Above: Swag from 2009 Miami Man. You can see my race number attached to my race belt in the bottom of the photo. The race towel is the perfect size to use to set up all your gear in your transition area.
Race Day Essentials
Although 2011 is my first year racing triathlons, I have raced in 24 duathlons during the past two years. So I have a bit of experience going through the transition area while participating in sprint, Olympic and half Ironman distance races.
Here are a few of my tips to make your race day more enjoyable and less stressful. T1 refers to the swim to bike transition, while T2 refers to the bike to run transition.
Transition and other Racing Tips
Bring extra gear - I always like to bring two pairs of swim goggles with me. A clear pair and a mirrored pair. I decide which pair to wear based on the conditions on race day morning. Also, it's nice to have a second pair with you in case the strap to the first pair breaks. Been there, done that!
Hydration and nutrition - I also bring a few gels with me. You never know what kind of nutrition and hydration choices they will have at the rest stops of your races. I always bring a brand of gel that I have used during training, race day is not the time to have to worry about stomach upset. I also bring along a tube of Nuun hydration tablets for my longer races. Many brands of electrolyte drinks give me an upset stomach, I can place a Nuun tablet in my water bottle before filling it up with plain water at the rest stops.
Transition mat or towel - used to mark out a space in your transition area to place all of your bike and run gear. I place a small hand towel, usually from one of my races, near the front wheel of my bike. I place my bike shoes, running shoes, racing belt with race number attached and running hat on the towel. When I get into T1, I place my swim goggles and swim cap on the transition mat then put my bike shoes on.
Bike helmet & sunglasses - I place my bike helmet upside down on the top of my aerobars. I place my sunglasses inside the helmet. After I've put my bike shoes on, I put on my sunglasses and helmet, then leave T1 to start the bike portion of the race. I use a pair of sport specific sunglasses during the bike and run portions of my races. I like to use sunglasses with interchangeable lenses, that way if I wake up on race day morning and it looks like rain, I can switch from my usual dark smoke lenses to a lighter rose colored or even clear pair of lenses. I CAN NOT bike without wearing some sort of sunglasses to protect my eyes from wind and dirt.
Race number belt - My husband likes to swim without a shirt, then puts on a cycling jersey while in T1 before heading out on the bike. He also wears the cycle jersey during the run so he pins his race number to the front of his jersey. I wear a triathlon top and triathlon shorts for the duration of my races. I've never tried swimming with a race number pinned to the front of my tri top, that seems like it would be a bit awkward.
I use a race belt to attach my race number to. I place the race belt on before I leave T2 to start the run. You could place the race belt on while in T1, but it is not required during the bike portion of the race. You already have your race number attached to your bike frame and bike helmet so you can wait until T2 to put on the race belt. For longer events I use a race belt which has a small pocket. I can place a gel pack or two in the pocket, along with a tube of chap stick, and even a travel pack of Kleenix. I can't tell you how many race venues I've been to that run out of toilet paper - YUCK!
Run hat or visor - bring it with you even if you don't think you want to use it. I live in south Florida, a run hat is almost mandatory. I have a light weight running hat on my transition mat and place it on my head, after removing my bike helmet, while in T2, before starting the run portion of the race.
You can also place cold, wet sponges or pieces of ice underneath your run hat on really hot and sunny days. I also like to have a hat with me to wear after any event involving swimming or biking, to hide my nasty salt water hair and/or bike helmet head.
Tire changing kit - there's nothing worse than getting a flat tire during a race. There is also nothing worse than hearing the sound of exploding inner tubes while setting up in the transition area on race day. I always carry the following tire changing items with me while training and/or racing:
- inner tube - specific to the size and type of tire you are riding on
- set of tire changing levers
- CO2 cartridges - I usually have 2 with me
- CO2 cartidge adapter - to use the CO2 cartridge to inflate the new inner tube
Change of clothes - most events offer some type of food for the athletes after crossing the finish line. The Club Med series of triathlons, lets each participant indulge in their buffet breakfast at the resorts restaurant. It's always nice to have a set of clean, dry clothes to change into after your races, especially if you have a long drive home or are sticking around for the award ceremonies.
I bring along an empty Walmart or grocery shopping bag with me to place all my wet, stinky race clothes in. There's nothing worse than having your stink clothes contaminate all the other gear in your race bag. When I get home, the bag goes straight to the laundry room. Then I go take my shower, eat some food and chillax before tackling the dirty laundry. I keep hoping the laundry fairy will show up while I'm showering, but so far I haven't had any luck.
Race bag - you need some sort of athletic bag or duffle bag to place all your gear in, to get in and out of the transition area as easy as possible. I have a back pack type sports bag, which I usually use. I can carry the bag on my back, while pushing my bike from the parking lot to the bike racks in the transition area. Some events have quite a hike from where you have to park to the beginning of the race.
A back pack style bag is much nicer than an over the shoulder bag, it helps distribute the weight more evenly instead of a single strap digging into your shoulder. Triathlon specific sports bags will have specialized pockets for your shoes, water bottles and even a spot to place your helmet, plus one or more larger pockets for all your other gear.
Lynn Smythe AKA the Bike Diva