For a few of our Sheclismas, tonight marks their first ever race. For others, it's the first of the season -- which means a refresher on what you need to do to get ready for the whistle is in order.
1. Eat right
Race day is not the day to experiment with new and wild foods. Eat a regular, not complicated to digest meal about 3-4 hours before the race. Anywhere less than two hours before, eating is not recommended. You'll probably taste it while you're racing...ewwww.
2. Sip that liquid
Drink water or juice or hydration mix in those two hours. It doesn't need to be much, otherwise you'll just have to pee a lot.
3. Pack your bags
Run through a quick checklist of what you need. In addition to your annual license, one-day receipt, or cash to pay day-of registration, you'll need to bring some stuff with you.
Cycling clothes (aka kit), and don't forget a sports bra!
Good to haves:
Bike tools like a small multi-tool, extra tube, pump
Recovery beverage, snack
4. Get to the race as early as you can, check in, and pre-ride
Once you get to the race site, check in at the registration table, find or make some buddies, and pre-ride the course. (Make sure there's not a race going on first!) Depending on how much time you have before your race, you can do this in street clothes. Scope out each turn and obstacle, and go back and do any sections that give you trouble a second time.
5. Pin up and prepare
When you check in, the race organizers will give you a number to pin on, and will tell you which side of your body it needs to go on. Make sure the bottom edge of the number runs along your side, with the top edge of the number along your spine. Think of it like this: if you're stretched out over the handlebars, could someone standing next to you read the number? The officials and announcers don't want to do headstands to figure out who you are. Pinning on numbers is where having a buddy is helpful!
6. Warm up
Between an hour and half an hour before your race, find a spot where you can sprint a couple times to warm up your legs. (This can be part of your pre-riding the course, too.) Try to get one short effort where you get that "oh goodness, my legs feel heavy" feeling in your legs. Spin around a little bit, sip a little water.
7. Mental zone
In the last half hour before your race, get in the mental zone. If possible, find a spot where you can be kind of alone (this can be hard, so don't stress about it -- some people find putting on music to be helpful). Take some deep breaths, and visualize times you've felt really strong on the bike. Remember you're awesome. You're going to have fun. It's going to be hard. But you're doing this, and showing up to the start line is more than most people can say they've done. Own it.
8. Line up
Fifteen minutes before your race, you should make your way to the starting area. Ditch any unwanted items you don't want to carry with you. High five your friends and be welcoming and introduce yourself to the other women that might not know anyone there. When the race official calls you to the line, pick your spot. Breathe deep. You got this.
9. RACE YOUR FACE OFF!!!
10. You did it. YAY!
You raced! Congratulations! Stay around the finish line and congratulate your fellow racers. Hugs and high fives and words of praise are encouraged. If you went head-to-head on the course, leave that energy out there and revel in how fun that was, even if it got frustrating.
Once the racers are in, spin out your legs with an easy pedal around the parking lot. Grab a recovery beverage or snack. Go spectate, and especially if there's a more advanced category racing, watch them go through spots you thought were difficult.
I hope it went well, and that you found a little list of things that were awesome and others that you want to work on. Get a good night's sleep, and start to get psyched for the next race!