Man, what a tight schedule

Posted by on January 8, 2010 in Training

I do this every year; I get it into my head that I should be racing all the time.  Conventional wisdom within the sport of triathlon (and other endurance sports) is that you race periodically because the gains come from training, not racing.  I just get caught up with the sheer numbers… that I’ve done x number of triathlons, and y number of endurance events.  I’ve tried to use better judgment this year by foregoing a few that have been on my list, but the number of events is still significant.  As of this writing, the list includes at least 20 events between now and September, but many are running events and others are “training races” like duathlons.

One of the driving factors for me, again with the whole numbers obsession, is the desire to get to 100 triathlons.  I’m pretty close; 67 so far and another 9 scheduled for this year.  I figure I’ll hit the century mark in the summer of 2013.  Not sure what I’ll do to mark that achievement, but I have plenty of time to figure out something (suggestions welcomed by the way).

In 2004, I did 14 triathlons in one season.  That was by design for a variety of reasons:  1) I had just separated from my now ex-wife in the Fall of 2003, so I wanted to have distractions and multi-sport offered me a different focus, a rejuvenation of my spirit if you will; 2) I was literally sick of having pre-race nerves.  Those belly jitters made racing so unpleasant, so I figured that the more experience I had, the more confidence I’d have before any event.  It worked like a charm; I am NEVER nervous before a race (although my first Ironman was the exception for obvious reasons).

14 triathlons in one season is sick.  Most people gasp when I reveal that fact.  I’m not throwing roses at myself here; coaches, pros, elites, etc. would scoff at me.  By doing that, I watered down my ability to be fast since a proper training regimen includes blocks of time that are indeed longer than 6 or 7 days in aggregate.  But, I learned a lot, and now know better.

In 2010, I’m generally well-spaced and I think that I have a reasonable schedule.  It starts off with a flurry of activity and thereafter settles into a good graduated rhythm.  In March, I’ll be racing 4 events in 14 days.  Huh?  What about all that spacing and strategy talk?  Well, this is the exception, but with purpose.  I don’t do things haphazardly.  On March 14th, I’m racing the Miami Triathlon along with Fernando and his bro-in-law and his two friends.  I don’t expect to be particularly competitive (I just want to beat Fern!) since it’s very early in the season.  On March 2oth, I’m racing the Pine Hill Arms Triathlon which is a ski-bike-run event at Belleayre Mountain, just two hours from NYC.  It’s a very small event that includes a short flat ski portion at the top of the mountain, followed by about 6 minutes of full-on downhill racing, a 10-12 mile super hilly road bike section, and a 5k run that’s 90% downhill.  I’ve done this twice before, gotten onto the podium both times (it’s not a big field, so I feel obligated to qualify this braggery), and it doesn’t take more than 65 minutes.  Piece of cake, right?  Well, the next day, I’m racing the NYC Half-Marathon.  In previous years, this event was held in August.  Last year, I did the event in dreadful head and humidity (which is like kryptonite to me) but it was with my friend’s number since he couldn’t race.  I finally got into the race this year (one can only enter via lottery) and lucky for me, it’s during a cold weather month!  I expect my legs to be tired, so I’ll look for it to be a training run.  The following Sunday, March 28th, I’m racing the March Madness Biathlon, an event in Central Park where you run 2 miles, bike 12 miles (2 loops around the park), and run another 2 miles.  It’s a favorite of mine, and 2010 will mark my 8th time participating.

So, while I’ve scheduled these 4 events, it’s with purpose.  The last event, the biathlon (the rest of the world calls these events duathlons, but whatever), is short, so I won’t worry too much about being overly taxed.  And, I won’t have to focus too hard on recovery, nor will I have the time to do so.  A mere 5 weeks later is the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon in San Francisco.  That’s a pretty big event in terms of time and effort, but even that event is a primer to help my fitness in advance of the Eagleman half-Ironman 6 weeks later.  See, it’s all part of the plan!

I have to admit; I LOVE racing.  Sure, I like that my numbers are growing and that I’m steadily getting to that century mark, but truly, sincerely, I appreciate that I have the great fortune to able to do this.  That my body allows me to push, that my mind continues to have the desire, that my lifestyle supports this hobby, that my nationality provides the freedom, and that I have the ability to be self-aware and reflect upon all of these privileges… that’s what this has been all about for me.

Next post will be about the 5 mile running event in Central Park tomorrow morning.  Last year, I ran this same event in 41:23, an 8:16 pace.  By today’s standards, that’s slow.  My training times this year on a 4 mile course have been much better, so we’ll see how things go.  As always, I’m optimistic and enthusiastic.  Weather predictions indicate 22 degree weather and 15 mph winds.  While it’s certainly rough to endure at times, I have to admit that I get a bit of a thrill out of it too.  It kind of makes me feel like I’m a tough guy for being out there!  Then there’s the walk back home afterward when the sweat turns to icicles.  That part… not so much fun.

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