Triathlon dreams

The race is two days away!

So, of course, I was dreaming about it last night. I was packing all my gear into a large backpacking backpack that I had taken with me to the Peace Corps, and every time I thought I was finished with it, I remembered something else. My race belt! I have to have that. In my dream, I opened the bag and tucked it in, then pulling the drawstring to seal it again and clip every part shut.

Oh no, the Body Glide! Open bag, insert, clip shut.

This continued all night.

Jenny (from Silver Lake, and who will be at Sugar River, too) and I were talking about this before the last race. We both think it would be a good idea to type up a standard list of what we need to bring to a triathlon, then laminate it so that for each race our own personal list of gear is available. Of course, neither of us have done this yet, but it’s a great idea, right?

We were also talking about how we both had the same thought the last time we were setting up our gear the night prior to a race: I really need all of this. It looks like so much, but we really do use each and every piece of equipment or support gear.

My list would look like this:

  • Tri suit
  • Goggles
  • Wetsuit (I bought a wetsuit! More details below)
  • Body Glide
  • Bike
  • Bike shoes
  • 3 water bottles (two for bike –one with nunn and one plain, one for transition and before the race)
  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses
  • Running shoes
  • Socks (yes, I wear socks. I think I always will.)
  • Race belt
  • Hat (this is a new experiment for the run)
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand towel (this is the size I like in transition to dry off my feet and to stand on)
  • Bucket (to carry gear and to sit on in transition when changing shoes – a tip from Jenny and one that really works. It’s way easier on the legs than sitting on the ground and then standing up)
  • Gu (I take one before the race)
  • Luna bar (if I need second breakfast)
  • Fleece (I like to wear this over my tri suit up until the last possible moment to keep warm)
  • Comfortable shoes for before and after, along with socks
  • Bath towel for the car seat on the ride home

I think that’s about it, but of course I’m now looking over and over this list to try to think if I forgot anything. It’s a pretty direct line from dream world into reality in my brain.

Wetsuit:

I have now done one race with a wetsuit and one without. I’m not going to lie — I loved the ease of T1 without having to wrangle out of a wetsuit. However, the extra buoyancy, speed, and ease of swimming with one is, for me, fairly undeniable. There’s no way I can afford buying a new wetsuit, though, and renting one for each race at $40 a pop adds up really quickly, too. So, I took to Craigslist, and I found a used wetsuit, sleeveless (which I prefer), in exactly my size for $50. Josh and I met the seller in a parking lot, I snuck into a store to try it on, and it fit perfectly. This wetsuit is not perfect, as there is some clear use on it, but for now, I think it’s a great solution for where I am as a racer.

I’m going to try it out this Sunday in the Sugar River race, provided it’s not too hot to do so.

Heat:

And speaking of the heat, the weather keeps looking better and better for Sunday. As the day has gotten closer, the predicted highs have come down from the low 90s/high 80s to the low 80s. I think everything’s going to be okay.

I should mention that in the Midwest, the reason we freak out about high 80s is not because we are that winterized and weak in heat. It’s because our summer highs always come along with massive humidity, usually above 95%. That makes our hot temperatures feel muggy and oppressive.

To watch or not to watch:

The other question I’m turning over and over in my mind (are all triathletes obsessive? It seems to me the answer to that is probably yes) is whether or not I should wear a watch on the run in this race. On the one hand, feedback about my pace could be really useful. On the other hand, it’s only a 5K (so I don’t really need to pace myself like I would in a longer race) and without a watch I might be more likely to just push myself as hard as I can instead of holding back.

“Only”

And that’s the other word I want to talk about to close this out. “Only a 5K” I wrote above. And I hate that I wrote that. A 5K is a significant race. All distances are a significant race, because they all require different skills and strategies.

I was talking to a co-worker about my triathlons recently, and she was interested and asking questions. Then she asked, “Are you doing the Ironman this year?”

No, no I am not. Not this year and probably not ever. I felt sort of deflated at the question, as if the racing I was doing, and doing well at, wasn’t good enough.

I know that to a large extent, a question like this is inevitable because the Ironman is probably the most recognizable race in the sport and it’s what most people associate with the sport. But I don’t think I’ll ever do one, and I don’t think that will make me any less speedy on the sprints.

For full disclosure, I do think I’ll do an Olympic distance tri sometime next summer. But I really and truly do not see myself going longer than that. And I don’t think that makes me “only” anything. It just means I’ve found what works for me.

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