Now that I have no silly swimming races with which to distract myself, the unavoidable disaster that is looming closer by the minute is The Straddie Salute.
I signed up for this race just before Christmas, as a way to bridge the massive gap between my baby Bribie Triathlon (300m-10km-3km) and the Olympic distance Noosa Triathlon coming in October (1.5km-40km-10km)
And suddenly the Straddie race day is only 7 weeks away on Saturday! Which means THE TAPER is only 6 weeks away. Which means PEAK WEEK is only 5 weeks away. Which means it is time to FREAK OUT.
Let me explain.
First, the disclaimer: If you have read even a snippet of any other post on this blog, you’re probably well aware that I have only done the one baby triathlon and I really have no idea about how to train for any kind of triathlon event. I repeat: no idea. I am making all of this up as I go along. And even though my massive ego may trick you into thinking I am confident about my abilities, I’m not. So I nervously request that you do not attempt to incorporate anything I am doing into your own routine just because I am doing it, unless you are an imbecile. You may not be planning a peak week. You may not need a taper.
But I am in love with the triathlon lingo – especially PEAK WEEK as it clearly suggests that I am going to somehow be a much better version of the crap triathlete I currently am. The phrase itself is loaded with the promise of a top performance of dizzying heights, the promise of finally meeting the Unicorn that is Improvement, and ultimately, the promise of reaching that light at the end of the tunnel where I will face the pinnacle of training pain before we peel it all back… to reveal a well-oiled triathlon machine.
So of course I am incorporating a PEAK WEEK into my training calendar. I Googled how to include it and just stuck it on in. And yes, I wrote it in capitals in the calendar, too. It looks professional and very impressive (see above). I had already written down a few basic ideas of the workouts I’d do that week, but they look far more exciting now that my computer is screaming PEAK WEEK at me from the same little boxes.
I have also included a 4-day TAPER (I decided that a week would be overkill for a sprint triathlon, but again you may feel very differently and that is OK. OK?) which basically involves a very short, flat run, a very short, fun swim and a very slow, easy bike ride plus a rest day. Simple.
I wrote TAPER in capitals too, but only because I know (thanks to the one-day taper I did for the Bribie Tri) that I will try to deny its existence when we get to it and I will have to stay strong and force myself not to panic-run or panic-ride or panic-swim roughly three hundred kilometres during those days in a last-minute dash to try and make up for being so rubbish at absolutely everything.
It’s entirely possible that I will also need to give my wallet to my partner, Shane during the TAPER madness. Because during my one-day Bribie taper I got online and spent too many dollars on a new dress, then went to the local shopping centre for some face-to-face retail therapy as well. If that goes on for 4 days straight in the lead-up to Straddie, I wont have any money left for gels or beer, which could be disastrous.
NOTE: The beer is for after the race, don’t worry.
So, the PEAK and the TAPER are locked in. And having updated my calendar with these magic triathlon words, I sat back to survey the journey mapped out in front of me. And for the first time it dawned on me that I am really going to do these big distances. And I have 5 weeks left in which to ‘peak’. A 750m swim, a 20km bike ride and an 8km run. More than double the distance of the Bribie Tri. Without the breaks like I get in training. In a race.
My hands started to go cold and sweaty. My mouth went dry. Short sentences are so dramatic.
I logged onto Instagram to try to distract myself – what a mistake. Instagram only made it worse because the one and only other person I sort-of know who is doing the Straddie Salute had left me a message there to say that she has signed up for another baby triathlon (her fourth) in April. Because she needed more practice before The Big One that is Straddie.
Now, I know that everyone is different and needs different training. I know there are – what is the phrase – a thousand ways to skin a cat. Eugh, gross. Whatever – I know that I am doing things a bit differently from everyone else and that’s alright.
But I also know (although it is hard for my ego to admit) that I sometimes get things wrong. And I don’t want that to happen too often if possible.
So let’s call this lady (the one who is doing the Straddie Salute alongside me, who just signed herself up to do her fourth baby tri beforehand) Kirsty. Mainly because that is her name. Hopefully she doesn’t mind me talking about her.
Kirsty clearly doesn’t have a massive ego, because she has done three baby triathlons and kicked bottom in all of them. Rumour has it, she even kicked a shark’s bottom in one of them. That’s impressive, I’m sure you’d agree. But, she feels she needs more practice before tackling the Straddie Salute.
On the other hand, there is disillusioned, moronic me who has done one – yes 1! – baby triathlon and will soon be launching straight into Straddie and then Noosa. Possibly because I have a massive ego.
I left Kirsty a little reply on Instagram, chuckling that we are approaching things so differently and that I should share some of my over-confidence with her. But then I sat quietly and commenced ‘Stage 2 panic mode’ – Google All The Things. Because when in doubt, Google is there for you.
My initial search results confirmed my worst fear – simply writing PEAK WEEK into your training calendar does not guarantee any kind of peak in performance. So really someone in the Triathlon organisation of the world needs to add an asterisk after the phrase PEAK WEEK – something along the lines of *Individual results may vary.
My next search was for information on this race that Kirsty had signed up for. An ‘enticer’ race, she had called it – possibly an oxymoron because I am really not sure that ‘enticing’ and ‘triathlon’ are two words that makes sense together. Again, someone in Triathlon land needs to get their act together because I feel that misleading people in this manner could have serious legal ramifications.
The race is on the 10th of April and costs just over $60 to enter. I had looked at the longer distance tri (being held on the same day) when I was searching for my bridging race last year, but found the Straddie Salute and decided to enter that instead because it gave me an extra month to train. I hadn’t even considered the ‘enticer’ distance race, which is a 300m swim, 10km cycle and 2.5km run.
So then I asked Google ‘how many triathlons should I try before my first sprint’ and poor Google didn’t understand, because as far as it was concerned, the only question anyone should be asking is ‘how many sprint triathlons should I try before my first Olympic Distance’.
So ‘Panic Mode 2 – Google All The Things’ quickly escalated into Panic Mode Three – Make a Pros and Cons List. Which is exactly what I did. And the answer became clear.
Although I haven’t met Kirsty yet, it’s fair to say she is very clever. She uses long words and stuff. She has a personal trainer. She does things called ‘sprint sessions’ in the pool. She will have completed 4 triathlons as part of her preparations for Straddie. Also, she seems really nice and honest and down to earth, so I can’t even pretend that I don’t care what she is doing.
If you are reading this Kirsty, damn you for being so nice.
So it was with some extreme nerves and butterflies in the stomach that I decided not to follow her lead and head to the enticing race on the 10th of April.
Firstly, I have to stick with my plan as much as possible for my own sanity. Straddie is not my ‘A’ race – Noosa is. If I need more practice, it is at the Straddie distances, not the Bribie distances. Which is a scary and awful thing to admit, but true nonetheless. The baby/enticer distances just aren’t going to cut it for me in my attempts to get to Noosa.
If I don’t stick to the plan, but add this race in, I am going to be in extra-hard freak-out mode for the next two weeks. And I will be distracted from my training, which is currently going along, not very well, but OK-ish. I am distracted enough by chocolate Easter eggs; my mind can’t handle too many things at once.
Adding this race into my plan would also mean that my spectators would want to rearrange their weekend too – and by this, I mean Shane would have to rearrange his weekend. He is putting up with my triathlon crap like a champion and I fear that a long day driving to and from the Gold Coast (where the race is taking place) would tip him over the edge.
Plus, that’s just not how I’ve imagined my triathlon story, for the past 6 months. I’ve romanticised my three-step plan to glory, whereby I smash the Bribie and Straddie distances and then struggle through to a smile and a fist-pump at the finish line of Noosa. I’ve played that video many times in my tiny brain and I should probably stick to the script.
Not to mention, the $60 I could spend on something way more fun, the new goggles I’d have to buy (yes, the goggle shopping is turning into a bit of an ongoing saga really) and the Grimsey’s Adult Swimfit session I’d miss out on.
The only pro I could think of was the chance to practice and possibly boost my confidence. I say possibly, because what if I entered the enticer tri and did really badly? Then I’d be even more terrified of Straddie.
So no, I wont enter. I’ll continue to just freak out about the training: that’s enough for me.
But let it be known that I am impressed with – and in awe of – Kirsty’s approach. And it just goes to show that nothing you read on this blog is necessarily typical of a triathlete’s journey. Your own journey can be totally different, too.
And when we get to the finish line of the Straddie Salute, Kirsty and I will high-five and hug each other because no matter what path a triathlete takes, every single person’s path is hard and takes all the effort they have available. And we are all amazing.