Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Musselman Race Report

Wow, thanks everyone. Who knew there was such interest in my race report. I’m flattered. Here it is. [I am currently picture-less. My camera died recently. If Mom’s camera worked, which is unclear right now, I will update this post with pictures when I get them.]

I also want to thank everyone who expressed support or sent good luck wishes this weekend. That was so awesome!!! :) All weekend long messages kept popping up on facebook and via email and it made me feel like a superstar. Of course, the gift of chocolate turtles was especially appreciated. (Boy were they delicious!)

Oh, and one more thing before I get to the report. HUGE thanks to everyone who has donated to Doorways through my website. We're more than a third of the way there thanks to you. Please help me meet my goal by donating $5, $10, $20 or whatever you can.

Without further ado, here it goes.

Musselman was my first ever half Ironman. I chose the race because of its location – it the beautiful Finger Lakes of upstate New York. My mom and stepdad, and step-grandparents live near Ithaca, so this was a great choice for some familial support. Mom has never seen me race, so I was really excited for her to see what it is all about.

Saturday Mom and I arrived in Geneva for packet pickup and the pre-race briefing. The briefing was excellent, though Mom thought the race director’s (RD) attempts at humor were lame, But I appreciated it. At one point he displayed a slide with the bike course map and said “For those of you going for speed these are the spots to look out for.” As he displayed the next slide he said, “For those of you going for a scenic trip….these are the wineries along the course.” (There were 18 wineries.) It was cute.

It was good for her to observe the briefing because it gave her a good idea of what to expect. That worked well for both of us.

Anyhow, here’s the nitty gritty of the day:

Arrived at the race site bright and early. The bike rack spots were assigned. I love it when they do that. So much less stressful. At my bike spot was a label with my name and number. It also said “Catharine, you’ve got 70 more miles in you.” And then at the bottom it said “Make Earl Grey and Pepper proud.” Those are my furbabies. I remember that the registration form asked for some unsual details. Now I know why. It was so cute. After the race I peeled the label off and took it with me.

The funny of the morning happened when Mom apparently tried to break into transition. Mom doesn’t exactly look like an athlete and she has some difficulty getting around. She was dressed in a button up cotton blouse, ballet flats, etc. As she tried to enter, the volunteer was calling to her, “Are you marked? Are you marked?” She was confused. Then he asked, “Ma’am, are you racing?” She just looked at him and said, “Are you kidding?” I wasn’t there, but I am told this elicted quite a bit of laughter from everyone around her. Way to go, Mom. :)

I once again planned to set up transition and then do a warmup. Lesson learned: Get there even earlier next time. I was just entering the water and was knee deep when they announced that the water was closed and that everyone must exit. Oops.

If you know anything about me and triathlons, you know that swimming is, shall we say, not my strong sport. I haven’t had much time to post lately, but if I had I would have reported that much to my delight I am seeing some big progress on that front. I'll write more about this soon. I promise.

The water in Seneca Lake was 69 degrees, so it was wetsuit legal. It was a nice beach entry, and we walked into the water to await our start. And then we went. I calmly swam along.

There were goggle issues. I won’t go through the details, but I need to fix this. Leaky goggles are no fun (the ones I opted to wear). Neither are goggles that are too tight (the ones I wore for a recent open water swim which made me think my head would explode. Any attempt at loosening just made them leaky). I can’t seem to get either pair to fit right.

So the swim got done. Around 53 minutes. Slow, but I’m not complaining. I did it. I swam 1.2 miles without hanging onto anything…or drowning, for that matter.

Nothing really to report. I took my time here. Hey, I just swam 1.2 miles. I was tired. Plus my shorts were all bunched up around the legs and who wants to ride 56 miles with bunchy shorts.

The ride was a good one. The course was as beautiful as promised. Hilly and very breezy, but nice. Many miles riding along farms and the Finger Lakes. My plan was to stay in zone 2 and to take in sufficient nutrition. I succeeded at both.

The course wasn’t easy, but I was in a good place mentally and physically. I felt good on the ride. My biggest concern heading into this race was what I’ll refer to as saddle issues. [TMI warning!] You may recall from previous posts that I don’t have a good relationship with tri shorts. It is bad enough riding 56 miles in bike shorts – with the cushy thick pad. However, tri shorts offer virtually no protection and I was frankly terrified of what would happen when I would ride so far with the equivalent of a flour sack between me and my seat.

Well, my tricks worked. A little shaving action (thanks for the tip, Jacquie). Lots of bodyglide and lots of chamois cream (Chamois But-r). It worked. Next time I need to remember to get my butt, though. So that’s what true saddle sores feel like. Ouch.

My time wasn’t what I hoped it to be, but I am pleased. I was happy and cheerful along the way. I drank a bottle of infinit over the first third of the ride, a bottle of water and some fig newmans and a gu on the second third, and another bottle of infinit on the final third of the ride. It worked out very well and I am really satisfied.

I biked in and saw my wonderful Mom waiting patiently for me to arrive. That was so neat.

Go figure, I rocked T2. I’m doing something right here. My time was in the top third. I’ll take it. Maybe I was just excited to go run. Or maybe I was just happy to be off the bike.

Normally, running is my strength. I would say it was true here, comparatively speaking. I got no where near my expected time for the half marathon, but I did it. More importantly, as I pushed through the final two miles I asked myself if I could do a full marathon. I determined that if I had to, I could have. Of course, I was quite happy to be finished at just 13.1 miles and there was no need to go further at that point.

The course was really nice. Through neighborhoods and downtown Geneva. It was lovely. It was nutty hilly. And there was a 1.5-mile stretch of road that was gravel - all uphill. I'm telling the truth.

There were a few musicians along the way as well as lots of aid stations with everything from Heed to animal crackers and cold, wet sponges. And wonderful, friendly, cheerful volunteers.

Like I said, I am not thrilled with my time, which was about 20 minutes off my best half marathon time. It just doesn’t matter, though. I finished this race with a huge boost in confidence for IMFL. I know I can do it.

My nutrition for the run was good but needs a little tweaking. I aimed for water at each walk break (at each mile marker) and a gel every 30 minutes. I think I missed one at the end. I was so hungry as I approached the finished line. I will work on improving this at the next half.

The post race festivities and spread were top notch. There was tons of fresh fruit (cherries, apricots, watermelon, etc.), pizza, cookies, and ice cream. Of course, I didn’t have much of an appetite at that point but I did force myself to ingest a little of this and that and a lot of water. There were also free massages…my favorite.

After the race we headed back to the hotel and then out for Chinese food. I forced myself to eat as much pork lo mein as I could manage, knowing I had lots of calories to replace and that I have a history of sleeplessness due to hunger following races and hard workouts. Oh, and I definitely think the egg roll was beneficial.

An hour or so later I was pooped and decided to head to bed. Except I just laid there, exhausted as the hunger set in. Ugh. Even though I had a cooler and a bag full of food (fruit, granola bars, trail mix, peanut butter, hummus and pita chips), I was queasy and nothing appealed to me. Nothing!

It was really tough. I forced myself to eat a fig newman, which just made me even more sick to my stomach. So I took a sleeping pill and fell asleep. I woke up 2 hours later - very hungry. I ate a granola bar. Three hours later, another snack break. It was not fun.

Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling too great the next day. The queasiness persisted, which was even less enjoyable since I was driving home that day, along with my Mom who was coming back with me for the week.

The good news is that physically I felt pretty good. No injuries. Some soreness in my quads and hip flexors (Coach Ed would be so pleased to know that I obviuosly engaged the hip flexors pretty well.) Toes on the verge of blistery, but okay. Pretty cool!

So my next project is figuring out what to do about the post-race nutrition. I know I've talked about this before and Ihave incorporated some of the tips you've shared. But I fell down on this a bit after the race.

Issues to work on: A) I thought I got enough protein/carbs post race, but I know I can improve on this. I probably should have had the chocolate milk (or a recovery drink) sooner that I did. B) What do I eat when I don’t feel like eating anything? I made a list the next morning, but after getting home and the same malaise set in, nothing on my list (shredded wheat, string cheese, Doritos, broth etc.) was appealing.

In any case, the race was a huge success and I think I made Earl and Pepper proud. This was an excellent training experience for me as I head into IM Florida in only 3.5 short months.

Next up: the Luray International Tri on August 15. Following that is the next half: Bassman on October 4. The big day is November 7: Ironman Florida. Dare I say I am looking forward to the upcoming races? Stay tuned.


  1. Congratulations on the race!!!!

    Nutrition is the hardest thing to figure out - mainly because what works one day will fail on another. Just keep testing things.

    I can't help on the post race nutrition - I'm always starving and have no problem eating whatever is put in front of me after a race! I wonder if that means I'm now taking in enough during the race.

  2. I am so proud of you!

    I agree that having a calorie packed recovery drink as soon as possible (this is where I'm not sure chocolate milk would do enough) would probably help. And maybe even having another before going to bed?

  3. nice job!!! you make it sound almost EASY!!! you are so inspiring! I hope you can figure out the sleeplessness/nutrition. that part sounds sucky. But I'm sooo glad you had fun!

  4. Congrats on the race! Hopefully my first tri will go as smooth as this one just did for you..

  5. Nice job Cat! Sounds like you did great with race nutrition but had a really hard time post-race. I think as the season goes on, you'll get that figure out! ON TO LURRAY!