Your “A” race has arrived! You are so excited you try everything to calm yourself down and focus on your race. You have done the training. You have eaten a wide range of nutrient dense foods, drank lots of water the last 36-48 hours and are well rested. What could go wrong?
Well, hopefully nothing but that is many times not the case. You put on your wetsuit and get ready to leave transition only to realize that you have no swim goggles! Oh no! What about the time you had the ride of your life only to come into transition and not be able to find your bike? Or you show up on the wrong day of the race? What???? I have seen and heard about many of these episodes and more that can really ruin a day that you have worked for months trying to find that PR!
Here are some sure fire tricks to help you earn that PR on race day and go in prepared and not scrambling to find lost equipment.
First, get your bike tuned up 2 weeks in advance. I can’t tell you how many times I see people have mechanical issues that could have and should have been avoided. I mean have your local bike shop go through everything. No use in training for an Ironman if you can’t finish it due to a frayed cable that snapped at mile 20!
Second, lay all of your race clothing, nutrition, water bottles, equipment and race packet out on the floor the night before. As you lay it out, go through the whole race in your head. Start with nutrition. You need to put it on your bike or carry it with you on the run, so put it on the floor.
The swim: wetsuit, cap, 2 pair of goggles,( I have seen many people break a strap on their goggles on the way to the water), body glide and anything else you might want like pam spray for the wrists and ankles. Yes, Pam spray will help the wetsuit come off easier in T1.
Then on to the bike: You need helmet, bike, water bottles, gels,( or whatever you will eat on the bike), numbers on the bike, sunglasses, sunscreen, towel and whatever else you might need. Don’t forget tubes and bike repair needs.
Last is the run: You don’t need much, running shoes, hat or visor, and a number belt. Optional items might be fuel belt and socks. You will also want to bring extra clothes if there is the possibility of having inclement weather.
What to do when you get to the race.
First, get there early and find your favorite spot. If you are late you may be next to someone who takes up 2 spots and have to convince them to move their stuff. Easier said then done in many cases. Set up all of your race gear on a towel in a way that works for you. Think about where you want all of your items to be when you get there after the swim, and after the bike. A minimalist mindset works best here. Less clutter means less confusion when you get there. Once transition is set up, you should walk to all the entrances and exits and memorize where your spot is. You might want to do a walk through a second time as the transition area becomes more full and it may look different. You will be best served if you count racks, notice points of interest and the like. Balloons and chalk work sometimes but what if the balloon flies off? Or everyone decides to use chalk? All things to think about.
Visualize! Next, chill out and visualize how your race will progress. Extra focus needs to be on what you will be thinking as you are going into T1 and T2. As you are running up the beach you should be thinking about what order you are going to take things off and put things on in the quickest time possible.
Warmup! Last comes a good warm up 30-45 minutes before the race. You will need a 10-15 minute warm up in each event. A good way to do this is in reverse order. Run, bike, swim. Each one needs to include some fast pickups at or above race speed that last about 15 seconds. This will get the heart rate up and not be a shock to the body when it is time to perform during the race. It’s a good idea to lay your wetsuit or something on your bike rack as you leave for bike warm up. I have had people take my spot when I get back. Don’t move their stuff but go find an official to help you out. I have also seen fights in transition that have ended up in disqualifications after someone has moved another athletes things.
Now it is time to race!
If you take the time to really think about what your day should be like in advance, then you will have fewer mishaps on your big day. Don’t turn forgetfulness into an emergency situation, get your gear together early in case you think of something else you need before race day. It really is simple but you must be diligent in your preparation, just like you did for your training. So go get that PR!
By Coach Mark Dillard