Like Jess said in her last post, we thought it would be cool to do our Chicago Triathlon race review in a different way.
Ok, so many of these things I already knew, but it was good to reinforce them. Because, the truth is, sometime we just get lazy or simply forget and make a bonehead play.
“What happened to my other sock?”
“Dang it, I thought I already went to the bathroom.”
“Oh, where’s the bike exit again!?”
These aren’t just newbie questions.
Like some know-it-all who had it all together once said, “An ouch preparation is, like, the best thing you can do before triathlon race day.” — Direct Quote
1. Be (Extra) Prepared In Your Transition Area
Is it just me or does it seem like this happens every time? A torrential rain comes in the night before the race to soak everything and turns the transition area into a mud pit.
Well that happened to us in Chicago last weekend, and I was glad to have an extra pair of socks because my feet got wet just setting up my transition. Two pairs of socks, huh? Yup, that allowed me a fresh pair just for the race. Jess even brought 3 pairs just in case.
Be prepared…for the worst. Have some backups ready.
2. Oh Crap, There’s a Line for the PortoPotties
Literally! With like less than ten minutes until the start of my wave, I had that familiar gurgle in my belly. Yup, one of those “better not try and hold it” kind of feelings. I figured one more warmup jog wouldn’t hurt and headed towards the outhouses. Problem was, the line was at least 20 people long, and not moving as fast as my lower intestines.
Trees, bushes, playground equipment – I looked around frantically and knew I had to act fast. Luckily, I had scoped out some other Johns just around the corner from there that were – Thank God – free and clear.
Plan ahead and also have a backup plan for…yeah, everything.
3. Learn to Love…Choppy Water
“You mean we’re swimming in that!?”, said most of the out-of-towners upon seeing the swim course for the first time. No, honestly, swimming in “the Lake” (as Chicagoans call it) was pretty awesome – the temp was perf, the course was a straight shot, it was a little crowded but not too crazy, and although we had a ton of seaweed to swim through, there were plenty of safety personal both in and out of the water.
But it was freakin’, stinkin’ choppy. I mean, for a second at one point, I thought the waves were going to toss me onto shore like Jonah out of the belly of the whale! You know that surfing squirrel? Well if he paddled out into this, it’d be like dropping in at Mavericks on a record day. Worst ever.
I used to complain when the lake at our open-water swim sessions wasn’t a smooth as a baby’s booty, but now I’m grateful that I’ve had some experience in the high seas. It takes a little different kind of technique, especially with breathing, and a lot more energy to survive choppy-water triathlon swims.
Get some swim practice in choppy water – you’ll be glad you did and feel prepared.
4. Slow It Down for the Unknown
Bombing down the hill, flying through a blind corner…and waking up in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. It’s a good thing that last part didn’t happen – but it could have! So obviously I had never be on the Chicago Triathlon bike course before (actually, no one had, because it was an all-new route this year.
It was very fun and exciting because some of it was on a street called Lower Wacker, which is basically a series of tunnels under the city. Very cool. Well, at the bottom of a hill and right in the middle of a near-hairpin turn, there was a big puddle of water in the street. Super sketchy!
I came out alive, in fact, didn’t even fall. But it got me thinking. Even though I like to hit turns hard and fast – like Batman would – and maybe even pass a couple people on them, it would be far better to lose a couple seconds than to eat dirt and DNF. Ouch and double ouch!
Better safe than sorry on the bike sometimes.
5. Allow yourself extra time
A quick look at the map and it seemed like the transition area was a 5-minute walk. “Sweet, it’s right there, all we have to do is drop off our bikes and we’re set to jet,” or so we thought on our way out the hotel’s revolving doors. 30 minutes later and about a mile and a half walk with all our gear and we finally meandered into T1 and 2.
Lucky for us, this was the day before the triathlon and not the morning of, so we had plenty of time. (Except, our early dinner plans turned into a late dinner, and by the time we got to the Chicago-style pizza place, there was a two hour wait. Carbo-loading bummer!)
Like I said, allow yourself extra time on race day, even when you think you know what to expect.