Swim: 0 m/78,400 m
Bike: 20.1/566.5 miles
Run: 3.3/150.2 miles
I finally finished my first triathlon last weekend, a little over a month after kicking off the 2011 racing season with a PR in a 10k race. But from here my race schedule looks utterly barren – my next event is the Olympic-distance tri in late September, followed by a half-marathon and (hopefully) another 10k in November.
For so many reasons, I need to do another race this summer. Accordingly, I just hit the “submit” button to register for what will be my second triathlon, the I Love the Tavern Triathlon that takes place in a mere 29 days, on June 26. While it’s technically a sprint race, the distances for the swim and bike are a bit longer than last weekend’s race. The swim is 650 meters, the bike is 19 miles and the run is a 5k. And the swim is held in the open waters of the James River.
Here’s why I’m doing this race:
Its the Year of the Triathlon!: I have dedicated 2011 to training for and racing triathlons, and it only seems right to add another to my schedule of only two races. Although it’s hard to load up on lots of triathlons in a season – there are relatively few local races to begin with, and they tend to become pretty expensive – I do have a tri bike and am accumulating other gear, so I figure I should put it all to use at least one more time this year. Also, this race has different features from the others, so I get to enjoy some variety.
Open-water swimming: The open-water component of this race will give me a preview of that same feature in September’s Olympic race. It will also force me to try it out before this race, which means I’ll be taking the plunge sometime in the next couple weeks. After last weekend’s ordered pool start (which didn’t go so well for me), I’m looking forward to an in-water start to see how I react in that environment. While I’m sure to be the recipient of many a knee and elbow, I wonder if I’ll like it more because of the room to spread out – the swimmers are not racing in a line like we were last weekend. Also, this swim is a straight shot that flows downstream – no turns or cross currents to contend with. It seems like as gentle an introduction to open-water swimming as I could ask for.
No pressure: For many reasons, the pressure on me to hit a goal time is negligible in this race. As I mentioned above, the open-water swim is a completely new aspect, and I won’t be shooting for a specific time (start waves are based on age groups and not predicted swim times as they were in my last race). Also, the 5k run is largely off-road, and whenever I hear “off-road” I immediately erase any time goals from my mind since trail running is so different from road running. With the longer bike segment, I’ll be less focused to hit a particular average speed because, well, it’s a lot harder to do that over a longer distance. I’ll be riding hard, but just for fun.
Also, I’ll be in the middle of my 6-week weight-training regimen (more on that in another post), so my legs won’t be as fresh as they might be if I was timing this race to fall into a peak fitness period of my training season.
A re-introduction: I hate to admit this, but I feel like some of the luster of my first triathlon was dimmed because I didn’t hit some artificial benchmarks that I had set for myself. It was wrong for me to set unrealistic expectations, but that triathlon seemed like more of a controlled environment – pool swim, running on the road – so I felt like I was more in command of my performance. With this race, so much is unknown that it would impossible for me to get caught up in specific goals. And, as I mentioned above, I know that I won’t be at the top of my fitness potential for this race, so the only thing left for me to do is go out and have fun! I’m actually really excited about this race, maybe even more than the last one, because I am focused on relaxing and having a great time.