Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Musselman Half-Iron Race Report

Well, I am officially half of an ironman. The race went great. Here are more details than you will probably ever want to know, but I really want to remember, so indulge me.

I headed off to Geneva on Saturday around noon to hit packet pick-up and the athlete meeting. I was a little scattered because not only did I have all of my normal race stuff to take care of, I was also the Trakkers representative for the race, and had to hand out units, give directions, etc. for the racers who were testing for Trakkers.

As I was turning into the campus of Hobart & William Smith, I sat a stoplight behind cars with bikes. This is one of my favorite things about a race...getting closer to the race and seeing other crazy people!

I parked the car and headed right to packet pick-up and saw my friend, Andy, who also did his first half-iron at Musselman on Sunday.

I got my bib and goody bag, and then I had to weigh myself...I know. I was the only one taking off my shoes to weigh myself, but, hey, every ounce counts, right? I had to write my weight on the back of my bib, in case of dehydration. My thoughts...what in the world am I doing?

Anyway, got my stuff (awesome goody bag, by the way...cool long-sleeve tech shirt, shampoo and conditioner, some Hammer nutrition products and more), and headed over to the guest house where I would spend the night. It wasn't fancy, but it was free and close by!! I'll take it.

As I was unloading my stuff, I found a little ladybug on my car door. I don't really place much heft on omens, but as they go, this was a good one.

Then I headed out to the race site to scope out transition and get a feel for the lay of the land, so to speak. After that I headed back to my home-away-from-home and took Buttercup out for a quick spin. I felt great, and she was running nice and smooth. Right at the end of my ride, I got a call from Anthony, my mentor on BeginnerTriathlete.com. Since spring, I have been in a mentor group, where we all support each other and lean on each other for advice, motivation and more. I was very lucky that Anthony (who also raced the half on Sunday) and Paula (who came from NC to check things out) were in Geneva, and I got to meet them face to face.

We all headed over to the athlete's meeting which was very entertaining and informative, then to the athlete's dinner...you guessed it, pasta. It was good and free...can't get any better than that. After dinner, I had to take care of a few more Trakkers duties, then I was at the guest house. I tried to chill for a while, but my stomach was a little off, I'm sure from nerves more than anything. I finally hit the hay a little after 10. I slept okay for it being the night before a big race and in an unfamiliar place. I was up around 4:15 a.m., had my breakfast of PB&Honey on whole wheat and a banana, went outside, and was rewarded with this beautiful view.

My good friend, Mark, who also stayed at the guest house, was riding with me to transition, so we got the bikes on the car, took a minute for a pre-race pic, and we were off.

Can you see the fear in our eyes? No, of course you can't, because we had no idea what we were doing!!!

Anyway, we got to transition about 5:30, got a great parking spot, got bodymarked and set up. One of my favorite parts of the day was the little message at my transition area. I got really emotional when I saw it, but it stayed with me throughout the day. I'm still not sure how they got that message, but it seemed like almost everyone had a little something for them. Very nice touch.

I was able to get in the water for about 10 minutes for a nice warm-up, and then I waited on the beach for my wave.


I was in the third wave of swimmers. The start was actually quite a ways out from shore. Most people walked, but the bottom was very rocky, so I opted to swim even though it was kind of shallow. The horn went off, and I felt great. All of a sudden, the water was very choppy. I've never swam in such wavy water, and it threw me a little. I was a little worried about getting sea-sick, but that never happened. I tried to catch some feet so I could draft, but I am really not very good at that. After a while, I was by myself, which I prefer anyway, and once I rounded the first turn, the waves were easier to navigate. I did okay at sighting, but I did have to correct a couple of times. I'm definitely getting better though. The course was a little weird in that after the second turn you swim into a canal and then turn again, so I couldn't see the end of the swim after the last big buoy. It seemed to go on forever, and the canal wasn't exactly fresh-smelling, but I finished and the person that "helped" me out of the water was this little boy who couldn't have been more than 9 years old. Very cute, but not very strong. Good thing I was steady on my feet.

Swim Time: 37:31 1:47/100 yds


My first transition went well. I came in with another woman who happened to be right next to me on the bike rack, and left before her. My wetsuit got a little stuck on my timing chip, but I stayed calm and got it off. I did forget my gel flask and remembered about halfway out of the transition area. I decided to leave it since I had enough gels on my bike, and there were gels on the course as well.

T1 Time: 2:29


The first 15 miles of the bike were tough. My heart rate was very high, but my speed did not reflect that at all. I think I averaged about 15 mph for the first 15 miles. It was mostly uphill, not steep, just steady, and there was a wicked headwind. About 5 miles out of transition, a guy from the swim wave behind me flew by. He was all decked out in fancy bike, tri suit, aero helmet, the works. When he was about 15 yard ahead of me, all of a sudden he just flew off his bike into the ditch beside the road! It totally freaked me out. I was the first person to pass him. I slowed down and asked if he was okay, and then just kept going. If I had been any closer to him when he fell, I might have lost it too. (Turns out he did finish, with blood running down his face...tough guy!!)

The course finally turned out of the wind, and I was able to make up some time. I got passed by a lot of women in the 40-45 age group, but saw very few if any in my age group. I passed a lot of women in the younger age groups...too bad I had to turn 35 this year! My butt was really hurting until about mile 20, when I seemed to settle in a little better and was able to just ride.

My nutrition went exactly as I had planned. I took a gel at 30 min. and 1 hour, a mini Clif bar at 1.5 hours, and gels at 2, 2.5, and 3. In between the gels and bars I had one or two shot blocks. For hydration I used three aero bottles of NUUN (started with two, picked up two waters on the course), and about a half of water. Towards the end I had to go the bathroom, and was able to let it go while I was riding...yay for the small victories! I made my way into the park, took my feet out of my shoes while on the bike (I've been practicing), and dismounted right at the line.

Bike Time: 3:12:42 17.44 mph


I got a little flustered in T2. I racked my bike then put on my race belt (?), then shoes. I took time to spray some sunscreen on, but I really should have done that in T1, as the (very slight) damage was already done (I think a lot of it came off with my wetsuit). I grabbed my forgotten gel flask and another pack of shot blocks and was on my way.

T2 Time: 2:11


I started the run, and one of my main goals for the first half of the 13.1 miles was to keep my heartrate in check. This proved to be very difficult. I was surprised at how fast the first mile marker came. My first 2 miles were at the pace I wanted to run, but my heartrate was way too high. I kept telling myself to reign it in, reign it in. I finally switched my Garmin display, so I wouldn't see the pace. The course was harder than I expected it to be. There was one weird spot before mile 3 where you had to run up this very steep grassy hill, or take the stairs through someone's back yard...strange, but very hard. I took the stairs, which I think was a mistake!! There was also another crazy hard hill on a gravel road between miles 7 and 8. I ended up walking quite a bit of that. It just about sucked the life out of me. The second half of the run was so much harder mentally than I expected it to be. I was hurting, and I wanted to be done, but I didn't want to walk because that would mean it would take me longer to finish. During that last 2.5 miles, I really turned inward. Usually I am very friendly and talkative at races, but I couldn't even say thank you at the last few aid stations. I was so happy to see the 12 mile marker...I knew I could do it. I picked up my pace, and then in the distance I saw Kel and the boys cheering me on. My friends, the Holdens, also came out to cheer. I had seen them at the start of the run, but this is where I really needed it. I high-fived everyone and pushed to the finish.

For my run nutrition, I had planned on taking a gel every 45 minutes. When I got running I realized that I was not going to be eating any gels, so I took a shot block every mile through mile 10. Right before mile 10 my legs felt a little crampy and my face was super crusty with salt, so I made the decision to take some Endurolytes at the next aid station, despite the fact that I had not trained with them. I also switched to a few sips of coke which worked perfectly. I had water at every aid station except for one. This plan worked great even though I hadn't really trained it, but I would definitely go this route again.

Run Time: 2:12:28 10:07/mile

Total Time: 6:07:21

I crossed the line, was handed my very cool finisher's stainless steel water bottle and finisher's medal, and jumped right into the kiddie pool that was serving as an ice bath. It felt so good! My friend, Andy, had just finished and was just getting out. It took me a while to find Kel and the boys, and I got a little emotional, but I finally found them and just hung out for a bit. They hit the road after a while, and I had a massage and handed out some Aquaphor samples, while I waited for all of the Trakkers testers to finish. This is Mark's friend, Adam. He was very excited to be in the blog. (Adam, I hope this lives up to everything you dreamed of!)

Mark also did great, finishing his first half in under 6 hours!! Nice job, Mark!

So it has been a few days, and I've been able to think about this journey I took this summer. The race itself was much harder, both physically and mentally, than I had anticipated. Although, my race couldn't have gone any better, there are things I would do differently next time in terms of training. I'm glad I did this. I'm very proud to have finished. I would definitely do it again!!
A few people asked me if a full Ironman was next. My honest answer is I'm not sure. This was very difficult. I can't begin to imagine doing double! But as it turns out, I won't even contemplate a full until Noah is in school, so I have a couple of years to think about it!!
Thanks for all of your support and kind wishes. If you made it through this whole race report, you deserve a medal. You can't have mine, though!!


  1. Congrats Kelly!! You rock!!! I tracked you during the bike segment, cool how they had your photo...can't believe that guy wiped out!

  2. Kelly- I am SO proud of you and excited for you girl!!! This is so huge!!! Wow!!! Also just sayin' but NOBODY should look that good at 4 a.m. That's insane!! You don't even want to know what I would look like if I slept in an unfamiliar place, different bed, and had to wake up at 4 a.m. Let's just say I would not be proudly able to post my picture like you could!! Congratulations....You go girl!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Congrats on an awesome race. I need to jump into the mentor program next time BT starts one.

  4. Hey Kelly! This is awesome. Congratulations!!! I love your blog. It is inspiring and detailed....love the details! Glad you had fun. Now write something about how you recover from a race like that....or is there no recovery since you are doing another one this week too....ha ha. We are alike. CONGRATS! IRONWOMAN....Ruthie

  5. love love love this race report! congrats on a great race. Love the race medal - so cool - and very much love the special touch at transition. yay!

  6. What an amazing day and race report. Wonderful. All of it sounded perfect-and you are a champion.
    Rest well.

  7. Great Job Kelly! Wow, your first 70.3. That sticker on the bike rack totally rocked the house, I think I would have cried. The Practical Coaching athlete you saw was Julie Sturgen. She is a fellow teamate. Very cool! I see another 70.3 in your future! Maybe the Rev3 half next year??


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