In an earlier post, I asked you for tips before my first triathlon. I got some helpful feedback, which I will summarize here for the benefit of future triathlon newbies. I asked four questions:
I have an old road bike with pretty old 700x25 tires. A puncture would ruin the race -- should I get new tires for the race?
This was divided -- some people said to switch to kevlar-belted tires, others said to stick with the old ones as long as they did not have any cracks or bare threads. I ran out of time, so stuck with my old tires. I also got a pump with a pressure gauge, so they were properly inflated. When these wear out, I will replace them with kevlar-belted tires. The only specific recommendation was for Michelin Pro 2 Race tires -- any other favorite models?
I took along spare tube and tire tools just in case. I figured that would let me finish regardless. I lucked out, and did not need them. I only saw one person get a flat.
Any tips on tapering off my training the week before the race?
You all suggested easing off during the last week, which I did. Some suggested light workouts with sprints the last two days, and one person suggested total rest. I did not sprint, but took an ocean swim two days before the race (I'd never swum with a wet suit, and wanted to get used to it). The day before the race I rode the bike course at moderate speed just to get familiar with it. Someone also suggested getting extra sleep for a couple of days before the tri, but I am a poor sleeper, so couldn't. I felt well rested and ready the day of the race.
Any warm up tips for the day of the race?
Many suggested getting in the water before the start and a lot of stretching and swinging my arms around. Several people recommended a bit of race-speed swimming and sprinting before the start. One person suggested a strenuous warm up -- that might be a better strategy for a younger person than an older one. I did a little jogging, and, since my jog speed is my race speed :-), figured that was good enough. It also seemed like the swim would be a good warm up for the bike.
Do I need to eat and drink during a short race like this?
You all seemed to agree that drinking was more important than eating, and I took your advice. I drank water before the race, and drank a bottle of Vitamin Water during the swim-bike transition. I figured to drink at water tables during the run, but that was awkward, so next year I will drink something during both transitions. The Vitamin Water tasted great, and the wide mouth bottle was fast for chugging. I also took a couple of electrolyte capsules they gave us. I think I will eat an energy bar or something (cookies?) during the race next year. I am not sure, but that might have helped a bit during the run.
Several people suggested a light breakfast one-two hours before the race, and that was very good advice. When I did my test swim two days before the race, I had just eaten lunch. It felt much better to swim on a somewhat empty stomach!
There were other tips as well. A couple people warned against too much drinking because of having to pee. One person suggested a nose clip for the swim -- highly recommended. Now, if someone would invent "mouth goggles" to deflect the sea water away from your mouth -- what a grungy taste -- I would be a happy camper. You advised not using a heart monitor or watch during the race -- take it easy. A couple of folks warned about jostling and collisions at the start of the swim, but I kind of liked that -- it felt like swimming with a bunch of seals or being in a school of fish, and I knew I was on course without looking.
You all were unanimous on one thing -- having a good time and not pushing too hard. I did both. My time was just over 1 hour 23 minutes, three minutes behind my age group winner. Next year I will try to break one hour 20 minutes.
Thanks for the tips!