When I was doing my library science graduate degree at the University of Illinois, we had a really solid group of avid triathletes that came together and formed the Fighting Illini Tri Club. Far and away the most successful in our group was a German native by the name of Patrick Bless. Patrick was a German triathlete formed in the classic mold of Jurgen Zach, Thomas Hellriegel and Norman Stadler: an uber-biker paired with a solid swim and run. Since our college days he has gone pro, but even back then, we were always listening closely and picking his brain for training and racing tips that would magically make us win lots of races. I distinctly recall this gem about rest and recovery: "I took a few months off before Collegiate Nationals and then just trained really hard for a couple of weeks before the race" (he happened to win that year). Patrick on nutrition during a training ride: "Hey guys I stopped at Panera and got a bag of bagels for the ride, want one?" (they were stashed down the front of his jersey in very Euro fashion). The last bit of knowledge wasn't something I remember Patrick saying explicitly, but it was more of an observation in retrospect. Whenever he really started ramping up for a big event (he did Kona 4 or 5 times as an amateur) he raced.....a lot. From a coaching standpoint this strategy is what I would call high-risk, high-reward. If you can hold up without getting injured, racing your way into shape can be a very effective strategy. Specificity is a training term that is tossed around a lot and the reason racing is such effective training is because it is absolutely specific to race day.
|A sufficiently goofy picture of Patrick that I swiped from the internet!|
So far my "early" races have included:
- 6/18 Lexington (hometown!) 5K: 17:54 (5:46 pace)
- 7/4 Park to Park 5 mile 29:52 (5:58 pace)
- 7/9 Lifetime Fitness Olympic: 2:13 (bike was 1 mile long)
- 7/16 Evergreen Olympic: 2:06
In two weeks I will race a local sprint that I won last year. Hopefully I will be able to defend and turn in a similar time to last year's race. Unfortunately the Xterra World Championships are financially out of the picture for this year. Instead, I'm looking at the ITU Long Course World Championship in Vegas (haven't qualified yet) or possibly Branson 70.3 followed by more of a fall cyclocross focus. One way or other, I'll be out there racing!
A few pic from Lifetime Fitness: