My first race was an Ironman (not recommended). I raced in a pair of Lycra shorts that were not proper tri shorts. No bike pad, no leg grippers…nothing. I managed to survive the bike, and am happy to report feeling has finally returned to “the area” some 14 years later. I set out on the run, and the shorts rode up so badly; there was mega chaffing in Wedgie City from the first step. About 6 miles in, I had a few friends cheering. One had run shorts on and I begged her to change shorts with me. We ran off course, into a parking lot and dropped trou right there, swapping shorts. Now THAT is a good friend! (In this day and age, that would be considered outside aid, and you shouldn’t do it, but “back in the day” it was a small Ironman race, and I was far from the lead….no harm, no foul!)
The second lesson: Spend some time with a good mechanic before your first race and learn some basic bike mechanics. At minimum, LEARN HOW TO CHANGE A FLAT! During my second season of racing, I was racing a half Ironman. I was a good swimmer, and exited the water first overall. I set out on the bike course, and about 3 miles in, I got a flat. I didn’t have supplies to change the flat….Why carry that stuff if I don’t know how to change one? I stood on the side of the road for over an hour until support arrived. The entire field passed me by. I went from first place to dead last. The support vehicle helped me change the flat and I started to soft pedal back to transition. The mechanic said, “Where are you going?” I said, “I’m in last place. I was in first. I am going back to transition and going home.” Nicely, the mechanic said to me, “Look, you paid your money. You might as well finish it!”. Guilted into it, I re-righted my bike and pressed on. It wasn’t a stellar finish, but I finished never the less….and felt pretty darn good about it. Lesson learned. Learn to change a flat so you are self sufficient, and never give up…..even when things don’t go your way.