Course Tips from Triathlon Pro: Trifecta Triathlon
Lesley Smith, pro triathlete, lives and trains in Austin and is racing at the upcoming Trifecta Triathlon September 16 at Possum Kingdom Lake. She takes a look at the course characteristics and gives us a “pro’s perspective” on how to race your best race on this particular course.
SWIM – deep water start, point-to-point
- For deep water starts, lean forward right before the start gun goes off so that you’re creating a bit of momentum in the right direction.
- It is key to not let the start of an open water swim fluster you. Do not be afraid to take strong, confident strokes to hold your place in the group of swimmers, and remind yourself that any physical contact and choppy water created by the masses will settle down after the first couple minutes.
- To waste the least amount of energy when sighting, try to hold your general body position and just barely lift your head out of the water. Taking a mental note of buoy placement pre-race will help you identify them more quickly during the swim.
- Have a friend help you pull your wetsuit up as far as possible on your legs/hips, as well as on each shoulder. This creates a bit more slack for your upper body, which is key for shoulder range of motion.
BIKE – mostly flat
- Before the start, clip in your shoes and secure one of the heels to your bike with a rubber band so that you don’t have to run out of the transition area in your cycling shoes. Note: this takes some practice pre-race!
- September in Texas can be very warm, so even though this is not a long distance race, do not forget to hydrate on the bike, as it will catch up with you on the run.
- Since the bike course is mostly flat, concentrate on a consistent cadence during the race. In training, note how 85-95 rpms feels in various gears on flat roads, and figure out which combination allows for the highest speed.
RUN – mostly flat, starts with gradual hill
- If you do not want to mess with wearing socks, be sure to run in your race shoes sock-less prior to the race so that your feet get used to it. Blisters and foot discomfort can create a significantly less enjoyable experience.
- Right after you get off the bike and start the run, focus on quick/high cadence, short strides. Strides that are too long, especially right after riding, are not efficient.
- Clif products will be handed out at the run water stops (i.e. gels, sports drink, etc.). Before the race, be sure to test how your stomach will handle them. Your body is obviously at its peak stress levels during the run, so make sure you’re able to take in fuel and hydrations, especially because Sept. in Texas can be very warm.
- Complete a few runs with significant hills leading up to the race. While the majority of the run is flat, the first approximately 2 miles of the run is a gradual uphill on a picturesque trail.
- Err on the conservative side at the beginning of this run (and consciously pick up the pace when it becomes flat) so that the uphill portion does not blow out your legs for a strong finish.
- If you scope out the course ahead of time, it’s important to note the transition logistics: where do you enter and exit/start and finish each leg of the race? This prevents moments of confusion during the race, which do nothing but decrease your focus.
- When warming up before the race, make sure you break a bit of a sweat, as you need to get your blood pumping for what’s to come. Stay loose while waiting for your wave’s swim start with light stretching, arm/shoulder swings, and shaking out your muscles. Starting a swim warmed up will help you adjust to cooler water temps.
- Do not try anything new or drastic food-wise the day before/morning of the race. Stomach issues can halt the even most highly trained athletes, so stick to what you’re used to.
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