Thursday, September 19, 2013

Race Prep: All About the Gear

Sorry folks.  It's been way too long since I've checked in.  I'm sure everyone has been waiting anxiously for more rambling by Andrew!  It's been a busy month at both work and home, so I've been taking care of priorities accordingly.  I've also been recovering from the foot injury and fighting the normal training blues, meaning this blog has been pretty low on that priority list!

The good news is that I'm back to racing this weekend!  If I haven't mentioned it before, I love racing.  It pumps me up and gives my motivation a real jump start.  I'm good for 3-4 weeks of super motivated training after a race, something I should probably plan for in my 2014 schedule.  Regular racing is also good practice and good for fitness benchmarks.  On the flip side, when I don't race often (like the past 2 months), my motivation really takes a hit.  Fortunately, I've got 4 races planned between now and Dec 1!

This weekend is 5150 Galveston. Normally, I don't even consider putting Olympic Distance races on my calendar, but I've spent a lot more time in the pool this year and it's good to mix things up.  The longer swim definitely puts me at a disadvantage, but I like a challenge.  I haven't done this race before, but I've heard pretty good things.  I'll post a report on what I thought after the race.

For now though, I thought I'd give an overview of my race gear and how I prep for a race.  Triathlon is a sport that can be very gear heavy, with an overwhelming lineup of choices.  I spend way too much time reading about and thinking about my gear choices, but at the end of the day, simplicity is key.  Smart choices in equipment can result in a lot of saved time, but this is definitely an area where less is more. 

I'll stop a moment to let that sink in.  Yes, less gear is usually better than more gear.  That's blasphemy to a lot of triathletes, but a simple clean setup is probably the fastest.  Yeah, this varies a bit with race distance, but strapping gear all over your bike and body will only slow you down.  Keep it simple and both your mind and body will thank you. 

Before every race, I lay out my gear.  This helps me ensure I have everything and also start my mental preparation for how I'll execute.

Cap, Goggles, Trisuit, Swimskin and Timing Chip

The cap and timing chip aren't shown because I haven't picked up packet yet.  Likewise, my swimskin (Torque) is missing.  Still, that one is optional anyway.  I'm always playing with goggles and have never found a pair that really satisfy me.  I'm open to suggestions.

The swim skin is a bit of a toss up.  My testing in a pool indicates it's good for a few seconds per 100yds.  Over a 1500m swim, that's significant time.  Considering it takes about 10s max to take off, any race over 300-400yds it should be a net gain.  Mostly, it's a bit of a confidence booster, which can't be ignored. 

Helmet, Glasses, Computer, Shoes

Just a single bottle and simple flat kit on the bike.  In transition, I wont have any extra gear than what you see above.  No towel, no bucket, no socks.  Glasses and helmet on, then run to the mount line!

I use a Lazer Tardiz helmet, which seems to have a smooth profile with my aero position.  I'm using Oakley Flak Jacket glasses, Garmin 500 computer and the specialized tri shoes.  The bike I've already posted on, but I have switched to Vittoria Open Corsa Tri tires with latex tubes for this race which I'm super excited to try!!!


Visor, Race Belt, Shoes & Garmin.

Most races, I go without the visor and Garmin.  I bring them just in case I change my mind, but they're sometimes an extra distraction that I'd rather not have.  T2 is almost always faster than T1, since all you have to do is slip on the shoes.  Everything else you grab and put on while you run.

I've been racing in the same pair of Saucony Kinvaras for the past year and a half.  It's time to change them out, but I love the shoes!  The belt is as simple as it gets as well.  There's never a need for a fuel bet to carry your own nutrition.  Race courses are well stocked and loading up on "stuff" just looks silly, adds weight and makes running uncomfortable.

 Other Stuff

Really, that's about it.  I bring a tool bag with bike wrenching equipment just in case (pump, tubes, CO2, zip ties, pliers, tape, lube, etc.).  I also bring a headlamp for transition.  But...that's really it.  To a runner or swimmer, that probably sounds like a lot of stuff, but if you go into transition at a lot of triathlons, you'll think people brought their whole garage with them.  Keep it simple, less is more. 

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