It’s race week! Again!
Four days out, I’m finding the emotions and the machinations to be different this time. For various reasons, anxiety as of right now has overshadowed the excitement, and uncertainty has replaced the utter SWAG I had last time. That’s fine, that means I REALLY CARE about this, and while my sneaky little soul is trying to hide this by manifesting it in a million other things right now, I appreciate this feeling. If the spark is there, I can fan the flames towards excitement in the next few days. Fear of failure is much closer to courage to try than the typical unbridled apathy I’ve found in racing for the last few years.
Feeling all the things and practicing being brave has been a little tiring – literally – I haven’t been sleeping as well as normal. Giving a crap is weird and squishy and while some of the side effects are unwelcome, this is some positive personal development. I hope I find some peace on the other side of the finish line on Sunday. However, now that I have been practicing things that scare me a little to get comfortable at courage, I have a few OTHER things in play that I’m going for, so I may just sit here constantly reverberating like a nervous chihuahua until my heart explodes. Stay tuned.
My head and my heart also haven’t had enough time to forget how much these things HURT. Cozumel took every ounce and the only reason I actually still existed afterwards was massive amounts of caffeine until the epic crash crash crash that literally incapacitated me. I intend to start a little slower on both the bike and the run, but my intention is to put forth the same or more effort OVERALL. It’s fun to be all confident about seeking the man with the hammer… once. While that’s what I want with all my courage this time, part of my heart feels like it’s just pure masochism to thrust myself into that fire walk again so soon.
Also, this whole “giving a shit” thing also comes with the baggage of wanting to race well in front of people I know. I’ll be on the course with a TON of BSS teammates and some of the Wattage Brigade. While logic dictates they’ll be wholly absorbed in their own races, there’s the performer in me that wants very badly to do well on the closest thing to “home court” right now. I also want to show myself that PR’ing in Cozumel wasn’t a fluke. This race has the potential to have perfect conditions (as in NOT AS HOT AS THE CENTER OF THE SUN) and the only thing that would hold me back is my head, heart, legs, or lungs.
Putting aside sports and racing psychology – the race conditions are also incredibly uncertain. I’m told we’ll know tomrrow if we have a swim or not, currently the water is dookie brown, fast flowing, and full of debris. The current transition area is underwater. I don’t know if I’ll be racing a 70.3, a 69.1, a half marathon, or just heading up to Waco to camp and drink beer for a weekend. I know what to do – I need to be prepared for anything and everything and stay adaptable, but between the unknow and the constant crappy weather, it no longer feels like triathlon season in the slightest and another reason my excitement is waning.
Here’s the good news – the legs and lungs part of the equation seem to be willing. The sludge I was experiencing post-vacation is mostly gone. While it’s been PULLING TEETH to get myself to train, when I show up, the magic happens. In the last week, I’ve PR’d my 1.2 mile swim and ran an 8:36 mile off a race power (read: not easy) bike. This does not suck. As long as I can summon the motivation to strap on my armor and pick up my axe, the odds seem to end up ever in my favor. I’ve had no spectacular blowups, which I kind of expected on the way back to being whole after Coz, just solid days pushing the numbers I’m aiming for without too much strife in my grey matter, at least during. It all feels so much less magical than last time, but the foundation is there. That’s a big building block in the confidence to try again.
So, the order of the week is rest up. Psych up. Show up. Make the magic happen!
For the record – here’s all the gory details I’ll want to look back on later.
Oct 15-21 training.
- 35 min and 30 min race power trainer practice
- Fastest swims in a while – 1:55/100m at the longer Lifetime pool and 1.2 miles in about 38 minutes.
- 1 hour race pace run (5.7 miles)
- 1 hour race power bike/5k faster than race pace brick (9:30/mile)
- One kettlebell session
- One bodyweight session with a nice long stretch and roll
- Short brick (20 min race power/1 fast mile)
- Pre-race swim/bike shakeout (if we swim, if not… meh)
- Friday night camping food: hot dogs and a carbtastic side
- Saturday breakfast: bean and cheese breakfast tacos
- Saturday lunch: turkey bacon guac bagel sandwich (trying for a little more calories than normal)
- Saturday dinner: grilled chicken, baked potato, pre-made salad
- Race breakfast: two caffeine beans, earl grey tea, english muffin with sunbutter and honey, coconut water, watermelon, sip on gatorade before the race
- Race day nutrition on the bike: caff gel ASAP and every 45 mins (alternate caff/non caff), gatorade handoffs at every bottle stop (or as necessary depending on the temperature). Cocktail of salt pills and 303s halfway through (possibly one more dose of salt pills near the end depending on the weather).
- Race day nutrition on the run: One more cocktail, probably about mile 3, bring a caff gel, non caff gel, and a pack of spearmint blocks, and try to consume at least two of them. Take in all the gatorade and coke (yeah brown ponyyyyy!) possible for that sweet sweet sugar and caffeine high!
Feet up as much as possible Saturday, get to the race EARLY Sunday since parking is up in the air and I’m in one of the first waves.
Swim the same effort I dialed in on Saturday. Just an inch past comfortable. Concentrate on either finding some space or some slightly faster feet. To do that, I need to have confidence to seed myself properly (for a race like this, probably not front pack but at least first half) and concentrate on long, relaxed strokes. Around 40 minutes would be ideal, give or take depending on the conditions.
Transition 1 I plan to roll the same as Cozumel. Wetsuit off, helmet, glasses, shoes, go. This is a single transition race, so I should save some time not having to bag everything up. The goal is motivation for quick locomotion without pure seething rage, like last time.
Biking during this cycle, all my really successful training rides involved a slower start and then chasing a power number. They also involved elevation, pace, and effort changes, not a constant effort. I’ve got a plan to make sure my race goes this way as well:
- Hour 1: 130-ish power. This should feel like holding back.
- Hour 2: work up to 140 power average. This should feel like a good ride.
- Hour 3: try to work up to 150 power average, if it makes sense. I don’t want to be gassed at the end, but it is allowed to feel like work at this point.
- Every 15 minutes, stand up (or at least sit up) and push out 30-60 seconds of 200-250 power if I haven’t had to do anything similar recently.
- Also, be advised that my power is not 100% dialed in, it’s my first season really tracking it, so perceived effort can trump this, especially in the later miles. It’s a target, not the arrow.
It would be nice to break 3 hours, but I’m not going to tank my run to do it.
Transition 2 is lava. It will be slower than T1 because I have to put on socks and tie my shoes, but the goal is a minimal amount of time of effing around. Socks, shoes, race belt, hat, go.
Running has been going well, but is always the wildcard. My one confidence building workout didn’t do quite so much as I was hoping, but it was a nice, solid, race pace double digit run off a not-so-easy bike. So, I’m going to start this one a little more conservatively than Cozumel. Frankly, the first trek up the hill on the way out, I plan to sandbag myself a little bit. I find when I PUSH UP THE HILL SUPER HARD it bites me in the ass later, so taking a little extra time on the way up the first time based on how I feel may pay divedends later. I plan to ENJOY THE HECK out of running the downhills and push THOSE fast.
I want to run the whole thing as long as it’s the fastest means to the end. The marathon I ran every step of the way was a proud accomplishment, but not my fastest. However, if I’m just steadily jogging 12 minute miles, I know that suuuuuuuuper sucks for me and I’ll get more out of myself if I strategically alternate walk breaks and faster running (Coz average, with LOTS of walking, was 11:30-ish). Plan A is to start out running 10:30-ish minute miles and stay there (or speed up) until death or the finish line. I’d like to see approximately 2:15 here, whatever that looks like.
Overall, that looks perilously close to 6 hours with some decent transitions. I know total time was REALLY motivating in Cozumel, so I will probably switch there sometime in the second lap and work on busting ass to hit the closest even number. I would be over the moon if that even number I was striving to beat was 6:00:00.
I’m not entirely sure why race weeks also end up being the craziest in work and life, but this one hasn’t disappointed in that regard. I’m more than looking forward to wrap up doing about 20 different nerve-wracking and brave things (we are what we repeatedly do) and spend the 36 hours before the race in the woods, in the peace and quiet.
Last time, I needed to bring all the noise. This race, I need some quiet, to center myself, and to prepare myself to race once more with renewed feeling. I know in my heart, if I do it right, I’ll toe the line with my heart, head, legs and lungs ready to do battle, I just need to spend a little time in bubble wrap to get myself there.