Truth be told, I made some mistakes in my Asheville triathlon race, and we’ll get to those juicy details right after I briefly recap the last two posts.
So far I’ve covered building a base so you have the overall endurance to perform in the three sports individually as well as putting them all together into a single event.
Then, as you may recall, make sure that you build your skill and confidence in any weaker areas.
After that, it was to get some speed-workout sessions in the mix without overdoing it.
Do Some Bricks (or, come on, at least one?)
After all this time, swimming still gives me sea legs and biking still gives me J-E-L-L-Ooooohhh legs. The point is, it’s a good idea to “feel it out” again–at least once–before race day.
This is a matter of training your legs to run after biking, and also mental practice of knowing what it feels like and reassuring yourself that you can do it. “The wobble will go away within a few minutes.”
Mistake made: Overlooking the importance of bricks during training.
Practice a Transition
I didn’t end up practicing any transitions for this race. What!? Which, looking back, was another mistake. I thought I could just wing it. Sometimes that works, sometimes it’s embarrassing.
Not only were my transitions way too long, I must have looked like a slapstick goofball. Newbie alert! I think T1 was maybe ok…except I had to ask the dismount monitor to help me pull down my shirt that had was completely rolled up and bunched up at the top of my torso. I thought tube-top race kits were in vogue?
I remember at T2 I took off one bike shoe and put on a running shoe. Then I took off my helmet and put on my race belt. Then I put on my hat and sunglasses. Then I took off the other bike shoe and put on my other running shoe.
Then I got lost in the transition area! How lame. After the race, I did discover that I wasn’t the only one the couldn’t find the run start.
Lesson learned: It helps tremendously to go through the motions a transition at least couple times during training. Also, find out where the transition entrance/exits are. Duh.
Here’s how we practice our transitions.
Trust your Strengths
We talked about focused training for weak areas (i.e. my swim!), now for some strengths, which are more fun to talk about. At least not as embarrassing.
There’s only so much time in the day, and only so much time I can devote to triathlon training. Alas. That means strategizing and prioritizing are key. Again, in my example, I front-end loaded my swim workouts to gain the distance, and trusted that my bike and run were strong enough and capable for race day. This means I did get a few speed sessions in (see last post), but my focus wasn’t entire here. Stilling training my strengths, I trusted their sufficiency to get me through race day.
Get a Feel For Pacing – Race Pacing, That Is
You won’t want to kill it on the bike only to cramp up on the run. With a week or so before race day, this is a good time to get a feel for your triathlon pacing. This can be done in three ways:
Actual pace, heart rate, or perception.
For most beginner triathletes, I recommend using feel – or perception. To gauge it, ask yourself questions such as do I feel that I could maintain this pace for another 15 miles on the bike? If I keep going this hard, will I have some juice for the run? Or, after you transition off the bike and find your running legs, “Can I keep this clip and finish strong, or could I push it a little more and still finish strong?
To keep it simple and break it down, all you have to do is gauge your pace/speed with how you feel during a few training sessions. Here’s are some example dialogues:
“I ran 3 miles at in 27 minutes and felt really good! That’s a 9min per mile pace, so I’ll shoot for and 8:30 pace on race day.”
“Did a 15 mile bike with an average speed of 20mph. Roasted and toasted my legs to hold that pace so next workout, I’ll see how I feel with 18mph.”
“I felt strong running after my brick! It was 10 miles at 22mph average speed. I think I can do close to the same on race day!”
Put it all together: To get a feel for race pacing at this point, all you have to do is 1) monitor your current pace as you train, 2) ask yourself questions about how you feel, 3) experiment with increasing/decreasing pace, and 4) make your best guess for a goal on race day.
Bonus No-Brainer Tip: Situate your gear
Give your gear a once over the night before your race. During my race, I got on my bike and the front brakes were rubbing. Then, half way through the course, my handle bars got so loose I thought I’d crash.
I was able to grab my multi-tool from my seat pouch and tighten them up – while riding!