There’s sometimes nothing you can do except do your best or drop out. If you decide to race, you’re probably not going to do well, but that’s if you compare yourself to your normal self. When you’re sick, you can easily lose anywhere from 20%-50% of your endurance. Not only that, but your loss increases exponentially through the race no matter how short.
This recently happened to me at my “A” race during TriRock Philly. This race was my first Olympic distance race. Two weeks out I felt great, but at 10 days I developed a sinus and upper respiratory infection. This meant lots of rest, no training, bad sleep, and a horrible taper. So, there was plenty to think about leading up to race day. I was raising money for a great cause and I knew I would be able to get through the distance, so dropping out was not an option, but I had no idea how to pace myself in order to not come in dead last.
Most Olympic distance races are still a “red-lining” endurance event, but you have to play to your advantage as much as you can. For you track and field peeps, think of this as an 800m race. Well, my breathing had cleared up a bunch by race morning, but I was still far from 100%. With that in mind, I adjusted my plan. I didn’t go out very hard on the swim and conserved a good amount of energy. I took my time in both transitions just to make sure I was fully ready for each leg. I knew the bike would be my best event, so I went for it. The course is a mix of fast flats, steep climbs, technical descents, and mass chaos. I still posted a top 200 time on the bike, so that made me happy. The run is where I knew I would struggle b/c of what I did on the bike. T2 was slow and controlled and mile one was a great warm up into mile two, but then I fell apart. I was so hot and cramped so badly, that I had to walk every aid station for the remainder of the race. At mile 4 I had to stop and stretch. Even so, I still posted a decent time and was able to “virtually” beat my brother-in-law from two years ago. Ha! (Sorry Mike)
What did I learn? First, I need a good week of solid tapering. Second, I need a warm up before go time. Third, if there’s a separate swim start, BRING WATER!!! Fourth, wear tri clothes that keep you cool. Fifth, take in more calories on the bike. Lastly, wear a hat! Visors do not work for me. Silly bald man.