Thursday, November 5, 2009

My next BIG race

Wow, over a month since I've updated my blog. But, it is probably because I've been racing almost every weekend. Race reports that I have yet to do:
  • PBR tri
  • Rock y Road 50/50
  • Tinfoilman Tri

They will be out of order, as I hate holding up the blog for race reports. I'd better get on it because the Casa Grande Tri is this weekend, which would add another report to the list. But, Casa Grande is an important one, because it's Zac's first duathon! (I'm not counting Muddy Buddy, because that's a cutesy event and not really a race).

So, onto the big news. I have a coach! Yes a real live, living, breathing coach! And why would I do this after 5 years of triathon? Because of next season's "A" race. Let's go over the race first and then the coach stuff. So what is next year's big race? Another Ironman? Ha! You are so wrong if you thought that.

Next year's big race is:

XTERRA Saipan on March 13, 2010. I know what you're asking...where the heck is Saipan? About a 3 hr flight south of Japan, near Guam. Google Map here. It's not a race that I've been thinking about forever. Rather a few months and the pieces fell together. Zac has been racking up the frequent flyer miles at work, so I of course, have come up with an ingeious way to spend those miles. To do a race there would be pretty cool. The course is crazy hard, but awesome. The swim is in the ocean over a coral reef, the bike goes through the jungle, and the run takes racers through the tunnels the Japanese dug during WWII. Saipan is considered to be part of the Western XTERRA region (it's a commonwealth of the US), so points count towards my regional standings. But THE most important reason for doing this race: it's a qualifier for the XTERRA World Championships on Maui! (That's like Ironman Kona for the road triathletes out there).

That's the plan. Go to Saipan in March and try my best to qualify in my age group for a world championship slot. XTERRA is similar to Ironman in that they have a lottery system for slots to Maui. The lottery opens in January, and because XTERRA is smaller compared to Ironman, chances are pretty good on getting in via the lottery. But I know if I apply for the lottery, that will be a safety net. I want to fly without a net. I want to qualify and I think I can do it. This is why it was time to get super serious and find a coach to get me there.

There are very few XTERRA training plans out there compared to other training plans. You can find 100s of Ironman training plans, like "20 days to your first Ironman," "Iroman Training on 3 hours a day," and "The peanut butter Ironman diet." Ok, so maybe I made those up but some plans are about that level of crazy. Look for XTERRA and you won't find much. The plans and magazine articles that are out there are for "finishing your first XTERRA" and not "kicking ass at XTERRA." Plus, if I have a shot at a qualifying slot, I want to be the most prepared possible, and to know I did everything training-wise to get there. I needed to get a real live coach.

So how did I go about finding one? This is where the super fabulous Tucson Tri Girls come in. We have several coaches that sponsor the club. Over the years I've heard them speak, so that helped me to narrow it down. But the top personal requirements I had in finding a coach were:

  1. Has to be a mountain biker - This is the key portion of the XTERRA race, and the most technical. I wanted someone who knows what it's like to climb crazy hills covered in scree and go bombing down rocky descents. More importantly, they need to be able to tell me what I need to do training-wise to be a better racer on the mountain bike leg.
  2. Has to know what XTERRA is, and already trained other XTERRA athletes - XTERRA triathlons are completely different than road triathlons, and I wanted someone that knows how different the races are and how different the training is.
  3. I have to like and trust them - I'm not going to listen and follow the training plan of someone I don't like or "click" with. I'm going to be investing a lot of time, money, and effort into this, so I have to trust that the training plan they come up with is the correct one.
  4. Has to be about balance - I'm not quitting my job to train for XTERRA. I'm an age grouper, not a pro, so I wanted someone that would allow for the balance of training and real life.
  5. Affordable - Holy cow cost can get out of control when you're looking for personalized coaching! I do have other expenses and didn't want to take out another mortgage to cover coaching services.
  6. Has to be in Tucson - I wanted someone that could tell me to go climb Mt. Lemmon or go run the Rillito River path, or to do my run in the morning to avoid the heat because it's a tough workout. This also helps in meeting face-to-face with the coach for #3.
  7. Has to listen to my feedback and not think I'm crazy - Yeah, so it may be a huge leap to go from my lollygagging training to possible qualifier. But they have to think it's possible, and not think my goals are nuts. Thanks. :)
  8. Has to work with the full spectrum of athletes - I like people that work with the people that want to get fit as well as the people that want to be pro racers (and not just work with the pro racer crowd). The coaches that do this seem to be very down to earth and realistic about training and goals.

With all of that I did my research and selected Scott Blanchard of Pyramid Coaching. Scott is a super cool guy as he has done several clinics and speaking events with the Tri Girls, and is a national pro mountain biker. When we had our first meeting, Scott had already looked up the Saipan race and was excited about it. That made me even more excited about it. He felt we could get my fitness up to where it should be and didn't think my goals were completely nuts. Sold!

I went in and got my anerobic threshold testing done, which set up my heart rate zones for training. I had to actually search through my house and find the HR monitor strap that goes with my Garmin because I never used it. I used to follow my HR zones when I was first starting out in triathlon 5 years ago, and quickly abandoned them. Scott sets up all the training based on zones, so I had to get wired back up and start getting into the habit of wearing the strap on my workouts. Last week was my first full week of training on the Pyramid plan. It made me realized how much I had been loafing...pretty much all this past year. I kind of took this year off after last year's Ironman AZ deal, and now I'm mentally refreshed and ready to go after the next crazy goal. But the thing is, I'm really looking forward to this race, and getting to Maui would be awesome and rank above IMAZ in my book. :)


Jen said...

Wow! That race looks AWESOME! Happy training :)

Nico said...

Looks really good!!!!