Santa Barbara Tri: A, B or C Race?

In Training Peaks, my triathlon workout schedule manager, race days are indicated by little trophies with an A, B, or C on them. The Santa Barbara Triathlon is listed as a priority C, meaning it's essentially another training day that happens to be timed.

I'd like to believe I'll be able to keep that in mind when the starting gun goes off at 7 a.m.  But I know myself all too well.  Maybe you're beginning to know me too.

That C level priority is what dragged me out of bed this morning for a 6 a.m. swim and what compelled me to attend tonight's final Fortius-coached track workout.  If Saturday's race is "just another training day" then there's no excuse for me to blow off these last workouts due to the fatigue I'm experiencing.  That was my thought process throughout the day.  I wanted nothing more than to go straight home when I left the office around 5:30 p.m.  In fact, I debated doing just that throughout the commute.  There's the triathlon magazine web story I could be writing.  Or the packing I could be doing for Santa Barbara.  Or simply relaxing at home for an extended period, which hardly ever seems to happen now.

But the honest motivator was this: I knew that somewhere out there, someone competing in my age group this Saturday was training.  He was overcoming the heat.  The fatigue.  The excuses.  And If I didn't haul ass on that track -- perhaps against my better judgement -- then he was going to beat me by a few seconds in the race.

C-level race or not, I can't let that happen.

So, I ticked off two 400s, two 800s and another two 400s at a 6:00-7:00 minute mile pace along with a handful of striders and light lap-running.  Perhaps against my better judgement.  Despite my concerns, my heart-rate dropped quickly between laps, I didn't overheat nor did I exhaust myself.  Much like this morning's swim, where I tied my 100 PR at 1:25, I pleasantly surprised myself in the run.

And that's the gift I received for putting in the time today.  I had enough energy to perform at a high level for myself despite the fatigue and self-doubts.  Moreover, A, B, or C, level race, I know that by pushing myself just a bit further than I wanted to this week, I inched forward towards my ultimate A-1 goal: Ironman.

Let's see how I feel tomorrow morning!

86 days and counting.

Track Virgin

Today marked my first official workout on a track.  After 36 years, I guess it's about damn time. Psychologically, I felt faster just being on a track.  My timed 800s at 5k speed didn't reflect that because I missed my 2:55/800m pace.  But I felt faster thanks to all the energy and ambiance surrounding me.  The Fortius team meets at Harvard-Westlake High School in Studio City once a week for this coached workout, a very posh institution with a college-level track and football/soccer field.  Today, two large football squads from what appeared to be Santa Monica High School were working out, along with a club-level youth soccer team.  Fast, young athletic kids whooped and hollered everywhere, and it was almost impossible not to get caught up in the near-rambunctious vibe.

According to Coach Gerardo, I essentially made every mistake in the track workout book.  I paced myself when I should have been running all-out during my timed 800s.  I should have been reviewing each 800 lap on my Garmin watch to adjust my pace accordingly.  I should have been leaning forward while running, not backwards.  My arms needed to be striding forwards, propelling me further along with my pumping legs -- which needed to fire higher.

That's OK.  I didn't beat myself up.  Honestly, I had a great time tonight!  The experience took me back to what it must have been like to run on the track or cross-country team in high school.  And having my Fortius teammates all around me, flying by on the track, or leisurely jogging in between sets -- well, it was just plain motivating.  I got to see my friend Christina, whom I haven't visited with in person in what feels like months.  We ran together, joked together, and swam together in our evening Foritus-coached swim session at VNSO park.  Yep, I did a double workout.  Last night, I indicated I was getting up early in the morning for the early swim session.  I just couldn't do it.  The body wanted no part of that 5:40 a.m. wakeup call.  I know this because in is an all-to rare experience, I slept straight through from 10:15 p.m. through 4:15 a.m. I usually wake up a couple times a night for a quick bathroom break.  Fatigue was talking last night, and I listened. Really glad I did.  I made it through the track workout with enough energy to swim a 1:33 timed 100 at the end of a 2,450-yard session.

And I even had enough energy to let out a little primal yell on the way to my car, that's how good I felt.

Of course, that's because I saved a little energy on the track when I shouldn't have, but I'm no longer a track virgin.  I know what to expect now, and I'll do it better next time.

Now it's off to try and rinse the chlorine off me and jump into bed.  I've got a 6:15 wakeup call to get a 1.5 hour bike ride in at Griffith Park.  Zones 1-2 are the order tomorrow, sitting for most of the ride.  I can dig that.

Puttin' in the time.

140 days and counting.