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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mooseman 70.3-Part I

After Tallahassee, it was on to training for my next major task-the Mooseman Ironman 70.3.  To be honest, I had chosen the race for 3 reasons: 1. We could drive to it.  2. It didn't interfere with any other races I wanted to do.  3.  "Moose" was in the title.  My dog is also named Moose.  The race website also didn't provide an elevation map of the bike course.  That might have made me think differently.  But, I spent my late winter/early spring convincing Dave to buy me an expensive, pretty Cervelo P3, sweating half my blood volume out on it on the trainer, flaring up my hip issues, deciding it was the bike's fault, trying my road bike again, getting frustrated with my lack of bike speed, actually treating my hip, trying the Cervelo again, slowly biking up and down the street until I could convince myself to relax my white-knuckled grip on the handlebars long enough to reach to the end of the aerobars and shift, and eventually getting in all of 3 rides over 40 miles outdoors prior to the race.  By race time, I had progressed my remedial bike skill set to include comfortably riding with my left arm down in aero (right arm up, and only under 24 or so mph-yeah aero!), shifting from the big to the small ring, riding with my right arm in aero long enough to shift, retrieving and eating a gel taped to the frame, and occasionally hitting 30mph down hills prior to braking.  The P3 and I (and my ridiculous aero helmet, purchased with store credit) were about as ready to go as we'll ever be.

So, the Thursday before the race, after a short, completely unfocused work week, Dave and I loaded up the car, dropped off the mutts, and headed out.  Of course, this wasn't without a "hitch" (bad pun intended); Dave couldn't get the trailer hitch he had purchased for my car installed, so we had to take his car.  Not a problem, except his headlight went out the night before.  Again, not a problem on a normal car, but apparently Mazdas install their headlights with the idea that they will never be allowed to escape.  After 2 hours of work, though, the headlights were working (I should add that all of this was Dave's headache, as I was still at work).  We drove out to Ballston Spa on Thursday night (not going to lie, I slept most of the car ride).  Friday morning, we headed out for the rest of the drive to Bristol, NH.  While Vermont was gorgeous, I have to say that the mountains were making me rather uneasy.  A few weeks prior, I had mapped out the Mooseman bike course and generated an elevation profile of the Mooseman bike course.  As someone who had tipped over trying to reclip in on a massive hill a few weeks prior, this was a poor idea.  I spent 2/3 of the month leading up to the race obsessing about the 3+mi long, 1000 foot, 6% grade climb that we went up twice, and the other 1/3 obsessing about the subsequent downhill and its 30mph speed limit for bikes.   In my mind, the climb and descent soon resembled the mountains we were driving past, and my nerves and anticipation were building with every mile.

By early afternoon, we were in Bristol, at the park.  We got our race numbers, signed waivers, got our athlete bands, and poked around the vendors, buying some random supplies.  Dave bought a Mooseman hat, which would come into play later that weekend.  I checked out my transition spot (far, far away from the bike in/out...darn), posed with some "Dave" port-a-potties, much to Dave's amusement, and just stood at the water's edge, letting the waves lap at my feet, while I took in the gorgeous scenery and thought about what I was there to do.  I also spent my time scoping out every other female that walked past, obsessing over how they all "looked fast" (my rational mind that would have told me anyone about to do a 70.3 would look fit wasn't working by that point), and trying to determine if they was in my age group, or possibly a pro.  Now that I had a fancy tri bike, my focus also shifted from panicking over seemingly being the only athlete without a tri bike to being the only athlete without an expensive wheelset.  This sport is a money pit.  I then decided I wanted to drive the bike course before biking it; the moment of truth had arrived.  We drove over the course, and I was reassured to see that while the hill was quite long, it wasn't as steep as I had feared.  Finally, the time to try it out had arrived!

Our trip over the bike course ended up being pretty valuable.  I made it up the climb, but was redlining it by the top; my lungs, legs, and, for some reason, back were all burning.  I was relieved to see that I still had 2 gears to shift down to once we reached the top, and made a mental note to actually use them come race day! The descent also didn't freak me out as much as it could have.  After we finished the ride, Welby had finally made it from Buffalo, so we met up and went out to the hotel to retire for the night.

Saturday was fairly uneventful.  We traveled to the race site, poked through the expo once again, swam the intermediate course, got a prerace massage, and I generally was a bundle of nerves.  After the prerace meeting, we headed to a different, closer hotel for the night.  Well, it was a smoking/nonsmoking hotel, but even the nonsmoking rooms had the lingering odor of smoke.  Given my allergies and general panic, I ponied up the money to switch to a different, non-smelly hotel.  After a tasty dinner, we bought some last-minute groceries, mixed up water bottles, and retired to bed for the night.  Crunch time was here!

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