“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
Pre Race: Well to be honest, I felt terrible all week. Couldn’t get my HR up on the bike at all, I felt like a slug in the pool and running was ok, but just no pop in my step. My last swim was pretty nice at the outdoor pool at IC but still kinda felt sluggish. Friday night Doug and I (really Doug, while I watched Shark Week) got the bikes all ready and Timmy was not being very cooperative – turns out not really Timmy’s fault more that there was a huge issue with my rear race wheel. It was rubbing on my frame. Headed to bed still unsure what I was going to do. I was really looking forward to having a great ride like at Syracuse. I still can’t describe the feeling I felt at Syracuse – it was probably as close to a runner’s high on the bike I could get – Almost effortless. I was really looking forward to having that feeling again. Turns out, my wonderful boyfriend, took the wheel to one of our local bike shops and they fixed it no problem. I was SO EXCITED. I was instantly ready to race again. Side note: A BIG thanks to everyone who tried to help out, including Musselman Tri on social media. It was so nice to feel the support and love of trying to help out a fellow athlete. It did NOT go unnoticed.
After morning workouts, a wonderful breakfast of eggs and pancakes, Doug and I headed up to Geneva to pick up our packets. It’s not that far, 65 minutes but it was kind of an annoyance that there wasn’t packed pickup the morning of the race – oh well. It was an easy drive up, a breeze through packet pickup, had lunch at Wegmans – Go figure – and made our way back. Once back Doug had to bike still – who also happened to have problems with his bike. He’s actually had problems for like the last 2 months, but that’s another story. Doug ended up taking it back to the bike shop as in the morning and they fixed all of the issues he had been having! His bike could SHIFT again – big and small gears!
After that, it was just relaxing, packing the car up and headed to bed early.
Race Day: Race morning went swimmingly. I woke up not feeling sluggish and ready to go. I was SO excited to have my morning coffee. Like a good little athlete I cut out most of caffeine during the race week, which included my morning coffee. After I had a different race breakfast – Justin’s Maple Almond Butter & Banana Toast – I was thinking of how good I felt the previous weekend for the long ride and that was what sounded good morning of. We were out the door by 4:27 on our way up to the course.
We arrived at the state park by 5:30 and didn’t even have to wait in line. It was easy! Then we hit a REAL bathroom and transition. Honestly, it was the easiest race morning ever. Not to mention I was completely relaxed. There were no nerves. I’m still confused as why. I was a little excited to see what I was going to do, but also had no idea how my body was going to react to what I was asking it to do (see previous post). I was so excited about the week I had before – great track workout, best long ride ever, etc – I just didn’t know, especially as I felt I didn’t have great swims for the last two weeks.
In any rate, after everything was set up, I said see ya later to Timmy, I headed to the lake to get a warm up. The water was nice, I kept reminding myself of the swim start session we had the week before at camp and how frustrated I was. I just reminded myself to stay relaxed and give it my best effort. After a very short amount of time, they forced us out of the water to get the first wave ready.
Swim – 33:59 (1:50/100 – 1854 yds): I was in the second wave at 7:05. Still feeling super relaxed I just kinda followed everyone into the water and lined up next to the buoys. Half of our wave was way over to the right (buoys on our left) and I was going to try to put myself in a position of finding a good pair of feet and give myself a chance. Who was this bold lady not scared of the swim start?! Before I knew it, we were off and even after a few hundred yards I could still stand and all I could think was WHAT was this lake!
I was composed and tried to find a good pair of feet – where were the feet?! I was swimming in open space. Of course the one time I wanted feet, I couldn’t find them. So I kept swimming. Eventually I caught a lot of people once we made the first turn to the left. I just kept doing my thing, I even got a thrown around a little but didn’t let it phase me. Just kept swimming. Then I found some FEET! However they were going too slow, so I sat for a minute and decided to do my own thing. Second left turn – done! Into the channel we were headed with a nice push from behind. I had heard how gross the channel was before from previous years so I tried to still just focus on what I was doing. The channel was perfect! Nothing gross, a few pieces of seaweed got caught to my goggles and face, but it was like that the whole swim.
Some people from the third wave started to catch me and I tried to jump on their feet without prevail – but hey at least I was trying. Eventually I could see the last buoys and just kept focus on being long (another reminder to myself). Before I knew it, I was out of the water ready to ride with Timmy. I’m really proud of this swim – despite being fairly confident the swim was short, I was focused the ENTIRE swim. This is a big step for me if you read the race report from Syracuse, you’ll know about ¾ through the swim I was loosing focus and just wanted to be done.
Bike – 2:51.43 (19.8mph – 56.76 mi): I was so happy to be out on my bike. I was aching to have that feeling like at Syracuse. Leaving the park everything felt great. Rode up a hill and instantly felt the headwind. I won’t lie, the bike was really tough for me, mentally and physically. Besides the headwind, my HR would not cooperate, and I just felt alone. Additionally, for the first 2 hours of the bike I could not get comfortable. My R adductor was speaking, the left sit bone was speaking and I was getting annoyed with my HR and wind. Finally I just gave up and kept focus on what I could control and started taking caffeine. Eat, Drink, stay areo, repeat. I also just prayed that my legs were be ok for the run.
Once off of 96A, I started to feel like I could get into a rhythm and started making ground rather than getting passed. I dropped a water bottle trying to fill my bike bottle and prayed there was another aid station coming up. Fortunately there was, a big down hill. Before I knew it we were along Cayuga lake. Thank goodness, this is my lake and I own those roads. That headwind though, I tried to just get to the next part – uphill back towards Seneca lake. This is also where Jennie caught me (She was doing the Aqua Bike) and then I felt like I really had to be riding slow. She was nice and I think said good job? Sorry Jennie, that headwind – or my own thoughts, I’m not sure which made me barely hear you. On the flip side, it was really nice to see someone I knew.
Once we headed back up hill I FINALLY felt normal on the bike and was able to get into zone AND really get moving. I really started to catch people. Love me some hills! I also still had to pee – I think for a while at this point and just kept trying every downhill without success. So, I kept drinking in hopes I’d have to go bad enough. Eventually we made it back to 96A and the wind to our back – I think I literally flew back to the abandoned Willard Asylum (I still want to go in and check it out) and Seneca Lake.
This was probably the most annoying part of the course – it’s a really beat up road (?), trail (?), not even sure what you would call it, but I vowed to look at it like taking Timmy off roading. Eventually we made it through after about 2 miles (I think), and the road was better but still pretty beat up. I really started to turn it on at this point. I was just ready to go running. Oh don’t let me forget to tell you – I had to PEE SO bad and still couldn’t on the bike. So I was trying to figure out the best approach, the ground in T2? Stop at the porta john? I didn’t want to have to run on a full bladder again like Syracuse, plus I really wanted to make sure that was going to make this race hurt.
Finally made it back to Transition, racked the bike, sat on the ground and just decided to go (sorry if TMI). I immediately thought of Alex and knew she’d be proud. Once I started, I was able to multitask and put my shoes on and grab the goods. Next thing, I was headed to make it hurt.
Run – 1:37.05 (7:18/mi – 13.1 mi). The race plan for Musselman was the same as Syracuse and so I ran to get my HR up. First thoughts – “OMG my legs feel freaking GREAT!” “I feel like a runner, not a shuffler..” “Let’s hope it doesn’t stop.” “Just keep running, 168 get to 168” – and kept seeing 166, 165, 166. So I kept going at this effort. First mile vibrate – check – 6:57!!? Only though “Please let’s keep this going” and “Doug can’t get mad, I was below 168!”. Mile two was 7:1X, – “Ok, just keep this effort, you can do this the whole way..” Mile three had a grass uphill – that was a b*tch but found my rhythm again at the top and just kept moving. I saw a few women ahead of me and heard someone at an aid station say I was 9th woman on the course.
That really lit a fire in me. Super Secretly, I wanted to be top 5 overall. Not sure why I thought I could do it, or what led me to it, but I wanted it. There were a lot of people in front of me, so I kept my eyes up, moving my arms, hitting the aid stations with a swig of Gatorade, ice down the top, and sponges. Eventually some of the aid stations went, Gatorade, ice, water, and sponges. Not really sure how I managed it, but big thanks to the video from Oiselle a while back on how to handle aid stations in a marathon. Squeeze the top and pour so no liquid up the nose – Nailed it! The ice was good company when I was solo too as it was bouncing and making noise in my top. It sounds dumb, but it was comforting in a way when I was alone.
Following that pattern, I was passing people and just kept moving. Trying to not push too much and let that HR rise knowing I was already higher than the plan called for. On the flip side, I wanted to race too and so I took a gamble. It was nice to see Adrian out there on the run course especially as it was a little lonely out there too. After that, I passed two women at the next aid station and saw two more ahead of me. Less than a mile later, I passed 2 more and saw third ahead of me. I kept my focus on her, shuffling up the hill and through another aid station. Knowing I passed 5 women I was pretty confident that I had reached that super secret goal. Now it was to stay focused and pray I wouldn’t fall apart.
Next few miles were the darkest, we turned left down a dirt road (I think farther away from the park) and up the biggest hill on the course. It wasn’t too bad, but it was pretty steep and this is when the sun started to really come out. I kept shuffling and focusing on the people in front of me. I had never been so happy to see an aid station – but there was warm water – MAJOR let down. After turning back on the real road, I reminded myself to not settle and that I wanted to hurt. I kept running, hit all the hoses and stayed focused on the guys in front of me. This is also where I realized I had less than 5 miles left and needed to eat more except that I felt sick. Next aid station I vowed to take some coke – hopefully it would calm my stomach down.
Managed to grab coke and gatorade, but dropped the ice and you bet I happened to curse at the aid station where some elderly volunteers were working. I apologized for my language – unsure if they heard me. Knowing we had about 4 to go, I really focused on form and my running. The loop spits you back out on the same beginning 3 miles of the run. It was perfect timing for me as everyone was being super supportive and I was able to forget how I was feeling for a while. Headed down the hill (thank you extra push) and weaved through town back to the path next to the lake. I had about 2 miles to go and hit another aid station, at this point I just wanted water and ice, unfortunately they must have just had a bunch of people through and no one had water for me. The NICEST volunteer at the end heard me ask, ran back to grab and cup and then ran after me. It was SO incredible. Sir – THANK YOU SO MUCH – it was just what I wanted. It was awesome, the last little bit of support I needed to get my through the last two miles. I honestly can’t say enough.
Remembering my goals, I pushed the last mile as much as I could and fought to get to that finish line. I finished in a half ironman run PR, an overall 70.3 PR 5:08.40, was 43rd OA, 6th Female (I later found out – stupid swim waves), 1st AG.
Afterthoughts: Warning this is going to be honest! I was happy about how I handled the swim, a little bummed it was short, but as it felt better than Syracuse and better than how I had been swimming I’ll take it. I’m really bummed about the bike. I know, I know, you’re thinking “but Lisa it was a PR,” I’m happy I PR’ed don’t get me wrong, but if I rode like I’m capable, I would have been happy. I’m beyond thrilled about my run. I have no negative comments there. I felt like a runner and it hurt. Additonally, I’m really bummed that I was less than 80 seconds away from 5th place – again, see bike. It’s really bitter sweet. Yes, I PR’ed and I’m thrilled, but it definitely lit a fire in my belly. That and I need more caffeine prior to the swim and first thing on the bike. Silly Lisa. Use that to your advantage. I can’t wait for it all to come together and see what really happens. So far it seems like something is off in each race, but I’m thankful it’s not the big one yet!
Next: Wrote this sitting in a car on the way to Boston with Doug to see U2, then headed to Pittsburgh with my Mom, Aunts and Cousins on Thursday PM. Then into the toughest week of my life, ending with a trip up to Lake Placid for IMLP! Can’t believe in less than 2 week’s I’ll start the taper IMMT. Time to make it hurt and get ready! Next race: our wonderful local Cayuga Lake Triathlon – I’ll be doing the Sprint which will be the 2 year anniversary of my first triathlon!
A big thanks to the volunteers (again, I can’t say enough), Finger Lakes Running & Tri Co, Coeur Sports, Osmo Nutrition, and to my family and friends for the unconditional love and support. Here we go!