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PR Without Training More

by Nan Kappeler

Ever wonder how much faster your swim time would have been if you hadn’t swum slightly west on a northbound course? Or the seconds you would have saved if you could have located your bike faster, or have found your gel at your transition site. Being organized and knowing your race course can get you over the finish line saying “PR.” Check out the following tips:

  • Tip 1:
    Always warm-up before the swim. Avoid experiencing a panic attack, which can happen when the shock of cold water, masses of people, and a constricting wetsuit all hit you at one time. Not only is this very scary, but catching your breath and getting going on-course can cost you minutes. Be sure to get at least a 15-minute easy swim before the race. Let the water fill your wetsuit and cap. Swim out to the first buoy and check out the alignment of the course buoys. Look at the shore and the exit area—it looks much smaller and different from 200 yards plus out.
  • Tip 2:
    The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Avoid swimming off-course by simply lifting your head up and looking ahead. Don’t depend on others to guide the way—they are often wrong! I breathe in front about every ten strokes to spot the next buoy. If I can’t see the next buoy, I will do a few strokes of breaststroke to locate the next marker and often need to make a slight adjustment in my course to be in line with the next buoy. Lots of time is lost by swimming off course. Look where you are going!!
  • Tip 3:
    Another place commonly overlooked for gaining time is the transition area. Many racers leave for the swim and forget to take note of what area their bike is parked. This is especially important in big races where there are rows and rows of bikes. If you need help finding your bike, use a bright colored Lickety-Split transition mat, such as neon green or neon pink. Be sure to pull the mat past the rear wheel (no, you won’t be sticking out too far) and place your running shoes off the top of the mat (on the cement). Position your cycling shoes on the top of the mat. Place your nourishment and any additional gear also near the top of the mat leaving a target to spot, and a place to wipe your feet.
  • (l) Bike in, shoes on-you’re off (r) Leap frog from the bucket over the bag to your bike.

  • Tip 4:
    Organize your transition spot. Less is better. Put all excess items in your backpack and place your backpack at the top of the space (under the bike rack). Only keep out essential items. The longer the race, the more gear people tend to bring. Don’t lose time sorting through your garage sale of items.
  • (l)My sunglasses must be in here somewhere?(r) I’m long gone!.