For the big races I'll have a list of things to take, a timetable, etc - no need to go to that extent here, but I should think about what I want to achieve.
The key with a race strategy is that a target time in of itself is not a strategy. I've gone into previous races with "I want to get below a certain time", but not with anything in my head about how to achieve that other than "be faster". Not even how I was going to try and be faster. Time is not a strategy - the good finishing time is the reward for delivering the strategy.
So, here is my lightweight my-first-race-strategy approach to tomorrow. Let's see if it pays off!
Before starting: Get properly warmed up. I'm cycling to the event, so that will be a good start, but then I'm 227th on the start line, so there's a minimum of 227 x10 seconds = 37 minutes and 50 seconds until I set off. That's plenty of time to end up very cold.
- Keep warm clothes on until the last minute, don't stand around in tri-suit shivering.
- 10 minutes before my start perform some warmups - squats, high-knee running, shoulder rotation.
- In the queue visualise the swim start and first length - I lost form instantly last time and I think it cost me a considerable amount of time, let's not do that again. Think about the catch, strong powerful pull through to the end of the stroke, and a high controlled recovery - keeping long and relaxed.
- Make sure watch is set to the right mode and ready to go.
- Make sure bike shoes and run shoes are talcum-powdered.
The Swim: I haven't been focussed enough and planned my swim.
- Keep form right from the start. Don't panic.
- Put a good amount of effort in and focus on every stroke generating power.
- Avoid dead spot that I have a tendency for (I'm definitely an overglider).
- Wind up the power form length 4 - I've never tried to go fast in the swim, always to "get through it". This is a sprint, let's burn a match and try sprinting.
- Don't faff about touching the end on the last length - get out quickly.
T1: My transitions are fairly good, so more of the same:
- Brisk pace getting to my bike, get breathing under control.
- Follow the visualised T1 routine - Race belt, Helmet, Glasses.
- Brisk pace to the mount line, every second counts.
The Bike: My bike times are good compared to those around me so it's easy to get complacent. It's not that I don't put effort in, but I don't push it that extra mile. There's a 7-minute non-compete zone in-between the bike and run, so I can burn some more matches and have a few minutes to recover.
- Start fast - don't idle down to the first turn, can definitely make time here.
- Get breathing and rhythm settled on the 1.5km to first roundabout, be ready to push it on the way back.
- Push hard from the roundabout, and focus on the far turn - it's only 10km.
- After far turn, burn a match and really push for the village.
- After village there's the smooth sewerage works road to come, last 1-2km, give it everything.
T2: Again, transitions normally good, so more of the same.
- Use the 7-minute non-compete zone to gather breath and visualise T2 and run start.
- Run over the timing mat, don't start after it.
- Brisk pace out of T2.
The Run: My run is much better this year, but again lacks strategy.
- Get a good high cadence start down to the park gate - don't worry about speed yet, feel my legs and settle in.
- In the park focus on getting holding a good pace and cadence.
- Take the most direct routes across to the turn, straight lines apex to apex.
- Give a push from the corner down to the feed station.
- Hold pace round the rest of the first lap.
- Focus mentally on the final 1-1.5km.
- Push again down to the feed station, and hold it across the trail section to the grassy bit.
- Work to hold the pace across the grass.
- As soon as I get to the path, empty the tanks and give it everything right to the final corner.
- After the corner, sprint for the line.
Nutrition: Worked well last time - historically I've eaten too much but the last race felt good. Same again, please.
- Porridge and a cup of tea before we leave.
- Nothing else apart form sipping a carb drink before the race.
- No need for food or drink during the race.
- 90g Recovery XS with 450ml skimmed milk as soon as possible after finishing.
That's the strategy. I don't know if it's too much or too little to remember, I haven't tried this before.
Let's find out!