Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Intention: Race Like This

"The body achieves what the mind believes." - Bree Wee, Professional Triathlete

As part of preparation for Saturday's tri, my coach suggested that I visualize each part of the race and write my race report NOW.

How do I want to feel before, during, and after?
What technical and emotional pieces do I need to remember?
Where will I struggle and how will I respond?

So, in that spirit, here's how I intend to race this weekend:

I’m calm. I’m prepared and I know it.

My mantras for the race are:
- Be efficient.
- Trust your strength.
- Are you going as fast as you can right now?

I set up transition. I tape a Hammer Gel to my bike tube. I note where my bike is racked in transition by counting the racks from the Swim Finish and Bike Finish.

I warm-up: bike, run, swim.

My bike is working smoothly. My legs feel springy. I feel buoyant and confidant in the open water.

Wetsuit is on. I take a gel and some water.

I repeat my mantras. I say a prayer of gratitude for the day, for my body, for the opportunity. I think about the Genesis Home families. I breathe.

The Swim
750 yards, open water, two left turns

The horn goes off and I do not hold back. I jump right in with the pack with the knowledge that I can maintain my breath and form regardless of where other people are around me.

I remember the last two weeks of race pace workouts and I know that my goal pace actually feels a little faster than I think I can sustain. But I can sustain it. I have sustained it. Go!

Find someone to draft off of. Hang on.

Pull, pull, pull, breathe, sight, pull, pull, pull breathe, pull, pull, breathe, sight. Repeat.

Smooth stroke entry, strong pull, light kick (let the wetsuit work).

I am bumped, but it does not phase me. I have become a strong swimmer. Breath and form. I am focused.

I reach the first buoy, turn left and find a quick, efficient rhythm. The yardage does not feel long because I have put in the training.

I repeat this until I feel brush the shore with my fingergtips. Pop up and skip out of the water, high knees. While running to T1: goggles up, right hand undoes the wetsuit neck, left hand unzips wetsuit, right shoulder down, left shoulder down.


I efficiently reach my bike.

Swoosh! Down goes the wetsuit. Left leg out. Step on suit. Right leg out. Throw wetsuit to side.

Sunglasses, helmet, shoes, bike, GO!

The Bike

17.5 miles, one big loop.

I come out of transition and quickly find my rhythm. I exhale deeply, get aero, focus on cadence, and work all of the hills - up and down. I’ve learned that the bike is a strength for me.

When I reach a significant hill at mile 3, I repeat Trust Your Strength and go for it.

At mile 5, I take my Hammer Gel with a small sip of water.

I relax my grip on my aerobars and let go of any tension in my toes, feet, jaw.

For how much of the ride can I stay in my big chain ring?

If a racer in my age-group attempts to pass me, I follow (not too closely though, no drafting!).

At mile 11, I reach another hill and remind myself that this is the last significant climb. Spin, spin, spin, spin, spin.

I take in a little more water. I feel alive and fast and powerful.

I efficiently ride through the last few miles, I don’t let up. If my mind wanders, I bring it back. I say FOCUS, I chant.

When I see T2, I spin my legs out briefly as I approach the dismount line.

Smooth, efficient dismount.

Rack bike. Right shoe off. Left shoe off. Right running shoe on. Left running shoe on. Race belt, hat, GO! Put hat and belt on while running.

The Run
3.1 miles, one loop, mostly gravel and packed dirt trail

Coming out of T2 should hurt. It has in every other race. But this time is different. I’m stronger and mentally prepared. My legs feel a little heavy, but I remind myself of the past few weeks’ workouts and know that I can still build speed.

This will pass in less than 5 minutes. This will pass in less than 5 minutes. This will pass in less than 5 minutes.

Trust your strength, trust your strength, trust your strength.

Cadence, cadence, cadence.

At mile 1, I reach a hill into the adjacent neighborhood and think small steps, big arms, small steps, big arms. I remember the hill in my neighborhood that I’ve been running up at the start of my last few bricks and think: Piece of cake.

I reach the half-way point and pick up speed. It’s flat. The terrain is the same as the Duke East Campus loop I run all of the time. I KNOW HOW TO RUN THIS.

I reach mile 2 and lay it all out. I notice that my mind says slow down. Instead of slowing I let out my signature, audible grunt and I GO. I pump my arms, I remember my interval runs, and I know this will be over in just a few more minutes.

Are you going as fast as you can RIGHT NOW?

I see the finish line, notice the wave of nausea, and power across the line. I’ve just run my fastest triathlon 5K.

I smile. Without looking at the clock, I know this is my best race yet