Race Prep: The Day is Near. Part 2 of 2

author : Ontherun
comments : 3

In part one the focus was the packing phase of a race. Here are a few more ideas to help with a successful race.

This article is designed to help take a few problems out of your race day prep. By now you have already packed and are getting ready to race. If finances allow and the race is over an hour from home, I recommend staying closer to the race. I have only done a day-of race while checking in once, and that was because no pre-race day check-in was available. The ability to get those pesky jitters of registration out of the way can be very relaxing.


When going to check-in, make sure you have:

  • Your ID ready and your USAT card (or analogous if another country) if you have one.

  • It is also very helpful to have your race confirmation info with you. I have seen people in line have to go back and get these things to check in.

There are many other benefits of checking in the night before a race.

  • First, you get the chance to drive, ride, run, or swim sections of the course. I highly recommend this. There is nothing quite like taking a hard turn at low speed, only to find you are in the wrong gear for a huge climb.

  • Scouting the course allows you to look at both tactics and safety. It is nice to know the road conditions and any hazards that may present themselves.

Another great part about early check-in is the ability to get all your race numbers on your bike, helmet, race belt, etc. I highly recommend taking those tie wraps that come with your race number and throwing them out. I am a big fan of using electrical tape to secure the number. There is nothing like a race number rubbing against your leg for 25 miles. Using the tape allows the number to stay put.

The rest of pre-race prep can be done at home or on the road.


Some caution on carbo-loading

You should have tapered by now and you may have even started carbo-loading more than one day out, depending on the type and length of the race. One tip on carbo-loading—it is very helpful to know what your body will do with what you decide to eat. I am not a huge pasta fan, but love shrimp scampi. The down side, I have found, is that the garlic ends up keeping me awake at 2AM on the race morning. Not too good to help with a sound sleep. The moral is to learn what works on race nights when your body is going into race mode.

Do as many things you can to get them out of the way the night before the race.

I always shave and shower, just so I don’t forget to do so in the morning. The more things I have done, the better I sleep. It is nice to roll out of bed and worry about nothing more than getting to the race site and setting up.

Morning of the race

Ok, hopefully you have gotten a good night’s sleep, and it is time to get to the transition area. First and most important, find your correct spot on the racks. With all the time spent setting up a good transition area, being told to move it is just a big a hassle. At my last race, the race director was threatening to move bikes and gear improperly racked. Once you find you correct spot, take a look where you are. Figure out where you will be going as you move through transition. How many rows do you pass coming out of the water? Which way will you come in and out from the run and bike? Mentally rehearsing your way to and from your transition area will help keep you from fumbling around trying to locate your gear.

Laying our your gear

Laying out your gear is very personal. Everyone has there own way, and that is fine. Just try to remember a few things. First, your gear can get tossed by an adjacent competitor, so do not get rattled. Try to set things up in a tightly packed, orderly manner. I tend to put my gear on a folded towel. Then I lay it out so my bike gear is at the closest end of the towel with the run stuff in the middle. This gives me room for the swim stuff to go at the far end when I get out of the water. Also I leave my helmet, gloves and glasses up on the aero bars so I don’t have to bend down for them.

Warm up and stretch

Ok, so you now have your stuff laid out. It is time to warm up and stretch out. Do what you want and what you have time to do. My warm-ups tend to consist of a light stretch and a lot of talking to others around me. Nothing like enjoying the day with a few hundred of your newest friends.

Gearing up

Ok, so now it is almost race time. There are a few last ideas that I have found useful. When swimming in a wetsuit, I find it very helpful to wear my cycling jersey and tri shorts under the suit. That way all I have to do is take off the wetsuit and go. I have had a lot of trouble getting a dry cycling jersey onto a wet body. Also, when you are putting on your wetsuit I recommend Body Glide. A word of caution though, please be careful about putting Body Glide on your arms. I had a tough time ridding in the aero position with slippery forearms. (The worst part was that I swim with out sleeves on my wetsuit and there was no need for Body Glide to be on my arms. It is amazing what things you will do with out thinking at 6 AM.)


The last thing I can recommend to anyone racing, be it a first timer or an experienced veteran, is to remember to smile. That smile can allow you to have fun and have a great day no matter what. Enjoy your race—it is what you have been working for.


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date: October 2, 2005


Father of two, devoted husband, Clydesdale, hope to become just an age grouper someday. Competing in the 40-44 bracket this year. Have done a 1/2 Ironman tri, a marathon and a bunch of sprint and oly distance races. Member of BT since 12-1-03


Father of two, devoted husband, Clydesdale, hope to become just an age grouper someday. Competing in the 40-44 bracket this year. Have done a 1/2 Ironman tri, a marathon and a bunch of sprint and oly distance races. Member of BT since 12-1-03

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