Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Colorado Triathlon Race Plan

I’ve mentioned Helmuth von Moltke the Elder here before and I do so again because it’s still so relevant for planning a race. To paraphrase von Moltke; no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. 
Try though I may, the likelihood of actually executing this to even 75% accuracy seems low. Nevertheless, here’s what I’m thinking going into this weekend’s race:

Boulder is typically only an hour’s drive from my home but I’ll pad that a bit just to be careful. It mean a pretty early morning (like before 5:00 am early) but rushing through transition set up is a miserable feeling.
My morning ritual of a bagel with cream cheese and some kind of bottled smoothie has served me well and I’ll continue with that. I’ll also have a cup of coffee because race day is no day to give up caffeine (is any day?). 
The goal is to be on the road by 5:15 latest with an ETA at Boulder Reservoir by 6:30 but hopefully sooner. At worst, I’ll have 45 minutes to get checked in and setup.
It’s a first come, first serve arrangement in transition but my experience is that Without Limits does a nice job of making things available. The race is also capped at 500 athletes so unlike some other events, I don’t anticipate a lot of problems finding a space. 
I only did a single race last year and it was for multiple transition areas, but I’m not new to the process of setting up an area. I’ll do my usual small setup.
Water temps are likely to be pretty cold. Probably not paralytic, but not exactly the bathtub either. Getting in and acclimated will be my first priority once transition is set up. Then I’ll do some back and forth swims to get my heart rate up a bit. I have the benefit of being in the second wave so I get to start at about 7:33.
This is going to be my first foray into open water for the season. That’s not ideal but it’s also nothing new. According to the recently-published start list, I have 77 people in my wave. That’s a lot but there comes a point at which additional numbers just don’t matter. I think something above 25 means a washing machine.
I’m generally a faster than average swimmer but not so much at the start. Despite being warmed up, I expect a few minutes of breathlessness as I try to find a rhythm. I should be able to accomplish that within 200 yards.
This is the point where I expect I’ll start pulling ahead of those who went out too fast. The first wave consists of elites and pros and I don’t expect to catch any of them. That’s a good thing since it will leave more open water in front of me. I don’t necessarily expect to be front of the pack, but even if I’m in the top third, things should be less crowded. 
I’m anticipating an average pace of just over 60 yards a minute (a conservative estimate). That equates to a swim exit at 26:15 assuming the course is accurately measured. You never know when it comes to that.
Goal Time 26:15

The last Olympic distance race I did was in Steamboat nearly two years ago. It had the benefit of short distances in and out of transition. Boulder Reservoir is such that I think I’ll need a little more time this year. Based on past events using a swim exit similar to this one, I anticipate around 1:15 will elapse as I make my way to my bike. That, of course, will vary depending upon where I get to rack in transition. Ideally, it will be close to the swim exit, but that’s not certain.
Forgoing socks for the ride has proven to be a huge time saver and I’ll stick with that. That makes stripping my wetsuit the most time consuming part of transition and I’ve budgeted one and a half minutes for that. I feel fairly confident that once I’m in my shoes and helmet I can get out to the mount line in another 45 seconds. 
Goal Time 3:30

Things are always a little crowded as you head out of Boulder Reservoir. The road out is narrow and there are lots of folks on it. As I have in the past, I’ll use this time to get settled in and get my legs loosened out. This should only take two minutes.
Rolling up and down the hills on 51st Street is also a sometimes crowded location but it improves as you move south toward Jay Road. My own experience with Jay is that this where the field opens up. There will be some passing and getting passed, but in a smaller race, the big log jams should be absent. 
This is, at best, a “B” race so while I do want to put a solid effort behind each stage, I’m not especially worried about setting a PR or making a good showing in my age group. I’ll attack hills in low gears with a high spin rate and take advantage of higher speeds on downhills and straightaways. Overall, though, this will really be a shakedown event.
Goal Time: 1:14:30
The transition from bike to run is always faster for nearly everyone including me. Again, my rack location will factor in, but I anticipate being able to complete the run-in in about a minute. Getting out of the helmet and bike shoes and into socks and running shoes should only take about 45 seconds and expect to be able to exit in 45 seconds as well.
Goal Time: 2:30
The original course maps had the run as a two loop (or more specifically a two out-and back) format. In other words, run 1.55 miles to a turn-around, run back, and then repeat. The athlete guide now shows the run course to be the same as that used for the Boulder Peak which is out to the north boundary of the reservoir property and then back. It will make for a cleaner, less crowded course.
Similar to the bike, I plan to let the terrain help me. The initial part of the run course involves a slight incline but then the net mile and a half is a flat and/or down stretch. The course is mostly flat though there is a section around a spill way that involves some mild climbing. The forecast is for clear skies and with no shade at all on the course, I expect it will feel a little warm. 
I struggled some at this year’s BolderBoulder but that was more likely due to large crowds and fatigue from the workouts on the preceding two days. I expect to be in my upper Zone 4 heartrate before this is over, but I also think I can handle it.
Goal Time 50:00

Race Goal Time: 2:37:00

I’m glad I’ve chose to do a couple of races before the big event in August. If nothing else, it will get me into the right mindset. 

Good luck to everyone who racing this weekend and thanks for reading.

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