Musselman Race Report The Mental Mussel

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.  Come on!
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 time!!!!