I had this mistaken impression that since I've done a few road races in my day, this wouldn't be my first time at the rodeo, and I'd know what I was doing.
Road races do not in any way prepare you for triathlons.
I have done one triathlon before, but that one was the Irongirl, which is specifically marketed to beginners, and something tells me tomorrow will be a quite different experience.
It all started when we got the email with the official race packet, including all the rules for the race. The USAT is the governing body for all triathlons, and if you are not a member, you need to purchase a one day membership to compete in a triathlon. But their involvement doesn't end there.
First, we found out there were no headphones allowed for the run portion, and officials would immediately disqualify you if you were seen wearing them. Jackie emailed the race director, and they are planning on fully enforcing that rule. Surprisingly enough, despite my meltdown over whether I should accept a free entry to a headphone free marathon just two short months ago, I took that part in stride. JFK 50 enforces a strict no headphone policy, so I've been trying to leave them at home for more and more runs, and this will be great training. Plus, the course is 3 loops, meaning we will see our cheering squad, Eric and Jackie's husband Dan, 3 times, and I'm hoping other spectators will follow suit and help to entertain us.
Next up - assistance. We will be starting our run sometime after noon - significantly later than you would normally run a half marathon. We are looking at a high of 80. For me, this requires bringing my handheld water bottle on the run. Which would naturally be delicious and refreshing after sitting in the sun in transition for a good 5 hours or so.
We planned out a system where Eric and Dan would have a cooler of ice cold water and replace our bottles for us when we saw them on each loop. Genius, right?
Luckily, Jackie thought to ask if that system would be allowed when she saw the "no assistance" rule in the handbook.
Nope. If they give us anything other than verbal support, we will be disqualified.
The last little hiccup in our plans was our swim wave. Triathlon swims are terrifying. People are climbing over you, kicking you, accidentally hitting you, swimming on top of you - it's a swirling chaotic soup with limbs flailing everywhere. This particular race offered a novice division, where you don't compete in your age group, and instead start in the last wave (no fast swimmers surprising you from behind) with this smaller group of beginners. This eliminated a massive amount of stress for me.
Until I found out the people doing the relay and the aquabike would be starting with the novice group, and our little wave of 20 was actually more like 100.
However, none of this changes our plan to be sitting in the hot tub with our medals and glasses of wine after the race, and that's what I need to keep in mind.
My number one goal for this race is to finish within the 8 hour cutoff (since the alternative is, again, being disqualified). I do have a few other goals in mind though.
- During the swim, stay relaxed, don't panic about how far it is, and ignore all other swimmers. I actually wrote this down before I found out how big our wave would be, so I just need to stick to it. I'll start at the back, take my time, and just keep chugging along.
- On the bike, ride according to my heart rate, not my average pace. I'll try to keep it between 140-150 (overall, obviously it will vary on the hills), which means I'm putting in effort, but not killing myself for the run.
- On the bike, focus on eating and drinking. My camelbak should be empty when I'm done, and I'm bringing six granola squares, which should also be gone. I'm also bringing a bottle of Gatorade to put on the bike, I haven't been hugely successful drinking from bottles but I'm hoping for the best.
- On the run, again focus on eating and drinking. I'll refill my bottle once on each loop, take a Gu at mile 5 and 9, and possibly walk through water stops for the sports drink depending how the Gatorade goes on the bike.
- On the run, keep the pace under 10:00 miles. This is a little ambitious. Even though I ran my 50 mile bike/10 mile training run at a 9:06 pace, that was a training run, not the race, and the race will be a lot harder. I'll do my best though.
- Lastly, and most importantly - stay positive. My half marathon last weekend sucked because I got all Debbie Downer and couldn't get over my Eeyore mentality. I've been training for this for a long time and I want to enjoy the experience, especially since I'm not trying to kill myself for a specific time.
Eric may be tweeting for me during the race, so if you see any twitter action from me, it's not because I suddenly developed super coordinated bike abilities.
Less than 24 hours to go until the race starts!