Pretty much all I can think about today is the biathlon. It's all I've been thinking about since Wednesday, actually. I'm going over the course in my head, remembering how it's gone for me the three previous times I've done it, and thinking about the many variables that will affect my finishing time.
The first time I did this race, back in 2002, I came in 6th in my age group. Not too bad, really, considering it was the first race I had ever done (not even a 5K under my belt - I went straight for the multi-sport challenge!), and I was riding a bike I had borrowed from someone, so it really wasn't fitted to me, and I had absolutely no clue about pacing myself during the run, or how best to get out of transition quickly, or any of that stuff..... truthfully, I don't think I even knew it was called "transition" - I just thought it was "the place where I have to put my bike."
Taking all that into account, my only goal that year was to finish in 2 hours or less, so I was thrilled to come in at 1:37:54. Thrilled!
The second year (2004), I had barely trained at all. I think I ran 3 or 4 times, and biked 2 or 3 times, and not once did I even come close to running 5 miles. I was in terrible shape, having had my first baby 6 months earlier, and I just hadn't gotten back into the swing of things with working out, and it showed. I walked nearly half of the 5-mile run, and was lucky that I was able to get through the 16 miles on the bike in a somewhat respectable time, so that I ended up coming in at 1:53:52.
And last year, after baby number 2, I knew it was time to get serious about getting in shape again, and I got bit by the running bug - bad - and once I started running again in earnest, I knew I wanted to do this race again, and although I didn't train a lot, I did get in more training than I had in 2004, so I was fairly well-prepared, and made a decent showing with a time of 1:47:56 - not the best time, but considering that I had now birthed TWO children, and had only had about 4 1/2 weeks to train, not too bad, either.
So this year, I'm approaching the race, once again, from an entirely different place. I'm in what I would consider the best shape of my life, but due to my persistent shin splint issue, I haven't been able to do nearly as much running as I would have liked to do this summer. But I have done a lot of biking, and although I know that I could have trained harder for this race, I still feel very well-prepared .
I've looked over the finishing times in my age group for the past four years, and times for the third-place finisher in that age group are as follows: 2003, 1:37; 2004, 1:38; 2005, 1:38; 2006, 1:34. So if I can meet - or beat - my PR of 1:38 for this race, I will have a shot at third-place in my age group. A long shot, but a shot nonetheless. I don't think I've ever wanted to win third-place in something so badly : )
So this year, I'm not just doing this for fun. It will be fun - I know that, and I'm looking forward to having fun and enjoying myself. But I am also RACING this thing for the first time ever, and it really puts a whole different spin on things. I have a veritable flock of butterflies in my stomach already, and like I said, can't stop thinking about how things are going to go tomorrow.
My main priority is to start out slow in the run. I have a big problem with starting too fast and paying for it later, so I'm really going to be relying on my Garmin (and my playlist - yes, I have created a playlist with songs chosen specifically to help me achieve negative splits) to keep me in check for the first 3 miles. After that, all bets are off.
And transition - no stopping to chit-chat with Scott this year. I'll wave and say hi, but that's all I'm going to have time for. I'm even debating whether or not I should put my gloves on before I get on the bike, because I'm worried it's going to take me too long.
I have to admit, it's strange to go into a race feeling this way - which sounds like a dumb thing to say, because a race is a race, and aren't you always competing on some level? But for me, every time I've done a race, I've just been competing against myself, trying to beat an old PR. I've never felt like I was competing against anyone else. It's odd, but also pretty exhilirating - really gets the old heart pumping; even before the actual race day!
Weather looks good. High of 67, dry, and partly sunny. It's going to get pretty windy this afternoon, so I'm hoping that the wind dies down before race time tomorrow, because at this point that looks like the only thing that could really slow me down.
My shin feels good, I'm having a nice rest day (felt odd to not work out this morning, though!), and I had a nice, relaxing bike ride yesterday morning. So relaxed I didn't even bring my Garmin - just relied on my bike computer, which informed me that I rode 9 miles in 32 minutes. It was nice to ride a bit slower and enjoy the scenery.
So there you have it. I'm ready, I'm excited, and I cannot WAIT for tomorrow!!!!!! I like that I don't have to get up at the crack of dawn for this race (start time of 11am), but I know I'll be up with the sun anyway - I'll be too excited to sleep.
I hope to post a full report Sunday night. May the best 30 - 39- year old woman win (third place in her age group, that is).