You have been swimming, biking and running – all of the things you should be doing to prepare for your first triathlon. But – what about the transitions? Are you ready for those? There is all sorts of advice about how to transition as quickly as possible – but what if you want to just ensure that you aren’t running off with your bike helmet or that you don’t forget your sun glasses?
My very first transition was during the Lake Placid Ironman. I had NO idea what I was doing and I certainly took my sweet time. I basically had a meal, leisurely used the Port-a-Potties, changed clothes and probably even took a quick nap. Kidding ….. well – only about the nap part. It was an Ironman, so I did have the luxury of spending a little extra time – but seriously ….. it was a little excessive.
You won’t want to take THAT much time – but perhaps you aren’t at the other end of the spectrum where the pros merely stop to put on their bike helmets and hop on their bikes with their shoes attached and away they go. What you really are aiming for is and efficient, stress-free transition. I am going to walk you through what I bring and how I set up my transition. Hopefully you find it helpful and you will sail right through without struggling to find your bike or getting your t-shirt on over a wet body!
I ALWAYS lay out (even to this day) my transition area the day before the race. I want to double and triple check that I have everything that I need. Here is a checklist that I created – so you can ensure you have everything.
What to Wear
The first question is what are you going to wear? I normally where a sports bra/tank combo and a pair of tri shorts. I wear this outfit through the entire race – nothing else to put on or take off. This ensures that I don’t have to change – or put a dry tshirt over a wet, sweaty body. Seriously – I have watched people struggle with this. It is especially more challenging when you have a race number pinned to the front of your tshirt. If you are wondering how hard this would be – try getting out of the shower and then running as fast as you can to the furthest part of your house and putting on a fitted tshirt.
This brings me to the race belt. Now – it is not essential – but it is super slick. A race belt has snaps so you can snap or pin your race number to the belt. You will need to wear your number on the bike and run. The belt is super easy to put on and away you go!
Ok – getting back to the practice part and laying everything out.
You will lay it out …. But basically you will be wearing it – so nothing goes on the transition towel. The morning of the triathlon I always put my swim cap and goggles hooked into my bra strap. If you a fellow or someone not wearing a bra you will need to determine how to keep track of those two things. The worst is if you leave them in transition after the transition closes. Yep – has happened to me. Good thing I had someone living nearby who was able to drive out with a pair of googles!
I like to put my shoes down with socks in them. That way I know I have two socks and I am ready to go. Bike helmet sits on top with sun glasses in the helmet. When I am actually at the race I put my bike helmet on my handlebars, upside down with my sunglasses in the helmet. I put one water bottle in my bike and then have another one in transition – along with any sort of nutrition (not a meal, but a gel or energy bar.)
Running shoes and a cap or visor. I usually bring pair of dry socks – but for anything under a ½ Ironman I have never changed into a dry pair of socks. Just nice to have there. I also use to put a gel packet in my shoes so I would remember to eat it before going out on the run. However – during Wildflower I couldn’t figure out why the toes on my right foot were falling asleep. At mile 9 of the run I decided to take my shoe off …. And guess what was in there? A gel packet! Uggggg … at least it didn’t break, and I did still eat it! 😉 But – since then I put my gel packets in my hat!
And really – that is it. Now, there are other things on the Ultimate Triathlon Checklist that I encourage you to bring. Flip flops are nice to wear until you actually race – but be prepared to lose them or give them to one of your cheer squad peeps. (Plus they are nice to have at the end of the race – both the flip flops and the Cheer Squad!!!) However, being a minimalist is preferable when racing. You don’t need everything for “just in case”. There will be someone else there that can help you in case of emergency. Plus – you will have minimal space to set up.
Great job on the training so far! Let me know what questions you have about transitions or offer your tips in the comments. If you still are looking for a bit more support – I am here for you! I can’t wait to hear your stories and see you smiling faces at the finish line.
Move your body, put good things in and ENJOY every day!