A good scare is worth more to a man than good advice (Edgar Watson Howe)
This is fine provided it’s a scare and no more. If the scare is as a result of an error whilst turning a corner at 30 mph then I’d rather the advice please – as opposed to a hedge, truck, or A+E!
I’ve received loads of advice over the last couple of years training for triathlon, including…
- It’s easier to pick up time in transition than on your swim, bike or run
- Listen to your body
- Start racing then taper off from there
- In a race don’t do anything you haven’t done in practice
- n+1 (see rule #12)
All good advice, especially listen to your body. My favorite has been ‘get there early’. A variation on this theme is ‘planning ahead‘ which you can apply to so many things other than triathlon but simply getting to the event early is a winner. The last time I got to an event late was an Olympic triathlon in Winchester in 2013. Never again!
Everything went well the 48 hours leading up to the race in terms of hydration, rest, fueling, kit checks…everything was running smoothly. However, after an early light breakfast I, for some reason, decided to lose my registration paperwork. My printer then refused to speak to my laptop and I was out the door 30 minutes later than planned.
I arrived at the venue at 7 am and my wave went 7:25 am. Not a great deal of time to register, rack my bike, get changed and get to the line. Somehow I made it and we were off! The adrenaline must have had an effect because I nailed the swim and came out of the pool first and over a length ahead of other competitors. I was also seriously disoriented and turned left instead of right heading out to T1.
My transition was a disaster as I hadn’t had time to set out my kit and fuel, talc my bike shoes (so getting my feet in was a nightmare) and I’d even forgot to attach my race number to my belt! Anyhow I struggled through and set off.
On the bike things soon settled down, I was enjoying my new aero bars and my splits we’re looking great. In fact they were looking so good I was on course to smash my PB for this distance. The plan now was to switch to a high cadence over the last 1 km on the bike so I was in better shape for the run, then measure the 10 km run. Alarm bells started ringing when someone jumped into the road in front of my bike.
I had a good feel for where you went in and out of transition but I wasn’t sure where I needed to get off my bike and run the last bit into transition. In fairness the dismount line was scratched into the light grey tarmac with white chalk (or something equally invisible) but if I got there early I would have known where to dismount. Instead, I had an exuberant marshal leap into the road waving a flag in my face screaming “STOOOPPPPPP“!!
So I did. Immediately!
Well, my bike stopped. I carried on, straight over the handlebars and crashed into the floor in a heap. My immediate thought was “We’ll that’s embarrassing. Get up”!? The marshals helped me up and I noticed them looking at my hands, I followed their gaze and saw the problem. The little finger on my left had had taken turn for the worse (see feature picture) and my race was over. My first DNF.
Naturally these events took place over a split second and in the heat of a battle but. In hindsight, getting there 20 or even 10 minutes early can make the difference in finishing and possibly PB’ing.
Turning up early allows you to check entries, exits and dismount lines. I’ve found that these are often different to the PDF sent weeks or months before the race. It means you can rack your bike in the best position available. This is possibly an individual choice but if in/out is the same gate you want to be as close to that as possible. Turning up early means you’re able to set out your transition space appropriately and everything is laid out according to needs and the environment you are racing in. It means you have time to collect your thoughts and composure before the swim starts and you move abruptly into the race you’ve been training for for months beforehand.
For all the challenges in executing a great race, ‘getting there early’ is low hanging fruit