Swim: 2,000 m/76,000 m
Bike: 16.6/525.5 miles
Run: 4.1/141.3 miles
This weekend I’ll be competing (maybe “participating” is a better word) in my very first triathlon – the GroundForce IT Power Sprint. I signed up for this race as a get-to-know-you introduction to triathlon before my “A” race of the year – an Olympic-distance tri in September. The real purpose of this race is to see what it’s all about and to discover what improvements I need to work on before September. I want to work out the kinks in my transition setup and learn what items I need and what I can do without.
On the other hand, it’s very difficult for me to head into a race and not give my best effort. As much as I like to say that this race is just for training and enlightenment, I also want to hammer it. I’ve been training hard for five months and this is my first opportunity to test myself. So although I may be clueless about certain race-day protocols or take too long in transition, you can be sure that I’m going to be swimming, biking and running as hard as I can.
And although it seems pointless to come up with specific goals for a race that I’ve never done before, my training has at least given me a glimpse of what I should be able do in each leg. So while I won’t lay out an overall prediction here, I want to outline how I’d like to perform in key areas:
Swim: The swim is a 300-meter pool swim. I believe that this is my weakest sport, and it’s really difficult to know what’s going to happen on race day. I’ve never been in a pool in a race environment, so I don’t know if the adrenaline pushes you to swim faster or if the nerves make it more difficult to focus on good form and breathing. I’ve been swimming this distance in the 5:20-5:30 range during training, and I signed up for 5:21, hoping that race-day energy will help keep me on the low end of the spectrum. I’d really like to finish within that 10-second window, although I’m going to be thrilled if I can just make it through and not get passed too often. I’ve often imagined the overwhelming relief I’m going to feel when I finally get out of the pool and move on to the bike and run legs.
Bike: After logging lots of miles with the #30daysofbiking challenge last month, I’m feeling a lot better about the bike leg this weekend. It’s 12 miles on a rolling course, which I’ve ridden three times now. On my fastest attempt I covered the distance at over 20 mph, and my honest goal is to match that on race day. Barring any craziness (flat tires, wrecks, etc.), I definitely feel that this is within the realm of possibility.
On Monday I wanted to test myself on the distance, so I rode a time trial (on a different but similar course). After a 4-mile warmup I rode 12.4 miles at exactly a 20 mph pace, and that was with a strong headwind for 8 miles. I was pleased with this performance and it made me optimistic about what can happen this weekend.
Run: I’m feeling pretty strong on the run these days, but what happens on this 5k is anybody’s guess. After Monday’s time-trial on the bike I ran 1.9 miles at a 6:55 pace, and after a hard swim session on Tuesday I ran 2.2 miles at a 7:03 pace. So I know I can run these times immediately after a hard workout in another discipline. But the course this weekend has a few hills, and depending on the elements (sun, humidity, temperature) I could either hit it hard or find myself struggling. I would love to complete this leg at a sub-7 pace, but I’ll be happy with something in the low-7s, given the fact that this will be the first time I’ve ever run in a triathlon.
Weather: Right now the forecast is calling for mostly sunny skies with overnight temperatures around 60. It is supposed to be sunny and warm on Saturday, so hopefully the course will be dry on Sunday morning. It’s sounding like conditions will be just about perfect when the race starts at 7 a.m.
This week: I’ve finished my hard workouts for the week, and I plan for some easy running, biking and, perhaps, swimming in the next couple days. I’m going to focus on hydration, nutrition and rest (as much as I can while being the father of a 3-year-old).
I also need to get out and run through my transition setup a few times. I’ve given a lot of thought to it over the past few months, but I haven’t actually done it. When you have five months to prepare for something it seems like plenty of time, but now the race is less than a week away and I haven’t done a transition run-through yet!
Right now I’m feeling pretty good about this race, and I’m itching to just get it started. We’ll see how many of these goals get thrown out the window on Sunday morning!