Last month I posted a blog about Expect the Unexpected in Triathlon Racing and Charles Evans’ experience at the Zell am See-Kaprun 70.3 in Austria certainly proved the point.
The Zell am See-Kaprun region is an alpine wonderland of glaciers, mountains and lakes with a late-August climate that is usually not too warm or too cold. Last year at 30C it was warmer than usual. But this year surprised everyone with an early snowfall the night before the race, resulting in cancellation of the bike section of the course due to the treacherous road conditions, and a significant delay to the start time for what became a Swim-Run Race.
In his own words, this is how Charles described his experience and his key learnings:
Key message – expect the unexpected and be prepared for it!
Prior to the race, I had looked at various weather forecasts. Some forecast rain, others part cloud and rain and one even suggested sleet. I discounted the outlier, hoped the others were wrong and failed to pack warm clothes/rainwear for before and after the race and for the bike. Learning point: trust the most pessimistic weather forecast.
During the athletes’ briefing the day before the race, there was a reference to black flags and potential snow, which should have given me a clue. But I was thinking more about the descent in the bike and most concerned about getting very wet and cold. On the day, the cancellation of the bike and delay of the start meant the former wasn’t a factor but the latter was. Learning point: any fool can get cold; pack for the most pessimistic weather forecast.
The transition area all made sense but I was not prepared for it to be closed ages before the start. Initially, the marshall would not let me in to rack my bag or get my race number. Learning point: don’t wait to walk to the start – get on and do what is required!
It was very crowded waiting for the swim and difficult to find the right pen. Once there, the wait for the swim took far too long and I got very cold. Then the strap on my goggles broke! How do you prepare for something like that? I had to exit the water and borrow a pair pretty quickly but they were a poor fit. Learning point: don’t buy Huub goggles.
My swim time was slow because (1) the goggles did not work well and one eye was full of water – I had to stop a couple of times to empty the goggles; (2) the poor goggles meant sighting was difficult and I swam off course on the return leg (almost into the oncoming traffic); and (3) the goggle issue meant I had to start with slower swimmers so I had to fight my way through the traffic. Learning point: don’t buy Huub goggles.
My transition was not fast but I wasn’t pushing it. I didn’t have any issues. Learning point: practicing transitions has paid off!
The run suited me (at least mentally). I could see the distance ‘to go’ and there were sufficient breaks along the way to make it interesting and to feel I was making progress. I stopped at one stage for the loo. I ate bits of a banana and drank water. Given that I had not run a half marathon for over 20 years, I was pretty pleased. Learning point: it may have taken me 3 tries, but I can indeed run an entire half marathon.
The post-race area was small and crowded which meant there was a wait for T-shirts and street wear bags which was irritating (and chilly) but not a major problem. Learning point: see above about the cold!
My legs felt a bit battered for a couple of days and seized when I sat for any length of time but I have had no issues with my back or hip, which is a big step forward. I now feel as fit as I have ever been. Learning point: hard work pays off and even the unexpected can be dealt with!
Thanks for sharing your experience Charles! This is a great example how even when the unexpected happens, there can be many positives that come out of it!