2015 Racing Plans

I haven’t yet taken another shot at the Tarte Tatin, but that’s no reason to avoid writing a new blog post. Things that are reasons:

  • Not feeling like I have anything to say
  • Not having the time

I’ve had more than a few people (think: a few plus one or two) ask me what my racing plans are for this upcoming triathlon season, though, so that seems like a reasonable enough post to write. Despite my previous assertions to the contrary, I guess I have to confess that I’ve been bitten by the Ironman bug and I am slowly working my way up to attempting an Ironman within the next five years.

On my way towards that goal, I ran my first 10K this past fall, and was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the distance more than I had expected. It was refreshing to not feel like I had to run all out the entire time, and although I had been hoping to finish in under 9 minute mile pace, I was pleased to at least come in under an hour. This year’s plan calls for a few more races at that distance, including my first Olympic tri.

Here’s the schedule:

March:

10k at the Shamrock Shuffle. Last year, I spectated as Josh ran this race, as I was still rehabbing my knee injury. It was exceptionally cold on race day morning, thanks to our polar vortex winter. This year, the extended forecast predicts a high of 52 degrees, which sounds infinitely more appealing.

In March, I’ll also be competing at the Wisconsin State SCY Champs, the state Master Swim meet. This has been a great meet for me in the past. This was where I participated in my first ever swim meet two years ago, and the Master Swim experience continues to help me grow my swimming confidence, watch my times improve (sometimes), and have something to work towards. I really think that most triathletes, especially those who are nervous or uncomfortable in the swim, could get a lot out of a Master Swim meet. It’s a very welcoming atmosphere, and after you realize that you can dive off starting blocks, swim as fast as you can, and make it to the end, the start of a tri suddenly seems a lot less intimidating.

June:

For the third year in a row, I’ll be back at the Capitol View Triathlon (fka the Summit Credit Union Couples Triathlon, even more fka the Capitol View Triathlon – it all comes back around), once again starting the tri season with a sprint tri there. I like this race a lot. It’s well run, easy to get to, and offers a nice short start to the season. This year I’ll be competing as part of a “couple” with a friend of mine. Last year, we both finished in the top ten of our age group, so I’m feeling like we’ll have a decent chance of placing as a team.

At the end of June, I’ll be tackling my first Olympic distance at the Verona Triterium Triathlon. This is the race I watched a friend compete in several years ago that originally planted the seed for me to want to try a race of my own some day, so it feels appropriate that I’m coming back to try the exact same race and distance that she inspired me with. I did the sprint distance of this race last year, and am hoping to redeem my horrifying putting my shoes on while mounting the bike situation that I found myself in. Seriously, one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, made bearable only by the fact that I had swim head after coming out of the water and felt too much in a daze to realize what a fool I looked like. The Olympic distance is kind of unique here, as you actually have to do more than one lap in the water. To keep track of this, you come out of the water and run around a tree before getting back in. Also, the Olympic bike course includes two rides up Observatory Hill. Wisconsin Indoor Cycling sponsors the “King of the Mountain” competition and gives out gift cards to the men and women who ride up the hill the fastest. There’s also an award for the “middle of the pack” male and female. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but if it’s the person whose time going up the very steep hill puts them exactly in the median position, I think that’s awesome. I tentatively plan to strive for that honor.

July:

If the timing works out, I’d love to do the Big Swell Swim again. Last year, I did the 1.2 miles open water swim, and I’d like to try the 2.4 mile this year to see how I fare.

August:

I’d like to take another crack at USAT Age Group Nationals, especially because it’s back in Milwaukee. I had such a good experience there last year, although it was certainly eye opening as to my place in the field. I’d like to see if I can improve upon my finish time and rank (although as I learned last year, the time is really all you can control – who knows who’s going to show up any given year?), especially because my knee is so much better now than it was last year, and I have a few more resources at my disposal to deal with allergies/asthma. Last year, my all out effort and last minute sprint to the finish left me in the medical tent for a few minutes, unable to breathe. The medic asked me if I had asthma. When I said no, he said, “Yeah, right.” Well, he was smarter than me, and it’s astonishing how much easier it is to swim, bike, and run fast now that I can actually breathe while I’m doing it.

September:

I finally signed up for the Devil’s Challenge tri. This is another sprint, and is a race I’ve been wanting to do for years. Devil’s Lake is so beautiful – both the lake itself and the surrounding area.

October:

On my way towards my first 70.3 (tentatively scheduled for 2016), I signed up for a half marathon in October, at the Haunted Hustle. Right now, the idea of running 13.1 miles feels insane and unachievable to me, but if there’s one thing that learning how to swim and participating in triathlons has taught me, it’s that I am capable of a whole lot more than I give myself credit for. I’ve been continually surprised at what I can actually do if I put in the work and show up on race day.

I’m excited to see how increasing the distances goes. I’ve been working hard on my biking this off-season, both on a trainer at home and at spinning classes at the gym. As usual, Master Swim has my swimming improving leaps and bounds. I haven’t been running much at all lately, both because it’s hard to find time (even harder to find time when it’s not dark outside) and because I’ve been focusing on other things. One woman I talked to the last time I was buying running shoes told me that the best thing a triathlete can do to improve running performance is to bike a lot. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I like the idea of it. I am also planning to join a speed running group in the spring, even though the idea of it fills me with visions of vomiting and dread. I know that interval training has improved my swim speeds drastically, and I absolutely believe it will improve my running speeds. I also know that I’m just not going to do it on my own, and I need to force myself to show up with a group and use the powers of social pressure to make myself do it. I can’t pretend I’m looking forward to it, but I am excited about getting faster. I don’t think I’ll ever be in the 19 minute 5K territory, but I’d like to see if I can get down to about 21 or 22 minutes. I think I could be fairly competitive at triathlons if I can get there. Right now, my 5K PR is 24:38.

That about wraps it up. What are your 2015 racing and training plans? Have you ever done running speed work? Tell the truth: did you vomit?

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