I wrote my first race strategy today. Well, most of it. I got distracted and ended up tidying the kitchen a bit. But 90% of the race strategy is done. The kitchen, however, still looks like shit.
Developing a written strategy for a 17-mile race may seem a little unnecessary, but writing down what worried me ... and strategies for coping with those worries ... was a great process. This will be my second 'real' season of racing and it started off with a great success: completing a half-marathon within 9-seconds of my target goal (official time = 2:10:09). Since this isn't my first time at the rodeo, nor my first time racing the Naperville course, I have a very good idea of what will cause me anxiety. And this year, I have a pretty good idea of how to deal with each of those anxieties.
Pooping: My fear of pooping during a race is overwhelming. I did learn tho, that if I eat dinner early enough the night before, I can easily poop by 4:30 in the morning. I think half the success of my half-marathon was owed to my pre-race, crack-of-dawn poop.
Saturday, June 11th: Finish a sauteed chicken breast, pasta with red sauce and an apple no later than 6 pm. One glass of wine with dinner is okay.
Sleeping: Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a failure at sleep. And lots of athletes get a bad night of rest before a race. I've been taking melatonin supplements for a few months now. Partnering the melatonin with a glass of milk and the rest of my daily vits and supplements, I more frequently than not get at least 5 hours of sleep.
Saturday, June 11th, approximately 1 am: Don't panic. Remember that you raced the Glenview triathlon last year on 2 hours of sleep and managed to take 18 minutes off your overall time from the previous year. Adrenaline is an amazing thing.
Race Day Nutrition: I'm always overthinking this one. In the past two months, I've had two, crazy-good swim workouts on nothing more than a cup of coffee and a glazed donut.
June 12, approximately 4 am: Eat Old School PB&J Pro Bar and Glazed Donut in the car, en route to race.
Getting there: Carlo is famous for printing out Google Maps directions to a place, and then deciding to abandon them half-way through the journey. This makes me crazy. And I wake up pretty tightly wound on race day morning, so any diversion from the original plan is just poking the bear.
Saturday, June 11th - 8 am: Print out directions via Google Maps and use them to get to the race packet pick-up with Carlo. Make Carlo promise to adhere to the exact same route on race day morning. Hold a lighter to his first edition of "Ulysses" to drive the point home.
Water temperature: I can't control this at all, so obsessing about the potentially bone-chilling water is a waste of time and energy.
June 12th: Remind self that it's not The Channel. Get. The fuck. Over it.
Swim Jitters: I will be overcome with a hot-wave of nausea when I'm standing on the beach, waiting for my wave to get in the water. It's the kind of nausea that makes you seriously consider pushing your way out of the crowd and hiding in the car until the race is over.
June 12th, approximately 7:30 am: Look at all the women around me and remember how many of them are first-time triathletes. Remember how many of them didn't train as much as I did. Confidently position myself in the front of my wave, so I'm the kicker and not the kickee. Repeat Mantra...Tracy likes the water.
Biking: I'm not a confident biker. Yet. I have not found my bike love. Yet. I lack bike zen. For now. That said, I'm still a hell of a lot better than I was last year and I know I can push harder.
June 12, approximately 8 am: Allow self 5 minutes warm up for heart and legs to adjust to the bike. Then grind the shit out of the 6 working gears that Lorelai offers. Repeat Mantra ... Tracy leaves it all on the field.
Run: Last year, I had just barely completed running 3 miles as a single event. Getting off the bike and walking through transition (no walking this year!), I didn't know that I'd have enough left to run three whole miles. In the past few weeks, mostly due to some killer workouts at run club, I've decided that I'm a runner. I'm a runner that has sliced two to three minutes off my pace (depends on the distance) and I'm a runner that has run 13.1 miles without walking through an aid station. I am a runner that is going to continue to get faster.
June 12, 2011, approximately 8:55 am: Run like Alicia is right behind me, hand on my back, physically pushing me, while telling me to dig deeper. Repeat Mantra ... Tracy is strong. Tracy is fast.
My strategy for the Olympic-distance triathlon at the end of June will be much different, I think. But having visited that race site today with some racing friends and my coach, my anxieties are already at a manageable level. This year, the workout of the race will take more energy than worrying about it beforehand and that alone is enough to bank on a good night of pre-race rest.
On my way home from Wisconsin today, with two racing friends passed out in the car, and no radio to distract my thoughts, I started my positive visualization for this Sunday: it's a world of difference from being trapped in the whirling vortex of 'what-if's'. I'm going big this weekend. And then I'll go home and celebrate my 39th birthday.