Five Ways To Help You Enjoy Your Race
Last fall, I did my first half-distance triathlon at the Pilgrimman triathlon. As I got off the bike and led into the run leg, I had a goal pace I was aiming for. But after the first mile, the course went through deep sands and many steep rolling hills! Then I realized that I will blow up early if I keep focusing on speed or pace. At that point, I decided to stay calm and focus on my heart rate and perceived effort. For most of the run, I saw the 2nd place athlete was inching closer and closer to me. But eventually, because I kept in a good energy and heart rate zone, I was able to push hard the last 2 miles to win the race. I learned that sometimes you have to ditch your original plan and adapt to your given circumstances.
Over the course of the last few years, I have done over 100 triathlons. Many didn’t go according to plan and I had to adapt. Along the way, I’ve reflected on what I think are the most important aspects to enjoy your race even when there are factors out of your control.
Make sure everything is working well not only the week and the night before the race, but also the morning just before the race. Double-check your wheels have the right amount of air and aren’t leaking. Have your flat-repair tools ready with you just in case. You don’t want a flat tire to stop you from reaching your goal of completing the race. To prepare for different possible sun and water conditions, you might need to bring two pairs of goggles as well (dark and clear).
Be ready for the demands of your specific race. Be prepared for the water temperature and the expected heat and humidity. Get an idea of the layout of the course, and the number of turns and hills. If you have a coach or an experienced mentor, talk over the course with them to be ready for the day so you don’t suffer more than you need to and enjoy your experience.
It’s great to have a plan ready for pacing and effort, but also have “plan B” ready, which could be finishing the race healthy or having a heart rate zone instead of a pace zone for the run leg. Not all races go as we hope, because of weather or gear malfunctions. Giving the best you can in the given condition might be the best plan for the day.
Read the race details and rules to ensure you don’t receive a penalty and make sure you stay on the correct race course (you might need to download the course map on your device).
It will be nice to invite your friends and family to watch you race. It could bring great motivation to you to know there is someone waiting for you at the finish line. And who knows, they might be inspired to race with you next time!