Thursday, 8 May 2008

After the Marathon, a Triathlon...of course...

Written by Phil Barnes, for the TriRudy newsletter.

It's almost that time of year again.

The Early Bird triathlon is almost upon us. Is this your first triathlon?The following is advice intended for first-timers interested in a non-competitive finish time. I'm not a coach, and not affiliated with Somersault. I'm just a middle of the pack guy who thought I'd pass on some tips for newbies based on my own experience of this race a couple of years ago.

As with all triathlons I Strongly suggest you read, re-read, and triple read all the information about the particular race, venue and the rules and regulations. ( you arrive at the site, there will be a large area set up for the bikes.

This is the Transition Zone. It is located outside, in a fenced area, some distance away from the pool building. The transition area is fairly busy, and it's a good idea to only bring what you need.

(So make yourself a little checklist).

There will be rows of racks where you leave your stuff. Most people back their bikes in, and hook the nose of the seat onto the bar of one of the racks. You can set your bike shoes and running shoes beside your bike. I usually leave my helmet on my handle bars, with my sunglasses inside so they're easy to put on.

There are probably going to be 3 openings to the transition area:

  1. Swim in - this is where you will run in after your swim.

  2. Bike Out/Bike In - this is where you will leave on your bike (You will have to walk/run with your bike from your rack to this opening before you mount your bike and begin your ride. You'll also have to dismount your bike here when you return.

  3. Run out - this is where the run portion starts. You will run from here after you re-rack your bike and put your running shoes on.It's always a good idea to familiarize yourself with these openings, and practice going from the swim-in to your bike, from your bike to the bike-out, from the bike-in back to your position on the rack, and then out to the run-out.
There will be probably over 500 bikes in there, and because of the staggered start times, it will be buzzing with racers doing different things throughout your race, so try hard to remember exactly which row your bike is in!

Sometimes they designate rows of racks for particular events (e.g. the Try-a-Tri might have a designated area, and the sprint might have another). You will have to share the rack with probably 7 other people so don't take up more than your share, and don't be intimidated to ask someone to tighten up their gear.

You can also chat with people here - I think you'll find that a good 25% are first-timers, and perhaps 50% have only a few years under their belts, the regulars will be very friendly too.

Make sure you get your timing ! chip and body marked early enough too. (The timing chip attaches around your ankle not your wrist).

Regardless of when your particular event starts, they will make an announcement stating that the transition zone is closing, usually about 15 minutes before the official start of the first event.

So make sure you get set up on time. Then, get prepared for the longest wait of your life (unless you're a particularly fast swimmer).

Head up to the swimming pool, (I will be in open water) and find a spot in the long line. There will be different lines for different events. And the lines will be self-seeded from fastest to slowest. You'll need to know how fast you can swim your distance.

Swimmers will start every 10 seconds. (No diving allowed).

Remember that this pool is 50 meters long, and your time may be a tad slower than that of a 25 meter pool. You'll swim up and down one lane, then up and down the next until you get your distance. Don't worry about doing flip turns under the lane ropes. (flips??!!, I'll be lucky to get to the buoy).

You can just duck under if you want. If you need to pass someone, I recommend waiting until the end of the pool (so that you are not going head-on into an oncoming swimmer); if someone is tickling your feet trying to pass you, I suggest keeping your speed, but try to get close to the rope in case they insist on passing you mid-length; but definitely give them the opportunity at the end of the lane to pass you off the wall.

For new triathletes, I can only suggest to take it easy on the swim. The excitement and nervousness and adrenaline can cause many people to go out far too fast, and be totally drained after the second lap. (there are two laps???)

Most people do not change out of their bathing suits (or tri shorts) after the swim.

You'll dry off pretty quick during the short run to the transition zone plus the first hundred meters of the bike.

There are changing rooms close to the exit of the swim, if you feel you will be more comfortable changing - you will lose time for sure changing, but this is fine, if you feel it's worth it for comforts sake. I've seen a few people with big beach towels drying themselves off completely after the swim - I don't think you'll need this - usually a small towel is sufficient to clean off your feet. Cycling damp is part of the sport.

There are some rules about attire and race numbers which are posted on Somersault's website. You should review these. I do not believe that bare torsos are permitted, so this means that you will have to bike and run with a long enough shirt (choose something tight for optimal aerodynamics on the bike, practice putting it on when you are damp so you'll know what to expect).

Also, you will need to have your race number visible on the back of you during the bike, and on the front of you during the run. Some people pin their number on the front, and bike with their shirt on backwards and then turn it around afterwards - you can do better than this with a "race belt". Usually they're for sale on the site for about $15.

This is a little strap that goes around your waist. You can either pin or attach your number to it. Put this on after your helmet, and turn it so that your number is facing the back. When you go out for your run, simply turn it around.

You may be able to fashion something for yourself with a nylon belt. The bike portion of this race, can get congested.

There will be people of all abilities. Some will be riding bikes worth more than a car, some riding old mountain bikes (that will be me) or cruisers. I'm going to suggest four things:

  1. Stay to the RIGHT at much as possible.
  2. If you need to pass someone, do a quick shoulder check, pull out and pass them on the LEFT. You may choose to shout out, "On your left" if you think that the person you are passing will benefit from this.
  3. Re-read and understand the rules on drafting.
  4. Know how many loops you need to do - not everyone does the same number of loops.The run is easy enough if you're properly trained.
(OMG, there are way too many things to remember)

Running after biking can be a different experience. Your legs may feel like bricks. You may get pop-corn sensation in your calf muscles.

This is normal. It will go away.

Enjoy it. You're almost a triathlete.

All I can suggest for the run, is that you tough it out.

You'll feel awesome when you cross the finish line.

After your finish, congratulate yourself (I will), and then write up a race-report to post to My Blog so that others can learn from your experiences!!

Stay tuned, you real triathletes will be in store for a real laugh!!!! (sometime later this summer)

Life's fun if you don't weaken,



Anonymous said...

Triathlon? You Go Girl! I can't keep up. LOL! I may have to wait at the finish line with T and Rudy with the beverages.

I can't wait to hear more about your plans.

~ blondie

Marcy said...

What?!? SHUT UP!!! OMG!! You're so awesome! I soooo can't wait to hear about the training and race for this :-) Sweet!

Anonymous said...

tri-Rudy? that would be me B and Rudy Have we got a triathlon for you! LOL

seriously! no! not going there.
But good for you, I think?
Love ya

Rudy said...

heh heh heh

I have heard of "bi" before *smirk*

Marcy said...

Oooohhh NO!!! ROFLMAO! It's just supposed to be 2 kids (at least that's what I thought it was supposed to be). You know, because I have 2 :P

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

Enjoy the triathlon!!!

Nat said...

Which one are you doing?? Do tell?

Groover said...

Sounds like fun. I always wondered how transitioning works. Have I mentioned already before that I love your cat? Especially the shot in the snow lsitening for chipmunks ... hehehe. What's his/her name?

Wes said...

We'll be laughing cause you are gonna kick some tail, and KNOW how that feels, especially if its our own ;-)

Vickie said...

Well good luck on that! And be sure to let me know how it goes!

David said...

Alright! Man, it's great to hear another motivated athlete is going to try a tri. After this, you can join us in pressuring Marcy to do one.

Good for you!

Nitmos said...

You will need to convince me not to be afraid of the triathlon. Good luck.

triguyjt said...

you are gonna rock...
just remember that stevie tune...haha

that was all good advice...