Are you interested in doing the Legacy Triathlon and want to know more about it? Or are you new to the sport of triathlon and want to find a good beginner race?
This blog will give you several details about my experience at the Legacy Triathlon in Long Beach to help you decide if you want to try out the race. I’ll recap what the race is like as well as how I prepared, fueled, and performed and share some tips for beginners that you can apply to your own race.
Legacy Sprint Triathlon
The Legacy Sprint Triathlon in Long Beach, CA is a new race that USAT launched in 2019. It was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19, then returned this year in 2021.
This was my first time participating in this race and it was a very popular one because not only was it an age-group race, but an ITU race for the pros, the Paratriathlon National Championship race, and the Aquathon National Championship. I’d also guess it was extra popular to this being one of the first local races available since 2019 and we were all itching to compete!
Friday, July 16 – Day Before the Race
The day prior was packet pick-up, so we (my husband and I) drove about an hour to Long Beach to collect our things and parking pass. Paid parking was required unless you wanted to park very far away and have to bike in. Packet-pick-up was allowed Saturday morning, but they pushed for people to come Friday. Personally, I would recommend going the day before of any race, because then you can scope out the course and understand where everything takes place – swim in, bike in/out, run in/out, finish line, etc.
It helps me to feel more confident knowing exactly what to do come race day so I don’t waste any time being confused, and it helps to calm my nerves. Plus, if you have never been to the course, you can get in the water for a test swim, drive the bike course and scope out the run.
When you have your packet early, you can get a lot done the night before like putting your stickers on your bike and helmet, getting your race bib pinned onto a race belt, and putting your tattoos numbers on (unless the race puts numbers on for you with marker). This also makes for a much less hectic race morning!
Night Before Prep
Having everything prepared the night before is crucial in my opinion. We had been preparing for a few days, gathering things that popped into mind we would need and setting them out so we wouldn’t forget anything. We also started going to bed earlier a few days prior and waking up earlier to transition easier for a VERY early wake-up on race day.
Frida night we put our race stickers on our bikes and helmets, packed our bags with everything, went through a packing checklist, had our water bottles filled with carbs and pre-workout that only needed to be filled with water in the morning, packed our car, and basically had everything ready to go except our bikes on the car rack.
We ate extra carbs all day (although my nerves were so bad that I couldn’t eat as much as I should have). Dinner was gluten-free pasta with light sauce and ground turkey. We skipped veggies or any high-fiber food to keep digestion really easy and to make sure no extra bathroom trips would be needed! We also prepared our morning smoothies the night before so we could just grab and drink in the car in the morning.
Bedtime was 7:30pm (thank God for melatonin)! This was because we had to be up at 3am and we (and most people) don’t sleep well on the night before a race, so we wanted to make sure we had the most sleep possible. For this particular race, parking opened at 4:30am and road closures started at 5am, so if you weren’t in a lot by 5am, you would have to park much further away. It was a mess of a system, but we had no other choice than to get there way earlier than needed.
I would also recommend getting at least eight hours of sleep two nights before the race since you won’t be sleeping much the night before. This way you’ll be better rested and have more energy for race day.
Triathlon Race Tip Takeaways:
- Eat more carbohydrates than usual on the day before a race, as well as protein to keep your muscles fueled. For example, oatmeal for breakfast, rice with meat for lunch, and pasta or potatoes for dinner.
- Prepare as much as you can the night before so you can just get up, get dressed and go in the morning with less stress.
- Go to bed early so you can get as much sleep as possible. Even if you can’t sleep, the extra time just resting will still help.
Saturday, July 17 – Legacy Triathlon Race Day
We both woke up at 1:30 am and couldn’t go back to sleep – ugh! We finally got up after attempting to sleep longer just before our alarm at 3 am. Which made us both very glad we’d gone to bed so early, because we still got around six hours of sleep, which is actually great for a race night!
3am: We quickly put our clothes on, put in contacts, racked the bikes on the car, grabbed our breakfast smoothies, put on our tattoos, made some coffee, and headed out. I did my hair in the car to save some time, just a simple braid and ponytail to keep it out of my face.
3:45am: We were on the road and got to the Long Beach Convention Center parking just before 4:30. We were some of the first to arrive, so we got a good spot and the lot was just about a five minute walk from transition area.
5:30am: By this time we had set up most of our gear at transition (our bike spots were assigned) and not many people were around yet. A very calm start to the morning, for sure. While being so early is rough, it definitely gives you ample time to feel prepared. However, being SO early for me was actually hard on the nerves – too much time to stand around and think.
- TIP: For transition, make sure your gear is all neatly organized with run stuff together, bike stuff together, and bike racked by the seat. And arrive early enough to adequately prepare without stress.
6am: Around this point the sun was coming up, more people were showing up, and we had some time to stretch, warm up a bit, and use the bathroom. We really just spent this time doing nothing but taking in nutrition and getting last details ready. For me, this was things like putting some oil on my hair so my swim cap will go on easier, starting to drink my caffeinated coffee, and talking to the women around me.
6:40am: They closed transition at this time and everyone had to go to the water. This was the first race I’ve been to that closed transition entirely. I hadn’t planned on leaving transition until about 6:50am or so just to walk with my husband to his start. Luckily, we had been ready for a long time and had put on our wetsuits at about 6:20. We’d also gotten samples of AMP human the day before from the race, which we use at home, so we put that on our thighs and shoulders to help stave off pain during the swim and bike, and had no issues getting the wetsuit on over it. I had planned to eat a Honey Stinger gel at this point, but my stomach still felt full from my smoothie and coffee and I didn’t want to irritate it with more nutrition, so I skipped it.
Once we got to the shore, we hopped in the water for a swim warm-up. Thankfully, the water felt great! Not as cold as I was used to, plus the sun was already out. I always fear being super cold coming out of the water and shivering on my bike, but I had yet another beautiful race day and a nice water temperature.
- TIP: Try to show up a little early than you think is needed to have time to set everything up, go through your routines, and be ready in case times change such as with our transition area closing. That way you can avoid last minute panic.
7:11am: My husband was supposed to start at this time, but the race started very late. Instead, we just stood around getting thirsty and nervous all over again.
- TIP: I would suggest taking an almost empty water bottle to the start so you can keep sipping as needed until you actually race, then toss it out. I was SO thirsty at the start of the swim, and in salt water that’s not fun.
7:52am: My original start time was 7:35, but we actually went out at 7:52. We had an “in-water start”, which just meant in the water up to the knees. The swim and buoy situation was very simple to follow. And no waves with calm water. Out to the yellow buoy, turn right, then another right at the next yellow buoy and swim in to shore. I’m not sure what each distance was between buoys, but the full distance was 750 meters – very quick and simple! During my swim warm-up, my goggles worked fine, but during the swim the left side let in some water. I had to press it into my face a few times and try to ignore the salt water getting in my eye. Luckily it never got worse and after about 300 meters, I think I totally forgot about it and was just focused on trying to swim well and quickly. Total swim time was about 13 minutes.
8:05am: I was out of the water and running to T1 (transition 1). This transition was crazy long! You had to run up the beach, along a path, and then run down the bike path all the way around transition. My watch recorded it as 0.4 miles. I was so tired after the swim and the run had my heart rate up like crazy. Looking back, I probably should have just pushed harder for a quicker transition, but I was so winded for some reason and wanted to catch a little bit of my breath on the way to my bike. I also should have taken off my cap and wetsuit later and focused on the run for a quicker transition time.
- TIP: Take the top half of your wetsuit off, plus cap and goggles before you get to your bike. But don’t start so early that you’re running with wetsuit arms flailing around.
8:10am: I exited T1, and the bike started at a slight incline, but it wasn’t bad and was fairly quick. After that, the road turned flat for the rest of the ride. It was a bit bumpy and had some potholes, but otherwise the route was easy and had a decent amount of space for passing. The streets were entirely closed, except to pedestrians who here and there almost got hit by bikers (including me) because they weren’t paying attention (or didn’t care, one of the two). Definitely something to keep an eye out for!
This was a 2-loop course that went quickly due to it being mostly flat and a short downhill. On one hand, I felt great and was seeing good numbers on my bike computer. But my right leg almost straight away felt like it wasn’t working right, as if it would cramp up and had very little power. My energy was high, but my leg didn’t seem to be cooperating. That was frustrating, and I kept saying “Come on legs!” but it was just harder to push than usual. I still don’t know why that happened, because I hadn’t been having any issues with my leg. Even so, I did my best to work hard and kept in mind, “Will I finish the race and feel that I could have gone harder?” At times, I felt I was giving it all I had, and at others, that thought helped me to push a bit more, knowing I could give a little more gas.
In my water bottle I had Karbolyn carbs, some caffeinated Liquid IV electrolytes, and branched chain amino acids. My husband and I both do liquid nutrition so we don’t have to waste time opening gels or bars. I tried to drink regularly since I tend to forget and know hydration and carbs are key. I probably drank only around 8-10 oz, but near the end my stomach was feeling full so I didn’t want to overdo it and cramp on the run.
While I hoped to finish in 38 minutes (I finished in about 39), I did get a PR on my bike pace!
- TIP: If you’re new and hills scare you, this race will be fine. The hill was minor and I never used my lightest gears. Plus, you get to come down the hill and pick up some major speed on the way. The rest is flat, making this great for beginners.
Also, if you’re new to triathlon, make sure that you stay on to the right on the road unless you’re passing someone. Remember everyone is racing at once, so Elite men and women might come flying past you and you don’t want to get in their way.
8:52am: I left T2 and the run out was basically straight onto the run path, so no long transition here. Although we couldn’t figure out where they actually started timing the run, because both my husband and I were at about 1.3 miles when we hit the one-mile marker – which was quite aggravating when you’re pushing so hard. However, this run is super flat and right along the beach path. It wasn’t closed to the public, so there was some maneuvering around people and it was tight at times to pass other runners, but overall an easy path. By this time the sun was definitely warming up. I did grab water near the end to throw on myself to cool down, but I could have been fine without it as well.
My breathing was very hard so I didn’t even dare look at my heart rate, but I kept an eye on my pace and tried to keep pushing the whole way.
I had an electrolyte drink in my water bottle, but again only drank a few sips, mostly because I knew I needed to hydrate rather than because I was thirsty. Luckily the weather wasn’t very hot, so I wasn’t sweating too much or feeling very thirsty.
Total run time was about 25 minutes, right where I expected.
- TIP: Keep an eye on your watch from time to time to keep your run pace in check since we tend to slow down as we get tired.
9:17am: I finished the full race in 1:25, a few minutes slower than I would have liked. But I felt like I pushed hard and couldn’t have done much more than I did. However, it did make me hungry for the next race where I can come in with faster times!
I was prepared to rest after this race since I’ve basically been training for two years waiting for a race to come available, so a break felt overdue. Yet now I can’t wait to find my next race and am ready to train harder and place better in my next one!
Comment below if you had a different experience at the race, have tips to offer, or have questions about racing triathlons!