Friday, July 18, 2014

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


Musselman 70.3
Sunday July 13, 2014
Geneva, NY
6:58:02

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 before...it 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 bike...lol! 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 recognized...it 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!


5 comments:

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!! So happy for you and an amazing accomplishment!

One Crazy Penguin said...

This is HUGE! Very well done! I am doing my first 70.3 in October so I loved reading this especially :)

TriMOEngr said...

So very impressive from start to finish. Overcoming the desire to just quit, fighting the wind, and sloshing through the run! Way to knock it out of the park! How did your guys do for the weekend?

Jamie said...

YES!! Congratulations Half Ironman!! (And sub-7 hours)

dreambigrunner.com said...

Wow, congratulations!!! That is freaking fantastic!!! And what a great finish time!