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
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
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
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
slowtwitch.com 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 slowtwitch.com forum do a dress rehearsal and...
NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY!!!!!
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
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
The more you know about the race the less you leave to
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 slowtwitch.com 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
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
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 slowtwitch.com
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
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 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
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