It’s race week this week with the Couples Triathlon on tap for Sunday morning out at Decker Lake. 800 Meter Swim, 11-mile bike, 3-mile run and our last scheduled race before Ironman 70.3 in October will be in the books. Usually I would have quite a few events lined up between a mid-July race and a late October event, but not this year.
After “Couples” we’ll be heading straight into a 100 day cycle for long-distance triathlon training with a lot of endurance workouts to conquer the 1,900+ meter (1.2 mile) swim, 56-mile bike and half-marathon event in our first attempt at the distance(s). Or really, our first attempt at anything close. The closest parallel I can draw is going from a 5K footrace to a marathon in one jump.
Ironically, that is exactly what we did in the Fall of 2006 going from a local 5K event straight into the teeth of the Philadelphia Marathon.
Of course this time I have a much longer racing history. Numerous half-marathons and marathons under my belt and a far greater understanding of what my body is capable of, how to prepare for a tough long-distance race and how to take care of my body both before and during the event to maximize performance.
But Sunday is going to be a bit surreal as the location for the event at Decker Lake is going to be the same exact spot where we will stand nervously on the edge of the water three months from now staring the half-ironman in the face. The temperature will be different, we’ll more than likely be in a wetsuit instead of our TRI shorts and tank, but there will be a lot of similarities between the two events.
In fact the first 10 miles or so of the half-ironman course will be identical to the first 10 miles on Sunday. All of the steep climbs that we will experience during Longhorn 70.3 fall in those first 10 miles. It is a hilly-monster of a course, one that I feel like we are well prepared for on Sunday if we get moderate winds and our legs bounce back this week from some high-mileage training over the past 30 days.
The nerves will start to build as race day draws closer this week – they always do. But right now I’m excited to race one last time this summer before flipping the switch and starting our toughest training cycle in a long …. well actually …. ever.
On the heals of Longhorn 70.3 will be the Houston Marathon just 11 weeks later. We will actually start our Houston preparations 6 weeks or so before Longhorn, where our long runs will start creeping into that 16,17,18 mile range. Farther than one might normally “run long” preparing for a half-ironman, but mileage that will not only help at Longhorn in the closing miles of the 13.1 mile run, but will help us springboard into week 7 or 8 of marathon training after a recovery week.
It will be a different approach to training for a marathon for sure, but one that I think will prove to have us more than ready on January 13, 2013 in Houston, TX. The thought of focusing only on one discipline (the run) for 11 weeks before the starters gun goes off has me excited for our next and possibly last attempt at breaking the 3 hour mark in the marathon. It is the last “PR” that I want to set at a level that if I never approach it again I will be satisfied.
That is how I feel right now about every other distance from the 1 mile (5:07), 5K (18:12), 10K (37:30), 10-mile (1:02:37) and Half-Marathon (1:23:46). Only my marathon PR set at New York of 3:08:09 has me looking at those numbers knowing that I can be better.
As for the others? Perhaps on a glorious day sometime in the future one or more of them may fall if my fitness, weather and race-day mojo all happen to show up at the same time. But if they do not, I’m satisfied.
Perhaps that is the nature of marathoning. That satisfaction is much tougher to come by in that event than some others. As much as the race breaks you, it seems to leave you with just enough life left to give it one more try. Never completely annihilating you and leaving you for dead. Although you feel awfully close over the final 10 kilometers.
I’ve heard that the half-ironman feels the same as the end of the marathon when you are covering the last few miles. We’ll see about that. I certainly can’t imagine it feeling any tougher. Hopefully I’m right about that.
But for this weekend we will be laying it all out there in the sprint distance in an interesting format – where two athletes compete as a “couple”. Each competitor completing the entire triathlon on their own, then the two times are added together and are ranked in the category that they are competing in.
There are categories for:
Friends – Male (Combined Age Groups: < 70 ; 70-94; 95+ )
Friends – Female (Combined Age Groups: < 70 ; 70-94; 95+ )
Friends – Mixed (Combined Age Groups: < 70 ; 70-94; 95+ )
More than Friends (Combined Age Groups: < 70 ; 70-94; 95+ )
Married (Combined Age Groups: < 70 ; 70-94; 95+ )
Parent & Child
If you do not have anyone to race with, you can compete as an individual by gender:
My friend Ed and I will be competing in the Friends Male 70-94 combined age group as our cumulative age places us at 79 years old for this event.
We have essentially zero chance at a podium finish as we will be competing with the top male age groupers, Open Division competitors and even a handful of local professional traithletes who live here in Austin.
It will be more about having some fun racing with Ed, getting more experience as a triathlete working on my open water swimming, transitions and closing out the run as strong as I can.
1:18 – 1:20 feels about right to me for this event from a goal standpoint. It will of course all be about the swim for me where every :10 I can shave off of my 100 meter splits over 800 meters will be a huge accomplishment on Sunday.
Last month at the Lake Pflugerville Triathlon we were a bit too timid in the water, swam too wide to avoid conflict and it added 1-2 minutes to our swim time. That much cost us a podium finish.
This time there will be no age group award to fight for, but I want to gain some valuable experience swimming “in a crowd” and battling to stay on course and working the tangents around the buoys. The next time we swim at Longhorn the distance will be 1.2 miles. I certainly don’t need to make it any longer than that.
Sunday morning when that horn goes off we are going to swim the first 50 meters aggressively and find a spot on the heels of a swimmer just a bit faster than us. We’ll try to draft the best that we can, and hopefully let that swimmer pull us along at a pace a bit faster than we are capable of swimming on our own.
Once we get out of the water, the race shifts in our favor. Bike over the hills at 20+ miles per hour, then run the 3 mile off-road course (which is a bit slower than a typical road course) in about 19 minutes and 30 seconds.
If we put that type of race together with solid transitions we will be a happy triathlete on Sunday. Exactly the way I want to feel heading into the most intense and honestly a bit scary training period since I trained for my first marathon.
In addition to all of that, tomorrow morning I start a new job for the first time since September 22, 1999.
I’ll be working with a local foundation here in Austin that does tremendous works for local musicians and their families. Contributing to part of the music culture here in Austin that makes our city such a unique and wonderful place to live.
Pretty big week ahead. Hope yours is a great one as well.