Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lessons Learned from Boise

It seems the more things that go wrong in a race the more you learn about what to do or not to do for next time.  Given that definition Boise was a HUGE learning curve for me.  So I thought I'd share some of my little snippets of wisdom.  I'm sure a lot of you have already learned these lessons for yourself:

Don't get Sick
OK....yes, I know this is obvious but next time I will make sure to really be super careful in the lead up to a race to keep myself healthy.

Race Nutrition
I know everyone talks about this being the 4th discpiline along with swim/bike/run but I'm not just talking about race day nutrition.I'm talking about what you put in your mouth (or what you don't in my case) in the week leading up to the race.

Have Access to a Kitchen and a supermarket
My hotel had no kitchen so I couldn't prepare any of my own meals, and because I couldn't find anything I wanted to eat I went without.  This leads back up to the previous point about race week nutrition. If possible try and book a hotel with a kitchen or food prep facilities and make sure you can either drive or walk to a supermarket.  711s just don't seem to cut it.

Give yourself some head space
I booked a hotel room for myself but plenty of other people were sharing their rooms with up to 4 other people.  Come the day before the race when tension and nervous energy levels were high it was really nice for me to be able to escape and relax and have some time to myself.

Chill out in the week leading up to the race
This runs along similar lines as the point above, but I made the mistake of filling up the week before my race with a thousand errands that had me running all over the place.  Next time I will try and tie up as many loose ends as possible before race week so I can relax a bit and not feel exhausted going into the race.

Give yourself plenty of time to get situated for an out-of-town race.
I know people who got into Boise the afternoon before the race.  As soon as they arrived they had a very stressful few hours making sure they got to registration, the athlete briefing and getting their bike into transition before the cut off. Make sure and give yourself 2 days to do all this.  If your race is on Saturday get there on Thursday.  If you are racing on Sunday get in no later than Friday.  This may sound like a lot of time to sit around before the race but I saw so many people really have a stressful time because they got into town so late.

Check in early
If you can manage to get into town early go ahead and go through race check in as soon as registration opens.  I did and then went to the first athlete meeting, so I got it all done on Thursday and spent Friday relaxing.  some of my friends skipped the athlete briefing because they had left in so late to check in and they ran out of time.

Premedicate with Immodium to aviod GI problems.
 For someone with GI issues on the run, Immodium can be a race ( and dignity) saver. Nuff said!

Don't try and put on compression in transition
I don't know about you but I find it super difficult to get my compression socks on at the best of times but during transition when you are trying to be as fast as possible is definitely NOT the right time.  If you can wear compression under your wetsuit ( like calf sleeves for example) do that but don't try and wrestle with it in transition.  I wasted 10 mins in T1 trying to get my stupid socks on and then went without them.

Go sockless on the bike
After not being able to get my socks on in T1 I went without and it worked so well that I won't be wearing socks on the bike at all during a race anymore.

Use shoes with speedlaces
This is similar to going sockless on the bike.  When your fingers don't work doing up shoelaces is impossible.  Wearing speedlaces eliminates the problem and is much quicker anyway.

Pre-roll socks and armwarmers
Pre rolling your socks and arm warmers makes it much easier to get them on especially when you are wet.

Stuff to add to my packing list
I hadn't anticipated the severity of the weather conditions on race day and as I was huddled under a tree trying to get out of the wind and rain I was making a mental note to include the following things on my list for future races:
1 - Hand and foot warmers:  These would have helped keep my hands and feet warm while I was waiting to start and I could have put these in my bike shoes so they would have been warm coming out of the swim.
2 - A rain poncho with a hood:  I had a plastic bag over me but it was next to useless in keeping me dry.  Once my clothes got wet I just couldn't warm up again.
3 - Sharpie: we had to put stickers with our race numbers onto our gear bags but the rain made all the stickers fall off so when it came time to pick up the bags at the end of the race their was a bit of confusion about who owned what bag.  Next time I'll use a sharpie to mark my gear bags with my race number in addition to the stickers - just in case.
4 - Tape:  there were a couple of times when having some tape would have been really helpful. Bright colored tape would have made it easier to identify my gear bags and it also would have come in handy to keep some flat repair stuff on  my bike.  It fell off somewhere along the way and I lost it.

Do a transition walkthrough
When I went to rack my bike before the race I did a walk through of transition from the swim exit all the way up to my bike. I found some landmarks near my bike that made it easier to find it on race day.

Practice leaving bike shoes on the pedals.
This would have been really helpful if I could have done this coming into T2.  My rack spot was near the run out so I had to run all the way through bike transition with my bike shoes on.  It would have been much quicker to have my feet out of my bike shoes and be able to run through transition in bare feet.

....and my last gem....

Check race logistics
In future BEFORE I sign up for races I will be checking the logisitics of the race.  Boise was a difficult one because the race was point to point and started way out of town.  I don't think I would do one like that again.  Its much easier if all transitions are in the same area and the race itself is in a centrally located place. The swim location in Boise was way out of town, so if you forgot something there was no going back and dropping off and picking up gear bags etc was complicated.

Anyone else have some tips that they can share?


  1. Great tips!!! This race was good for you in many ways because of all you learned/experienced :)

  2. I decorate my gear bags with brightly-coloured ribbon, that way it makes it really easy for me to tell which are mine in transition.

    I wear my goggles under my swim cap, in case I get knocked in the head in that washing machine called the swim start - that way I don't lose my goggles.

    i put each sock in each shoe since I wear L/R socks on the run, that way I don't have to look. I also smear vaseline on my feet to prevent blisters.

    That's what I can think of off the top of my head! For now anyway.

  3. I love this list.
    I am learning from you and plan to ride all races sockless from now on.

    I also love that you got your own room and didn't cave to the pressure to bunk up with someone just to save a few bucks.

    And the kitchenette idea is really smart. Once you are all dialed in and eating a certain way traveling can throw it all off. A kitchen is a great way to avoid that... and by avoiding all the added cost of eating out you have the extra money for your own room. ;) See!! Genius.

  4. big al (the old dog)June 19, 2012 at 10:28 PM

    good effort there much time to recover before the next race?matti looks looks as if he could do a bit of training slowly learning this computer routine,veeerrry slow but this old dog is giving it a go'

  5. great tips! i still think ths was an absolute freak of a race, but at least you learned some good stuff!

    i have yet to try the sockless thing...may just have to one of these days.