Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lessons Learned...

Saturday's race was a new experience, and now that I've had a few days to digest things I figured that I'd try and reflect on things a bit and get down the lessons learned:
  1. Training independantly for the marathon worked well because it was simply an escalation of what I'd done before. The Triathlon is a completely different sport, however, so in retrospect joining that tri clinic would have been the smart move even if it meant stepping back a bit on the cycling side of things. Getting proper training and practice for the transitions and swimming sides of the race would have likely cut a significant amount of time off of my race.
  2. When it comes to the transitions, knowing what to do and actually doing it are two very different things. Simple things like rolling up my socks past the heel before the race would have likely shaved a good amount of fumbling, but one often doesn't think about these sorts of things until they've run into the problem.
  3. Watching other people race, it is evident that having cycling shoes attached to the pedals prior to the race is a significant time saver. I didn't attempt that this time around as the technique required to do that requires a lot of skill and practice that I don't have at this point.
  4. Furthering the above, getting a proper set of triathlon-specific cycling shoes would likely be a good investment. Dealing with three straps per shoe isn't ideal (especially if I ever want to attempt the technique listed in point 3), and the extra padding that Tri-specific shoes offer make it more practical to forget about the socks until the run stage (when the feet are dry and getting them on is easier).
  5. Getting elastic shoelaces is likely a good idea, as about a third of my T2 time was spent tieing my conventional laces. Either way, I will need to get some practice in these laces before the race, however, so it was likely a good idea to forget about them this time around. With longer races, however, the increase in transition time may be excusable for better comfort in the run stage - but for the sprint distance it's just too big a cost.
  6. While I can swim comfortably in the pool for extended periods, and the open-water aspect didn't seem to be a huge issue in and of itself, the traffic really messed with me this time out. When training, I think I got too dependent on finding and locking into a rhythm and the traffic in the lake made it difficult to stick with that. Focusing in improving my technique so I'm not so dependent on a single steady pace to be comfortable is likely the path to addressing this, so taking some clinics/lessons over the winter is likely what I need to do. Fortunately, I have a lead on what appears to be a really good one ;)
  7. I have a tendency to be a bit shy, and have to stop worrying about being polite when attempting to pass during the cycling stage. On several occasions I got stuck behind slower cyclists that were blocking my path, and in retrospect simply advising them of my presence likely would have been enough to deal with that. We were told to do that in the pre-race briefing, but my Canadian instinct to be polite made me feel uncomfortable about the concept of what effectively would have been yelling at someone to get out of my way. I had no problem warning people who were already over to the right that I was about to overtake them, but doing the same to people in the passing lane felt somewhat uncomfortable. That's not to say that I should be a jerk about it, but if they don't know that you're waiting for them they can't do anything about it.
  8. I need to recalibrate my feeling of fatigue in these races, as the legs felt quite tired by the time the running phase started so I pulled back a lot more than I needed to. Cycling largely uses different muscle groups than running, so the tired feeling of those tissues often has little impact on one's ability to run quickly. Once I eventually opened up near the end, the fatigue disappeared nearly immediately so I need to get used to that. While I did do a few pseudo-brick sessions during training, I don't think that I moved from cycling to running fast enough to get a proper feel for this.
  9. While my running followed a strict schedule, my swimming and cycling were largely on an ad-hoc basis. It worked out well this time around, but I should focus on finding a formal training program for any future Triathlons. Pfitzinger's book has done wonders for my running, so hopefully I'll be able to find something similar on the multi-sport side.
  10. I need to get more used to taking fluids in on the bike while I'm still moving. In training, I run into enough traffic lights that I can generally take in all of the fluid that I need when stopped. In a race, however, you're moving continuously so it's important to look for opportunities to take a drink - especially with the potential dehydration from the swim stage that goes before the bike stage. Fortunately this race was short enough that that wasn't an issue, but despite bringing two bottles along with me I barely drank more than a half bottle.
  11. Looking into getting a set of aerobars and a second seatpost (so I can rapidly switch between road and TT configurations) would likely be a good investment. Aside from improving aerodynamics and reducing work on the running muscles, those aerodrink bottles appear to be a good solution to point 10 above ;) With that said, I might be better off just saving my pennies and buying a TT bike with the appropriate geometry.
Either way, sorry for the unstructured post but I figured it was worth recording this stuff so I'll remember when it comes to preparing for the next one ;)

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