E had actually done a sprint triathlon a couple months before I did my first one, so that taught me a lot about what gear you need to take, setting up the transition area and how the whole day works. I discovered that at least for the first couple of times, checklists are uber-helpful. Or just running through each portion of the race in your head.
My checklist looked something like this (keeping in mind this is really for sprint, maybe olympic, distance...the higher distances come with much bigger lists!):
- Swim cap (usually provided with your packet)
- Gloves (though for shorter distances, some people do without)
- Body Glide (as needed)
- Shoes (you never know)
- Water bottles
- Gel(s), chews, etc.
- Socks (if you wear them with your bike shoes. If not, move this to the run).
- Hat/cap/visor/headband. Whatever you wear to keep your noggin protected from the sun.
- A small towel to put all your gear on in the transition area.
- An extra water bottle to rinse your feet or towel to wipe your feet off if you need to. Sometimes the trek from the swim exit to the transition area can contain a lot of sand/grass/grime or overall dampness that is not pleasant when you're trying to put socks on.
- Lip balm
- A t-shirt and shorts to throw on post-race.
- An extra bath-sized towel in case there is a place to rinse off or if you want to dry off, post-race.
- Race number and race belt
Tips for the night before:
- Do your goggles need an extra dose of anti-fog? Do that early evening so they have time to dry.
- Will you get up at the last possible second since these things start so darn early? Lay out your breakfast the night before, or figure out what you'll take with you on the go.
- Try to get a good night's sleep, even if it is tough because you're excited about the race. :)
- Put your bike number on your bike. If you're anal retentive like our household is, it needs to be lined up just right. It can be a bit of a pain.
- It's also a quick time-saver to attach your race number to your race belt and pack them together.
- Relax! Tomorrow's the big day!
- Maybe this tip will be too girly, but I've run into this once or twice. When you get there, they body mark you, which means writing in giant sharpy on your arms and legs. If you're the type that gets embarrassed by a stranger feeling your legs if you haven't shaved in a couple days...well, take care of that. Hey, it will help you on the swim and the bike!
- Numbers: You get three. One for the front of your helmet, one for your bike and one for our race belt. I've also occasionally gotten a fourth one that you can stick on your race bag.