Monday, June 24, 2013

Lessons Learned from Race Day

I've already made this statement on Facebook, but I'll say it again.  It was bound to happen; yesterday, I had my career worst race to date (physically and mentally) at the Pleasant Prairie Olympic Distance Triathlon.  Instead of "blaming" this or that, I'm going to attempt to define "WHY" this happened.  I want to take the lessons I've learned and share them with you in the hopes that YOU don't make these same mistakes - or at least avoid them!

Before I start this review, I would like to say how awesome if felt to have a few new friends I met at the PP-Tri yesterday mention that this blog helped them!  I write this  in the hopes that my humble approach to training and racing will strengthen and motive people.

Back to the Pleasant Prairie Olympic Triathlon Review:

To me the race starts when your taper starts.  Tapering correctly for a race is imperative.  Your muscles need to recover the from the onslaught of training up to the race, but still be in "firing" mode when it's race day.  This was issue number one for me.  I was traveling, stuck in airports earlier in the week so I missed two key tapering workouts that I forced into later in the week as a "make-up". 
Two lessons I learned here:
1.) Don't force workouts the week of race week (you're body is trained, it doesn't need intensity).
2.) Sleep and rest should take precedence over a workout's during taper week.

Fueling for a race should also start the week of race week (for Ironman distance or Ultra's - I would start almost 2 weeks before).  Every person is different, I've learned that HEAVY carbs and high protein for dinner two nights before race morning as well as high quality carbs for breakfast/lunch the day before is key for me.  The meal the night before a race should be low fat, high protein, with medium/CLEAN carbs.  I failed to execute on this SIMPLE thing that I've done many times before.
Lesson Learned: Stick to the fueling plan!  Find what works for your body and stick with it like it's religious! You know what your body needs and how it reacts to fuel.

Racing sick is something nobody wants to do...but stuffed up sinus' isn't an acceptable reason to NOT race.  With all of that being said, here's what I learned and would do differently next time.  I've always gone into a race with an "A" goal (best case scenario) and a "B" goal (result I would be highly satisfied with).  With each goal was an appropriate execution plan.  What I didn't create was a "C" goal.  The "what-if" goal.  What if my legs felt flat, what if my lungs didn't feel full, what-if....  This race was wrong from the start of the swim, from how I executed the swim to how I attempted to execute the bike with dead legs.  I got frustrated during the swim, pushed to hard during the bike and bonked the run.  It's that simple and it's because I was racing sick, EXPECTING an "A" race.
Lesson Learned:  Develop the appropriate race strategy for THAT day and the conditions that are presented.

There are so many things I did wrong that probably added to my "bonk"....
1.) Tylenol Cold and Sinus Morning of Race - STUPID MOVE - IDIOTIC ACTUALLY.
2.) Drinking only 75% of what I should have during bike - POOR RACE DAY EXECUTION
3.) Not practicing open water sighting during the week of the race (for confidence and a reminder of what it feels like)  = POOR PRE-RACE EXECUTION
4.) Not listening to my body and pushing to a power wattage & running pace that my body didn't want to do - POOR RACE PLANNING
5.) Not getting enough sleep the 3 nights before the race - POOR PRE-RACE EXECUTION

All in all - you can tell that I learned a TON from this race.  I learned alot about myself; I learned a lot about racing. 

What I learned as well is how deep I need to re-learn to dig.  There are a few "reminder" workouts I'll be conducting in the upcoming weeks that will re-educate the pain threshold of coming off of a hard bike.  Digging deep while running only is methodical.  You hit a zone and you hold that zone.  Slipping from the zone you're in is easy, but if you've found the zone, it's easier to hang there.  Triathlon zone training is harder.  Finding the bike zone, stopping; then finding the run zone and holding BOTH is challenging.  It's something you must train hard for.  It's something I've done in the past that's excruciating - yet VERY beneficial.
Lesson Learned: Reminder of what it feels like to dig DEEP within 7 days of race day.

I hope a few items helped people out here.  I hope it acts as a warning/reminder for those racing in the near future!  If my mistakes/misfortunes stop just 1 person from bonking - then I'm VERY glad I wrote this!

I'll write and official race review in the next few days...until then...

Keep up the Endurance....Keep up the Intensity!


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