Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Countdown the Race Day

Non-EVE post about biking and triathlons follows:

Our first race of the season is this weekend.  The weather looks like it's holding, although the cold snap in the central US is keeping the water temperature down under 70 degrees.  I'm currently in a "taper" week where we do very light workouts and coast up to the big event.

This will be my 8th overall race and 5th at Olympic Distance or higher, in my 5th overall season of racing.  This particular event, I'm signed up for the Aquabike - I will swim and bike but not run.  I'm starting to get used to the pre-race jitters, but this year they're manifesting differently than in past seasons.  Typically right now I'd be feeling a sense of regret and dread as I stared down the gauntlet of the challenge; the sense of "obligation" for consuming a perfectly good Saturday by getting up at 4:30am.

This year, instead of feeling overwhelmed or stressed, I'm excited.  In fact, a few minutes ago, I signed up for a 2nd race later in the summer.  Crazy. (Normally race signups are something I do in the cold days of winter....never EVER when the weather is nice, hah.)

Part of my change in attitude, I think, is that this time last year my lower back hurt so bad that I thought I'd maybe never seriously ride the bike again.  Months of therapy and stretching, some time off in the off season, and I'm back at it and wanting to find out where my new limits are.  In the month of May, I logged more miles on the bike in almost 2 years (August 2013, the month I did my Half Iron distance Aquabike).

Another part of it (and I hate to jinx myself by saying this...) is that I'm reasonably prepared; perhaps mentally more prepared than any other race, and physically almost back to my peak of 2013.  Stronger in some ways, and weaker in a few others, actually.

Sure, I'd like to have another 2-3 weeks to prepare.  The weather in April was crappy, and work tied me up with unanticipated travel and more than a few late nights.  That delayed the start of outdoor biking and obliterated the semi-structured training plan I'd wanted to take on.  But, I've come a long ways in the past 3-4 weeks, and I'm very happy with the change in stamina over such a short time.

I don't expect to necessarily set a personal best for the course, but I think it'll be close enough that my time will depend on the weather conditions (chop/clarity of the swim course, as well as wind on the bike route) as much as anything.

Idle moments are filled with thoughts of things I need to remember to do, equipment I need to check, or dig out of the closet.  Other moments are filled with race day strategy or mentally rehearsing key moments of the event (swim start, in particular, has been on my mind today -- it's tempting to jump in the water and swim as fast as you can, even with a warmup before the race start, you can still blow your heart rate up and be hurting at the 100m marker ... with 1500m to go).  I'll print out my checklist and start gathering hardware tomorrow.

And on the plus side, Sunday is planned to be a day for being lazy on the couch and playing EVE.

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