"So what's your A race?"

When establishing a race schedule there is a phrase that comes up very often among triathletes, "A Race". One's A Race is understood as the main focal point of the season. More times than not this race is what the entire season is built around. At one's A race the athlete expects to have their best result as an anticipated and expected response from being in peak fitness. Most pro's build their season around Vegas or Kona. Age groupers will usually establish their A race around a new distance or at an opportunity to establish a new PR.

As an age group triathlete living in the Northeast the triathlon season is extremely short. The window to race is just a few months long starting in late May/early June and usually ending around September. This only permits four months of potential racing. How many races can one effectively cram into four months? Personally, I would love to race every weekend but that is just not feasible. Four months of racing means that one must strategically plan out their races keeping in mind build periods, tapering, recovery and of course the unexpected.

Most AG (age group) triathletes will plan their A race later in the season to ensure a proper build for that race. Besides the obvious process of the physical build, athletes will usually enter a few smaller or shorter races earlier in the season to reacquaint themselves with racing, experiment with nutrition, hydration, race strategy, etc.

As an AG triathlete I don't have the luxury of not racing a race. When I toe the line I'm there to compete and push myself to and hopefully past my limits. There is not a chance in hell, when I show up on race day, that I'm going to take it easy on any leg of the race.  I'm not looking to train while racing, I train to race. With this mentality every race is an A race for me. So what distinguishes an A race from a B or C race?

When I created my race schedule in the winter I designated two races as, A because of their significance. I labeled Vineman 70.3 and Timberman 70.3 as A races because I want to be in peak fitness to allow myself an opportunity to set PR's at each race and to reach several goals for this season. Each race carries a different importance. I would say that Vineman holds the most significance for several reasons. First it is my only race that I'm flying to, it's in Napa Valley, California. Secondly, I have planned to do this race with an old friend of mine that I have known since 9th grade. It's not a secret that I eat, sleep and breath triathlon and talk a lot about it to (seldom with) family members. I managed to combine my family with racing by turning this race into a "racation". My entire family will be heading out to Napa so obviously I want to perform my best in front of them. Lastly I believe that Vineman provides an opportunity for a fast time. The bike course is relatively flat or should I say lacks significant vertical elevation change and the run course is also relatively flat. You can't ask for a better setting to PR than that.

I have a vendetta with Timberman. Last year I had to withdrawal from the race because of over training. Despite not racing I still made the trip up to New Hampshire to cheer on friends and teammates as well as to experience an Ironman event. I obviously would have loved to race it but I had an amazing time nonetheless. I set up shop directly on the racecourse and did my very best to support each one of my friends and teammates racing. This time around I want to be the one racing and have others cheering me on.

I have a couple of B Races this year designed to test my fitness levels and to implement new race strategies and to experiment with nutrition. For these races I won't be in peak fitness rather in form for that race at that time of the year. I'm not overly concerned with where I place rather reaching both mine and my coach's goals and splits.

Is there anything more important than an A race? Most people would say no. I would say, yes. I have a race on my schedule that can't be measured in terms of letters, numbers or some type of numerical equation. I will be racing the Smith's Point Sprint Triathlon with my Dad. I don't care if I DNF every one of my other races this year as long as I cross the finish line shoulder to shoulder with my Dad.  This race will make my season an absolute success.


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