If there is one thing that I am sure of - it's that triathletes are weird. We are obsessive, quirky, and anal. I know it's not just me. It's ALL OF US! 50% of us have the same tattoo, and it's probably somewhere on our leg. Both genders shave a large portion of their body hair, we wear a lot of spandex even if we have no business wearing it, we piss our pants, etc. (It's a good thing I am arguing for the fact that triathletes are freaks, because I have that particular tattoo AND I do all 3 of those things!!!). I also have some weird rituals that I do before races.
I am not superstitious at ALL, except on race day. On race day, everything has to be perfect. However, there is a method to my madness.
Note: I am a triathlete. I may be on the bus to crazy town, but I bet many of you are riding on there with me!
My first rule is in regards to race t-shirt etiquette. Never ever EVER wear the race t-shirt before or during the race. If you have not finished the race, you cannot wear the shirt! You have to earn the right to wear that finisher's shirt! It's like going to a concert, buying a t-shirt and then PUTTING IT ON AT THE SHOW! T-shirt etiquette is being violated! I don't care if it's a 5K. I don't care if it's an ultra (do they even give t-shirts out at ultras?). I swear to god if I DNFed a race, I don't know WHAT I would do with that t-shirt. I LOVE race t-shirts. If they are too big for me, I sleep in them. If they are a tech t-shirt that I can't run in (it's too big or it's not a ladies-cut shirt) I keep them regardless as souvenirs of the race. But if I DNFed a race, I would probably have to cut it up into rags for cleaning my bike.
My second rule is in regards to M-dot gear/apparel. It cannot be worn until an Ironman distance race is completed. I fully believe that doing this will jinx your race (if you are planning on completing an Ironman). You have to earn the M-dot! There are 2 exceptions. If you complete an "Ironman brand" 70.3 race and you buy finisher's gear (half-IM SPECIFIC finishers gear) or get a finishers hat or shirt, that is ok (it has the M-dot but it says 70.3 on it). But you can't finish Mooseman and start telling people you are an Ironman. The other exception is the stupid Timex Ironman watch or any other stupid Ironman thing you can buy at a drugstore (I have personally seen Ironman cologne and Ironman muscle ointment). I have the Timex Ironman watch because I think all of the Timex sports watches have the little Ironman on them.
My main problem with people sporting the M-dot without having gone the distance is false advertising. For instance, I am a girl in my mid-20s, single, and mostly only interested in Ironmen (yes this is true, and yes I know I am pathetic). So if I go to a race and see a guy wearing an article of clothing with an M-dot, I am immediately interested (if he's cute, obviously). However, if this guy is wearing the shirt and hasn't done a freaking Ironman, I will be PISSED and immediately lose interest. Once again, I know, I am ridiculous.
My next few things are weird race rituals that I have. I must always crumple my race # before any race. If it's a running race, I must crumple it before I pin it to whatever top I am wearing. If it's a tri, I must crumple it before I pin it to my race # belt and then leave it in transition. I have done this since running XC in high school.
I must always run wearing a hat. This is regardless of whether I am racing or just running. I HAVE to wear a hat, visor, or winter hat to keep my hair from blowing all over the place and annoying the be-jesus out of me.
I must only race in a specific pair of green Balega socks that I own. Typically I only put socks on for the run. If it's an Ironman (where I wear socks on the bike as well) I have a different pair of socks to wear on the bike and I change into the green socks for the run. For winter races I have some socks that are cut higher than my green socks that I will wear in order to keep my ankles covered, but winter races are not races that I really care about, therefore the green sock rule is void during months where snow is on the ground.
These are my rules. Yes, they are crazy and at times they are arbitrary. If you want to run in your race t-shirt, by all means go for it (a LOT of people do this) but I think it screams "newbie." It's like going to NYC wearing a Hawaiian t-shirt with a camera hanging around your neck and tall white socks. Everyone knows that you are out of your element.
You'll never catch me in either of those outfits!