Race Prep: One Week Out

in Triathlons

I am SUPER PUMPED because next weekend, I’ll be doing my first post-partum triathlon!  I’m really excited to get back into my hobby and thankful that I can squeeze in a race before the season ends for winter.  I can’t wait to cross the finish line and give Henry a big, sweaty momma beast kiss.

045 098


One question that I get frequently is, “How do you prepare for a race?”  Not referring to training, this question is more about the logistics of race day, which can be especially complicated for large road races and triathlons.  So over the next week, I’ll be doing a few posts on Race Prep


One week out, it’s key to check out the race website.  It sounds like a simple concept, but I promise that most of the questions you have about your race are answered right there on the site.  First thing first: Check to make sure you have the correct date and start time.  Very, very important.


Next, figure out when packet pick is and where it will be held.  You can pickup your packet immediately before most races.  Also, if it’s a really large race, you may not be able to pick it up the morning of the event at all.  Packets are often filled with junky giveaways and coupons, but they’ll contain your bib number and your timing chip, if your race is using chips. 


You secure your timing chip to your shoe or, in the case of triathlons, wrap it around your ankle using a Velcro bracelet, like so: 


Another important thing to look for is whether you need to bring ID to pick up your packet.  Some races, like Disney events, are REALLY hardcore about not releasing packets without IDs.  For triathlons, you will also need to bring proof of USAT membership or bring a check or cash to buy a one-day membership, if you did not pay for it with your race entry (this basically provides insurance for the race).  


An additional issue unique to triathlons is that the transition area will close 20 – 30 minutes before the race actually begins, so you want to figure out how early you need to show up to set up your gear.


Also check out the course description.  You can learn a lot from the course description – whether the race is hilly or flat; how many water stations will be available; what amenities will be located on the course and where.  It’s a great idea to know the general directions of the course, too, especially for a smaller race.  I once did a small 5K that wasn’t adequately staffed or barricaded and ended up going completely off course and royalty screwing up my finishing time.  If I had checked out the map before, I probably wouldn’t have made that turn!


Additionally, you want to look at the parking map or parking directions.  Parking can be a huge issue, and it’s not something you want to be bothered with 30 minutes before the start of the race.


And last, but certainly not least, I sometimes sneak a peek at the entry list just to see the competitors in my age group.  Did you know you can search anyone’s name in Athlinks.com and see their previous results?  I’m not exactly winning races these days (or any days…) but it’s fun to pump up the competition a bit.  Winking smile 


Happy racing! 


Anyone else doing a race in the next week or so, too?  How are you preparing?



  • Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut August 17, 2012, 2:43 pm

    Good for you! It will be so exciting to see Henry at the finish. 🙂 My boyfriend is running the NYC Marathon in Nov. and I’m training right along with him. I’ve been wanting him to get healthier for years and he finally jumped on the bandwagon! (After I backed off, kept my mouth shut and just tried to lead by example.) We have a 14-miler tomorrow. I have a feeling by the end of this, I’ll feel deserving of a medal, too!

  • Anna August 17, 2012, 2:46 pm

    I love this post but it makes me realise how much more there is going on in “big”/US/international races as opposed to the smaller country – Hungary I live in where after you get the bag with your number there is not much more and you basically need to look after yourself for the rest of the run (water stations tend to run out, for example).

  • TanyaS August 17, 2012, 2:49 pm

    I’ve got my first Olympic distance tri on Sunday. I’m completely confident in my physical ability to complete the race, but completely stressing about the open water swim. I haven’t heard good things about this lake, very weedy and mushy bottomed. Thankfully I will have a wetsuit on(Alberta, Canada) to keep the weeds from bushing my arms and legs. I’m putting a lot of faith in the spirit of competition and adrenaline to power me through that swim!

  • Dana August 17, 2012, 2:50 pm

    I’m doing my last tri of the season next Saturday! It’s the biggest one (# of participants-wise) that I’ve ever done, so I’m hoping it will be good. It’s a sprint tri, and I’m really hoping that next year I can work up to an Olympic!
    Good luck with your race next week!

  • Jameil August 17, 2012, 3:04 pm

    I’m so excited for you! I would add for your readers, if you live locally or get in town early enough, day before packet pick-up can ease some of the worry of trying to get to the race in time on race morning to get your packet. If I have all of my stuff, I have one less thing to obsess over. I’ve also been at races that had to start late because of crazy day-of packet pick-up.

  • Kelly August 17, 2012, 3:09 pm

    I packed for my triathlon in much the same way I would pack for a trip. I set a laundry basket out in my basement and threw stuff in there every time I thought about something new. I also tried to visualize what I would need from head to toe for swim + bike + run.

    So for the swim, for example: cap, goggles, tri suit, sports bra, sunscreen.

  • Lauren T August 17, 2012, 3:10 pm

    Good luck with your race!! You are seriously amazing for getting back into fitness and a race so quickly after having Henry! Kudos to you!
    I’m doing a 5K in October, and it will be my first race. I’m glad you did this post because I never would have thought about the logistics if you hadn’t mentioned it. Thanks 🙂

  • christa August 17, 2012, 3:44 pm

    i tried to type your name in for fun but i don’t see you!
    i just PRed my sprint tri last sunday at 1:10! placed 4th, dangit. next race is an Olympic next month…hope to PR that one too, so preparing by doing a lot of speedwork and biking (my weakest, ugh).
    oh one other ‘be prepared’ thing for triathlon that someone taught me was to keep an extra pair of goggles in your sports bra, esp if it’s a long or saltwater swim. it has come in handy, got mine kicked off last season!

  • Kelly August 17, 2012, 3:59 pm

    Thanks for including the athlinks link, never heard of that before! I found myself and most of my results, so now I know how I’ve done in the past..forget other people, I just want to beat my times 🙂

  • Nancy August 17, 2012, 4:12 pm

    I’m doing a 5K in my hometown about 1hr away tomorrow. My daughter will do the kids 1K. No big plans for this race, haven’t had the training mojo that I should, but it’ll be fun and my sis and bro will be running also.

  • Annette@FitnessPerks August 17, 2012, 4:38 pm

    This came at THE perfect time! I literally JUST checked out my race’s info again & checked their blog. I am doing the Half IronMan next Saturday, and I am stoked! I actually had no idea they don’t allow ipods during the run section (lameeeeeee), so that was news. I also got to see how many are in my age group, and other directions I needed to know.

    I think I am going to make a bunch of lists this weekend of exactly what I’ll need <–I found out there are a lot of aid/water stations, so we'll see.

    GOOD Luck to you on your race! yay!

    • Caitlin August 17, 2012, 5:48 pm

      Good luck!!!

  • Chantal August 17, 2012, 5:09 pm

    I’m running a 5k (at a winery!!) tomorrow evening. I’ve prepared by injuring myself on Wednesday, haha. Stupid bum knee. But I’m just going to take it easy and think of it as a training run for my triathlon next month.

  • Molly @ RDexposed August 17, 2012, 6:31 pm

    I’m packing for the Madison mini mar tomorrow! I prepped by eating a bagle in between my job of teaching people with diabetes to carb count. How’s that for fun irony?

  • Sara August 17, 2012, 6:46 pm

    I just saw your blogpost and it reminded me of an article in a recent New Yorker (I think it was 2 weeks ago?) about this winning marathoner who in fact was faking all his runs — I think it might interest you if you can find a backissue online or at the library!

  • Barbara August 17, 2012, 7:11 pm

    I just signed up for a 20k on labor day… I hope the weathers not too humid! im looking forward. to your tri articles, Ive always been a runner, but tris have been on my list to do for a while and I think next yr will be my year! good luck!

  • luv what you do August 17, 2012, 7:39 pm

    I”m so excited for you to get back into tri season!!! Way to go getting yourself back in shape before fall. Good luck and enjoy every minute of being a TRI MAMMA!

  • Dani @ Dani, Redesigned August 17, 2012, 7:49 pm

    I’m not doing one in the next week or so, but I am gearing back up and re-training for Columbia SC’s version of the Color Run ( I was going to do the Color Run in Charlotte NC, but I missed the registration and it sold out 🙁 ). It’s in October, So I’m using the Couch-to-5K program again to re-train. Ive used the C25K before, a couple years ago for a 5K I did, and it worked wonderfully! Would recommend to anyone.

  • Mai August 17, 2012, 10:13 pm

    Nothing anytime soon…I’ve got a sprint tri in October though.
    What brand tri suit do you have?

  • Amy Q August 17, 2012, 10:52 pm

    You should be so proud of yourself! You go, girl!

  • Rosa August 18, 2012, 3:14 am

    Thanks for this really helpful post. same for me – perfect timing.
    I’ll be running my first (longer then 5k) race in three weeks. It’s a 15.something k run in my hometown here in germany. Our town is divided by a big river so the track includes four bridges.
    Until today most of my planned pre race prep was about not totally freakin’ out… (one of my biggest fears: not finishing until they need to open the race track for cars again)
    but now I’ ve got some smart suggestions how I also could prep 🙂

    some fun facts: normally we germans are well known for our great organization and bureaucracy but there is one important information about the race I am still lacking –
    I live really close (like 1.5k straight-line distance) to the start/finish area but on the opposite site of the river I mentioned above. I still don’t know until when I can pass over the bridge to the starting area other then by food. so let’s hope I’ll not end as a spectator stuck on the wrong side of the bridge.

  • Kelly August 18, 2012, 8:52 am

    You are so prepared! My husband and I decided to do a triathalon on a whim. As in literally a few days out. But we were both very comfortable swimming, biking and running…we just hadn’t ever done them back to back to back. So we thought we’d give it a go. Looking back….the race itself was amazing but the logisitcs were insane especially since we just showed up on race day with a look like now what?! We had no clue what we were doing in regard to setting things up. Thankfully a sweet woman helped us out or else we would have been completely lost. A triathalon is not like a running race…you do not just show up. Ha! Lesson learned.

  • Julia H. @ Going Gulia August 18, 2012, 9:52 am

    Holy cow, how did I not realize that your race is next weekend? I feel like you just started getting back into running yesterday! Time flies by. Props on your training, girl!

  • Jenn August 18, 2012, 10:29 am

    I’m not doing a race next weekend but am looking into giving a triathlon a try some day, if I get up enough courage. Good luck next weekend : )

  • Shauna@Pleasure, not Punishment August 18, 2012, 1:08 pm

    First post-babe tri! That’s awesome and I have no doubt you will rock it.

    Thank you for another incredibly informative post. I’m a relatively new runner with my eye on tris. I’m the type of person who needs to know EVERYTHING about every endeavor and your blog has been invaluable in this regard!

  • Lauren @ The Homeostatic Mindset August 18, 2012, 2:22 pm

    Lots of good racing tips! I would really love to get into racing…hoping to join the Running Room training programs this fall, and run a 10K 🙂

  • Tarah @ What I Gather August 19, 2012, 4:05 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this! My first tri is coming up in just three short weeks and these are some very helpful last minute tips to have! I am very nervous and excited 🙂

    Good luck in your upcoming race!

  • Claire August 20, 2012, 8:00 am

    Man, I just found myself on the athlinks website, amazing!

Previous post:

Next post:

Healthy Tipping Point