It’s late afternoon on May 3rd as I write this, sitting next to the first open window of Oregon’s very late spring. It is over eighty degrees outside, and I can hear rain-weary Portlanders, desperate to enjoy as much sun as possible, tearing up and down the street outside, going nowhere in particular but manic as children at recess. I have the beginnings of a training hangover, the beautiful day luckily coinciding with my longest ride/run of the year. Tomorrow I begin sharpening (I’ve always disliked the term “taper”) ahead of my first race of the season next Saturday in Santa Rosa, site of the long-beloved Vineman 70.3. Having the first big training block of the season finished always makes for a nice afternoon, as you can look back on the work that got you this far, realizing that it's finally time to race.
Speaking of racing, have you seen the start list for this weekend’s St. George 70.3? Both men’s and women’s fields are stacked, and our very own Joe Gambles, Sam Appleton, and Ivan Dominguez will tangle with a World Championship caliber field in the Utah desert: Sanders, Kienle, McMahon, Hoffman, Wurtele, and some Brit named Brownlee. Tune in Saturday morning (very little racing in Utah on Sundays, remember) to see how our boys do. Check here (Joe) and here (Sam) to see how those two prepared for the North American 70.3 Championships.
None of the women pros are in action this weekend, but have a look back to Heather Jackson’s win at the inaugural Peru 70.3 last Sunday in Lima. HJ came out of the water second and quickly went to the head of the race, never looking back on her way to a very fast 4:12:41 and first “W” of the season. Heather is back in Tucson, now, building towards Ironman Boulder, which she’s selected as her validation race on her road back to Kona. If you have a second, go and watch the first installment of a film that Herbalife is putting together, documenting HJ’s march back to the Big Island this October, her eyes firmly fixed on the top step of that podium.
May is the month when a triathlete’s thoughts turn to races. Sure, there are the early season classics in Oceanside and Taupo, a few oddities scattered around the globe in April, but by the fifth month of the year the big races are upon us or only a few weeks away. If you’re like me and you haven’t competed yet, make sure you do some solid rehearsal work so the chaos and intensity of race day doesn’t catch you off-guard. Find a local open water swim series (although I hope you can find one warmer than the Portland edition, which treated its participants to 52-degree water) and couple it with a race-pace bike and run. If you can’t do that, dust off this old chestnut of a preparatory workout, the Metric 70.3. Two weeks out from your race (or ten days if you can get that Wednesday off of work) run yourself through a 1.2 kilometer swim, 56 kilometer bike, and 13 kilometer run. Get it? For those of you that don’t speak metric, that’s a 1300y swim, 35-mile bike, and 8-mile run (if you still don't get it, it's the Imperial distances simply turned Metric: 1.2 miles to 1.2 kilometers; 56 miles to 56k; so on). Do it all at goal race intensity, with as short breaks between disciplines as possible. It’ll give you a great sense of whether your planned paces, wattages, and heart rates are realistic, and it’s an excellent way to get you back into that triathlon mindset after what might be as much as six to eight months away from actual competition!
See you next month, and happy racing,