Going Beyond the Sprint

Every Fall I try to go long. Usually it’s a running event like Triple Lakes trail marathon, Medoc trail marathon or Crooked Road 24 hour ultra. This year I was thinking about doing something different. I was thinking about going for some serious triathlon distance. I started looking at races and kind of sort of picked out the PPD Beach2Battleship Half, Oct. 17, Wilmington, NC. I haven’t signed up yet, still deciding if I can pull it off.

I’ve talked to people about the race. Watched some YouTube videos. Kicked around some training plans. All of my triathlon experience is sprints, mostly pool swim sprints. The more I looked at the race and training for it the more I began to grasp the size of the problem, well problems, ahead of me.

First I’d have to swim farther than I ever have before with several hundred new friends. Second I’d have to bike farther than I’ve ever have before and maintain 14 to 15 mph to have time to run/walk (or walk/run it could go either way) the half marathon. Then I’d have to actually run/walk the half marathon. But hey, at least I’ve done that distance before.

My longest ever swim was 1.04 miles in Lake Hartwell in 1:09:51 a couple weeks ago, which doesn’t look that bad. My longest bike was the 45-mile White Lightning Ride in Kingsport, TN, July 2013 with a time of 3:46:51. Not too good, but at least there’s a lot less climbing in Wilmington. Finally my best stand-alone half marathon was 2010 Cannonball in Greensboro, NC, with a time of 2:38:48. Workable. Keeping in mind that “All participants must complete the event within 9 hours of the start of the final swim wave.” So definitely a lot of quality training had better happen between now and October.

Aside from the physical training there is also the matter of race strategy mostly pacing and nutrition. Pacing in a sprint is fairly straightforward. You swim hard, go all out on the bike and if you have a near death experience on the run congratulations you nailed it. Sprint nutrition is even simpler: eat a good breakfast. Pacing and nutrition in a 70.3 will be much more challenging. So will be the consequences of getting either wrong.

Clearly going long is going to require a lot of learning, training and a little help from my family and friends. Maybe that’s the whole point. Stumble on.


Al Dockery is a PTA (physical therapist assistant) based in the Upstate of SC. He is a former award-winning writer and editor, who has worked for publications including Textile World and Furniture Today. He is a NC native and a NC State graduate.

One thought on “Going Beyond the Sprint

  • August 27, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Sweet trainer set-up. You should do a post on the workout room.


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