You’ve been training for weeks and weeks, and the big day is finally just around the corner! Here are some tips to help with race day … starting a few days ahead of time.
One Week Before the Race
– Stay on top of your hydration levels from now all the way until race day.
– Trust your training! You’ve worked hard to prepare for the race, and at this point you’re not going to add any fitness that will benefit you on race day. Resist the urge to squeeze in an extra / long workout and just rest up for race day.
– Check your bike over to ensure that key components – tires, brakes, and shifters in particular – are functioning properly. If you come upon some items in need of repair, or don’t feel comfortable doing the assessment yourself, your local bike shop is typically happy to help! They may need to keep your bike for a day or two, so make sure to head there earlier in the week rather than later.
– Review the USAT Race Day Checklist – download here – and confirm that you have everything you need for race day. If not, now’s the time to go get it!
Two Days Before the Race
– Don’t do anything too strenuous – no big hikes, re-landscaping your yard, cleaning out the basement, etc. Just rest!
– Get a good night’s sleep! This night is actually more important than the night before the race.
The Day Before the Race
– Stay off your feet and out of the sun as much as possible. Rest, rest, rest!
– If available, pick up your race packet today rather than waiting for race morning. Review everything in the packet and make sure you know what it’s all used for.
– Referencing the USAT Race Day Checklist, pack all your gear for race day – a duffel bag or milk crate works well for packing. If you have them, put your race numbers on your bike, helmet, and t-shirt / race belt. Lay out your clothing for race morning.
– Review the race course and other provided race information, particularly the race start time, swim waves, and when transition will close pre-race.
– Create a schedule for race morning (see below). Prep your breakfast ahead of time.
– Eat some good carbs throughout the day, but eat a moderate sized dinner.
– Pump up your tires.
– Go to sleep early, but don’t panic if you don’t sleep well. That’s normal! And why you got a good night’s sleep two nights before the race.
– Eat a nice breakfast, ideally 3 hours before race start: carbs and a little protein is perfect.
– Leave for the race in time to arrive at the race site approximately 90 minutes before race start. Even earlier if you need to search for parking and/or pick up your race packet.
– Park, grab all your gear and your bike, and head to transition. Get body marked – typically: race numbers sharpied on your arms and your USAT age (age as of 12/31) on your calf – as you enter transition (so cool!).
– Find your transition spot based on your race number, and set up transition – all the info on transition can be found here.
– Scope out the transition layout – find swim in, bike out, bike in, and run out (exactly what they sound like!), and locate your transition spot relative to these entry and exit points. For many races, you can mark your bike rack and/or transition spot with a helium balloon or sidewalk chalk.
– Visit the port o’ potty! For real, include this in your race morning timeline – you’ll need to hit the potty, and there’s usually a 10 minute line for them!
– Put on your wetsuit AFTER you’ve hit the port o’ potty. Allow about 15 minutes to get this done, it’s a workout in and of itself.
– If you’re able to get in the water, warm up for 5-15 minutes.
– Plan to be finished with your “race morning routine” 15 minutes before the race start. There is often a pre-race briefing that you’ll want to listen to.
– Place yourself appropriately at the swim start based on your swim ability and comfort in open water. If you’re a strong swimmer, place yourself up front so you have a clear line to the first swim buoy. If you’re more moderately paced or uncomfortable in open water, I recommend an outside corner start location.
– The beginning of the swim usually involves a little contact! Try not to panic – tread water if you’re flustered, and look around for some open water where you can swim cleanly.
– You may start really fast due to excitement and quickly get out of breath. Again, don’t panic! Switch strokes for a bit if that’s helpful, focus on getting your breathing under control, and “just keep swimming.”
– The fastest way to finish the swim is to swim straight! Sight the next swim buoy every 8-10 strokes, and make sure you find the next buoy after completing each turn.
– Stay focused and methodical: wetsuit, cap, and goggles off; helmet, sunglasses, shoes, and socks on. Grab your bike and go!
– Remember to place your discarded gear in your transition area. It’s a shared spaced, and fellow participants need room for their stuff too.
– Woohoo! You finished the swim. Be proud!
– Remember to take in plenty of water, and potentially some fueling, on the bike. A reminder of hydration and fueling can be found here.
– Stay safe! Cars are present on many bike courses, and fellow participants appreciate a nice “on your left” when being passed.
– Aid stations can get a little congested – signal to your fellow participants if you’re slowing or stopping, and be mindful of others doing the same.
– Thank the volunteers! The race can’t happen without them.
– Save some energy for the run!
– Once again, stay focused and methodical: rack your bike; helmet and bike shoes off; run shoes on. Grab your hat (and race belt if you’re using one) and go!
– Don’t start out too fast! This is one of the most common errors in race execution. Be very mindful of your pace for the first mile.
– Be sure to get some water or sports drink at each aid station.
– Don’t be shy about taking walk breaks if you need them. Aid stations are a great place for that.
– Thank some more volunteers!
– Encourage your fellow participants! You’ll get back twice the positive energy that you put out on the race course.
– And most of all, ENJOY THE FINISHER’S CHUTE! Smile, and celebrate what you’ve accomplished. You earned it!
The Longmont Triathlon is just a few days away. Colorado’s longest running triathlon has long been a favorite of locals, seasoned athletes, first time triathletes, kids and so many more.
Several years ago, local business owners and sponsors of the Longmont Triathlon wanted to showcase and honor more than just those who ‘won the race’ and ‘won their age groups’. Everyone has a story that got them to the start line. Here are a few of those stories.
Tiffany H., Most memorable/inspiring Longmont Triathlon experience
March 25, 2016 my (then) 10 year old son was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, medullo blastoma. In the past 14 months he has endured 4 surgeries, 30 days of radiation and 9 cycles of chemo.
Running is my therapy and I wake in the dark and run the stress & anxiety away. I haven’t been able to get to the pool except twice a month ago – there is always a drs appointment to get in the way.
So, when I wanted to give up, I remember my son and the endurance and fortitude, persistence and tenacity . . .and just keep thinking one more stroke, one more lap, one more step. As God has sustained him, He will sustain me.
For His Glory
Marilyn B.,Most memorable/inspiring Longmont Triathlon experience
I’ve done the Longmont Triathlon several times with my twin daughters (Kara & Dani). The 1st time or two we did it as a team ( I remember Kara nursing her 2 month old baby before she did the swim). After we started doing it as individuals, we usually had more fun training than we did actually racing. I’m not very fast, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve apparently outlived some of my competition because I’ve occasionally gotten awards.
In 2012 I had back surgery and have used triathlon as a way to motivate myself to stay active. This year is my first time back to this triathlon and my first time to do it without either daughter (one is in France, the other in Russia). So, I will be hearing their voices, especially on the run, saying, ‘C’mon Mom, you can do it.’ And I will picture my grand-kids, 6 of them, cheering me from the playground equipment as I run by. I’m just happy to be able to compete now that I’m ‘old’ (70).
The Longmont Triathlon is the longest running triathlon in the state of Colorado. One of the reasons it’s been around for so long is it’s appeal to beginners. It’s a small event, it has a pool swim, is a sprint distance – now with a Try-a-Tri shorter distance, and has just about the best volunteers gratitude can buy.
Several years ago, three local event sponsors teamed together and created the Story Bowl. It offers participants the opportunity to ‘tell their story’ because everyone has one.
Today we share stories from First Time triathlon participants. Read on and get inspired.
Ron L, First Time Triathlete
I started competing in triathlon in 2011. I’ve always loved healthy competition and triathlon were the next new challenge as I passed 50. Competing makes me feel more healthy and I love the opportunity to experience all the different aspects of competitions. But this one was different.
Earlier this year my younger sister was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, MS. This hit my family hard and me especially. So, when I registered for the Longmont Triathlon, it was with renewed purpose: I wanted to compete for her. When I swim/bike today, I’m competing for my sister: when my team stands with me, they stand with her. This experience is something that I want to do because she can’t. I hope through the experience I can show support in my way for her fight.
Stephen D, First Time Triathlete
I started a spin/swim class here at Centennial Pool with the goal of improving my riding and learning proper swim strokes. I had no intention of doing a triathlon but I got hooked on the training, in Jim’s class, and met lots of encouraging class mates. At age 66, my first tri wont be the fastest but it will be my first, and a PR.
Colleen B, First Time Triathlete
My name is Colleen and today I did my first ever triathlon!
I was inspired to do this by my friend Erin. She was supposed to be here today but had to have emergency surgery last week to take her appendix out. So, I dedicate this to Erin A! I was so worried about the swim but I survived! My husband is a UFC fighter and is in phenomenal shape and he kept telling me ‘you have to challenge yourself to change yourself’. I feel like I did that today! What an awesome feeling it is!! Right when I was done I Facetimed my husband and 3 kids and they’re SO proud of me!!
If you missed last week’s post on the Longmont Triathlon Story Bowl and it’s history, check it out HERE
The endurance sports world likes to use the words fuel and nutrition a lot to refer to the mandatory task of eating. Makes sense, as we need to fuel our bodies with nutritious foods in order to achieve our best performance. But seeing all this can be a bit overwhelming for the new athlete. This post is geared toward the new athlete who might be getting off the couch and trying to become more fit and lose a few pounds while they are at it.
That being said, these tips will also help a seasoned athlete who maybe took a little too much time off in the off-season and is looking to get back to it.
If you are changing something about your life, like adding training to your daily routine, then you don’t want to change too much too soon. It takes about 3 weeks or so for a new routine to become habit, so if you change too much, there is a good chance to become overwhelmed and revert back to your old ways. My suggestion is to take the first month of your training and just get that comfortably into your schedule. And ease into that as well – if you haven’t gone to the gym in 3 years, then don’t try to go every day! Start 2-3 times per week and see how you do.
Once you’ve settled into your new structured training routine, then we can take a closer look at nutrition. Again, we’re going to ease into changes. First, keep a log for about 3-4 days (including a weekend day or your “off” day). Write down everything you eat. Everything. Do you grab three M&M’s? write it down. You can also include when you eat and any feelings you are experiencing while you eat.
This log will give you (and your coach if you have one) a good idea of your current eating habits. Without counting calories, there are some easy things to look for in your log. The goal will be to maximize your consumption of fruit, vegetables, lean meats and healthy fats. But first look at how many “snack” foods you are consuming.
One simple change is to replace a snack with a healthier option (fruit and some nuts, celery and peanut butter, yogurt with fruit). If you’ve been eating a Little Debbie snack cake in the afternoon for the last couple years, don’t go cold turkey either. Reduce your consumption (perhaps only every-other day, or only half a serving) until you prefer the healthier option over the Little Debbie. If you get the daily mocha or latte – do you really need a venti or grande? Would a tall satisfy the craving? Can black coffee suffice? Another thing to think about is if you are really hungry when you are eating. Ask yourself if you are truly hungry or if you are bored.
For your main meals, start adding an extra serving of vegetables…they are low in calories and will help fill you up. You’ll be surprised on how quickly you will feel better once you are eating more natural foods over processed foods.
One last tip – have your healthy meals and snacks prepared ahead of time. If you bring your lunch to work, bring snacks already measured out. The food companies already do this (snack size chips, cookies, etc) so do the same. You can put together a bunch of snacks over the weekend and then just grab them in the morning.
Just by making some simple replacements and no calorie counting, you can eat healthier and you will feel better and stronger.
Make gradual changes to your exercise and eating habits to improve success
Keep a food journal for a few days to really understand your eating habits
Slowly replace not so healthy food with healtier choices (lots of fruits and veggies!)
If I am eating a treat, can I get a smaller portion and satisfy the craving?
Am I really hungry when I eat?
Prepare healthy snacks in ready-to-eat portions so they are easy to grab and go.
Hopefully these tips will help you start thinking about what you are eating.
Back in 2014 I engaged Sara Taylor (Currently the City’s Recreation Program Supervisor, but who was also race director at the time), about Boulder Salt partnering/sponsorship in some way with the Longmont Tri. I knew that I wanted it to be in a unique way, rather than the typical age group awards. Sara was very open to suggestions. When it came down to it, I wanted to be a part of an award that didn’t revolve around how fast a person is. I knew from experience that everyone out there has their own story behind getting into triathlon and some people are fighting a fight that you couldn’t imagine. They might be coming in 83rd in their division or even the last to cross the finish line, but there’s something remarkable about their spirit, inspiration, or journey that most people will never know.
So to take the thinking back a few years: before I ever did my first triathlon (which happened to be at the Longmont Tri), I would sign up to volunteer along with other members of Blue Sky Velo, a cycling and tri club I am a member of. I would get to talking to the athletes and was blown away by the stories I heard about what brought them to the event in the first place or why they kept coming back (it’s the longest running tri in Colorado, and maybe even the 48 contiguous states). Read Save the Longmont Triathlon Here
I would get into conversations with other people, including event staff, and tell them the stories. I realized pretty quickly that what I was doing, by reaching out and asking/sharing stories was somewhat unusual and gave people a very different insight into the athletes on course. As I thought about the award and wanting it to be unique, I came up with the idea to ask people to write down their stories, and then choose a few to recognize during the awards ceremony. With Sara’s help I contacted other sponsors, which tended to be independent, local business, told them of the idea and invited them to join me. Two other (long time) Longmont Tri sponsors (*Bob Cranny/Altitude Physical Therapy and Dr. Donna Mitchell/BodyPoint Medicine) were very enthusiastic about this type of award and we joined together to give three participants a very nice prize package based on their “story”.
The stories were broken into 3 categories: My first Longmont Tri, My most unique/funny Longmont Tri experience and My most memorable/inspiring Longmont Triathlon experience. Traditionally I talk to athletes during packet pick up and on race morning and invite them to write down their stories. The other sponsors and myself read the stories and select three (not necessarily one from each category, but we do try for a mixture when possible). Then those stories are read by the announcer immediately preceding the age group awards. Those athletes are awarded their prize package and get their pictures taken. It’s becoming a favorite 5-10 minute time period at the triathlon and a very nice way to honor the community of athletes that are drawn to this long-running hometown event – now in it’s 38th year!
*I would also like to point out the Bob and Donna, in addition to being longtime sponsors, both have a pretty long history of competing in the Longmont Tri! I have participated 2 or 3 times.
Missy C., Triathlon Veteran, Most Memorable Longmont Triathlon
I am currently a veteran of over 25 triathlons and Longmont is one of my favorites. It’s well organized, has great volunteers and always great post race food and other goodies. Most importantly though, I love the atmosphere: low-key, welcoming all abilities and especially encouraging first-timers. My all-time favorite triathlon memory was a few years ago here. . . a female participant was sitting by her bike after the swim leisurely enjoying a piece of chocolate cake! She said she had earned it, and obviously had no desire to rush through the experience. Triathlons do not have to be just a competition or a race. The journey to get there is the real reward, as much as the event itself.
Kirk D., Most Unique Longmont Tirathlon
In 2009, my wife convinced me to do the Longmont Tri with her. I only did it to support her and thught it would only be a 1-time thing. In 2010, I did my first Half Ironman!
Since 2009, I’ve done the Longmont Tri all but one year, Have done dozens of Sprints & Olympics and 3 Halfiron distance races.
You may or may not have given much thought to hydration and fueling (also known as water and food) during your training up to now. That’s ok! For short-course racing – sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons – faking it often can work just fine in training. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with having a little knowledge to fuel your fueling (hahaha) and on race day the knowledge will really come in handy.
You’ve got lots of options when it comes to hydration and fueling:
Water. Duh. That’s hydration.
Gels, blocks, chews, and waffles. Things like Gu Energy Gels, Gu Chomps, Clif Shot Energy Gels, Clif Shot Bloks, Honey Stinger Energy Chews, Honey Stinger Waffles, and Gatorade Energy Chews are very popular fueling sources for triathletes. They are all easily digestible sources of quick fuel for your muscles – and are really tasty to boot! No one option is better than the other, it’s really just a matter of personal preference. So grab a smorgasbord of types and flavors and see what you like.
Real food. Yup, you can also just use actual food as fuel, but it requires a little more research on your part. You’re looking for food that’s easily transportable, has lots of sugar – but very little fat or protein. Believe it or not, baby food “squeezers” are a popular choice which fits that bill. Personally, I like my frosting packets and gummy bears – I mean, Energy Gels and Shot Bloks – so I just stick with those.
Electrolytes. Also knows as: sodium. Yes, you do need to think about this as well, particularly on hot days and longer workouts. Sodium is not typically found in gels, blocks, etc and is often in low supply in real food, so you’ll want to supplement with something like BASE Salt, Boulder Salt, SaltStick, Enduralytes, or Nuun.
Sports drinks. All this sounding really complicated? Here’s some good news: you can get hydration, fueling, and electrolytes all in a single bottle of your sports drink of choice. There are lots of choices out there: Gatorade and Gatorade Endurance, Infinit Speed, Heed, Skratch, CarboPro, and Tailwind, to name a few. So, just as with the gels, blocks, chews, and waffles, grab a few sample-size options and see what you like.
Here are some rules of thumb to help you understand when to pay attention to hydration and fueling, and when you can really just fake it:
Before your workout, it’s helpful to have some food (fuel). If you train immediately after you wake up, a gel packet or something along those lines will help get you out the door. If you train later in the day, your normal meals should do just fine. Keep in mind that some foods will sit heavier in your stomach, particularly for running, so maybe don’t have a giant burrito and then knock out a tough run. I’d wait at least an hour after a meal to train, and two to three hours is even better.
For workouts under 60 minutes, you’re fine with just some water (in other words: faking it).
For workouts 60 minutes or longer, you’ll want to get your fuel and hydration going (food and water). You want to aim for one standard bike water bottle (20-24 oz) per hour for hydration. If your fueling source is liquid, that counts as your hydration too. Bonus! If you are going with gel, blocks, or a food-based fuel source, shoot for 250-300 calories per hour on the bike (especially if you are running after!) and up to 200 calories per hour on the run. In terms of electrolytes (sodium), individual needs vary widely, from 300-400mg per hour to upwards of 1500mg per hour; for short-course racing, default somewhere in the 300-600mg per hour range and/or whatever is in your sports drink.
On the bike, you can bring a bottle or two depending on how many bottle cages you have on your bike frame. I recommend a bottle of water and a bottle of sports drink if you have two cages. If you don’t have a cage on your bike, go get one now. You really, really need to be able to carry at least a water bottle while you ride.
As for bringing along gels, waffles, real food, and/or salt supplements, you can plan to stow them in your bike jersey or tri top pockets (yup, that’s what they’re there for) or you can rig your bike with a “bento box” – a little storage compartment that you strap to the top of your frame, right behind the bars – and stow all your fueling in there.
On the run, it’s simplest to just use what they have at the aid stations – water and Gatorade, typically. If you’ve gotten in the correct amount of water, fueling, and electrolytes on the bike then you don’t need to worry to much about quantities for a 5k run. If you do want to bring some water along, perhaps on a really hot day, then I recommend a handheld water bottle. It doesn’t matter if the bottle is small, because you can refill it at the aid stations, and as a bonus most handheld bottles have small zippered pockets where you can store gels or other fueling.
SOME FINAL NOTES
Be sure to practice your fueling and hydration plan during training! That way you know whether it’s easy or hard to suck down a gel while cycling, if you are able to reach that second water bottle, and if you’re still thirsty after drinking 20 ounces of water in 30 minutes or if you finish your ride and your sports drink bottle is still half full.
Try out different things in training, find a system that works, and then race like you train. Because, above all: nothing new on race day!
Bike Bolder : Become more assertive ascending and descending on the bike, expand your comfort zone, live in your courage zone.
Skill and technique are often overlooked on the bike in favor of finding fitness and hammering out the miles. this workshop is designed to maximize your fitness with a focus on cornering, climbing and descending.
Full Clinic series:
Swim Braver May 20th
Bike Bolder June 3rd
Run Stronger June 24th
Do one workshop for $149 or all 3 for $399
For more details and registration please email firstname.lastname@example.org
There is an additional discipline of triathlon outside of the swim, bike, and run. That discipline is the Transition. Transition as defined means “the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.” The transition in triathlon is used to move from swim to bike and then bike to run and is equally as important as each of the triathlon legs.
Before the race begins, it is important to set up your transition so you can move quickly and efficiently when you arrive. Find a place to rack your bike. If racks are numbered find your designated spot. If racks are not numbered, select a location that works for you. Know where you are in relation to the bike in/out and the run in/out and the fastest route to get there. Find a permanent landmark that will be easy to spot when you come out of the water so you can easily locate your bike. (Note: Permanent on the landmark – cars move!) Rack your bike. Your bike should hang on the transition rack by your seat. If rack is numbered your front wheel should be facing the same direction as the number.
Here is a list of items that are helpful to set up transition:
*Transition Mat/Towel – This will be your staging area
*Bike Pump – Check your A,B,C’s when you arrive (Air, Brakes, Cassette,Chain)
*Gear – Check your bike gear. Are you in the right gear for the terrain at the mount line
*Flat Kit – Should be on your bike (Tube, CO2 cartridge, CO2 adapter, tire lever, tool)
*Hydration/Nutrition – Should be on your bike
*Swim Gear – Body glide to help with wetsuit, items below to take with you to start
*Bike Gear – Layout items below in orderly fashion so you don’t forget anything
*Run Gear – Layout in separate column from bike gear so you don’t mix them up
Once your transition is set-up, take a look at your location. Confirm that your landmark is still relevant, gather your swim gear and head to the swim start.
Here is a list of items that are helpful for the swim:
*Watch/Heart Rate Monitor
*Cap (typically provided by the race)
*Goggles (bring lens options depending on light)
*Earplugs (if you use them)
As you arrive in transition the first time – known as T1 – you have just exited the swim. In this transition your goal is to move from the swim to the bike.
Here is a list of items that are helpful in T1:
*Small towel – your feet will be wet and may have debris
*Check to make sure you still have your timing chip (DO NOT REMOVE)
*Socks (optional) – don’t make race day the first time that you cycle without socks
*Cycling Shoes or Running Shoes if flat pedals
*Helmet – mandatory to race
*Sunglasses (store them in your helmet so they don’t get crushed!)
*Cycling Gloves (optional) but if you are used to riding with them, bring them
Remove your swim items. Place to the side of your transition area so they don’t interfere with what you need access to. Get your biking items on. Make sure your helmet is securely fashioned and head to the bike mount line. Do not get on your bike before the mount line. Enjoy the ride!
Welcome to T2. You have just completed the ride, dismounted at the dismount line and are now walking/running with your bike to your transition spot. Remember your landmark! When racking your bike after the ride, it is most efficient to rack by your handle bars. Hang your hoods over the rack. Remove your biking gear and prepare to run.
Here is a list of items that are helpful in T2:
*Socks (you may decide to change socks between bike & run)
*Check to make sure you still have your timing chip (DO NOT REMOVE)
*Race Belt/Race Bib
*Handheld hydration/nutrition (if necessary)
Once you have switched out your bike and run gear. Head to the Run Out and begin your run! You have reached the final leg of the triathlon. Enjoy the run!
After the race is over, take time to reflect on your transitions. Did you have everything that you needed? Did you forget anything? What adjustments can you make to gain efficiency and time at the next race? Build transition practice into your training and develop habits that will allow you to use autopilot on race day. Attend a transition clinic to gain additional tips! Do not hesitate to ask questions. If you have the question, someone else does too! Enjoy the race!! It’s Time to Tri!
About Coach Kim Welk
As a lifelong athlete, I believe health and wellness are achievable for anyone through coaching.
From children to adults, helping people achieve health and wellness goals while embracing their lifestyle journey is my passion. I love to observe the impact that owning your health and wellness has on all aspects of your life. I have helped children reached the targeted finish in running and triathlon, and helped adults reach the finish of their first 5K, 10K, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon, Triathlon and more. The support extends beyond the finish line to focus on work-life balance, home-life balance and the ability to see the impact on your day to day performance. I incorporate a “one day…one step” mentality and follow the same philosophy in my daily life.