I’m sitting here surrounded by stuff. Our trip to Vineman starts after work today, so I wanted to get as much packed as I could ahead of time.
I don’t know why I feel the need to write out my entire packing list by hand every single time, but I do, though it really doesn’t change that much from tri to tri. I think it’s one last little way to exert control before going into a somewhat unpredictable environment. And frankly, checking things off lists just makes me feel like I’m Doing Things Right.
In the past few days, I’ve gotten a few things out of the way: a bike tune-up and final ride; a last swim; an aquajog subbing for my regular shakeout run (my calves were tight after last Saturday’s run, and I’m not taking any chances, which seems like the kind of mature and reasonable decision I’m hardly ever capable of making). If anything, I’ve tapered too much, but I’m not sure I believe that’s a thing. Riding my bike home from the shop yesterday, I wanted nothing more than to keep riding, but I was out of time and told myself it would be better to save it for Sunday anyway.
So, all that’s left is thinking through the day and then executing what I’ve trained and planned for. My overall time goal is to finish under 7 hours, but that could break down a lot of different ways. But I had to figure out some rough time estimates to tell spectators where I’ll be, and to figure out how much food and water to carry, so, here’s how I’m hoping each leg will go. (Note that there’s an implied “just finish!” goal for each of these.)
A goal: 42 minutes
B goal: 45 minutes
I’ve gone 41-42 minutes in both of my swims in the river this year, but a) that didn’t include actually getting out of the rocky river — something I’m ashamed to be a wimp about but am a wimp about nonetheless — or any issues that arise from swimming in crowds, and b) looking at my swim times in the pool and at other races, a 42-minute swim would, frankly, be beyond my demonstrated abilities. I hear that happens sometimes on race day, and if it does, that’s great, but I’ve been expecting to swim 45 minutes this whole time, I think that’s in reach, and anything faster would be icing.
- Eat and drink throughout the morning — a little bit at a time is fine.
- Try. Act like I’m swimming in a race, not just out for a lazy Sunday float.
A+++ goal: 3:30
A goal: 3:45
B goal: 4 hours
My first course ride came in at 3:44; my second, with a few minor detours and a long water stop, was 3:55. My initial goal was to be able to hold 15 mph, which would be 3:45, and I’m sticking to that. Before my water stop on the second ride, I was closer to 16 mph, hence the A+++ goal — but I did stop and am expecting to stop at least once during the race (either to refill water or to stretch or to use a bathroom or all of the above), so I don’t expect 3:30. Still, I’m going to see if I can hold 16 mph until the turn onto 128.
- Two bottles on the bike: Rocktane in the front and either water or Skratch in the back. Plan is to supplement with aid station water — and I could do a full swap at mile 29, if I want to. I still haven’t decided.
- Salt caps in the outside stretchy pocket of my bento, one every hour.
- Food! I will, will, will get a whole Gu down in the first five miles before we’re off River Road. I’ve waited too long to eat both times I’ve biked the course, and it really catches up with me around mile 40. Not this time! I’ll also have a Picky Bar and Shot Bloks in my bag, some extra food stashed in my pockets, and a special treat — either a Fig Newton or gummy watermelon rings, whichever I’m in the mood for — after Chalk Hill.
- My main goal is to not avoid the crushing low I’ve felt both times after the turn onto Chalk Hill Road. It’s a rough part of the course, I’ve been baking in the sun for hours, and I’m just ready to be done. I think not eating enough has been a big part of the issue on previous rides, but part of it is also attitude, and I want to psych myself up to be as positive and happy as I can be on that stretch, no matter how the rest of the ride is going. It’s kind of the “three-hours-to-go” mark of the day, and that’s awesome, but three hours is still a long time and I want to have the best energy I can going in.
A goal: 2:20
B goal: 2:30
Oh, who even knows with this run. I really think it’s going to come down to weather. I thought at one point that if I had a really blockbuster day, I could run 10-minute miles, but I deeply doubt that now — especially since I’m planning to walk the aid stations.
I barely ran 11-minute miles on my first course run, the day of 95 degrees and the emergency garden hose. The weather forecast has gotten more favorable since then, but “more favorable” still means 80+ degrees. I ran at a 10:15 pace last weekend for 10 miles of the course, but it was only 70 degrees and I’m not banking on that for Sunday.
I don’t mean to use weather as an excuse for my performance, whatever it may be. It’s not an excuse. But it is a fact that I run poorly in heat, and while I’ve done what I can to get up north to practice, three hot runs does not equal acclimation. I’ll be armed with salt and Nuun and water and I’m going to do as much as I can without ending up in a med tent.
2:20 feels reasonable; I ran the SF half in 2:07 a month ago, and while I think that course is slightly easier, a whole minute per mile should be enough to play with. But if it’s exceptionally hot or sunny, all bets are off.
- Walk every aid station at least in the first half. Water on me, water down the hatch, eat whatever sounds good.
- Tri club friends will be at mile 4, after the worst of the hills. High-five everyone. Draw on that energy.
- Turn the Garmin to a useless screen if needed. If it’s a rough run, just finish.
And there it is. I start at 8, I’m number 1818, and I’ll be back on the other side of 70.3!