It’s HALF IRONMAN week!! I can’t believe that the time is actually here, and to be honest, I’m definitely freaking out a little bit. I spent some time yesterday going through some half Ironman race reports from people of varying abilities – apparently lots of elite/amateur elite triathletes keep blogs, which really makes your confidence take a hit. Then I would see people winning age group award and overall awards and I’d be brought back to reality. But the reality is…I’m still nervous.
Yesterday, I also read the official athlete guide, which I probably haven’t done for an even since my first few marathons. (Once you run a few, the rules are all about the same, right?) I read that it’s okay to hold onto objects in the water as long as they don’t provide forward motion, so that’s good to know in case I freak out in the water. I don’t plan on getting nervous in the water because I’m pretty comfortable in open water (although I haven’t really raced in it before), but it’s good to keep that in mind. The bike section was full of drafting rules – I’m assuming most people will be passing me on the bike, so I guess my job is to not hang on their tail once they pass. And running? Well, the handbook said that crawling is an acceptable form of locomotion in the run event – I hope it doesn’t come down to that!
To say that I prepared for this triathlon would certainly not be accurate. I have little to complain about since the only person I have to take care of is myself, but between working nights (and not working nights…), traveling, and trying to learn how to fit three sports into a training schedule, I didn’t exactly rock it. I have come a long way since I started training – especially on the bike. Clipping in doesn’t scare me anymore, especially once I get out of the traffic zone that is the city. (So being on the roads in the triathlon will be great, right?) I successfully went the distance (and beyond!) in my last long long ride – hitting 60 miles and still felt pretty good when I got home. Speed isn’t really my thing on the bike, but I know I can hang and go the distance. I know that getting in nutrition will be the most important thing for me in order to set myself up for a good run.
From what I can gather, the triathlon is mostly a cyclist’s event – most people just get through the swim (unless they have a background in swimming, in which case they blow everyone out of the water), rock the bike, then handle the run. While I don’t expect to throw down PR pace in the half marathon portion of the race, I like to think my post-swim/bike running pace will be solid compared to the crowd. Although, I probably shouldn’t be comparing myself to the crowd.
I will admit that the swim makes me nervous, mainly because you hear about all the craziness of swims where you get kicked, punched, and swam over. However, Princeton is using a wave start, so each group basically goes out with their age group. With about 80 people registered in my age group, that won’t be that bad, right? In general, I think people say to stick to the back if you’re not the best, so I’ll probably do something like that because lining up in the middle sounds like a recipe for disaster. Also, my wave is the second to last wave to go out, so I suppose we’ll be bringing up the rear. The first wave goes off at 7am, and I don’t start until 8:18am – those first waves will be well out of the water before I even get in the water! Lots of people to chase, I guess.
Before my first marathon, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into – those last few miles were painful, but at least I didn’t know they were coming. I don’t know what to expect from this race since I haven’t put all three sports together before (okay, I did a sprint triathlon four years ago…but that hardly counts). I’ve done brick runs – my legs felt like bricks, per the name, and I know that mental toughness will be needed to help keep me going. Luckily, I’ve been through a distance event (or two…or fourteen) so I know that sometimes you just have to keep pushing.
I’m excited to see what race day is like – the excitement of actually being out there really can carry you a long way. I do have goals in the back of my head, but they’re second to wanting to have fun and enjoy the experience. You only get one first race, and this will be my first half Ironman. I don’t know if more will be in my future, but much of that will be based on my race day experience. The logistics have me a bit worried, but I hope to have fun and roll with the punches. And not freak out too much between now and Sunday…
I know I have a few triathletes reading this blog – any final tips to share? Let’s hear them!