After having had an interest in triathlons in the back of my mind for a while, it was my husband who pushed me to finally do my first one last year. We did an Olympic length (because we thought a Sprint sounded too easy?!) in Columbus, OH. So it was only fitting that we continue this journey together, and decided to sign up for our first 70.3: Musselman Triathlon in Geneva, NY. Part of my reason for choosing this race was the rave reviews by so many members of our local triathlon club (Cleveland Triathlon Club). The other part might have had something to do with the fact that the race is in New York’s wine country…and I love wine!
We followed a 20-week training plan, and I almost couldn’t believe after five long months race weekend was finally here! I couldn’t have been more excited!
Musselman is truly a fantastic race. It feeling like the whole town of Geneva is out there cheering for you. And the volunteers are the best!
Saturday morning we started off with a big breakfast, packet pickup, and forgot to sign the Mussel mural (booo!). Then we met up with my mom and godmother and drove around the lake to a bunch of wineries. I bought some bottles for later! After dinner Brandon and I did a short bike and run and then dropped off our bikes in transition. After some wine ice cream (OMG yum!), we got a typically terrible night’s sleep, and we were up around 5:00am and off to the race!
I had my best swim in a triathlon yet! In every other triathlon I’ve done, I’ve had a moment of difficulty breathing, whether it be panicking from all the people, adrenaline, or just getting caught up in the moment and going out too fast. This race was the first time that did not happen! The buoys were on our left, so I stayed to the right entering the water. I really focused on starting out slow and steady and gave myself a chance to find my rhythm in the water. We went around two buoys and then entered the canal (which I thought was never going to end!). I made it to the boat ramp, graciously accepted the hand of the volunteer who helped me gain my footing, and climbed out of the water with a big old grin on my face! (and no, I didn’t step on any sharp zebra mussels!)
Well, this was officially my longest bike ride ever! During training I think we hit 48 miles. When I got to the sign that said 50 miles, I think I threw a hand up in the air and said “Longest ride everrrr!” I was overall pretty happy with my bike. I had hoped for a faster time, but I had no idea how hilly this course is! The race director didn’t seem to think so, but to this Ohio girl those were some HILLS. If you do this race, be prepared for the hill that is JUST after the right turn off of Cayuga Lake. I actually saw people getting off their bikes and walking! I’m so glad I managed to make it up! The downhills were awesome and super fun though. The scenery was amazing. I kept reminding myself to have FUN. I probably could have pushed harder, but I wanted to conserve some energy for the run. I got passed by a lot of people who were in the swim wave after me. But I didn’t let myself get too disheartened by it!
I had a pretty quick transition and took off on the run! For the first couple miles I thought my Garmin was broken because it was telling me my pace was 8:32.. 8:40.. Yet I felt like I was moving like a snail! A few miles in I got passed by a fellow CTC member. I’m not sure if I sped up to stay with her or if she slowed down, but we continued to run together and chit chat. We were both walking through the aide stations and up some of the hills, so it was working out well. It was nice to have someone to run with and talk to! I think she definitely kept me going! Then between miles 6 and 7 I saw my husband up ahead! I had always said that if I caught up to him during the run (I knew he’d bike a lot faster than me) I had intended to finish with him. He stopped at an aide station and I caught up to him. So we continued on together! We did a lot of alternating between walking and jogging. Especially up those HILLS! Oh my word. Nothing prepared me for these hills! Imagine, if you will, the longest steepest hill that you train on. Have it in your mind? Ok. Now make it a little bit longer, a little bit steeper, and GRAVEL. How the record-setting female winner pulled off a 6:49 run pace with hills like that, I’ll never know!
But we powered onward (and upward)! I was so happy to have found Brandon on the course and knew we were going to finish this race together, even if we had to walk it! After five months of training together, crossing that finish line hand in hand was the best moment of the weekend!
Written by Kim Thomas
Follow Kim on Instagram! @k_thomas84
What races have you done with a partner? How was it? Tell us in the comments below!