Top Tips on the Day for your First Triathlon
Taking part in your first triathlon this season? Hopefully you are excited, but it is fine to be nervous too. To reduce the chances of things going wrong on the day (which they inevitably will – it’s all part of the experience), be like a good boy scout and Be Prepared.
Putting aside having done some training for each of the three events, have a think about what you will have to do on the day over and above swim, bike, run.
Firstly, how are you getting your bike to the event? Does your car fit your bike (plus kit, plus supporters, plus dog)? Get to the event with plenty of time to spare before your wave. You don’t know how well the parking will be signposted or how long it may take you to walk with your bike and all your kit down to registration. Have you thought about how you are going to walk with your bike and all your kit? Unless you have a friend/small child to help you, you will have to carry your large transition bag or box. Some clever people manage to wheel their bikes with the transition boxes balanced on the frame.
Once registered and stuck your numbers to your bike/helmet/self as directed, it is a good idea to rack your bike and get your transition area set up. Have your helmet to hand – you will usually need to wear this on the way through so that the organisers can check that the chin buckle does up safely. Only competitors will be allowed into transition, so bear that in mind if you need someone else to help you carry your kit. You will usually be directed to a long metal bar which is usually marked with your wave number and may have your individual race number marked on it, showing you where to rack your bike.
How you set up your bike and equipment is a matter of personal preference, but think about it logically and it can be simple. You may be told which way to rack your bike – hanging from the seat or hanging from the handle bars from the rail. If you have a choice, try and rack your bike with your seat hanging from the rail, so you have your handle bars facing you. You can sit your helmet and sunglasses in a cradle created by the handle bars and brake cables so it is simple to take your sunglasses out then grab your helmet to put it on. Rest the helmet top side down, chin straps separated out over the sides and put your sunglasses opened out inside that.
As for the rest of the transition set up, this will mostly be shoes. You will need your bike shoes (presuming you use them) first, so spread a small brightly coloured towel out next to your bike wheel (be careful to keep it in line with your wheel so that people don’t kick it running past). Put your bike shoes down on the towel with the fastenings opened. It may be useful to sprinkle talcum powder in the shoes and on the towel as your feet will be wet from the swim. Put your running shoes on the towel, again with laces undone (or use elastic laces for speed) and if you are wearing socks, scrunch these up so you can pull them onto your feet easily.
Your transition box or bag will hopefully have space to be under or next to your bike, so you can throw your goggles, hat and wetsuit into it when you pull them off after the swim. The last thing you want to return to is your wetsuit lying in the middle of transition with feet marks all over it, or worse. If you want to take any gels or bars with you on the bike or run, either tape these to your bike frame or sit them next to your shoes.
Once set up, take a walk around transition, taking note of where the ‘bike in’ ‘bike out’ and ‘run in’ and ‘run out’ parts are. Also try and see if there are any landmarks such as a tree or advertising banner that can help you find your bike when you run in disorientated from the swim. This is where your brightly coloured towel also helps. Tying helium balloons to bike handles is not allowed apparently….
Do give yourself enough time to go to the race briefing. If there is no right of way and traffic will not be held at a certain junction on the bike leg, or you have to get out and jump back in again as part of the swim, you do need to know this.
Finally, enjoy the day, thank the marshals as you go past and accept that silly things will go wrong and you may well set off for the bike with your number belt still tucked inside your wetsuit (you have to go back and get it!) or the run having forgotten to take your bike helmet off. It’s happened…..
If you have any questions please contact the Didsbury Manchester Clinic on 01614455133 or email email@example.com