First of all, a quick disclaimer: This post is going to mostly be about what I could have done differently. That doesn't mean I regret a single thing about my first race. It was a fantastic day and an amazing experience. The fantabulousness of it also doesn't mean I can't learn from it. Hence, this post.
1. There is a reason most training plans include brick workouts. (For non-tri people, this is when you do a bike followed immediately by a run.)
Now, granted, I am following an Oly training plan because my "a" race isn't coming up until September, and technically, I didn't have any bricks in this part of my plan. Having said that, I knew I should have done at least one and I didn't.
The results for me weren't overly negative and I didn't suffer coming off the bike. BUT, I could have pushed harder on the bike and I held back because I didn't know how much I could push. Having done a couple bricks would have helped me recognize that better.
2. I need to practice my transitions.
Little things in the preparation like opening up my bike shoes beforehand. Getting my socks on quickly, etc. It also would be a good idea to do a practice run at the actual triathlon. Run into transition from the swim entrance, go towards the bike, etc. Finding my spot quickly and going the right way after would have saved me at least 1-2 minutes in this particular tri (seriously, maybe even more). I probably could have cut a bit more time off by being faster at the actual steps.
3. It's nice to have a garmin, but don't be too attached to it.
It didn't even make it into my race report, but I totally flubbed up my garmin use. I left it in run mode beforehand, so on the bike, it was giving me my pace rather then speed, and wasn't showing cadence at all. I also forgot to actually start it when I left transition, so it didn't get started until a km or so in.
Having said that, it was really freeing not to look at it too much! Because I'd flubbed it up, I only paid attention to it to give me a general idea of how I was doing. On the run, I wasn't constantly checking my pace or distance, just an occasional glance to see where I was.
4. Have fun!
Sometimes it's hard. Both with racing and training. Most races though, should make you feel great about yourself. Why else do you do it? Take some time to remember that while you're going. Now, I'm not saying you should actually stop to contemplate it, but while you're running or pedaling, take a moment to think "yes, I'm racing! I'm doing it!"
5. Make sure your camera is working.
Now, unfortunately, sometimes you have no warning ahead of time, but it was very disappointing to find out that a majority of pictures from both mine and my son's first triathlon may be gone. That's considering I am not even overly attached to pictures in general. Do everything you can to get good pictures, and if there's pro photographers present, remember to smile while passing them!
What lessons have you learned from your races?