Taking the Stress out of Race Day
Summer is right around the corner and with it comes the start of the outdoor triathlon season. It’s like Christmas in… well… June! You’ve trained, you have all your equipment together, and race day is right around the corner. Whether it’s your first triathlon or your fortieth, logistics can be your best friend when you’re trying to arrive at the starting line fresh, ready, and stress-free.
Two to four weeks before the race:
- Now is the time to make sure your bike is in good working order. If you haven’t had a tune-up since last year, make an appointment with your local bike shop and make sure your wheels are in tip-top condition.
- This is also a good time to try on your wetsuit and inspect it for holes while there is still time to repair or replace it. Make sure it still fits and get a couple of practice swims in!
- Try on your race uniform and anything you plan to wear in the race that you aren’t wearing in training.
- If you’re thinking of trying new clothing or equipment, now is the time. Don’t do anything new on race day.
One to two weeks before the race:
- Make sure your race-day bike repair kit has everything you need. Your kit should include spare tubes, a pump and/or CO2 cartridges, a multitool or a set of allen wrenches, and chain lube. If you don’t know how to use any of these things, now is the time to learn!
- Check the race website and verify that you know when and where packet pickup is (hint: it probably won’t be on race day!!).
- Check the race website for the location of race-day parking and make sure that you can access the parking without using any of the bike course – it may be closed on race day!
- Look over the course maps for each leg of the race; you are responsible for being familiar with the course. The bike and run courses will be marked, but it’s always helpful to have an idea of where you are.
- Pick up your packet and examine the contents! Don’t wait for race day to find out that you forgot to pick up safety pins at packet pickup and make sure you’ve got the right swim cap for your wave.
- Reacquaint yourself with the rules for your race. They should be posted on the race website or if it’s a USAT-sanctioned race the rules are posted on the USAT website. Some races will have special rules for the particulars of the race course; you will need to be aware of these for your own safety and to avoid unnecessary time penalties. See our recent blog post on Most Common USAT Rules Violations for help!
- Make extra time for sleep, especially if you have pre-race jitters. You may not be able to sleep the night before the race!
One or two days before the race:
- Pack your transition bag. A simple list of necessary items would include:
- Swim cap and goggles
- Wetsuit and lubricant (if it’s a wetsuit-legal race)
- Transition towel
- Bike helmet
- Bike glasses
- Bike shoes
- Running visor or hat
- Running shoes
- Race belt
- Water bottles and any bars, gels, or other nutrition items that you need
- Your packet, including race numbers
- Less is more when it comes to transition; you don’t need very much and everything you bring needs to fit on your transition towel next to the front wheel of your bike, including your transition bag.
- In addition to your transition bag and clothing for after the race, you should also bring your bike repair kit and a floor pump so that you can pump up your tires on race morning and do any last-minute repairs if you need them. There may be bike mechanics available in transition, but the lines could be long.
- Pack your car and make sure you’ve got all of your gear together.
- Have an early dinner and a restful night! Triple-check your alarm and make sure you have directions to the race all ready to go. 😉
- Plan to arrive at transition when it opens. Even though you have plenty of time from when transition opens to when it closes, the best parking and rack spots are taken by the early birds. If you plan to arrive early, you can also accommodate things like wrong turns, traffic, and flat tires!
- Make sure your race numbers are on your bike and your helmet before you leave your car.
- Once you’re at the race site, find body marking and get marked, and pick up your timing chip.
- As you make your way through transition to your rack, pay attention to landmarks so you can find your rack again. The transition area will look very different when the sun is up and it is full of bikes and people!
- Hang your bike by the seat on the rack and set up your transition next to your front wheel.
- Before transition closes, walk around and locate Swim In, Bike Out, and Run Out. You can lose precious time if you are looking for these entrance and exit points during the race! Also locate your bike relative to these entrance and exit points so you don’t waste time looking for your transition area.
- Don’t wait until the last minute for the portolet—the lines get longer the closer you get to race time!
- Before you head to the swim start when transition is closing, check over your equipment one last time and make sure your tires are pumped up and everything is in order.
With all of those steps in place, your journey to the starting line should be easy and stress-free! A little planning and preparation will go a long way toward a smooth race day morning and a better outlook for your race. Think positive thoughts and race well!
Judie Refvik is a USA Certified Triathlon Coach with Experience Triathlon. As leaders in the endurance services industry, Coach Judie and the Experience Triathlon team help athletes of all ages and abilities achieve success in training, racing and life. Learn more about Coach Judie and Experience Triathlon at www.experiencetriathlon.com