Categorized | Primary, Triathlons

Reflections on Triathlon Racing in bad weather

Posted on 01 September 2010

This past weekend, I participated in a Double Ironman in Slovenia and experienced some new interesting challenges mentally and physically.   The race consisted of a 4.4 mile lake swim, 224 mile bike ride and a 52.4 mile run.

The first challenge occurred during the swim when a storm came up and created chop and currents but as you know the race is never won in the water.   So a little slow and used a bit more energy than expected but all was fine.   The bike ride started with pouring down rain, wind, lightening, thunder (flat course) and did not experience any major problems as it was relatively warm (while riding).  I did not notice any specific additional energy exertion for the ride.  

The rain continued for the entire bike ride of 13 hours and was a mental battle along with dealing with being so wet and chaffing issues.  No worries was my mindset, the run was coming and could finally get off the bike!  Overall, I had no indication of the effect of the weather on the body.

Of course the hope of a let up in the rain did not occur during the run and just could not find that “extra gear”.   At least the good thing was that it was a long run and was able to rally the body later into the race.

Learning Lesson #1 – No matter how much rain occurs in a race, make sure to keep the calories and electrolytes up even though you don’t feel it when riding or running in driving rain.

Learning Lesson #2 – Riding in wind and rain no matter how flat a course will add to the fatigue when starting the run.   It’s just a fact!

Learning Lesson #3 – Use the bad weather as an advantage as many competitors do not have the mental strength to battle through the elements.   In the Slovenia race, many athletes were sitting in tents just to keep out of the rain for a bit.   Pretty easy to make up time on competitors no matter how slow you are going vs. sitting in a tent!

Learning Lesson #4 – Throw out the P.R. – it’s probably not going to be a day for you fastest race.

In 25 years of racing, this was probably the worst in weather I have experienced for an entire race of this length – 28 hours.   Overall, it was an experience that was a ton of fun and kept me laughing many times (seriously I was actually laughing out loud on the bike!) as we all looked like crazy people biking in this weather.   I know one thing, my wife and super crew was not laughing much during the rain but she is a trooper!

3 Responses to “Reflections on Triathlon Racing in bad weather”

  1. [...] good. It was a case of bank the memory and learn from it.  I gained some a valuable insight into dealing with bad weather; what to wear and how to handle the bike (or not) and I knew it could never be any [...]

  2. [...] due to the conditions and also due to hypothermia.   Wayne Kurtz wrote an excellent article on Tips how to handle adverse conditions while racing.  Most people back in town had no idea of the dark side…it was a perfectly, nice, sunny day in [...]

  3. Laurademeo says:

    Wayne, what mental toughness to be on the bike for 13 hrs in the rain! These lessons are so valuable and couldn’t be more to on target. I just did Canada IM and the weather was horrible on the bike– hail/ hard rain, and strong head winds with hills. I kept wanted to PR in this race, but had to come to the conclusion it wasn’t going to happen.

    As far as fuel and electrolytes– yes, definitely still need to keep up with the calories and the conditions will sap more energy and will lead to more fatigue starting out on the run. It happened to me at my race.

    Lastly, you are right– many people won’t have the mental toughness to endure the rough conditions so this can be an advantage. great post and congrats on your double– that is just incredible! Laura

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