Monday, June 15, 2009

Race Week: Wisconsin Triterium Triathlon

Wow, well I'm excited to have my first Race Week since October, my first triathlon since Racine last July. Let's get right to it.

This will be my third time racing the Wisconsin Triterium, a fun, challenging race right here near Madison. It's a great training race for IMWI, as it shares a tiny shred of the Ironman course, but is also just a really tough bike circuit - mostly hills, not much cruising, more climbing than descending. It's not a course for PR's, but I'm looking forward to seeing if I can execute a strategy that will get me through this Olympic distance race feeling strong, instead of like I've had my ass kicked (which was the result my other two times racing this one).

First off, I just read my race report from last year as a refresher, and it appears I was fighting a really absurd cold that just wouldn't let go. Hey, guess what! That's been me for a week! Last year, though, the race fell at the end of the cold's worst week, and I think this year I should have a few days' buffer, as for the first time in a week I'm finally feeling my head clear a bit. And, except for some fatigue, I haven't felt my training really suffer this time from this cold - likely because I've allowed myself a day off or a lighter workout when I needed it. Anyway, what's up with these early June colds? Enough already.

Here's the plan: I don't really see the point in paying for a "workout day", so this race isn't a "workout day". It's a race. Go hard when you race, or go home and get on the trainer, says I. That said, this race strategically falls at the end of a rest week in my training (meaning my volume is less this week). I plan on using this weekend as an early barometer for how the cylinders are firing. I've got new gear all around (more on that in another post); new wetsuit, disc wheel on the bike, new racing flats, even new nutrition (Infinit Nutrition for the win...). All need a real-world test-drive, so I plan to really be attentive to how things go through the paces this weekend. I haven't had enough pool time, but I've been working on my stroke a bit (trying to tweak my catch and pull...I hesitantly say to some improvement...), and I should get a good sense in this race for if, and to what extent, those improvements are making any kind of difference in the water. I'll be all aero'd up - spacehat and disc wheel - on the bike, and it's supposed to be a hot day, so it'll be useful to ride on a tough course with race-day intensity. And while I have several brick workouts in the books, none at any kind or race intensity. So, it'll be a day for all around experiments.

I don't really chase time goals in races anymore - there are so many variables from one race day to another that it becomes a bit impossible to quantify "success" strictly on if I was faster or slower than some arbitrary goal. Or, I end up fruitlessly chasing some imaginary goal, pushing the swim with an unsustainable effort, for instance, just so I can say I got in under xx:xx time; meanwhile I've left myself to blow up the bike or run. I mostly like to gauge my goals based on what my fitness can realistic provide for me; in this case, my swim should be a bit slow, my bike should be on-target, and - if all else is executed right - I should have strength left for a solid run. My main agenda for the entire race (besides working out some of the logistics I just got done talking about) is to live by this bit of wisdom: there is no such thing as a "good bike" and a "bad run". If I push to congratulate myself on my awesome bike split only to leave myself running 10 minute miles for the 10k, well, nothing much accomplished there, was there. I intend to ride the 40k bike at my IM intensity - which means low RPE, saving my legs whenever possible. The hills on the course already make for a tough day, and my legs will likely be shredded whatever I do. Minimize the damage to leave myself with something for the run, even if it gets me to T2 with a slower pace than what I'm necessarily capable of.

The run course is crazy for this race, too - 2 laps of 3 miles each, the first half of each lap mostly varying versions of uphill, with one particularly nasty long, steep hill to climb just into the lap. Last year my quads cramped up climbing that hill - a result of pushing the bike too hard and not enough electrolytes. All things to be mindful of. When I reach the second lap of the run, that's when I'll assess any realistic goals to push towards regarding pace or finishing time or whatever. Before that, it's all about sticking to the plan and being strong.

I've never cracked 3 hours in this race - come to think of it, in any Olympic distance race; it's just a distance I've been famously inept with, treating it too casually like one might a Sprint distance - a series of time trials - instead of the tough endurance day that it is. We'll see if the training has been there (and this damn cold subsides) to get me in under that limit, or what problem areas reveal themselves to need more work and attention in training. In any case, nothing in the world like race day, and I can't wait. Really looking forward to it.


Borsch said...

Good luck this weekend! I hope you knock off the 3 hour mark!

KodaFit said...

Sounds like you're ready!

I liked your thoughts about trying to balance out the efforts on the bike and the run. Seems to be the whole trick with triathlon.

Best of luck this weekend! Excited to hear how it goes - and hear more about some of that new gear.

RobbyB said...


Based on your recent training numbers you've posted, you're going to be closer to 2:30 than 3:00. Work your plan like you know how and you'll have a great day.

Looking forward to seeing you there. (I get to announce!)

xt4 said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence RB - fun that you'll be out there!

Pharmie said...

Good Luck x! I'm with Robby. You're gonna smash 3!