Another race, another post on all the things I learned from it. It never ceases to amaze me how many things I figure out during a race versus training. I went into this race with the goal to make it a learning experience and that is exactly what it was.
1. Wear sunglasses even if it is raining
I knew that the weather for this race wasn't going to be nice. I woke up to overcast skies with a 50% of rain. I contemplated not bringing my biking glasses since it wasn't going to be sunny but then remembered I had interchangeable lenses for them. I can't even count how many people I saw on the bike struggling to see because of the rain in their eyes. Luckily for me my clear lenses kept the rain out without making it too dark outside.
2. Put running shoes upside down so they don't get filled with water and soggy if it is raining
Since it was raining for the majority of this race most of these points will be related to the weather and rain. During the bike leg of the race was when it was raining the heaviest. I noticed that my bike shoes were filling up with rain & getting heavy. I thought about how nice it would be to put on dry running shoes until I remembered those were getting even more wet than my bike shoes.
3. Know how to fix common problems that may occur on your bike
While climbing up a big hill on the bike, I shifted too low and ended up popping off my chain. I tried fixing it but couldn't figure it out and ended up walking my bike for almost ten minutes before my dad came to my rescue and fixed the chain for me. Had my dad not found me I probably wouldn't have finished the race. This is an easy thing to fix but there are many other things that a lot of people don't know how to do regarding their bikes.
4. Be prepared for aid stations to run out of water
The aid station on the run was hit twice by those doing the sprint tri and four times by those doing the Olympic. Even though the race was pretty small the station was out of water by the time I was hitting it for the second time. Luckily I really wasn't that thirsty and knew the finish line wasn't too far away but had I been doing the Olympic distance I would have been pretty dehydrated.
5. Biking & running with no sense of how fast you are going can be a glorious thing
I normally don't ride with a bike computer, although I do use the MapMyRide app on my phone and review the details afterwards. I hardly ever run without my Garmin though. At Sunday's race I decided not to run with my Garmin for some reason. At first I was annoyed that I didn't know how fast I was running or how far I had run, but I ended up running almost 90 seconds faster per mile than I thought I was. Had I seen that pace on my watch I probably would have slowed down so I didn't burn out. Good thing I didn't have my watch.
6. Running out socks will save you time in T2 but will you give you nasty blisters
Since the run was only 3 miles I decided not to run with socks. I definitely saved time in T2 but my feet were covered in blisters not long into the run. I do credit some of them to my shoes being wet from the rain. Most of the blisters weren't too bad but I got two, one on each pinky toe, that were so bad I could barely walk the next day.
7. Arrive to transition early if there aren't assigned spots for bikes
I knew this was a small race so I didn't think it would be a big deal to arrive later than normal. The only problem was that everybody spread out making less room to rack bikes. I walked around for a few minutes before asking someone to move over who was taking up enough space for three bikes.
8. Always bring more fluid then you plan on using
I know pretty well how much I drink while on the bike but due to a very long weekend I went into the race already dehydrated. I was incredibly thirsty the whole time and almost ran out of water after only the first lap on the bike. It is better to be overprepared than underprepared.
9. The bike is not as important as the person riding it
Even though I ride a hybrid bike I still was able to hang with some of the guys. I often get caught up in needing the fanciest bike because I think it will make me ride faster. Yes a tri bike will be faster than a hybrid bike but it doesn't mean that I can't still ride fast. It is the training that matters, not the equipment.
10. Whenever possible practice on the race course in advance
I knew that this bike course was really hilly and that my climbing skills were to a minimum. Instead of panicking (actually there was a fair amount of panicking) I drove the 25 minutes to the race site to practice the hills that I would be riding on race day. Come race day I knew every inch of the course and knew what to be careful and when to really push it. I also ran on some of the trails and knew I could handle the uneven terrain.