My triathlon training was done. It was race day and the emotions washed over me as I gazed over the lake. My body felt ready, yet tired. Sleep had been difficult as I tossed and turned with anticipation. Was I ready? Had I trained hard enough? These questions crossed my mind as I prepared to step into the water. The cool water on my toes silenced my thoughts and brought the race back into focus. My mind relaxed at the starting gun and my body began to do what I had trained it to do. I was racing my first half Ironman!
My performance at the HITS Hudson Valley Half Ironman in Rosendale, NY surprised me. I finished in 5:22:15 with a 0:38:24 swim, a 2:58:27 bike, and a 1:40:42 run. I crushed my goal of 6 hours! I finished 11th overall, 2nd in my age group, and 1st in the Clydesdale division. To say the least, I was very happy with the result. My triathlon training allowed me to do something I had never done before. The feeling of accomplishment and happiness is still flowing through me! This post will act as a race report. It will include an overview of my preparation, race strategy, and race execution. This race report can serve as inspiration or a guide for your next race!
Preparation is All about Killer Triathlon Training
Everyone knows you have to train to do well in a triathlon. It helps you feel more confident come race day, and it helps you reach your goals. Week to week, I was putting in 10-12 hours of training. I spent a lot of time dedicated to increasing my fitness. I had to be realistic about the time I could spend doing other things. Making sacrifices came standard. This is the approach you will have to adapt to your triathlon training. Be realistic about the time you are willing to dedicate to training. This will determine the type of race and distance you can realistically compete in. It will allow you to set realistic goals. Start with a base period consisting of building a base of fitness. Follow this with a build where you build you fitness. Finally, finish with a taper 1 or 2 weeks before the race.
My Triathlon Training Plan that helped me DOMINATE my Race
In these training weeks, I was running, biking, and swimming 3 times. This consisted of one swim with a longer distance and technique approach, one focused on speed, and the last on distance (sometimes open water). Swimming distance and effort remained consistent throughout.
Biking was two power sessions per week and one long ride (2-3 hours). My power sessions were mostly on the spin bike, but also included some quick group rides. As race day approached, the long rides and solo rides included a lot of tempo work at race pace. Running intensity increased towards race day with increased tempo runs and distance. One run typically included fartlek’s and the other included high paced tempo miles. The last run was long and distance focused.
My weeks varied a bit, but this was the baseline plan that I carried week to week. I made adjustments based on travel or weather. It is essential to have a plan, so you know exactly what you are doing every day and how it supports your goals.
A Race Strategy Will Help You Dominate Your Race
It’s important to have a strategy going into a race, so you can perform to your potential. A poor race strategy can eliminate all the gains you made during training. You don’t need to set specific pace goals, but you should definitely define an effort level you want to maintain.
Practice your transitions
I seem to train and race better by increasing my effort towards the end of each segment. This lends well to starting a little easier and pushing it hard at the end. This is exactly what I did for the swim. I got into the groove in the beginning and towards the end of the second lap, I pushed it. I knew the bike was going to be a bit hilly, so I pushed it whenever I could on the flats and downhills. My heart rate was my biggest concern on the bike. I kept it in a zone I knew from training where I was pushing, but also not going crazy. On the run, I had to hold back at the beginning since I felt really good. I slowly increased my pacing so that I could stay below 8-minute miles.
Race strategy will let you know when you are on track, when you need to hold back, and when you should push. Your strategy will be based on your swimming, biking, and running styles. Don’t forget to make one!
Nutrition Powers Your PR and Podium
Getting your nutrition right in a race can be the difference between dropping out and stepping on the podium. This should be something you practice during your triathlon training. You don’t want to be consuming way more than you are used to during training. This can cause GI distress while slowing you down. Your nutrition begins a few days before your race. Check out Dave Scott’s advice on race week nutrition.
Exact calorie counts are extremely variable based on tolerance and personal preference. This is why you have to experiment during triathlon training. A glucose and fructose liquid carb mix is the best for avoiding GI distress and refilling your energy stores. Ironman recommends 180 to 360 calories per hour of exercise. You should be listening to your body during training and implementing that in the race.
I took in about 300 calories per hour based on my larger stature. This was through gels, HEED powder, and GU energy Stroopwafels (so good). I find that it is hard for me to eat during the run, so I consume the majority of calories biking. On the run, I concentrate on electrolyte drinks and gels.
Don’t Forget about H2O and Electrolytes
Water and electrolytes are important during a race especially when it’s hot. Athletes have trouble with this falling to dehydration or hyponatremia (drinking too much water). These are very dangerous and all too common in athletes. Make sure you don’t change your consumption before a race to “overhydrate.”
Sweat already building in my race
The simplest way to monitor your hydration is to drink when you’re thirsty. This may be more for some people and less for others. You will be giving your body what it needs when it needs it. Don’t overcomplicate things. Including some electrolytes will help ensure you don’t cramp. Electrolytes will ensure you better absorb the water you take in.
I drank two water bottles on the bike with some electrolytes. It got really hot on the run so I made sure I stopped at every aid station and had some water.
You are Clearly Prepared Now EXECUTE
Race execution will come easy with preparation. You know you are prepared making it easy to flow through a race. Visualize your race beforehand and stay calm knowing you are going to dominate it.
I entered the water on the right side to avoid the congestion and quickly fell into a groove while swimming. I ignored the people around me and concentrated on my stroke. My stroke propelled me through the field smoothly and comfortably. Transition went well as I pulled off my wetsuit and threw on my bike shoes. With the bike, I got into the groove quickly keeping my cadence up. I maintained an even effort up and down hills. It was important for me to ignore people flying by me especially in the beginning. I fell into my race.
I finished the bike strong and hit transition seamlessly. My legs felt great coming off the bike so I made sure I held back a bit. I kept my pace at my goal and grinded through the run. Halfway through I felt my legs burning, but I kept pushing the pace. On the final push towards the finish, I gave it my all. It was a great race and a better feeling crossing the finish line!
Dominate Your Next Race
Race performance is all about preparation and triathlon training. When you are prepared you feel ready. This gives you the confidence to go out there and dominate. I had a great race and I want you to have a better one. Follow these specific strategies to dominate your next race:
- Train and prepare the best you can
- Form your race strategy
- Get your nutrition right before and during the race
- Hydrate properly during and before the race
- EXECUTE your race plan and dominate!
Racing is something we all look forward to. It’s a culmination of countless hours of triathlon training over months and months of preparation. It feels amazing crossing that finish line and reaching your goals. Make your next race great! Follow a plan and execute. If you need help and accountability I am offering free 30 minute calls to discuss your needs. Let’s work together to dominate your next race!!
Finished! Tired yet feeling amazing!
What do you do to prepare for a race? What are your race day strategies? Do you have HUGE goals for the future? Let me know in the comments.
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