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The big day is getting near and here are some tips for making your "A" race go smoothly and be an enjoyable day. Best of luck to everyone going long over these next weeks.

So, you've worried about getting flats but do you actually know how to change a tire or fix a flat if it happens?

The tires you have been training on are likely worn. Since you should change to new tires before your big race this is a great opportunity to practice (or learn) changing a flat.

This is an important tip: If you are carrying supplies to fix a flat take an afternoon to practice using the equipment. It will cost you a few bucks in CO2 cartridges or Pit Stop but it will give you a lot of peace of mind on race day.

In the extremely unlikely event you do flat on race you will be ready: You recently rehearsed changing flats so it will be routine.

Take responsibility for knowing how to change a flat on the course and rehearse it well before race day.

Speaking of tires let's talk about insurance for race day: new tires.

You've spent weeks preparing and likely well over a thousand dollars to enter, travel to and stay at the big race. Are you willing to trust a season's worth of preparation to worn tires you spent the summer training on?

For the price of a new pair of tires you reduce the chances of flatting, improve bike performance and traction, have a chance to practice changing a flat when you replace your tires (above) and have one less worry.

Be sure you have your nutritional needs rehearsed and taken care of well before the race.

Even large on line stores may sell out of your favorite drink mix or gel flavor. Race expos can be a good resource but may run out in the days prior to a big event.

Be sure you have what you need a couple weeks in advance of race day.

Frequent poster on the forum, Gavin, an elite level triathlete, recommends a full dress rehearsal during your taper. This includes wearing your race day apparel and race wheels.

Plan your race wardrobe to be fast and efficient. You'll be wet and grimy for most of the day anyway so keep clothing changes to an absolute minimum. Don't give away time sitting in the changing tent. Use the pockets on your race jersey on the bike. Be sure your apparel has a trim, aerodynamic cut for more efficiency.

Ask anyone who was at Wisconsin 2006: You need to be ready for any weather condition. Even if the weather forecast and trend has been warm or cool plan and pack for the opposite.

It is better to have warm clothes and not need them than need them and not have them. At Wisconsin '06 race vendors sold out of warm apparel. In hot, sunny conditions sun screen and light colored clothing may be in short supply.

Plan for the worst but hope for the best and be ready...

As Gavin mentioned on the forum do a dress rehearsal and...


Even in ultra-distance races your transitions are important to keep you on task and moving smoothly through a long day. If you spend too much time changing in transition you not only lose time but, more importantly, mental focus. Transitions are not a break, but part of the race. Use the transitions wisely but don't lose unnecessary time in the changing tent.

Get all the little stuff you need for race day before you get to the race venue. While most race expo vendors such as InsideOut Sports do an excellent job of supplying competitors at their official on-site expo store you may not have time to wait in line to buy spare goggles, bodyglide, race belts, chip straps and the other stuff you need on race day.

Keep the list of stuff you feel you need to an absolute minimum. Less is more. The simpler your race kit is the better. You don't really need every gadget.

Do your homework with meticulous attention to detail in the days and weeks before the race.

Read the Athlete's Guide that is posted for download on the race website. Learn the route in detail and review it frequently. Monitor the race information for any changes to the course. Keep an eye on the weather forecast for the race venue.

The more you know about the race the less you leave to chance.

On travel day do your best to not hurry. Plan your travel and have a time table so you can arrive early and be patient with normal travel delays. Don't waste energy being concerned about travel hassles- plan for them by allowing enough time in your travel schedule to arrive at the race site relaxed.

If your race travel includes boxing your bike allow enough time for bike assembly and tune-ups. Research the race venue to know where technical assistance is before you arrive.

Do everything you can to eliminate unknowns in your travel to make it a quiet, relaxing experience.

Once you arrive at your race destination spend positive energy keeping your room and equipment orderly.

Another good tip from Gavin off is to spend a few extra dollars to stay near the race venue. It cuts down on time going back and forth to the race and expo venue.

Janna on ST mentioned building some personal space into your surroundings to create an emotionally uncomplicated setting for the days before your race.

After you arrive at the race venue and put your room in order get down to the business end of the race.

Find the race expo and report for registration. Bring your ID, race confirmation print out and find your name on the alpha list.

Ask questions but be observant. Work with the registration volunteers and remember they have a huge job to do so help them by arriving early, being prepared and being patient.

Once the business of race day is done then find out where the group swim is.

Most large events have an opportunity to check out the swim course and get last minute details on conditions. While some competitors find associating with other athletes before the race nerve wracking others use it as a source of reassurance and positive energy- to get and to give. Be sure you rinse your wetsuit afterwards though....

Once you've picked up your transition bags, race numbers and registration materials it's time to organize your gear for final race preparation.

Lay out your nutritional supplies in the order they'll be used. Attach your race number to your race belt. Put your bike and helmet race number stickers on.

Organize gear for your transition bags and pack them. Once you are done, do a quick double check to set your mind at ease. Now you know you are well prepared and ready.

With nothing left to do in the final hours before race evening conserve your mental and physical energy.

Stay out of the sun. Don't over-hydrate or over eat. Spend time with people who have a calming affect on you.

Your race is hours away now so practice visualizing your race plan and a favorable outcome.

Now that you know the course and have a sense of the weather forecast avoid obsessive concern over these factors. Relax with positive mental imagery of a good race day.

If you decide to participate in race day pageantry such as the athlete's parade or carbo loading dinner set a curfew for yourself.

Athlete's love to talk especially when nervous so don't be afraid to politely excuse yourself from distracting interaction than can drain you physically and mentally.

After the race you can chat endlessly. Before the race save your energy.

After your final gear check leave your equipment alone.

At the 1986 Bud Light Ironman Hawaii I was convinced my rear wheel needed truing. I spent two hours when I should have been sleeping or visualizing trying to get my rear wheel perfectly true.

Nervous athletes frequently over tighten bolts or damage equipment. Once your equipment is ready, try not to obsess over it.


Pack your special needs bags the night before the race.

When planning your special needs bags contents remember it will sit in the sun for hours before you get to the bag.

You will have to grab your bag on the fly so be sure it is packed efficiently so you can get what you need quickly and safely (especially on the bike).

If you somehow miss your special needs bag make sure you have a "plan B" built into your nutrition plan.


On race day and in the days prior to the race be sure to stay warm enough. Especially on cool morning swims even i hot weather it is easy to waste energy and burn calories being cold.

Dress warm on race morning so you don't pull on a cold wetsuit and get into chilly water already cold.

Protect your legs from cool weather that can make you feel stiff before the cannon goes off. Wear a warm hat to keep from getting chilled before the race start.

Paulo, an experienced, elite level coach and frequent contributor to the forum recommends avoiding internet forums before race day since obsessive posting or reading may be distracting.

Mike Prevost of ST says to use A little mantra for first time IMers waiting for the swim start: "I did the training.....I belong here.......I did the training.....I belong here"

Using these positive mental strategies helps calibrate your psyche for a positive race day outcome.

Share positive energy.

Sheila Taormina (right), Olympic Medalist and Olympic Triathlete is a master at using and manufacturing positive mental energy. Her positive outlook, faith and preparation make her an excellent competitor and even better sportsperson.

You can use the athletes around you as a source of energy and reassurance. Remember: Your primary competitor is the course.

Spread positive energy and you will get it back. It is a continuous circle that feeds on itself.

No matter how well prepared you are mistakes still happen on race day.

Everyone is human. This athlete inadvertently put their wetsuit on backwards before the swim- the zipper goes in the back.

The key to a good race is, when mistakes happen, compensate for them quickly and move on. Ironman distance races are unique in that the athlete moves through periods of feeling good to weaker periods. It is how you deal with these weaker periods that determines the overall quality of your race.

When things get difficult try to refocus positive energy on your race plan and get back on track- no matter what mistakes happen.

Go to roll-down.

Even if you think you are not in the running for a Hawaii spot you could get one through the athlete roll-down. this is the process used to award World Championship slots to competitors who have finished behind athletes who placed high enough to qualify. If those athletes do not take the spots they "roll-down" to lower age group placings.

If you aspire to do Hawaii one day it is worth going to the roll-down may be a learning experience- or your lucky day!



© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
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