Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dress Rehearsal

In my industry, any major event requires multiple tests/mocks of the event and then within weeks of going "live", we do one final practice.  Coincidentally, the terminology we use in the IT industry was stolen from my wife's industry:
dress rehearsal is a rehearsal or series of rehearsals in which the ensemble dresses as they will dress at the performance for the audience.
Basically, mimic the entire event from start to finish without actually doing the event.  Why not do this in my new multi-sport life as well?  You are supposed to practice your transitions, practice brick workouts to get your body acclimated to changing from swim to bike or bike to swim in one workout session.  Why not put them together just like the real event?  So this became the Scotty B Invitational Dress Rehearsal Triathlon!

I did have some reservations doing this 8 days before my first triathlon.  You wouldn't run 26.2 miles a week before your first marathon.  Heck, I wouldn't even run 26.2 total miles the entire week before.  However, I decided that this upcoming week is going to be very light on the workouts, except for maybe one day of the week.

So, I kickstarted my planning.  I built my spreadsheet of things to pack, a workflow of how each transition should go, things left to buy, questions left to research/ask, and a timeline of the overall dress rehearsal (surprised I didn't have conference calls setup as checkpoints with my wife, swim partner, bike partner, and running partner to talk about how things are going... my coworkers will appreciate this reference).

By Friday evening, I was all set and started to pack:

Click to enlarge (that's what he said)
I can be somewhat fanatical when it comes to preparation.  I enjoy that as much as the actual event.  My checklist:

I will plan to share this once it's finalized.

Everything in its "Transition Bag".  Can't believe I got the bike in the bag.
My Transition 2 (T2) items were staying home, so didn't pack them.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had set up a time to meet with a coworker to do the open water swim. In addition, I was planning to meet a friend halfway through my bike to join me for the ride, and then at home, Joe VI was to be waiting for me to join me on my run.  Not only was I doing a dress rehearsal, I lined up a pseudo-relay team as well!

Dress Rehearsal Day - Pre-"Race"
The plan was for me to get up at 4:45am (er... 5:00am).  Breakfast of bagel with peanut butter and a banana.  Setup T2 at 5:30am at home and on the road at 5:45am.  Arrive at the lake for the open water swim (OWS) at 6:30am.  Everything after that will just happen as it happens.  I'm not a fan of allowing others to control my pre-race timeline, if you remember from the race report on my marathon

T2 - Waiting for me to arrive 3 to 4 hours later.
Getting more use out that deep freezer in the garage.
Open Water Swim
We arrived at Smithville Lake (a man-made lake) around 6:30am and finally met Scott P. in person.  He is a great guy and I appreciated his patience and words of wisdom.  He has 3 years of experience and about 20 triathlons on me.  I slipped wrangled on my wetsuit and off to the swim area as TKB went for a run.  I had hopes of setting up a T1 area but it was going to be unsupervised, so I elected to just work out of my transition bag when the swim was over.

Air temperature was at 47 degrees but the lake temperature was 65 degrees (according to the US Army Corp of Engineers).  This must have been helped by the spat of 90 degree days we had earlier in the week.

Members of my family will probably remember the YEARS of going out on my parents boat and me refusing to get in the water.  I couldn't stand the idea of getting into water that was too murky to see the bottom.  I did eventually get over this with age but still have hesitation jumping into a lake.  I MUST have a life jacket (it's the law, right?) and typically won't be the first one in.  Now, open water swims don't start in the middle of the lake but it was still weird voluntarily getting into the lake to swim.

The wetsuit was amazing!  With the buoyancy and the warmth I could barely tell a difference in temperature when I got in the water.   We did laps from one end of the swim area to the other.  It took about 200 yards to get back to my normal form.  Not seeing anything in the water was as creepy as I expected.  Sighting was still a challenge, so I may do a few short swims this week either at the Y or meeting up with Scott again and work on it at the lake.

We probably barely did 500 yards before getting out.  I hope I didn't cut it short for Scott but I was ready to get on the road.

Transition 1
T1 -- Yes, I still had my swim cap on.
There was no rush during this transition.  I did try to get my wetsuit off pretty quickly and it did come off faster wet than dry.  As mentioned above, it was 47 degrees and cloudy.  There was wind coming from the north.  If it had at least been sunny, it would have made a lot of difference; however, I elected to put on my bike jacket for the ride home.  I still went with the Tri Shorts for the ride/run.  I probably would have slipped on tights if I brought them, but glad I didn't.  Besides the jacket, I also opted for wearing socks in my bike shoes. I normally don't.

Hoping many all drivers see this and decide to avoid it...
One thing I've noticed when preparing for my rides and mentally grabbing a hold of what I'm about to do that I always get nervous with the feat; however, once I'm in it I absolutely love it.

The ride was uneventful but I did experience a few things:
  • My Garmin can get wonky and so it kind of jacked up my first part of the ride.  It was saying I was riding 35 - 40mph through the parking lot.  It eventually self-corrected.
  • Unfortunately Aaron wasn't able to meet me on the route but he made quite an effort to do so. I applaud him for that!
  • The route was mostly through farmlands.  At one point I was riding along a section of farmland with fenced in livestock.  There was a dog on the inside of the fence running step for pedal with me.  Nearing the end of the property I was expecting the dog to slowdown before it hit the fence.  10 feet... 5 feet.. 1 foot.... still full speed!  I then quickly realized why...  the fence was open and the dog came after me!  I kicked it up and when I started reaching for the water bottle to spray him I guess it decided I didn't have enough meat on this lanky frame of mine and gave up chase.  Whew.
  • Around mile 16 I saw another cyclist on the road.  Finally, a fish to reel in.  After a couple miles I caught up with him but only because he stopped on the hill before my next turn.  At the bottom there was a public safety office with flashing police lights on his car and neon green cones set out.  There was obviously a ride/race going on.  I told the Public Safety officer "I'm going this way" and he didn't stop me, so cool.  I did a little research and this was called the Jack and Coke Bike Ride.  I can get behind that!
  • I love the camaraderie of cyclists.  I love how they always wave at you when passing on the road.
The ride itself was very good.  I tried not to push it too hard.  The temperature did not bother me at all and it was nice having the tailwind most of my route.  I averaged 16.3 moving pace but that is probably inflated with the couple miles of recording my pace of 35 - 40 mph at the start.  I tried to hydrate as much as I could but with the weather as cold as it was I had more snot dripping from my nose than sweat.

Time: 1:38
Distance: 26.8 miles

Transition 2
This went as planned.  I asked TKB to leave the truck out of the garage and have the door up.  I popped off my bike, changed shoes, changed head gear, and off Joe VI and I went!

While I might not have held off speed on the bike I more than made up for it on the run.  We averaged a good 10 minute pace on the run.  I plan to go 8 minute or better next weekend, which more mimics my brick runs.

Time: 1:03
Distance: 6.22 miles

Following the ride, my right foot felt weird.  Almost as if my sock had a wrinkle in it.  After a mile, that all went away and I was back to normal.  The heart rate was definitely running a little on the high side the first mile as well.

I was VERY pleased with how the day went.  My planning proved out as a total success.  Not once did I  regret missing something, nor did I think I brought too much.  While I couldn't fully set up my transition area since T1 and T2 were 27 miles away from each other, I do plan to be minimalistic in the actual layout.  I'll set it up in my living room this week to confirm.

Getting my first OWS out of the way is such a major stress relief.  I hope to get out to Smithville once this week and hopefully get in 700 - 800 meters in.  This OWS was more getting acclimated to the suit and so I didn't really do a good full swim on.


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  2. Jill... in these parts we call them "Requirements Clarifications".

  3. Just found your blog....good luck on your tri! And kudos to doing a test run in your wetsuit and OWS. It IS very different than a pool swim...and you'll have lots of other swimmers to contend with to boot. The practice was key!