Thursday, September 24, 2009

My First Tri @ the Nation's

I started to think what I should write in my race report about 15 minutes into the swim, or more accurately when I was floating on Potomac River facing up at the blue sky while other athletes were making waves and splashes. It’s because the water was so dark I lost my sense of vision, which led to a panic. I was drinking water and getting it up my nose. Therefore I was lying on my side (sweet spot) and kicking the first half. Then my legs became tired and tense. Some knots showed up in my calves and I was about to cramp. I thought I better swim now, and then I did. I swam back, breathing on the same side every two strokes, instead of three or five on both sides as usual. I still couldn’t get the sighting right, but I figured why bother anyways, just to swim parallel to the line of fast swimmers. It worked. I made back to shore all right.

T1 was straightforward because the day before I walked it through and picked up a good visual reference to help me find my spot from distance (the 2nd logo sign on the fence in this case). So I stopped at the right place even before I recognized my bike and stuff. My legs were cramping badly but I was too thrilled to slow down. Bike started well, shoes clipped on easily and spirit high again. After about 10 minutes fast spin on the small chain ring, my cramps went away. I was all psyched up, flying and passing. The route is absolutely beautiful. I felt privileged to be able to ride on it without worrying about cars or traffic lights. There are some slopes, not steep at all but a couple of them long enough to provide a nice down hill speed. It was funny many water bottles were scattered on the road, so watch out for those. I was very glad no one’s Gatorade was shooting at me or landing right in front. But I did run onto an empty GU though. Water ran out faster than I thought, so next time I will bring a refill bottle.

T2 was fine for the same reason. It was just like how I practiced plus running with bike and grabbing a cup of water on the way. Running along a nice park with a basin and monument view was uplifting. My legs cramped again for a while but nothing major. Cheer squads along the roads were very encouraging: “all most there!”, “you can do it!”, “the finish is around the corner!” and my favorite one “go 2923!”. I bought potassium supplement after the race.

When the finish line was at sight, I checked on my watch and started to pick up speed. I knew I would make my goal time, but now why not do slightly better? There I ran to the finish, pulled my sunglasses up and smiled. I was glad to see Lloyd right in front of racks of medals. He gave me a big hug and put a medal around my neck.

I would definitely do it again next year. I have some resolutions before the next time:
1. Learn to swim with my eyes shut. So I will be able to swim in any kind of water-based fluid in any colors.
2. Eat more bananas and keep well hydrated before swim.
3. Train harder. I will thank myself later.

My very first triathlon was a dream come true. With proper training, determination, and love for sports and nature, everyone can do it too.
by Julia XU

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Triathlon Race Day Checklist


Obnoxious towel for transisition area
Swim Suit
Anti-fog Solution
Body glide
Time Chip
Pam (Spay on wetsuit)
Plastic bag (getting into wetsuit)
Swim Cap
Spare Goggles
Ear Plugs
Sunscreen (applied after body marking)
Swim Towel (for drying off)

Bar-end Plugs
Bike (cover seat w/trash bag)
Bike number on bike/helmet
Helmet (straps open, on handlebars as you put it on)
Fasten straps B4 you touch your bike
Sunglasses (open on top of helmit)
Bike Shoes
Cadence computer
Cycling Gloves (on handlebars)
Floor Pump
Frame/Mini Pump
Water Bottles (2)

Tire Changing Kit:
CO2 Accessories & Cartridge (or) Mini Frame Pump
Spare Tube (2)
Tire Levers
Wrench Set (Allen wrench)/Tools
Pedal wrench
Dollar Bill

Running Shorts
Running Shirt
Race Belt
Race Number
Running Shoes
Elastic Laces
Baby powder in shoes
Gel packs

Post Race Clothing
Energy Bars, Drinks & Gels
Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap
Extra Water Bottles
Cell phone
Electric Tape

Triathlon Race Week Guidelines

It’s Race Week! Time to taper, rest and visualize your race. Here are some Key Tips as you go through race week.

1) Hydration: Starting Monday spend the week hydrating. Everywhere you go race week, you should have a bottle of water or fluid with you.

2) Nutrition: Thursday or Friday carbo load. Have at least one meal with lots of carbohydrates/ pastas and protein.

3) Rest: Try to get as much rest/sleep as you can this week. People often think the rest the night before the race is the key but it’s actually one day before. Friday night’s rest (Sunday race) is the key to the race. Try to get 7-8 hours of rest that night. You will feel great on Saturday and it will compensate for the anxiety/excitement that may keep you up on Saturday night.

4) The Day Before: Relax, enjoy yourself and take it easy. Pick up your race packet, do a little shopping (get a race belt to hold your race bib), then drive the bike course. You want to familiarize yourself with the course. If possible drive the run course as well.

5) Volunteers: No race could take place without the volunteers. They are a small army of dedicated people who give up there weekend so you could have the best race possible. While you are home resting up for the big event they are out there setting it all up. And after you’ve cross the finish line and gone home with wonderful memories of the race, they stay behind well into the night putting things away and cleaning up. To really show your appreciation for all their hard work, just make their job easier. So whenever you see a volunteer say THANK YOU, have patience, follow their directions, and most importantly DON’T LITTER on the race course/transition area.

6) Setup: After picking up your race packet lay out all your race gear on a towel the way you plan to do it on race day in the transition area. Then take everything off the towel and place it in the bag you are taking to the race. Place the bag and its contents in front of the door (that way you can't walk out without it in the morning). When setting up, use your race day checlist (see the attached Triathlon Race Day Checklist, remember it has way more stuff than you will need for your race so just use what applies).

7) Visualization: Picture the race in your mind’s eye the way you want it to happen. Planning and positive thinking are key components to a successful race. Visualize the race from start to finish with as much detail as possible from setting up your transition, swim start, T1,riding your bike, T2, pacing the run and crossing the finish line for your photo.

Race Day
8) Race Morning: Put on your race chip. Put on your race chip. Eat your regular pre Sunday morning training meal, get dressed and walk out the door. Grab the bag that’s sitting at the door blocking your exit (all your stuff is in there). If you haven't already PUT ON YOUR CHIP!

9) Transition: Get there early but not too early. It’s not the day after Thanksgiving sale, so there is no need to arrive an hour before transition even opens just to stare at the security guard and wonderful volunteers. Get body marked, put sunscreen on after marking, check your bike (make sure the tires are full, brakes work etc).Lay out your towel and set up the transition area the same way you did the night before. Remember one side bike stuff and the other side run gear.

10) Race Start: When the gun goes off just RELAX. You've swum, rode and run the distance many times over in practice. Most importantly, just enjoy the experience.

11) Race Swim: When your wave is called head to the start line, position yourself in the group depending on your swimming ability (stay in the middle/back of the pack off to one side if you’re slower, or middle/front if you’re faster). After about 5-10 minutes (100-200 meters) your swim wave will thin out. Move from the outside corner and start swimming closer to the buoy. If for some reason you decide to, roll over into sweet spot until you are ready to continue your full stroke. When the swim is coming to an end fight the temptation to sprint pass the swimmer in front of you. The last thing you want to do is ruin a great swim by rushing the last 100 meters and feeling exhausted when you get out of the water.

12) Race Bike: When you come out of transition 1 start off in a smaller gear with faster cadence (spinning). Spin for the first 10 minutes of the bike ride, your legs need a little time to get adjusted (they will thank you now and you will thank them later). At this point drop the Hammer, ride like the wind and say “passing on your left” to as many people as you can. The last 2-3 miles of the ride is not for catching the person in front of you, it’s for preparing yourself for the run. So start spinning in a smaller gear with faster cadence which will simulate your run cadence.

13) Race Run: Take your time in transition 2. At this point you are already warmed up so you feel free to give it all you’ve got. However, take the first 5 minutes a bit easy just to see how your legs feel before you go all out. Remember to Relax, Lean & Lift. Relax your body so there is no tension, lean from your ankles not your waist and lift your heels high enough to clear your opposite ankles. When you hear the crowd cheering or see the finish line give it all you have and sprint for the finish line. Smile for your finish line photo (Don’t get caught looking at your watch to stop the timer. They’ve spent lots of money to track your race splits and finish time).

Post Race
14) The day after the race be sure to run easy for about 20 minutes. It sounds crazy but it will help speed up your recovery and make you feel even better the following day.

15) Race Report: You are now a triathlete and everyone wants to hear all about the experience. Take some time the week after the race (while the experience is fresh in your mind) and write it all down. Share the report with your family, friends and co-workers because they’re all inspired with what you’ve accomplished and are dying to know just how you did it.