Goals for the Ice Breaker Sprint

When I signed up for the Ice Breaker Sprint as my first triathlon, I figured it would be just another workout — a triple-brick with a timing chip. After my relay team skipped Oakland, though, I started to get itchy to race. And after Tuesday’s annoying doctor’s appointment and the possibility that this might be my last race of the year*, I started wanting to race-race this, to really see what I can do.

{*I’m a pessimist. I would rather believe the worst and be pleasantly surprised than try to keep my hopes up and get let down. It might sound strange, but I’m trying hard to make myself believe there’s no way I’m doing Wildflower much less running Berlin. The worst that happens is that my expectations are met.}

It’s still my first time doing this distance, though, not to mention my first time doing a multi-sport event of any kind. So my overall goals are to a) finish b) with a smile on my face and c) with some idea of how to train between now and Wildflower if that remains an option.

But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t also have some rough times in mind. I’m curious to see how my racing differs from my training in triathlon; without knowing the course, I expect my bike performance to be better than how I’ve trained it (biking without traffic should mean some kind of improvement, I hope…) and my swim will almost certainly be worse (I’m expecting to pace myself poorly, veer off course, and probably freak out a little). I’m looking at this as a chance to figure out what my race paces are in two new sports while also learning the mechanics of transitions, how much time I should expect to need to get my wetsuit off, etc. If I happen to do all of that reasonably quickly, well, that’s cool too.

This particular sprint is a half-mile swim, a 13-mile bike, and a 4-mile run. I don’t know enough to know how that compares to other sprints — I’ve seen both longer and shorter — but my sense is that it’s a relatively short bike with a slightly longer swim and run. In theory, this should benefit me, but there are a lot of unknowns going into that theory.

The swim: I know nothing about the swim course other than “it’s a triangle” and it’s in a lake. I could swim 800 yards in ~16-17 minutes in a 20-yard pool at my steady-but-not-racing pace, including lots of wall turns that I suck at doing. But do I suck at wall turns more than I suck at open-water swimming? Probably not. I’m assuming my open water time will be slower than my pool time, given the likelihood of freaking out/going off course/getting kicked in the face/etc. I’d like to finish this around 20 minutes, but I’ll be OK with a slower time as long as I can figure out why and it’s something I can practice (e.g. I veered too far to one side, I didn’t sight correctly, I had to fix my goggles, I did the whole thing as breaststroke).

The bike: Thirteen miles over two laps. I’m not worried about completing the distance. What does worry me? “The bike course is windy and has several sharp small hills and tight turns.” “Riders will need expert cornering skills to ensure winning times.” “The climbing is confined to short plentiful spurts.” (“Confined” is an interesting word for it; the elevation profile looks like an EKG.) Basically, hahahaha this is going to suck for me. My cornering is terrible, and my downhill skills are worse than my climbing skills, so I don’t expect to get much benefit from rolling terrain. Also, if it’s windy, I will cry. Given that, my goal time will be anything up to and including an hour.

Real goal: Just don't fall over.

The run: It’s four miles of single-track trails (which I have very little experience running), mostly rolling with one giant hill right before the 3-mile mark (the map makes it look like 100 feet in about one-tenth of a mile). While I haven’t done much hill-specific training, San Francisco runs are rarely flat, so I know I can survive it. I’d been planning to run the first half of the Wildflower run at about a 10-minute pace and pick it up in the second half if I felt good; here, I think I’ll shoot for that through the big hill, then pick it up from 2.7 to the finish if I can. Goal time: 40-ish minutes if I’m being honest, 36-38 if I’m being optimistic, which — as previously mentioned — I’m trying not to be.

Non-time goals: Eat and drink something on the bike just to prove I can. Put on extra sunscreen even if it makes my transitions slower. Don’t spend the whole time being angry at the timing chip (I hate having things strapped to me). Remember to put the extra Shot Bloks in the back of my top coming out of T1 so I have something to eat if I drop the bag that’s in my bento box. Attempt to get my headband on for the run but don’t stress if it doesn’t work. Remember which water bottles have water and which have Nuun, and act accordingly.

I will be pleasantly surprised if I break two hours. I will be happy with any time I think I can learn from. I will be pissed if I do something dumb. That’s about it.

Favorite first-tri tips? (Mmm, tri-tip.)

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One thought on “Goals for the Ice Breaker Sprint

  1. Kristina says:

    Good luck with the race – I hope that it IS a good warm-up for Wildflower, in addition to being a fun and very much a real race for you!

    I’ve participated in two triathlons and two other multi-sport events, and I am quite sure that I’ve done something stupid at all of them. Probably the dumbest two things were at Santa Barbara – I forgot my bike saddle bag, so if I had had a flat, I would have been royally screwed, AND I stepped on my good pair of sunglasses and broke them. So, my advice – remember your bag and don’t step on your sunglasses (don’t be a moron like me, in other words).

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