It’s finally summer and the good people of WWMS are bursting with excitement for the 2023 triathlon season. With plenty of teammates preparing to kick off their racing season in the next couple of weekends (and some early season warriors already having raced Max Performance Tri’s Season Opener), now seemed a good time to share racing tips via the classic “what not to do” format. I asked the team for past race mistakes they’d be willing to share, and boy howdy did you all deliver. I appreciate this team for many things, one of which is our ability to laugh at ourselves!
An interesting observation: while some of these stories happened at someone’s very first triathlon, MANY of them did not - a good reminder that it never hurts to brush up on strategy no matter how long you’ve been at it!
Lesson 1: Nothing new on race day
For my first tri, I used lace locks but didn't try them out ahead of time and the laces on both shoes came undone right away, with super long shoelaces flapping in the breeze. I somehow managed to place third in my AG at the time, even with my racing flats about to come off my feet for the entire 5k. I was hooked on the sport, but so traumatized, I haven't raced with lace locks since!
I decided to give Kombucha a try the day before a race…My body does not take this drink well and had a tough time fighting the stomach issues while running! Moral of the story (and I should have known better), nothing new on race day or the days before!
If you’ve never worn a wetsuit, be sure to try it on first. And practice putting it on…. putting a wetsuit on for the first time on race morning, while sweaty and wet because it’s raining, is not the best idea. Pretty sure it took me an hour.
Race with what you train with - a half ironman is not the time to find out the chamois pad in your new tri-suit doesn't fit right.
Lesson 2: Stay grounded through the race day excitement… and practice your transitions!
Last year at Sharon Tri, I was so pumped up for the swim start that I forgot to put my goggles on my face before I ran into the water. They were just chilling around my neck. Such a noob move. I’ve never done that before and it was my 10th+ triathlon. I realized after I took my first stroke and then had to stand up, clear out the water, and put them on my face. Oops!! Lost me a whole 5 seconds on my swim time.
My first time at Nationals, although I wasn't a rookie, I made the ultimate rookie mistake: I neglected to make sure I knew where my bike was relative to the swim out. Good grief!
Don't take your timing chip off after transition, you won't remember to put it back on. And remember, the swim hat (British for “swim cap”) comes off before the helmet goes on.
Team lore: a past teammate reportedly came into T2 and thought someone stole his shoes, so he ran the 10k in bare feet, then after the finish realized that he just racked his bike one row over and his shoes were still sitting there waiting for him!
Lesson 3: Pack carefully and TRIPLE check everything
Forgot my cycling shoes. Enough said!
Amy Rinaldo (yours truly):
I carefully prepared a container of overnight oats and freshly cut fruit the night before my first triathlon to eat on the early morning long drive to get there. When I opened the container in the car en route, I found half a raw onion staring out at me - I had grabbed the wrong container from the fridge! Thankfully I had some extra snacks in my bag to eat, but let me tell you, raw onion is not the car scent you want at 5am (or ever).
Team lore: a past teammate forgot her bike shoes & helmet so she borrowed someone's sweaty helmet who was finishing the ride right when she was starting and used her running shoes on the bike. (She still beat everyone in her wave by a lot, so remember, mistakes don’t mean you can’t still do well!)
Lesson 4: Know the course and practice the course
My first triathlon was the Gloucester Sprint on 8/9/2009. I didn't have a road bike so I brought my reliable Trek 7300 hybrid. After spending years in spin classes, I wasn't familiar with the concept of "hills." I found out that in the outdoor world, hills exist and bike weight matters. By the second loop of the course almost everyone passed me and I realized that also having wheel guards, rear cargo rack and a security cable(!) looked like a weird flex.
Team lore: a teammate did an extra bike lap in Boston tri to get to 40km, not knowing that the race was actually supposed to only be 32km. They unfortunately do not award extra credit points for extra laps.
Lesson 5: Carpool if you’d like to enjoy a post-race beverage(s) to celebrate your accomplishments!
Never fill the winner's pitcher with beer assuming your friends will help you drink it.
Happy 2023 season everyone!