Saturday, March 6, 2010

Countdown to the IronBruin

It's time to return to the scene of my first-ever triathlon, the IronBruin at UCLA, this Sunday. It's supposed to rain today and there's a 40% chance of it for the race tomorrow so I'll need to be prepared for that. I'm lighter and in much better shape than last year so I will see a big improvement in my time. Still, it's not like I'm expecting to finish on the podium.

The day will start with a 4am alarm, a small snack (Nutella on toast?), and leaving for the race shortly after 5. Packing is done tonight.


I have had a total of two workouts in the pool since my last triathlon back in October, and in that race I had a very sore shoulder from a minor dislocation. My second workout was just this past Wednesday and I was truly surprised to find myself in pretty good shape. I'm slowish and not ready to swim two miles but I don't have to for Sunday. The course is a 400 yard pool swim, snaking through eight lanes of a 50 meter pool with a time-trial start. It's hard to go fast in a setup like that unless you're in the very front and I am not. Last year's time was 8:09 because of all the crowding at the end of the lanes and I don't imagine this year will be much faster. I am toying with the idea of swimming harder than usual where I can because of all the rest from bunching up I expect to get. We'll see how that goes.


This will be ineresting. I have had a post-it on my desk for the past week where I wrote "Gloves. Jacket. Glasses. Helmet. Bike." If it's raining, I don't want to be going down those hills in just a trisuit and bare hands so I will be bringing gloves and my rain jacket. I'll be practicing putting them on quickly today (nothing new on race day, right?). If it's not raining I just put the swim cap and goggles in the bag, glasses and helmet on, and take the bike out. This past week I did some research and found that the best way to rack your bike in T1 is to back it into the rack and set the front part of the saddle onto the bar. I had been racking my bike nose in but this other way is much faster. No backing the bike out before running with it. You just push it back a little to get it off the rack and then start running with it. I should be really fast here, even if I have to put on gloves and a jacket. The shoes will be clipped into the bike beforehand, of course, but this year's rule for T1 is no putting my feet into the shoes until I've pedaled out the post-swim fogginess from my brain. If that takes a mile, then so be it (but at UCLA it will have to be faster than that because of the hills and the compact course)


I rode the course again last weekend and was surprised to find that the two big hills weren't so big anymore. They're still there but I'm a much stronger cyclist than last year. In fact, the first big hill doesn't even seem big anymore. Training on my hilly routes has proven to me that the faster I go up hills, the faster my overall time is and it doesn't really matter how tired I am going downhill because going fast up hills makes that much difference. So I am going to hit the hills hard each time I meet them (it's a four-lap circuit around UCLA). I don't know how much faster than last year's 59:55 I should expect to be but I'm hoping it will be at least 9 minutes.


Last year's T2 was a lazy affair because I was nervous about the run. I have no such reservations this year but I do have Lock Laces so I'm looking for this to be at least a minute faster than last year's 2:22. A new wrinkle for this year, though, is that I am going to take the Garmin off the bike and have it with me on the run.


Last year's run was listed as 34:53, which makes me think the 5k course is short (I was that slow). While my run is still slow compared to my competitors, it will be several minutes faster than last year. The plan is to keep at least a 9:40 pace throughout the race, even uphill (I am taking the Garmin with me so I can use the pace alarm). I want to come in under 29:00 here. Should be painful.


Simply put, I want to be 15 minutes faster than last year's 1:46. Frankly I want to be under 1:30. Even in the rain. With my run much faster than last year and my legs so much stronger uphill on the bike, I believe it is possible. Last year that time would have put me in the top 40% overall and top 10 in my age group. Sure, the run still drags my time down but not as much as last year.

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