In order to race a lot of full distances a year, I have to get started early! That means my 2016 season training has most definitely ramped up. I get asked a lot how I pick my races now that I race professionally. From where it falls on the calendar, to the type of swim or bike course, to historical competition, all these factors come into play as I concoct my race season. But, if I had to combine all of these smaller factors into one big theme for the year, it would be: I’ll race like it’s my job.
Because, it is.
All about that suntan!
I am pretty sure it appears I only pick races that are great vacation spots. At first glance, it probably seems that way. And yes, getting to go to these amazing places all over the world I’d never travel to otherwise IS a HUGE perk of the job, I’ve even been able to travel all over the place using private charter flights such as those you can find if you were to visit somewhere like Jettly online (click now to be taken to their homepage). I feel very blessed that I have been able to travel as I have in order to race. I’ve already got an idea about where I want my next vacation spot to be, regardless of whether I’m racing or not. I’ve always had the dream of going to Barbados and after being pointed in the direction of these beautiful villas in barbados, it’s only becoming much more tempting. How good would it be to relax and recover in a villa that overlooked the ocean? Ah, it’s making me happy already, so I’m hoping that this will be possible. And I’ve been lucky enough to add some great places to my list. But, I certainly don’t pick them based on vacation spots. Mostly because it’s not a vacation! However, if I was then Cuba would be a great place to take one. You can take a look at this article and see if you agree with me too. But friends and family have learned many times over the hard way that even for a Sherpa, it’s not a vacation 🙂 Days pre-race are spent with feet up and out of the sun, early bed times and getting work settled so I can leave things to be for a day or two around the race. Days spent post-race are usually traveling home! The budget runs out pretty quick, and often you’re at the mercy of the cheapest plane flight schedule. I do try to make the most of the 1-2 days post-race, especially if Ed is there with me or if friends are racing too. But, that unfortunately happens less often than anyone would like.
“It must be so nice to travel and stay at races for free!”
That’s something I hear quite a bit from people when they find out what I do. Ummm…..so where should I send my travel expense report from last season for reimbursement? 🙂 At some level, yes, the top handful of pros are getting travel and accommodation stipends. Maybe a small appearance fee here and there. But in general, you’re absolutely paying out of pocket, for the whole kit and caboodle. Remember that whole Slowtwitch drama the other week where the Bahrain 70.3 Race Director said no women were going despite being paid travel and accommodation? Well, he meant to say something more like “I would pay for a few select women to come race, and they are not able to come race.” Just to be sure, I asked for it, and sure enough, was told no. Womp womp.
Often though, there are the opportunities for a homestay, and I am still doing those whenever possible. Not only have I met some of my favorite people in the world through homestays, but it really helps financially during some extended trips abroad. Plus, traveling solo can be a bit lonely at times, so it’s great to have a friend and/or family to be a part of for a little bit. I love homestays!
“Well then, how do you decide where to race?
Hillary summed it up best for me recently as I struggled between some race choices. It’s always SO tempting to head to a race that might not be the ideal course for you if it is a bit cheaper or closer. But she said something that will definitely stick in my brain for awhile:
I should be racing courses that we think I can win one day.
This was a good wake up call for me – encouraging that we think there are some races out there I have a shot at winning 🙂 But, also a good reminder that this is my job. I didn’t always want to go on the business trips I had to in the corporate world, but I did, because, well, work. Same thing applies here. So, what’s a course I can win? Lake/River swim. Tough bike. Variable conditions. Basically: a survival of the fittest type of course.
I’m super pleased with how the first month back to training has been going for me. I’ve been on the pool deck at 7am, six days a week, getting the job done. I’m starting to feel that fitness creep in, and more excited than ever for 2016. Which is good, because I’ll be racing before I know it, kicking off the season with Challenge Wanaka!