One of the Reasons Fall Training is Best


Seasons on the Central Coast of California consist of wet and cold, warm and dry, and somewhere in the middle with temperatures quite mild throughout the year.  While many people find the long days of summer a great time to train for triathlons, I like the spring and fall, those somewhere in the middle seasons.

Fall and spring are the most beautiful and breathe taking for me.  Take the picture below as an example:

Sunset at Butterfly Beach

While I was riding hard with the sun behind me on the outbound leg of my cycling training this evening, after the turnaround, I had this wonderful sun that kept peaking in and out of the clouds.  I stopped at Butterfly Beach in Santa Barbara and snapped the above shot.

It makes fall training the best for me!

Expect the Unexpected: 2010 Santa Barbara Triathlon Sprint


Let me start this post by saying that I awoke in the wee hours of Saturday, August 28th with a severe case of food poisoning.  I was so sick, I wasn’t able to join friends at East Beach for the Santa Barbara Triathlon Long Course that day.  In fact, I didn’t even think I would compete in Sunday’s Sprint.

Luckily, I recovered enough that I felt comfortable competing.   Late Saturday night, I put the final checklist and plans into place and set my alarm clock for 4:30am the next morning.

Waking suddenly to the bitter sound of “beep, beep, beep,” I immediately hit the snooze.  “OMG! It’s already time to get up…  I need at least another hour,” I said to myself.   But, triathletes don’t need another hour, so I got up, got dressed, packed the rest of my stuff into my GYST transition bag, loaded the car and headed toward East Beach.

Parking was easy and I met some other triathletes, which helped brighten my mood. As we walked along the waterfront above the transition area, I can hear the waves off in distance. We talked about how cold the ocean water was projected to be and agreed that today’s swim was not going to be a walk in the park despite the calm conditions.  This was real!

Being at the transition area so early, I was able to choose the best transition spot, the outside end of the 1140-1180 bib range.  Five rows down from swim in and very convenient.

Of course, setting up transition was super simple with my GYST transition bag. Set it down, unfold it, and you are set to go!  The wetsuit is ready, the change of clothes, the shoes, snacks and water bottles are there and ready to go.

For some reason time really seemed to fly.  I had plenty of time to stretch, make multiple trips to the bathroom, chat with other triathletes, and focus on the task ahead.

But then I found myself in the porta-potty when they announced the first wave was leaving in fifteen minutes!  OMG! I still had to put on my wetsuit and do a practice swim.  However, fifteen minutes is plenty of time to wipe your butt, put on an over-sized wetsuit, and walk down to the beach.

The practice swim confirmed what we all have been hearing for the past few days, the water was really, really cold!  I also realized that entry into the water might be an issue as I watched a group of swimmer get taken out by a wave.  Once past the breaking waves, the feet didn’t seem to mind the cold much, but the hands and face protested.  I started out with side stroke and got into a rhythm and then transitioned to crawl. But the ice cream headache during crawl was a bit much for my food poisoned, recovering body so I stopped to tread water for a bit before heading back to shore.

Uh-Oh, WAVE!

Lining up at the start was a little scary.  It was the first time that I realized just how far apart each of the buoys were.  Was this really a 500m swim?  Looks to be a lot longer! Time to concentrate.

The first wave left and the 2010 Santa Barbara Triathlon sprint had begun! I could see that very few people were swimming with their heads in the water.  They also seemed to take a while to get around the first buoy and make progress toward the second. Not very reassuring as the second wave, my wave, lined up at the start.

Then they announced 30 seconds, time to focus.  I pulled my goggles down, checked my swim cap and took a deep breathe.  Then the countdown began.

The horn blew and the wall of men in front of me disappeared.  I remember seeing feet, splashing, and then looking up and seeing a wave. A giant and thinking to myself that this was going to suck.  Why didn’t I look up before I entered the water and waited two seconds?  The wave hit me and a few others, flooding my face with salt water and knocking the wind out of me.  Time stood still.

Unlike the others, I was still standing where I was hit.  I immediately dove into a side stroke, but quickly noticed that something was wrong.  I was out of breathe and every movement of the arms and legs felt like I lacked power.  Was it the cold.

While getting to the first buoy and turning to parallel shore didn’t take long, looking the length of the buoys and barely being able to see the far buoy was psychologically distressing.   This was going to be a long, painful swim.

Despite my body trying to tell me to stop, I pushed on, doing any stroke I could muster that would keep me moving toward the end.  From side stroke, back stroke, dogie paddle, to crawl, I kept myself going, absolutely determined to see this through to the end.  While I realized that my goal of 55min was probably not going to happen at this point, I knew that I still had to give this event my all.

Rounding the last buoy, I realized how wide I went.  I went so wide that I was in a world of my own, seeing blue and white caps splashing about 20 meters to my right.  I must have swam crooked for a little too long… oops.   I swam straight toward the chute on the beach.  While others were starting to stand up, I gave myself a few extra strokes and then exited the water.

My heart was racing, I was out of breathe, cold, and wondered if doing this was really such a great idea.  Of course it was, the hard part was now over and the fun was just about to begin!

The Little Piggy Goes “Wwweeeeee”

T1 was pretty fast. All I had to do was strip off the wetsuit, toss on the shorts, GPS, helmet and shoes and go.  While I had some issues getting my Polar watch off and replacing it with the Garmin GPS, not putting on the gloves, socks and switching shirts like I did last year really saved some time.  I grabbed the bike and mounted.

Those first few pedal strokes after the swim are some of the most amazing to me.  You are covered in salt water, the wind is drying you off and your legs are still a little confused about what you want them to do.  Yet, you can feel the power being transferred to the road and it is exhilarating.

It wasn’t long before I caught up to a few cyclists and went whizzing by them.   I was moving at a speed just under 20mph and it felt great to pass someone else for a change.  I had ridden this course almost a hundred times over the past few years, so this really was like a Sunday ride to me.

Going up the first hill, I came upon two young-ins making their way up the hill on mountain bikes.  As I approached them at high speed, I yelled some words of encouragement.  As I passed them, I could hear the frustration of my passing them in their heavy breathing.   One remarked to the other to get moving, to which he replied with a gasp.

Going down the hill toward the Biltmore, I was reminded of the Geico commercial where the little piggy goes “weee” all the way home.  This was fun, I was hauling ass, so what the heck.  At 33mph down the hill, I let out a big loud “wwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeee.”  I don’t think the volunteers were amused.

The turn around came quickly and I thought I was slightly ahead of last year’s pace. Knowing that a run was about 12 minutes away, I backed off on my return ride to East Beach.  Even still, I kept passing people.

I even passed people climbing up “hell hill,” the hill that I came screaming down just a few minutes before.   There were three cyclists making their way up the hill and that was the motivation I needed to get to the top.  “I’ll pass you and you and you, and you,” as I started my climb.  Before I knew it, I got to the top and looked back just before the turn…  to my astonishment, it looked like the other rides were just starting their climb.

Settling in and cruising back to East Beach was fun. I knew the bike was coming to and end rather quickly and I wanted to enjoy it.  Turning on to Cabrillo Blvd, leaving the volunteers and officer in my dust, I turned my attention toward T2 and the run.

Dismounting and running back to my transition was a blur.  I didn’t notice the crowd or much else.  I was in my zone, mentally ready to finish this event.

Body Says Stop

T2 was quite fast.  Rack the bike, slip off the helmet, change shoes, grab the waist pack and go.   It went as easily as it sounds.

Unfortunately, about a quarter mile into the run, my entire right leg from hip to heel decided it had had enough and started cramping up.  I pushed on, focusing on my form, lift the heals, push forward from the hip and stare at the horizon.

I then noticed my GPS was showing some odd readings.  For instance it said I had covered 2,600 miles and was going 86mph! If only!  Without the GPS, I had no idea what my pace was and my strategy relied upon knowing the pace and keeping my run consistent. But that was before my right side decided it had had enough.

The run was one of the most painful of all, and I found myself limping along.  I was crushed, this wasn’t how I expected to end this event.  Still, I pushed on, and brought the event home, crossing the finish line in 1:08:44, a full four minutes longer than last year. <results posted here>

Crushed, but Motivated & Content

Yes, my time was worst than last year.  I suffered through a freezing cold swim, had the time of my life on the bike, and pushed through one of the worst cramps I have ever had on a run.  I even did it while still recovering from food poisoning the day before.

Even factoring in all of the above points, comparing times to last year leaves me crushed.  The Santa Barbara Triathlon was an event that I was sure I could pull off a decent personal record in.  Unfortunately, things happened that prevented this from happening.

Did I give this event 150% effort? Yes.  Could it have gone a lot worse? Yes.  Am I so crushed that I’ve lost motivation to go on?  No.

Triathletes have good and bad events.  The 2010 Santa Barbara Triathlon is perhaps one of my bad events.  There will be others in the future too, but I must learn from this and move on.

With that said, I have three weeks to get ready for the 2010 Carpinteria Triathlon.  See you there.

Strawberry Fields Triathlon: Hell, Heaven & Fun


Don’t let the title fool you, the Strawberry Fields Triathlon is one of the best run events I’ve had the honor of participating in in my triathlon career.  Race maps were accurate, volunteers were extremely helpful, transition area was marked with reserved spaces, and the pre-race information was highly detailed and accurate.  The next race to reach the top of my charts has a lot of work ahead to top this race!

Just with any event that you compete in, you have to approach it with an open mind.  Going into an event expecting something or a particular outcome is setting yourself up for failure.  With the Strawberry Fields Tri being my sixth triathlon, I approached it expecting to simply take each stroke, pedal stroke, and step as it came.  And it was a good thing. (note: official results are posted here)

Swim – Hell

The swim portion of the triathlon consisted of a 450m ocean swim just off Oxnard State Park.  The thing that made me nervous after visiting the site the day before was the long, sandy beach run from the water’s edge to the transition area.  Plotted in Google Earth at 0.26 miles, this was going to separate the men from the boys. Beach running and I just don’t get along, in fact it kills my legs and saps them of energy.

However, the morning of the triathlon, another hell quickly materialized.  After setting up my transition area and heading down to the beach, the calm conditions were not exactly calm.  High surf, crashing waves, and swell at over four feet was just the icing on cake.

In fact getting out to the first buoy was just the first step into hell.  Turning right at the first buoy sent the swimmers parallel to shore, but meant we had to swim diagonally across breaking surf, huge waves, etc to the second buoy.  Then it was simply keeping your head above water and riding the waves to shore.

Entering the water is all about timing.  Being part of the first wave, I didn’t have the ability to watch others enter the water, but I did have enough to observe the wave patterns.  One large wave, two smaller ones and then calm before the pattern repeated. I used this to my advantage, letting the “pros” run out into the first “big” wave only to get themselves clobbered!  I more patiently waded out into the surf, waited for the two smaller waves to break and then started side stroking for my life. It worked, but the four foot swell was too much.

I dogie paddled around the first buoy and thought to myself how crazy it was that I was actually doing this.  Just shy of half way that realistic voice told me to quit,  then the competitive voice said that that would embarrassing.  Then the lifeguard actually looked me in the eye and asked “are you done?”  “HELL NO!”  The evil voice in me suggested knocking him off his surfboard throne into the hellish cold I was suffering in, but then I would get disqualified, not totally embarrassing, but not exactly the nice thing to do.

Approaching the second buoy conditions continued to change as we swam diagonally across the surf/waves.  The waves were pushing us toward shore and the lifeguards were desperately trying to push the buoy back out into position.  This gave us a narrow space in which to turn.  By this time, the speed-demons of the second wave caught up to us and I found myself in a mixed hell of human arms and feet, cold water, breaking, waves, lifeguards, and possibly even a few sharks (not really!)!

The cool thing was riding the wave to shore.  While everyone stood up and started running in the water, I managed to catch a giant wave and went surfing by the runners!  Woohoo!

Then it was time to run up the beach.  This sand was like no sand I’ve walked on before.  Extra dry, extra course, extra deep, and extra loose.  With every step I could feel my legs strain, energy disappearing and my heart rate racing.  The British competitor that caught up to me just when we hit pavement said it best, “Could they have put the transition area any closer to China? We aren’t running marathons… we are triathletes!”  I will never forget that!

I will also never forget that on July 18th, just after 7:30am, I entered a hell that I never expected to see and lived to talk about it.

In the end I spent 8:30 in the water with a little over 3 minutes for the run to transition.  (11:35 total)

T1 – I Am Alive!

Transitions are where triathletes can really shine, proving their ability to quickly switch between sports.  On this day, I was just so happy to be alive after swimming through hell, that I wanted to relish in the fact I was still standing.   Strip off the wetsuit, grab the shorts, turn on the GPS, put on the HR monitor, socks, jersey, grab some water, put on the shoes and helmet and enjoy the fact that I am still standing.  With the bike off the rack, time to run another marathon to the bike mount.

T1 was a shamefully leisurely 4:15! Ouch!

Bike – I’ve Gone to Heaven

Cycling is my thing.  I love cruising on the bike, enjoying the scenery, enjoying the smells (pleasant and otherwise!), and feeling the air rush by.  Mounting on the bike, I felt like I went to heaven.

The course was very similar to the Ventura Triathlon course, although there was a surprise in the end for me.  The course went north along Harbor Blvd, west across Gonzales Rd to Victoria, an out and back segment along 5th ave, and then swing back to Oxnard State Park via Channel Islands Blvd.

The course races amongst natural land, the agricultural fields growing produce such as strawberries, and then through the civilized world of Oxnard.  Such a great course that is quite flat and lets one just cruise.  However, it wasn’t all flat.  Toward the end of the 11.5 mile route, one must go up and over the Channel Islands Harbor, an extreme incline compare to the rest of the route.  Heaven on the muscles.

Rounding the corner back into the park, there was a slight communication problem as to when one should dismount. The first volunteer said to dismount after the line, the second said to dismount before the line.  I split the difference… stopped with the line mid-bike.

11.5 miles in 37:45 (including the marathon to the mount/dismount)

T2 – Forgot Something… Again!

You have something go so well that you know you must have missed a step.  Yep, my T2 was so good, I totally forgot something.

After mounting the bike, removing the helmet, changing shirts, shoes, etc, I started off toward then Run Start.  Its that moment where you are going through a mental checklist and you suddenly realize that something is missing?  That sinking feeling?  Yep, I had that feeling when I realized that I forgot to put on my number belt.  Not the end of the world, but required.  I ran back across the transition area to get it.  Ugh!

total T2 time was a doubly shameful 3:38!

Run – Let’s have some fun!

With everything finally in order, I started to run.  I’ve had to go to the the bathroom since I started this event.  Since the run course went right by the bathroom, I figured I had very little to loose and a lot to gain by making a brief pit-stop.  It took about 60 seconds and I was back running.

I’ve been working with a running coach who has really helped my run become more efficient.  By leaning through the hips and using my legs to carry momentum forward using gravity, I can run slightly faster than before at a lower heart rate.   Using this new technique, I settled in and just enjoyed the final leg of this fantastic event.

While I did stop for a few brief moments, I can’t believe how well I kept up a decent pace.  The straight shot run along Ocean Dr.  reminded me more of Tijuana than California.  The narrow road with tall multi-story residences and sand covered intersections put me another country, adding to the fun.

Rounding the last few curvy turns toward the finish I really quite surprised at how good I felt.  The final sprint came fast and seeing the time clock really sent the reality of finishing the event home.

With a potty break and steady pace, the 5k run came in at 36:40.

Final Thoughts

Finishing this event in 1:33:51 puts me in 384th place overall and second to last (of 35) in my age group.  (note: official results are posted here) After finishing a triathlon, I expect to walk away from the experience having learned a few things.  To do otherwise, one would not be fully experiencing the event nor would they call themselves a triathlete.

What have I learned after this event?  A couple of things:

  • What I thought constituted a rough ocean paled in comparison to the conditions of the event. I survived and know what hell looks like.
  • Transition times are important and need to be improved greatly!  With an average transition time of 3:56, shaving even one minute off each time would have bumped me up to 367th place from 384th overall and up one position in my age group.
  • My modified running form is working. Being more efficient on my feet during the run feels great and I really am looking forward to making more progress.
  • The 2010 Strawberry Fields Triathlon was run so well, that this event sets the standard for how to run an event.
  • Pre-race positive visualization works well.  It doesn’t help to get stressed out over what could be during an event. Simply taking the event in stride and going with each blow as they come is the only way to succeed.
  • There might be some more, so I will add to this list as I continue to reflect on this memorable event.

What’s next?  I am not quite ready to go there yet.  I am still riding my high from this event.  I know what I need to do succeed and I am more determined than ever to push on and make the next event the best yet!

Cheers!

Cycling: Watch Out For Anything!


For a split moment, while watching the Tour de France, I momentarily thought the TV had switched to the Animal planet.  Running out in front of the peloton was a dog…  a dog that probably regrets trying to cross the street. Check out the action below:

After watching this, I should ask dog owners to make sure their dog is leashed when attending any sports event, for the safety of the dog and the cyclists.

While we are on the subject of Tour de France crashes, check out the second crash in the following video that brings the peloton to a stop! With the narrow roads and so many cyclists riding so close together, the worst can happen.  Luckily no one seriously hurt.

And seriously, if you don’t think dogs, or even cameramen are problems for cyclist, watch this next video.   It amazes me how many dogs there are roaming the streets of Europe.

Cheers!  Enjoy the dramatic footage and keep your eyes open while on the road.  As Mark Cavendish says, “It’s just life.”

2010 Ventura Triathlon Sprint… Done!


After an early start this morning and pushing my body to new limits, I completed the 12th Annual Ventura Breathe of Life Triathlon sprint in 1:37:47.   I placed 270 (of 363) overall and 20 of 24 in my age group (M30-34).

So what was it like?  It was satisfyingly hard.  From the 8am start of the 400m swim to the somewhat confusing 13.3mile bike course, to the left sided 5k run, each sport presented its challenges and I met them head on!

(note, a link to the official results appears at the end of this post)

SWIM: I stepped on a fish!

The swim was 400m, just inside the breakwaters of the Ventura Harbor.  The water was warm at 66 degrees, calm and quite pool like. This was going to be a little easier than I thought.

Heading out for the practice swim, I was surprised to feel how uneven the sand was walking out into the water.  It was like hiking along an old road full of potholes and bumps.   But that wasn’t the real surprise.   As I took another step, I felt sand being pushed against my leg.  It wasn’t sand being moved by the wave, it was too concentrated and seemed to be coming up from the bottom.  Then I put my foot down and felt the fish fluttering.  As I started to panic, it swam off.  Oh boy… swimming with the fishies…  this was going to be interesting.

The horn blows and I hit the water just behind the group.  I started out side stroke and was keeping up.  I switched briefly to forward crawl with my head in the water.  Only got in two strokes before I realized I had a breathing problem.  Back to side stroke… “just keep moving and breathe” is what I reminded myself.

Half way to the first buoy, the happened.  My arms and legs hurt like no tomorrow.  Every stroke was painful.  Slow down, breathe and glide was the best move. But then, I was swimming in a pack, which made it difficult to relax.  Every time I stroked, I hit someone.  I was not used to swimming in such a crowd, so that added to my anxiety.

To make a long story short, I settle into an alternating left/right side stroke and got through the swim.  As I noticed people starting to stand up in waist high water, I took advantage of the footing and did two dolphins to avoid having to run through knee deep water.

Running up the beach to the transition area sucked.  It was a very long (0.15 mile) beach run which drained me even more.  I was so happy to step onto pavement and cross the timing pads!

T1 – Remember the Sequence

Transitioning to the bike, it was all about going through the steps.  Unfortunately, my transition area was setup opposite as it had been in the past (stuff to the left of the bike, before it was right).  It took a little getting used to.   I didn’t have the GPS out, so I didn’t turn it on until after I was ready to put on my shoes.  Putting on my left shoe, I found my right glove riding glove. ugh!

Eventually I got everything together, but I forgot the bib.  While this wasn’t mandatory for the bike (both the bike and helmet had my athlete number) it was something that I missed.  The sequence of T1 was out of order, but I got 99% covered

This points out that I need to practice my transitions more.  I hadn’t practiced them since the UCSB Triathlon in March, perhaps I dropped the ball.

Bike – Just Keep Cranking

The bike course was a little odd and required a turn around on Harbor Blvd followed by a right hand turn onto Gonzales Rd. The turn around isn’t so bad, but the right hand turn could be missed.  I personally didn’t miss it, but I heard that a number of riders in the event did and were disqualified.

Heading east on Gonzales Rd, I just kept cranking.  The course is fairly flat and there isn’t much time to relax on a downhill.  Just keep cranking isn’t hard, until you try and eat something.  Fuel for this event was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I had in a ziplock bag in my jersey.  I clearly wasn’t thinking about how I was going to open it while riding, so I did caveman… tore open the bag with my teeth enough that I could bite a piece off and suck it through the hole.  It worked, but the peanut butter… well you know what happens when you eat peanut butter.  I never tried eating one before while on the move, now I know!

The bike itself was really good, fast and fun.   I settled in behind #45 for a bit and just cranked.  I eventually passed him and found myself back at Ventura Harbor for T2.

T2 – Grab the Droid, stupid. Don’t Forget the Bib!

T2 was pretty fast.  All I had to do was put the bike away, strip the helmet and gloves, put on the running shoes, and go.  Unfortunately, I was a little concerned about finishing the race without my Droid.  I wanted to take pictures and video of a friend of mine finishing after me.  In a last minute decision, I grabbed my water belt and crammed the Droid into it.

I started off and suddenly realized that I sill didn’t have my bib!  Ugh.  Run back, where is it?  Its under the shirt that I didn’t put on as I decided at the last minute just wear the jersey.   With the bib on, it was time to run.

Run – The Pain and the Surprise!

Starting the run, I quickly learned that grabbing the water belt was a huge mistake.  My Carpinteria Triathlon water bottle kept bouncing out of the holder.  I had to stop multiple times in the first quarter mile to stop and grab it.  After the third time, I just held it in my hand.  Annoying, but better than stopping.

After the bike, it is always the first half mile that is the worst.  Unfortunately, this run never improved.  I was tired, my muscles sore and I was mentally drained.  Still, I had a goal, to beat my 2009 time of 35 minutes and finish this 5k with a sub 11:00 pace.  I pushed on.

Then I saw my friend, passing me on her way BACK to the finish.  H0ly moly, she was kicking my butt, how did that happen?  I had to catch her, despite the pain.  At this point, my mental ability took a downfall.  The person that I thought I would beat was ahead of me and it really made me think about the pain, the pace, and the humiliation of defeat.

I think too much.  I pushed on, inspired by fellow Olympic triathletes and the fact it was only another mile.  I can do this!  Then I saw her.  I caught up…  but my legs weren’t going faster.  Strategy, sometimes, is more powerful than mightiness.  I decided to follow her to the finish and pass her in the last few hundred feet.   It worked well, I surprised her, she took off sprinting, I took off sprinting and I passed her just in time to beat her across the finish.

As it turns out, she was one of the ones that missed the turn and was dq’d.  Figures, as glorious as I was about the win, I was a little embarrassed too

The Results

I finished the triathlon in 1:37:47:  12:37 swim, 52:14 bike, 32:56 run.  Placing 20 of 24 in my division and 270th overall.  I know this is a repeat of the beginning of this post, but let’s look at what happened last year.

Last year I placed 24 of 25 in my division and 312th overall.   The 2010 results definitely show improvement… and I am happy!

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If you are looking for your results, follow this link to Prime Time’ website.

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For an interesting account from an Olympic triathlete’s perspective, read: They Can’t Take That Away From Me…

Ventura Triathlon 2010 PreRace Jitters!


The 2010 Ventura Breathe for Life Triathlon starts tomorrow morning at 7:15am with the first wave of the Olympic triathletes starting their journey in 2010’s event.   My journey is that of a Sprint triathlete, so I start with wave 8, sometime around 8am.  Those 45 minutes are usually the longest minutes of my life!

Sitting in a motel room right now and typing this post, I must say that I am quite nervous. These source of these nerves are the prerace jitters. Prerace jitters are nerves, thoughts, and anxiety that one experiences in the weeks or days before a major event.  These are perfectly natural.

An example of prerace jitters are the questions running through my head at the moment:

  • Did I train well enough over the last year?
  • Do I have everything I need?
  • What are the conditions going to be like?
  • What if….  (place worst nightmare here)?

The bottom line is that prerace jitters are no fun.  The trick is to not let them get the best of you.  As much as I want to panic about the questions above and many more, I know that this is useless behavior and a waste of energy.

When the jitters start to pull you away from preparing for your best race, try these tactics:

FOCUS ON POSITIVE VISUALIZATION!

I know, I know, it is hard!  But if it was easy, everyone would be doing a triathlon!   Think about how well the race is going to go.

If you have time, experience the swim, bike, run courses ahead of time.  Travel the weekend before, or even the day before and at the least, drive the routes.  Make sure you are familiar with potential hazards, turns, hills, and any fabulous scenery that must see along the way.  Make a mental library of these areas and use them in your visualization exercises.  It there is a tough corner, visualize yourself going around it at top speed safely.  Heck, see yourself passing your competition on this very turn!

PREPARE WITH A CHECKLIST

In the weeks before your race, start making a checklist of things that you will need throughout the triathlon.  Include not only your gear for the swim, bike and run, but also nutrition/fuel needs, bad weather gear, a change of clothes and anything that you might like to have with you the day of the event to make you more comfortable.

The checklist does not have to be a work of art or even typed.  In fact some of the best checklists I’ve ever written were on the backs of envelopes and napkins.   Whatever it looks like, it is  mental game to record the need so that you can clear the need from thought.

You don’t even have to save it from triathlon to triathlon.  The master checklist is in my head and it is part of my prerace ritual to write out the checklist for the upcoming triathlon.  Once I have packed and head off to the event, I seldom look at it as I am mentally prepared and comfortable.

SOCIALIZE WITH OTHER TRIATLETES

You would be surprised how wonderful it feels to arrive at an event with a group of triathletes. Not only does this help cut down on pollution and parking, but gives each triathlete a wonderful support network.

When you are alone, the mind will run wild about what has yet to come.  When you are with someone, your mind is thinking about the conversation and being in the now moment.  Instead of thinking about the worst case scenario, you will be laughing with your fellow triathletes at how ridiculous it was that you spilled your coffee all over your wetsuit and the crazy jokes the newbie can’t stop telling.

WRITE ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE – BLOG!

At the moment, I do find myself alone in a motel room waiting for friends to arrive later.  Instead of letting prerace jitters drive me insane, I am sitting here typing this blog post, sharing my experiences with you all.  The power of sharing is an amazing thing and I am honored to provide the posts, videos, and tweets of my triathlon career.   I get just as much motivation and inspiration from you all in return for simply sharing my life.

Don’t hesitate to tweet, write, and share.  If you find yourself alone for a few minutes and something is stuck on your mind, write it down, discuss it with yourself and before you know it, it will solve itself.

BRING IT ON

These were just a few of the strategies that you can use to get around prerace jitters.  The bottom-line is to never stop thinking positive, seeing yourself in positive ways and visualizing yourself crossing that finish line stronger than ever.

With that said, I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow morning and start my Sprint journey.  It will be memorable, fun, and yet another fantastic milestone in my triathlon career!  Bib 283 says, “Bring it on!”

Cheers!

Endurance Ride, Cycling Long and Far


Even though I am only participating in sprint triathlons this year, my cycling distances have been increasing, now pushing almost 30 miles.   This is more than double the distance of the bike portion for Ventura Tri at 12 miles.

Tuesday’s ride came in at 28.8-miles in 1:51:09 at an avg. speed of 15.9.  This is my second longest bike ride ever!  But what amazes me about this ride is the route.  It wasn’t a simple out and back coastal route, but a combination of coast and foothills.  In fact, this ride combines portions of the Santa Barbara Triathlon Long Course route with portions of the Caprinteria Triathlon sprint course.

Ride data set, notice the varying terrain. (click for detail)

Bottom line, riding to SR150 in Carpinteria from East Beach in Santa Barbara is a huge milestone for me.  I have always wanted to do this ride and I did it!   While I started to wonder if I bit off more than I could chew cruising down the SR150 to SR192 and climbing up the hills, in the end I pushed through it and am ecstatic that I did.

So why keep increasing distances?  Why not is a better questions perhaps.  Here are a couple reasons:

  1. With long courses coming in 2011, why wait until post 2010 season to start working toward 2011.
  2. In addition, the more endurance I can build, the faster I can go on shorter distances.  For example, I can ride at 15-mph avg for 20-miles or ride 19-mph avg for 10-miles.
  3. Building endurance in general helps my triathlon time whether I spend it on the bike, in the water, on the pavement or all three.  Training my body to go the distance at the fastest pace possible is what it is all about.

If there is one thing I really would like you to take away from this post is never stop training, train beyond your goals and enjoy every minute!