TL:DR Great volunteers, great location, and Holy Hills (and stairs?) Batman!!
Brian and I took full advantage of the Musselman Triathlon events this past weekend! We tasted local wine at two vineyards Friday morning, attended the kids races and microMussel costumed race Friday night, volunteered at the miniMussel (sprint) on Saturday morning with body-marking and helping swimmers exit the water at swim out, and checked out the area (bike shop and gelato) around Geneva, NY. We also made it to the mandatory pre-race meeting and free pasta dinner. That level of engagement may have been our downfall.
We packed our gear, made bottles of Skratch and charged all devices, and were laying in bed by 7:30pm watching the USMNT play in the Gold Cup. I did notice my quads were tight that night and rolled them out, but still had some tightness in the morning. Oh well!
We got a good 6.5-7 hours of sleep, but still woke up groggy at 3:30am. We had packed our toaster and warmed bagels from Wegman’s for breakfast with hotel coffee to perk up, and made it to transition by around 5:30am with plenty of time to set up. Nerves were kicking in for me, and I did silly things like “losing” my goggles while they were in my left hand! It was great to hang out with the other DC Tri folks in transition and then wander to the swim start together. Before I knew it, bagpipes were playing, and I was in the water lining up on the outside (right) of the starting line in the second row. I didn’t know how to line up, and I think this positioning was not to my benefit as I ended up swimming ~110 yards extra. The swim felt GREAT. I was cruising with what felt like a reasonable effort – in the canal I could spot only a few other purple caps around me, and was passed by a purple cap in the last 5 yards, but I didn’t want to race her in… I’m darn proud of that swim.
Heeding your advice and Heidi’s example I took my time in transition, used the bathroom, collected my things, put on bike gloves, and was off. After the fact, I wish I had reapplied sunscreen at this time rather than at T2. Or maybe next time I get some of those cool wings that are made of magic!
Not gonna lie, I was disappointed by my performance on the bike. I did expect everyone to fly by me. But I didn’t expect the first part of the bike course to be as hard as it was. We had driven the course on Friday and this section (the first 15 miles) was relatively flat. On any given Saturday I was doing flats at 16mph, but on THIS Saturday I was struggling to keep my heart rate under control at 12mph. I was distressed watching my heart rate, so I decided to just focus on the cadence and keep trudging along. I think there must have been a head wind? I leapfrogged a friendly DC Tri racer, and Brian passed me (slowly, as we were going up-hill – no cheating!) before mile 18. At that time my watch decided to switch to T2 and I had to reset it to keep getting heart rate data. I’m really happy I had my bike computer as a redundant system so that I had a continuous stream of data from the ride..
Watch reset, we started heading north and the cycling got easier! Finally! I was able to maintain a decent pace on the flats. I finally passed some other folks, although I was still getting passed even up to the very end of the bike (where were these people coming from?). Around mile 38 I noticed some new chafing I’d not experienced before (on my left leg, from my gear kit mounted under my seat), so that was fun. And then at mile 54, I was just ready to be done with the bike!!
For the most part, by focusing on cadence, I kept my heart rate down to zone 2 and 3, so I considered that a success, even if the overall bike was super slow.
Nutrition: I drank my two bottles of Skratch, refilled one bottle with Gatorade, and the other with water. I drank all of the Skratch, most of the water and half of the Gatorade. I was eating Larabar bites, and finished 2/3rd of them… they just tasted so dry on Sunday…
It seemed like a long walk from bike dismount to transition…I took my time again, changed my socks, reapplied sunscreen, grabbed my shot blocks and a bottle of water then headed out.
My legs were already heavy coming out of transition. Oops. So I adjusted my run plan – I had been planning to jog the first three miles and then do a 9 min run, 1 min walk interval just like I had been practicing. But I was so hot and tired, and my heart rate was high, so I decided to run 5, walk 1 (and the hills and water stops). At the first stop I grabbed ice to stuff down my top, and I was disciplined with the run/walk, but I never really cooled down and never really dropped my heart rate (half the time I was in Z4). Although we drove the bike course, and biked a lot of the run course, there were some surprises. Like the STAIRS running uphill in someone’s yard! Yikes. I walked that, but it still spiked my HR. At the top I swigged water and choked! Graceful, Kelly!
And Holy HILLS! There was a long gravel road that just kept going up! I started getting a cramp in my calf, and took salt tabs, although I had never done so before to try to stave off that pain.
Here’s where the town support and volunteers were just amazing! There was music on the course, sprinklers running in front of yards, boom boxes, water, Gatorade, ice, sponges, salt tabs, pretzels, flat coke, shot blocks… you name it. Geneva knows how to host a race!! But those hills, man… were killer.
I did start catching up to Brian around mile 10 and was at first concerned that he was vomiting – he was hunching in pain from leg cramps! So I decided to adjust my race plan again and run in the last 3 miles with Brian to make sure he made it to the finish line. And he did – even though I could see how much each step hurt. We ran/walked through the finish chute together. Which makes for a memorable ending to our first 70.3.
Final time was 7:20:16 (under my goal of 7:30! – but I’m still a little disappointed).
Not sure what’s next. I know Brian would like a do-over of that distance. Would it make more sense to try again in the Fall? or train for another next year? What would be a good race to choose?