Friday, July 1, 2016

Something New on Race Day

There's this colleague that I've recently started advising through the world of tri. In most practical terms, he's a more genetically gifted athlete than me. He's a faster swimmer. This is significant since I'm not that bad of a swimmer. He's definitely a better runner. This is insignificant since I'm a horrible runner. He owns a bike. He knows how to ride it, but not really how to train it and doesn't spend much time on it. This is his major downfall in sport and the only factor that will keep him and me competitive (although, at my current fitness levels, he still probably wins).

Recently he decided to toe the line at IM Syracuse 70.3- 2016 version. I, having done that race several times in the past, seemed like the perfect free resource for information. We talked for hours about a plan of attack. He shared dreams and visions of times. I encouraged caution, since it was his first attempt at the distance and he's way undertrained on the bike (re-read first paragraph). Based on 14 different variables and a formula that only I understand, we determined that a 5 hour to 5:10 half-ironman (HIM) was within his skill set... unless something major happened. He went 35 minutes slower than expected, including passing out twice.

As you can guess, something major happened. And that something was the exact same something that kills more athletes' races than all the world's collective mechanical failures combined. It resides right between the average athlete's left and right ears (although, there's a theory floating around out there that some people's neural material might be found elsewhere in their bodies). Some go into a race with no clue as how to go into a race. Others, despite going into a race with a solid plan, they decide to change something. In this particular athlete's situation, he drastically changed his nutrition. In case you didn't know, nutrition is kind of a deal in a HIM.

The NNORD Theory
An oft cited mantra in triathlon is "Nothing new on race day". I understand the sentiment behind the slogan. The major idea is that if you care at all about the race then you will have practiced for the race. Yes, there are plenty of people who are there for fun, don't care about the race, and, therefore, don't practice much. These are the same people who are having the time of their life and also couldn't care about their race time.

That doesn't come close to describing me. See, I have this other person in my noggin that tries to convince me that I might have some talent. Sure, the data suggests something completely different but that other guy me doesn't really like to analyze data. He's more emotive than logical. It's like living with a woman. If I trained as much as he seems to think I'm capable of, then he might have a point.

Regardless of who's right, most reputable, experienced, and wise athletes won't wait until race morning to test out stuff. And then there's me.

I've been doing tri for the better part of 18 years now and try stuff constantly on race day. That's because I do more than one race. Sure, if my entire season boiled doing to a single event, I'd have each and every detail down to a science. No stone would be left unturned. But that's not the way I structure my season. That means NNORD would apply to me as much of the next guy. But it doesn't.

This might seem kinda confusing. How can one practice and race at the same time? Well, since I'm rich and have a lot of disposable money sitting around I like racing, I use some races as practice arenas for the earmarked important races. Throughout the years, I've found it excessively difficult to recreate the anxiety, intensity, bowel movements and attitudity of a race. So, no matter how much I'd like to think I've gotten the details down, nothing prepares you for racing quite like racing. By the time I get to the self-proclaimed big race, I've finished turning stones during the practice races. See how that works?

What's on the Menu?
Tomorrow, I am converging on an olympic distance race referred to as "Tri in the Buff". I know what you're thinking- you do this race naked! (Don't ask me how I, umm, stumbled on this race. I don't want to show you my search history to prove it.) Nah. They're abbreviating Buffalo to make a nice play on words. Obviously, this race is held in a town called Brant, NY.

There are a couple of things I'm experimenting with during tomorrow's race. The first is one of those fandangled, spermy-looking aero helmets. This will mark my 3rd helmet option available to me. The first is a regular helmet. The second is an aero road helmet. Recently I found a pretty good deal on a semen head (again, don't ask for browser history), which is supposed to make me marginally speedier. Money well spent.

The second is I'm trying out a new race suit. I broke my old race suit. I was just too much man for that piece of thin, techno-fabric (probably due to an increase in overall calories resulting in more biomass than the suit was designed for). I'm pretty sure, when all is said and done, that I'll be looking like speedwalking Hal from Malcolm in the Middle.

Lastly, I'll be tying my bike shoes to the frame via rubber bands. I've read about this and seen others make an attempt (never stayed nor asked about the results of that attempt). It seems intriguing. And, since I already own the rubbers, this won't cost me anything.

Upon crunching all of the numbers (this is a regular me behavior), I expect that all of these changes should make me about 12 full seconds faster than if I went race normal. Regular me would be satisfied if that's the case. The other guy me still thinks I should have put more time into training. Ha- training to get faster- what does he know anyway?

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