Last-Minute Tips for Your First Tri

Your tri is just around the corner and all of your hard work is done. Now all that's left to do is celebrate with a little swim, bike, run party--a catered and spectator-supported party at that. Easy tune up workouts are encouraged, but don't crush yourself this week. If you haven't already learned to swim like Dara Torres, bike like Lance Armstrong, or run like Meb Keflezighi, now is not the time.

While you can't change your fitness between now and race day, there are some factors you can control. Having sound equipment, good nutrition, proper pacing and a positive mental outlook will ensure you have your best race experience. Volumes have been written on each, but below are a few nuggets that help me get to the finish line as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Equipment

Just before a race you don't want to make a lot of changes, but you do want to make sure everything is in good working order and that you bring it all with you on race day (see gear checklist below). A few  things to be mindful of:

Goggles: There's no black line to follow on the ocean floor, so navigation is important. Make sure you have a pair of goggles that you like, have tried at least once to make sure they don't leak, and are not so old that you can no longer see clearly out of them. Consider buying tinted lenses.

Bike: A pre-race tune-up is always nice, but if that's not possible make sure that the tires are in good shape, chain is lubed and gears are shifting properly. On race morning it is important to pump your tires to the proper level (written on the side of the tire) and make sure your brakes are not rubbing.

Running shoes: A comfortable, trialed pair. I highly recommend elastic laces or lace toggles.

Nutrition

Eat an easily digested meal early the night before the race. Stay hydrated the days leading up to the race. Give yourself plenty of time (1.5 to 2 hours before your wave start) to digest whatever relatively bland breakfast you've chosen for yourself. Save the eggs Benedict for post-race.

Pacing

Know thyself. Perfect races are run by starting off each leg slightly slower than you hope to finish. This is called negative splitting.

Mental Game

Stay positive. Races are a chance to celebrate the hard work you've accomplished, so enjoy the race day experience. Even if you're "in it to win it," find a moment to smile, encourage a fellow competitor, thank a volunteer, and celebrate what your body is able to achieve. It will make your day all the more enjoyable.

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