You have done the training, traveled to the race, planned your nutrition, your equipment is ready to go, you're tapered and primed to unleash your fury on the course.
However, most triathletes' first obstacle is not the pre-race jitters, but the pre-race exposition (the expo)!
Most triathletes go to a major race completely ready to go. Yet at packet pick-up they buy new equipment, size up the competition, overhear how others have trained, question their own preparation, sample every pre-race drink on display, purchase new gel or energy food for race day, and decide which bike they would rather be riding...Not to mention the several hours they're on their feet.
Pre-race expos are pretty neat events, and done right can cause no harm. At some expos, pros show up, new toys are on display, and a lot of activities are going on. However, keep in mind what you are going to the expo for.
If the expo precedes an important "A" race for you, be as efficient as possible. Get your race packet, see a few things, keep it simple and get off your feet.
Try not to let yourself become distracted with all of the displays and goings-on.
While wandering around the expo, do not get wrapped up in what other athletes look like. I've seen athletes that look like they should be on the cover of a magazine have very slow races.
With all the latest goodies on display, you might be tempted to try something new for race day. Never try anything new on race day. This goes double for key equipment such as bike parts, shoes and key nutrition.
Nothing will blow your chances for a great race like stomach pains from a new food source or blisters from a cool pair of shoes you just bought. If your nutrition and equipment have worked in training, they will work for you on race day.
If possible, do your pre-race brick before the expo. That will boost your energy and confidence. Get to the expo early before the masses to help you expedite your registration process. Waiting in lines combined with lots of wandering can make your legs tired and swollen. Stay off your feet as much as possible.
Avoid sampling all the pre-race beverages and bars because you may end up feeling bloated. In most cases, water is the best drink in days leading up to the race.
Be confident in the plan that you and your coach have developed. If you prepared well, you have nothing to worry about. If you didn't, the day before a race is not the time to be worrying about it.
Do not get wrapped up in comparing yourself to others, it serves no purpose. The race is already filled with enough stress.
Limiting the amount of expo-fever you are exposed to can only help you have a good race. Remain focused on your own race; whether it is for love of sport, personal challenge or just plain fun, good luck this season!
Find your next triathlon.