Musselman recap

Written by Mary Eggers. Posted in Coaching, General, Race Reports

After 3 days of announcing 2,000+ athletes at the amazing Musselman weekend…… I sound exactly like Marge Simpson’s sister. Because I am all about bringing sexy back.

To say that Musselman weekend was a success is a huge understatement. It was downright special.

On Friday night I got to announce five kids from the Coyle family (Mike’s nieces and nephews) in the kids race. Their enthusiasm, their excitement….. their downright gung-ho ness was contagious. This is my FAVORITE photo of the weekend.

coyle kids

Throughout the year since Michael died, I have gotten to know the rest of the family. Especially his mom. We joked a few weeks ago that he would find it funny that we were friends now. The passing of a friend has this intricate way of bringing people together. Musselman was where Mike died last year, and I knew that coming here was not easy for his family. I know it was downright painful.

These kids….. brought back what this was all about. Living life at 100%. Their faces as they crossed that finish line said it all to me. I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. I wanted to send an email  to Mike and say “Did you See these kids? This is what YOU inspired friend. This is what YOU inspired.”

Saturday morning five members of team Coyle toed the starting line. His sisters Joanna and Lisa, and his brother Chuck were doing their first triathlon. Their spouses joined them. The moment of silence was difficult. Really difficult. But at the same time really beautiful. I just don’t know how to explain it.

As the race was beginning a State Trooper approached me and asked if I knew the family (I was wearing one of the shirts). I said yes. He asked if he could give me something to pass on to the family. So I followed him to his car, and he handed me a Garmin 301xt.

“This was Michael’s.” He said, and he didn’t need to say one word more. Mike’s garmin.

I took it in my hand and I kept it with me the entire race. I felt like I had been given a great honor…. to pass it back to the family.

I thought about that garmin, and to us athletes how personal that is to all of us. To an outsider it’s just a watch. To us it captures our experiences. Not just heart rate and splits. The good days and the bad days. In this case, the last day of Mike’s life. How many miles he traveled with this. How many snowstorms, marathons, races. To an athlete this is as personal as personal can get.

I gave it to his sister after the race was over, and I knew she understood the meaning of it. It was a good moment.

As the family raced I smiled and shouted them out over the mic. Chuck…. came off the bike second….. and he didn’t start the bike second. He’s an uber cyclist who claims to not be a triathlete….. finished 3rd in his age group. I laughed to myself because I knew that somewhere…. Mike was laughing too.

Mike’s sister Lisa came in next and the most beautiful thing happened. The family went out onto the run course to bring in Joanna. And the most touching, beautiful breathtakingly amazing finish happened next.

This:

Coyle family

I thought a lot about Mike’s amazing  wife and his two beautiful girls as the siblings all crossed together. I have been amazed by their strength. Their courage. All of them. I have learned through them what grace really means. I have seen that not all days are good days…. in fact many days are not good days. But they stand up with such strength….. it’s got an energy all its own.

I hope you guys know how much this community loves you. Because we really do.

Here is a great article in the Finger Lakes Times about Michael, Lanlin and the mini Mussel on Saturday. Click here.

On Sunday mother nature was angry and presented the worst conditions I have ever seen at the Musselman. In fact somewhere there was a documented tornado even! Athletes came from all over the country, 20 representing Lanlin Lee, and her husband wore her number….. # 678. It was beautiful, all over again.

At some point in the race I took a moment and looked around. This race is so completely homegrown and local, and that’s something only Jeff Henderson can do. Finisher’s medals are the chainrngs from rear cog-sets saved throughout the year at the Geneva Bicycle Center. The finishers awards are made from Vance, a local metalworking company. Red Jacked Orchards brings the juice and the fruit. Wegmans makes the finish line food and towards the end of the day…. it was free ice cream for all!

Local wineries donated wine for podium finishers. Compost and recycling bins are more full than the trash bins.

Over the past 11 years this race has built itself into what it is…. because of the local-ness. Because of the special touches Jeff puts on it. Because it’s not corporate and flashy. Musselman is special. It always has been and always will be. The bigger corporations said it wouldn’t last when he brought it here in 2004.

Time tells, doesn’t it.

The most amazing thing about Musselman however….. it’s family. as I crossed over from athlete here, to race announcer…. I was part of the family on the other side of the line. I have known Jeff since that first year. Score-This is my true immediate family. And I got to tell the stories behind the athletes. 15 pages of stories we collected on our facebook page about what brings YOU to the Musselman.

Not only did I announce this race but I was coaching several athletes racing it. That made it hard as I am usually out on the course somewhere coaching….. but they were amazing out there! We will get those names and results on our Valor Tri Project Facebook page today!

The whole show was amazing. I hope I get to come back and announce it again.

Thanks to everyone who made this weekend so special. Especially to you Jeff Henderson. For bringing Musselman here and for keeping it here, and making it so so special. This is one of a kind and it always will be.

Thank you especially to the Coyle Family. For everything that all of you are and continue to be. I have been so honored to get to know all of you over the past year. I know Michael is beyond proud of all of you.

And trust me….. this community is too. WE LOVE YOU ALL!

Musselman

Written by Mary Eggers. Posted in General

In 2004 I was incredibly honored and lucky to win the inagural Musselman 1/2 Ironman. Since then I have done just about everything you could do at Musselman. I won, DNF’d, raced the sprint, the aquabike….. I have done it all. It remains my favorite race on earth.

Jeff Henderson has a special touch when it comes to race directing that no one else in this world can match. He’s remained true to the mission of what Musselman is and will always be. Our local awesome. The city of Geneva has become such a big part of our lives and truthfully, until Musselman came along…. I had no idea where Geneva even was.

It’s a local homegrown and home sustained race. This year…. I am the race announcer of this great great race. I am nervous. I don’t typically get nervous when I am behind the mic…. but I am nervous. I have been practicing last names. I have been memorizing timelines. for each race I assemble a notebook of timelines, USAT rules…. swim waves….. and for this race I am doing something different.

I am telling YOUR stories.

When it comes to races it’s easy to focus on the winners. But what about the rest of the field? I began to wonder…. what brought THEM to the Musselman? Through the past several weeks I have been collecting stories. On the Musselman Facebook page, through email…. everywhere.

I am going to be pretty emotional this weekend. I am going to warn you. Especially on Saturday. There will be tears as I bring home the family of Michael Coyle. I might totally crack, and I don’t care. Every time I see his photo it breaks me. I am so honored to have gotten to know his family over this past year. But you know what they say…. it never gets better, just further away.

Throughout the races I am going to be sharing the stories of what brings you to the Musselman. Here are a few:

Gretchen

I have been a T1D since childhood, which presents unique challenges for endurance athletes. My diabetes journey could be a story in itself, but I want to share my other story with you.

I am a police officer. My rank is Investigator. In November of 2012, I ran my first half marathon. This was my first experience with an “endurance” race. I never thought of myself as an endurance athlete. However, the training process was fun and my race went well. I decided I wanted to train for a half ironman the following summer. I was in the first few weeks of my half Ironman training plan on Christmas Eve, 2012.

My friend and colleague, Mike “Chip” Chiapperini, was shot and killed on 12/24/2012 in Webster. Chip was my boss and I saw him everyday at work. Soon after the incident started, I got called into work and I worked the investigation (along with many other officers) until it’s conclusion. Losing a friend to a violent and sudden (and completely senseless) death was the worst experience of my life. I saw things that are unspeakable. I was one of the people who did the death notifications to family members that day. I escorted Chip from the ME’s Office to the funeral home and helped push him into the funeral home. That is what cops do for one another. It’s what friends do for one another.

I needed something positive to focus on to get through the work day. My HIM training sessions became that positive force in my life during a very difficult time. I could focus on my long term goals (Musselman 2013 and PITA 2013) and it helped me get through the work day in the few months after Chip died.

Adrienne

Why I’m Racing Musselman: After a collegiate running career that was followed by years of disabling spine and hip pain, I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory autoimmune disease that affects joints and connective tissue throughout your body. That’s never something you want to hear, but also a blessing to finally have an answer and to be able to do something about it – that something turned out to be triathlon, since my body doesn’t like running exclusively anymore, even with the meds – enter cycling and swimming! It’s a much rockier road and races and training can be easily derailed by flares, but I’m just thankful to be out there doing what I love. Even if that means I have to walk it in because the run just isn’t happening that day. Exercise really is the best medicine, physically and mentally. I had also just started an MD-PhD program when I was diagnosed, and thank goodness for being able to train again, because I probably would’ve run through a wall by now otherwise – so much graduate school. Anyways, thanks for listening to my rambling story, I am so looking forward to this race!

Will

Musselman is the mark of 1 year of my life transformation – last july i decided to change my life…I’ve lost 115 pounds, quit smoking, no longer use a sleep apnea machine, don’t need my liver pills, thyroid pills and kicked being pre diabetic. i went from 345 pounds to 230. I’ve finished 8 half marathons 2 full marathons, 2 sprint triathlons, 1 Olympic TRI and I’m coming back to geneva to do the 70.3 to end my first year:) the finger lakes is where i’m from…..cant wait to see all my family and friends and continue my journey….see ya there!

Eugene

To honor my wife, Lanlin. I should also mention that there are about 20 other people coming from Ohio to race in Lanlin’s name.

Kay

My children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews from 3 different states all meet every year in Geneva for the MM …this year we will have 10 participating over the 3 days….our last names are Serafine, Abraham and Malzewsi so we are team Serahamski…….we all stay at our house on south main st in Geneva where we hang a banner and sit outside to watch the Sunday runners go by!

Joshua

 I’m racing for awareness of down syndrome and race for two kids with it. I’m a member of RODS Racing and will be racing for a little girl (orphan) named Maddie who is looking for a forever home and will be thinking of her throughout the day. The other child I will keep in mind is my buddy Dakota, an 8 year old boy in Florida who also has down syndrome, that I’ve been paired up with since May of 2013 who has consistently cheered me on from down south and given me words of encouragement when things get tough. We motivate each other through the tough times whether it be racing or just life in general.

Lisa

My first triathlon (mini-Mussel) in honor of my brother (Michael Coyle)

Mike Coyle

These stories melt me. I love to know where you came from in your journey. I want to know what brings you here. What drives you. If you have a moment, stop by our Musselman Facebook page. Or write down your story and bring it to me race morning. Please stop by to say hi. We will share a hug, get a selfie and I am so honored to bring you across that line.

Safe races to all of you this weekend!

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