June 14 - my flight arrived in Denver, two days before the sprint triathlon. I was the last of the four sisters to arrive due to work obligations. The weather was amazing - 80's and dry during the day, but cooling rapidly in the evening.
Tip 1: Give yourself as much time as possible (ideally a few days) to acclimate to the higher altitude if your training was done at a lower altitude than the race. Drink more water than usual. Everyone says this, I know, but that's because it is really important.
My sister is one of the smartest people I know, and it was her idea for us to practice a very abbreviated sprint triathlon the day before the event. It gave the newbies in the group a chance to practice the transitions, and gave us out-of-towners a chance to get familiar with our loaned gear.
Tip 2: Have a smart sister and/or friend competing in the same race who can think of stuff like this. In lieu of this, ensure that you schedule your own mini rehearsal run.
June 15 - We went to the local YMCA with the bikes loaded onto my sister's Jeep. We practiced putting our wetsuits on, which felt very awkward at first. For the two newbies, it would be our first time swimming in a wetsuit. The extra buoyancy it gave was great. We swam a couple of laps, then ran out of the pool to our staging area.
Tip 3: Pull as much wetsuit material into the chest area as you can, or else you will be fighting the suit while you are swimming. Every little bit helps. Pull, pull, pull.
Stripping off the wetsuit took longer than I thought it would, and I was surprised at how dizzy I was and how difficult it was to balance. I was probably still adjusting to the altitude. I quickly toweled off and tossed my shorts and shirt on top of the wetsuit. I pulled on my socks and shoes, put on my helmet, and hopped on the bike. After strapping my feet securely onto the pedals, I took off...and promptly fell over.
Tip 4: If you aren't used to them, don't full strap down your shoes until you have some momentum to keep your balance. On race day, I actually didn't fully tighten them, which worked fine.
After disengaging my feet from the pedals and getting back up, I got on my bike again, this time waiting to tighten the straps until I was riding slowly. It took some coordination to reach down and tighten each one, but I got the hang of it.
We rode a few miles around neighborhood roads. I enjoyed using an actual road bike (all of my training had been in spinning class or on my rusty hybrid bike). Changing the gears was different and took some getting used to. It also was a lot more sensitive to turning than I was used to, and it took some time to be able to stand and ride without wobbling.
After sightseeing some of Boulder's neighborhoods, we returned to the Jeep and dismounted from our bikes. A few laps around the parking lot completed our mini sprint tri.
Tip 5: At least practice running just a short distance after biking before the actual event. Running feels different for the first few minutes after being on the bike. Your legs don't feel quite like your own.
The practice run did a lot to help me feel more confident about the transitions between the events. I had a better idea of the things to look out for (i.e. not falling off the bike).