Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

2012 HITS Race Plan

In a little over a week, I'll be completing my first 70.3 distance triathlon.  The HITS Sterling Triathlon is my "A" race for this year, and most of my training has centered around this event.  As I wrap up the last portion of my intensive training and start to taper, it's time to develop a plan for race day.  Happily, a PR is ensured since this will be my first long course triathlon! 

Race Background:
This was the first or second race that I scheduled for 2012 way back in January.  Initially I had planned to compete in the Ironman Boulder 70.3 race, but when HITS announced that they were coming to Fort Collins, I was intrigued.  I eventually settled on this race for a couple of reasons.  The first was the expected low key atmosphere from a smaller event.  I also liked the idea of a bike course that included the Poudre Canyon,  a place where I spent a lot of time as a kid, and the location of some of my earliest cycling memories (a 35 mile ride on my old Trek bike from the Cabin to Ted's Place, comes to mind).  Unfortunately, the High Park Fire this summer decimated much of the area where the race was supposed to take place, and the organizers of HITS wisely relocated to a different venue for the race: Sterling, Colorado.  It just so happens that Sterling is a place where I spent a fair amount of my time in high school, as it was the site of many Cross-Country and Track meets (I had a number of PR's in high school in this town, so it does have a spot in my heart after all)!
"I'll take a 70.3 please!"

Race Goals:
1) Successfully complete the 70.3 distance.  By complete, I don't mean survive.  To complete the race means finishing in such a way that demonstrates the training I've done this summer has worked.  I fully expect to cross the finish line feeling tired, exhausted, and pretty well fried.  At the same time, I want the sensation that I was well prepared for it.  In my mind, you complete  a triathlon.  If your plan is to survive  a triathlon, that intones that you didn't really prepare for it.  Surviving is reserved for things that you didn't plan on doing (click here for an example to see the difference).
2) Race the bike portion of the race somewhere between a "good" and "epic" time frame (see below).  I've done a lot of work on the bike this summer, and while I could probably have done even more, I would like to see some benefit from these efforts. 
3) Finish the run portion of the event in under 2 hours.

Time Goals:

Epic Race
Great Race
Good Race
Average Race
2hr 30m- 2hr 40m
2hr 40m- 3hr
3hr-3hr 10m
3hr 10m- 3hr 20m
1hr 45m-1hr 50m
1hr 50m-1hr 55m
1hr 55m- 2hr
2hr- 2hr 10m
Sub 5hr
5hr-5hr 20m
5hr 20m-5hr 40m
5hr 40m- 6hr
 (Note: I don't include a category for "Poor Race," because I don't see any point in planning for that)

 Keys for Success:
1) Relax on the swim.  Do your best, but don't overdo it.  It won't vastly improve your race by time by "killing" the swim and then having no energy for the rest of the day.  Better to swim a little slower, and make that time up first on the bike and then on the run portions.
2) Stay focused on the ride.  Once you get a feel for the course, you will know what kind of pace to set.  Don't burn all of your energy on the bike (shouldn't be a problem if you race as you have in the past).
Sample of next week's weather in Sterling, CO
3) Work into a solid pace for the run.  It's a half marathon, not a 5 or 10k race, so you will want to run strong, but pace yourself in the early miles.  If you get to the last portion of the run, and you feel good, then you can open it up a little bit.
4) Most importantly, be mindful of the weather.  If it's hot, you will want to do all that you can to stay cool and hydrated.   Excessive heat will also require that you reassess your time goals and understand that the weather will have a big impact.

Race Week:
Sunday: Rest
Monday: Easy bike ride (20-30 miles maximum)
Purchase nutrition and spare bike tube for race day
Tuesday: 800 swim (Open water if possible)
Wednesday: 3 mile easy run
Thursday: Rest day
Check and Clean Bicycle
Print out race/ hotel information
Friday: Rest day
Pack items in the a.m.
Travel to Parker.
Saturday: Rest day
Travel to Sterling
Packet Pick-up,meeting, etc. 3-4 p.m.
* if possible, preview the transition area, and the bike route.

Race Day Information:
5-6:30 a.m.- Transition area opens
Things to remember in Transition:
Put nutrition and glasses in helmet and place on handlebars.
RESET YOUR BIKE COMPUTER (You have forgotten to do this every time!)
Have extra water bottle ready for the run.
6:40 a.m.- Transition closes
7:00 a.m.- Swim Start:
HITS Sterling Swim Course
Stay out of the wash.  Get a line on the first buoy and remember what the Pythagorean theory says.  You will make better time by swimming a little further and staying out of the mosh pit.
Concentrate  instead on a solid rhythm and easy breathing and plan on leaving the water with as much energy remaining as possible (after all, there will be 5+ hours of racing still to come).
 Transition 1 (T1):
Don't waste time in T1 as there's no reason to hang around for very long.
Get your shoes, helmet, shades on, put your nutrition in the back pocket, and move quickly to the mount line.
The bike course contains some rolling hills, and looks to be slightly uphill through the first half of the race.  Based on the elevation profile, the turnaround will be pretty close to the high point, which means it will be slightly more downhill on the return.  Focus on a consistent pace along the course, and downshift as needed on the hills to achieve a higher cadence.  Remember to take nutrition about every hour or so, and don't forget to hydrate/ stay cool.
HITS Sterling Bike Course
HITS Bike Elevation Profile
Transition Two (T2):
Stay focused during T2, as this is an easily place to lose concentration.  Make sure that your socks are on and your shoes are tied securely.  Don't forget to put your race belt on with your number, and your hat/ visor.  Based on heat/ etc. consider your hydration/ cooling needs (do you need to take a water bottle for the first mile)? 
HITS Sterling Run Course
Remember that it may take a little longer to get your running legs going , based on the longer bike distance.  They will eventually join you however, so don't freak out..  Set a solid pace through the first few miles, but nothing too aggressive (save it for the second part of the run).  The aid stations will have all kinds of goodies along the way, but stick to what you know (liquid hydration and staying cool are the keys).

Note: Thanks to a post on Joe Friel's blog for the inspiration and much of the template for this race plan.

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