Going through the process of writing a race report, whether you share it with others or just do it for yourself, is a great way to learn from your experiences.
It is a simple process. You start with your preparation and then go through the event itself, being sure to include your post-event physical and mental state.
Why would you do this?
1: to reinforce the things that went well
2: to learn from the things that did not go as well as you’d hoped
3: for fun and to share you experience with others
Here is an example based on my race this past weekend at Cultus Lake. This is my fourth race (out of 6) in the Dynamic Race Events triathlon series.
The short and sweet version
The race went quite well and I was fortunate to win first in my age group!
The heat was certainly a factor on the bike, it was hot and windy
My legs were tight and tired going into the race – more rest beforehand next time
Some day-before mechanical issues could have really distracted me, but I came prepared
The long version is….
Saturday at Cultus Lake was HOT – my car gauges read 36.5 degrees in the parking lot beside transition. I arrived for 1:00pm to check-in for the race and do my 20-20-20 (20 min swim, 20 min bike and 20 min run). In reality my 20-20-20 is usually more like 10-20-10 depending how I am feeling. My take-aways from my prep were: one, it was hot and therefore it would be really important to hydrate and two, that my left hamstring/glute were quite tight and even sore.
By the time I was done my run, I was HOT !!! so I went back into the lake for a quick cool down. When I got back to my car, I noticed that the rear tire on my tri bike race wheels looked “odd”. The tired hadn’t blown, but the rubber had de-laminated! They were old and tired but in good shape, but I guess the age and heat took their toll. Luckily I had brought a spare set of wheels. I packed up and headed to my buddies place for dinner happy to have a backup plan.
Sunday morning was much cooler than Saturday and it was shaping up to be a great morning to race. The folks at Dynamic Race Events put on a top notch event and the vibe was fun and exciting. I did my walk through of the transitions (I actually physically walk through what I will do in the race) and felt ready.
Swim – I’ve been feeling more confident about my swim this season. Although I have actually been training less on my swim than my bike and run, I have been placing well in my age for this leg of the race. And realistically, a 30-60 second gain in swim time takes a huge amount of effort compared to the same gain on the bike or run. I sometimes have trouble staying focused during the swim so started my ‘get focused mantra’ and it helped get my brain back in the game.
Bike – Due to my issue with the racing wheels in my prep the day before I had to ride with my training wheels instead. It likely makes little actual difference, except that it threw me off a bit mentally. I had not be training on my training wheels, so I guess I should start calling them spare wheels instead, and they didn’t shift all that well. They have a slightly different cassette so the gearing is different. These are all small things, but what also took my focus away was the sticky mess that resulted from a gel wrapper that I stuck up the leg of my bike shorts. I had forgotten the small bento box that I usually would use to discard them into. So, with every pedal stroke, I had a gooey mess behind my knee. I’ll not be forgetting the bento box next time!
Run – This is where the pain kicked in, both physically and mentally. It was obvious in the first 500 meters that my hamstring/glute weren’t happy. I’m used to my legs feeling like logs during the first few kms of the run, but not the spasms and tightness. I held back a little at the beginning which turned into a wise move later in the run. I loosened up somewhat and start my mental game of counting to keep my focus on ‘something’. So although it was not a stellar run, it wasn’t all that bad in the end. The perseverance paid off. I had pulled my ambitions back just enough not to hurt myself, but stuck in there long enough for the muscles to relax a bit allowing me to turn it into a decent run time
Ugh, I was hurting, tired and thirsty. But if I was not hurting and tired, I’d wonder why I didn’t push myself harder. So in the end, it was a good day; we had gorgeous weather, I had lots of friends there to socialize with and to race against, I pushed through a few execution glitches and I was able to enjoy most of the race. All in all, a great day!
One big take-away for me was; it doesn’t matter how long you have been riding (or racing), there is always something to learn and value from prior experiences. Using checklists, doing mental and physical walk-throughs, and establishing an overall race plan are all things I reinforce with the athletes I coach. Nothing makes me happier than if my experiences can help make someone else’s fondo or triathlon more enjoyable.
If you have any questions about triathlon, training or coaching, feel free to drop me an email anytime. If you want to learn more about my coaching you can check out: