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One Week to Go to Age Group Nationals

By Barb Lindquist

By the time you are reading this you most likely have two days until you depart for Nationals! Isn’t it a good thing you have been diligent with your preparation over the past few weeks? With three weeks to go, the focus was on learning about the course, adjusting the training toward that course, finalizing anything new in the gear department, and addressing logistics with travel. With two weeks to go, our focus was on the mental and strategic aspects of racing on the day – developing a game plan and getting it down on paper. This week’s focus is packing and traveling.

Start your pack piles now
Some gear and clothes you can’t pack until the last minute, but some you can start to put in your pack pile early in the week. Things that take time, like counting out your vitamins and measuring drink mix into baggies, you can do now. Do all the laundry you will need for the trip by Tuesday night. Leaving packing to the last minute wastes energy and usually leads to over-packing or forgetting things. While you are visualizing your trip, and packing from that visualization, create a list of the things you can’t pack yet, but will need. It may sound silly to put “helmet” on a list, but I know of some who have forgotten necessary items like this! Making a list will alleviate stress the day before you leave when packing those last minute items. 

Check your race gear

  • Check over your bike – either bring it to a bike shop or examine everything closely yourself. Check things you normally wouldn’t like cable housing; check ALL bolts you won’t be unscrewing (DON’T OVERTIGHTEN- just put an effort that a 10-year-old would have); look at your tires on race wheels and training wheels; pump up race tires and make sure they don’t leak overnight.
  • Clean the bike, including cogs (get an old t-shirt between cogs) and especially the chain. A clean bike automatically makes you feel faster.
  • Check racing flats and elastic laces. Clean with a toothbrush if they are dirty.
  • Check race goggles. Are the straps healthy?
  • Check bike helmet. Straps and clip OK? If dirty with old race numbers, clean with some rubbing alcohol or baby oil. I also hope you don’t need white salt stains on your straps to show your competition you are have been training. You gotta look good!
  • Clean 4 water bottles (2 for bike, 1 for pre-race, 1 for recovery drink post-race).

Check your feet
Do you need to cut your toenails now or in a few days?  Any hang nails that need to be clipped? Rubs/blisters that need attending?  Thank the “dogs” in advance for carrying you to a great race!

Compression socks
If you don’t have these yet, go buy some now! Put them on when you get to the airport or in the car and don’t take them off until you arrive. It is amazing how much better you will feel upon arrival.

No “Roller Skating in Traffic”
In the week prior to a big race, you are tapering. Hurray! This added energy might tempt you to go do something “fun” and outside of your usual athletic routine. Don’t do anything silly this week that would make you sore for the race, or even put you in danger of injury, like roller skating in traffic. Even something seemingly innocuous, like a yoga class or extra stretching, could make you sore for the race.

Packing a Carry-on
Here is a suggestion of how I have packed my carry-on bag. I have a wheelie bag that fits in the overhead compartment. Carrying only a backpack for a trip will be a strain on your shoulders. In that wheelie I have two bags.  Bag one I will never open until arrival. It contains: racing flats, cycling shoes, pedals, race suit, race goggles, favorite cap, running shorts, running socks, jog bra (optional for guys). If for some reason your suitcase is lost for a day in luggage-land, at least you can swim and run. I wear my training shoes on the plane to encourage me to walk between flights and to have for a run if my bag doesn’t arrive. The second bag in my wheelie, a mini-backpack, is the small bag I will put under the seat in front of me during the flight.  And lastly, in the wheelie I would suggest bringing anything that would encourage you to be on the floor during layovers.  I bring a muscle roller and sometimes a light cloth to put on the carpet at the airport.  If you have a long layover you can lay on that cloth with your legs up on the bag.

When checking in, see if you can get a “Priority” tag for your bike, even if you aren’t an elite member of your airline. This doesn’t ensure that your bike will arrive with you, but if the bike gorillas have a choice between two bikes that will make it on a flight, they might put yours on first.  Also, on your luggage/bike, have your home address tag, but also put another ID tag with “DESTINATION” written on it, travel date, hotel address and phone number.  If you have time, always wait by the check in until the bike handler takes your bike below.  Thank him in advance for taking care of your baby.  Sounds silly, but not only is it nice to thank those guys who cart our big boxes around, but it also puts a face to the bike box.

Best of luck to you all! I look forward to seeing YOU, the fittest athletes on the planet, race later this week. Most importantly, remember on race day to put on the smile, enjoy the celebration of your bodies and your journey, and revel in the fellowship of your triathlon family.

2004 Olympic Triathlete Barb Lindquist is the USAT Collegiate Recruitment Coordinator. She will have 10 recruited collegiate runners and swimmers competing at Age Group Nationals in Tuscaloosa for their first time after having done an average of 1-3 triathlons in their life. Barb can be reached at, or through her own personal coaching business at