Double Mussel Race Report

A week ago tonight, I was sitting with my feet up, gradually packing my race gear and nutrition as I found the energy. I was pretty tired, not nearly as fresh as I wanted to be going into my back-to-back race weekend. But those races, like the week that followed – ok, and the two weeks preceeding – were about diving in. About trusting myself to go ahead even if I didn’t feel fully prepared…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Saturday was the Mini Mussel sprint tri! After my usual race morning wake / yoga / Triggerpoint massage / load stuff in car / drink yummy banana-applesauce-protein shake routine I arrived at the race site. I slowed down for these guys, who were not moving at race pace.

Walking to the swim start I talked with a teammate who is a new mom. After hearing about her baby, who is calm during daylight hours…but not so much at night, I began to realize that my fatigue is in pretty much a different solar system than that of parents. I have one – count it – one life to maintain, and that’s my own.

And now this will become the shortest, sweetest race report ever. Because I’m getting tired, and I want to at least write something down before I leave for Lake Placid tomorrow. So bullet point style, here we go:

  • Mini Mussel swim was good! I kept up with at least some of my wave, swam steadily, and kept going. Swimming is a challenge for me! Time was 15:10, which is my fastest sprint swim yet but likely very influenced by the current.
  • The best thing about the swim of any tri, in my opinion, is that it’s followed by the bike! Grabbed my bike – after a still-slow transition – and headed out. I like this course, I’ve ridden it many times, and I just like my bike. Rocked it…until I blew a rear tire about 1.5 miles from the end. Drat-ola. If I’d had to have changed it I could’ve, but it wouldn’t have been speedy. Mental note to change a lot of tires and tubes this winter for practice. So I took my chances and rode it in on the rim. If Lance can finish Leadville like this, I can do it too, right? Luckily I got in safe, but it sure took the stuffings out of my bike split. 55:41. If I ever get my Garmin to upload I’ll see what it would’ve been without the last 10 minutes of softpedaling!
  • The GOOD part about the softpedaling was that my legs were fresh for the run! I ran a 28:18, which is a 5K PR by one big fat second. Yeah! It hurt, but it’s supposed to.
  • I loved the soggy cold towel at the finish line. Perfect.
  • After some hanging out and watching fellow Train-This’ers get medals and swag, I went to the pre-race meeting for the Musselman half-iron race, of which I would be doing only the swim and the bike. The 13 mile run is a goal for future seasons! As part of the meeting, the race director talked about the swim. It’s 1.2 miles, and he urged people who were unprepared for an open water swim of that length to be responsible and not start. Because the swim was the most intimidating part for me, his warning got me thinking. I have done hour-long lake swims before. I have done a zillion hour-long pool swims. I know what pace I need to feel…to be able to just keep going. It’s not fast, but it would get me there. Once I had that pace in my mind, I was much calmer. I knew I could do it…and have I mentioned that the bike portion of the race is strategically positioned after the swim? Excellent motivation to get it done!
  • So I went home, kept chowing every couple of hours on deliciously carby but not gluttonous foods, and chilled out. Prepped my fuel and gear for the next day. I was ready.
  • Woke up, did the stretch & banana shake thing, and applied this lovely Musselman temporary tattoo! 
  • Arrived, sorted out transition, got body marked again, and made my way to the beach. Definitely still nervous, but ready. One woman told me how calm I looked, which made me laugh!
  • Well, one stroke at a time works! I found that can-go-forever pace and kept it. I was thankful that I was not the only one going that pace! The swim was choppy, but except for a couple of snootfuls of water, it was not bad. At times I just told myself to ride the waves, soak it up, feel exactly where every part of my body was. Because this WAS a challenge for me, but I didn’t want to just get through it. I wanted to get IN it. For all that, though, I was definitely feeling ready to be done swimming when I finished! Swim was 45:57, which I’m totally happy with.
  • Then the bike! I was so psyched for this ride! I hadn’t ridden this route since the day of my crash, and then I only made it 47 miles or so. I planned to take the first 2 hours at a nice endurance pace, pick it up if I could in the third hour, and then at mile 50, pick it up a little more if I could. Well. Once I got my heart rate settled down from the swim – and reminded myself that this was NOT a sprint triathlon – I found that nice endurance pace. Took a gel every 45 minutes, drank heed and perpetuem, and generally felt like I was staying on top of my nutrition. Also took an Endurolyte electrolyte capsule with each of my last 4 gels.
  • All was good until mile 50, when I tried to “pick it up” a bit. I figured that since I wasn’t running, I might as well come in spent! My body had other ideas. Apparently I was a lot hotter than I realized. As soon as I increased my effort, instant nausea came over me. I backed off, drank plain water, and kept going…but I did not feel strong. Damn, damn, damn. I really wanted to finish strong. I ended up at 3:39, which was only 9 min slower than my goal of 3:30.
  • I think I was mostly overheated and low on salt. Endurolytes have lots of electrolytes but not a lot of sodium. After the race I ate and drank slowly but still felt pretty nauseous. I did get to chat with some friends, though, including Alexa who told me, in the same sentence, that I looked strong on the Mini Mussel run and also ran like a peg-leg pirate! 🙂 Oh, true! Funny and true! Arr, matey.
  • I made it back to my car…which seemed approximately 60 miles away. I honestly sat down in the grass and ate a cup of applesauce halfway to the car. This was not good. I was way too hot, and I hadn’t been able to find any salt-rich food at the race site. It was a long ride home.
  • I got upstairs, made myself a plate of banana covered in agave syrup and salt, plus saltine crackers and vegetable broth. And then I parked myself in my chair, covered myself with wet rags, turned on my lifesaving oscillating fan and watched Friday Night Lights episodes for about 4 hours. I also tried to write in complete sentences on Facebook, which was only marginally successful.
  • I came around enough to go to work on Monday, get my two-week mountain of laundry done, and generally keep life going. But I had this nagging feeling of…failure. I had so wanted to finish that race strong, but I just had no idea how that extreme heat would affect me. I also have only done one ride that long since my accident and just don’t have much experience dealing with salt & electrolyte needs during long workouts. Nonetheless, it’s taken me a while to sit with that. I know, there’s no failure, only feedback, and I  DID learn a lot. I’m also more motivated and excited than ever to keep training, as I feel excellent physically right now.
  • So. I finished a huge back-to-back race. I got to both start lines healthy, crossed one finish line strong, and crossed the other relatively so. For whatever imbalance I had going on, I did not throw up, pass out, or have to go to the med tent. And I only had to plead “race brain” once on Monday at work. Most of all, I LOVED it. It just feels so good to race!
  • THIS weekend, I get to go to the races again, but this time from the spectator’s side! I leave for Lake Placid tomorrow morning, and I’m sooooo excited! Lots of Train-This’ers racing and watching, and it will be an awesome time. It will also be at least a few degrees cooler than this (literally) infernal apartment. Holy freaking crap, I am the girl who can never get warm in the winter, and I have had it with the wet rag & hot wind act. I will be OUT of this apartment by next summer!
  • And last, I should probably never say I’ll write the world’s shortest anything. Thanks for reading and for your awesome support.






About solveighanson

I'm a (late) thirtysomething Plant Breeding Ph.D. student, daughter / sister / auntie, vegetable fan, yogi, sometime cyclist, and enthusiastic if infrequent baker. I started this blog in the summer of 2010 to trace my recovery from a pelvic fracture sustained in a cycling accident. That healing process was truly transformative, and since then I seem to have written mostly about the transformations that have followed. And hence the title of the blog: Don't call me a butterfly, because I'm not done changing.
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3 Responses to Double Mussel Race Report

  1. Ruth H says:

    Great report! I appreciate your willingness to share all sides of your races. I think I need to remember your phrase,” no failure, just feedback. ” It can be applied in so many life situations. Enjoy Lake Placid!

  2. tanmy says:

    Great report Solveig..maybe I will see you in placid 😉

  3. Sandy Courter says:

    Yes, you can count on me to read what you write and support you as you move forward. Congratulations on your accomplishments. You have much to contribute in a variety of places and for a variety of people. Stay strong!

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