Archive for July 28, 2011

Thursday of race week is always one of my favorite training days.

The nerves aren’t too bad yet, and you can still get out there and get in a quality workout without worrying too much about leaving your “race legs” out on the training course.

For Sunday’s Triathlon, I will be resting entirely on Friday and just running a very short 2-mile shakeout run on Saturday morning.  Just enough to remind the leg muscles that we have some work to do this weekend, but not too long or too intense to rob us of any race-day mojo.

With the decreased activity on Friday and Saturday my mind will instead start going into overdrive.

Always a bad thing.

I will be pouring over the course maps for the swim, bike and run.  Planning my transition layout for my Towels, helmet, glasses, GPS watch, socks, bike shoes, race number belt, racing flats and making sure everything in our transition bag that we could possibly need has been packed.

I will be busy worrying about all kinds of things – most of which are outside of my control such as the weather, the chance of a flat tire, where my rack space will be in the transition area, how far I will have to run to get on and off of my bike, and of course, the swim.

Will I get clean water or will I have to fight my way through the crowd to the first buoy.  Will my sighting be sound or will I end up off course, swimming further than needed and losing precious time.

Even the 3.1 mile run portion of the event will provide me with some things to fixate on, namely what my pace strategy should be.  I have run 17 5K’s in the last 14 months.  I am more than familiar with that race and distance.

But I have never run one immediately coming off of the bike following a 500 Meter Swim.

My usual strategy of dropping an opening mile of 5:50-5:55, a middle mile between 6:10 and 6:20, with a 6:05-6:10 finish is not going to be possible on Sunday.

The smart move will be to lock in around 6:35-6:45 pace on the opening mile and then gradually ramp things up from there and close strong.  I may end up leaving some time on the course that way, but I would guard against a major meltdown over the final mile if I miscalculate and burn too much energy over the course of the first two events.

I have had a lot of success racing “smart” in the past, but have run my best times when I have thrown caution to the wind a bit and simply held on for dear life over the closing miles.  That seems to play to my strength as a runner – not falling off as much as some of my competitors when things get the toughest.

A hot day, sun beating down on the athletes after a 500 Meter Swim and 13.8 mile bike ride over the Texas rolling hillside.  Isn’t that exactly when I should put the hammer down and chase down my competitors?  Set a pace that they do not even think about trying to match?  Lay down sub 7:00 minute mile after mile and push hard through the finish?

Yep.  That’s the smart play after all.

I’m sure I will change my mind at least a dozen times between now and race morning – only truly knowing what I am going to do and what I am capable of when I get off of that bike and pull on my trusty Brooks ST4 race flats.

The same shoes that carried me to my half-marathon and marathon PR’s just a few months ago.

I hope there is at least one more great race left in those shoes.

But today I was able to head out onto the hills of Parmer Lane just as the sun was coming up for my final bike ride before race day.

Even after running back to back 8+ milers on Tuesday and Wednesday with a couple of swims thrown in as well I had a tremendous bike this morning.

15.02 miles in 40 minutes and 20 seconds.

I averaged over 22 mph for the ride while climbing more than 400 feet in elevation changes.

I have never, ever been faster on the bike.

With that training is complete for our first Triathlon.  Much like the marathoner who after their final training run before race day has to simply resign themselves to the fact that there is nothing left to do but race, that is where I am today.

I’ve done the work, prepared the best that I know how, hell – I even had to learn how to swim for this event.  I’m not sure too many of my competitors in the Male 40-44 year old age-group will be able to boast that claim on race morning.

Expectations?  I have a time goal that I am going to keep to myself as I’m not sure exactly how realistic it is given the litany of things that I do not know about this sport.  But I have a number that will make me smile, and another one that will make me frown just a bit – determined to work harder and get faster.

In the end I am going to be spending my 44th birthday with Dawn and Landry, compete with some great athletes and see where we stack up.  It’s going to be a big day on Sunday on a lot of different fronts.  Be sure to stop back after the weekend.  I have a feeling this next race report is one you won’t want to miss.

Happy trails!