Recap of the Events
The race went off without a hitch. The mini-Musselman title is a little misleading. It's given the name 'mini' because there is a half-iron distance event associated with the race. I guess they both can't be called the 'Musselman." RD Jeff Henderson gives the well deserved respect to the distance peeps and slaps on a 'mini' for a prototypical sprint distance race. He also had a micro-Mussel and a goofy-Mussel (not an official title, but what else can you call a triathlon that incorporates tricycles and unicycles).
With a 9:00 start time, the race allows ample opportunity to get out of bed and to the race site. In my race preview, I had suggested that I would be doing the swim portion without a wetsuit. Roughly 10 minutes before the start, I changed my mind. My philosophy: I didn't actually need a wetsuit but since my big race will be in a wetsuit, therefore, I should practice racing in said outfit. So I strapped myself in and appreciated the extra buoyancy while waiting for the cowbell to go off.
|Me on the left (not pictured- 1st place guy)|
I had a relatively slow transition. It may be because transition skills have been underpracticed. It may be that I'm a nice guy. See, before the race, I helped a newbie set up his helmet and glasses (along with a few other tips). Since I was second into transition, there were not many distractions, except for that helmet and sunglasses. They were on the ground in front of my bike (not exactly where I had advised). After peeling off the wetsuit, in record Banter time mind you, I took the liberty of fixing the guy's gear. I felt responsible for their new and sucky position. I needed to right the wrong. I left transition in 5th place.
|Get. Foot. Into. Shoe.|
Transition 2 was a bit better. Due to the number of waves and the 6 minute time differential, I had actually finished the bike before some people finished the swim. More evidence, in my world, for larger waves. Sharing the transition area with the swimmers did not pose a problem. I racked my ride, added socks and shoes to my feet, and took off.
|Can't get a better view (of the lake, not me)|
This is completely self-centered at this point, but when I look at my times from a year ago and compare to 2011, I am a significantly slower person. My swim was slower, my bike was slower, my run was slower. The only place I showed improvement was in the second transition, which I had a whopping 4 second improvement. Last year, I was 15th. This year 36th overall (28 people in later waves posted better times). This is sort of a testament to my training and I don't like what it's preaching.
I tried to justify the change in time by some creative statistics. For example, the guy who won the overall prize was the same in both years. If I use him as a control, he finished about 1 minute slower this year. So, maybe the course was a bit long (Garmin supports this hypothesis). But, when I look at other competitors who did both years (yes, I look at other people's results), the finish times were varied, just like you'd expect. Some people were faster, others were slower. I hate that I'm in that latter category.
More creative reasoning is thus: remember the guy whose helmet and glasses I fixed? I guess that detour cost me about 10 seconds in transition. If I take those 10 seconds back, I jump from 36th overall to 34th overall.
Don't worry. I'm not naive enough to believe the creativity. I see it for what it is... Excuses for under/ bad training. Same goes for the cold, wet spring. The snow in winter. The knee injury (ok, that last one is valid). The reality is that I am 2 pounds heavier and slower in 2011 compared with 2010. Maybe it's just that I'm getting old. (See, more excuses. I can't give up). Keep in mind that this bitterness amounts for only 10% of my emotion towards my racing. I am having the time on my life. Triathlon and racing are fun and I'm not about to let 21 places in a race that I didn't win anyway ruin it for me.
Seriously. This was not a race. It was an event. The Musselman is a weekend. There's a reason that this race is annually voted the most Family Friendly triathlon in the country by Triathlon Magazine. Strike that. There are several reasons. Such as:
|Live music on site|
|Water park for the kids|
|Food for all- not just racers|
|Cooling pool after finish|
There was lots of swag. At the finish, they handed you a wet towel, which was just shy of heaven on a hot day. The race encouraged recycling and composting in lieu of just plain trash cans. They even had a beer truck. Again, fun for the entire family. This race will probably remain on my schedule for a long time coming. It sets the bar for how a triathlon event should be run.