Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tri To-Do List

So I want to know what events are on your triathlon To-Do list? Beyond that, what are your favorites? I am starting to rough out my season schedule and that always gets me thinking about racing priorities. There are so many great races in so many fabulous locations. Generally our budget (pre-baby) only allowed us to fly to one race a season, the rest are mid-west-ish.

Let's start with my favorite races.
Ironman Lake Placid is probably the greatest location I've ever raced in, followed very closely by the uber-difficult DeSoto Triple-T (foothills of the Appalacians in Southern Ohio). The town of Madison and the amazing crowd support there puts Ironman Wisconsin on my short list. I dug the Wildflower experience, but it will probably be awhile before I make it back. My club's local race, the Tri-Shark Classic is always an outstanding race to kick off tri season.

I've tried to click off most of the midwest "classics" the last few seasons. I've gotten in Memphis in May, Pigman Half Iron, Muncie Endurathon, Chicago Tri, Steelhead and Spirit of Racine. These are all legitimate classics, but none of them make the short list. Memphis in May is the closest. I did really like racing the off-road mountain bike tri and the olympic on back-to-back days. It also has an awesome atmosphere. I'd have to say I downright dislike the Chicago Tri and won't go back unless it is for the elite event because the age group Olympic event is way, way overcrowded and dangerous on the bike. Still, everybody should do it once so they can say they rode on Lake Shore Drive.

I always try to do a few new races each season, so if someone has midwest suggestions then let me know!

What about the to-do list?
This is always fun to dream about.

Kona sits at #1 but only because it is the World Championship. In many ways, it is the pinnacle of our sport and I will be incredibly excited to check it off next fall. In general though, I like courses with mountains and scenery (definitely not Kona). If it wasn't the World Champs I don't know if Kona would be very high on my to-do list. I guess I really have a split list. Races to do because of the course/location and races to do because of the prestige of the event. The prestige list is short, so let's stick with that. #2 on this list would be Xterra world Championships in Maui. This is the only race that is near the top of both the prestige list and the bitchin location list. I really, really want to do the Kona-Xterra double, but I think they are now two weeks apart. I'm almost certain they used to be just a week apart?? #3 Depending on location, I am some years interested in making it to the Olympic distance world champs. Only when a cool location intersects with the prestige of the event!

My to-do because it sounds cool and/or tough list is longer.

Money absolutely no object?
Ironman New Zealand
X-terra World Champs
Ironman Canada
X-terras in all kinds of exotic locales

In the states?
Escape from Alcatraz
World's Toughest 1/2 (Auburn)
Xterra Nationals (Lake Tahoe)
Xterra Eastern Regionals (VA)
Silverman (non-IM North America IM in NV)
Boise 70.3 (to visit the Hartmans!)
70.3 World Champs
Hyvee (because it is close and fast)
Lifetime Fitness (MN)

In the last 6 years, I've been fortunate enough to have made good progress through my original to-do list. I've gotten to travel with some awesome friends and meet more at the races.

So help me -and other readers- plan by telling us your favorite races and what's on your to-do list!

I'll see you at the races!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Make No Little Plans.

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood."

Daniel Burnham

Daniel Burnham was the famous Chicago architecht who devised the 1909 "Plan of Chicago" that essentially shaped the city as we know it today. Burnham was also the brains behind the hugely ambitious 1893 Chicago World's fair. To say this guy knows what he is talking about when he says "Make no "little plans" is an exercise in understatement.

First off, a big thanks to Mr. IronWil for the awesome new blog header!

Kona was on NBC this past weekend and watching the race helped to snap me back into triathlon mode. I always take a good chunk of time completely off from triathlon after an Ironman. Add a new baby and my brother's wedding to my post-Wisconsin activities and my down-time has been extended even more. Fortunately for me the only race I am really concerned with doesn't happen until next October. I have the luxury of really easing into this next tri season. In fact, if I want to peak in October I absolutely have to ease into the season.

Goal setting is one the most essential elements in any endeavor. My buddy Bolder calls it a Declaration of Intent. Burnham admonishes me to make no little plans. One of the best ways to stick to your goals is to make them public. Letting other people see your goals -no matter how ambitious- adds a great deal of accountability.

So here you go. My top goal for 2008 is to place (top 5) in my age group at Kona. Since it is the World Championships that means top 5 in the world! Wow it sounds crazy when you put it that way! I barely made top 5 at Wisconsin, how do I plan on jumping up to top 5 at Kona? One big advantage I have is qualifying this year. I've got a whole year to improve unlike anyone that qualifies in '08. Looking at the last few years, it is going to take at least a 9:20 to snag 5th place. Times vary greatly according to conditions, but here's how I broke down a 9:20:

Swim: 58

Bike: 5:05

Run: 3:10

Transitions: 00:07

All of a sudden this seems to enter the realm of possibility. On any given day in-season, or out-of-season I could go out and do that swim or run time as stand alone events. The swim is 1 minute faster than Wisconsin and the run is 8 minutes faster. Actually if I don't walk aid stations I don't even have to run faster than I did at Wisconsin.

The bike, then will be key. My best bike is 5:09 in Florida four years ago. I am a much better biker now, but Kona is (usually) no Florida. With another year of bike-heavy training, 5:05 should be manageable.

That leaves me with putting it all together- which is the tricky part, of course. That can only be decided on the day. Sub 9:20 would be the race of my life, but far from impossible. My 4:23 half-IM at Steelhead is a good indicator that this could happen.

Bottom line is not to make little plans. I could go to Kona with the intentions of racing conservatively and saving face. I've now been Sub-10 3 times and could probably go another high 9 hour race without tremendous difficulty. But why? Why not risk it all? Who cares if I have to walk it in- I'd be among good company. Because of the costs associated, this will probably be a one-time trip for me. I'm not going to play it safe.

Here's my promise to my family, my teammates, my sponsors, my tri-club members, and blogland at large:

I won't play it safe at Kona. I will race for a huge PR or blow-up spectacularly!