One thing that I learned in 2012 is that the larger races usually max out their registrations quickly. This means that you can’t wait until you think you are ready for a race to sign up for it. Everything must be planned in the off-season and you have to prepare after signing up.
In 2012, one of my goals was to run a marathon. I made the mistake of waiting until July to sign up for one and everything in my local area was filled up. After some searching, I found a marathon about 80 miles away that was still open. It was also the very last marathon of the season in my entire state so I considered myself lucky to get in. The downside was that it required a road trip and staying in a hotel since the start time was 7:30 AM. It ended up being a great experience but I learned my lesson.
Planning out races in the winter that I want to participate in during the summer is NOT an easy thing to do. What are my goals for this season? What will I be capable of doing? How many races can I afford to register for? Should I join any clubs? There are a lot of unforeseen variables and risks involved when you mark dates on your calendar that are 6 to 9 months away.
Goal #1 : Race in the LifeTime Fitness Triathlon.
This is an Olympic triathlon which is .93 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike and 6.2 mile run. I’m ready for the bike and run portions but the swim is still a big question for me. I have swum .93 miles several times in a pool but can I do it in open water with waves, wind and a crowd of swimmers all around me? I will definitely need to spend as much time as possible swimming in the lakes during the early part of the summer to get ready. If this race goes alright, I’m going to try and register for another one in the summer.
Goal #2 : Finish a marathon with a faster time.
Last year I spent 7 weeks training and 2 weeks tapering for the Mankato marathon. This seemed to be enough but I would like to add 2 more weeks of training and 1 more week of taper this year. Armed with what I learned last time and the fact that I’m running faster right now than I ever have, I know that I can finish in well under 4 hours. But we’ll see. I have two options. Early June and mid-October. Since I don’t want to start the season with a strict training plan, I’m going with the October race.
Goal #3 : Join and train with a local triathlon club.
I’ve never done this before but a bunch of like-minded people who meet regularly to go on group runs, bike rides and lake swims sounds really cool. They also hold training clinics with special guest speakers. Things get started in April and I am really looking forward to this. I am also going to join a large bike club that organizes 1 to 3 rides every single day that range anywhere from 10 to 150 miles. Even during the winter.
In addition to these goals, I am also signing up for various 5k and 5 mile running races and a 100 mile (century) bike ride. It will be a little different having these dates set in stone before summer starts but it’s going to be a blast to participate in some major races and I can’t wait.