Swim: 1,200 m/74,000 m
Bike: 20.5/508.9 miles
Run: 2.9/137.2 miles
With my first triathlon less than a week away, the excitement and nervousness are ramping up every day. I want to soak it up – I’ll never have another first triathlon. So Saturday I joined a group ride put together by the race organizers to introduce people to the course. I had already ridden the route with my buddy John, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to ride it again to become even more familiar with it.
We met up at 8:30 Saturday morning, the fog hanging low and the temperature in the low 60s. It wasn’t raining, although I expected it to start at any minute, having passed through a shower or two on the 40-minute drive to the YMCA. I quickly noticed that I was the only person on a tri bike – people mostly had road bikes but there were a couple mountain bikes and even an old-style Schwinn cruiser. A couple other tri-bikers eventually showed up, including John.
After a brief intro, we got started and I quickly found myself with the front pack. I certainly wasn’t trying to turn this into a race, but I did want to push it a little and ride the course close to the way I might ride it on race day. Before long, a group of 6 of us had left the other 25 or so riders out of sight, and we were cruising at speeds well over 20 mph. It was exciting to be in a pace line, although we were leaving about a bike length or more between us (triathlon rules stipulate three lengths).
As we neared the turnoff to head back to the Y, a couple guys mentioned hitting a second loop, and I was definitely on board for that. (It’s funny how 12 miles doesn’t seem like a very hard workout.) At this point, two of the six headed back to the Y and four of us continued. Immediately two of the guys absolutely took off – I never saw them again for the entire second loop. John stayed with me long enough to make sure I knew the way, and he, too, pushed ahead.
The fact that I was now alone didn’t bother me at all. My pace slackened out of the 20s and I often found my mind wandering to race-day scenarios. I would snap back to reality and realize I wasn’t necessarily pedaling hard, although I was keeping an even pace. I was happy to be getting in some more miles but taking it a little easy. My overall pace for the two loops ended up being a little over 19 mph.
Once back at the Y I locked up my bike and headed out for the run course. (It’s funny how biking 20 miles doesn’t seem like enough of a workout.) The run is an out-and-back, and I didn’t know where the turnaround was. I just ran about 11 minutes out and turned around, and ended up covering 2.9 miles out of the 5k distance (at a 7:32 pace). Although I didn’t make it the entire 3.1, it gave me a good feel for the course, which is mostly run on rolling hills.
To finish up my morning, I stopped by the gym to hit the pool. (It’s funny how biking 20 miles and running 3 doesn’t seem like enough of a workout.) I swam 550m easy – the pool felt so good after sweating it out in the humidity all morning – and then picked it up for a 10×50 sprint set, followed by a brief cooldown.
Then I came home and ate a chicken! (Sorry, vegetarians.)
I’m so happy that I got in these workouts. I’m feeling pretty confident about the course – it’s not an easy course, but not a hard one, either. The bike course is back-loaded with minor hills and the run course is rolling. It’s nothing like the hilly neighborhood where I often train, but it’s enough to tamp down your speed pretty significantly in some places.
As for the next week, I’ll probably try to get in some harder workouts today and tomorrow before tapering later in the week with some easy workouts. This isn’t a season-priority race so I don’t feel the need to completely stop exercising during taper time.