Monday, July 18, 2011

Musselman Half-Iron Race Report

Okay, so this could be really long, or maybe not.  It really just depends on how hot it is...

Oh, wait a minute, I'm not actually racing anymore, even though I still feel a little bit hot from yesterday!  Anywho, here you go, with just a brief recap of the whole weekend and then the nitty gritty for those of you who like all the deets!!

I rolled into beautiful Geneva on Friday night with a beautiful full moon over the lake to light my way.  I had been able to score a free place to stay right in the middle of all the action thanks to Mark.  Up early on Saturday morning to run the TriSlide TriPit for the sprint tri, which was so much fun.  Basically, Mark and I got to lube everyone up with TriSlide.

Here's Mark preaching the gospel of TriSlide.
We hung around to watch a bit of the sprint race, since we knew quite a few people who were racing.  Here is a pic of the swim start.

I was trying to be super good about resting my legs, eating and hydrating the way I should have been.  I knew it was going to be hot on Sunday, so I was pretty anal about doing what I needed to do for myself to insure I would have a good race.  That meant I had to bug out before the end of the sprint so I could get my carb load meal in before a rehearsal for the Musselman Arts Tri.

Mark and I took the task of the carb-load very seriously.

After a huge breakfast, I shot over to pick up my packet and take a shower, then off to rehearse with the dancers for the concert.  Threw an athlete's meeting in there, and then the concert, with lots of sitting and relaxing in between.  After the concert, I laid around for about an hour and a half in my Recovery Pump and read and dozed before I headed over to the athlete's dinner and over to the race site to check in my bike.  Then it was back to my room to prep for the race and hit the sack as early as I could.  I'm spending a bit of time on this, because I want to point out that what you do before race day has a huge impact on the race itself.  Despite the fact that it was a fairly busy day for me, I really put my race first in all my decisions.  I sat down as much as I could, I made sure I had the meals I needed when I needed them, etc.

This little gem was awaiting me at my transition spot when I checked in my bike.

Race day came early and HOT!  I didn't even need a long sleeve shirt for the early morning, so I knew it was going to be a doozy of a day.  I got to transition with about an hour before it closed, so I calmly loaded my nutrition and got ready.  The whole morning, even right up to the 30 seconds before the start of my wave, was marked with a intense sense of quiet calm for me.  This was my 4th half-iron race, so I wasn't at all fearful about the unknown.  I imagine how I felt is how many seasoned athletes feel before they begin - heavy with what they know will be coming, excited for it to be under way, and confident in their ability to complete it.

I was in the 5th wave, the only all-female wave.  I thought, for some reason, that was a good thing, but I quickly realized that the girls can be just as physical as the boys!  The water was super choppy, with wave coming at us head on until the first turn.  Add that to a lot of bumping into one another and vying for position, and it turned into a pretty tough swim.  After the first turn, I felt like the water cleared a bit, but then we started to run into the slower swimmers from the waves in front of us.  All in all, I swam strong even though my time was not as quick as what I was hoping for.

Swim:  38:05 1:48/100yards

As I got to the boat ramp, a man literally pulled me up to my feet, which was pretty awesome.  I took a second to get my bearings and then booked it to my spot. As I ran through the entrance to transition, I had huge cheers from the Train-This teammates who were volunteering in transition.  I felt like a rock star!  My TYR Cat 5 wetsuit came off without a hitch thanks to my TriSlide, and I was off!!

T1:  1:45

Once I was out on the bike course, I felt super strong.  I was monitoring my heart rate, but racing by feel, and I felt great!  My perceived exertion was much lower than what my HR was showing, so I just went with it.  I didn't even feel hot until about halfway through the 56 mile ride.  I was super strict with my nutrition (EFS Drink and Liquid Shot), but at one of the aid stations I meant to grab a water and ended up with a bottle of Heed.  I wasn't overly concerned because I still had an extra bottle of EFS, so I just mixed the two in my aerobottle.  Well, it didn't taste too good, and then I started burping like crazy.  From now on I guess I will stay away from the Heed and stick with what I know works best for me!!

I had a secret goal of averaging 18 mph on this course, which would be a half-iron PR bike split.  About halfway through I was at 18.6, but I slowly watched that drop as I went through a hilly part of the course.  I knew, though, that there were some more quick parts to come, so I kept my head in the game and just kept pushing.  I did see quite a bit of drafting on the course, which was disappointing, but the course marshals were out in full force and many people received penalties.   All in all, this was the best bike leg of any triathlon that I have ever done.  I had a great time, had very few down moments, felt comfortable but still like I was riding hard, and nailed my nutrition, with exception of the Heed.

Oh, yeah...and I met my secret goal!

Bike: 3:07:47 18.0 mph

I was in and out of T2 thanks to many cheering teammates, and onto the run course feeling nice and strong.

T2:  1:50

I was greeted by Kel and the boys about a quarter of a mile into the run, which was so nice!  Unfortunately, I had the camera, so he wasn't able to get any pictures.  One of the nice things about Musselman is that it is super family friendly.  The run course goes right by a splash park that is in the park, so the boys got to play and Kel had a prime seat to watch the runners. I could tell just into the first mile that it was going to be super hot.  I found out later that it was 95 degrees and there were no clouds!  I made it my priority to load up on everything I could to keep me cool at every aid station.  Ice cold sponges?  I'll take two! Water? Yes, and I'll take another for my head and then another!  Ice? Yes, please, and another for my sports bra which I then ate the ice out of until it melted. Sprinkler to run through?  OH YEAH!

I immediately teamed up with Todd from D.C. and Heather, who I met at Green Lakes Tri in June.  The three of us ran comfortably together, although by mile 4 it was just me and Heather.  We stayed together until the stone hill right before mile 8, when she had to start walking a bit before I was ready to.  Thanks, Heather, for keeping me company!!  I would love to run with you anytime!  It's amazing how the miles tick away when you are with someone.

A little over halfway through as I was going through an aid station, I was focused on getting my cup of ice and my foot rolled down off the road and into the grass, and BAM! I went down.  The poor girl who was about to hand me a cup just yelled, "She fell down!" in a panicked voice.  I just popped right back up, grabbed my ice and kept on moving.  Leave it to me to fall down on the run, at an aid station, no less, so I was actually walking!!  I hit my knee on the road and scraped it up pretty good, so now, in addition to my sponge shoulder pads and ice-enhanced sports bra, I had blood running down my leg.  It actually didn't really hurt, but I have to tell you, I felt pretty hard core!!

Now, I have to tell you, my goal for this race was to go under 6 hours.  At the start of the run I checked my running time and knew it was going to be really close.  As the miles went by I still wasn't sure if I was going to be able to hit it.  By mile 10 I realized that I would have to give it everything I had to even have a shot.  I ran hard.  I was playing leap frog with a woman who would run faster than me than slow to a walk.  At one point she said to me, "Kelly, you know how to dig deep.  Keep it up."  That was the last time I passed her, but I held onto those words.  I know how to dig deep, yes, I do.  From that point on, the only time I slowed was through the last two aid stations.  By mile 12 I realized that my goal was slipping away, but I pushed it anyway.  This picture taken with about a half mile to go pretty much says everything.

I ran hard to the finish and gave it everything I had.

Run:  2:14:12 10:05/mile

Total:  6:03:39

So I didn't make my sub-6, but I still had a PR and by far the best "racing" I have ever done.  My head was in it, and I felt strong.  The heat definitely played a big role in my run time.  I know I have a better half-marathon in me, and am looking forward to testing myself in October at Rev3Tri South Carolina.

Musselman is a great race.  I love the hometown feel and the family focus.  I highly recommend this race to anyone looking for a great half-iron event.  A big thanks to all the volunteers and spectators for cheering and helping!  A big shout out to all of you who left messages for me on Facebook and Twitter!  I know it doesn't seem like a big deal, but it really means a lot to me!  Thanks to Coach Mary who believes in me even more than I believe in myself. Also big thanks to my Team Trakkers sponsors, Kestrel, First Endurance, TriSlide, Recovery Pump, TYR, and All3Sports.  And most importantly, thank you to Kel and my boys, for giving me the support I need to get my training done and cheering for me all the way to the finish line!!


  1. Love it! Great job!

  2. Wow, congrats! Great race report. I hope the knee heels up nicely.

  3. Well done Kelly! I love that someone on the course gave you the words to keep you going all the way to a PR. Fantastic day. And I love the photo - you look so hard core!

  4. You are hardcore! Look at the blood! I am impressed.

    Congrats on a great race!

  5. Great job Kelly! Its hard to keep pushing when you know you won't make your goal time!

  6. I still can't believe you fell! Nice job chickie.

  7. My pic looks about the same at the end!! ha ha! GREAT JOB!!

  8. WOOOHOOO!! Way to dig deep and race it out!

  9. What a brutally hot day, Kelly, and you did a great job with it. Congratulations!

  10. awesome...and most definitely hard core, lol

  11. CONGRATS! I love that last picture! You are awesome!!

  12. Congrats! I did Musselman half too and it was H.O.T. out there!! I don't think too many people hit their goal times because of the heat...

    That is really cool you did the arts triathlon concert... one of my friends saw it and said it was great, wish I could've made it!

    It was my first time doing the race and I can't agree more about it being a great event... I am already looking forward to next year.

  13. Great job! I wish I had come out!!! :(


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