Steelhead IRONMAN 70.3
August 13, 2017
Preparing and Training to compete as a Pro for a 70.3 Triathlon
I heard, "If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you."
Now having some experience as a pro in 70.3 and the areas I know I can work on with my coach, Mark Olson, we decided to prepare an 8-week plan. I made my mind like this is the next goal, don't look further, I did concentrate on doing my best-balancing family life, mother responsibilities, work, and training.
Also working a lot on the mind, trusting my personal unique story, my life, my roots, my heart and my personal intimate dreams.
I did prioritize my rest time, nutrition and taking every workout as important as if it was a race day, even the days that we feel very bad, those days I also tried my best, and it made me feel accomplished, some how happy and proud of myself.
Looking in retrospective, when we do our best on bad days makes us feel much better on the good ones.
I also spend time visualizing.
The Race week.
Focus. Final details.
Bike: Take it to for a tune up at the best bike shop, Pedal Bicycles.
The blessed of Technology. My Garmin: I’m kind of classic or old school about training with technology. I believe in training more feeling focused rather than data and numbers. The older I grow the more simple I want to be.
This modern days triathlon training and racing (If you allow) can make your life feel complex, for some people overwhelming…… with several disciplines training, social-media, training styles, new technology, different gears, comparing times, Personal best, paces, breathing techniques… a lot of information…. everything spinning and getting faster and faster.
I enjoy the journey of simplicity makes me focus again on my roots and initial intentions with this fabulous sport.
After properly using the amazing Garmin devices have helped me in many ways, making big difference in the long run, I feel more confident, organize and also simple on training and races having the numbers under control.
Not to mention that is a plus to have a fancy light watch on the wrist to get on time to training and places.
The best race suit and gear.
I made a few mistakes with using the proper suit for long distances, my last 70.3 in Oceanside, California I did wear a very uncomfortable swimsuit not proper for long distance triathlon.
I felt suffocating on the bike and terrible on the run, that affected my race in general. Blocked my mind I was very uncomfortable, I was thinking about quitting after km 10 on the bike. I finished that race because I promised myself to do my best no matter the cost and the results.
So after the experiences… for this race, I did test a few different options of gear I have available and I made different race day scenarios. Ending with a plan A and B race suits: what to use if the Pros have wetsuits legal or not.
Also, I do a whole scanning about all the gear I need before hand for the transition, the swim, bike and run portion. And I start putting all I already have together in place and slowly checking what I have and what I need before race day with my race check list I have.
Also, make sure that race week to charge all batteries before race day: Bike shifts, power meter, Garmin Computer device, and Garmin Running Device.
The day before 70.3 Ironman Triathlon.
Usually, that day is the athlete briefing, so I plan on that. I also do a few check of the race list, hydration, making the final adjustments.
How to get to transition area on race day, also preparing my daughter and house stuff.
I finally discover that it helps me tons to not to do extra stuff the day before race day, that’s why I spend days preparing all race details as best as I can a few days before, so I can relax early after briefing and enjoy dinner and watch a funny movie and try to go to bed early.
That’s the “best scenario”.
The alarm clock always makes me a little nervous about not waking up, so that’s what I do the visualization technique weeks before race day so I have a good taper week rest nights, so I do not need to worry if I don't have “enough” hours of sleep the night of race day, 2-3 nights before race day are more important to have good quality hours of sleep.
New Mind set: Triathlon for me is like a hurdle race.
4:00 AM Alarm
After few bad stomach experience, I finally found what is best for my picky stomach on race day.
Oatmeal and Coffee. Period. (Dominican Style)
5:00 AM Drive to Race Venue
During the Pro Athlete Briefing, they said that depends on the water condition on race morning wetsuits will allow for Pros.
Personally, I don’t mind using wetsuit or not, but the race suit that I had planed to use if the race was with wetsuit, wasn’t proper for swimming with a not wetsuit.
Feeling comfortable during a 4+ hours race and draft free at pro level or at any level can make a big impact on your mind and your general performance.
The day before the race the water temperature was wetsuit legal for Pros, and I assumed on race day that was still the same, and with a lot of details going on my mind, I did not check the information on race day, I saw all age groupers with wetsuit, it was a cold morning.
6:30 AM Transition closes 6:45 Am
Did my transition preparation, pumping wheels, focusing on every detail on the bike, nutrition, and all run gear etc. Last time to go to the toilet. Getting ready with my swim gear, put on my wetsuit and then head to start line.
7:00 AM Pro males start.
I saw all Pros with NO wetsuit. I started freaking out as I did not have my Plan B gear with me. I started to look for my family in the middle of the multitude, I was starting to freakout.
7:10 Am -In 5 minutes Pro Females Start.
And I was the only one wearing wetsuit, and I thought… OMG.
I don't have the proper gear on to swim under wetsuit… I don't have time to change… I was almost having a meltdown…(all this in a few seconds.)
For some reason, something came to my mind and I thought: “Raquel is just another race do not freak out… is just a stupid race, you will be fine”
Therefore, I stayed in line, saw my daughter and she told me “Mami you do not need that” she does not understand but I felt it was a strong message coming to me at the right time… I took my wetsuit off, a few pro women including the first place came to me and hugged me and told me you will be fine, and made me literally smile. I did overcome that first big obstacle, that in the past something like that used blocked my mind.
Swim: 1,900 Meters Open Water.
So I swam with the bike gear. I did not warm up, but the adrenaline of those few minutes of stress made me warm.
And the minutes before the gun went off, I was focusing on having good positive thoughts and trying to focus on the present moment, like start position, and how I will do the swim.
I felt incredible during the swim, I was leading almost top 4 all the time, and felt very relaxed and comfortable. As I planned and practiced during training and visualization. Trying to enjoy and be present here and now in every stroke, kick breathing, and avoiding thinking about the whole swim, transition, biking or running. Mantra: “Here and now, Raquel Here and now. Enjoy the present, enjoy this opportunity.”
Transition 1: Got out of water top 4 and saw my daughter with an inspirational board she made for me a few races ago, and that naturally made me smile.
This was a long transition, with a 150 meters sand out of water part, and then a long run until bike mount.
Bike: 90 kms.
The Nutrition is very important for this distance, and I have a picky stomach. I made a commitment to focus on:
Keep on my forehead my Mantras that help me being mentally focused, strong and positive. Very thankful to have my super fancy smart Gamin device from Pedal Bicycles and my fabulous fast bike I got form my amazing sponsor RH Mejia & corp.
Nutrition on the bike?
One of my weakness, everyone is different on tastes.
I have read and learned from the highest level triathletes in the world. That everyone has different styles, and not everything work for everyone.
I finally discovered what type of products works for me and what doesn’t.
I did have some gels with water and some electrolyte water product.
And I kept on the plan.
How my Garmin computer helps me on the bike?
I believe and love the old school type of training. “feeling base training”.
Most time we need to go with the flow, around 2 years ago when I did my very first long triathlon, a very respectful coach told me. “You do not have a power meter? having a power meter on long distance is like legal cheating.”
Having a device of speed or power for long distance (no draft legal) race can be an incredible tool in your favor, more if you are going on a hardcore league.
If you know your speed (Having a speed device or power) and make a “race pace” plan, you can focus on keep on that zone instead of thinking on how hard you are “feeling” the work.
This helps you to use your energy efficiently, and keep you on track and focus when feeling alone on the 56 miles, and helps to avoid the boring comfort zone.
A few others pro woman passing me I was passing some, I really did try to push my self and stay on the plan as best as I can, hydrating and being smart to stay safe on the road.
I thought wow that was fast, I would stay on plan.
Saw I lot of Pro women bikes still on the rack and I told myself you are doing great.
Keep focus. Had the final gel on transition, but did not had it. (My bad)
Run: Half Marathon- 21k
I made a sort of “plans” A, B, and C.
Plan A: was to stay on race goal pace (4:15 m/km).
Plan B: was to stay on my limits of “race pace” (4:40 m/km).
Plan C: Work your mind. Shout-up and run lol
Mistake: I did not make a specific plan for nutrition or hydration during the run.
Having a Garmin Multi-Sport or running watch definitely, helps a lot.
Having the running pace in big numbers on my wrist help me in many ways, focus, pushed me, and help me to stay close to the plans.
First 5 k I was going faster than race plan and felt fresh and super strong. I passed 2 female pros. I did not know the run course elevation, so after second hill I dropped my pace, and yes negative thoughts arrived… Bla bla….
Km 8 I was slower… and girls passed me… thoughts fights…. Negatives VS positives…
Km 10, below race pace limits. Then another Pro passed me… I thought she looks more tired than me… Go Raquel Fix it… Fix it… you still have 10 KM to fix the damage… DO NOT throw in the towel! I did focus on getting some coke and see if I can fight.
Km 15 Did not have anything on the hydration station beside water and coke, I made the mistake of not having enough calories for the 4 all out event. The coke after 15 k make me a little more energetic. So I kept the Plan B race pace to the finish line. With a more humble and positive mindset.
Km 17 I was trying literally to “save the race”… having red bull and coke, and keeping positive and happy until the finish line. :)
Discipline: Deadlines. Countdown. Commitment. Goals. Persistence. Patience. Consistency. Positivity. Faith.
Triathlon, like life you can’t control all that happens, but you have the power to control your mind and how your react every step, every obstacle until the finish line.
I learned about how much we can change a situation just having a positive attitude, I know is not easy at the beginning, this is a HARD but incredible skill that can be a new habit we can apply in all areas of life. Ir brings you a pattern, this attitude makes you feel relax and also bring self-confident even in tough situations.