Friday, April 19, 2013

Wild n' Short


We're a little over a month into the "formal" triathlon training season and just over two weeks from my first race of the year: Wildflower Olympic. It'll be my first race shorter than Ironman distance in over 18 months and my first race shorter than Half-Ironman distance since 2008! Crazy. I've spent so many years thinking about races as long, day-long affairs that I'm not totally sure how to tackle a shorter race like this one.

Pacing for an Ironman is pretty straightforward: you just ride at a consistent pace, keeping your heart rate in a comfortable place until the back half of the run. You're never trying to redline; your heart rate spikes should be short and well-managed. If it sounds boring, that's because it should be. If you want to survive a 10+ hour race, you need to keep the excitement to a minimum.

Now, this Wildflower race is going to be completely different. It'll be filled with faster-twitch swimmers, cyclists and runners who are going to put the hammer down from the time the gun sounds to whenever they cross the line. This is not what I've really spent the past five years training for, or even practicing. I'm intrigued and curious to see how my mind and body will respond to the demands of racing at that increased level of intensity!

I'm starting to formulate a battle plan and set some split goals based on recent workouts.

Swimming. I finally started swimming real laps in an actual pool this week and have managed to eke out about 10,000 meters this week. I hope to repeat that next week, but the speed I've enjoyed in the past definitely isn't there yet. I'd like to be in the 20-22 minute range here.

Cycling. Riding is going well, though I have not spend a ton of time on my time trial bike, and I haven't been putting in any rides over three hours. Hopefully this means I'll be rested and ready for a strong 80-minute effort when the time comes. Previewing the course a few weeks ago was very informative: it's a fast course, but comes with it's share of irritatingly long climbs to disrupt pace. I'm hoping for 76-80 minutes here.

Running. I have been having a lot of success running lately and even posted my fastest-ever 13.1 time on Tuesday morning - though this might have been fueled by Boston Marathon bombing-inspired fury. I'm starting to feel hints of the old IT band and Achilles issues that plagued me in 2012, so I'm going to have to be careful over the next two weeks to ensure I can perform at Wildflower. The run course is also hilly, and the sun will be blazing on race day. I'm hoping to push the run hard and clock in under 50 minutes.

If you do the math, this means I'm probably looking at 146-152 minutes. Counting transition time, that probably means I'll be pushing hard to break the 2.5-hour mark, provided all goes well. Bring it!