Since my last entry there has been a wave of different feelings that I’ve experienced related to triathlon. Those of you who have had a chance to read Alexis’ last entry will know that the low point was hearing of a death during the Sprint race at Musselman the night before our half-iron distance race and then the news that someone had passed away from injuries sustained during the race in which we competed. It’s moments like this that certainly make you take a pause and appreciate the ability to enjoy the company of those people in your life that are dear to you and partake in whatever it is in life that makes you happy.
On a more up-beat note, I was able to successfully defend my title at the micro-Mussel event as part of the Musselman weekend, which involved a 0.1 mile swim, 0.6 mile bike and 0.2 mile run. It’s a great little event to kick off the weekend of racing and is basically 5 mins of redline effort. After I was done, I was able to sit back and watch the second wave of participants complete the same course but on kids’ tricycles instead of adult-sized bikes (my body doesn’t really squeeze into a kid’s tricycle very well). The next day was a rest day, with an easy run and ride to just loosen up for the main event on Sunday. The Musselman race itself went better than it did a year ago, but it still left me with plenty of room to improve, especially on the run. I started off strong on the swim, coming out of the water in first by a considerable margin. I then got into a pretty good rhythm on the bike from the get go, paying lots of attention to my hydration and nutrition to make sure I would be well fueled heading into the run on a reasonably warm day. I felt much stronger on the bike this year but started to fade a little bit over the last 10 miles. I was still keeping a good pace though, with only one or two people passing me on the whole bike leg. As I started out on the first 3 miles of the run, which were completely flat, I felt great. I had started off a little slower to get into a groove and I really felt like I could keep that pace up all day. Then the hills came… The hills at Musselman are quite brutal. A couple of them are pretty short, but very steep, and then, right in the middle, there’s a really long, really steep hill, just in case you weren’t tired enough yet. After slowing down a lot as I climbed the first few hills, I just couldn’t get back into a good groove and things started to fall apart a bit as fellow competitors passed me on a regular basis. I got to the finish line and knew that I had finished somewhere between 2nd and 7th in my age group but wasn’t sure because some people didn’t have their age on their calf and others had it covered with compression sleeves. Apparently the lead that I’d built on the swim and bike was enough to hold on to 2nd in my age group, which was a big surprise given the run! My overall time was almost 10 mins faster than last year, so that was promising, but it kept me nice and humble given the beating I’d taken from the hills.
With Musselman over, the focus has now shifted firmly to the target of the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Vegas in 5 weeks. I’ve already started my last big push with a lot of volume across all three disciplines. I can already feel the impact on my body, but I know that with a visit or two to see Brian at Phila Massages I’ll be able to get through the next few weeks and then, as I begin my taper, things will fall nicely into place. Although I’ll have to compete again on more hills and in more heat in Vegas, I’m looking forward to the challenge and doing what I can between now and then to get my body ready.
At the end of the day though, triathlon is a hobby, so it’s definitely not worth dying over. This isn’t to say that once I get on the start line of a race that I’m not going to give it my all but, in light of recent events, I’ll be trying to remind myself to play it safer when situations arise that really only impact the final result by fractions of a second, if at all.
Have fun out there (and stay safe),