After completing a race, have you ever written out a race report? A race report is a compilation of thoughts and reflections regarding a recent event. Considerations on your race execution, mentality, fueling strategy, hydration strategy, transition setup, temperature on race day and how that affected your performance, thoughts on your tri kit, pacing strategy, taper, training leading in, etc. While it seems like we would remember these details event over event or year over year, these details tend to get lost or forgotten.
By completing a race report just after finishing an event, you can reflect on those details you would like to improve or change and apply them to your races moving forward; resulting in a smoother, faster and/or better experience down the road. Not only that, but these are great memories to reflect on years down the road. With that said, I want to share one of my most recent experiences and a few key takeaways that may help improve your experience and headspace heading into a future event.
Last weekend, I completed IRONMAN 70.3 Timberman. The swim was perfect. It was a rectangular lake swim, the current was against us on our way out and with us on the way back in, and the water temperature was just wetsuit legal. I always emphasize seeding yourself the best you can with each race. Commonly, athletes will seed themselves too fast and find out quickly this is not the space they want to be in. With this event, I seeded myself too slow. I recently overcame a shoulder injury and underestimated my resilience and abilities back in the race scene. At first, this was frustrating as I had to make my way through the athletes ahead of me and it slowed my pace. However, once I got into my own zone and rhythm, it provided a great confidence boost at the beginning of the race as I continued to pass all the swimmers around me and ahead of me. I wouldn't recommend seeding yourself too slow, but if you are on the verge of two seeded times, it's typically best to go with the second group, placing yourself at the front of the group so you avoid some of what I encountered. You may also get this same confidence boost.
Fast forward to the bike. The first 20 miles were incredible, rolling hills and a tailwind most of the way. Then we turned around. The next 18 miles were rolling hills and a heavy headwind. So much of a headwind you had to pedal relatively hard even when going downhill. At mile 38 we made a turn to loop around to the finish. The majority of those remaining 18 miles were brutal climbs, with the last 1-2 miles of the event being downhill and flat as we made our way into transition. While it was difficult, I loved this bike course because I love a challenge. I aced my nutrition and hydration, aced my pacing and rode my gears right which is absolutely crucial with a hilly course.
The biggest reason I'm explaining the details of the bike course are because in those last 18 miles of climbing, after 20 miles of such heavy headwinds, seeds of doubt were popping into my head that the run portion of this race was going to be a walk/run. My legs were heavy and I felt spent. Now, depending on the distance event, the conditions on race day and how you have trained and prepared heading into a race, sometimes a walk/run is necessary and/or all you can give. However, the LAST thing you should do is give up or assume you will do worse than you can before you even start.
As I dismounted and made my way into transition, I was prepping myself mentally to fight the pain and fatigue ahead and found myself running comfortably with the bike. I switched into my run gear and headed out on the run. I nailed the run, running just slower than my goal pace for the race. I was aiming for an 8:30 pace and hit 8:37's overall.
At any time, but especially on race day, it's easy to doubt your capabilities on what you can do, especially when you're feeling physically and/or mentally exhausted. The BEST thing you can do is BELIEVE in yourself, TRUST your training, EXECUTE on race day exactly as you have in your training and OWN THE FIGHT through the pain and fatigue. Not every race is going to be your best race, but implementing these actions on and before race day, while collectively looking at each event and applying what you've learned will turn you into the best you can possibly be.
No event is the same and there is always something you can learn upon and improve with each type and distance event you do. Writing this information down and applying the lessons learned allows us to consistently reach greater and greater levels, leading to your highest potential.
So, write those race reports, apply the lessons, keep moving the gears towards your highest potential, AME high and do it with a smile.