Racing Smart versus Racing Brave
Racing in a sprint triathlon in my town of Durango, my goal was to improve my time from last year. The race starts with a 500 yard pool swim, then a 12 mile bike followed by a 3 mile run. Prior to the race I swam 4 times in the last 4 months. With 2 young boys, I do not to devote extra time to swim training considering I already run and ride on a regular basis.
My first race strategy decision was to have a slower swim time than usual. I wanted to have a more relaxed swim and use the extra energy on the bike and run. I didn t want to get out of the water breathing hard from the swim. So I swam 20 -25 seconds slower than usual.
My swim to bike transition went well and I was chasing a rider far up the road. I had a carrot to chase on the out and back bike segment. I patiently worked to close the gap that was about 40 seconds. Before the turn around I could see the gaps between myself and the top 3 riders. I need to catch the rider up the road to move into 4th place. I caught the rider with three miles to go on the bike. With a mile to go in the bike, I backed off a little to recover a bit before the run. The rider caught back up and went by me.
My bike to run transition went well and starting the run 4th place was in sight and I made the pass within the first 600 yards of the run. After turning a corner, the third place triathlete was visible up the road. I closed a minute gap on him in just the first mile.
Once I caught him, I ran behind him waiting for an opportunity to attack. Each time I did a short fast burst, he stayed right behind me. I may have tried to drop him 7 or 8 times. But he responded each time to stay right with me. So I waited for the last 300 meters to the finish. I took for the finish. I sprinted hard the entire way and he came around me in the last 10 meters to beat me by 2 seconds.
For me it was one of the most fun races ever. I enjoy the mental and physical challenges of races. That day I had a very worthy opponent. He confided in me that when I first caught him that had I ran fast by him, he would have given up. Also had my fast attacks lasted at least a minute, he would also have given up. It would have been great to finish in third place instead of 4th, but I very much enjoyed the friendly hard fought battle. I could have been more aggressive, but I wasn t confident that I could finish off such a strong move.
After over 200 races, I still am challenged by racing smart and racing brave. Thinking about racing brave and smart goes through my head during and after every race. I have another race 6 days later. Will I be smart, to brave, to smart not brave enough, or not smart enough?