As part of the process of reaching my ultimate goal – the Naylor’s Beach Olympic-distance triathlon in September – I have signed up for a smaller triathlon in May. I will be participating in the GroundForce IT sprint triathlon, a race consisting of a 300-meter swim, a 20-kilometer ride and a 5-kilometer run. Essentially, that’s about half the distance of my goal race, and the shortest category of triathlon available.
I have mixed feelings about this race. My stated goal – the root of this blog and my focus this year – is to participate in a triathlon. So, even though this sprint race is merely a warm-up for the big show, I will have officially completed a triathlon in May. There’s a part of me that wants my first triathlon to be the big one.
But that’s a somewhat ridiculous line of thought, and my rational self knows it. There’s so much more to a triathlon than showing up and knocking out the three segments. Primarily there are the transitions – those valuable minutes between legs that constitute a science of their own to experienced triathletes. It’s where seconds and minutes can be gained or lost.
Also, there’s much more to the race-day prep than what might be the case for a running race. You have to stage your transition area and attend pre-race briefings. You have to make sure your bike is tuned and mentally prepare yourself for each segment of the race.
This is where I hope to benefit from the sprint race. I want to become more at ease with the atmosphere and strategy that surrounds the race, so when Sept. 25 arrives I can focus on the task at hand and not the peripheral aspects. I want to know what it’s like to emerge from the water and head straight for my bike – to work out in advance the details that I’m not even aware of now.
There will still be a little of the unknown at Naylor’s Beach – that swim takes place in open water while the GroundForce swim is done in a pool. I certainly plan to do some open-water swimming in advance, but the circumstances will be quite different from race day.
I’m looking forward to the sprint triathlon, although in my own mind I am just considering it another practice, another workout session, and not a “Race.” I can certainly perceive a day when I participate in sprint races for sport and with an eye toward improving my time in that distance, but for now it’s just another means to a larger end.