Saturday, January 2, 2016

Back in the Saddle: 2016 Race Schedule

My 2016 race schedule has been three months in the making.  Triathlon racing is so well-suited to the OCD, data-obsessed, uber-planner like myself so even during the off-season, I can begin thinking about my next "ON-season."  But this season is as much about 2017 as it is about 2016.  The goal for 2016, my fourth triathlon season, is to set a solid foundation for 2017:  the year of my first full Ironman distance race.  I have Ironman Louisville in my sights for October 2017. Main goals for the year:

1. Increase my long distance average speed on the bike to a minimum of 16 mph
How I will accomplish this:  I need to spend more time on the trainer during the winter with a focus on interval training. I will also increase the number of long rides I do during my primary training. I also need to brave the roads and find more routes with hills, rather than my usual Keystone Trail route.

2.  Improve my run times on all events
How I will accomplish this:  I need to stay consistent with my running.  Running is my least favorite discipline of the three.  I tend to give up more easily on the run and cut runs short.  Strength training also needs to remain a solid part of my plan. I spent a good amount of time this fall working on strength training to rehab my hamstring strain. I need to continue to do at least two quality strength training sessions a week and supplement with regular visits to the chiropractor and massage therapist. I also need to incorporate more brick workouts to help myself more easily aclimate to the triathlon run. And oh yeah, I just need to run more.

3. Feel good about a marathon finish
How I will accomplish this: I've run two marathons in the past.  The first was Detroit in 2005.  Chicago was 2010.  In the first case, I was not sufficiently prepared and I ended up walking the last 6 miles.  In the case of Chicago, the temperature was unseasonably warm and it was already 80 degrees by the time I arrived at mile 16.  Although I felt I put in the training work, I was suffering by mile 20....and ended up walking the last 6 miles.

Because of these two races, I have a pretty negative feeling about the  marathon distance.  Ben is planning to run New York City Marathon in 2016 and I would love to be there with him.  He will get a guaranteed entry because he's so fast.  I'm hoping to lottery in but if not, I will probably run for a charity. NYC seems like a race that will be an incredible course with lots of support and I will need every ounce of encouragement to make this a successful race. I'd like to complete one marathon where I feel I am properly trained, healthy and mentally tough enough to give a good performance.  For me, this would mean anything near or around 5 hrs and 15 minutes. In order to do this, I need to achieve goal 2. I'd like to go into 2017 Ironman training season knowing I can get through that marathon successfully.

4. Race a sub 7-hour Half Ironman
How I will accomplish this: This will be ambitious but totally do-able at Steelhead, especially if conditions are as good as they were this past summer. The key is shaving a small percentage of time off of each event and the transitions.  Last year's finish was Swim - 47:58, T1 - 5:50, bike - 3:40:11, T2 - 8:31, Run - 2:45:31.  I know I can get at least 4 minutes off the swim time. If I can get my average bike speed up to 16 mph, I'd be good for a 3:30:00 on the bike.  Which means the majority of the time has to be made up on the run.  This means shaving off only 15 minutes from my run, which sucked this past year, so that seems do-able. A run time of 2:25:00 would be ideal, but that may be pushing it, especially considering the hills on the run course. I'd like to leave myself some wiggle room on the transitions so I'd budget 15 minutes total for the two.  This is an ambitious goal but I would feel very good going into 2017 if I could achieve this.

The race schedule will include some races I've enjoyed in the past and some new courses. The Omaha Duathlon is always a fun tune-up race and the Lincoln Half forces me to run early in the season. Kansas City and the Athena Championships will be new for me this year.  I've not done a triathlon this early in the season before so again, this will force me to get serious by February.  Ben and I absolutely love running Bolder Boulder.  We try to do it every year and make it a beer drinking/training weekend. I've also not raced the Omaha Half Marathon so I will use this race as my 20 miler training run for NYC, with a plan of running another 6 miles after I finish the official half race.

Omaha Duathlon - Sunday, April 24
Lincoln Half Marathon - Sunday, May 1
Kansas City Triathlon - Sunday, May 15
Bolder Boulder 10K - Monday, May 30
USAT Athena/Clydesdale National Championships - Sunday, June 12
Lifetime Tri Minneapolis - Saturday, July 9
Ironman 70.3 Steelhead - Sunday, August 14
Omaha Corporate Cup - Sunday, September 11
Omaha Half Marathon (+ 6 miles) - Sunday, September 18
New York City Marathon - Sunday, November 6

Let's hope for a healthy and productive 2016 race season. Stay tuned!