You’ve been swimming, biking and running your way to “prepared” for your first Triathlon. Awesome! Now what?!?
- What about transition?
- What the heck is T1 and T2 I keep hearing people buzz on about?
- What do I wear during the race?
- What should I eat?
- Can I leave my stuff in transition all day?
- Can I use just any old bike?
These are all GREAT questions and ones we get often, especially with first timers. Below are ten quick tips to help calm your newbie nerves, make race day more streamlined and help you have a great experience.
- Do packet pickup early and get to transition early. Our race events always have at least one day of packet pickup BEFORE race morning. Come by, grab your race packet & swag bag on this day (or days) so you’re prepared ahead of time. This also gives you a little face time with the race staff to ask questions. On race morning, arrive 15 minutes earlier than you think you’ll need. Why? Potential restroom lines, nerves and a little extra room to familiarize yourself with the area layout and flow.
- What to wear?!? There are probably 50 different things you can wear during a Triathlon depending on the type of race and distance. We recommend a 1-piece tri suit OR a 2-piece tri suit if possible. Why? It keeps things simple! You can swim, bike and run comfortably in either of these single outfits and not have to fuss with changing tops 3 times during the day or mess around with bulky “bike only” shorts in a porta-potty.
- What should I eat? This is also another area to keep things simple in. DO NOT experiment with new foods, snacks or drinks on race morning. Eat your normal breakfast maybe 2-3 hours before the race starts depending on how your stomach and nerves feel. 30 minutes prior, take a gel in with some sips of water.
- What is this T1 and T2 buzz? Why does that athlete have a giant flat looking rear wheel? What’s a race belt? -These common terms can often be found on our page HERE. Don’t get caught up in what Jane, John and Harry DOE are doing on race day. It’s YOUR race day! It should be YOUR experience. Focus on yourself and how you’re feeling.
- Transition is where you’ll want to take a few extra minutes to get comfy with the layout. Know where you’ll be running in from the swim, then biking out of and back in to and lastly, where you’ll run out from. Take a “mental snapshot” of your bike, it’s lay out and what the location of it feels like so you can easily find it after the swim. Lay out your gear in a simple and neat fashion – often on a small towel is the best. Don’t add extra clothes, fuel, tons of water or other items as spares. Keep transition simple so you feel less fussed and pressured in-between each split.
- Your bike is often the longest leg of a triathlon race. Having a high quality machine is important, but not critical if it’s your first triathlon. Two bikes you are NOT allowed to race with is a tandem or recumbent bike. A mountain bike, fat tire, commuter, road bike, triathlon bike – these are all allowed and just fine to go at your own pace. There is always a bike tech person available just near transition on race day as well as monitoring athletes on course should they get a flat. Check your tire pressure and brakes and ALWAYS have a good helmet.
- Plan to have your friends, family or spectators arrive with you. This creates less confusion for parking, communications, course safety and overall stress on you as well. They can offer support, carry extra gear you don’t need (or want to leave in transition) and of course take race day pictures to share later.
- Know the course! Look at course maps and layouts ahead of time. Know the number of laps you are required to complete (on a bike split for example) or where an aid station might be for a drink of water or snack. While everything is often well laid out at our races, knowing the course strengthens your confidence in turns and flow so you can keep stress levels low.
- Thank a volunteer! Thank local law enforcement! You’ll get a natural boost of endorphins by spreading a little love to others that are there to help organize and support your race day. Plus, sometimes a smile is generated!
- Relax, breathe and have fun! Triathlon is a very solo sport but you’ll find new friends and training buddies in no time from even just one race! Enjoy your first race experience, it only happens once!
BONUS TIP- Your number bib! This should NOT be work during the swim portion of the race, it will tear. This can be pinned on a shirt to use for the run OR a handy race belt or number belt.