I like to share my suggestions for those attending their first Sprint this year, including the Triathlon Family (TriFam) Sprint on 5 February.
1) Focus on your main goal. As I learnt from TriFam co-founder, Ser Luck, ‘Aim to complete. You can compete later.’
2) Practice your transitions: From-swim-to-ride, T1 & ride-to-run, T2. Make time to wear your attire and footwear properly before dashing off.
3) Use time-savers: elastic laces for running shoes; shoes mounted on pedals; helmet & sun-shades and race-belt (with race-tag) on bike-handles;
4) No need for power-gels or drinks for the race. You can consume one power-gel 15-30 minutes before the race. Be hydrated. Have a full bottle of water on your bike-cage.
5) Pacing is everything despite it being called a sprint. Do it at your best training pace, not harder or faster.
6) Patience is a value to be mindful of throughout the endurance race. If somebody has a mechanical failure on the bike, or has a goggle-leak you can still catch up.
7) Make sure that all your equipment is in serviceable condition. Check brakes, tyres, helmet, goggles, and shoes before you race. Race with the exact attire, equipment and footwear you trained with. NO NEW STUFF!
8) Race only if you feel about 90-100 percent ready. Never race if you are unwell.
9) If you have to walk it (run) or slow down (ride/swim), do so. Ask for help if you think you need. Do not be offended if an official asks if you are all right.
10) Enjoy the day. Appreciate the volunteers, spectators and officials – they help make our dreams happen. It is just a race. There will be more.
In 2006, I ran my only OSIM Bosses’ Challenge (triathlon sprint) in which I placed third. I had to fight hard for the podium placing, and missed second place by three seconds (as the spectators alerted the guy in front through their cheers). I learnt to be patient despite a moderate swim (I am no sprinter), a decent ride (the favourite dropped out due to a lose seat), and ran my heart out for the finish (thus clocking the fastest overall run-time). I did not know I placed third until the race announcer informed me. It was a sweet ending for sticking to the plan.