The Ins and Outs of Race Day!


Race day can be a bit nerve-wracking for first time triathletes.  That underlying fear of the unknown sits right at the surface.  Am I doing this right? Where do I go now?  Are people judging me?

That fear can be a deterrent for many people.  Sure, it’s easy to choose NOT to participate, but what will that gain you in the long run?

Deciding to participate in a triathlon is no minor feat.  You’ve made the commitment and put in the training hours to prepare your mind and body to so something incredible. You know how to swim, bike and run, but what about the rest of it? Anxiety about navigating transition for first time triathletes is quite common.  Many people are worried they will do something wrong or forget a major element on race day.

So, here is TRI 101 for first time triathletes!

The biggest thing to remember is that this is YOUR race.  You need to have the items best suited for YOU to ensure the best possible outcome.  If you wear socks to train – wear socks on race day.  If you’ve trained on the bike and run in the same shoes – wear them on race day for both activities.

Everyone is at a different level in their triathlon experience.


Don’t feel pressured to change your plan just because someone else does something differently than you.

Stacy transition

Race day is not the time for that!


There will be bike officials present in the transition area to answer any questions about how to rack your bike.  You will find your number on the bike rack which is your “race area” for the day.  Rack your bike by the seat with the front wheel down on the ground.  The bike next to you will be racked in the opposite direction.

You will put your gear next to your bike by the front tire.  Set it up in the order you will need it.  Most people put down a small towel and set their items on top.

Typical items include an additional towel (to dry off), bike shoes, socks, nutrition, race belt, helmet, running shoes, sunglasses, visor or hat, water bottle.

Transition setup

Before you swim, it is recommended you use a body glide or spray.  This will help with chaffing, but also with the removal of your wetsuit after the swim.

Another good idea is to wear a tri suit under your wetsuit.  A tri suit is what you’ll wear for the entire race.  **NOTE** Regular bike shorts have much more padding than a tri suit, which will hold water and be quite uncomfortable (and heavy) during the swim.  It is not recommended to wear regular bike shorts under your wetsuit.

When it’s time – get your wetsuit and swim cap on, grab your goggles and head to the race start area.


While you might feel a wave of relief that the swim portion is over (I know I will), exiting the water is not the time to relax and celebrate.  Instead, the first thing you should do is put your goggles on your head.  Reach back and unzip your wet suit and pull it to your waist while running (or walking) to transition.  Then, pull off your goggles and swim cap.

Once you get to your transition area, pull off your wet suit inside out and keep it in your space.

To get ready for the bike portion, it might help to work top to bottom.  Put on your glasses and helmet (buckle it), socks and then shoes.  Some people choose to put on their race belt now, but that is totally optional.  You are NOT REQUIRED to have it on during the bike portion.

Unrack your bike and RUN IT out of transition.


Once you’re free from transition, hop on your bike and ride like the wind!


When you get to the dismount area, hop off your bike and RUN IT back into transition.

If you run in different shoes, you would change into them now.  Grab a drink of water and nutrition (if you need it), and make sure your race belt is around your waist.


The goal in this transition is to be quick.  Take a drink of water and put your visor/hat on while running out of transition and onto the run course.  You can shave some serious minutes off your time by hustling in and out!

Your legs might feel a bit like rubber at this point but keep going.  Our run course is very flat with gorgeous views.  Enjoy!  It won’t be long before you cross the finish line for one of the best after parties around!


If you’re running the Sprint distance, you won’t likely need any nutrition items.  If you’re doing the Olympic race, the transition from bike to running is where you’d grab your pre-packaged snack.  A good option would be a Cliff bar or Honey Stinger waffle – which you can find at Wayne’s Ski & Cycle.  Some athletes are prone to cramping and use salt tablets.

It is recommended you eat breakfast approximately 2-3 hours before your swim.  Oatmeal with peanut butter is a good option.  Toast with peanut butter and a drizzle of honey is another one.  Or a banana.  If you need a pre-race boost, a prepackaged item would be ideal at that point as well.

The main thing to remember is that TRI Clear Lake is a very friendly race.  If you’re unsure of something… ask! I guarantee there are other first time triathletes in attendance feeling the same way, so don’t sweat it.  You will do great and should be proud of yourself!

Now go get ‘em!