Wednesday, May 14, 2014

SOST Race Plan

I’ve never posted a race plan on this site. Ever. I’ve spoken generally about what I want to do but never the details. At Austin last year I actually put together a fairly detailed narrative about how I wanted the race to go, but that was more for me.


Today, I’m going to share my plans for this Saturday’s Summer Open Sprint Triathlon (SOST) and I’ll follow that up later with how it went. That will be a different post than the actual race report, however.



I’m going with my brother who is volunteering so I expect to be there very early. That might mean a little less sleep, but for a short race like this, I’m not worried. I can always grab a nap later in the day.


I’ll get enough fuel in the morning to make sure I’m feeling ready but not loaded down either. I usually do okay on relatively light meals and more so since this is a sprint. In truth, I’d probably be having just as many calories for an Oly. The difference is that in an Oly, I would take nutrition during the race. Not true here.


Simple set ups for transition are always best. Not only does it make it easier for you, it’s thoughtful to those around you. My small towel will have my two sets of shoes (running and cycling) a rolled pair of socks, and my visor for the run. The will be on the straw of my aero bottle on the handle bars and will contain my beanie (which keeps sweat out of my eyes) and sunglasses.


Of particular importance will be making sure that my bike shoes are unbuckled and that my bike is in the lowest gear.


Current forecasts call for a nice day so while I’ll done my wet suit eventually, I expect I’ll wait until some time after 7:00 to put it on. Colder temperatures will dictate if that changes. I plan on getting about 10 minutes of easy swimming in before the start. I’ve typically done a lot less than that, but I want to make sure I can bring my heart rate up a little. It will make the start easier.


The Swim


A lot of this plan is based on guidance I got from my coach. It’s a little different than how I would have done things, but not a lot.


While I tend to go easy on the start of the swim, he wants me go out at my best 100 yard pace and get into the clear water. That makes some sense. Even last year (hardly a banner year for conditioning and preparation) I was in the top 3rd of swimmers both in terms of age group and overall. Putting the slower, more insecure group behind me makes sense. I’m not going to try and go head to head with anyone, but I am going to go at my best and work around people. It’s 100 yards and should be over in slight more than 1.5 minutes.


Then, as I work toward the first turn, I’ll ease it back a little but not much. This will allow me to find a rhythm and make a good foundation for speeding up to the finish.


After the first turn, about halfway down the back stretch, I’ll kick back up to my best pace for a 500 yard swim. It’s likely to be a little further than 500 yards, but I’m pretty sure I can handle that. This will be my pace all the way until my hand hits the water and I start running into T1.

Goal Time: 13:11




The run-in from the shoreline is only about 0.1 mile and I’m going to try and do that at more than a jog. My plan is to twist the Garmin off the wrist band and place it on the bike as soon as I arrive. This should make it possible to remove that sleeve of my wetsuit without removing the band. The other sleeve will be removed on the run-in.


I know a lot of folks who skip the socks but I really need them for the run so I’ll roll them on my feet now and save time in T2. This should not take more than 15 seconds and hopefully less.


Shoes on and buckled, sunglasses on, beanie on, and helmet on in that order. Run out as fast as possible without falling or colliding with anyone and mount quickly after the crash line. I’ll be in low gear so starting off should be easy.

Goal Time: 2:53

The Bike


My coach has me easing into the first two miles when my HR is likely to be spiked from the transition running. Nevertheless, I should be in power zone 4 (about 183 – 213 watts for me). This will continue until my HR comes back a little bit and then between 1.5 and 2 miles, I’ll start a gradual build up into power zone 5 (213 -242 watts). I expect the ride out to be in the small ring since there is something of a hill after about 2.5 miles.


The turn around is 180* so that will necessitate slowing (preceded by down shifting) and then I’ll work right back into PZ5 and then push into PZ6 (probably 275+ watts) and once I hit the same hill going down, I’ll kick it into the big ring the rest of the way. I’ve been advised to stop taking water with 3 miles left so my guess is that I’ll just kill off what’s in my aero bottle before I get to that point. Upon approaching the crash line, I’ll slow down enough that I don’t have to skid in or really crash to finish. I don’t think I’ll pull my feet out of my shoes, but I’ll definitely unclip the right in preparation to swing off.




This is definitely my better transition. On a short run-in (like the Rattlesnake Tri) I’ve done it in less than 2 minutes. This is comparable so I’ll just run hard, get out of the helmet, and shoes, lose the beanie and replace it with the visor, slip on my running shoes (they are already laced with Yankz) take the Garmin from the bike and start heading out.

Goal Time: 1:45


The Run


Like any triathlon, this is the real test. Sure, I could under do it on the bike but I’ll be looking at my watts speed and HR the whole time so it should be easy to stay with it. I’m not overly concerned about my conditioning. If I have not gotten in good enough shape for this strategy by now, then something will be seriously wrong!


Any run-out of T1, at least for me, is accompanied by an almost overwhelming sense of exhaustion. I’ve done a pretty good job over the years of putting that out of my mind knowing that the feeling goes away after a short while. To help, my goal pace out of the staging area on to the main road for the race is around 8:15which is slower than I plan on for the run average.


Upon hitting the road, I plan on a gradual build from HR zone 4 (around 143 bpm) into Z5 (151 -159). Just shy of a mile is a decent sized hill. It’s likely to slow me, but I will make that up when I go down the longer back side. I’m not going to tear it up just yet since the bottom of the hill is the turn around and half way point.


It’s a climb back up, but not a terrible one and certainly not as steep as some of what I run around home. I’ll be well into my HR zone 5 and probably feeling a fair amount of pain. That should get better when I crest the hill and basically get to run down or flat all the way in. I’ll be pushing hard at this point and will do my best to kick it into a sprint at the finish (nice to have a good picture). No, I won’t clip anyone just for the sake of clipping them—that’s lame.

Goal Time: 24:20

Race Goal Time: 1:18:13



No plan is perfect and it is exceedingly rare for one to be executed flawlessly. I’m not going to be looking at my watch in the water, for example. But I’ll just have to trust that I can do the swim by feel. It’s worked pretty well in the pool. I have no idea how it will feel in the open in a wetsuit.

A great bike ride could be stymied by wind or an unexpectedly crowded field. Despite all the running I’ve done, I could have a bad day. These are not excuses: just an acknowledgement that even best of plans can go astray.


One way or another, though, I’m getting very anxious to go out and see what all of these months of training have wrought.


Thanks for reading!

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