Tuesday, May 6, 2014

TriTalk Tuesday: Transition Translation

Holy Moses it's Tuesday AGAIN!  I'm not quite sure how that happened, but it is once again to link up with Cynthia at You Signed Up For What? and Courtney at The Trigirl Chronicles (and all of our lovely linkers below) to continue our chats about all things triathlon-related.  We've previously discussed the swim, the bike, and the run, so it naturally follows that this week we are discussing transitions.  For those advanced planners among you, next week's theme will be What to Wear (in a triathlon... hopefully that was obvious...)

One of the most comment questions I got as a newbie triathlete causally mentioning (or shaking-in-my-boots craving advice) to more experienced folks that I was racing was, "Did you practice your transitions?".  Before I started, I joked with my coach (who was just my friend at the time), that I was planning on taking a few deep breaths, maybe high five-ing my friends... perhaps downing a beer and cheeseburger in between the race elements.  Well, it turns out that the time it takes you in between the events counts too.  Therefore, serious triathletes all get very, very particular and opinionated about their transitions.  

Most athletes have an exact order of what they do when, an exact placement of each relevant item on their transition mat, and practice the transition over and over again until it's in muscle memory.  Coming out of the water or off the bike, your adrenaline is through the roof,  you may be dehydrated, be low on fuel, and many major muscle groups might be threatening to fail.  Along with higher motor functions like balance and coordination.  Your brain should not have any role in transition - you should just do it.

Good motto for transitions

The majority of triathlons are organized as first swim, then bike, then run.  There are 2 transitions.  The first, T1, is between the swim and bike.  The second, T2 is between the bike and run.  All of your mental prep should happen before your race.  This is the time to embrace your inner (or outer) control freak and make a list.  Check your list.  Check it again.  Lay out all of your stuff as you would in the race.  Practice T1.  Practice T2.  Repeat until your spouse yells at you to stop being a weirdo, turn out the light and come to bed already.  Then repack all your stuff.  Check that it made it into the bag.  Repeat. And repeat.....

I'm sure that others will be sharing their best practices for what to pack, how to lay things out, etc.  I am going to focus on some simple dos and many don'ts that I learned by experience.  Considering I've only actually raced three triathlons to date, I have a surprising amount of what NOT to do stories to draw on....

1.  Don't get nekked.

Seriously folks.  We'll talk more about what proper attire for a race is next week, but for now... take my word and do not show any of your goods in during transition.  The only possible excuse for traumatizing fellow racers is a Janet Jackson-style wardrobe malfunction.  Which, if you are properly sausaged into your spandex, should be hard to do.  To be clear, this one is not from first-person experience, but from unfortunate bystander experience....

2.  Don't be a space hog

Limit your transition area to a small towel.  Small.  Not bath towel.  If you get there early enough to get the end spot, huzzah and you can take a bit more space.  Otherwise be respectful of other racers and don't squeeze your bike into the rack where there isn't enough space, or spread your belongings out as though you are camping.  Violators will be subject to malicious reorganizing of their stuff (see above as to why this is bad) and/or slashing of bike tires.  It's only fair.

3.  When in doubt, snoop

If you're not sure what the etiquette is (assigned spots or free-for-all), or just how to do something, ask!  Or look around to see what others are doing.  It is perfectly acceptable to do so.  Most people will be happy to help you set up and offer some words of encouragement and advice.  And if they do not, see the consequences permissible in #2.

4.  Practice EVERYTHING beforehand

You'll read and hear all sorts of slick solutions to transition.  5 gallon buckets to sit on.  Extra water bottles to wash your feet.  Cool ways to roll your socks so they go on .3 seconds faster.  I tried that last one without practicing.  The result - I rolled my sock on one foot, realized it was upside down.  Fell over trying to fix it. Got it off and then on the correct way.  Repeated the entire process on the other foot.  Fail.  I'd have been much better off just putting socks on the normal way.  Anxiety makes you do crazy things.  Like triathlons....

Racking my bike in T2

5.  Have a sense of humor.

Beauty and grace may not follow you into transition.  That's ok.  Make sure you have friends and family there to take silly pictures.

Swim out

 5.  Go in order. 

I like to do everything from top to bottom.  Goggles and cap off, strip to waist.  Run to T1.  Wetsuit off.  Helmet on, sunglasses on, bike shoes on, go.  Top to bottom.  Similarly, in T2 after unclipping and running my bike to my spot, helmet off, sunglasses back on, shoes off, socks on, running shoes on.  Top to bottom.

Oh wait, I said I wasn't going to share my particular line up.  Just proves my point about people being very opinionated about the "right" way to transition....

My all-time favorite picture.  Talk to the hand!  Run out!

6.  Practice EVERYTHING beforehand.

Yep.  Just to reiterate.  Your transition time might not make or break your race, but forgetting your GU or socks, or doing something that disqualifies you like not taking off your helmet out of T2 can ruin your race. (Actually I don't know if that would DQ you, but you'd sure feel silly and have to go back).  Similarly, not properly slowing and unclipping into T2 is just plain dangerous.  So practice those critical few moments to make the rest of the race the best it can be.

Do you talk triathlon on your blog? Link up with You Signed Up For WHAT?!The Cupcake Triathlete, and The TriGirl Chronicles on Tuesdays for Tri Talk! We’ll discover a new theme each week and talk about triathlon training, tips, and general chatter. Be sure to link to your specific post and not a general link to your blog so that your post can be found in the linkup archives. Links not triathlon-related will be deleted.  Also, please link posts that are on topic for each week's theme.  Ex. this week is transition.  Next week is What to Wear.  Thanks!


Anthony said...

#3 is great advice! Best way to learn is to watch others!

Kristine said...

At my first duathlon, I was checking out everyone's setup!

Lori Beneteau said...

I've never run a tri, but it sounds like fun!

Amanda said...

Good tips! I do use a bath towel but I only use half of it. I use the other half to fold over and cover all my stuff. Then when I come into transition it makes a good clean area for me to wipe off my feet. It's good to ask other athletes and observe how they set theirs up, like you said. Thanks again for the link-up. Since I've already discussed this topic in full detail recently on my blog I went ahead and linked-up to that post.

Cynthia @ You Signed Up For What?! said...

This post had me cracking up and then nodding my head a second later!

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