Race Week - Azalea 2015

As I mentioned the other day, it's race week. Azalea is the first race of the season and the launch of my triathlon year. I admit, this is not an A RACE for me. I am not primed for it - I'm not in sprint tri condition -  but I am looking forward to it. In fact, I'm so excited that my bike is already prepped, my transition bag is almost packed and my race plan is written. Here's why: 

TEAM TRI-UMPHS: I'm most excited to do this race with my team. This race has become our tri club's signature race. It's a hometown race with a setup that allows everyone to see each other out on the course. I can't wait to see my friends and teammates out there. This time, like most years, we have triathlon beginners. So as their coach, I can't wait to see them cross the finish line! Plus, we're headed to the Mellow Mushroom for a post-race celebration. Yum!

TriClub at Azalea 2014

TriClub at Azalea 2014

MENTAL METTLE: I have been working a lot on my mental game for the past few months. I'm doing a few new things mentally that I haven't done in the past. The main one is to be focused on the process over the outcome. I've used this one before, but I need LOTS of practice. I tend to get anxious if I'm not going as fast as I think I should or I don't finish under my goal time. To get me out of that bad habit, I'm using this race to practice my shoulder rotation and bilateral breathing in the swim, I'm going to focus on my effort and cadence on the bike and I'm going to focus on my posture and breath on the run. 

My First Azalea Tri [2009] -
My newest mental skill is visualization. This is completely new and I'm not very good at it, BUT, I've been practicing it for weeks and plan to do it before the race. The premise is that I've been using imagery to see myself doing well, racing fast and feeling great so that when I'm in the moment, my body and brain react as if they've been there before. In my mind, I've practiced 12 lengths of the pool, I've counted my strokes, heard the voices on the pool deck, tasted the chlorine (only on my third and twelfth length), felt the water rush by as I streamline off the wall. I've rehearsed the transitions and imagined it over and over, with a stopwatch to see if I can do it all in under one minute. I've replayed the bike and run in my head and used past races to feel that threshold breath, to remember the tangents on the course and feel that burn in my legs. I've even practiced with the video that I created last year. 

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I've been sick for the past few weeks and have missed eleventy practices. Instead, I've been rehearsing the race in my brain.  I may not be faster, but I'm hoping that this will help me save energy, push a little harder and anticipate the obstacles that come with racing.   

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE: Although this race is not a prime race for me, I plan to race my hardest and best. I'm practicing mental skills, I'm practicing new swim skill, I'm practicing going hard, I'm practicing the nutrition. The idea is that if I practice now on a smaller race that I'll be primed for my May half iron at White Lake. 
The definition of PRACTICE is to carry out, apply; to do or perform often, customarily or habitually; to be professionally engaged in; to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient; to train by repeated exercises. 
Training makes me a better athlete, racing makes me a better racer. Practicing will put good habits into place, physically and mentally that will carry over into the rest of the year. By the time I face Ironman Florida on November 7 [248 days, 20 hours, 47 minutes], I will be proficient! 


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