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Lessons Learned While Racing

In the sport of triathlons, as in life, we are always learning. For me, the Annie Oakley Buffalo Bill Triathlon was no exception.

We arrived at the race venue a little later than I had hoped. The parking lot was a bit away and I wanted to get out of the car and into transition. My sister, Phyllis, and I grabbed my gear from the car and headed to body marking while Dave, my husband, drove over to the parking lot. As I started to set up my transition, I realized that I did not grab my helmet from the back of the car.   

I called Dave, hoping he did not start to walk over yet. Sure, he said he would grab the helmet and asked if I wanted my cycling shoes too. Oh man, this was going to be a crazy race. Yes please, I will be needing those as well, was my response. 

Lesson No 1.

Don’t change anything at that last minute, on race day. I had everything together in the back of the car, but once I started rushing to get my stuff out in order for Dave to park, I missed essential gear.

My body was marked, transition set up, it was time for the practice swim. As we headed out of transition, I heard the call to get out of the water. Oh no, the swim is my weakest link. Even though I had not panicked in my last race, the swim is always a question mark for me. With the late start and wait for the forgotten items,  I lost valuable time. I cleared my head and moved on. I was calm as we sang the Star Spangled Banner. Afterward, I spoke to the women behind me. Everyone was calm and unafraid, as I was as well. 

The swim started off great. I was calm, my strokes were long and strong and my breathing was even. However, I soon discovered that both the sprint and super sprint courses were both set up. All was well until I erroneously turned at the super sprint turn buoy, instead of swimming straight to the sprint turn buoy. I changed direction and started swimming back to the sprint swim course. 

Lesson No. 2 

Do not skip the practice swim. It would have prevented wasted time and frustration. Also, by visualizing yourself swimming along the buoys, you have a better feel for your swim.  

My weakest link of the tri was over. The bike is my favorite part. I ran into T-1 and started to prepare. It was a bit overcast and rain was predicted. I was questioning myself as to whether I should wear socks or go sockless. I went with the socks and ran out with my bike. 

The first bike loop was a bit challenging, both hilly and windy. As I finished the loop, I heard Phyl and Dave cheering me on. What a great feeling. The second lap was a push to beat the rain. The wind picked up, I missed Dave and Phyl on the second loop. No worries. I hit T-2 feeling good and the rain held off. 

Out of T-2 and on the run. The run route was in the park in a tree-shaded area. The rain started to come down. The puddles of water started to appear. There was no way to get around them as the grass nearby became soft and muddy. The rain continued. My feet and shoes became soaked. With every step, my feet began to feel heavier and started making that squeaky sound. I started to encourage my fellow athletes in an effort to get my vibes positive. It was going to be a long four miler. 

Lesson No 3

Skip the socks on a shorter runs, 10ks and under. My socks were wet from the standing water. They weighed me down and hampered my desire to increase speed. While the temperature was not high on race day, hot and humid conditions are also good reasons to forgo socks. Many times we pour water or have a volunteer pour water on us. After a while of dousing your body with water, your socks will become weights at the end of your feet.  No socks!

Lesson No. 4

Cover your head with a cap, not a visor. An open mesh cap is the best. It protects your scalp from sunburn. It allows water to seep through without becoming dripping wet and deflects some of the water from saturating your shoes, when you pour it over your head, during a hot race day. 

Back to the race.

The last mile was in an open area without the protection of trees from the rain. Once I was through the finish shoot, I saw Phyl and Dave cheering for me. It was music to my ears. Another race in the books and many lessons to ponder and incorporate into my daily life. I walked away with a Liv Cycling Jersey, 1st Place in my AG, and a pic with Buffalo Bill. It was a great day indeed!

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Written by Angele Sanders, Siren Luminary

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