Race Day Countdown: Big Rock Olympic Triathlon

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WARNING: Rambles Ahead!

I’m a couple days away from my first triathlon in just under three years. My last tri event was the Santa Barbara Triathlon way back in 2014. I came into that race overtrained and undermotivated and managed to slog through the distance. This time around, I’m much more excited, but of course, much more nervous.

Little things are driving me crazy — Should I race with contacts? Does my wetsuit even fit anymore? Will I remember how to transition? I never did figure out the whole nutrition thing…

It’s been said before that triathlon is a sport for the obsessive-compulsive in all of us, but weirdly enough I’ve always taken a laissez-faire approach to the sport that for the early years served me well. But that’s not the case anymore and I’m not quite sure how my approach to racing will change.

Coach Jim (that sneaky devil) scheduled me an additional workout to take place immediately after finishing this race (an additional 45 minutes of running to complement the hour or so that I will have just completed). He was kind enough to do this weeks ago, so I’ve had it on my calendar for a while. The last time I raced at Olympic distance was also the first time that I raced at Olympic distance (Malibu 2013!). My time then placed me pretty evenly in the middle of the pack, which is already a very very tiny field among women, aged 18-24. My current age group (F25-29) is certainly a bit more competitive, but still not as competitive as the ladies in the 30+ and 40+ groups. I mention all of this because I’m very curious to know how many minutes I’ve managed to shave off over the course of 4 years, but with the prospect of a 15K run instead of a simple 10K looming, I’m weighing my options.

Do I go out and race at full race speed for the distance I’m being judged over? (And in doing so, damn the training consequences?) Or should I take the day as it was likely intended, just another day of work toward a larger end of year goal? The jury is still out on this.

Knowing how I am, I’m likely going to race this race (well, my version of racing, which will mean doing something that I’ve literally never been able to do before — race against a previous time). I’m probably going to race this race and race it much too hard, and THEN find a way to go back out on the course for 45 more minutes of pain. But even as I muse over this possibility, the thought doesn’t worry me, and that does worry me.

My gauge is a little rusty, so I can’t quite tell if my eyes are bigger than my stomach. (Really, how hard is an Olympic Tri when paced well? (also really hoping that this question doesn’t come back to bite me >_<)) Coach Jim has done a masterful job over these past 2 months of ramping up my distance and effort slowly to the extent that each new distance or time or training exercise has been extremely manageable, and much easier than previously anticipated. That’s also the magic of having a coach to work with — if I had that feeling of easy training on my own, I’d assume that my workouts weren’t taxing enough, and I would push up the intensity, leading to inevitable overtraining.

My only real memories of racing Santa Barbara was hating all of it (depressing, I know haha). Ironically though, I wasn’t as wrecked at the end of it as I thought I would be. My time was slow (definitely overtrained…) but my end of the day fitness was better than I expected. And I think that’s the optimism that’s propelling me forward here — this latent feeling of knowing that I’m stronger than I think I am, and knowing that this will be a great day to find out exactly how much stronger.

Back when I was freaking out about Santa Rosa (which I’m still doing by the way, but only in a muted fashion until the freaking out about Big Rock is complete), a friend assured me that freaking out is part of the process. And like all things associated with “the process” there’s not much else to do but enjoy it. So I’ll enjoy it. I don’t really have a choice 🙂

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