Things to focus on weeks or months before your race:
- Nutrition on your bike and runs. This becomes more critical in the longer events. You should be drinking and eating whatever you plan to use on race day. Don't try anything new race day. Test all products during training and find what will work for you. Practice the timing of your nutrition on the bike, run, and during brick workouts. I have some clients that don't drink enough on the bike so I have them drink on timed intervals. I know this sounds really OCD but it is important and great to practice in training. On longer events nutritional issues can be a huge problem. Timing your intake of gels is also a great idea. Usually on the bike one every hour works really great. I always make sure if I am getting close to the end of the bike I take one about 10 minutes before I come off the bike. I don't consume anything else until about 10 minutes into the run. This has helped prevent me from getting side cramps. It is not scientific but it works for me. When I would consume something in transition or at the beginning of the run I would always get a side cramp and now it rarely happens. I always wait until mile one before I drink anything on the run after coming off the bike.
- Open water swims are critical before your race. This time of year is tough because the water is so cold in Vegas. If you will not get in the open water then at least swim once a week in your wetsuit. In the pool at least you get some experience in the wetsuit and can work out any issues you may have.
- Practice sighting even if it is in the pool. Do sighting drills in the pool and find an object to focus on at each end of the pool.
- Make the most of your brick workouts! Make your transitions quick from bike to run even in training.
What you need to do race day:
- Make sure you don't change your breakfast on race day. If you normally don't eat oatmeal don't eat it only on race day! Oatmeal is great and healthy but if you normally don't eat it then I would not suddenly change your habits. Also having a huge meal the night before a race is not a good idea. Before longer events people have the idea that they need to eat a huge amount of carbohydrates. I would not change much from your normal diet.
- Race morning get to the race about 90 minutes to 2 hours before your event. This will give you plenty of time to get settled.
- When you get to the race set up your transition area. Some races have designated transition areas. This means you will have to set up based on your number. You will find your number and put your stuff there. Smaller races are first come first serve. Basically you choose your spot. You may want to practice setting up your transition at home a few times before your event. Run through everything in your head. I put a bright colored towel down to put my stuff on and make it easy to see. Make sure your bike is in an easy gear. I have seen many people start in their hardest gear and they fall over right at transition (how embarrassing) . Place your helmet on your bike with your sunglasses in your helmet. Make sure your sunglasses are clean. I can't tell you how many times I started a race with glasses that I could barely see out of. Bike shoes sitting in front of running shoes. Socks ready to go if you are wearing them. Race belt with number on it. I put this in my bike shoes. Some races require you to wear the race number on the bike. Some only require it for the run. Check with your particular race so you are sure. If you wear a hat for the run put it on top of your running shoes. Make sure all your nutrition like your gels are ready to go. You may have it on your bike in a bento box or for some shorter events you may be able to put it in a pocket on your shirt.
- Find out where the bike and run exit are. You should know where you are running out and biking out of the transition area. You will be slightly confused coming out of the water so the less confusion the better. Walk up from the water and identify a landmark that will make it easier to find your bike. It might be a light pole or a tree.
- Making a race day checklist works great so you don't forget anything race day. It is better to be overly prepared rather than forget something!
- Don't forget sunscreen! Put your sunscreen on after you get body marked!
- Have an extra pair of goggles because sometimes they break race day!
- Get in the water before the race begins to warm up. This will help with any anxiety that you might have. Find your spot in the group. If you are a beginner get in the back of the pack! Make sure you know which course you are swimming.
- Don't forget to sight when you are swimming. So many people swim extra because they swim off course and don't sight. I am sure you don't want to swim further than you have to!
I have made just about every mistake in the book! I have also seen some pretty funny mistakes! Below are mistakes I might have made and mistakes I have seen people make. (I won't tell you which I made and which I have seen)
- Going to the run with your bike helmet on!
- Falling off the bike coming out of transition because gearing was not right.
- Falling off the bike going into transition because they came speeding in way too fast.
- Wetsuit on backwards or inside out.
- Getting to the race and realize you forgot your bike helmet.
- Preparing all your nutrition for an Ironman (alot of gels, etc) and leaving it on the counter and your dog eats it all! OK this was me and Tigger was fueled for an Ironman! He ate the regular and caffeinated gels. Needless to say we were up all night because he had stomach problems and too much caffeine.
- Passing on the right when on the bike. YOU should always pass someone on the left. Always ride to the right after you pass someone.
Being prepared for every race or event will be the key to your success. Proper race planning and preparation will make your race day more enjoyable!
Remember it is all about TRAINING HARD AND HAVING FUN while doing it!