Non-Traditional Race Tips

JZ @ IM AZ ’05. Flat #1 of 2. No valve extender. Eventually DNFed.

Every season, articles appear in the popular triathlon publications and online proffering a variety of tips related to having your best race ever. These articles offer up tips relating to the weather, nutrition, transition and the swim. How many times have you seen this title, “13 weeks to a sub 13 Ironman”? I have come up with a whole new set of items related to racing. It is not what you think. My tips are how to best DNF your next Ironman. I have DNFed a few Ironman races in my career and know many other athletes who have as well. I have amassed this list from my own arsenal and from the experiences of others I know.

Show up injured – Starting a race with a lingering injury is a sure-fire way to increase your odds of not finishing. The intensity of racing will most certainly flare up the injured body part, and depending on the length of the race, will make finishing unlikely. In fact, if you race injured you probably will not finish your next race as well.

Get a flat tire – Here are a few scenarios: A. You do not know how to change a flat (watch this video to find out how: How to Change a Flat Tire). B. You did not bring a spare (shame on you). C.  You put way too much air in your tire and it exploded. D. You forgot a valve extender, CO2, tire lever.

Screw up your nutrition –Eat too much. Eat too little. The course drink made you sick. Drop your gel flask. Allow your salt tablets to melt into a gooey mess. Lose your drink bottle. Throw up. Have diarrhea.

Go out way too hard – You know the ramifications of going too hard at the start of the race are dire, but you can’t help yourself. The adrenaline is pumping. The taper freshened you up so it felt easy. The lure of Kona made you do it. Whatever the reason, you are reduced to sitting on the side of the road watching the race unfold trying to figure out how to get back to transition.

Neglect bike maintenance – Most race day mechanicals occur from malfunctions that could have been prevented by a simple trip to your bike mechanic. Common failures include snapped cables, broken derailleur’s and seat posts and poor shifting; some pre-race bike love probably could have picked up all of these issues. When you put your bike together when you arrive at your destination, make sure all of the bolts are tight!

Succumb to the elements (wilt in the heat; shiver in the cold) – Whenever you travel to a race you should have gear to accommodate the weather. It is not unusual for forecasters to make mistakes (are they right 50% of the time?). Sunny and warm can turn to rainy and miserable in a split second. Be prepared with arm warmers, a rain jacket and gloves. Cold water? A neoprene cap keeps you much warmer than a wetsuit alone. On a hot day, be sure to take plenty of electrolytes and douse yourself with cold water often.

Overestimate your abilities – Your Ironman PR is 11 hours and you are certain you can break 10. You swim and bike like a fiend chasing your goal. Then your race falls apart because of #4. Was that goal realistic? Be honest with yourself!

Get DQed – Yes, it happens. People do DNF because they were DQed. Argue with an official? You’re out. Caught drafting more than twice? Sayonara. Skip the penalty tent? Go home. Cut the course? Cheater!

Have a mishap on the course – So many things can happen on race day. Multi-bike pile ups. Encounters with cars. Physical contact on the swim. I even heard of an athlete crashing after a foul up grabbing a water bottle at an aid station (ironically, she was using a Camelbak).

Get lost – Many years ago I was at a race with a cross country run that was not well marked. The lead man could not find his way and was not seen the rest of the day. Perhaps he is still out there running.

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3 Responses

  1. says:

    Hawaii 08-

    Draft Marshall: "YOU! Yellow card!"

    Me: "What the $&#* are you talking about?!?!?!"

    Draft Marshall: "RED CARD!"

    Me: Watching peletons go by for 4 min as I stood in a box holding a stop watch…..grrrrrr

    My tip- STFU when it comes to draft busters!

  2. Laura Wheatley says:

    Love this post!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I witnessed you DNF at IMAZ '08 — You had an amazing swim (so Fast), First off the bike, then something happened on the run (stomach issues I think). You did look great up to that point — Hope to see you race again in the future! Keep Tri'n