Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Steamboat Triathlon Race Plan


In keeping with the tradition I started for this year’s Summer Open Sprint, I am again publishing my race plan. Like any plan, it will probably change a lot between now and the time I cross the finish line.




This is an out-of-town race so that means being extra careful when packing. I have a couple of laminated sheets with all of my packing needs. I complete them with a china marker so that they can be erased and re-used for the next race. I’ll be sure to be very slow and deliberate as I pack and check-off items.


After a discussion with my coach, I’m clearly not doing enough for my pre-race nutrition so that will change this time. A bagel and cream cheese along with perhaps some juice ought to get me going in the morning. Of course, I’ll make sure that is consumed far enough ahead of the swim start to not be an issue.


As usual, a very basic transition area will be my approach. I’ll rack in the bike in its lowest gear and unlike last time, make sure that the bike shoes are unbuckled. Running shoes will be next to those with the visor and race built on top of them. Socks will be rolled and I have yet to decide whether or not to ride without socks. I might to save time in T1 when I’m slower anyway and then put them on in T2. That will probably be a “game time” decision.


It will likely be a cool morning (forecast temps pre-race are in the low 50* range) so I may bring a hoodie to wear until it is time to don the wetsuit and go warm up.


I always feel a little gassed and tired at the beginning of a swim, especially one in open water. Nerves don’t much help this either and while I don’t expect the water to be cold, I do think it will be cool. If possible, I’m going to try and get a good ten minutes of warm-up in. If that’s not possible, I might jog up and down the beach just to get my heart rate into a higher zone ahead of the race.




Assuming I’ve gotten a good warm-up in, I’ll go out fairly fast on the initial part of the swim. This risks gasping for air while also in the washing machine of a triathlon swim start, but I think it’s an acceptable risk. I’d like to get out ahead of the slower swimmers in the first 100. I’m sure the really good swimmers will be out in front of me as well.


I’ll ease up just a little bit for the next stretch which should see me to the first turn. I believe this is a clockwise course, opposite of what I am used to but probably not an issue either. Once on the back-stretch the upside-down triangle-shaped course, I’ll open it up again to near max effort for the next three hundred yards to the second turn. I’ll need to watch pacing here and make sure I’m not burning any matches. I don’t have very many in my book and the swim strikes me as a foolish place to use them.


Once on the final stretch, I’ll ease back to below max effort all the way in to the finish. I’ve done a reasonably good job of sighting in my open water swim practice this year, but it’s still critical that I keep the finish arch in sight at regular intervals. I may not hit my pacing, but I certainly do not want to add extra time and effort by going off course.  


Goal Time 26:10



I have been relying on the Garmin connect files of people who ran last year’s race to determine the distances in and out of transition. This is not exactly the best pre-race intelligence, but the event website does not have maps with that level of detail so it’s about all I have.


Those best estimates suggest a very short run from the water to the bike racks. I’m aiming to complete that in 45 seconds. It may be overly optimistic, but I’m going to try and be out of the wetsuit, shoes, helmet and sunglasses on and running out in 1:30. I’ve budgeted another 45 seconds to run out.


Goal Time 3:00




The race website advertises this as a traditional Olympic distance bike of 40 kilometers or 24.8 miles. However, both Garmin activities I found had it much shorter at 23 miles. I’ll be ready for either, but a short course is not unheard of in the bike leg.


Since I’ll be starting on a bit of a hill and probably a little winded from my run out of T1, I will begin be easing into the bike and letting my HR recover. If I’m going to burn a match or two on the bike, I’d prefer it to be during the second half or no sooner than right before the turn around point.


I’ve done a lot of my bike training with high resistance either on the trainer indoors or up hills out side so I’m not entirely sure how fast I can go (and sustain) on a flatter to more downhill route. I’ll be shooting for the 20 to 22 mile per hour range because I’ll undoubtedly be slower when I turn around and climb more on the return. I expect to be running right around my FTP of 202 watts for most of the race with occasional spikes above when going up hill and occasional dips below when rolling down hill.


I want to put some good energy into the bike leg, but like any race, that has to be balanced against the vitally important need to save something for the run. There’s a bit of climbing back to the transition area and I expect to spin this at as high of a cadence as possible so that I don’t trash my legs right before starting out on the 10K.


Goal Time: 1:11:31 (assuming a 23 mile course)




This tends to be my more efficient transition. I’m not regaining my balance out of the water and I’ve had some time on the bike to anticipate and then think-through my next actions.


Assuming I’ve been doing the bike sockless, I’ll need to see to that first. The more I think about it, the more this makes sense. Like a lot of folks, I get a little wobbly on dry land immediately after the swim which is not a good time to be standing on one foot while also rolling on a sock.


I started doing my bricks this year with my Garmin watch band already on. It will be on my wrist when I leave T2 so that attaching the watch can be done as I start running.


Goal Time: 2:30




The success or failure of any triathlon is determined by the run. It does not seem to matter if you are an age grouper or an elite pro, if you can’t run successfully, you can’t race successfully.


I have been running a lot this season including some really demanding runs off the bike. Those training sessions have just been killers that leave me winded and wanting to curl up in the grass and just not move at all! Obviously, I won’t put that kind of hurt on myself on race day.


I plan on building-in to the run with and that means a somewhat easier pace for the first half mile or so. If I feel good sooner, I’ll open it up sooner, but otherwise, I want to feel like I’ve got plenty so I can go at a fairly steady average clip.


This course seems to be characterized by short but steep hills around the LakeCatmount race sight. It’s typical of a lot of paths or roads that go around a lake. It’s also an out and back run so there’s balance between the first and second half.


The single factor that will create a challenge is a bit of a climb into the finish. Unlike venues such as the Boulder or Union Reservoirs, there’s no big downhill leading up to the finish. I plan to be fairly close to spent by the time I reach this point so while I still hope to attack the hill at 8:30 pace, I’ll settle for whatever I have left. Throughout the run, I’ll keep reminding myself that this is the final leg and there’s no sense in leaving anything on the table.


Goal Time: 49:45 (Stretch Goal)


Race Goal Time: 2:32:56


While not my “A” race, this is definitely an ambitious race plan. If I don’t hit my goals, I’ll be okay with that.


After about three months without a triathlon, I’ll be doing two in the space of three weeks. The Harvest Moon is really that close. Unlike Steamboat, Harvest is definitely my “A” race and I’ll be thinking about how I attack that one a lot in the coming weeks.


As always, thanks for reading!

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