Six days to judgement day. The day that I've been shooting for for 12 months. All of the workouts and races have been done with this day in mind. It's the day when many of the best Olympic-distance triathletes knock heads in perhaps the most competitive race of the year. It takes dedication and some talent just to go. Even more to do well. And to be in the top group...well, we'll find out if I have that.
Last year I learned about the danger in judging a performance based solely on my place, which is dependant upon how others perform. It isn't like swimming or track where you can have a great time, not place well, and be completely satisfied. I tried all year to figure out what the criteria would be to judge my performance other than my place- and failed. I want to make the team. It's fairly bottom-line.
So let's tackle this from another angle. I'll lay out what I need to do in order to reach my goal:
1. Follow my pre-race plan. That should be easy.
2. Have a very solid swim. I have confidence in that. The key will be to stay focused on the backside of the course, which looks like it's more than a half mile straight shot. Head position, roll, be strong. Final turn, keep it together to the finish.
3. Simple, quick transitions.
4. Speed on the bike. Sounds obvious, but notice I'm not saying big effort or power. I'll push hard early and settle down in the first 5 miles. Power the flats and hills. Find spots to take short rests. Turn it into an interval workout. Stand up and power out of the six 180 degree turns. After the first lap, check my average speed and power. Finish my drink and increase cadence with a few miles to go.
5. I'll break the run into three sections, 2 miles each, and have a saying to repeat over and over again. First, it's "turnover." Ease into the run and be quick at the same time. I'll also need to gauge the heat and my fluid/salt intake. This is the time to make adjustments. Start the cooling process early. The two out-and-back hills are done at about mile 2.5, so this bit of caution will fit well. Second, it's "smile." Miles 3 and 4 are like the fourth 100 in a 500 swim. Not much fun, and the finish is still a ways away. It's also where races can be won or lost. So I need to keep my spirits high- keep my head in the game. Again, work to stay cool. Now that the hills are done, it's flat to slightly downhill the rest of the way. Don't pound, keep the stride together. Third, "empty the tank." This comes from Mel Stottlemyer's comment to Roger Clemens in the 2003 playoffs when everyone thought the seventh inning would be the last of his career. [Important note: I hate the Yankees and Clemens, but it works.] There's nothing to hold back for at this point. I can recover tomorrow (KP). I'm racing that unseen 39 year old that wants my spot on the team. Let's call him Pete. We're shoulder-to-shoulder. Stride for stride. Both hanging on for dear life, just trying to stay with the other. Mile 6, .2 remains. The finish is right there. I've done tons of 1/4 mile repeats. Just one more remains in my season. That's when I leave Pete. Strong to the tape.
I've done all I can. I executed my training plan and race as well as I could have. Now we'll just have to wait and see where we stand....