In July, I did Musselman in Geneva, NY.... yes MUSSELman...not muscle! : )
I drove up 10 hours by myself to race. Gorgeous drive and destination! I DID write a race report NOVEL for my coach ages ago. I was reluctant to post it here, mainly because it shows what a head case I can be, but I did say I was going to track my Ironman Journey.... so here is my report:
The weekend itself was very good
for my spirits and commitment to the sport but here are my race specific
thoughts... I LOVED this venue and the race itself. Don't get me
wrong, this was GOOD for me... BUT...
Normally, before each race, I know
WHY I'm doing it... more than just "prep for the A race".... there's
an emotional connection I need to have. I have dreams or goals for all
my races, but since this was just some adventure my good friend, one of my favorite bike training
buddies and motivator J conned me into doing then got the flu, the whole weekend
was just a solo, soul searching adventure instead. Less focus on the race
itself. I make tangible/measurable goals and then small execution goals
so that if I do XYZ (sight well, draft well, stay in zone 3, don't chat too much
etc) I won't beat myself up if I fail to hit a certain target or get a certain
place which is all dependent on conditions of the day. I didn't plan ANY
of this out before this race. I didn't even think about it. Never
again. I also normally dedicate my race to a person. This started
at my first tri, Angels Race, where you race for an Angel and put their
name on your arm. I pick a different hero every race - sometimes more
than one and put their name on my arm. I did not do that for this one.
I normally have a few mantras.
I'll write my time goals on my wrist, or I'll do the initials BSFS
(better stronger faster smarter) or YACKMA : )
Last year and this year, I'll read
some old journal entries from my wreck days.. or look at my hospital pic or crash
site video. I listen to certain songs the night before.
I didn't do ANY of the above.
My attitude was too serene to really race. It was awful. I
never realized how strong and optimistic for races I normally am
mentally...until I didn't have it. Normally, despite day to day
nuttiness... as soon as that cannon goes off and I’m racing I possess a do
whatever it takes, laser sharp race focus. I try to practice race
amnesia...this rare ability to stay in the moment...forget about troubles that
just occurred and move forward with out worrying about the next mile or next
leg. I find ways to disconnect from any pain and I'm FOREVER optimistic
no matter what. I turn my thoughts around easily because I'm confident
and mentally tough, driven and committed.
I probably ramble too much into my training peaks account, but this
means later I have mental fuel tied to my training. I enter my races with a whole bank of
experiences to draw from and people to think about during the course. With out all that fluffy junk I forgoe'd for
the first time since I can recall.... I couldn't get that fighting force AS
MUCH as I usually do at Musselman. I did OK, I survived, I'm really tough
and stronger than I used to be, but this was not as "perfect" a day
as Eagleman, not as rewarding as Columbia or Monticelloman. My
learning experience is that my mental toughness when fully engaged is amazing
and I need to do the things to prepare that work for ME in order to meet my
physical potential too. What works for others may not work for me. I’m social, I’m a pleaser, I’m stubborn and
enthusiastic. I get emotional too, even
when racing. I fully experience the
connection of the race to the scenery, the course, my DATA (Oh, Im such a data
geek), and of course OTHER racers.
14th/54 in age group, 5:48
(not my typical performance)
Swim: I drafted well. 13th/54
in AG. I didn't get dropped at turn buoys. The water was
wavy/choppy and made me feel all queasy. Harder and slower than expected
but it was a good swim given the conditions. 37 minutes.
T1: 7th. I was too
nauseous to sprint and really lost time because I thought I'd vomit. Next
time, I'll keep moving forward despite nausea. I know how to boot and rally.
Bike: 16th/54 My power numbers
again were too low. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND
WHY! Augh. First 3rd was uphill and into a headwind.
I was nauseous and for the first half of the bike all my calories were
fluid which were forced down. I was getting passed too and not able to
get anywhere near my power numbers. This is where the mental work would
have helped. I was easily distracted and unable to push as hard as I
could have because I didn't feel a "fight" for anything important...
just finishing isn't a good enough goal. Its not tangible, or meaningful
and therefore my head was all over the place. At Eagleman, I had big
goals and dreams and was able to focus on my effort to stay in an appropriate
effort level and bike strong with out overbiking...to push through the searing
pain in my hip from my saddle.. to deal with the heat etc etc etc... but at this
race, I almost felt lost with no purpose. I dropped my chain and had to
get off the bike in the middle of a climb once which was no fun...
discouraging. Then, mother nature woke me up with a WILD torrential, very
scary thunderstorm. We experienced ground shaking thunder at the same
exact time as lightening struck fields and the lake and torrential downpours
were upon us. Visibility was reduced significantly and at least an inch
of water pooled so I was concerned about
cars or riders hydroplaning. At which point I hit the steepest descent on
the entire course (mile 26) and it was the most terrifying bike situation I
have ever been in. I was controlled and strong and went in survivor mode.
It really did shake me up a lot though. I lost a lot of speed
opportunity as I'm not going to take any risks in conditions like that on hills
before an ironman at some C race. I must
say the volunteer support was incredible and they kept us safe and warned us
well. I knew the pavement was bad and I just wanted to survive. Miles
44-46 the pavement was very bad. I started to get passed by a few people
and around mile 50, I just kind of accepted my bike time was going to be slow.
I was so happy to see that even on the worst bike leg imaginable, my time
was still 3:03 which isn’t good, but not horrible. Too bad athlinks.com won’t let me put an asterisk
next to this so I can explain! : ) (Editor comment inserted after publishing: Yes, yes you CAN do this now!)
T2: I leaped off the bike to
discover a charlie horse in my calf. I was limping. This was no
good. I massaged it a bit at my rack...trying to be fast... tried to slip
on my shoes, which had my rubbery orthodics to avoid water saturation like
eagleman or toe cramps like I was getting last year.... and they held water
like bowls. My socks were drenched and I remembered... I had sneakers in
my gear bag which was by my bike. I pulled the sneakers out and tied the
laces like a rookie worrying about my calf the whole time.... (Oh, I just remembered
right this second WHERE my hat is... it fell behind the dresser in the college
dorm...augh!) OK, moving on... I couldn't find my hat and it was getting
hot. I forgot my glasses. Slowest transition ever. I was so
unfocused. Normally I am on of the fastest athletes overall in transition,
but this time it took me 3 minutes and I was 32nd in my age group.
Run: I tried to block out the
pain. Miles 1-3 were flat and I ran next to a girl that had worked with
me drafting on the swim. We barely spoke. Then, she dropped me at
the first steep incline when my calf seized up. Ouch. I ignored
it.. and it did go away by the top of the hill. It got really hot.
The run was a long series of climbs. I started walking at mile 5
and feeling frustrated and aimless and wondering WHY I was racing and trying so
hard when I could just walk to the finish. Its not like I was going to PR
or knew why I was even racing (no mental fuel like mentioned previously)...
then another racer found me, encouraged me and talked me into running again.
It was race day karma coming back to help me when I needed it most... I
loved it! I often try to “give back” and help energize others
experiencing the day, so I appreciated the help so much. I at least jogged the rest of the way.
Mile 7 was an intimidating climb on a dirt road with some Rastafarian
type steel drummers at the top. I passed a lot of people here. At mile
10, this girl found me and called out my name... it was SC from NH who I'd met
the day before while showing off the amazing race swag in the parking lot.
I said, "how did you recognize me"? She says, "Only
because you are the sweetest athlete at this entire event."
Awwwwwwwwwww.... that was the best thing I ever heard at the perfect
time!!! Anyway, she got her hubby to take a picture of me... which was
sweet cause Nick usually does that. I kept going and didn't chat.
The toughest part was the long flat 3 mile stretch home. My pace had
slowed significantly. My calf was OK, but toes were really cramped up. The balls of my feet and my toes hurt.
It was so hot. It went on forever, and this adorable 19 year old kid
said, "let's finish strong" and patted my back, like I would have
always done for another racer... payback again! I jogged it in, but
sadly, when another racer in my age group passed me in the last half mile, I stayed
10 seconds behind her and didn't really find a reason to try to pass her..
which is not like me. 2:02- 20th out of 54 in AG... I gave up too much.
I felt pain which normally does not happen to me in a race unless its
serious. My head was wandering.
Oh yeah, the course was beautiful,
the best organized race I've ever done and I want to go back and do better next