On Sunday June 28 I will be among 2000 or so people who are looking to complete the TriRock Philadelphia Olympic distance triathlon. Everyone is there for a reason. My reason for racing is simple - I want a big PR.
Since 1998 my big goal races have been long distance affairs. They have been either a marathon or a race with the word Ironman in the race's name (both the 70.3 or full distance). Most years there were multiple races of these distance on my schedule.
This race season is a very different one for me. In 2015 the longest events I will participate in are Olympic Distance Triathlons and half marathons. This change in focus has given me the chance to do some different things, making my experiment of N = 1 a totally new, interesting experience.
In year's past I have raced shorter distances, but never as the focus of what I was trying to accomplish as a racer. Most all of these would be considered "B" or "C" training races. I cannot remember doing anything close to a taper that lasted more than three days. All things considered, I haven't done all that bad on the short stuff.
|Philly Tri with the Mighty Belgian in 2013|
In 2009 at the ripe old age of 40 I set my Olympic distance triathlon PR of 2:12:54 at the Philadelphia Triathlon. I remember swimming well, riding as expected before hanging on for the last few miles of the run. Two weeks prior I had raced Eagleman 70.3.
Last year at Steelman I came close to a new PR, missing the old mark by just 4 seconds. This was during my build for Ironman Florida, so no taper. And then there was that whole knee surgery thing I was still recovering from. Needless to say (but I will anyway), the fast time came as a surprise.
It also got me thinking: What if I actually trained for the OLY distance? How fast could I conceivably go?
So here I am, less than two weeks out from the Philly Tri looking to score a big PR. How big? Weeellll ... I think I can go 2:10:xx.
No. seriously, I think I can go 2:10:xx. And not only do I think I can do it, I'm going to go for it on June 28. There are no secondary goals or "if this happens" kind of scenarios. None of that for Jon. Come race day I'm racing for a 2:10 or better. Period.
I've never been the keep one foot in the door, race safe kind of guy. In my mind, unless I'm racing "for fun" I am out there to see what I have on that given day. Race safe and you get mediocre results. Which is fine, I guess. To each his or her own. But racing safe means never fully investing yourself in what you are doing. Yes, you won't likely be disappointed. OK. But does racing safe really produce success?
In order to produce personal greatness one needs to take the risk of racing on the edge. When you race on the edge you risk blowing up and having what looks like pretty crappy results. Could this be considered "failure?" More to the point, if I go, say, 2:22:xx would I consider my race a failure? It depends.
If I go out, race smart but on the edge, pushing my personal limits and leaving it all out on the race course then yes, a 2:22 would be a success. After years of racing making a stupid mistake with my pacing or nutrition would be a failure. Not pushing the limit and putting up a good time would be failure as well. Blowing up while shooting for that stretch goal? I'm so good with that.
There will be no "I could have gone 2:10 if I really wanted" come June 28. I want to know what I'm capable of. And without a legit effort it is impossible to know my personal limits. Whatever happens, when I enter the finishers shoot I will know exactly what I had on that day. I'll give it my all, risking failure in the process.
I have more than enough experience to be confident that when I jump in the Schuylkill River I won't screw things up. What I do fear is that my two week taper period could cause me to not perform my best. This is a new experience for me and, quite frankly, what I'm doing to be prepared is a best guess kinda thing. I know what I have done for longer races, and I know what the standard protocols are for short course racing are, but I do not know how this all relates to me specifically. Hopefully it works out as I expect.
Thanks for reading.
Train hard. Stay focused.