The time has arrived: let’s talk about the 2017 triathlon racing season.
The 2016 campaign seems like another lifetime, and although I thoroughly enjoyed the off-season, I’m ready to start laying the groundwork for a successful 2017. Overall, I made a lot of progress during the 2016 season—it was my first year training with a coach instead of putting together my own “piecemeal” plan—and I’m excited to continue this journey: growing, maturing, and becoming a better endurance athlete.
Favorite time, favorite place: dawn patrol in Central Park
As my fifth official tri season (wow!), this year will center on expanding my endurance portfolio. Multisport has become my lifestyle, and I love being a student of the sport; continuing to learn, grow, and challenge myself will be the overarching objectives this year. Therefore, in addition to a handful of “normal” Olympic-distance races, we’ll do events that take me outside my comfort zone—like swim meets and stage races.
My long-term triathlon goals have also prompted the diversification of my endurance portfolio, mainly because long-course events, specifically a 70.3 (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run) now seem feasible. I’ve been around the sport for a good amount of time, and I’ve also seen and trained with friends who have tackled this distance; this experience has demystified the distance, and it has also showed me what is necessary to string together a solid outing. My mindset has gone from ‘someday, a long time from now’ to ‘maybe in a few years’ to ‘I want to do it.’
With this in mind, the primary focus of the 2017 season will be building a base for making the jump to long-course racing—specifically racing a 70.3—in 2018.
Can’t stop, won’t stop: swim meet number three is going down in March. The New England Short-Course Yards Championship draws tons of regional teams and promises solid competition. Not that I’ll be “competing” against anyone else. My only goals are to further expand my race experience portfolio and have fun. Hopefully I can string together decent swims, and since my masters team goes every year, I know we’ll have a blast. When registration opens, I’ll sign up for all the freestyle events (50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 500 free), plus the 100 IM. My masters team will race relays, so I’ll probably end up swimming the 200 free relay, 200 medley relay, 400 medley relay, and/or 400 free relay. And yes, I know this is an aggressive schedule for three days, but it’s all about gaining experience.
For the past month or so, I’ve been guiding with Achilles, and for the most part, I’ve been running with the same athlete. He was the second person I was paired with, and we hit it off. He’s also a triathlele, and we have a lot of mutual friends in the community. Because of this connection, during our third or fourth time running together, he asked me to guide him for the Queens Marathon.
I have never run a marathon—but this is not about me.
My coach and I have talked about it, and I’m taking the necessary measures to prepare myself for tackling 26.2 miles. If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram, you’ve seen my long run increasing throughout the past few weeks as well as my weekly mileage. While covering the distance will be a mental challenge for me, I am also cognizant of the time on my feet. Thus far, it looks like our target marathon pace will be about a minute slower than what would be “my” projected marathon pace so muscle fatigue will be an issue for me once we get to the later miles.
All in all, I’m very excited and humbled by this opportunity. My triathlon racing season doesn’t start until June, so the timing of this race works. I’m looking forward to experiencing a race from a new perspective, and this will be an extremely memorable way to complete my first 26.2 miler. (Did I just say first?) I never thought 2017 would be the year of the marathon, but it’s happening!
Making the rounds through my old stomping grounds
Worlds will collide again this year when my NYC runner friends and I make the five-hour drive to the Finger Lakes. The core of last year’s team will return, but there are a few of us who will be running this day-long relay for the first time. And since I’m not starting a new job, we’ll spend Sunday night in Geneva after the race instead of driving back immediately after finishing. Like last year, I plan to view my three legs as workouts and use each as an opportunity to execute a slightly faster pace than what I hit running off the bike.
This is one course I can’t seem to crack, so why on earth am I going back? Well, for that exact reason: I have unfinished business. A few years ago, I had a disastrous race at Pat Griskus, and although I tapered expectations for last year’s Rev3 Quassy, it was still a mentally tough day for a variety of reasons. I’m hoping actually riding outside (woohoo for health insurance) before race day will solve those problems. In all seriousness, though, this race will be increasingly important this year, even just from a confidence building perspective. Quassy is hilly and technical course, much like the 70.3 I’m eying for 2018. With Earl in charge of the training, I have full confidence we’ll be physically ready for a good day, and I feel like my mentally game has improved leaps and bounds.
Hardware for all!
Aside from the training weekend in Lake Placid, my weekend “Upstate” was the highlight of the 2016 racing season. The fact that it was a good outing was a pleasant surprise. I always want to do well at races, but this event has been about executing across the disciplines—stringing together the best possible race on that day (and seeing where the cards fall in terms podium spots)—and then spending the rest of the weekend hanging out with friends. It’s so important to strike that balance, and this race weekend always makes me feel grateful for the people this sport has brought into my life.
My experience volunteering for CAF at this race last year was ultimately the catalyst for me getting involved with Achilles, and this time around, I plan to participate in the race as a guide. My role will be similar to what I do during the Queens Marathon–I will be with an athlete every step of the way–but I have not solidifying who I will be guiding yet. Not to worry, though, as this will fall into place as the race approaches.
Chasing that first-out-of-the-water feeling
The first multisport event I completed, the Caz Tri holds a special place in my heart. In past years, this race has served as a capstone to my season: typically, I’d have a humbling experience at Nationals and return home with my competitive fire burning and crank out one last solid outing before heading into the off-season. Although this race will be my final triathlon of the season, it will more accurately mark a turning point in my training progression as I shift from a swim-bike-run focus to a swim-run mentality.
I am beyond pumped for this stage race! Throughout the course of one day, my team—Two Stevens, because my training buddy’s first name is Steven, and that’s also my last name—will cover six swim legs totaling 3.3 miles and seven run legs totaling 14.95 miles for a total mileage of 18.32. This race will provide new challenges as far as training and racing go, but we’ll also need to iron out logistics and get comfortable with a few things—like running in wetsuits and swimming with in our running shoes.
It’s worth noting that for the first time in four years, I will not be going to Nationals. Although I fully committed myself to the process, last year’s race itself left a lot to be desired from an experiential standpoint. In turn, those feeling gave me pause to reflect: why has this event become a season staple? Do I really want to go back to Omaha and do it again (even if parts of the course have been changed)? How does it align with my goals as a triathlete? Also, I can usually swing one training trip and one “destination” race per year, and the Richmond SwimRun race simply made me so much more excited.
So that’s where we stand for 2017. I’m sure I’ll hop into a few road races throughout the year–and I will go to Lake Placid for a training camp–but these are the events we’re building my schedule and progression around.
Which event are you most exited for this year?