Getting Ready to Tri: My Pre-Race "Things"

This past weekend was my favourite race in my hometown--the Bluewater Triathlon. I had a great race that was quicker in the swim--I don’t think I’ve ever given it a go quite like Saturday--and not too shabby in the bike and run (not my fastest, but it did the trick!) to earn me an age group win. It’s been a while since I’ve had one of those, so I’m pretty pleased with it!

I’ve been dabbling in multisport races for less than 10 but more than 5 years--which feels like a while to me, all of a sudden! I realized that over the years, I’ve come up with some routines that make for a less nervous, more enjoyable start to a race--my "things"--which I thought I’d share with you.

  1. Eat spaghetti the night before. Even if I don’t need to carboload or if a race is short, I almost always choose pasta for the night before a race. It’s quick, easy to find or make, and I like it--and that’s enough for me!

  2. Start the day with plenty of peanut butter. I think that peanut butter might be the glue that holds my athletic life--OK, my life in general--together. I think before every race I’ve ever done, I’ve had either oats with peanut butter and fruit or toast with the same.

  3. Watch motivational videos. One of my favourites is from the Ironman YouTube channel. This past week, I watched a few funny videos, too--a reminder not to take myself too seriously.

  4. Pull over--or almost pull over--to triple check that I’ve got my shoes. And my helmet. And my other shoes. And my goggles. And my socks. I have to leave just a little earlier than early to accomodate such checking and re-checking.

  5. Listen to one of two things: Taylor Swift or angry rock (Breaking Benjamin usually does the trick). I don’t mess with this, because it works for me.

  6. Bring 3 pairs of goggles. Once, I got to the start of a race and had dove into the water to warm up a bit. With less than 10 minutes ‘til the start time, I realized somewhere along the way I’d lost my goggles. For someone with really bad eyesight who stresses about the prospect of losing a contact and swimming out to sea in a race by accident, this is devastating! Lucky for me, a kind fellow who was waiting for his own race had a spare set--and lent them to me! Ever since, I’ve packed not just one but two spare pairs, hoping perhaps to make someone’s day if they, too, managed to lose a pair!

  7. Use new goggles. On the topic of goggles, given my inability to see the buoys without my contacts, I lose sleep over the thought of water making its way into my goggles. Not that my swim is the most impressive, but I’d hate to have to tread water and try to fix my set-up, so I almost always use the race as an opportunity to bust out a new pair--of the exact same kind, of course!

  8. The last of my obsessive rituals around making sure the race course isn’t blurry is to stash spare contacts (I wear dailies) like nuts for myself just in case. I put a pair in the pocket of my tri suit and a pair at transition. I keep a pair of glasses in transition, too, just in case I just don’t want to deal with the idea of putting in a new contact.

  9. Lubricate everything. Chamois butter and body glide are a girl’s best friend. I put the slippery stuff wherever I can--between my toes, where my legs rub together, in my shorts, under my armpits, on my neck where my wetsuit zipper finishes. There’s nothing worse than the sting of a freshly-chafed spot getting hit by sweat, and in the grand scheme of things the products are pretty darn cheap and easy to use.

  10. Enjoy the company in lieu of the nerves. At most races, I’ll know someone or a bunch of people. This can be both comforting and intimidating. After the race, it’s always nice to catch up with people you know and to hear about their day--we all just want to talk about how we felt, how fast or slow we went, and that swimmer who kicked us in the boob mid-swim. And at the end of the day, more so perhaps than the exact splits or placing, it’s about the fun we had and the people we shared it with!

What are some of your pre-race rituals?