Posted by: kellietris | August 23, 2011

Somebody’s Gotta Run Slowest: Mascomaman 70.3 Race Report

Half iron number two is in the books!

First off, this was by far the hardest course I’ve ever seen. Mooseman had more feet of climbing on paper, but that race had a few really big hills and was more or less flat afterwards. Saturday the bike course was constantly up and down and back up, followed by a run which was more of the same! At least the swim was flat… but I did almost get lost in the fog…

This was the first year of the race, which was organized by UNH student (and swimmer!) Casey Albert. It was a family affair, as her parents were assistant race directors, and I will say they did a great job bringing everything together. I’m sure they’ll get some good input for improvements from the athletes, but it went really smoothly considering the distance.

Carolyne and Lou and I stayed the night in White River Junction, VT which was

Cool kids

Pre-race, caffeinated and in the fog.

about a 15 minute drive to the start in Enfield, NH. HUGE kudos to the Dunkin Donuts in White River Junction across from the hotel which opens at 4AM, cause I would’ve been without coffee had they opened at 5. It’s the little things that matter on race morning! Coffee in hand we drove through the fog and were the first people to arrive in the parking lot. —>Cool Kid badge goes here <—-

The transition area looked comically small, since there were only 70 something athletes in the half (and the sprint athletes weren’t due to show up for two more hours). We racked our bikes, set up our gear, and realized… we can’t see the lake for the fog. Oops? The start was delayed 15 minutes in hopes that the fog would start to burn off. I decided on Friday that I would wear my speedsuit for the race, like I did at Mooseman last year. I have an Xterra Vortex 0.02, which is basically a wetsuit minus the insulation and buoyancy. Pure drag reduction. I only wear it when it’s a long triathlon swim (in swim-only events you’re often ineligible for placement if you wear any kind of suit other than a bathing suit). I squeezed myself into it as we waited. The 15 minutes made no difference, but after half an hour we could see the first buoy, kinda, in the fog. We had the re-race meeting and they told us the kayaks would line the course, and there’d be a motor boat at each buoy, so just swim from one to the next! Awesome. Someone chimed in, ‘or just follow the line in front of you! just don’t be first…’ Great advice, except…

I was in the first swim wave. You might be able to tell where this is going. The wave was the 25 and unders. I figured there were a few current college swimmers, I’d have someone to follow. There looked to be about 12-15 of us in the wave, and as we started heading towards the buoy that we reeeeally couldn’t see, we spread out pretty quick. I was all alone, with one guy ahead of me. He was a little too fast for me to comfortably keep up with, and he got progressively fuzzier and fuzzier as we got away from shore. I could see kayaks, but they move. I wanted a stationary landmark, but there was only fog. I found the first buoy pretty easily because the guy was still close enough that I could clearly see his wake, but after I turned I was so lost as to where the next buoy was. I didn’t even have an angle, since we couldn’t see them from shore. I headed for the next kayak, and then the next, until I found the buoy (which was one of the small ones which didn’t help matters). This was a diamond shaped course, so I knew somewhere out there was one more buoy. I swam blindly for a little bit, sighting a kayak, or a boat? I finally had to actually take off my goggles, look with my eyes, and then resume swimming. Not the quickest method I’ll admit, but it helped find that last buoy. By the time I got around it I could see the shore and had a big tent to sight. We had to swim two loops; at the end of the first we had to run out of the water, around a couple cones, and back in. I swam into shore, and popped out of the water. Casey was announcing names as people came out, and it was pretty funny when I heard her say “Here’s the second swimmer, number 52…… AND IT’S A GIRL!!!!!” Obviously the first swimmer had been a guy, and they were expecting the next few to be also, apparently. Surprise! I jumped back in and headed around again. Second time was a little easier, but I had two women from the second start wave hot on my heels. Don’t know who those two were but they caught me at the second buoy and kept it up. I finished the swim in about 31 minutes, definitely lost a couple minutes to getting lost in the fog! I was the third woman in the swim. Next time I’m breaking half an hour if it kills me!

I took my time in transition. I’m not aiming to win, and I’d rather add an extra minute in T1 or T2 to be comfortable later on. I lathered on the sunscreen in T1 despite the lack of sun; the forecast was for a sunny day and I was not going to get fried! The only thing that got left behind were my bike gloves. No idea how I missed them, they were right there, but there are worse things to overlook. In and out of T1 in 3:51.

This was my best attempt at a nutrition plan. I nailed it on the bike. It went super well for having no idea what I was doing! at 8:15 I had a power gel, and took one every hour on the :15s. at 8:45 I took two shot blocks, and again on the :45s after that. I mixed in some endurolyte tablets  especially when I felt my calves start to cramp up, but I never bonked and felt strong the whole way on the bike. In addition, I bought a water bottle for my aerobars on Thursday, and it was seriously the highlight of my day. I drank about 90 oz of heed/gatorade while on my bike, which I NEVER would have done with regular bottles. Good stuff!

This is where it gets hilly. I really don’t have a lot to say about the bike other than I seemingly have an inability to tell a false flat from an actual flat. There was a hill that began around mile 40, and ended around mile 48. Uphill juuust about the entire time. I had no idea! Carolyne mentioned it after the finish, and I didn’t believe her until I uploaded my Garmin that night. There it is, an 8-mile hill. It’s totally mentally beneficial for me to not know I’m going uphill (how ridiculous is that?!), but really strange. I do it in my car, too… when we drove to Lake Placid I kept wondering why my car was having trouble on flat roads until she enlightened me to the fact that we were in fact going uphill. There were plenty of hills on this course that I was fully aware of, but the 8-mile, 3% grade monster… I just kept pedaling and singing to myself until I was back at transition. I think I did pretty well to use what downhills there were to power into the uphills, and I tried to keep my cadence high so I didn’t destroy my legs, and for the most part I felt like a rockstar until mile 48 or so (coincidence?). I did start to feel my calves cramp at that point, and I got worried about the run. I strained my right calf (and probably my left, slightly) back in July and didn’t do a lot of cycling or running because of it. I popped a couple more endurolytes and kept on keepin on, deciding to deal with it on the run. I finished the bike in 3:14 (pi!), with a 17.6 mph average. Mooseman’s average was 16.4, but that was during a tropical downpour so I don’t compare them because I was terrified of hydroplaning off the road last time. Saturday’s ride was good for 6th among the 16 women who finished.

I wish I could stop here. I re-upped the sunscreen in T2 and put on my brand-spankin new New Balance Minimus Trail shoes. Brand new as in, I wanted to test-run in them on Thursday night but my sister asked me if I wanted to go to the ice cream place with her… and I like ice cream better than running. I know, nothing new on race day… but if I ran in my fivefingers the blisters would have been obscene (I’ll write more about this later, there’s a story). So yeah, brand new shoes on race day! T2 time of 5:02. Movin!

Lou told me to run 7 minute miles. I told him to... well, I gave him the finger.

My cardinal rule of running races is that I. Do. Not. Walk. I have the ability to just keep going, even if ‘going’ is 13.1 12-minute miles in the pouring rain with soaking wet 10lb Brooks sneakers strapped to my feet (Mooseman, again).


I walked. I don’t even care that I broke my rule. There was not a chance in hell that I was going to run those 13 miles, because it was 87 freakin degrees. It is my worst nightmare that Lake Placid will be a day like this next summer. Throw in the hills on this course, and I was done for. My Garmin is usually awesome motivation since I’m very numbers-oriented, but when you look down and see that you’re on pace for a 13-minute mile and you’re feeling like you’re dying, it’s not so motivating. I stopped at every aid station and downed a little water, took a gel here and there. The first part of the course was shaded and pretty, on a road running along the lake. Huge hills there. The second part was farther form the lake, and ran through downtown Enfield. There was a great rail trail that was shaded and cool… and a mile long (a mile short?). Then it was all open road, no consistent shade. I stopped sweating around mile 6, which as a lifeguard I recognize to be a warning sign of heatstroke. I forced myself to drink an entire water bottle at each of the following aid stations, and wet my baseball hat to keep my head cooler. I started picking landmarks ahead of me, running from one telephone pole to the next, then walking to the next driveway, and so on. I saw very few people because the race was so small, and it was quite odd. I’d look ahead and behind and see nobody. I talked aloud, sang to myself, and cursed running in general, and nobody was around to hear it. I suffered through the whole 13 miles at an average 13:07 pace. I was officially the slowest runner of the 55 athletes who finished on Saturday. All I care is, I made it to the finish!

Despite the hellish run, I had a great time overall. I finished in 6:54:10, good for 30/55 overall, 8/16 women and 3/3 in the women’s 25& under. Quirk of the day: Comparing my race with that of the girl who came in 2nd in my age group… I beat her by 20 minutes in the swim, and an additional 20 minutes in the bike. She beat me by AN HOUR AND FIVE MINUTES in the run. She gets a gold star for running 8:30 miles in that heat!!!

I probably won’t get to do this race again next year because it’ll be so close to Placid, but I definitely recommend looking into it. It’s a really challenging course, and I got the worst weather in the 85F+ heat, but I would do it again without hesitation. That’s why we do it, right? If it were easy, we’d find a new sport.

I drove the three hours home on Saturday afternoon and I’m actually feeling really good today. No ill effects from running with the new shoes except one angry tendon on Sunday which is perfectly fine now. I rode with the PVC women last night, a leisurely 20 miles that loosened up my calves really well.

I was looking at doing the Rockland Breakwater 3.2-mile open water swim this weekend (58 degree water, bring it!) but with the hurricane possibly coming I decided against it. Next up might be a relay at Lobsterman, and then either the Maine Half Marathon or (maybe) the Maine Marathon Marathon (if I can get myself to run more between now and October).

Pssst… winter is coming 🙂


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