It had been two summers since I last did the Mooseman. In 2007, I did two sprints races as opposed to the 6 or 7 races I usually do, so I was looking forward to this challenge of doing an International distance on Saturday then the Half Ironman on Sunday. I had done these distances back to back before, but usually I would put all my energy into being competitive with the shorter distance then just get through the half. This year was different as there was now an official category for those of us who wanted to do both, the Bull Moose Challenge. My goal was to be competitive in both distances.
The morning of the race I awoke at 4 a.m. to allow myself to eat a relaxed breakfast, time to drive to the venue and have a good parking spot, as well as get myself set-up and warmed-up. All was going well. I was feeling great and ready for the day. An amazing thing happened to me on my drive. From my house to the race, I drove a portion of the bike course but in reverse. About 4 miles from the race start, along North shore Drive, a very large, gangly Bull Moose complete with antlers still coated with velvet sauntered across the road in front of my car!!! I slowed, said good morning to him as he passed then continued on. This was a great omen for me. What are the chances of seeing a Bull Moose on my way to the Mooseman Triathlon to compete in the Bull Moose challenge? Indeed it was unfolding into a great day for me.
Reviewing the details of the race would make for a boring story in my opinion. I just want to share my overview of the International and Half day and as to why it was a great weekend. Simple, I kept my thoughts focused on what I was doing, stroking, breathing, sighting, pedaling, leaning on my run. I envisioned my transition steps as I got closer to the finish of the swim. Transition was calm and focused, smooth. Out on the bike I ate well, drank and took my Endurolytes as necessary for the heat of the day. The bike course was rough pavement for the first 6 miles so I just hung on pedaling smooth and evenly.
In years past, I was not very fond of this bike course, but I had to make peace with it, otherwise it was not going to serve me to have a good ride or experience. My plan was to eat about 60g of carbs every hour on the bike and run to sustain my energy level. I must say it worked and worked really well as I never felt I bonked, I felt consistent energy throughout the event. Once I hit the run I was really surprised but extremely happy about how great I felt on the run. The legs just moved, I had a great rhythm. This sensation I attribute to the metronome I use religiously on my training runs to help me keep my cadence up at 90. (I find it too easy to get slow and sluggish on long runs or if I am tired. The metronome keeps me going with a fast turnover.)
Once I finished the run I started my recovery for the next day. I ate, I jumped in the lake, and I took a 30 minute nap in the sun on the beach. Later in the afternoon I headed home and to the health club where I work for a light, happy, feel-good massage with my favorite Massage Therapist. This was the best thing I could have done for myself to speed the recovery. The pasta dinner for those doing the half was being held that Saturday night so I went back to the race venue where I met friends. After more food and a few laughs, I headed back home, got into my pj’s then tucked up into bed.
Once again up at 4 a.m. My friend Sheila came by to pick me up to commute together because she was doing the half as well. I ate my oatmeal in the car, happy to be chauffeured. Once there it was my intention to go through a similar warm-up as the day before by riding on my bike on the trainer for half an hour easy. I was curious about how I was going to feel once I started to pedal. Would the legs feel heavy, sore, and sluggish? Thus far this morning I was feeling great and wasn’t sure if the bubble would break once I started my warm-up. I mounted the bike and …wow! I was feeling okay! I was feeling so good mentally it was awesome to feel good physically as well. Sweet!
It is hard to say at the beginning of such a long race how things would unfold. There is so much that can happen, but I find that if one has done all the training prior to race day, it becomes all about one’s mental focus. But my experience is that it is not just visualization, talking and thinking positively, but is also about the emotions you attach to it. There is more power if you attach genuine positive emotion to it.
And I was. I was so happy, truly appreciating being there. The people, the venue, the atmosphere, my physical health all of it left me with an attitude of gratitude. I knew it was going to be a great experience regardless of the splits I would produce that day.
One minute I was swimming, the next I was heading for the finish line. The time just flew by. The swim I missed being under 30 minutes by one tiny second, cool! I was on goal pace, one funky moment with my bike where I felt I needed to hop off thinking I had some technical problem, but I enjoyed a moment to stretch my legs. My run was feeling crazy good! Once I crossed the finish line, so happy to be able to stop, I was looking forward to stopping, I looked at my watch. My last mile was just under 7 minute pace! I don’t think I have ever done that before. I never would have thought this given my sensation of effort for that last mile.
A great feeling of accomplishment is what I felt while floating around in the lake minutes after the race. It is one of my favorite parts of triathlon, taking of my sneakers then jumping in the lake. It’s nice to be done, to stop moving, to stop pushing, put on some dry clothes and just chill.
I placed in my age group for the International distance, but just missed a podium spot for the Half. For the Bull Moose category there were a few amazing athletes who well exceeded my efforts. Kudos to them. What I got out of my two day challenge was great satisfaction and appreciation for my physical and mental health… and a nap.
Celeste St.Pierre is a triathlete (sprint, Olympic, off-road, half and Ironman), Total Immersion Teaching Professional, USA Triathlon coach, USA Swimming Level 1 Coach, certified Pilates instructor and owner of TriathlonSkills.com.