This weekend was special on many levels.
Just two years ago my triathlon career started in earnest with the Musselman Half-Iron. I came into the race wide eyed and in awe of everything. I had an old pair of running shoes from college, a new road bike (not aero), and I actually wore a cycling jersey on the run. Needless to say I have come a long way in the past 2 years and for myself as well as my family and friends it was really special for me to be able to validate all the time and effort that I have put in. It’s not only the athlete that sacrifices but its their family and friends. I can’t count how many times I have had to tell my cousin that I had to get back home to get to sleep on a Saturday night at around 8PM so I could wake up early and ride my bike. And the most important thing is how lucky and fortunate I am to have my parents by my side the whole way. Without them truly none of this would be possible. I’ve been to many places all throughout the country in the past couple years, met awesome people, and made friends for a lifetime….and its only been 2 years. Who knows what the next year and the many after that will bring. I can only imagine that it will get better and better. But for now I can honestly say that the triathlon has given me life and given me happiness during these past 2 years of which I desperately needed. The commorodery through training and racing has really brightened up some otherwise “dark” times. By dark don’t take that to seriously, nothing has really been that bad. Its just than when your young in the working world some things can get you down. Life after school is different and it takes some time to get used to and time to accept. Triathlon and everything about it has really been the greatest thing that could have ever happened to me. Just ask my parents, they will tell you the same exact thing.
Before I get into the nitty gritty of this years race I wanted to share with you my results from the first half-iron I ever did, which was the 2009 Musselman. You could say that the 2009 race was a turning point in my life. Yes, life. I remember looking at the results after that race and hearing people talk about going 4:30 whatever, watching the people fly by me on the bike and run…I was hooked. I hurt bad on the run and my legs felt even worse after I finished. But at the same time I wanted more…I wanted to go race again and again. As it turns out, less than the 2 weeks after that first half-iron I would be driving up to Lake Placid and signing up for IMLP 2010 and truly setting the ball in motion for a complete life-change. A complete life-change that has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. So here for your viewing pleasure are the comparative results from 2009 and 2011.
Swim: 30:54 – somehow I managed to swim faster here….weird
Bike: 2:53 – (19.4 mph)
Run: 1:59 – (9:09 pace)
Bike: 2:31 – (22.3 mph)
Run: 1:27 – (6:34 pace)
Honestly, I was dissapointed in my swim. Although I felt strong and not fatigued in the least (maybe a good thing) my time didn’t really reflect the effort I thought I was putting out. I ended up with a 31 and change swim. The first section was a little choppy and I didn’t really distance myself from the main group until the mid-way point. I’d say at around the halfway mark I started to get a little distance from the big group and myself and another swimmer swam the rest of the way together, alternating drafting. I would go ahead, then he would and so on. I ended up putting about a 5 second gap between us in the last 150 yards to pop out of the water a little ahead of him. In the end the swim would be the biggest determining factor of the race as this was where the champion Chad Holderbaum put the most time into me as he swam a 27 something, putting nearly 5 minutes on me…remember that number.
I was out of the water and on my bike in no time. My transition was smooth and I even managed to clip both feet in on the first try. As I headed out onto the course my Dad was cheering for me as loud as I have ever heard him. That along with seeing many familiar faces on my way out only made the experience that much better. Out on the course I didn’t really know where I was in terms of OA placement. Starting the first wave I knew that whoever was in front of me was my competition. Over the first half of the ride I knew that I needed to race my race and not let anyone else affect me. Meaning that if someone decided to pass me I would let them go. Over the first 15 miles probably 3 people passed me. Only one of them with any authority..and that was the eventual champ so you know I will let that one go 🙂 The other guys were moving along well but didn’t blow by me with the same force. I let them go and kept moving along. Once I hit the mid-way point I changed my mind-set. Coming into the race I knew that I would do this and I was prepared for it. What was the change? The change was that I reminded myself that this is a race and when you race you go after it. You don’t sit back and stare at the powermeter. At the half-iron distance I think this is ecspecially important since with the proper amount of training you can allow yourself to go after it. Now by no means did I start cranking 300 watts. I just slowly increased my effort, little by little I was gaining back time on those in front of me. At about the 30 mile mark I started getting numbers from the aid stations and fans telling me I was in 8th. I was amazed..I thought I was probably 10-13th at best. The best part about this was that on the straight aways I could see 7th, 6th, 5th and 4th. I knew where they were and I could tell I was gaining. Over the last half of the bike course I passed them all. One by one without overextending. I was feeling good and as I came into T2 3rd place got off only a couple seconds before me. I ended up getting out of transition while he was still racking his bike and changing into his shoes. I would never see him again, although I always felt that he was one step behind me on the run. I guess thats a good thing. In T2 Jeremy Hammond, a friend of mine who was working transition came up to me to give me an updated on the guy ahead of me who was slowly getting through transition. We chatted, I slapped his hand, and he even took care of my garmin bike computer that I mistakenly was going to go run with and quickly decided to throw back to hime to put by bike. THANK YOU JEREMY.
Ok, the run, I am the 3rd person out of T2. This is either where the race is won or lost and where you either feel comfortable or like hell. The first two miles of a longer race like this usually feel awesome. They always feel awesome, the important part is to step back and ease into the run. I did and with it being a flat course I was under 7’s. I looked at this skeptically knowing that their were a lot of hills in my future. I knew that If I made it up the first steep incline (literally a grassy hills going straight up) and then proceeded to go sub 7 again on the next mile that I had my legs that day. Well just that happened. After the first climbing section I proceeded to keep rolling along. I could have pushed it here but I tried to keep it low key and just get through the first 6 miles with the least amount of extra effort as possible. I made sure to raid the aid stations every time, grabbing at least 4 water cups, drinking 1 or 2 and throwing the rest all over myself. Once I made it to Barracks road which is a dirt road that leads to the highest part of the course I knew things were clicking. I was alone, no one was behind me for a good distance and I was getting news that my time difference to “2nd Place” (really 1st place) was steadily decreasing. When I started the run I was 8 minutes back of the first guy and 4 minutes back of Chad. Once I crested the dirt road I was at mile 8 and it was pretty much all downhill from their. I started to get after it a bit, really trying to work the downhills to go as fast as possible while making sure I had some in the bank for the last 2.5 miles of flat ground along the lake. I was moving well and soon enough I was on the shoreline. I finally saw Chad, I checked my watch at one point and calculated that he was ~ 1:30 up on me. I had 2 miles to make that distance up. I didn’t know that Chad was in the wave before me. And this is a good time to mention that Mary Eggers was on her Mtn bike during the whole run. She was riding ahead of Chad as he was the first place male, uknown to me. I want to take this opporunity to thank her for being on course and providing a friendly face and support. It was great to see someone you know when your climbing a road solo with no one else around you and another voice to tell the aid stations to get massive amounts of water ready! That was great! Anyway, never made the connection that Chad has started a wave behind me and was thus 5 minutes ahead of me + another 1:30 at the 2 mile to go point. Therefore, I took my first swig of coke at the 11 mile mark and put my head down. I could see his jersey and wanted very badly to catch up to it. This was the first time I had the chance to actually chase someone down. With a quarter mile to go I passed my great friend Mike Corona and my Dad who was screaming is butt off. Inside I wanted my Dad to be quite so I could sneak up on 2nd place…funny what goes through your mind at the end of a race like that, I was all strategy I guess. In the end I was about 3 seconds short of catching Chad. I was sprinting my butt off to get him but came up a bit short, then promptly figured out that he had beaten me by 5 whole minutes…remember that 5 minutes I gave up in the swim? Ouch! Haha, it was a great time and I really enjoyed the hell out of that run. I was in control the whole time and was able to kick it up a notch when I wanted to. I really thank Chad for helping me push those last 2 miles. Even though they are flat they are LONG and since you can see the finish line the whole time (and it doesn’t seem to get closer), its just more torture.
MINI report for the Mini-Mussel: And the day before the Half-Iron I raced in the mini-mussel. This put me in the running for the Double Mussel. I had a pretty strong performance as my swim was only 15-20 seconds back of the top swimmers, my bike was solid, and my run got the job done. I ended up finishing 2nd OA to the now two time winner Steve Rosinski. He set every record last year and nearly duplicated it again this year on less training as he recently was married and just got back from his honeymoon about a week ago…I can’t imagine he was doing much swim, bike, and run while on that trip.
BTW, check out these AMAZING custom-made jerseys that were given to the Top Three Overall Athletes. These were made by Woolsports, the title sponsor of the 2011 Musselman Weekend. These jerseys are awesome, and by far the best award/swag I have EVER received from any competition. Thank you Woolsports for all you did, you guys Rock! I look forward to next year!
And in closing I want to let you all know that I am definitely going to Lake Placid this weekend. I was leaning towards not making the trip due to the travel time, expense, extra vacation days from work, etc…however after seeing all the cheering, all the support, all the everything at the Mussel its really just affirmed how important stuff like that is. I would really be heartbroken, truly, if I didn’t see all my freinds racing and crossing that line on Sunday. My great friend Mike Corona will tearing up the course, Travis Earley is going to be chasing down his demons of the past, Kim Ammon will once again prove to herself and everyone else that anything is possible, Josh Gonsenhauser will be taking on his first 140.6 adventure, one that I am sure will test him on multiple levels, he will come through a different person I guarantee. Joe Crispino will be taking on #2 looking to better his time from last year. Jochen is going to destroy the bike course, Steve Gonser is going to go by me on his bike going “whooomp, whooomp”, a new friend Pirate Nick is looking to destroy the course and if his preparation says anything…he will…and gosh there are countless other people I know who will be on the course this Sunday. I would really really be bummed if I missed this event. So the long and short of it is that I said enough is enough and I am heading up Friday night no matter what so I can watch all my friends have amazing races. I can’t wait to see what unfolds in Lake Placid. Its going to be a great weekend.
And as a side note, hit me up with an email, twitter, text or whatever if your going to be up their this weekend. I’ll be in late Friday night through Monday.
Happy Lake Placid week everyone, rest up and get ready to dominate if your racing on Sunday!