My bike is in the shop for a tune-up. My borrowed tent is probably in the back of someone’s van, awaiting transport to Wildflower. It’s race week, and my thoughts are a mix of “where did that 10 weeks go?” and “I want to ride one more time!” and “uh, where can I quickly buy earplugs in San Francisco?” and “please, please, please let my favorite Shot Blok flavors be in stock!”
This weekend was our final push: open-water start drills, a mile swim in the San Francisco Bay, and a 6.5 mile run on Saturday, with a chaser of 20-plus miles on Paradise Loop and a 40-minute run on Sunday. I drove straight from Sunday’s ride to the bike shop and dropped off Penelope, then headed to a different bike shop to leave my tent with the tri club’s volunteers and “refuel” with free pizza. Had I not been still in my workout gear and fairly damp and disgusting, I doubt I would have moved for the rest of the day, but I eventually dragged myself out for some ice and a silly frozen coffee drink and collapsed into an ice bath followed by one of the greatest showers ever taken.
I am so excited about this taper.
I read enough blogs of people training for marathons and Ironmans and ultras and other serious, terrifying distance races that I feel a little wimpy being pumped about a taper for an Olympic triathlon. But I also need to respect where I am. No matter what happens this Sunday, it will be the longest continuous workout of my life (save for a couple of all-day hikes and the Avon Walk). If I race the best I can possibly race right now, I’ll still be out there for more than three and a half hours. It’ll most likely be more like 4:15-4:30 and could be plenty longer. My slowest half-marathon is 2:15ish, and before some of our longer bricks in training, that was easily my longest sustained effort. While none of these race distances taken alone are any great shakes for me — save the bike, maybe, of which I’ve only done the full 25 miles once — putting them together is a much different story. It’s not six hours, or 10 hours, or 14 hours, but it is still a long time to be “on.”
I do feel ready, though. There was a point in early March when I was calculating the weeks until the race and thinking there was no way I could possibly be ready. I have a lot to say about my first experience training with a group and a coach, and 85-90% of it is positive; it’s only now that I see the logic behind some of the things that were maddening at the beginning.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what comes after Wildflower; I’ll write more about that later, but it’s going to start with as much nothing as I can handle — a week, if not two. A weekend of sun-basking and poolside cocktail-drinking in Palm Springs after the race seems like a solid way to force some recovery. Yes, part of my brain wants to start registering for things and Google Calendar-ing my prospective marathon training plan, but I’m just … not going to do that yet.
Instead, I want to enjoy this last week of workouts. One final swim tomorrow, easy yards with just a little bit of race-pace work. A two-mile time trial at track on Wednesday. A ride out to the ocean on Thursday, presuming Penelope makes it back to me by then. And lots of packing and list-making and food-preparing and eating. Plenty of eating.
Two months ago, I was a total basketcase about this entire endeavor. Now I’m a triathlete with a goal race less than a week away. And after doing essentially 1.25 Olympic-distance triathlons between Saturday and Sunday, I feel completely relaxed about it. Maybe I’m just too worn out to be keyed up, but it’s not a nasty/sore/beaten-up kind of tired; it’s more like the sun-drunk laziness that sweeps over me after a day at the beach. Now I’m just letting Wildflower come to me.