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By: Ben Greenfield
Welcome to the second episode of Wildflower Course Tips! Here's what you're going to get in this three-part series that will be released over the next three weeks:
Part 2: 5 Critical Race Tips For The Wildflower Long Course
Part 3: 5 Critical Race Tips For The Wildflower Olympic Distance
So let's jump right in (and be sure to check out the end of this article, where you'll learn how to get a free video entitled "6 Wildflower Race Day Domination Secrets").
#1: The Swim - "Sight The Proper Side of The Rectangle"
The Wildflower swim leaves in waves, which means that while you won't have quite the hustle and bustle of a mass start, the first few meters of the swim are somewhat hectic, and you need to be ready for that. In addition, the swim is basically a giant clockwise rectangle, and if you're sighting the buoys on the proper side of the rectangle, you're guaranteed to swim a straight line. However, it's very easy to be sighting the buoys on the *other* side of the rectangle, which will draw you off course. Before the race, clearly identify which buoys you'll be sighting, then stick to that plan. In addition, if you can breathe to your left coming back on the swim, you'll be able to use landmarks on land to help you swim the proper direction.
#2: Transition One - Be Ready To Run
The Wildflower transition area is not only huge, but begins with a run up a ramp. For folks trying to "control" their heart rate, this is often disheartening to look down and see intensity far, far higher than planned at this point in the race. Don't worry...that's normal, and by the time you get on your bike, your heart rate will have started to come down. Try to include a few workouts leading up to the race in which you swim hard, then get out of the pool and do jumping jacks or running in place (yes, it looks funny, but it does a good job training your body how to go from horizontal exercise for the upper body to vertical exercise for the lower body).
#3: The Bike - Attack Early, Then Let the Legs Cool Down
I've seen many folks hold back and be slightly conservative for much of the bike, then launch into an "ego-fest" upon turning into the entrance to the park, and attacking the final few hills. This leaves your legs completely smashed for the run. Instead, ride hard early in the bike, attack the hill coming out of transition, attack Heartbreak Hill, but by the time you get to the left turn back into the park, begin thinking about shifting into an easier gear and letting the legs spin out, resisting the urge to "look good" as you power back in. You'll be thanking yourself a couple miles into the run.
#4: Transition Two: Cool-Down
The Wildflower run is tough and hilly, and you don't want to go in unprepared or hasty. Take your time in transition, take a few deep breaths, gather up your fuel and hydration, then head out. You may even want to dose some cold water on your head to let yourself cool before starting the tough run course. Especially on the long course, it will pay to stick to your plan and be prepared on the run.
#5: The Run: Think About Form & Cadence
You'll find yourself frequently running uphill on the Wildflower run course, and it's very easy to let your form fall to pieces when climbing. Try to think robotically - lean forward using small, powerful steps with precise arm strokes, deep, controlled breathing and an elbow bend of about 90 degrees. You can let your body fly on the downhill, take longer strides, and allow your arms to swing more, but on the uphill, have an intense focus on form and cadence.
If you found this article helpful, then you must check out Wildflower on Facebook, where I will be releasing a video to Wildflower Facebook fans only, entitled "6 Wildflower Race Day Domination Secrets". The video will be released in just a few days, so make sure to get over to Wildflower on Facebook now!
About The Author: Ben Greenfield (pictured right) is a sports nutritionist and triathlon coach. Check out his helpful websites below, and look for Ben in the Athlete's Lounge at the expo from 2-3pm Thursday through Sunday!