The taper is something I’m constantly curious about, tweaking each time to see what might set me up better than before. My taper depends upon what came before, how I’m feeling leading into the week, what work-related events I’ve got going on, and what my travel schedule for the race looks like. My Racine 70.3 taper experience surfaced during a timespan within which I’d be competing in 3 half-ironmans over the course of a short 6 weeks, and for me, that was more frequent racing at longer distances than I’d ever done before. My secret tip is to be super flexible during taper week – stressing about getting in the training takes a physical toll – and always prioritize sleep, rest, and recovery over workouts. She who toes the line freshest wins!
Over the weekend: Test out the race wheels and race day set up, double check the details- like having the right size tube for flat repair (which is different sizing than my training wheels) and a smaller CO2 head (which I learned this week – the disk wheel only takes a smaller sized device, sometimes flats during training are a real blessing, I had to learn this somehow!), grocery shop for travel snacks, do laundry, run by TriShop to get my race day nutrition, tune up the bike, clean it, just get as much out of the way as possible so the week leading up provides more time for R&R. Training looked pretty normal this weekend, backed off the long run quite a bit though but still got in a long ride, short brick run, and open water swim. I’ve found I can take that on as long as I back it way off Monday-Saturday leading up to a Sunday race. Between races, I had a recovery week, one week of solid volume, and a taper week, so I had to take advantage of the weekend’s training.
Monday: 60-90 minute easy unstructured ride where I spend time visualizing the race, and me winning 😉 I will do this in the morning and also get in a short swim set with some longer race-pace sets like 2 x 600 holding sub 1:20/100 yard pace. One of my tips is to keep your evenings clear – get your training done in the AM. Use evenings for race prep or R&R. (Keep in mind, I work during the day, so I’ve only got my early AM’s and later PM’s flexible.) This week, I used my Monday night to pack. Ah, so amazing to have things (mostly) organized well in advance, I find that I’m so much less stressed later in the week!
Tuesday: 90 minute ride with a few endurance build sets (nothing crazy, don’t kill the legs!) and a 15 minute brick run. Mine looked like 3 x 15 build to last 5 minutes at near race effort, 15 minute easy run with 5 minutes at race pace + 10-15 seconds. Nothing too intense this week, the hay’s in the barn. This is all about just getting fresh, but keeping in a tad bit of the race day effort level so your legs aren’t totally shocked by Sunday! Tuesday evening was my “pack the bikes” up evening. Sometimes it’s Wednesday night but we were leaving Thursday after work this time, and packing the bikes isn’t something I like to put off until the night before! I like to be more relaxed the night prior to travel, leaving room for something to go wrong!
Wednesday: Just a swim! I’ll normally do 6am Masters for this one, which allows me time to head over to PCSM for an adjustment, cryotherapy, and time in the all-too-amazing Normatec Boots! (By the way if you want your own pair of MVP boots, I have a $100 off code “Barnett14” – get you some and invite me over!) Recovery like that is just as important as a workout. Now I’m feelin’ fresh! This time, I used Wednesday night for my massage. Romy Lopez comes to our house, we are pretty spoiled. I’d like to think we are VIP but he does that for all of his clients 🙂
Thursday: Sleep in a tad, then short progression run…50 minutes max, with 3 x 5 minutes at race pace + 20 seconds. You’re still getting in the effort, but not crushing the legs. Might need one more grocery store run for fresh stuff like fruit for the plane/car ride, then throw everything in my car, head to work, then to the airport! I never used to “creep on comp” – but I treat racing PRO like a business endeavor! I need to know who my competition is, what they can do on race day, who I can hang with, who I should line up with at the swim start, who I should be able to reel in on the bike, who I can’t let catch me on the bike for fear they could outrun me, etc – I invest in a lil creepin’ on the pro start list at some point, and sitting in the airport is a perfectly good time to do that! Secret’s out!
Friday: I prioritize sleeping in above everything else. I am focusing on taking in the calories Friday/Saturday, and course recon, visualization, and not drinking too much wine at night 😉 We did a short easy breezy ride after building up our bikes to ensure everything was in check. We spent time driving the course and checked off athlete check-in too. We had to stay near Milwaukee’s airport because hotels in Racine are few and tough to come by! Keep that in mind if you want to do this race, they sell out quickly! But it worked out, we just all had to be very organized and flexible to reduce the back-n-forth stuff. Brandon and I were staying with Matt and Molly Smith, and we all went out to a fun dinner at Water Buffalo in downtown Milwaukee on the river walk. We had a blast!
Saturday: Sleep in again! This time, I like to do a short S/B/R on the course itself. The water was supposedly frigid. It’d be a good idea to test it out so it’s not a total shock race morning, and I turn into a popsicle! The water was cold, in the 50s, but after two minutes in my BlueSeventy Helix, it felt amazing!! The water was so clear and Lake Michigan is beautiful! The bike course I wasn’t as thrilled with. 19 turns, a lot of flat/false flat with some rollers, but tons of cracks, potholes, rivets. They had a horrible winter so what is normally a rough bike course got rougher! I about lost my bottle cage after riding for 35 minutes on those roads! And I kept thinking my bike was breaking, it was rough. The run would be a bit of a surprise, I only ran 5 minutes out before I turned around. I knew it’d be mainly flat though with a couple of hills that we’d hit twice in a 2-loop out-and-back format. My favorite kind! So no scoping out the competition on the bike course, but I’d be able to see the girls on the run for sure!
Sunday: This is it! 4am alarm, 4:45 depart, (30+ min. drive to transition for us), lay out my stuff in T1, and do a short mile warmup run…best part of racing pro is our own toilets, whoo hoo! Saves so much time in the AM 🙂 We had a 1.2 mile walk up the beach path to the swim start as it was a point to point. I also used that as a little jog to get blood flowing, and after the national anthem, the men were off! Some swam, some ran (it was super shallow), and some dolphin dived – it all looked odd and interesting so I didn’t know what to expect for the women, but 3 minutes later, I’d find out! I started on the very inside with the most direct shot to the bouys. There were 19 of us on the original start list, but good thing I counted as this would help later, only 10 of us on the start line! After the first turn bouy I was behind a group of 4, then it was a straight shot 1 mile down the beach til we could turn back in and head to shore. The water was glass, I could see straight to the bottom. I thought 5th was where I’d stay until Mel Haulschildt literally sprinted by me – such clear water allowed me to know who was who, and I welcomed the thought of cruising on her feet as we were around the halfway point or so, until I realized what gear sprinting to keep up required! Ya, I don’t have that gear! I don’t know where that came from! So I came out alone in 6th, long run up the beach to T1, counted the bikes to verify my place as I knew I wouldn’t find out on the bike course with it being one big loop. 29:19 – I actually felt like I was just flying through the swim and was surprised with my time! Whoops! Work to do!
I messed up huge coming out of T1! Total hot mess!! There was a big hill coming out of T1, which hadn’t looked at all like anything more than a bunny slope until I found myself grinding so slowly with everything I had just to try and rotate my pedals around, I thought – wow I’m going to have to get off and walk! My ego would be fried if that happened! It was bound to though when my chain dropped (I’d been in the big ring which was my ultimate mistake)…Got off to fix it as a spectator was yelling at me to just run up it! My feet weren’t in my shoes, as I never put them on until I’m moving on my bike, they were clipped in, I still was near the bottom of the hill and was in a pickle now! Tried hopping back on, then my right shoe popped off and rolled down the hill! By that time, Laura who was 40 seconds back had already passed me and was cruising out to the bike course. I ran back down, got my shoe and put it on (so I now my hot mess self has one shoe on the bike clipped in, one on my foot, grease all over)…I don’t even know what happened next but somehow I got up and back on track and the whole experience left a fire burning in me! Laura was half a mile up now! I’d also long lost the male pro I passed in transition! I lost at best 90-120 seconds with all that crazy! Not #sopro…
The rest of the ride was fun, I raced with a disk for the first time – I think this course was 6 one way, half a dozen the other with all the turns, but I did like the disk. I rode at 115 psi rather than 120 – crazy bumpy roads. I passed four girls out there and came off in third, mostly riding without anyone in sight, never saw 1 & 2 ladies. 2:23:32 On to the run and finally got a glimpse approaching the turnaround. I didn’t expect to see Mel as soon as I did to be honest, she had to have been 6 minutes up, and I exclaimed something obnoxious to her I’m sure – “Wow girl you are crushing this!” Then I saw Helle and figured I was 3-4 minutes back. I have to tell myself, You never know what could happen, be ready to go if they falter! After the first loop I was on pace for my goal 1:20:00 half marathon time, but let off the gas round two! I was making a tiny bit of time up on Helle, but certainly not Mel, and not enough. 2:22:52, 6:19 pace.
Wrapping up a big race like that in 3rd was amazing! My fourth podium experience, and to share it with the Smith’s and Brandon was incredible – and my friend Tristen from Colorado too. It was a ‘race-cation’ for us, so we left room for celebrating together! 4:19:34 all in! Thrilled to share it with such accomplished women. Helle Frederiksen, Olympian and multiple 70.3 Champion was 2nd today, and Mel Haulschildt, reigning world champ, was 1st. I’m learning to be braver, acquiring so much knowledge (sometimes learning things the hard way, like always test out the T1 exit beforehand!), and dreaming bigger. As my boss at i360 stays, “If you’re dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough!” So dream on my friends, the sky’s the limit. By God’s grace, I’m performing better than I would have dreamed, but without Him – loving Him, trusting Him, knowing Him – I would have no wings to fly!
Brandon and I donate a portion of the race winnings to various charities. Check out some of those by clicking here. “To whom much has been given, much is expected.”