Savy Ironman Transition Tips - Pack Your Bags Like a Pro

I would like to give a shout out to Gina DeVito on this one, she sent me this information in an email as I was packaging my bags for my first Ironman - Chattanooga in September of 2021. She broke down some things that are different when your stepping up from the 70.3 distance to the full show of 140.6. Ironman utilizes a clean transition area. This means you have bags setup for your bike gear, run gear and special needs halfway through the course on the bike and run. The information was so awesome that I wanted to share it, and with her permission, here it is!!!!!


Take your bag prep as serious as the race!

Check-In


-Bring a big water bottle with you and drink throughout the day.

-Arrive early. They don’t actually care about your check-in time. Have your license and QR code out and ready to go.

-You’ll get your cap and race packet first. Check to make sure your bib matches the number on your wristband, your gear stickers, and the number they put on your cap. Check to make sure your timing chip is in there. In the packet are tickets for


bike and race bags pick-up after the race. YOU don’t need these (your “ticket” is your wristband)- these are tickets to give to a family member or friend if they will be picking them up for you.

-Next you’ll get your race bag and gear bags. You should have 5 bags: a white morning clothes bag, a blue bike gear bag, a red run gear bag, an orange special needs bike bag, and a black special needs run bag. I like to check to make sure they’re all there.

-Choose your bike check-in time. I like early afternoon, to have the option to sleep in, ride a

little in the morning, and have plenty of time after to rest and eat.

-Take a photo at the M-dot while you’re in Ironman village. You may not want to or remember to go back to it later.



Bike Prep and Check-In


-Bring water w/electrolytes and snacks with you to drink/eat while you’re out.

-Again, they don’t actually care about your check-in time so don’t stress if you’re late or there’s a line.

-Do all your usual things to check mechanicals and prep your bike to ride except putting air in your tires (you should do that race morning). Depending on your pressure/the air temperature you may want to deflate them a bit. You won’t be able to leave a pump there or put one in your morning clothes bag but there are PLENTY of pumps everywhere so don’t worry about bringing one to check-in/race day. Ironman lines them up around transition and other athletes will have them. It’s one less thing to carry and worry about.


-You will be able to access your bike race morning so don’t leave your nutrition or computer on the bike (it might rain, blow away in the wind, get swiped- who knows. Better safe than sorry).

-Take time to understand where your bike is in relation to bike in/out and run out. This is also a good time to learn where the transition tent and special needs bags are. I always take photos from my bike so I can review later if needed.


-Check out the swim start while you’re here. The buoys should be out so you can get an idea of what the start of the course looks like. You will probably be able to do a practice swim/dip so bring swim stuff with you. Keep in mind if you wear your wetsuit it will probably be damp for race morning so maybe don’t use it for the practice swim.


Packing Your Gear Bags- General Tips (stuff in bold is extra stuff to pack)


-You’ll have bib stickers for each bag. Use a sharpie to also write your bib number all over the bag in case the sticker smears, gets rained on, etc.

-Tie them but don’t knot them shut.

-Bring smaller ziplock bags (gallon, sandwich size, etc) to pack anything within the bags that needs to stay dry. For example on race morning I wear my comfy post-race t-shirt/shorts/socks to the race and put them into a gallon sized ziplock in my morning clothes bag so they’re dry no matter what.

-If you’re on the fence about whether or not to put something in your bike/run gear bags, you probably should just bring it.

-If you’re on the fence about stuff to put in your special needs bags, remember, you don’t get those bags back so don’t put anything super valuable in there.



Gina is the type of person that says, "That idea is crazy, when are we doing it?!"



-Morning Clothes Bag-

-Wetsuit

-Race Cap

-Race Goggles

-Back-Up Goggles

-Swim Skin (if water temp is questionable)

-Anti-chafe (to apply to neck, wrists and ankles- wetsuit comes off easier)

-Wet-wipes or a small towel (to clean up after applying lube)

-Timing chip (or put this on before you leave the house)

-Any nutrition you’ll use before the race (a gel for me)

-Watch (if you’re not already wearing it)

-HR chest strap

-Bike multi-tool (just in case)

-Inhaler or any meds needed

-What NOT to pack:

-bottle of water (they have cases of water everywhere in transition)

-bike pump

-flip flops (wear them to the race)


-Bike Gear Bag-

-Helmet

-Visor and/or sunglasses

-Bike Shoes

-Bike computer (add to bike before race start, leave turned off)

-Bike nutrition (organized by what goes on the bike and what stays in your bag)

-Anti-chafe (single-use packet or squeezed into a ziplock)

-Wet-wipes or a small towel (to clean up after applying lube)

-Socks (even if you don’t wear them, it’s good to have the option)

-Chapstick

-Bike first aid bag (if not already on the bike- extra tube, co2, nozzle, levers)


-Run Gear Bag-

-Running sneakers

-Bib attached to race belt

-Run nutrition

-Sunglasses

-Hat/Visor

-Anti-chafe (single-use packet or squeezed into a ziplock)

-Wet-wipes or a small towel (to clean up after applying lube)

-Sunblock

-Socks


-Bike Special Needs-

-Extra bottle, pre-mixed (in case one falls off your bike or it’s extra hot)

-Extra nutrition including base salt- various types (you’ll never know what kind of fun your stomach will bring). I put a half pb sandwich, waffle, extra gels, and a Lara bar

-Extra Tube

-Extra CO2

-Sunblock (squeeze a little into a ziplock bag)

-Anti-chafe (single-use packet or squeezed into a ziplock)

-Wet-wipes or a small towel (to clean up after applying lube)

-Simple med kit (ziplock bag w/2 advil, chewable pepto or anti-diarrhea med)

-Eye kit (small ziplock w/extra contacts, contact solution/eye drops (mini-dropper)

-Blister kit (small ziplock w/safety pin, baby powder, moleskin)


-Run Special Needs-

-Extra pre-mixed bottle, just in case you want it

-Extra nutrition including base salt- various types (you’ll never know what kind of fun your stomach will bring). I put a half pb sandwich, waffle, extra gels, and a Lara bar

-Coffee shot (unless you like red bull, which is on the course)

-Extra pair of socks (if you don’t want to lose these, you can grab them on your last loop and stuff them into your pocket)

-Sunblock (squeeze a little into a ziplock bag)

-Anti-chafe (single-use packet or squeezed into a ziplock)

-Wet-wipes or a small towel (to clean up after applying lube)

-Simple med kit (ziplock bag w/2 advil, chewable pepto or anti-diarrhea med)

-Eye kit (small ziplock w/extra contacts, contact solution/eye drops (mini-dropper)

-Blister kit (small ziplock w/safety pin, baby powder, moleskin)


What NOT to put in your bike/run/special needs bags:

-water

-bananas

-biofreeze (you don’t want this shit on your hands or face)

-anything that’s been refrigerated (it will make the stuff in your bag wet)


Other Race Day Tips


-Make sure you get photos race morning :)

-For pre-race, I bring a ziplock with toilet paper and mini hand sanitizer in case the porta potty is missing it.

-While lined up for the swim start, talking to other athletes can calm your nerves or make it worse depending on the people. Feel it out, and do what you need to do- don’t let the people around you dictate this for you.

-Decide in advance where you want to line up pace-wise for the swim.

-When you get to your bag in the bike tent, just dump it out in front of you. Don’t waste time fishing through it. The volunteers will pack it up for you and take it away. They will also grab you a bottle of water or advil or whatever else you might need.

-Sit down in the bike/run tents, there will be folding chairs set up. It’s just a couple of minutes and it will do wonders for your mind in terms of settling your mind and making sure you have everything you need for the next leg of the race. You can still have a fast transition if you do this.

-There will be highs and lows. During your lows, rehearse your great training days in your mind. Try to identify which sessions these were prior to your race so you have the memories on tap. Remembering your training, friends, and preparation will put you in a good headspace and distract you a bit.

-Cheer on other athletes. You’ll get it back.

-Unless you’re on the cusp of breaking a specific time at the end of the race, take your time on the red carpet and SOAK. THAT. SHIT. IN. The crowd will go crazy. You can’t ever re-live that first red carpet run to the finish line!

-Try to time crossing the finish line so no one is right behind or beside you. The pic will be better lol.

-Definitely get the professional photographer to take your photo with your medal in front of the ironman backdrop (this is after the finish line).

-If you’re feeling ok, stick around and watch other athletes come in. It’s seriously amazing.


You did the work. You’re ready. Embrace every single minute.


Have an epic weekend!

-G


Gina knows recovery well!!!!!


I can not thanks Gina enough for providing this information. I felt it was important to archive it here and be able to reference it for future use, and for others use. You are the best Gina, Thank You So Much!

Reminder that you wont get your special needs bags back at the end of the race, I took the important things with me, but the blister kits and other random things I thankfully didn't needs are gone to the abyss.




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