princeton 70.3: plans and goals


As I mentioned earlier this week, it’s HALF IRONMAN WEEK.  Cue panic.  It’s been a little bit of a busy week (I suppose taking the GRE the same week as doing the Ironman wasn’t my best idea…), but it’s Friday, I’m done with work and now just have to put together final preparations for Sunday.  This includes buying a new tube for my bike tire, as I was riding on Monday for a final confidence-boosting ride…and ended up with a flat.

photo 1 (16)
45 minutes later and two hands covered in grease, I changed my flat.  And headed home because I was a little mentally defeated.  But at least I was able to change the flat myself (I had pondered walking my bike to the nearest bike shop, self-sufficiency for the win), I’m glad it happened on Monday instead of on race day.  Fingers crossed.

Sometimes I feel really great about how far I’ve come in training and in sports I haven’t really ever touched before, but sometimes I get knocked down from a ride that seems tougher than it should be or getting a flat and taking forever to change it.  It makes me nervous for the upcoming triathlon because it’s totally new territory.  But of course, I’ve been leaning on my running experience to get me through this, as well as my Runner’s World calendar for motivational quotes.  September’s quote is this:

I sometimes have difficulty equating athletic challenges that I choose to put myself through to anything that is a challenging life event (working in an ICU gives you a bit of perspective…), but I know there will be times in the half Ironman where I will be questioning myself and my ability to complete the race.  I’ve had plenty of those moments during marathons, including ones where I doubted everything and couldn’t imagine my legs continuing on.  But the mental aspect of knowing that I’ve pushed through those hard times before allows me to carry on.  I’ve been told that the mental game is a huge part of an endurance triathlon, so I’m hoping that having that background in marathoning will play a role in the tough times on Sunday.

I started this blog post with the intention of writing about my goals…and never even got close to talking about that.  Most likely because I’m not sure what my goals should be, a and part of me wants to say that only goal is to finish and to not fall apart mentally.  But as Betsy has pointed out while talking about the half Ironman, I’m not one to work to “just finish.”  That being said, I don’t know what a good time would be for me, so I think it’s appropriate to set both time and non-time related plans and  goals for the race and for each sport within the race.  (Please feel free to tell me if I’m being ridiculous in these time goals…)

the swim

The swim is probably the most foreign part of the triathlon – I know this against any triathlon advice, but I’ve never swam in a wetsuit before, and I only swam in open water once when I was in Maine in July.  Otherwise, I’ve done all my swimming in a 20 yard pool in NYC.  Certainly new territory here, but the swim is in a lake and I don’t think it will be that choppy or anything.  So that’s nice.

the plan

Start towards the back, start easy (not that I know how to swim “hard”), just keep away from other people for mental purposes.  I’m in the second to last group, so I won’t have speedy men (or women, you 18-29 year old speedsters…) climbing over me.  Swim, remember to sight, just keep moving.  Luckily in most of my swims, I don’t stop for breaks, which will be key.  I mainly need to remind myself that it’s the shortest part of the race and that it only takes about the time that a super easy five mile run takes.  And that is a piece of cake in my book.  Also, I plan to not get down on myself if I need to take a minute to breaststroke or doggy paddle or whatever I need to do to keep myself mentally in the game.  Clearly swimming is not my strongest sport, but I will come out of the water mentally ready to hit the next sports.

the time

I’m totally making this up, but I can swim a mile in about 30-32 minutes (in a pool, when I count the laps right…), so between the open water aspect and being new to this, I’m hoping to come out of the water in less than 45 minutes.  I think that’s fair.

the bike

OH THE BIKE.  My last couple long rides have been awesome – my 60 miler was the best time I’ve ever had on the bike.  The key to that was not worrying about my pace, just focusing on being out there, and making sure to EAT.  I’m not the most comfortable on the bike, but I’ve come a long way since I started.

the plan

Eat on the bike.  Drink on the bike.  Eat on the bike.  Drink on the bike.  I’ve got Clif bars and my energy chews to take with me on the bike, as well as hydration.  The plan is to eat a chunk of Clif bar every five-ish miles (that’s about every 20 minutes), then later in the ride switch to my chews to be easier on my stomach when I switch over to running.  Otherwise, I plan focus on where I am at in the race versus how far I have to go, keep a consistent effort, not go crazy on any uphills, but push it on the downhills to make the most of it.  And enjoy being on the bike.

the time

For my long rides, I average about 15.5-16.5 miles once I get out of the city and don’t have to stop for lights, etc.  I would love to be done with the bike in 3:30, which is a 16mph pace.  I think it’s doable without making myself crazy.

the run

I LOVE RUNNING I LOVE RUNNING I LOVE RUNNING.  I did a “long” run (eight miles, ha!) by myself last weekend, and I missed it.  Running by itself is wonderful.  Running after doing other sports, as I’ve been doing while training for the triathlon, is another beast.  They call them brick runs for a reason – my legs feel like they’re barely moving, even at an eight minute pace.  But if there’s anything I know I can do in this race, it’s run.  I’ve got that little tidbit in my back pocket, and I will use it to my advantage on Sunday.

the plan

Running after swimming/biking is hard, but the plan is to not get wrapped up in pace.  If I go through that first mile at a slow pace, that’s fine – just letting my legs adjust.  I don’t want to push it early on because I don’t know what those later miles will bring.  Also – use the aid stations.  I’m not sure if I want to walk the aid stations or not, since once I start walking I don’t like to start running again.  But being sure to hydrate or take in some salt will be key.  And just remember how much I like running – this is my sport.

the time

I’m hoping to maintain around an eight minute pace, bringing me in at around 1:45 for the half.  In my brick runs, I’ve been running around 7:45-8:15 without thinking about it much and just telling myself to keep moving, so that’s a plus.  We’ll see how race day goes.


Mainly, I just want to enjoy this adventure, and anything else will be the icing on the cake.  I don’t want to walk away from the race hating it or never wanting to do it again.  (Although how many times have you run a marathon and then said, “Never again!” -  ha.)  The time goals are secondary to trying my best and keeping a positive attitude.  You only get one shot at your first half Ironman, so I want to make the best of it.

If you add all the time goals together, that comes to a six hour race.  Plus however long transition will take…so hopefully 6-6:15?  Either way, or however fast or slow, on Sunday I hope to call myself a Half Ironman.



The first time I tried to find my bib number, I kept looking under the 25-29 age group before I remembered I’m in the 30-34 age group.  Oops.  Anyway, if you’re interested in tracking me (Mom, this is for you!), here’s the tracking info:


I will take all the cheers and support I can get on Sunday – thank you to everyone for your tips and support throughout training.  I haven’t been the best blogger lately, but I really do appreciate the support and guidance.

Next time we chat, I will (hopefully definitely) be a Half Ironman!


09 2014

princeton 70.3 – it’s race week!


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!

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09 2014