Training for Tuesday: Beach2Battleship Race Plan

Before I get into today's actual post, I need to address a couple of things. First, thank you for sticking with me the past couple of days and for the consolation messages some of you sent me. I'm sure there were some of you who rolled your eyes - seriously, a ferret? - but in this house, size doesn't correlate to the amount of joy our animals can bring or the amount of space they can take up in our hearts. Even after 5 pet losses, it never gets easier. Our Lila was hands down the sweetest of the 8 animals we've had together over the last near-decade and she is already so missed!

Second, yes I turned Training for Tuesday into Training for Thursday this week. It's my link-up, I do what I want! Actually, it's not just my link-up; I lovingly share it with Alyssa, who reminded us all that it was a year ago this month that we decided to take our excessive fitness talk out in public and hope that others would share theirs. Thanks to all who have shared in our vision of cultivating a supportive and encouraging community for kickass ladies of all fitness levels and disciplines. Whether you've joined us once or every month over the last year, we're so grateful for your participation!

And finally, on to the good stuff. Last week I mentioned that I started reading Racing Wisely, written by Sage Rountree, a yoga teacher I was fortunate enough to take a class with at Wanderlust and who, as I found out afterward, is a triathlete and triathlon coach as well. The book is short and to the point (and free if you have Amazon Prime and/or Kindle Unlimited) and delves into several aspects of racing, from choosing the right race to what to do after you cross the finish line. I've enjoyed reading it so far, and one of the things I've liked the most is the worksheets she goes over (also available for free in PFD format on her website). I definitely plan to use the Race Week Worksheet to navigate my final week before Beach2Battleship, but I've already gotten started on my Race Plan. In the past my race plans have been pretty simple: run a PR, don't die, that sort of thing. This worksheet breaks down all of the key components of race day, mental and physical, to hopefully ensure preparedness for any situation that might arise. The best thing about making a plan like this is that it's completely customizable and adaptable to any race at any distance. This post is a long one and I don't expect you to hang on every word, but if you have a race coming up, or even if you just have a race in mind for the future, I encourage you to stick this in your back pocket and give it some thought as you prepare for the big day. 

All direct quotes from Racing Wisely are in italics.

Intention is internal and private. Intentions are philosophical. Your intention is the attitude you are bringing to the race. 
Intention feels like a bit of a buzz word lately, but I think it's so important for a big race (or any race!). Running and triathlon are not my job; they do nothing but nothing but drain my bank account, not the other way around, so there is no point in suffering through if I'm not having fun. Sure, sometimes I get a bit obsessive or a little competitive with myself but that's because deep down, I truly love these sports and always want to perform at my best. My intention for Beach2Battleship is to finish the race knowing that I did my best. I want to walk out of that finisher's chute knowing that regardless of what the day gave me, I handled it with grace and I performed to the best of my ability. Sage encourages boiling your intention down to a short phrase that can be repeated on race day; mine comes from a fortune cookie I got last month: "When one must, one can."

Goals are quantifiable, measurable, external, and public. Goals are useful in helping us control all the things we can control as we prepare to race: out training, our nutrition, our equipment, our pacing. Goals are practical.
Conservative goal: Finish (in under 7 hours)
The rule for any new distance is: don't worry about time, just get to the finish line. And that is my #1 goal for B2B. But even if everything goes wrong on race day and all my training flies out the window, I still hope to sneak in under 7 hours.

Public goal (what you'll tell friends and coworkers): 6 hours 45 minutes. 
This is (hopefully) erring on the conservative side and, in my mind, translates to a 45-minute swim + 3 hour 25 minute bike (16.5mph) + 2 hour 25 minute run (11:04 min/mi) + 10 minutes for transition.

Private goal: We're all friends here, so I'll let you in on this one. Realistically, if I can race the way I've trained, I think (and hope and have all my fingers and toes crossed) I'll finish in 6 hours 15 minutes or less. That puts me at roughly a 40 minute swim + 3 hours 15 minute bike + 2 hour 10 minute run (9:55 min/mi) + 10 minutes for transition.

Super-secret radical goal: The last time I made one of these (and it really was a radical goal), I missed it by almost 20 minutes. Not a big deal; that's why it's called the "super-secret radical goal." But let's just say that if I miss this one by the same margin, I'll still be in range of my private goal. And that's all I'm going to say about that for now.

Non-time goals: Remember to pack all of my gear. Put my timing chip on right away so I don't lose it. Bring toilet paper for the porta-potties. Remember to follow my nutrition plan and stay hydrated. Clip in and out of my bike without falling. Don't fall apart on the run. Smile at race photographers. Thank volunteers. Finish with a smile on my face.

Using: All of my gear (goggles, socks, race belt, that sort of thing) is covered on the handy Triathlon Race Day Checklist I made myself before the Patriots International Tri earlier this month. I recently bought myself a tri bag that's as big as my carry-on suitcase so that I can finally put ALL of my tri stuff in one place. All I have to do is worry about getting that bag packed and I'll be set.
(click to download)

Wearing: For the wetsuit-mandatory swim, I'll need my Blueseventy Helix wetsuit. Underneath it, and for the rest of the race, I'll be in my Smashfestqueen IROCK Tri top and shorts. I've practiced in the top a couple times now and, although I loved it for swimming, it gave me a riding up issue when I ran in it that took some getting used to. I think I've figured out the correct tucking-in strategy, though, so I should be good to go! And on my feet I'll be wearing the newest addition to my Newton collection (with bright pink Lock Laces that still need to be ordered...).

If it’s really cold: I think it will be cold enough in mid-October, at least in the morning, that at the very least I'm planning on putting on arm warmers after I come in from the swim. Still debating on whether or not I want to go all out and order the Smashfestqueen knee warmers and/or cycling jersey that match my kit, just in case it's really cold out there. I don't have a great cycling jacket but I do have a couple I'll pack just in case I really need them. Oh and socks! I usually go sockless but learned my lesson a few weeks ago on a chilly ride when my toes went completely numb. 

If it’s really hot: I think this is really only a possibility for the run, but in that case, I'll just be in my top and shorts and not bother with any of the extra layers. 

If it's raining: Two words: trash bags. I plan to stick a ridiculous number of plastic and/or trash bags in my tri bag just in case it's raining and I need them to protect my stuff while it sits in transition, and/or my body.

Pre-Race Nutrition 
Dinner the night before: My mom is an excellent cook and has already been designated team chef for our pre-race dinner. I don't know exactly what she'll make, but it will be some kind of pasta and there will be veggies and lots of bread and I will be in carb-loading heaven.

Breakfast on race day: Egg over easy on a whole wheat English muffin with a little bit of cheese, and yogurt. Maybe a banana closer to race time. I've really come to love this aspect of long distance triathlon, since breakfast is my favorite meal. I can eat a fairly large breakfast and I have plenty of time to digest it before I get on the run!

Race Nutrition
Food(starting when I get out of the water because obviously I won't be eating and swimming at the same time): Salt tablets every 30 minutes (on the bike and run), banana at 1 hour and 2 hours into the bike, raisins at hour 3 on the bike if I'm still hungry, raisins on the run if I'm absolutely starving

Water: As needed on the bike (I'll have 2 1-Liter bottles with me) and at every aid station on the run.

The plan:
  • Swim: settle into a groove as soon as possible; maintain a quick but steady and calm rhythm to the first buoy; back down a little if necessary until the second buoy; pick up speed at the 3rd buoy; give it all I've got after the 4th buoy.
  • Bike: this where all bets are off for me; it really could go really well or really horribly so I really have no pacing strategy. Since it's largely dependent on wind speed and direction, I'll likely have to wait until closer to race day to check the forecast for a more accurate idea of how I'll be able to pace 
  • Run: depending on how I feel, run the first mile no faster than 9:00 and no slower than 10:00; run the next 9 miles at whatever pace feels good (walking every aid station); if I can, push for faster miles in the last 5k
How I'll hold myself accountable to this plan: I'll have to hope one of those mantras comes to me in my time of need. I really don't have a specific plan for this; I know how important this is to me and that is enough to hold myself accountable. When things get tough, I'll keep the clock at the finish line in mind and remind myself that it's not forever, it's only a few more hours.

If my equipment doesn’t work: I'll probably sit on the side of the road and cry. Kidding! I think. If my Garmin decides that October 17 is a great day to screw up, I'll have to accept that early on and move on. Hopefully I'll still have some idea of the time and can do some mental math between that and mile markers on the course.

How and when I will warm up to best execute this plan: I've never done any type of pre-race warmup, but recently I found that I did really well in a time-trial swim when I did a few hundred yards of warmup first, so I plan to do a short swim the day before and get in the water for a few minutes before starting the race. 

Mental Strategies

Three workouts from this training cycle in which I learned something about my mental and physical abilities:

1. Hokie Half Marathon - I learned that I am physically capable of running a 2ish-hour half marathon without really trying (the ~ish comes from the 3 minutes I spent waiting for the porta-potty which probably pushed me over the 2-hour mark but whatever), and that I am mentally capable of running a half marathon without headphones! Seriously 2 things I never thought I'd be able to say.

2. Tour de Wolf Creek, or, That Time I Rode Up a Mountain - I don't know how many times I repeated to myself, "If you can get through this, you can get through race day," but it was enough times that I now believe it to be true. The weather and the terrain made this one of the hardest things I have ever done, physically or mentally, EVER in my life. There were tears, many of them, and not the slowly well up in the corners of your eyes kind, but the ugly cry kind. The thing that got me through it was thinking back to a brutally cold and windy 15-miler I did in training for Shamrock earlier this year, and how that ended up being a crucial point in that training cycle that led to my the best marathon I could have hoped for. From the beginning of this ride I could tell that it was going to be the definitive workout of this training cycle, the one that would suck to get through but the one I needed for a successful race day.

3. City of Oaks course/Reedy Creek Greenway run - I learned that I do not get scared anymore. I thought running after traveling all day, at a weird time of day (long run at 4:30PM?), without eating well beforehand, on a hilly course, after biking 53 miles up a mountain the day before (did I mention that yet?!) was probably my worst idea ever...and then I knocked it out of the park. Granted, I didn't exactly go out like a speed demon, but as soon as I started running I realized all my fears had been for nothing. I was making up things to be afraid about. Around mile 5 I realized that I could pretty much do anything, and by the time I finished at a total of 12.6 miles, I knew I could do anything.

Fears about the race, and how I plan to cope should they materialize (“in my control” or “out of my control”):

In my control:
Falling apart on the run - repeat aforementioned mantras to myself. All of them. As long as it takes to find one that works. Remind myself that 
Going out too fast - back it down if I see a pace that I know good and well I can't sustain
Not going out fast enough - don't let my mind convince me to do any less than I'm capable of doing (more mantras)

Out of my control:
Horrible headwind (especially on the bike) - tuck down in aero the best I can and pray for the next turn to come
Lots of sun and/or hot temperatures on the run - slow my pace and drink copious amounts of water
Stomach issues - slow my pace and find the nearest porta potty 

I love that Sage (do you like how I talk about her like we're besties?) included this because it honestly isn't something I would have given a second thought. I'm terrible at recovery unless I force myself to eat, drink, and rest, so having a plan (and people who won't have just spent 6-7 hours racing there to hold me accountable) should really help. 

What I'll wear in the minutes after the race: Provided I can hold myself upright and still have enough range of motion left to move my limbs (might need help from my mom and Alyssa tbh), I would love to change into a loose fitting tank (or maybe my race shirt since I will have earned that shit?!?!?), my most comfortable hoodie, yoga pants (with compression sleeves underneath), and my Oofos flip flops. I'm sure I'll spend a while after the race too afraid to leave the finishers area, lest I miss my dad or friends finishing...maybe I'll have my mom and Alyssa shield me with a towel and blanket or something so I can change without missing any of the action? Luckily there's really no such thing as modesty in triathlon.

What I'll eat and drink in the minutes and hours after the race: That Sage, she just thought of everything. I am horrible at making sure I eat and drink after a race, but I can guarantee I will at least immediately down the bottle of water I'll get at the finish line. And maybe I'll make sure my posse is ready with some post-workout drink and a banana. And after all my people racing finish....definitely beer. 

What I'll do in the minutes and hours after the race for your recovery: We already went over slipping into something more comfortable. And the fact that I need to eat something...anything...everything...And please for the love of god someone make me take a nap. I'm sure that at some point in the day my B2B peeps will all feel like passing out, and I need to do the same. I also need to make sure I do some yoga, but luckily I will have my own private soon-to-be yoga teacher present to make sure I get in all the asanas I need.

And....that's it! My plan to get from 0 to 70.3 and beyond in one piece. Anything I haven't thought of? Any crucial aspects of a race plan that I left out?


  1. I totally understand pet loss, it is the worst and my 3 pups mean the WORLD to me so anyone that doesn't understand what why you're upset can just shush their mouth! It stinks and pets really are a part of the family! You're right that it is your link-up so you can do what you want ha love it!
    Linds @ Not A Mom

  2. girl, you are going to KILL it. you have invested so much both physically and mentally- i love how you are ready for anything and everything. your passion is so obvious and i hope that carries you to that super secret goal. while i was reading your goal times i kept thinking about your past races and always blow me out of the water with your times. i have no doubt you will do it again!

    when andrew did a tri a few years ago nothing stressed me out more than watching him clip/unclip into his bike. the last thing i say before he heads out for a ride is somewhere along the lines of something crazy as.. don't die because of your shoes! so same to you! don't die because of your shoes!

  3. Oh my, that's a lot! But it is 3 sports, so it makes sense. I think this is a great way to feel prepared come race day. I haven't figured out what I'm wearing yet, because I need to know the weather first, but I have a good idea. I'm still not sure about fluids for my race yet, because we're not allowed to bring anything into Canada. We're in Canada from mile 3.5 to mile 8. I think I will likely have my family stationed at mile 8 and mile 13 with my bottles, because I never run without them so that will be weird! Of course, there will be water on the course as well. Anyway, now I'm rambling. I love that you have a recovery plan too. Great idea!

    My sympathies for the loss of your ferret. It is hard to lose a pet, no matter what type of pet - they're all part of the family.

  4. if anyone rolled their eyes at the loss of your pet - insert something horrible and mean here. who gives a shit (sorry) what kind of animal or pet? a loss is a loss. screw them.

    you definitely deserve to wear your race tee, and i think you should eat chinese food, pizza, ice cream and wash it all down with beer. you are so prepared, Sage is awesome! Not that I've ever done anything huge or amazing, but I rarely even think of recovery as part of the plan, but it is extremely important.

  5. Oh my god. Oh my god, Tracy, thank you for bringing this into my life. I needed this. After 20 and 22 I'll have nothing left to do but absolutely freak until I line up on the first, and I have a feeling this is going to keep me from vomiting every day until then. Seriously, thank you! But you've also reminded me that I still have no idea what to wear for City of Oaks. Freakout, commence. Oh and hey, does your mom cater North Carolina marathons too? Becuasssse that'd be great.
    Anyway, I love love love how you've been able to think of everything here. Obviously, I'll help you with anything you need before, during, and after B2B! Unless, of course, I'm too busy sobbing tears of joy and pride and can't see straight—then you're on your own ;) I'm about to say a whole lot of sappy stuff (seriously I can feel tears welling up right now, #normal) but I'll save it for the 17th. Again though, thank you so much for sharing this post!

  6. I too set tiered goals, but I'm not quite brave enough to put them out on the interwebz so they go to my coach only haha. Not sure if I'll see you out on the course but I'll be your Smashfest twin sending you positive vibes! Enjoy your taper :)!!!

  7. Girl, I think you covered everything. Excited to hear about it!

  8. Losing a pet is the same as losing a family member to me. Sending you all the hugs!!!!!!!

    You are so prepared and organized, I just know you are going to rock this! You have a plan and a back up for if something goes wrong. Plus you know that we are all cheering you on from our respective location in the country!!! :D

  9. First of all, no one with a heart would roll their eyes for a lost pet.. I am sorry about your ferret - pets are family :). Second, you have your shit so together its just amazing!

  10. Hey new internet friend! As someone who's done a Half Ironman, a few things I noticed in your post. My pre-race and race-day nutrition was pretty different from yours. I'm hesitant to tell you what I did because you shouldn't do anything on race day that you didn't do in training. But I'm worried about you only drinking water during the bike. Post-race, I immediately changed clothes, took some Advil and liberally applied Neosporin to all the places that chafed during the race. Pro tip: throw some Neosporin in your post-race bag. You won't chew or taste the first meal after your race. Just eat the stupidest, biggest meal you can get into your body the fastest. I ate Steak & Shake and it was glorious. Good luck! You're going to kill it!

  11. What a great race plan. Saving this post!