#22 Test taking anxiety, “Aero” Peter Cottontail and getting ready for ANYTHING

Wait…..first things first….THANKS for reading.  I’m over 1000 views (this was my goal)….but don’t stop reading now, it’s just getting to the good part!


So this week I found myself getting near the final training stretch before the “big race”…….and it has been a very interesting week to say the least……after having a blast in Boston acting as PACER for my brother Eric who despite having to pull some gutsy “dig-down” moments out of his hat, was able to PR…….it was time for me to get down to the business of peaking right.


So after Monday’s zippy 9-miler o’er the hills in Boston, I decided getting off my legs for a few days would be wise.  I swam on Tuesday (I need to get in the water frequently over the next 2 weeks to concentrate on form), took Wednesday off, did a 90 min bike + 30 min run on Thursday which felt great, took Friday and Saturday off and then did my final “virtual veyo wall” ride (a 3 hour ride on the indoor trainer) + 60 minutes of running in full race-day regalia.  

This means compression tank top, compression shorts, calf sleeves (bright blue and red), racing shoes (bright yellow and white), a pretty goofy looking belt with water bottles, 2 watches, sunglasses and my good-luck addidas hat…….which of course is only barely outlandish by triathlon standards, but a bit over the top by neighborhood running standards…..someone beeped on their way by, and I as I waved, I thought to myself “wonder who that was”…..”were they beeping b/c they knew me, or just to point out how dumb I look right now”…..call it the Easter Spirit…..dressing up like an Easter Egg.

Anyway, today, the bike was pretty tiring, but the run felt solid……which is encouraging.  Right now, if I do this thing right, I should be feeling strongest on the run b/c I’ve left enough in the tank….that’s the theory anyway.


For those who haven’t heard the term, “Peaking” is about the final push prior to raceday.  Most people call it tapering, but some of the science has shown that the idea of gradually slowing by cutting back both volume and intensity isn’t the best strategy.  So some of the gurus have moved to the term “peaking” which gives the more accurate mental picture……that is, trading some volume for some intensity……finding that “extra gear”. 

The trick with peaking is to push the system hard, but not so hard that you can’t recover; to be in a fully rested and repaired state before race day……shorter, more intense sessions and therefore some “found time”.  


Unfortunately, this is where my inexperience as a racer sometimes gets me into trouble.  Truth is, between a long history in sports, a formal degree that is heavy in physiology, a profession that has me working within the realm of “human achievement” quite often and my now 3 years of relatively intense endurance training, I’ve amassed a pretty solid base of knowledge on how to get ready for the big race……and coaching others to perform well is a natural offshoot of that knowledge…..however, the only way to become a great racer (which of course is much different than a good racer) is to, well, race…….and since I’ve not spent years racing (this will be my third triathlon and my forth race over 3 hour duration), I find myself much more comfortable training than racing……so right about now is when it goes from mostly physical, to mostly mental……test taking anxiety of sorts and my coping mechanism is that I try to put as much energy (and my found time) into anticipating variables as I have previously into making sure the body is ready for the challenge.  People so often in the last couple weeks have asked me “are you ready?” and I’m not being evasive when I say “I think I’m almost prepared, as in, I think physically I can do it, but I’m not sure if I’m really ready”……truth is, there are so many variables in a race this long that it’s impossible to plan for them all, but anything I can do to eliminate or minimize them, I’m up for.


OK, this is a bit much.
High on my list right now is acclimatizing to the potential environment……hmm, the SouthWestern Utah, as in, desert in early May.  OK, heat acclimation training right?  Yes, I’ll be putting some time in the sauna…..no, I’m not going to go “badwater” where I’m told that the participants pull treadmills into saunas to prepare for this 135 mile race where your shoes literally melt to the pavement as you run…..but I am going to try to build some tolerance…..far less comfortable for me is the other side of the spectrum.  What?  Cold prep for a dessert race?  Yep!  The water temp of the Sand Hollow Lake is currently listed at 55 degrees…..which if you consider a typical shower is somewhere around/over 100 degrees, it’s darn COLD.  Sure I’ll have a wetsuit, but there are stories from last year where people shivered for 30 minutes or longer before they could even get dressed to get on their bike……dreadful.  So, since it is actually possible to get acclimated to cold water, I’m trying to.  Friday night was my first attempt and I got up to my hips and down to my elbows…….it was pretty miserable…..tonight is my next attempt (after I finish typing this of course).  Others on my list include getting my gear shipped to the right places at the right times, figuring out a real race strategy, nailing down my nutrition plan (I’m pretty close I think), figuring out what I’ll put in my “special needs” bags (at mile 56 on the bike and mile 13 on the run you can enter a special tent and pick up your stashed stuff……you know, sunscreen, fresh socks, “second skin”, various skin lubricants, etc) and most importantly, where to get the physique ruining post-race meal that I’ve been promising myself……

Next week I have 2 more race-simulations and a few good swims planned…..and then it’s off to the Desert to make some final preparations…….getting close.


Sidebar: Thanks Kenny C for a great article on “Peaking”.

What’s cool about the “endurance community” is that there is such a deep respect amongst the doers.  Not that there isn’t a competitive spirit, clearly there is, but that people compete as much with themselves as with others and so are apt to share lessons learned.  This time, it was a client-colleague Kenny C, who in addition to being someone I work with here and there, is nearing “grand master” status in the running realm.  He is currently seeking the vaunted “50 in 50” title, a marathoners Odyssey, where the runner completes at least 1 marathon in each of the 50 states…….he’s well on his way and is very gracious in sharing wisdom gained along the way.  Thanks Kenny!


Hey, leave no turn un-stoned…..(Jay Stone, KUPD)

Mike E.