Welcome to the Fourth installment of a 5 part Beginners Series.
In case you’ve missed the other posts, so far I’ve covered: Is Triathlon for me, Picking Your First Race, and Training for your First Triathlon. Next, I’ll cover Race Day!
Being new to Triathlon you will more than likely be overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” you need for Race Day. Swim stuff, bike stuff, run stuff. I always recommend to my Athletes to make a Packing List. As the Race Day nears your nervousness will probably grow. A great way to help counter the nervousness is to create a list of everything you will need on Race Day. Each time you review the list you’ll probably think of something else to add. This is a great way to get it out of your mind and onto paper. Then the night before the race you’ll have a great list to check off as you pack things up.
There is another list that I recommend you create. It’s your Race Morning Itinerary & Transition Check List. This is a list and itinerary for the morning of your Race because there is a lot to do. Included on this list is what time you’ll get up, eat, leave for race, arrive at race, packet pickup, body marking, transition setup, transition walk through, put on wetsuit (if applicable), get to start area, Race Start. Also on this list is what you need to setup in transition. Examples could be: rack bike, hydration on bike, race number on bike/helmet, bike shoes, socks, running shoes, race belt w/ bib number, timing chip/strap, etc.
I find that lists are a great way to calm the nerves on race morning. You can focus on checking things off the list instead of trying to remember everything. Make sure to buy one of those cheap headlamps that you can pick up at a home improvement store. Most Triathlons start very early in the morning and it will be dark. The headlamp will allow you to have both hands available while setting your transition area up.
Triathlon Races are just like most Running Races as there will be a Packet Pickup. The Packet will generally contain your Race numbers, promotional T-shirt, swim cap (color usually corresponds to swim wave start), Timing Chip, and other freebie stuff. Many times there is Packet Pickup available the day before the race. I recommend picking up your Packet the day before if you can. If the early pickup is at the race venue then it will give you an opportunity to see the transition setup in the daylight and make race morning easier as there will be one less thing to do on your list.
Make sure you have the exact address for the race venue. Enter it into whatever GPS app/device the day before the race to be sure it finds the address correctly. Give yourself plenty of time to drive to the race. The bigger the race, the longer it will take to get parked and make your way to the transition area. You should have practiced your transitions during your training, so you should know about how long it will take for you to setup. Make sure to leave time for Body Marking and one last stop to the Porta-John.
Once you have your transition area setup, take the time to walk/jog through the transitions IN’s and OUT’s. Start by walking from the swim exit to your transition area. Make sure you count which isle and how many rows it is to your bike. Then visualize your transition to bike. Then walk to the Bike exit and find the Mount Line. You’ll have to be on the other side of this line when you mount and dismount your bike. Next walk back to your transition area (again counting isles and rows) and visualize transitioning to run. Now walk to the Run Start to familiarize yourself with it. Walk through this sequence again if you have the time and/or had any trouble visualizing any part of the transition.
You’ve done a lot of work to get to Race Day, so Race Day should be about celebrating all of that hard work. Make sure to Have Fun! Remember to smile. Enjoy your accomplishment.
It’s your first triathlon and there’s a chance that it won’t go perfectly. But that’s ok because every race is an opportunity to learn. Embrace the successes and learn from any mistakes. I’ll cover this and more in “What’s Next?”, the final installment in this 5 part series.