So the next couple of months are packed with more races than I think originally intended. Here’s where I hope that my complete failure to come up with an actual plan this summer after the (somewhat failed) long distance coaching experience and subsequent list of excuses (injured, anemic, flu, colitis, depression, blah, blah, blah) still somehow managed to prepare me for the racefest that is August through October. For the record, I do not recommend the wing-and-a-prayer method of triathlon training.
So here’s what I will be writing up fun and interesting race reports on in the next 12 weeks:
August 5: Frankfurt City Tri
Last year I did the Olympic version and came in 10th (out of 30) in my age group with my usual crappy swim, decent bike, and stunningly mediocre run. This year the Oly distance was right out as the following week I’ve got a 70.3 on the schedule. So I signed up for the Jedermann (Everyman) version which is a nice short sprintlet (400m swim, 13 km bike, 5 km run) since it’s local, the wife is also racing it, it’s kind of a fun one (love getting to swim in my regular practice lake, then bike on the highway straight to downtown), and I could really use the transition practice (maybe someday I will finally stop taking naps in T1 and sitting down for tea in T2). But then, of course I (not obsessively, no, not me) checked the times from last year. And holy cow! I could win my age group. Like first. And probably come in top 5 women overall. Assuming that there are about the same number of women in it this year. Last year 360 men and 120 women did the sprint. This year there are 500 total signed up, so a few more people. Here in Germany, people take their fun seriously and all the “real” (amateur, age-grouper) athletes generally do the Oly and the grandmas on their city bikes (with the fenders, racks, step-through frames, dynamo lights) and sensible walking shoes are the ones doing the sprint distance. So if I have to elbow somebody’s Oma out of the way to move up a ranking, you bet I will. Even though I was only supposed to be doing this one as race prep for the following week.
Goal for this one: Based on last year’s times for my age group and based on my training speeds (and hopes since I really haven’t been doing any speedwork at all running) I will be happy with top 3 in my age group. Which, I know for much of the triathlon blogosphere is nothing, for me as a remarkably mediocre triathlete is incredibly exciting.
Secondary goal: DO NOT GET INJURED.
Secret goal: finish the bike in less than 23 minutes or less
August 12 Ironman 70.3 Wiesbaden (otherwise known as the European Championship for the pros).
I still don’t know what the hell I was thinking when I registered for this one. Altitude change on the bike: 1500 m. That’s a bit more than 4500 feet for all you Americans. That’s…a lot of climbing. For which I am significantly underprepared and do not have enough easy gears on the bike. Every person that I’ve talked to who did this one in the past or whose blog I’ve read has discussed how incredibly miserable it is (sometimes at very great length) Making the bike cutoff is a serious worry for this one and I’m a good rider. Last Sunday at the local RTF ride, I met a woman who did it for the last 2 years. Typical triathlete – whip thin, muscular, fancy tri bike, the whole works. She went on at length about how hard it is and how she’s not doing it this year in favor of something easier. My last 70.3 (first as well) was the pancake-flat Eagleman and I had a great bike there, under 3 hours. I’m going to hope for sub-4 hours for this one and be positively joyful if I manage it. My swimming and running should be much improved over Eagleman, though: This race will very likely be wetsuit legal unlike Eagleman and won’t be quite so miserably (95°F = 35°C) hot and I won’t be on my honeymoon, so I can probably take something ridiculous like 20 minutes off my run time. Assuming my legs still work after the bike. Looking at the times from last year for my age group provides me with no context and no comfort as I really have no idea what’s going to happen on the bike. Last year in my age group were 24 people, no DNF’s, and times from 5:42 to 8:12. Happily, the women start immediately after the pros (yes, you read that right, all the women in one heat. There are about 10 times as many men in this as women, which is typical for European middle distance triathlons) so I’ll have a lot of company on the course with all the men behind me and all the women with me. This was the same setup as the Frankfurt City Tri last year and for that race, my goal was to pass at least one pro. Which I managed before the swim was over 🙂
Goal for this one: Finish.
Secondary goals: Have fun, beat my run time from Eagleman
Most important thing to remember and stick to the plan: nutrition and hydration. It’s become really clear to me recently (ask the Wife about the getting lost and the crying and calling her in the middle of the very long bike ride in the rain) that if I don’t eat enough, I bonk really hard. So I’ve been practicing a lot of eating of energy bars on the bike for the last few weeks.
Secret goal: There is no secret goal. Finish, don’t get off the bike and walk up any of the hills.
Then there’s a bit of a break where we go to the beach and behave like cats for a week (cats who, of course, still do their weekly long run while on vacation)
September 2 Fintler Triathlon
We’re doing this one because it’s in the same town as the Wife’s dad lives in and coincides nicely with our yearly visit-the-folks trip. Last year it was going on while we were there and it had never occurred to her dad to mention to his triathlete daughter and daughter-in-law that there was something going on that they might be interested in. Instead, we had a nice run through the countryside last year. This year we are going to be running right past his house so all the local relatives can all get together and cheer us on and be impressed by our sporty athleticism. Because truly, they have no idea what it is that we actually do with all our free time. The distance is a bit odd. 700 m swim in a pool, 32 km bike, and 10 km run. Clearly this one is put on by a bunch of runners. Also, it’s a small, local event. I think there are something like 50 people total doing the long version (which is what this one is) this year. Also, the Wife and I get to be in the same age class for this one, a first for us.
Goal: Don’t fall down in front of any relatives. Seriously, not attaching any times to this one because I have absolutely no idea.
Secret goal: Because there’s always a secret goal. Bike in under an hour. Run in under 54 minutes.
September 9 Lauf für mehr Zeit
This is the Frankfurt area charity fundraising AIDS run. Of course the Wife and I are doing this one. Not only that, but she’s heading up the charity team that her workplace is sponsoring. This one will get its own post sometime soon where I actually ask you to help us out with a small donation. This year for the first time, timing chips will be used. Previously, if you were fast, you lined up at the front and the first 50 or so people across the line were timed with an actual stopwatch and the rest of us were assumed to be fun-runners and fund-raisers, which was fine with us. (Although last year if there’d been an official time, both the Wife and I would have had 5k PR’s) This year, I may run the all new 10k option as it comes on a weekend where a 20 mile long run needs to be fit in somehow.
Goal: Run 14 miles of warm up, then race a 10k at the end of it.
Other Goal: Raise as money much as possible
Secret Goal: Stealth coach the Wife to a new 5k PR
Which brings us to:
October 28 Frankfurt Marathon
So this will be marathon number 3 for me. I think that makes me an actual endurance athlete now. Or a masochist. Or possibly both. I am also the super secret coach for someone who doesn’t want anyone to know yet that she or he is training for one. I’m much more nervous about screwing up that part of marathon training than about my own. I’ve moved up to Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2 training plan, although with some extensive modifications to take care of multisport training until September 2. I’m also keeping swimming and some biking in afterwards because last year when I abruptly transitioned from tri to running only marathon training, I immediately injured myself. We’ll see how this year works out.
Goal: I can’t decide. I have 2 competing goals and I’m really not sure which one to go for. In the previous 2 marathons, I’m pretty sure I got too excited and/or overambitious, went out too fast, hit the wall around mile 20 and was ultimately slow and miserable at the end. So, the first goal is to run easy for the first 20 miles and see how fast I can go the last 6 without worrying about total time. The second is to take another 12 minutes off my time (first one was 4:28, second was 4:16) and go for 4:05.
Super Secret goal: I’m not telling.
So that’s what the rest of my race season for the year looks like. I’m not sure how the schedule got so crowded, I don’t think I’d intended to do 4 triathlons and a marathon this year.
Note: Keep watching this space: Before the weekend is out, I’ll have a post about team guilt/encouragement regarding starting to do core exercises and informally encouraging each other so that we manage to make it a habit. I’m still working out the details. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any ideas on how that should work. I’m thinking about weekly reminder posts, snail-mail encouragement for people who’d like that, and weekly round-up so we can all post in comments how we’ve done.