Triathlon Race Day Tips: Pre-Race

Two weeks.

I can’t believe it – TWO WEEKS UNTIL MY FIRST IRONMAN! It still doesn’t seem real! Today, I met up with my group for a swim and recovery ride and it was the first time that I started to hit me – it’s time.

I started this journey really not knowing ANYTHING about triathlons. From barely being able to swim eight laps to being nervous for my first clip-in, group ride, the past year has taught me so much. But before I get to that blog post, I wanted to share some of the race day triathlon tips that I’ve learned. Throughout the week I’ll be sharing pre-race, swim, bike and run tips.

This doesn’t include fueling and there’s so much more that I have left to learn, but hopefully there are a few nuggets in here for you.

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Pre-Race

Get up early and eat.

My body likes to get up early enough to ensure that I’m not rushed. I get up and eat first thing. Eat the same thing you’ve eaten on training. Don’t try anything new. I eat two English muffins with a light PB&J spread.

Eating early gives me enough time to get the GI system flowing, and, um, ensure that you do your business fully before race start. I hop in the shower just to wake up, but skip washing your hair or getting gorgeous – not necessary.  Do a double check on all your gear and triple check your packing list (highly recommended).

Have a really good Sherpa that gets you there early.

He's the best Sherpa ever.

I’m lucky enough to having an amazing race Sherpa that will drive me to the race start while I sleep, or listen to be blab on and on about anything race-related.

Make sure you get to the race at least an hour and a half before race start. You never know what traffic or parking issues you may have.

Prep for your gear for the race.

When you arrive. Go to the bathroom. Now. Get it out of the way before the line gets too long. You can go again later if you need to.

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Next, beat the line and get your body marked. Also it’s important to do this early so it dries and doesn’t permanently stain your wetsuit (eh hem, who has that?! Not me, no sir.).

Time to prep the first transition area, also known as T1. Don’t be fooled by the ridiculous amount of crap people have at T1 – you don’t need it!

Rack your bike by the seat with the handlebars pointing towards you. Put your helmet on the aerobars, helmet strap undone, upside down with your sunglasses in them.

Make sure your tires are pumped to the appropriate PSIs and that  your bike already has your water bottles fully loaded on your bike and your bento box full with whatever fuel you’ll need.

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I then lay out a small towel and put all my transition stuff on it. This is my zone.  For T1, make sure your shoes are unvelcroed (or opened, however your shoes work), socks (if you choose to use them – shorter tris, no.), gloves (I later learned that people don’t usually wear gloves) and any weather appropriate gear (e.g. armwarmers) are laid out. Use your towel to wipe off your feet in T1, you can also bring a small water bottle to rinse off your feet if you need to.

For T2, make sure your running shoes are either unlaced or you are using Yanks. I admit that I haven’t used Yanks yet, but I need to.  Add a visor and your set for T2 set-up. If you need sunscreen, chapstick, or anything else, lay them out here, but you really don’t need much.

Note: Bitches be crazy during transition, so make sure you take inventory of your stuff. I’ve found some of my things a few feet away of where I originally put it. If you run up to T1 to see your stuff is not where you originally put it, stay calm and look in a three feet perimeter around your stuff.

Go to the bathroom again if you can.

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If you weren’t able to scope of the transitions the prior day, make sure you familiarize yourself with how you will be entering and exiting T1 and T2. Or you can run around looking like an idiot like I did.

Get suited up and watch check.

Time to get it your wetsuit. Make sure to lube up well! Get it on your ankles, wrists neck and anywhere you might experience some chafing. Don’t be afraid to put a lot on, it will also help you take the suit off.

Power-up your watch, get the signal and make sure you’re in triathlon mode, ready to go.

Prep your mind for the race.

Now that you’ve arrived at the race, you’ll be overwhelmed by the ridiculous amount of “parking lot intimidation.” Extremely fit looking people doing warm-up jogs, strange stretches or babbling on about PRs/why they’re taking this race “easy.” Whatever. This is YOUR race. Try not to look around and compare yourself to anyone. Focus on what you need to do out there and then get after it.

Say your thank yous.

Make sure to make time to tell your family and friends just how much you appreciate them coming out to your race and pose for a lot of photos with them. You’ll be glad you did later.

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Best cheer squad ever!

Ahhhh, I’m tearing up now as I just start to write about my triathlon journey. I need to go before my tears make my keyboard glitch.

What are your pre-race triathlon or running tips?

Next up: the swim!

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6 Responses to Triathlon Race Day Tips: Pre-Race

  1. I can’t believe it’s only two weeks away, you’ve come so far!! So excited to track you on race day. :)

    My prerace tip is to put your bib/shoe tag on the night before…I spend so much time pinning my bib on perfectly and you don’t want to forget your shoe tag!

  2. Holly says:

    My pre-race tip: I carry all of my transition items in a bucket. I then use the bucket (turn it upside down) and use it to sit on while I wipe my feet/socks/shoes/etc… My legs are usually wobbly from the swim or bike.

  3. Nicole says:

    Woohoo 2 weeks!

    I always have a Gu about 30 minutes before the start of any triathlon since I won’t be able to refuel again until I’m on the bike and my stomach has settled. I’d only eat something that you are used to consuming but it’s good to get calories in before the swim!

  4. Nelly says:

    Crazy that it’s in 2 weeks! Glad that your injury problems seem to be behind you now. You nailed all the pre-race tips, only thing I can think of is to try to get a good nights sleep 2 nights before the race, since generally the day before I don’t sleep very well.

  5. Wow- I can’t believe it’s in two weeks time! Hope you’re enjoying your taper.
    Great tips, especially the one about hitting the bathroom right when you get there.
    Like Nicole, I also take a Gu right before I get in the water. I don’t particularly like them, but it’s a good way to get in some quick, easy to digest calories before hitting the water for a long swim.

  6. Katie says:

    My only addition to this is make sure you put your timing chip on!! I note this from experience. I took mine off to get my wetsuit on, then oops, forgot to put it back on. Didn’t realize it until I was standing in front of the ocean, waiting for the race to start. Thank god for my big brother who ran the quarter mile back to the transition area to grab it for me.

    Great post. I’ve loved reading about your journey. You are going to rock Arizona!

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