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Planning ahead

With the first day of 2011 being less than 48 hours away, I'm sure you are anxiously awaiting the start of the new year. With a new year comes new goals, new races, new eating habits and a new outlook on life. Although many people don't wait until the new year to create a "new you", the new year is coming, whether you like it or not.

I am happy to announce that I am officially registered for the New Orleans 70.3 on April 17th, 2011. Karel and myself (and several other Jacksonville athletes) are super excited for this event. Karel has never been to New Orleans and it's been several years since I have been to New Orleans. As usual, I'm sure Karel's day of spectating will include a wide variety of beer selections. What's a guy to do while his wife is racing for 4+ hours? Although I plan to be finished in sub-5 hours, I guess Karel has an excuse to enjoy some beer in New Orleans.
Karel got this shirt in Madison while he attended the 2010 Trek World Convention in WI and was excited to wear at while I raced at IMWI.

The funniest story was from IMKY 2009 (my 3rd IM), when I was on the run. Karel had his road bike and was riding around the course, cheering for athletes and watching the race. My dad (who was near the finish line) calls Karel and asks "Where's's she doing?". Karel's reply "I'm not sure where she is..I'm at Starbuck's enjoying my latte."
Oh Karel...what would I do without you.

In addition to my wonderful parents, you are my #1 fan and the best spectator and I know you are excited about your 5th IM/vacation. I mean, who wouldn't want to spectate in Kona Hawaii?

Anyways-as we all think about the past and get excited for the future, I want everyone to be aware that a large majority of races have a price increase on Jan 1st. So if you are considering a race, you better sign up before Fri evening (tomorrow-Dec 31st!).

Whenever I think about a race, I consider all variables. Although some races can be "bucket list" races, I think it is important to think about the following when deciding to sign up for a race:
1) Fitness level - do you have enough time to properly train for the race?
2) Time of the year - is this a good time for you to race? Are there other events in your life, during the same month as the race, that may make your training or travel or race experience, more stressful and overwhelming?
3) Terrain - does the course fit your strengths and will the course allow you to reach your upcoming goals? Keep in mind that you can not compare racing times from race to race, especially if they are on different courses.
4) Weather - are you comfortable with the racing conditions and are you familiar with the previous racing conditions? What's the temp of the water, typical weather, chance for rain, etc.
5) Support - do you have support for the race? If your support group (parents, significant other, friends, training partners, etc.) has other priorities during the peak of your training (or during race week), would you feel comfortable racing alone or without their enthusiasm as you prep for the race.
6) Safety and popularity - while most races are USAT sanctioned, find out the history of the race and whether or not the race is new, USAT sanctioned and safe. There is nothing wrong with a premier event but there will always be kinks in a first-time event. For races that are well-known, they often bring a large number of athletes. In my mind, there is nothing un-competitive about a small event. There is nothing I love more than a fair race on a fair course, where you can truely put your training to the test.
7) Do your research but keep an open mind - the easiest way to get frustrated or excited before a race is to listen to others. While some people will rave about their favorite races, others will tell you all the bad things about the very same race. Ask around for feedback on your upcoming race possibilities but keep an open mind, while considering #1-6. Your favorite race may not suit another athlete, especially if he/she doesn't like cold/hot, hills/flat, early season/late season, small/big, races.
8) Cost + travel - there is nothing cheap about multisport races. Keep in mind travel arrangements such as flying, food, sleeping accommodations, traveling with others, traveling with your bike, gas, hotels, getting around the race venue, rental cars, etc.