Now that you have registered for your 70.3 and logged all the training hours, it's time to get ready for race day. Having a plan for race day is essential to keep you calm and get you to the finish line as fast as possible given what the day brings. At Evolve all of our coaches send our athletes a fueling plan and race plan that is specific to them and includes a few backup plans just in case. Whether you are coached or not, it is best to write down your A, B and C plan to assure that you are ready to arrive at the race with confidence.
But before we even make it to race week - let’s get some essentials covered. Make an appointment with your local bike shop to have your bike checked out within 2 weeks prior to the race. The week before you leave, start getting your stuff ready. Begin by making a list of all the things that you must have on race day, from gear to nutrition. Next, make a list of the items that you plan on taking in addition to race day. If you are flying, sometimes it is easier to buy some personal items when you arrive. If you are driving, then load up your car knowing that can still buy what you forget or might need when you arrive.
Once you have your travel bags and triathlon bag set out, review your list and start laying out everything you will need on race day. USAT has a checklist of items for race day. Start with your swim gear, then your bike gear, and finish with the run. This will include your race day kit and nutrition. You will still need some of these items for training, but when you start to pack you have a visual of what all you need along with your checklist. You can start to pack up your non-race day items on your checklist. For those of you with special dietary restrictions, make sure your grocery shopping is completed, or you know where you can find food once you arrive at the race site. Many of our athletes will pre-cook and travel with food if possible.
You have gone over your checklist 100 times, packed, and arrived at your destination - race day is almost here! Whatever you plan to do -add in additional time. For some odd reason, everything on the days leading up to a race seems to take longer than usual. Allow for extra time to drive the bike course. If you spent many hours driving, the last thing you want to do is drive more to preview the bike course. Depending on when you arrive, wait until the next day to drive the course. If you like to shop at the expo, allow extra time for this. Don't try to check-in, shop, drop off your bike, and drive the bike course all in the same day. It adds additional stress that is not necessary. There are sometimes circumstances where you can’t arrive as early as you’d like due to work/family, but try to give yourself two days before the race. Remember that you will still have short workouts to do and we always stress that if the race allows that you will also want to get in an open water swim in - as you can see - the tasks quickly add up.
The day before the race, plan for the day. Know if you are going to be at the race site for the athlete briefing. Try to get in a swim. Complete a quick bike ride to go through your gears. Drop off your bike. Make sure to bring your water bottle to sip on all day. If it is hot and sunny out, add electrolytes (i.e., Nuun). Pack a cooler with your sandwich/lunch, snacks, and extra water. Stay out of the sun and off your feet as much as possible - we suggest you get in and get out - so rather than heading to swim at 10 am and drop the bike at 3pm - schedule it to make it one trip. Once you have all of the business done, head back to where you are staying and set aside time to work on visualization and re-visit your race plan. Many of our athletes also love to do a pre-race chat or text with their coach. Do what makes you calm and happy, avoid all stressors.
The morning of the race, make sure to follow your planned morning routine. This will help alleviate any potential issues that may arise during the race. Arrive at the race site early. Walk through transition and know where swim in, bike in/out, and run out are located. Some transition areas are set up where you can only go through one direction; you need to know this - do not rely on the volunteers. Walk through transition to know how it will go and know where your bike rack is located. Find a landmark or count the racks. I like to have a bright towel that may stand out because by the time I'm out of the water, I do not remember how many racks I have to count. Know that your bike is racked by your saddle showing your race number. If the bike next to you is racked wrong, DO NOT MOVE IT. Get an official if the bike’s athlete is not around, as they will move the bikes. Make sure you have applied plenty of sunscreen. Lay out your transition items by your front wheel. The fewer items you have in your transition area, the better. Don't put stuff that you might want, only what you will need. The aid stations have water, ice, nutrition, and food. Allow enough time to get to transition and be calm during your set-up. There are a lot of steps here and also usually a million trips to the bathroom!
When you have gone over your transition one last time, head to get in a swim warm-up or a light jog if there is no swim allowed. This is crucial! We never want an athlete starting a race without raising the heart rate before the gun goes off.
Then it is time to make your way to the beach- this can also be a good time to check the swim course one last time and know the buoy count. It is also a time to do what makes you calm and focused. This could be joking with the people around you, a quick moment or two to yourself or listening to music. Whatever it is, make sure that it what works for you!
And just like that - you will be at the start waiting for the countdown to get the day going.
Finally, no matter what happens on race day, remember that for the majority of us, this is a hobby. Regardless of how competitive you are, we want to have fun. The better prepared you are going into the race, the less you have to think about, and your body will do what it has been training to do for many months. Swim. Bike. Run and maybe even crack a smile or two!