Aside from getting a flat tire, falling off my bike, drowning or not finishing, doing a triathlon in the rain was one of those things I hoped would never happen to me. And then it did… and it wasn’t so bad! So if you’re ever faced with a rainy race day, here are some tips to help our race go as smoothly as possible.
1. EMBRACE THE SUCK! So, you’ve been training for months and now the stupid rain has to go and ruin your race day… sigh. Instead of focusing on how much the rain sucks, just embrace it! I remember walking down to the swim start with Davey and we were complaining about the weather. Then, he looked at me and said, “let’s just go with it and have fun. I’m sure we’ll learn a lot and have a ton of great tips after this is all over!” And he was right 🙂 Smarty pants.
2. What’s worse than an outhouse? A WET outhouse. Make sure you take a bathroom break before you arrive. We stopped at a WalMart on the way to the race… best decision EVER.
3. Don’t wear cotton… it will just soak up the rain and get heavy and cause chafing.
4. Bring a jacket, a poncho, a few small plastic bags and a large trash bag. The jacket is to keep you warm, the poncho is to keep you dry, the small plastic bags are to put your clothes and sneakers in and the large trash bag is to put your gear bag in.
5. Put your phone, camera and other valuables in a waterproof container, like a deodorant case!
6. Make sure you do some of your training at the same time your race starts. Because of our work schedules, we weren’t able to train in the morning and so getting up and doing a whole triathlon before 8am was quite a challenge.
7. Laugh and joke with other triathletes. Everyone is nervous and worried and stressed, so laughter can help you, and them, forget your fears of doing a tri in the rain.
8. Ask questions if you don’t know the route. Chances everyone around you is clueless too. I had no idea where to swim because they changed the route right before we started, so I asked… and everyone around me thanked me.
9. The race route might change on race day, especially if it’s raining, so just go with it.
10. If you only practice in a pool and then you look at how far you have to swim in the open water, that can be daunting, so practice your open water swim. At least once.
11. If it’s cold and rainy at the start of the race, GET IN THE WATER! It will feel like a hot tub!
12. Don’t start out the swim too fast. Start slower because adrenaline can make you overexert yourself. Start half as slow as you think and then speed up once you get your rhythm so that you don’t tire out.
13. The rain may make the water choppier than normal, so don’t panic if you start to swallow water. That will just increase your heart rate and make breathing more difficult.
14. Know what gear your bike is in. Mine was in the hardest gear and I had no idea. It made it hard to get going.
15. Don’t bike directly behind another biker or you’ll get sprayed by their tire.
16. Pass of on the left and say “on your left”. And don’t forget to say good job to people you pass!
17. DON’T PUT YOUR RACE NUMBER on the bar between your legs. It will chafe and annoy the crap out of you. Instead, put it right below your seat like #487 (Davey) did.
18. Don’t wear sunglasses when it’s raining because they can impair your visibility. The last thing you want to be doing is wiping the water off your shades, which is impossible to do because your hands and shirt are wet too.
19. Feather your brakes when you go around turns or need to stop. This will prevent you from hydroplaning on the wet pavement.
20. Because the road is wet and you don’t want to fall, you may not realize that you are naturally tensing up as you bike. Relax your arms. Don’t put all your weight on them or keep them rigid. They will get numb and hurt.
21. Rain = wind. If there’s a headwind, turn down you gear and get in a more aerodynamic position. Try to gain speed when going down the hills.
22. Your sneakers and socks will be wet, especially if you wore them for the bike. If you’re prone to blisters, bring an extra pair of sneakers and extra socks. (NOT COTTON!)
23. SMILE every mile!
24. Bring something dry to change in afterwards.
We’d love to hear from you! Have you ever done a triathlon in the rain? What tips do you have?