|Never actually saw anyone on a horse|
Even better, the race was just outside Austin, so I wouldn't have to travel. The swim was in Decker Lake (Walter E. Long Lake), the bike was a 56 mile loop almost out to Elgin, and the run would be in the park by the lake and up to the Travis County Convention Center. I was a little concerned about the hills (having run the Decker Challenge Half Marathon more than once) but decided that that was what training was for.
That started in June, not long after the Capital of Texas Triathlon. Yes, training would be through the height of a Texas summer. And every time I went out, I would remember Noel Coward's line that "[m]ad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun..."
My training program was based Triathlete Magazine's Week by Week Training Guide and involved nine workouts a week. I didn't completely adhere to all of the mileage suggestions (some weeks doing more, some less), but mostly kept to the program of two a days.
By early August, the mileage was starting to pile up but it didn't seem particularly efficient (and also was getting a little tedious), so I decided to join the triathlon training/masters swim group at Pure Austin Gym and, really, it was the best decision I made in the entire process. The awesome Coach Peri Kowal leads two swim workouts a week, mostly in a pool but also including two a month in the Quarry Lake, so participants can get used to open water swimming. (Also, during the summer, the gym does a Splash N Dash (Swim 750k, then run 2k) once a month; it's good practice for the whole "group of people in the water, don't get kicked in the face" thing).
Anyway, here are some pics of the process:
|Training happens even when you're away on business|
|Igloo coolers are our friends!|
|Monkey Road really needs to be resurfaced|
|Don't drive off with your cell phone on the roof of your car|
|The gang poses after a long BRick|
|Starting the run after a 40 mile bike ride...|
|Kevin and Alec hamming it up...|
|My first shoes to come with an instruction manual|
|Celebrating Coach Peri's birthday!|
|Sights you see along Town Lake|
|About to test out a wetsuit|
|Went through a lot of these...|
|Feeling punchy three days before the race...|
In the end, I was really glad to have been able to do race-distance open-water swims in the Quarry Lake and to bike the race route. I think we ended up riding the route about 5-7 times altogether and it was helpful not just for putting in mileage but in learning where the potholes and seams were. Also, the BRick workouts were really helpful -- when I had done triathlons in the 90s, the bike to run transition was always terrible. This time, not so much...but that's for another post :-).
I finished training feeling cautiously optimistic -- I'd put in the time and the mileage and the BRicks and the intensity and worked out my nutrition and hydration requirements and figured out how to change a flat tire without getting bit by fire ants in under ten minutes. We had generally accounted for every possible variable and had kept in mind the mantra, "Don't try anything new on race day."
Except that having trained through blistering heat and humidity of Texas in the summer and fall, the weather was forecast to be 39 degrees at race start...
So, how did that go? Well, I'll do Race Day Weekend in another post...