I would like to suggest going to the Cache Valley Tri website this week and carefully reading through everything it says. This helps me to know what to expect and to prepare mentally and physically. I focus on the bike and run course maps (even if I have done this race before) and pay attention to things such as exact distance, profile, and set-up. Is it longer/shorter than typical? Hilly or flat? Loop or out and back? I then incorporate those elements into my training. For example, since this race is rather flat on both the bike and the run, I don’t need to worry about hill repeats (too much). Instead, I train to be able to hold a fast and steady pace on a rather flat road.
The ideal preparation is to go and check out the course in person and to train on it. Knowing the bike course, especially, is an advantage because you will know where to push hard, when to hold back, and where and how to turn. This knowledge will boost your confidence and make you stronger. Realistically, we don’t all live in Cache Valley and won’t get there until (almost) race day. In this case, I skip looking at the run course and try to drive the bike course. This will still give me a general idea of what to expect.
As far as the swim is concerned, there (hopefully) won’t be any big surprises. That said, the Olympic distance athletes might need to “exit the water, go around the indicated marker at the shoreline, and re-enter the water for [the] second loop.” This is a little unusual and I will be sure to practice it at my next open-water swim.
In many of the races I do, I notice that quite a few people tend to go off course. Sighting is very important when competing in an open-water race and can be practiced easily. Next time you are in a lake, just pick a landmark and try to take the straightest line there. I tend to sight every other stroke, which is a lot, but I prefer that to going off course. If I come around a buoy and can’t see the next one right away, I will take a few breast strokes, locate my target, and keep going.
Two more weeks until race day! I hope you are doing well and training is going according to plan. Happy training!