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Tip of the iceberg

Kelly went for a swim for the first time in...ages...yesterday morning. So there's been a collection of swim caps from all her old triathlons sitting around the house. Our tradition is that I have the kids ready to go and we leave for the grocery immediately after she gets home from the gym Sunday mornings. Which meant my bike ride was pushed to the heat of the day. It reached 85 degrees here yesterday in Chicago and I definitely needed the second water bottle I put on my bike for this season. I did my usual/favorite ride via Salt Creek Trail and had a few sections where I pushed the pace into the low 20 mph range, but mostly I kept it moderately paced...the heat and humidity for one. And the abundance of casual weekend riders for another. Lots of riders, runners, skaters, dog walkers in each direction on the path.

I think Kelly is right about why I will have a fun time doing triathlon...it's a great sport for people who like to analyze. Really, all endurance sports are. This week is a "recovery" week for me with a light training load. But, after that, it's next week, peak week, taper week, race week. So my mind has been shifting more and more to mental preparation. Doing a "brick" workout (bike then run) next weekend. What hydration do I want in my transition area? What nutrition do I want on my bike? What nutrition do I want on my race belt? How do I want to lay out my gear in my transition area? Coming from marathon to triathlon certainly helps me get my mind around the numerous details involved with this sport.

For those of you who don't do endurance sports and think it's simply a physical issue that decides whether a person does well, think again. For my to run my marathon PR last fall required a whole series of previous "bad" races where I made mistakes, learned a lesson, trial and error. The reason I was able to run as fast as possible over 26.2 miles really had nothing to do with my marathon training...that was a formality this time around. I knew if I got the miles in, I'd be prepared. The stuff I really worked on last fall was getting my food and drink right. Focusing on not getting too excited and swept away in the day. Focusing on running MY race...my pace, ignoring the crowds, keeping my goal in mind, knowing when to push and when to back off. I suppose you could say that's race experience talking.

My take is more that has been about learning the mental and emotional side of endurance sports better. Forget the physical differences between me and a world record holder. What separates my best day possible is whether I ate the right breakfast. Handled the temperature correctly. Started off slow enough. This is my lesson race. Not that I predict or believe for a second my day at Ironman next year will go smoothly.

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