It’s race week! How did that happen?
So, it’s time to geek out a bit about the preparation and planning and goals and whatnot. Lots of type A stuff and also gooshy stuff ahead.
While this is not optimal for someone that plans to be racing until 2pm-ish, I’m ready for it. I might potentially be willing bargain a small piece of my soul for a rogue cold front that bumps that down to something like 75 high, 60 low though!
This is a lot different than it was even a few months ago. I’m trying to keep my carbs from sources that I know make me feel good, and not bloated and yucky. Also, I used to be so anti-gel, but they’re just so much easier, guys. I’ve also trained with at least one flavor of the brand of gels I know are on the course, so if shit hits the fan and I forget EVERYTHING, I can just roll with Cliff vanilla and live off the course and be fueled by frosting.
It kind of scares me how I’m going pretty much anti-what-everyone-tells-you to load up on pasta and bread and rice and stay away from fat and protein and for the love of god don’t eat fruit or veggies for fiber. However, I’ve had stomach problems at a lot of races since I started following that advice, or even if I didn’t, I always had issues getting nutrition down during the race. This is what has sustained me lately around my training sessions, I’m able to get down a lot more calories during training, and I’ve felt better than I ever have, so I’m going to give this a try. Matt Fitzgerald can tell me “I told you so” later.
Day before breakfast, probably a bulletproof coffee for the drive and/or maybe some breakfast tacos (on corn) or maybe a kind bar or nuts or fruit or whatever as I’m hungry. Something very tried and true, but trying to never get beyond a state of mildly peckish.
Day before lunch, I’m planning on hitting up the steakhouse that we ate at 2 years ago. On the menu will be either chicken or steak, potato, and salad. As much as it will pain me, I’ll stay away from the bread and absolutely NO desserts.
From late afternoon until bed, I’ll snack. Planning on bringing fruit, some corn or potato chips, maybe microwave mashed potatoes, some nuts/nut butter, and maybe another small iceberg-y salad and I’ll snack to my tastes. No wheat, rice, beans, or veggies (iceberg doesn’t count) at all.
AM: Purple stuff and kind bar upon awakening. Maybe some fruit as I putter around. Another kind bar closer to the race.
Yes, I am a dork and have my flavors picked out. I’m sure it will change on the course, and I’m sure you will be on the edge of your seat to know IF INDEED I TOOK THE PB CHOC AT EXACTLY 2 hours. 😛 And no, my race plan doesn’t involve tacos. I am as surprised as you.
Hydration: start with grape gatorade since it’s my favorite, hit every bottle exchange to fill aero bottle, so that means to be empty by then (which means ~20 oz full strength gatorade per hour). Keep a downtube of grape gatorade so when lemon lime gatorade makes me want to puke, I can have a reprieve and skip a bottle grab (or use it in between).
30 mins into bike: salted watermelon caff gu
1:15 min into bike: lemonade non-caff gu
2 hours into bike: pb chocolate caff gu
2:45 into bike: apple cinnamon non caff gu
Have a pack of chomps and some jelly beans available. Eat them as hungry/needed, which shouldn’t be much with this schedule.
I’ll start this with my handheld of warm grape gatorade (not intentionally, but it will be in my T2 bag from the night before and I remember the change in flavor was worth the temperature) and take aide at the stations as needed. I can do gels with gatorade, but if I time it right I can take them with water, so I’ll try to do that. There’s the opportunity to get aide like once every half mile so it should work out.
Mile 1-2 on the run: salted watermelon (caff), or rootbeer (non-caff) evaluate need for 303s (The question I ask – is the pain I’m in general soreness I’d do better without, without risking injury to myself? The last two years, the answer was yes.).
Mile 5-6 on the run: whichever I didn’t take the last time, or my pineapple non-caff if I’m over caffeine at this point, evaluate need for 303s again if not taken. Also evaluate need for salt pills. Realize this is a hail mary since you’ve never taken them in training, so this would be a SERIOUS bonk happening.
Mile 9-10 on the run: if I can possibly get another gel down, it will be here. If my stomach can handle it, this will probably help me in a major way the last few miles. I don’t see myself wanting to caffeinate at this point, so one of my spare gels or grab a vanilla from the course.
And, now, it wouldn’t be a pre-race post without some goals. I can’t lie, I have a time in mind, and I really want to get there. Everything is showing me that I should be able to do it, and maybe more depending on what I have in me Sunday. However, I want to also establish process goals so that if the unexpected happens, and that time is out the window, I can still have something to work towards and goals to meet.
A time goal is the time I’m shooting for. B time goal would net me at least a PR for that leg (that’s how far I’ve come this year, which is already a victory). A process goal keeps me focused and in it, B process goal is mostly about fun and keeping it light.
- A time goal: under 40 (2:04 for 100m). This could be tough, or the current + wetsuit might make it doable.
- B time goal: under 44 (2:17 for 100m). I can almost hit this with just steady swimming dragging a safe swimmer in the lake sans wetsuit. Should be no problem unless conditions are suuuuuper crap.
- A process goal: keep my head in the swim the entire time. No spacing out. 1.2 miles of work, not paddling. If I feel my pace stagnating, do some intervals (faster to the next buoy, etc)
- B process goal: don’t drown, and get your wetsuit partway down before the strippers attack.
- A time goal: under 3 mins.
- B time goal: under 3:25.
- A Process goal: No transition gravity. Quick, focused, decisive, not fumbling. Helmet, glasses, shoes, go. Deal with sleeves (if needed) and gloves on the bike.
- B Process goal: remain upright, no napping.
- A time goal: under 3:15:00 (17.2 mph). Biking is really a wildcard for me right now. This could be do-able, or this could be out of reach. It’s 0.6 mph better than last year. What I’ve been riding is way tougher than this course, but I haven’t hit 17 mph average in a long training ride outside.
- B time goal: under 3:22:00 (16.6). That’s the pace I rode at the x-50 earlier this year, it was a harder course, and I think I’ve improved since then. Without weird conditions, this should be highly doable.
- A process goal: high cadence whenever possible, strong work, sticking with the hills instead of giving up and soft pedaling up them and recovering on the downs only when pedaling doesn’t meet any resistance. Feel like I’m giving the effort I’ve found in endurance class or the last two outdoor rides.
- B process goal: don’t let Zliten catch me, or if it works out this way – pass him quickly. Either way, make him laugh when I see him on the course. Sing silly songs. Have fun and enjoy the gorgeous ride.
- A time goal: under 3:30.
- B time goal: under 3:44.
- A process goal: velcro my visor to my handheld so I can just grab my race belt in one hand and that in the other and go and mess with it on the course instead of having to put anything on in transition. All business, get outta there as quickly as possible. No gravity.
- B process goal: remember where my bag is and get my bike there, also remember to leave transition going the right way with all of the things.
This is hard. I know where my fitness is, and I know what I’ve run off the bike before, and I know what I’ve done in races, and I know I have surprised myself a lot on runs lately and held back a little. And I know I’m in a whole different zip code with my running fitness than I was 365 days ago. There’s a huge gap. I am really not sure where my edge is. So, here’s a lot of scenarios…
- A+ time goal: 2:10 (9:55/mile). Ack – this is stretching, but it’s not 100% completely unreasonable if I have a super great day. I will not go out intending to hit this pace.
- A time goal: 2:15 (10:18/mile). This is hard, but reasonable if I’ve kept the rest of the day in check and can keep my head about me.
- A- time goal: whatever gets me in under 6:30 total even if it’s over 2:15. If I go out a little too hard on the swim and bike and still get in under my goal time, I won’t be too mad.
- B time goal: 2:30 (11:27/mile). This was the pace in which I ran my marathon last year and walked a little. This is as slow (probably slower) as I can see going on the run unless the wheels have truly come off.
- D- time goal: sub 2:42 (12:21/mile). I mean, really. I don’t think I’ve actually logged a run in the 12s since November last year. I’m better than this, but it’s always worth mentioning what would be a PR.
- A process goal: use the first mile or two to see what you have and then build upon it. Don’t force a pace until you settle in. Run the whole distance minus stops at aid stations to fill bottle if necessary (aka Gatorbait). Second half, find the line right before you blow up and stay there and push against it. Negative split, just like pretty much every training run this year.
- B process goal: run with joy, a positive head, and never give up. Take each problem that comes, evaluate, decide, and then act and release it into the universe. Thank the volunteers and spectators if you can use your words.
- A goal: sub-6:30. While if all of my A goals come together I may come in before that, I don’t think that’s reasonable to expect that, and I’ll let that be an incredibly joyous surprise if the day comes together like that.
- B goal: sub-6:55. I had a pretty great race for my abilities last year. I’m better than I was last year. My time should reflect that.
- A process goal: keep pushing. Race this race. 70.3s hurt, and they have highs and lows. Ride out the lows knowing it will get better, and try to hang onto those highs the best you can.
- B process goal: continue to think of Kerrville as your happy race. Enjoy the course as much as the last few years! Try not to swear too, too much at the big hill each time. Also, maybe come up with a song you can sing at the hill instead, even if it does involve cursing.
And now, my parting thoughts and what I’ll be trying to hang onto at the race.
Laying it all out there on a race course is always the goal (well, unless it isn’t, but any race that you’re RACE RACING, it is), and I find it’s all about trying to stay out of my own way to get there. I’m a pretty positive person generally, but races can dredge up this pit of vile, black negativity to where I’m emo-ing harder than Death Cab for Cutie and saying things to myself I wouldn’t to my worst enemy.
Race brain is really weird. Unless I am prepared with positive things to stick in there, sometimes it can get really toxic up in my cranium. So, I try to figure out things I can call upon to keep it habitable in my head.
I want to be the type of athlete that hangs on when things start to hurt. I know that there will be points during the day where I’m challenged to back down. I’ll start to lose focus during the swim and be tempted to coast instead of push. I’ll hit that mile where I’m ready to be done with the bike and it will take a lot to keep fighting up the hills so much. I have no idea what fresh hell the run will send my way, but I’m sure four times going up the killer hill will make the wheels come a little loose, and I’ll really, really be wanting to walk it. Coupled with the third loop of “not the last loop but you’ve been racing a really long time” downer-ness, the run is always a challenge here. It makes for great support, but you see the same damn things so many times.
Each time these things come up, I want to be the type of athlete who settles in, looks inside herself, and finds what it takes to keep clinging onto the race I want to have instead of the race I’ll have by default. I’ve been doing this thing long enough to know that every race has good parts and bad parts and it doesn’t just go good good good bad bad bad end. It tends to go more like “good bad good good GREAT good bad BAD BAD VERY BAD ok I guess good bad good GREAT UNNNNNGGGG finish”.
I’ve spent the end of this summer sucking some major wind at the pool and the lake. I’ve emptied my mind and closed my eyes through some CRAZY spin class intervals and rode up the hills in the heat and the wind. I’ve refused to succumb to the summer shuffle, and I’ve hung onto Zliten running up hills like a mountain goat instead of letting him go. The thing I’ve found is that I have more matches to burn than I think I do. I’m not a soft and delicate flower. Biking up a hill (flick, swish, burn) isn’t going to kill me, I’ll get to ride down soon enough. Running up a hill and breathing hard (flick, swish, burn) just means I get to recover on the way down. I don’t want to have a book full of matches at the end of this race.
I can push through the bad and even OH GOD HORRIBLE points without blowing up, because it will get better. I’ve found those highs and lows and barring a few things like injury pain or dizziness or shitting myself or other red flags meaning the day went completely and utterly sideways, the great thing about endurance sports is the pain you’re in changes up on you every once in a while so there’s something to look forward to, right? Variety is the spice of life.
And… I don’t want to finish so late I miss the beer tent this year, so, I mean, priorities, right?
GRIT. FOCUS. DETERMINATION. BEER.
And with that novella, I’m going to ride out this week of easy peasy lemon squeezy workouts besides the one little bitty hour of race pace work tonight, and I’ll see you on the other side.