was still humid, which clearly bothered some runners, but with the light rain I was in heaven! The first 2 miles are along the lakeshore, which is beautiful.  I was surprised that my legs actually felt pretty good. I was prepared for this to be a sufferfest.  It was not.  I really felt strong and my cadence was high...but something was wrong.  My shirt was HEAVY and banging into me. WTH???? Then I realized that my back pockets were full of empty gel packs from the! Mindful of the no-littering rule in triathlon (why can't runners heed this?) I stopped at the first aid station a little over a mile in and emptied 7 gel packs from my pockets! Now I felt better! What great volunteers! One came over to HELP me do this sticky yucky task! Now I was better & was cranking out a good pace.  Miles 1 & 2: 9:51 & 10:32

In the 3rd mile you head up into the town and have to make a steep climb up through a residents garden! Remembering my ultra training, I just walked the hills.  The course was cool though....lots of strategically placed entertainment.  There was always a band cranking out a good rhythm at the top of every big climb to help get you there.  I saw several people dance their way up hills! Mile 3 came in at 11:06.  We then ran down the main street of the town and down through the college into a lovely residential area with rolling hills.

Miles 4&5: 10:11 & 11:15: I just ran steady and walked through the water stations.  I took a powergel once along this section but then couldn't stomach any more.  Half a banana seemed a much more solid choice at this point.

Miles 6, 7, 8 headed out of town and through a vineyard and included the largest climb of the day aprox 240 ft elevation gain over about a half mile.  Again, I ran the beginning and then when it got really steep I just put my head down, followed the beat of the drums ahead and power walked to the top.  9:47, 11:10, 11:44

At this point I knew we were turning back toward town and it was only 5 miles to go! I hit a gentle downhill and settled in.  I passed quite a few walkers at this point.  We ran back through the college and back towards the lakeshore.  Miles 9, 10, 11: 10:14, 10:40, 10:02

Believe it or not, I could still do the math at this point and switched my Garmin back to total time to see where I was and figured that if I could just run under 11 minute miles I could actually BEAT my 7 hour time goal! Crazy! So I left it on the overall time and gave it all I had left.

The last 2 miles are the longest.  I felt pretty good up to this point but at mile 11 you can actually see the finish but there is still over 2 miles to go.  It felt long and there is a very slight incline along the path.  I was tired.  Mile 12: 10:59

The last 1.1 was the longest! I could see the finish line but it still seemed so far away.  With around a half mile to go I looked up and saw a kid up ahead that I was Thing 2! He had run back along to course to see if he could find me! He gave me a thumbs up and told me he was going to sprint back to tell the others I was coming.  It was just what I needed! Mile 13: 10:53

The last tenth of a mile I hammered down at 8:28 pace and with a big grin on my face passed my guys and sailed across the finish line @ 6:58:02!!!!!!

I was SO happy! I could not believe that I had overcome such horrendous conditions to finish UNDER my A goal! WooHoo!!!!!

Awesome medal! Re-Purposed bike gears!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

It Is Time...

Well, it has been a long few months...flipped directly out of marathon training into 70.3 training. It has been a challenge to say the least. But the training is done, the bike is racked & the alarm is set. My journey starts @ 7:20am

Musselman here I come! See you on the flip side!!!!

"Be CRAZY today, Tracy"
...Yeah...both teens & husband guessed correctly what this would say! Lol! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

2 days to go!!!

Packing up & heading out! All this stuff for one race! I know the water temp will be wetsuit legal, but can I also bring a Sherpa into transition?????
Musselman, here I come!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

So This Happened...

Tri Oswego Olympic Distance:
3:17 (3 minute PR!)
2nd place AG!

Got redemption in the swim with a 12th overall & 2nd woman out of the water! Very happy after last weeks disappointing sprint swim (will catch you up on that one later)

Slow Bike but crazy hilly windy challenging course

Best run ever (even though I got it as a WAY long course and don't think I messed up tangents). 

More detail later but I think I'm on track for Musselman!

Friday, June 6, 2014

I Didn't Run On National Running Day...

But how cool is this....

My boys' Indoor Track Team was honoured by the school board for winning the NY State Scholar Athlete award for a team average of 98.7! Proud Mama!

Sorry for the lack of running posts after Toronto. I am training but with Thing 1 graduating, it's been a little crazy. Good but crazy!

We had this, this week too:
International Bacclaureatte Sashing Ceremony 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Goodlife Toronto Marathon 2014 Race Report

This was it. That is what I thought as I lined up at the start...not at the very back like I usually do but at the very front of +4 hour corral.  I was not here to finish. I was here to race...against myself & the clock but make no mistake, it was a race.  I hit play on my ipod & Back in Black blasted into my ears.  I didn't even hear the announcer say 'Go'.  I just looked forward & walked til I hit the mat and started to run. I was ready for this to be hard.
Ready to go!

Toronto is marketed as a downhill course. It is a net downhill in the first half but there are a few big hills thrown in to keep the unprepared cursing.  I've run this before.  My PR on the course is 4:43. I knew what was coming.  My plan was to run strong & steady, attack the downhill and run solid going up.
Huge Medal...I may have to frame that bib with the K.Switzer autograph

Miles 1-5: 9:30/9:03/9:51/10:05/9:57 Straight down Young St.  When I started running I was just trying to find my solid steady pace.  Trying to ignore the crowd, I went to the outside and tried to ignore them simply finding my groove.  The first couple miles of any race are the crowd thinning and everyone finding their spot. I heard a couple guys near me commenting about how all these people passing us were going to regret it later.  He was right and I took note of a sensible runner and hung in the general vicinity of him.  The pace chart I'd written on my arm had a 9:54 pace.  I knew that anything under 10:16 was sub 4:30 so my goal was to hang as close to 10 as possible.  Right on track even through the steep 1/2 mile climb from 2.7-3.25. My quads weren't so much tired as they were a little sore from standing at a ballgame the day before. Nothing to be done about it so tried to just ignore it. Reminded myself that I am lucky to be here.  Lucky to be able to run.

Miles 6-10: 9:37/10:00/9:54/9:35/9:48  (10K split 1:01...exactly on track) Mostly downhill with a few rolling inclines. This is where we take a right turn into a pretty swanky residential neighbourhood.  We ran past Upper Canada College and Casa Loma.  Very pretty and a nice distraction.  I had my first gel at 7 miles.  I took a small piece of banana from the aid station around 8.  I felt pretty solid.  I thought I'd lose the armbands by now but the breeze was cool and the streets were shaded.  I kept them.  I was mostly running by myself.  Not much of a crowd around me by mile 10.  My right knee, where I slammed it against a bed at work on Thursday & had a lovely bruise was starting to ache.  I threw down a couple acetaminophen that I'd brought just in case.  I thought I'm stronger than a bruise. Keep going. Keep steady. Try to ignore the breeze picking up.

Miles 11-15: 9:43/9:57/10:05/10:07/10:52 (this is wrong...gps was wonky this mile and next running by skyscrapers)

As we headed downhill at the end of mile 10 we met up with the half-marathoners.  What a different experience this corner was this time! Two years ago I remember a rush of people coming together from 2 directions to head onto the Rosedale Valley road.  Today though, we were meeting the frontrunners! That is both humbling and very cool.  I started to get passed and had to tell myself that these people were only running half the distance I was and to stay cool and steady.  In the Rosedale Valley it was calm, no wind and the sun shone.  At mile 11 I finally ditched the armwarmers.  As we exited and headed into the downtown core the wind started to pick up.  I was able to stay solid through this.  It was gusty at times but was not solid the whole time.  I'm not really sure how fast miles 15 or 16 were because the gps was getting blocked by all the tall buildings.  15 says 10:52 and 16 says 9:21. I felt steady so I'm going to average them at 10:07 pace.  My 1/2 split was doesn't get much closer than that to be on track! When I hit the half mat and saw my split I was thrilled! I told myself to keep my head in the game and stay strong.

Miles 16-20: 9:21 (again, this mile is wrong)/9:36/9:59/10:15/10:39

As mile 16 finished we split from the half-marathoners again.  It's a hard split.  They are all excited to head into the finish, and we marathoners head to out on the long lakeshore loop.  The wind was in my face.  I could feel the headwind getting worse with every step I took.  I told myself at mile 16 that I can run 10 miles any day of the week. At mile 17, with the headwind straight on me I told myself that THIS was why I trained through the crappy winter.  This was why I did all those mile repeats in 17 layers in freezing temps on a windtunnel like 1 mile stretch of road. By the time I got to mile 20 it was gusting at 25mph. I told myself that eventually I had to change direction and it would be better...but for now this is what I trained for....for the hard that every race throws at you at the end.  At least it wasn't snowing or raining I told myself.  I looked down at my bib and the message Kathrine Switzer had written to me "You can do this" and told myself to be fearless. People walked but I ran.  I kept running.

Miles 21-23


I continued to just plod steadily into the wind.  Tried to stay upright and not lose my hat on the bridge! When I hit the 35km mark where the turnaround loop was in East Humber Bay Park I was roughly 3 minutes behind my 4:20 goal pace. 3 minutes....that's all, I thought...I can DO this, I thought...then I was incredulous as the wind was still in my face after making the loop back towards the finish.  The headwind continued until we were back over the about 2 km more (1.2 miles). Then the calm was so sweet.
I'm a hot mess but I'm happy...really.

Miles 24-26.2


The last 5km were so emotional for me.  I KNEW...really KNEW that I was going to do it.  I was trucking along passing people like crazy.  I wasn't just going to beat 4:30...I was going to crush it!  I was tearing up heading down Lakeshore back towards the crowds and the finish line.  I barely saw my SIL as she shouted at me. I DID see the big smile on Thing 2's face as he started running beside me just before the turn into the chute.  I crossed the line with tears running down my face.  I had done it.

4:23:42  Average Pace: 10:03 per mile 
14 minute Overall PR, almost 20minute course PR

The bottom corner of this is my favourite! I passed 49 runners & NO ONE passed me in the last 7km!

This race has taught me many things.

  • First of all, that I am strong and I made this happen.
  • Training & hard work WORKS!  
  • If you are not getting the results you want you need to take a chance and try something different
  • Support is important.  I had the wonderful guidance of Coach Heather and the support of my family and runner friends.  
  • Things happen for a reason.  All those sucky blustery cold winter runs made me tough & able to handle the wind! I don't see those 3 minutes as 'lost', I think of them as 'earned' and it had the potential to be race crippling, which I'm sure it was for many people. 
And finally, a couple of thoughts for the race organizers:
With my SIL after...she ran her 2nd half! SO proud of her!
  • Deciding to have NO GELS available on the course is NOT COOL and could have been dangerous.  I read the fine print but I'm sure there were plenty of others who have run this in the past and expected there to be something available on the course.
  • The bananas were nice, but mile 8 is too early for the only nutrition on the course.
  • Well done with the water stations...finally.  No issues with lack of cups or water/Gatorade like in the past.  
  • I almost missed getting a medal because I was a hot mess crying and stumbling and there were NO volunteers IN the chute! They were all outside the long chute leaning over to hand out medals.  I almost didn't see them.  If I'd needed medical at the finish there sure wasn't anyone there to catch anyone.  They were at the end of the chute by the crappy food.
  • Speaking of food...the last thing I want after running a marathon is a slab of pita bread.  I took a banana because I needed something but dry pita....just gross.  Lots were eating it though so who knows.  Me, I'm partial to the chicken soup and broth at the end of the Wineglass Marathon.  
  • I appreciate the desire to be a 'Green' expo, but the option of a bag would have been nice.  I picked up packets for 3 people and the bibs, papers and shirts were awkward to carry and enjoy the booths
  • AWESOME & inspiring having Katherine Switzer at the expo! I was honored to meet her!
  • Having the same shirt for the 5K, Half & Marathon seems cheap to me.  Maybe it's just me, but I kind of expect a long sleeve shirt at least for a full marathon.  The boys liked the dark blue, & will wear theirs but I know it's a shirt that I will never wear.  
And Finally, Thing 2 paced his cousin to his first 5K finish in 22:32 to come in 49&50 side by side :)