We all have pre-race rituals. Some border on strange, while others are superstitions. Mine: I pack my bags the Sunday before I leave. That means, yesterday, I was packed (except for my bike) for my Friday departure for Galveston.
My rationale for packing so early is that it takes the pressure off. I find packing incredibly stressful. Dating back to the days of readying for a weekend swim meet to the present of preparing for a two week training trip in variable weather, packing has induced anxiety. I worry that I might leave an important item at home, and I hate scrambling around to find my creature comforts.
Knowing that my “stuff” is neatly tucked away in my duffle and carry-on back pack is reassuring and allows me time to think of anything I may have forgotten. Of course, this also means that my clothes are slightly more wrinkled when I pull them out, but that is a small price to pay for being extra organized.
What is in said duffel? Plenty of workout clothes for pre-race tune-ups. I bring along casual clothes for dinners and any sponsor or media obligations. A side note, running shorts and finishers t-shirts are not appropriate casual wear (nor are they suitable airplane attire); ditch those every now and again and don a collared or button down shirt and jeans!
Race gear fills up the rest of the space. I keep these items in separate bags making packing for a race easier. I just grab them and fit them in my duffel. If something breaks or is lost at the race, I replace it as soon as I get home, otherwise I will forget and not have it for the next race.
Here is a list of my race items:
Sport slick to prevent chaffing
Dry socks, shoes and clothes for after the race
Latex gloves to keep your hands clean when working with your bike
Camelbak (I know this trend will catch on someday)
Over the years I have learned a few tips to make travel a little easier, as well. Luggage often goes rogue and travels on its own. This means you may arrive at your destination with only your carry-on, so use this space advantageously. My carry-on bag is the same bag I use for transition. It has plenty of pockets to help keep things organized. I stuff in a bathing suit, cap, and goggles as well as running gear; I wouldn’t want to miss a workout just because my luggage is lost. I also include plenty of food. Oh, and don’t forget your prescription medications.
Nowadays, with extra airlines imposing weight requirements and paying for each piece of luggage, packing creatively is paramount. Planning ahead helps alleviate these dramas.
Despite my overzealous packing methods, I have managed on many occasions to leave various items at home. I have frantically spent the day before the race tracking down skewers, race socks, elastic laces, to name a few. I have even searched high and low for batteries for my PowerTap hub (I now carry spares with me if I am racing with that wheel).
What about you? What do you pack?