Wow—what a weekend! In my imaginary life, the week before running a half ironman would be relatively stress free, with no surprise or interruptions in the ebb and flow, or banality of everyday life. Such was
the case for me. Yeah, right. For those of you who do not know, I am a composer, and also serve, and share the role of artistic director for many arts performances throughout western New York and elsewhere. It is a position that I love, but it takes a considerable amount of time to organize some of these concerts. This year, I worked again to bring the arts to the Musselman Triathlon by organizing the second Musselman Arts Triathlon—a series of concerts spanning twelve hours in which musicians, dancers, and visual artists collaborate in performances. A lot of planning went into this event from so many people. It is used as a benefit for the Smith Opera House
, which means that every performer donated their time and talents to come here and perform in this great space for free! How cool is that? It takes a lot of nice people—and a bit of the ole' Jedi mind trickery to b able to coax people into coming and performing pro bono.
One of the highlights of the Arts Triathlon for me was having a performance by South African pianist Pierre van der Westhuizen of my piece Stress Test. Pierre and his beautiful wife Sophia work at a smal lliberal arts college in Ohio. Here they before minutes before Pierre is scheduled to play my piece watching the fireman's parade go through town with their adorable baby, Jean Pierre.
The week before, Adam and I also had two jazz performances in sweltering heat at the alumni house at the university. Then, following our Thursday gig, we drove forty-five minutes across town for a tech rehearsal for the Nazareth College Dance Festival. We packed up tons of gear, only to find out that we were not rehearsing in the space that we were performing in, and we ran only ran through the piece once, lasting only 15 minutes. Friday was crazy as well. I had guests staying in Geneva, but had folks coming in front out of town to perform who I had to get keys to. I wanted to get into Geneva early Friday to relax and start decompressing from my crazy week, but I also had to pick up my cousin Danny and his girlfriend Jocelyn from the airport. Danny came from Miami to run the race with me. So, I picked them up at 4:30, we stopped home to get all my gear and say hello to the wife. Danny brought his bike from Florida, but it was packed in a box and we threw it in the back of my small Toyota Camry. The rest of the car was packed with gear as well. So, Danny and Jocelyn had two sit on each others lap on the way down to Geneva. It was almost comical, but everything worked out.
The week my father passed away, I had to bring my bike in to the main man over at crankskins.com
for a little pre-race bike therapy. I am chatting with him about everything that had gone down the last couple of weeks. As I go to put my bike back on my roof rack, I notice he put a very special piece of bike bling on both sides of my seat mast. Before I trudged up the steepest climb in the course, I kissed my fingers and tapped dad on both sides. I felt like her was with me there the whole time helping me.
Look who came down the day before the race and got to watch part of the Arts Triathlon. Alaina danced with BIODANCE
during one performance, and I got to perform with her at the end with my very own Be Here Now Ensemble—an improvisational ensemble. I can not tell you how absolutely rewarding and beautiful it is to work with Alaina. She is a far better dancer than I am musician. I loved being able to perform with her. Good job partner!
In between performances, I met Adam and Alexa next door for some much needed grub. I had to wait so long for my chicken sandwich that I ended up getting it for free. Bonus! We sat down for dinner at a joint next door to the Smith The whole town was crawling with athletes. You might wonder... what do elite athletes eat the evening before a big race? Please Mark, show me how they are constantly aware of their nutritional needs. My new friend here from Virginia was scarfing down some potato skins of course:
The Arts Triathlon was a huge success. The event culminated with a performance by my ensemble, Be Here Now. The ensemble is made up of musicians and dancers who are able to improvise and create pieces "on the spot." Throughout the day, artists were painting a backdrop in the back of the Smith Opera House stage. It was an incredible undertaking. Here is my fellow co-artistic director (and painter,) Cherry Rahn in front of the finished product.
My other lovely co-conspirator in this whole operation, Donna Davenport, is deathly shy, but she posed for this picture.
What made the Arts Triathlon especially rewarding for me was having so many different types of musicians performing and dancers and artists performing with complete abandonment. This shot is of some jazz musicians jamming alongside some conservatory students from the Eastman School of music that I invited up to play at the end of the performance. That is Adam on the left ladies with the white Zoot hat he ourchased the day before the race to throw ice in as he was running. He's still single, but rumor has it he has been on a date with a very grumpy, moody, future Ironman who shall
As far the actual HIM, I really should
have no complaints. I subtracted 22 minutes from my time last year. Here is how it went down:
Eh. Not remarkable really. With all the chaos the last four weeks, I have had less time to dedicate to this discipline. I did enough training to get it done, and that is exactly how it felt. It's funny, midway through my training I was feeling really positive about my swimming—and I was getting faster. I know the reason for the gradual decline—time—not a lot. More, it is easy to put on the appropriate shoes and get out the door for a run or bike. When it comes to swimming... I have to check the pool schedule, then make sure it is going to coordinate with the kid's schedules, the family itinerary, etc. No excuses, but, if we move again, it is going to be next to a lake! I felt fairly good until around the mile point, then I was getting super warm in my full wetsuit and started thinking about doing a keg stand underneath a water faucet. I was also steamy in my suit. This is one swim I would have preferred a sleeveless suit. Time: 38:31"
Needed about 5 miles to rehydrate and get my heart rate under control again after transition. I took the first five miles easy, then gradually started to pick up my tempo. I felt great the whole way through. I think that I did make a critical error during my bike however. I don't think I drank enough. I brought 80 ounces of fluid with me, but I think I could have used more. I also think that my mixture might have been a bit too salty for me. I was really thirsty for water on the bike. I got one 20 ounce bottle at the bottle exchange/aid station, and one near the end. It was not nearly enough, as I found out on the run. Some suggested that perhaps I mashed it too hard on the bike. I don't think this was the case. My heart rate was never really that high, and I felt fine the whole ride. I averaged 20.4, but I averaged 22 on the course when I went out and just rode an open 56 three weeks ago. Still, something to consider. Perhaps I can try slowing down during training a bit and seeing how I run afterwards. Time: 2:45:08
Well, I had two runs really. The run up to mile six, and the run after mile six. I think this is where I made another critical error. I felt dehydrated off the bike. I got my fuel belt on and started to run. I took a swig and it did not satiate me in the least. I could feel my stomach starting to cramp already during the first mile. I knew I was in trouble. When I got to the aid station, I sucked down two cups of ice water and through some ice on my head and sponged off my back. Still, I felt pretty fatigued. Right around mile three I heard Adam behind me saying "I'm coming for you Mark." I laughed. He had me. He asked if I was okay, and I told him I was just dehydrated and he went on running, well... jogging, steadily. It took me about five miles, but I finally felt like I was rehydrated between miles five and six. I threw down a lot of water, GU Chomps, and electrolytes. I pretty much ran sub 8's from mile 7 to the finish. That will give you some sense of just how slow I was averaging in the beginning. I totally expected to run around a 1:50 half on this course. I was really disappointed. Time: 2:07:55
Okay, I know, I know... 22 minutes is a fairly significant improvement in a year. I need to somehow find a way, especially now with Ironman looming in my immediate future, to make swimming a staple of my diet. Last year following the Musselman half, I said that I wanted to run a 5:30 this year. Next year, I am going out on a limb and say I want to shave that time down to 5:15. I absolutely know I can do it. I've gotten faster, and smarter about my training. I might actually work with a coach next year who can help me improve my training efficiency. I need someone to be able to look at my schedule and say "How the heck are you even able to train a little bit?" and then help me devise a plan for success.
TOTAL TIME: 5:36:08 41/91 AG (
But it was one of those only five seconds separated 37/91 AG from 41/91 AG) Darn... run faster at the end next time Mark! Read those calves!!
All said and done, I had an unbelievably fun day. I enjoyed—with the exception of the steamy wetsuit in the canal—every minute of my race. I even had a good time taking in fluids. It helped inform my strategy for Ironman in September. Only 58 more days to go!