I just participated in my fifth individual triathlon. Many people focus on the training but what you don't want to forget about is the crucial preparation before the actual race. With my list of tips, along with the schedule I’m combining, it’s clear the race is so much more than just race time; it’s the preparation, packing and travel time that are all a part of the triathlon experience.
First thing is to open up that beautiful athlete guide you received at pick up day or see online at the race website. That is a great way to find a breakdown of the race. It usually gives you a map of the course, when and where to be at a particular place, the particulars about when packet pick up and bike drop off is needed. In every triathlon, there is no same day pickup. So there are certain things you need for packet pick: your bike and license. You rack your bike in the transition area and make sure you add your bike number sticker to your bike. That way people know that your bike is your bike because it matches your bib number. They may also add on a wristband to packet pickup; this helps people know you're a competitor.
You're not done yet with your preparation, you have to pack your bag with what you need for running, swimming, and biking. So for me, I don’t usually wear a wetsuit unless it’s very cold. I usually wear my bathing suit the day of the race with a pair of shorts and flip flops. Things that go in the bag : Cap or visor, goggles, swim cap provided during packet pickup, wetsuit if needed, towel to wipe off/ dry off and help you prepare for the run/bike, shirt and spandex shorts, bib, water bottle, helmet, socks and sneakers for the run and bike portions. I personally run in my bathing suit during the whole race with spandex on top and my bib number. All the other pieces are add on or take off post swim.
You usually mark yourself with your bib number on your body. Put bib numbers on both arms and then your age on your calf. Do this in permanent marker so that it can stay on throughout the entire race despite the sweat and water. Usually someone can mark you up at check in or before the race. Now you're packed and ready to go, time for a good night’s sleep. Triathlons usually start early (seven o’clock-ish) but check the packet for details. With travel time the night before I went to bed very early, as in eight pm.
It’s four am and you gotta wake up for travel and final lay out. We left at 4:30 but first we had a light breakfast. I ate yogurt, but if you need more, granola bars, and bananas are other great options. The last and final thing you have to do is place your chip on your body. They come in a variety of forms but usually they are placed on the ankle. They track your times and make sure to keep track of you when you're racing. After that you’re on your way to the triathlon. In the last little bit of your preparation you want to do your final layout. Arrange all of your packed stuff in a way that you can grab and go during the transition. The race goes as usual: swim, bike, and run. Cross the finish line and feel like you can do anything!!! It’s an amazing process, but you did it! Feel good and celebrate the moment with a good brunch and your medal around your neck!