Some Hussel at the Mussel
The Musselman Triathlon is, hands down, the best race I have ever done. Having race directed two races myself, I can honestly say that this race is top notch. The race director pays attention to every detail, the swag is creative, the price is very reasonable, and local business are encouraged to get involved. Since 2004, Musselman weekend has been the highlight of many a triathlete’s season in Upstate NY. There are 2 races on back to back days: the Mini-Mussel (a sprint distance race) and the Musselman (a half ironman). This year about 800 people would be racing each one. And there were about 100 of us doing the Double Mussel (both races).
I raced here in 2008 and it was my first half ironman race. I decided to come back this year and race on back-to-back days to both see what I have to work on at this point in the season and because I thought it would be good training for the Ultraman World Championships. My plan for both of these races was to go as hard as I possibly could from the start and see where I blew up.
I followed the plan. I swam at an uncomfortable pace. I never looked at my watch. I never looked at my bike computer. I did not stop pedaling. I did not use the small chain ring. I did not use my GPS. I ran as hard as I could. I’m pretty sure that other runners were getting out of my way because I was making strange animal-like noises. I hurt. I had pains in my sides so bad I thought I was running myself into kidney failure. It hurt like hell and I was completely happy. I also won a beer in a small wager!
Place: 24 / 804
I was surprised that, for this race, I was not sore at all from the previous day. After the Mini-Mussel I immediately took an ice bath and that was the key (I swear by these). For the race, the water temperature was slightly over 78 degrees which meant that it would be a wetsuit illegal race. You could wear a wetsuit, but you would not be eligible for prizes. This was an easy decision for me – I am not the best swimmer, I wasn’t going to win, and for those of us doing the Double Mussel, prizes only went to the top 5 and I was not in contention. I would wear my wetsuit.
Overall, the conditions were not great. A storm was brewing so the swim was choppy and the bike was windy in spots. It also poured at one point while I was on the bike. During the run the heat and humidity were a killer. I tried to follow the plan again. I came out of the swim in 35 mins, which is a huge personal best for me. The bike went smoothly and was uneventful (except for the rain), until mile 50 when I started to run out of steam and I got passed by riders I normally wouldn’t get passed by. I generally try and shoot for a 20mph+ avg and I was still able to do that.
Hitting the half marathon run I felt great and was able to maintain a 7:15 min pace for the first three miles. I ran the first half with another guy from Rochester. Chatting with this guy made the first half of the run fly by and we were pushing each other (but if I was able to talk, was I pushing hard enough?). It got really hot on the run and I worked every aid station like it was my job – ice down the shirt, water over the head, gel, water in the mouth, and coke for the caffeine (but only for the last 5 miles). I got real messy, but the volunteers were outstanding at the aid stations.
After losing this guy at about mile 6, I was on my own for the rest. There are some killer hills on this course that I walked – a random staircase through a condo complex (?) and Barracks Road. They kept it interesting. I tried to keep a 7-8 min mile pace going, even with the small amount of walking I did. I must have had a good handle on the heat because it was starting to look like a death march. I passed lots of people walking and sitting down at the aid stations. The last mile seemed to take for.ev.er. And the animal noises came back. The last half mile and finishing chute was a blur. I was happy to check my time after another ice bath and see that I had improved my overall time by 12 minutes over the last time I did this race.
Place: 51 / 830
I ended up placing 3rd in the Double Mussel (they combine your times from both races). It’s hard to say what would have happened if I didn’t wear my wetsuit, so I’m completely OK with having made that decision.
Besides the races, there were a few other highlights: I got to reconnect with friends that I have not seen in a while. I got to race with not one, but TWO other past Ultraman finishers (there aren’t that many of us, so this was a huge surprise). And the best one… wait for it… was a random lady coming up to me and asking “Aren’t you UltraAdam? I follow you on Twitter!” Yessss.
I rarely do the same race multiple times, but this is one that I am ready to sign up for again.