It Always Means More Once the Calendar’s Marked

So it’s February and I’ve written barely a word about my 2013 race calendar. Not because I’m going for some sort of blogger restraint medal but because, frankly, I have nearly no idea what I’m racing this year.

The centerpiece is set — Vineman 70.3, in July. This is the race that first got me thinking about triathlons, googling “race swim Russian River” as we drove away from another glorious afternoon at Memorial Beach in Healdsburg. Pete lived in that part of Sonoma County when he first moved to California, and for the better part of a year, I spent every weekend hiking up mountains and getting tipsy developing my wine palate in Windsor and Healdsburg and Guerneville. I don’t know those roads as well as I used to, but I still love them the same. And I know you’re not “supposed to” have time goals for a first race of a new distance, but I want to train hard and make myself proud of what I can do on this course. So that’s the main one.

Everything else? I really just don’t know at all.

I started looking for races with a few principles in mind: 1) one sprint, 2) one Olympic, 3) no Wildflower. I’m glad Wildflower was my first big triathlon — it’s certainly an experience — but I didn’t love the logistics and I’m not much of a camper, and I’d honestly really like to know what I can do in an Olympic-distance race on a different course. (OK, fine: on an easier course. I would get some measure of satisfaction out of trying to better my time in a tough race, but I’d also like to experience something a little less … grinding.) I also wanted to put the Olympic roughly at the same time as Wildflower, because I plan to join back up with my training group from last year for Vineman, and many people in that group will go through the Wildflower program as well, so the start date and workouts are pegged to that timeline.

So, fine. Months to work with, right? Welllll.

I thought I found that Olympic in HITS Napa, in April. It’s a little early (3 weeks before Wildflower), but I figured, oh well, I’ll just start training a little earlier. But then I didn’t see a ton of sprints before mid-April, so I started to second-guess it; would I rather do the sprint there?

Meanwhile, I started talking with my group coach from last year about working with the Wildflower program in some way even if I don’t race Wildflower — and if that happens, I’m sure I’ll be writing more about it, because there are some cool potential opportunities there. That group is racing the Napa sprint as the prep race — replacing the trail-run-freakout Ice Breaker from last year — so racing that weekend makes sense no matter what. But what distance?

Then we booked a trip to Japan. And I refuse to stress out about training when I have monkeys to find and hot springs to sit in and ramen to eat, but realistically, the trip erases a week and two weekends of training in late March (and rules out three races I’d been toying with the idea of doing — the Oakland Marathon relay and the Marin County 10K/1500-meter swim double dip, which are all on weekends we’re gone). I’d still have one week to prep before Napa, but I certainly wouldn’t be going in at my peak. Point for the sprint?

Then, I may have said that if I work with the Wildflower group, I’d be happy to go to the race to support everyone, and it may have been suggested that if I’m going to be there anyway, I might as well at least do a relay.

So as of now, I’m thinking: Napa sprint on April 14, run leg of the Wildflower Olympic on May 5, and I still need a damn Olympic race.

I’ve caved a little on racing after Wildflower; my coached Vineman workouts are only on Saturdays, so shuffling in a Sunday race early in training isn’t out of the question. So, right now, I’m considering:

  • Folsom Lake, May 11. Pros: close to Wildflower, so I wouldn’t be much behind the group; I’m semi-familiar with the course. Cons: I’m semi-familiar with the course, as it’s the site of my great fall-down-go-boom from 2012, and I’m still not much of a trail runner, so I’m not sure I see it going much better for me this time.
  • Rancho Seco, June 15. There’s a lot to like about this race — it’s close, it’s relatively cheap, it sounds like a good course for me — but it’s a little late in the spring/a little close to Vineman, and it’s a Saturday, so I’d miss a group workout (which, whatever, but every workout I miss is something I paid for that I’m not getting, which bugs the financially sensible side of me).
  • Reservoir Triathlon, June 16. I really wanted to do this race last year but couldn’t, and it’s the same weekend as Rancho Seco but on the Sunday, which is better. It’s also still later than I’d like to race.
  • Silicon Valley, April 21. It’s the week after Napa. Could I race an Olympic the week after racing a sprint, realistically? I’d also miss a week with the Wildflower group, if that’s a factor for me. And it still doesn’t give me that much time to be functional again after Japan.
  • Folsom, June 9. Still late, but earlier than the other June races. And a Sunday, which is good. I know literally nothing else about this race. I’ll be out of town the weekend before it but already have plans to train while away, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

So, yeesh. There’s not really a perfect option. What I want, I think, is for Silicon Valley or Reservoir to be on May 11, but that’s not real life.

Stuff I’m wondering: How close together can you reasonably race a sprint and an Olympic? How close together can you race an Olympic and a 70.3? How much will flying to Asia and back destroy me? If I don’t think I can pull my shit together by April 14, is it at all reasonable to think I could be any better by April 21? I’m asking rhetorically, but if you’ve got answers, by all means, answer away!

Or, I could just race Wildflower. Which is the one thing I didn’t want to do, but it’s starting to seem a lot more sensible in the scheme of things.

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One thought on “It Always Means More Once the Calendar’s Marked

  1. Kristina says:

    I’m reading about all of these people who have their 2013 race calendar totally set, and it sort of amazes me. I consider myself a planner, but there are a lot of known unknowns about the year that make me reluctant to sign up for a bunch of races (main one: will I be injury-free or not?).

    I went back and forth with Wildflower this year and finally I went for it. Your point about getting a feel for the distance on an easier course is well taken, however. In the other two Oly races last year I “killed” my Wildflower time without even intending to do so. I will say that I don’t camp – I know that it’s part of the essential Wildflower experience, but we stay in Paso Robles, usually have a great dinner the night before, and then truck in on Sunday morning for me to ‘race’. I’m sure that I’m missing out, but it helps my nerves and sanity and I think I end up enjoying the experience a bit more.

    Good luck with the decision – I don’t think that a June 9 tri would be too late, but I’m no expert!

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