Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Plan

The nervous energy is starting as race day gets closer. My mind continually wanders back to the race and how I plan to deal with the various situations that the day will present. It is unlike any other event due to the stresses and length of it. Your mental state goes through a wringer as you try and maintain focus and work within the parameters of the plan, which leads us to “The Plan”. While this may be seen as an exercise in futility (because it goes out the window with the crack of the starter’s pistol), you still have to do it.
The evening before the race is always a time of checking and re-checking equipment. Dinner will be light, nothing too spicy or with too much fibre. Then will be the attempt at sleep, which at the best of times is difficult, but further exacerbated by the anticipation of what lies ahead. Knowing full well ahead of time that sleep will be a challenge, I will try my best to get some naps in during the days before.
In the morning my plan will to get to the site as early as allowed. Breakfast will consist of some carbo-pro and a bagel, again trying to limit too much in my stomach to start the day. Once at the race site I will go through one more dry run of the transitions and make decisions about clothing and any other minor equipment choices. Then it is time to suit up and get ready for the swim!
The swim is an interesting phenomenon to witness. On the beach everyone is chatting and friendly. Once the gun goes off, it is a whole different story. People really fight for the space in the water and you risk life and limb! My preference has always been to line up on the outside and stay out of the main fray. On the turns I also stay wide and avoid the tangle of bodies as people try and cut the corner as sharply as possible. It will not make a whole lot of difference to my time, so I am better to find a spot where I can get my rhythm and settle in.
I will wear my one-piece tri-suit underneath my wetsuit to ensure a quick transition. Last year’s transition times were ridiculously long. This year I need to focus on getting on my horse and riding as these are easy minutes to pick up. Once at the bike it is a simple matter of loading up my pockets with supplies, putting on my helmet and sunglasses and wheel out of transition. My shoes will already be in the peddles so I don’t have a repeat of Sylvan Lake when I left my cleat protectors on my shoes and wondered why I was having trouble clipping in. Then I threw them on the side of the road and was very fortunate to retrieve them after the race!
On the bike it is all about a steady effort. I will have driven the course so that I am aware of turns, hills or any other things I should be aware of. The bike is long and really requires focus and discipline to ride within your abilities and fitness. The nutrition plan I have is tried and true so I will not tamper with it, other than I may take a bagel just for some substance. Bathroom breaks on the bike are a rather difficult decision for me. Last year I hit the porta-potties for relief and I expended a fair bit of time. The experienced racers utilize other techniques which I’m not sure I am ready for! Forty eight years of training not to wet myself is tough to break!
Off the bike, the transition again will be simple. Get the shoes changed, pick up more supplies and a hat and off I go. The first 300 metres will be against totally unwilling legs! This will be one of the many mental challenges as it seems like such an insane thing to do, run 26.2 miles after 6 – 7 hours on the bike!! But once you are through that it actually starts to become believable. IMAZ is a 3 loop course which I like. It will really eliminate a lot of mental gymnastics as I try and calculate split times. It will be easy to see what my splits are at every third of the race. The run is an exercise in hanging on and watching your energy levels. No sugar coating this baby, it is without a doubt the toughest part, and where the most of my mental preparations will have to kick in and take over. Last year I walked through most of the aid stations to make sure I ate and drank. I am going to try and get through them a little faster this year but not at the expense of looking after my fuel requirements.
So there you have some insight into “The Plan”. Execution will be a whole different matter, but at least you know there is a plan.
On the workout front, Sunday was a 60 mile ride and a good hard pace. I am having a little trouble with my chain after my tune-up as it is a little too loose. I am pretty sure I can adjust that myself.
Yesterday was a 2,450 metre swim and a 7.5 mile tempo run. Everything felt great.
Have a great day!


Becky H said...

I think your plan sounds general enough that you have a good idea what you'll change from your last IM, and leaves room for some unforseen circumstances... I like the idea of the unshreddable tires, saves you time and cursing!!

J. Garry Power said...

Hopefully the tires are tough enough to withstand cactus needles. Otherwise you will hear me cussing all the way from Tempe!
There is lots of room for improvement from last year and the plan incorporates some of those learnings.