triathlon Race Day Tips
TRANSITION AND TRANSITION BAG
- Generally you have the option of having your helmet on the bike or in your T1 bag - the benefit of putting it in your T1 bag is that it is one less thing to do when you get to your bike. You can often have your helmet on and clipped in as you approach your bike which can save a few seconds!
- Try not to have to put things in your pockets in T1. This is the most likely time when you will lose it. Athletes are unable to stuff the products deep enough into their pockets so as they run through transition the items pop out. Consider putting it down the front of your top or up your tri short legs - in most cases the clothing is tight enough that it won't come out.
- I recommend to have everything to be on your bike that you will need and you will have less things to do in T1. Athletes often make quick decisions on leaving something behind if they can't sort it out properly in transition - it's not worth that risk - so put it on your bike!
- In Transition 2 at many Ironman events someone will take your bike as you enter T2 so you simply have to get your gear back and go into the change tent. I recommend that you get your feet out of your bike shoes and ride with your feet on top before this transition - as it will be easier to run through T2. If you are not confident in doing this then don't - as these are small gains. The alternative option is to get off your bike with bike shoes on and then take them off and jog to the change tent.
- T1 and T2 - Have the toe end of your socks inside out so you simply have to put your toes in and then pull the sock over your foot. It is much easier to get wet or sweaty feet in this way.
Read www.boostcoaching.co.nz/transition/ for more details on transitions
Walk the transition to familiarize yourself with the the transition process on race day. Remember you can't guarantee that you will have support in the change tent after the swim so be prepared to sort out your own stuff and get out the door on your own.
It is really important to understand where your bike is racked. What row number and how far down?
Read more in the Warm Up - Pre Race section
- Wrap up your gels in rubbers bands or some easily removed tape so you can keep them all together when you pull them out of your special needs bag and it's easier to place the bunch into your bento box than one by one.
- You could consider freezing a drink overnight and placing it in your special needs bag for the bike. This way you will have a lovely cool drink for yourself to start the second lap! So good especially at hot races!
- If you are using a super concentrate drink and then taking on water - maybe consider placing a spare drink in your special needs bag just in case you drop it or accidentally discard. You may even consider having a lower concentrated drink in the special needs bag just in case the high concentration drink as gut issues can be a common occurrence on race day!
Give yourself plenty of time in the morning to sort your bike out and get your nutrition sorted on your bike. By giving yourself time any potential mishaps with the bike can be sorted. Also things to consider are toilet queues and time for a warm up etc.
WARM UP – PRE RACE
You've done a number of races through the season so you should know what to do for a warm up and if you don't do a warm up then you are placing yourself at a disadvantage and risk panic attacks in the water and uncomfortable HR spikes.
Aim to be in transition no later than 60min prior to your race start or 60min prior to it closing. Note that transition often closes earlier as the Pro Race starts earlier than the age group race.
- It gives you time to do all the little things like pump up tires, put nutrition on the bike, set up your shoes on your pedals (if you do this), body marking, hand in special needs bags & warm up
- I recommend having 3/4 of bar or a banana about 60min prior to the race start - often you are so nervous on race morning that you don't eat your normal breakfast quantity so having this helps to lift the GI levels up prior to your event starting.
- Get the bike sorted and your transition area and then look to get out for a little run. this provides a great opportunity to get together your focus for the day away from the hype and stress off the transition area.
- As you leave transition look to retrace your steps - so go to where you will exit the swim and walk back to your bike. This will help you get some land marks (trees /portaloos/ speaker stand/ event sign/ flag) that will help you know the location of your bike (you can do this the day prior as well but the bike racks might not be as full so good to go over this again)
- During the run look to do a few stride outs 4-6x 80-100m to get the legs and heart rate pumping and let the body prepare for what you are about to ask of it. A little jog also can provide an opportunity to get to a less busy toilet as the ones in transition are usually crazy!
- Finish the run and get into transition to put on your wetsuit and make your way down to the water!
GET IN A GOOD 5-15MIN SWIM PRIOR TO YOUR START (HAVE A GEL AS YOU GET INTO THE SWIM)
- To start with get in some nice long consistent strokes (5min)
- Kicking with hands sculling in front of you for 4x 15sec kick +30strokes freestyle can help get your HR up and body ready for the swim
- Some short sprints over 15-20m driving the legs and arms at a good speed again can help get the blood pumping to the upper body and HR up so that you are more comfortable over the first 400-800m of the swim and you'll often pace this better.
- I think the key is to get your breathing rate a bit higher so you don't panic at the start of the race. The feeling of the wetsuit tight around your neck (I believe) is nothing to do with the wetsuit but rather a lack of a warm up prior to the start. It is more likely an athlete experiencing this feeling is getting an anxiety attack from the increased excursion which would have been overcome with a proper warm up.
Cold (food) bars can be really hard to chew so an easy solution to this is to put them up the side of your legs in your tri pants. This way the heat of your body will make these softer and easier to chew.
At Taupo Ironman you will most likely come out of the swim really hot. Especially with the long run upto transition! The temperature over the hill going toward Reporoa is usually quite a lot cooler, so it is often a good idea to put arm warmers on no matter what. If you do this have them rolled down like you a bangle in your transition bag and then you just need to put your wrists through and then you can slowly roll them up as you go out of transition or as you head down the road (if you are not a confident rider then doing prior to getting on your bike is advisable). You can roll them down if you get too hot and discard them to a supporter (check ruling not always legal) or at official gear drop or aid stations.
It is a good idea to order your gels or bars in a way which you are going to take them. Consider opening your bar wrappers or even cutting them into smaller biteable chunks. (possibly don't do this if you are going to follow my advice of putting them up your tri short legs)
- There are multiple aid station on the course - why carry extra weight especially up the first part of the course if you don't need to. Why not start the bike with two of your preferred drinks and then pick up water at the 30km mark - as by this stage you should have probably consumed one of the bottles.
- Hydration vs Cooling - keep a track of what you are consuming vs cooling yourself off with. I like to try and keep these bottles separate. You can easily get a false sense of what you are consuming vs cooling yourself down with if you don't.
PEEING ON THE BIKE
Don't have your "Special Drink" on the frame when you do this. Try and find a downhill section where you can glide and relax to get the pee flowing. If you haven't done this before it will usually catch in the legs of your tri pants and then when you push your pedal around it will flush out. Sometimes it's a good idea to have some water to wash yourself with afterwards.
Watch out for other people doing this - you don't want this flying into your face if it catches their back wheel!
CHARGE YOUR WATCH
Remember to charge your watch overnight - I don't recommend leaving it in your gear bag. I have turned up to big races and had my watch flat after it was bumped on in the transition bag. This can really throw your day out if you have been relying on the power or heart rate data to achieve the best outcome for your day!