Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Musselman half iron triathlon

Before I start my race report, I'd like to draw attention to a tragedy that occurred in the Mini Mussel sprint triathlon the day before. Michael Coyle, a participant from Rochester, New York sustained fatal injuries on the bike leg. We were informed of his death at the welcome dinner and took a moment of silence on race morning. My deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends of Michael. May he rest in peace.


Musselman - hosted in Geneva, New York in the Finger Lakes region and named after the zebra mussels that inhabit the lake waters. About 4+ hours drive from us, that's for actual drive time. We spent about 1.5 hours queuing up at customs. When we arrived in Geneva, we were quite amused at what a quaint little town it was with its historical looking buildings. We were housed in the dorms of Hobart & William Smith Colleges, about 3kms from the race site. Li-Ann and I were lucky to get a 2 bed dorm so we had a bit of privacy. 

The race briefing was at the Smith Opera House in downtown Geneva. The race director, Jeff Henderson is a funny guy. I especially liked it when he posted the course for Tour de France as the bike course rather than the actual one. He also asked us to watch out for horse pulled carriages on the course as it is the mennonite area. I thought he was joking but I later found out he wasn't! 

We met up with the rest of the London triathlon club people at the welcome dinner and then proceeded to rack our bikes. Nice touch by the organizers printing out each person's name and the reason we're doing the race (we filled this in the online registration) on the racks. Then, it was time for bed. Now, this is a first for me. I do sometimes get pre race nerves and usually take some time before I fall asleep. But this is the worst case of pre race insomnia I've had! It wasn't until 2 hours before my alarm was set to go off that I fell asleep.

Team Sheri and London Triathlon Club members. Picture taken from Sheri Fraser Coaching facebook page.

Remember why you do this, Kevin - Training for Ironman Whistler!!
So race morning came and the alarm went off at 4.45am. I tried not to get myself too worried about my 2 hours of sleep. I did Google whilst I was lying awake that it's the few nights of sleep before the race which is more important, rather than the night before. There was a bit of a queue getting into the park but I managed to set up my transition without too much drama. A last minute visit to the toilet and surprisingly no queue there. The swim starts in Seneca lake in anti clockwise direction and finishes through a canal. I was in the 2nd wave - two minutes after the elite. There were only about 60 of us in our wave plus the 20 or so in the elite. So it wasn't very crowded and I was swimming in clear water after a couple of hundred metres. Water visibility was good too and the buoys were large and easy to spot. Once we got into the canal, it was a bit more murky and there were a lot of weeds. I had to pull some off my face mid stroke. I came out the water in just over 30 minutes, a couple of minutes better than I expected.

Not much drama in the transition. Though my pedals with my clipped on shoes were positioned not exactly how I wanted as I pushed the bike to the mount line. Took me a while to mount the bike but only a few seconds lost. The bike course is like a distorted figure 8. Yes, I did see some Armish people in their horse pulled carriages on the other side of the road! We rode into the headwinds for the first 20km or so. It was tough and I found that I did not have much power.  Having said that, not many were overtaking me until about 30km, and even then only a handful of guys. There were some small climbs but mostly rolling.

The tailwind in the opposite direction was most welcomed and my average speed went up again. But it was shortlived. It didn't help that we came to a 3.5% climb that was about 3.5km (coincidence?) long. But I knew soon after that we were in the last 30kms stretch home in the tailwind again. But... the race organizers threw in a twist - we rode into Sampson park with a long stretch of gravel road, I was lucky not to get a flat! Out of the park, only a few more kms from home, I was impatiently waiting to get off the bike. My bike computer was showing over 91kms and we were still cycling.

Finally got to transition, almost went the wrong way but luckily the volunteer quickly pointed me to the right direction. Got off the bike in 2 hours 41 minutes, not great but pretty happy considering the course. A quick T2 and it was on to the run - where my race usually starts! But it was now pretty hot, and I found myself struggling to keep up a quick pace. Still, I knew the others were struggling as well. The distance markers were of course, in miles. And my GPS could only last 3+ hours so I decided to turn it off and use the basic stopwatch function instead. My mental arithmetic was put to the test at each distance marker, I was converting the miles to kms!

The run course was tough with many climbs and gravel paths. I had a few John McEnroe's "You cannot be serious!" moments. There was a part infamously called the goat trail - only goats go up there! But the local community totally embrace the event, we ran past houses where the locals spray their garden hoses to keep us cool. There were many sections where local bands were playing music to keep us going. What comes up must come down - the last few miles, we had a long stretch of downhill running before we run into the park again. Li-Ann was there to greet me in my final mile and I briefly muttered to her her how tough the course was. I had about a minute before the clock strikes 4:55 so I decided to give it a sprint finish - crossed the finish line with 4:54:59! Clocking 1 hour 41 minutes for the run.

I finished 5th in my age group and 28th overall. Not my quickest half iron distance finish and a bit far off from my 4:45 target but I'm pretty happy with the result. Click here for full results. A great practice race for Ironman Whistler in 6 weeks time. The finishing area spread was good, sponsored by Red Jackets and Wegmans but I wasn't in much of a mood to eat. I gave most of it to Li-Ann, which is far less than what she deserved given she had to endure the hot long day waiting for me. Love you!

Cold ice bath at the finishers area, just heavenly!
I did sleep much better that night, in fact I knocked out just past 8pm and didn't wake up until 6am the next morning. Now, I'm back in London and enjoying my couple of days break before I get back into training again.
Slightly alternative finisher T shirt and medal, which is a recycled bike cog

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