by Quintana Roo Triathlon June 25, 2019

This article was written by Katie Elliott, MS, RD, Sports Dietitian and USAT Coach with Elliott Performance & Nutrition. 

It’s race week and the Saturday or Sunday you’ve been targeting for months is less than a week away. Who knows, you may be completely relaxed. But it’s more likely that you are experiencing something far less settling. Your awareness is heightened, butterflies are occupying your stomach and your mind is rehearsing run paces without your body moving an inch. Welcome to caring deeply about something and feeling all the feels that come with having an “A race” goal. This is a good sign– it means you care. But you also need to direct this energy wisely.

One way to ease the taper crazies is to make sure you have everything you need for race day. Showing up at the venue organized and dialed will help you to feel more confident and prepared to execute. So let’s get started.


As you prepare for your race, you’ll want to look at each course (swim, bike, run, transition area). For the swim, you’ll want to refer to the Athlete Guide (Ironman races provide these) or the website to see your start format. Is it a wave start, where you begin the swim in a pre-assigned group? Or is it a rolling start, where you will estimate your likely finish time and line up in a corral of your choosing?

You’ll also want to find out estimated water temperature and whether the race has historically been wetsuit legal. Realize that wetsuit decisions are often made the morning of the race. Since a wetsuit is a competitive advantage, I always recommend bringing one just in case. If the race is not expected to be wetsuit legal and you have a swimskin, aka speed suit, bring that. Just make sure you practice swimming in both your wetsuit and swimskin pre-race. Also make sure to allow enough time to get your wetsuit on properly (you don’t want any tug on your arms because you didn’t take enough time to account for the form fitting nature of the suit). Quintana Roo’s wetsuits do have irritation resistant material and comfort neck design, but giving it a test run prior to race day will let you know if you need to apply body glide to any sensitive areas (like the neck). Finally, you’ll want to have goggle options with different tints. I generally bring one pair for bright sun and another for cloudy conditions. Defog them before the start as well. I generally use a spray-based defog solution, but in a pinch Johnson & Johnson No More Tears prevents fogging quite well.

Comprehensive Swim List

  • At least 2 pairs of goggles (one for bright sun and one for cloudy conditions)
  • Wetsuit
  • Swimskin/Speed suit (if applicable)
  • Body glide (if applicable)
  • Swim cap
  • Anti-fog spray or No More Tears Baby Shampoo (both will help prevent fogging) *I generally keep two pairs of goggles that are only for race day (I use them in pre-race warm ups as well to make sure they are working well, but don’t use them for day-to-day training)
  • Pull cords if you like to use these to warm up (these can be useful if you know there will not be an opportunity to warm up prior to the race)


If you are flying to your race, you will need to be smart when it comes to travel with your bike. First and foremost, is your bike case compatible with your wheel technology? Disc brakes are the latest, greatest, fastest technology available. However, some older cases were built to accommodate cantilever brakes only.

Is your bike case sturdy enough to deliver your beautiful Quintana Roo (QR) without incident? I recently traveled to Ironman 70.3 Victoria and found that my soft case is not going to keep my PR Disc Six in the condition I expect (both of my rotors were bent each way). That said, I need to find alternative solutions (either taking the rotors off, which is super easy to do, or getting a new case). You will also want to consider taking some replacement parts if you are going somewhere that might not have your specific component parts. A few things I bring with me are an extra set of rotors, an extra Di2 cable and an extra derailleur hanger. The new technology QR has unveiled is a complete game changer in terms of performance on a bike. You just need to make sure you can utilize all of this innovation to its fullest advantage through intelligent preparation. If you want more tips for traveling with your bike, check out Allan Hovda’s recent QR blog, “Top Tips for Traveling with your Bike.”

Here are a few other helpful tips for a stress-free bike experience (mostly learned from making these mistakes myself). If you have 404’s or 808’s, you are going to need an extender valve for your spare tube. If you have a disc wheel, you may also need a pump adapter to inflate your tires. Get these items before you arrive at the venue to ensure a stress free lead up to your race. If you have a Garmin head unit, you will want to put it in auto-pause mode prior to race day. That way your bike computer will automatically start without you having to turn the head unit on and push buttons at the beginning of the bike. Finally, if you are traveling to a race, you’ll want to put your bike together as soon as you possibly can [upon landing] and take it for a spin. That way you can troubleshoot if things were thrown off in transit (no the airlines do not generally give your bike the TLC you do).

Comprehensive Bike Checklist

  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses or built-in aero sunglasses
  • Bike shoes (and socks if you are wearing them)
  • Rubber bands (for flying mount transitions if applicable)
  • Bike Computer and mount
  • Di2 electronic shifter charger
  • Floor pump and adapter if you need it for your disc wheel
  • Flat kit - CO2 cartridges, spare tube (make sure you have preset extender valves for larger rimmed wheels), levers (if you have a QR, the built in spare tube case is awesome- no holder required)
  • Bike tool and any other tools unique to your setup
  • Bar-end plugs
  • Water bottles/hydration systems
  • Bento box or other system for holding nutrition (if you have a QR, this is built in—AWESOME)
  • Nutrition *Race day is not the time to try any new nutrition products (no matter how cool they sound). Remember- nothing new on race day!
  • Spare parts for international/remote travel (e.g. spare Di2 cables, spare rotors, spare derailleur hanger)
  • Special needs bag if you are racing Ironman


Welcome to the low maintenance part of the race! One extra thing that I like to do is to bring two pairs of running shoes on race day. You put one pair in transition and use the second pair for warmup. That way your transition area is completely good to go and you can warm up worry free (particularly if you start later). Also, remember to bring a race belt that is big enough to hold any nutrition that is not provided on course. If you are planning to rely on course nutrition for fluid and food replacement, practice with the products pre-competition. You can look at the Athlete Guide or the nutrition section of the website to find out which products will be provided at aid stations.

Comprehensive Run Checklist
  • Running shoes (2 pair)
  • Elastic laces (i.e. Lock Laces) if using
  • Race belt (if you plan to carry your nutrition, find a race belt that will hold your food)
  • Visor or hat (if wearing)
  • Any run nutrition (if you want to carry fluids bring your handheld)
  • Socks
  • Run special needs bag if you are racing Ironman


There are several other items I always have on hand. If I am traveling (via car or plane) prior to a race, I have familiar snacks. You never know when a flight delay will prevent you from getting lunch at the airport and the days leading up to the race are not the time to skimp on food. A few of my portable go to’s are: 88 Acres Bars, Justin’s Nut Butter packets, Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars, Precision Hydration or Nuun effervescent tabs, a water bottle, Skinny Pop singles, cherries, Cocoa Elite protein powder and hand sanitizer or wet ones (to clean hands and tray tables). Again, the days before your "A race" are not the time to try exotic or new foods. Keep things simple and familiar! I also have a portable recovery drink for right after the race. Most recovery drinks come in a powder form, so I just get some water and mix in a bottle.

Comprehensive Other Stuff List
  • Tri-suit
  • Race numbers and timing chip
  • Transition towel
  • Watch (Garmin, Timex, etc.) + heart rate strap
  • Sunscreen
  • Body Glide
  • Powder, Vaseline, band-aids
  • Scissors
  • Electrical tape
  • USAT (or other Federation) Card and ID
  • Post race recovery drink + bottle/snack (3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio)
  • Post race dry clothes and shoes or sandals (if you brought two pairs of running shoes, you can use the second pair post-race)
  • Money
  • Credit card if you are gunning for a World Championship slot (you will need to pay the entry fee at the awards ceremony if you want to accept your slot. 70.3 awards generally happen on the day of the race and Ironman awards are generally the day after)

Click here for Katie's recommended checklist!

Last but not least, remember to bring strength, mental toughness and gratitude with you on race day. Reflect on the training that you have done to prepare for your A race. That is your strength. In terms of mental toughness, perceive that nervous feeling I was talking about as energy. You are bottling something powerful that can allow you to get the best out of yourself. It is momentum, excitement and speed. It is heart that will be that kick at the finish or that match you have to pass the person ahead. Finally, remember that racing is a gift and be grateful for the opportunity. One day you will look back on this race, not for the place you came in or the slot you clinched, but for the physicality and health you had and the joy you experienced. Remember to carry that gratitude with you throughout your swim, bike and run, and celebrate the gift that is racing.

Other Information
Katie Elliott, MS, RD, Sports Dietitian and USA Triathlon Coach
Website link:
Instagram Handle: @elliottnutrition
Quintana Roo Triathlon
Quintana Roo Triathlon

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