One of the best tips I have for making it through a long training cycle, especially if the ultimate goal is a long-distance race, is to incorporate other races as part of training. I always get nerves on race day and probably always will, but I've found that they diminish slightly if I've gotten in some recent race practice. There's something about going through the motions of picking up my packet, figuring out race morning logistics, and getting myself to the race for a trial run that help me feel a little more prepared when it's time for the big one.
I also like to run with people, but not with people, so using races as training runs helps me get through what might otherwise be lonely workouts. I don't mind working out solo most of the time, but every now and then it's nice to be around others to remind myself that no, I'm not crazy and if I am, other people are too.
I really started incorporating races into my training when I trained for my first marathon in 2013-2014. I had a great fall race lineup that year but most of them were shorter than I needed to run (since I was training for a January marathon). I didn't want to miss out on any of them so I decided to use them as partial training runs. One that meant shifting my long run day around so I could run a 5k race, one time that meant running 6 miles at home before going to run a 10k race, and one time it meant running 17 miles to the start of a 5k, which would round out my first 20-miler. Sometimes I had to get creative, but I'm glad I didn't sacrifice races for my training.
This time around, my options are a little more limited (there's really no way to add a couple hours on the bike into a sprint triathlon), but I still wanted to make sure I got in that race practice before I get to race day. I've already
Breezy Point Sprint Triathlon
I made my 2015 triathlon debut at Breezy Point on the last day of May. Even though I was adequately trained to cover the distance, I was still nervous picking up my packet for my first multisport event in 8+ months. I had a rough go on the swim and learned that I need more training in that discipline than I thought. I had a great bike and learned that maybe I can push a little harder during that part than I had previously thought. I had a decent run and learned that I wasn't yet used to running in the heat!
Tidewater Sprint Triathlon
This attempt at a sprint tri went a lot better than my previous one. I relaxed a little more in the water, which didn't translate into a super swim time but it was decently mediocre. I pushed myself even more on the bike, all the way to my fastest bike ever. My legs surprised me for the run, which is always the most unpredictable part, by leading me to a personal best for a 5k in a multi-sport event.
Patriots International Triathlon
I've done the sprint at this race before, and I've done an international length triathlon on this course, but at a different race, so I've never done this race in particular. An international is just under 2x the distance of a half Ironman, so I really wanted to get at least one in before the big day. I've completed 3 in the past but my last one was last September, so I'm feeling pretty out of practice for an event of this length!
The Hokie Half Marathon was one of my favorite races from last year. Despite pouring rain for the entirety of the race, I kicked my old HM PR's ass (by 15 minutes) and finally got myself that coveted official first sub-2. Of course, last year hills were still a novelty and we were still in our honeymoon phase, so this year may be a different story. I'll have about a month after I get back from my beach summer to get used to the hills again, so hopefully that will be enough time! I'm not looking for a PR this year, I'm just looking for a good trial run for B2B. This will be my first time running this distance since the Shamrock Marathon in March, and my last time before I run it as part of a 70.3, so it's my one chance to practice.
And that leads me to...
Beach2Battleship Half Iron Distance Triathlon
a.k.a. The Big One
I'm 1/3 of the way into training and still not sure that that or any of the races here will actually get me to the finish line. They're good practice, but race day is nothing if not unpredictable and there's just no way to know how or if my performance will stack up. But for all their unpredictability, race days usually end up being the most fun days, so I'll get something out of all of this.
What are you training for? What goal are you working toward? How's it going?
Link up here!