The last few months have been pretty crazy, and as a result I've dragged my feet on figuring out a racing strategy for the season. I've (kind of) got the big A races figured out, and have been training sufficiently for them - but the B and C races have to be fitted in there as well to build experience and test progress. The result is that we're now a good ways into the season and I've yet to get any Triathlons in so far. With a couple of months left, there isn't a whole lot of opportunities remaining so it's gotten to the point where I need to start figuring out what I'd like to do ;)
On Wednesday one of the spokes on my rear wheel snapped, and as Ironman Lake Placid is this weekend the bike shop was pretty much slammed meaning that I'm not getting it back until Tuesday. Cervelo pretty much dominates the triathlon market, so given that they only have a couple of dealers in town, things get pretty hairy whenever an Ironman is anywhere remotely close. With Lake Placid being pretty much the only full iron race within practical driving range, it's especially popular around these parts. As such, I couldn't head out for my Friday or Saturday rides which gave me a little extra free time and I figured I should use that to do a little homework ;)
I ended up missing my chance to do the Muskoka long course triathlon this weekend, which is probably just as well given the spoke issue ;) The Subaru series appears to now just have sprint distance events left before Ironman Muskoka, whereas the HSBC series has a few Olympic distance races. I definitely want to squeeze in at least one Olympic distance race in, although it would likely be a good idea to do another Sprint distance race ahead of that to get a bit more practice.
Tentatively, I'm thinking of starting out with the Niagara sprint tri followed by the Cobourg Olympic distance race. That will give me a couple of weeks between the races, and both are relatively close by so they should work out well. Cobourg is near the end of August, so it should leave a good amount of time for Muskoka if I do choose to go down that route. If not, I might add Lakeside's Olympic distance race into the mix as well.
As for Ironman Muskoka, as noted above I'm still going back and forth on that one. While I feel relatively comfortable with the distances, I'm not confident that I'd be able to put down an all-out effort at this juncture. Given the extremely high cost of that race, I'm not sure that I want to spend that kind of money for a 'just finish' race. At this point I'm leaning in the direction of just doing a few Olympic races (with one all-out) to build up my strength and experience and then focus full bore on the half ironman distance next year.
The HSBC series has an unofficial half iron race (Welland) in June which costs a lot less than the sanctioned race in Muskoka. This year it wasn't an option as I hadn't gotten my mileage up high enough that early in the season, but if I do a few intermediate distance races this year I should be able to ramp up faster next year. If I can do the Welland race as a just finish race, then I'd hopefully be able to gear up and try to do the 2011 Muskoka race at a hard enough effort to justify the costs involved. Further, the money I'd save from not doing the race this year would almost be enough to buy my own wetsuit, which would make it a lot easier to get some open water practice in.
The downside, of course, is that I don't get to cross off that half ironman goal this year. Further, as much of my training this year has been focused on those goal distances, a lot of that will have been for naught. It's still going to be a few years before I'll be ready for the full ironman, so neither plan will likely have much effect on that. Doing the half this year would certainly have it's benefits, but so would squeezing in a larger number of shorter races.
Either way, the priority at this point is to figure out the intermediate races and I can make the bigger decision a bit later. One of the benefits to the Niagara race is that it's a few days before Muskoka's registration cut-off, so I can get at least one race in the books before I figure out which way to go. Making the call based on real-world race performance is likely the best guidance that I can work within ;)