By Kirsten Smith (303 ambassador)
Here are some of my tips for a fun, successful race at the Boulder Peak Triathlon, especially if you are new to triathlon, new to Olympic distance or maybe just need a few reminders.
BEFORE RACE DAY: After picking up your race packet, read all the last minute race details, gather ALL your equipment, put your race numbers on and study the swim, bike, and run course—and sleep and relax as much as possible.
DAY BEFORE RACE DAY: Pack all your equipment into your car so you don’t forget it race morning, stay off your feet as much as possible, drink lots of water and if it’s hot add electrolytes, eat only foods your body is familiar with, eat dinner early, settle down early, set your alarm, and try to go to sleep early.
RACE MORNING: Wake up with plenty of time for something to take longer than expected, eat a breakfast you have practiced on racing/training mornings or something you eat every day, remember to grab anything not packed in the car (I put these things on a sticky note on the back of my phone), and leave with plenty of time for extra traffic into Boulder and a line into the parking lots at the Res.
WHEN YOU GET TO THE RACE: Rack your bike and lay out all your equipment and go through your race in your mind to make sure you have everything you need for each portion of the race, sip water or electrolytes throughout the morning, check your tire pressure, breathe, make sure you know your wave start time so you have plenty of time to get to the swim start, and do your planned warm up whether it’s in the water, on dryland, or just visualizing your race in your head.
SWIM: Each swim wave will have about 50 swimmers so seed yourself where you think you will finish within your wave. If you are a newbie to swimming/triathlon/open water, or are nervous about the swim at all, start off to the side or toward the back of the pack. And you don’t even HAVE to start with the pack! You can wait for the rest of the group to go and then you can get started so you don’t have to worry about being crowded by other swimmers at all. My best tip for the swim is to know that the first 3-5 minutes you will be out of breath and perhaps a little panicked, so when it happens it will be no big deal because you were expecting it!
T1: During the last few minutes of the swim, go over your list in your head of everything you need to do when you get to transition. Remember that your transition time counts toward your overall time, so if you have a time or age group place goal, make sure you hustle through transition. My best tip for T1 is to start taking your wetsuit off while running to your rack so that when you get there all you need to do is slip your feet out and while your sitting, throw on your bike shoes and helmet, and go!!
BIKE: I made a video about how to ride the bike course on my facebook page www.facebook.com/foodfitnessfinancefunif you are unfamiliar with the bike course. Since the course is a gradual incline leading up to Lee Hill and then a big hill to the top of Olde Stage, I would just relax and spin in a lower gear at a higher cadence for the first few miles of the course. Don’t be afraid to get out of breath or push your legs up the hill as it is short, and once you are at the top, you have essentially 18 miles of downhill. My best tip for the bike is to stay hydrated with electrolytes EVEN IF IT’S COOLER AND YOU DON’T FEEL THIRSTY. This will affect you later in your race when it does get hot. If you have ever heard the term “stay ahead of your nutrition” that is what it means. Drink/eat for how you want to perform an hour later.
T2: Again, a few minutes before your bike finish, go over in your head what you will be doing in T2. I start thinking about it about 2 miles out and repeat it in my head over and over and over until I get there. Rack your bike, switch shoes, put on a hat/sunglasses, grab your race belt/drink, chapstick, anything else you need for the run and GO! Get out of there! My best T2 tip for a good finishing time is to practice these transitions as a race/goal can be achieved by minimizing transition times!
RUN: It is almost a guarantee the run will be HOT! And the course is very exposed meaning NO SHADE! Do not skip aid stations! My best tip for the run: At every aid station drink an electrolyte drink and pour water over your head. Keep yourself wet as much as you can. If there is ice, put it in your top AND bottoms and hold ice in your hands until the next aid station and then repeat! The other thing I do during a hot run is come up with mantras I repeat over and over to myself like “I am solar powered and I run better with the sun”, “the heat makes me stronger and faster”, and “I’m so glad it’s hot out, I run way better in the heat!” You will be surprised how much power your thoughts have over your body!
Overall, the best advice I can give you for any race is to prepare for the worst but expect the best. To do this I go over any scenario during the swim, bike, run, and transitions that can go wrong and what I would do about it. Mechanicals, nutrition fails, cramps, thoughts of quitting, pains, weather, and any other problems that could arise. Figure out what you would do in any situation, and then don’t think or worry about it again. After that, as many times as you can throughout your days leading up to the race, visualize your perfect race. What it will be like and feel like when executed perfectly. This is what you will focus on for the rest of your time before race day!!
Oh and of course HAVE FUN!!!