The Washington DC Triathlon is fast approaching and all your training and the NTP program are quickly reaching their pinnacle. Throughout the 20 weeks of the program, we have tried to expose you to the rigors that a triathlon will put you through. From swim clinics, to brick workouts, to training triathlons and transitions, to carbo-loading pre-race dinners (sign up is now open in the Shop section of the site), we tried to put together a new triathlete program that would bring you "from the couch" to completing your first triathlon.
With one week to go, we thought we'd open the floor to any last minute, nothing is too stupid, questions that you might have. If you have anything that you'd like to ask, please post it here. The NTP Co-Leaders as well as the plethora of knowledge that is the entire DCTri Club are available for your questions.
So NTP, the floor is open. Please ask.
2010 NTP Co-Leader
I'll start! This is never a problem in the pool, but every time I am in the open water I find myself getting a lot of water in my ears, and quite frankly, it hurts! Not surprising given the waves/current, etc that you don't have in the pool...I asked one friend about ear plugs and she said she tried them and didn't like them but I am curious what other people do and if there's a specific kind that's good to get-- do they fall out? Where do I get them?
I'm thinking I'll scale the expo unless someone suggests another place and I'll do a test drive on Sat to see what I like, but any tips/suggestions would be much appreciated!
I wear earplugs when I swim - pool & open water. I prefer the silicone plugs. I buy the kid sized ones at Sports Authority. I believe they are TYR. They are green & orange. I found the regular (adult) ones too big for my ears.
Before my question I just want to say thanks to all the DC Tri members who have helped us out along the way, and especially to the NTP co-leads. I personally can't imagine having gotten to where I am today without all your support and motivation. It's also been an inspiration watching the more seasoned athletes train and race. I'm pretty pumped for Sunday (and also slightly terrified!)
My Q: I just used my wetsuit for the first time at Sandy Point this past Saturday. It felt fine and I can get it on and off without much trouble. I did, however, notice that I can feel some (not a lot) of water in my suit while I swim, in the back area. It is a sleeveless suit, and people say that water gets in around the sleeve area, but other people also say their suits are skin tight with no water. I'm trying to figure out if I should get a smaller suit. I ordered a large from Xterra, which was the size they recommended.
I always wear silicone ear plugs whenever I get in the water. You don't need specialized/branded ear plugs. You can find Mack's ear plugs at any local drug store for around $6 for a set of 6. Each pair should last a couple months before they start to wear out and lose their stickiness.
As for the wetsuits, I looked at the USGS website this week for the water temperature in the Potomac.
Out by Little Falls, the water temperatures are around 82F (28C). If that's the case down river at the swim course, then wetsuits would only be allowed for those not looking to win any age group awards. This won't be a consideration for most beginners. However, if the water temperature sneaks up to 84F, then wetsuits won't be allowed for anyone. Given the hot temperatures forecast for the remainder of this week, there's a very strong possibility that the water temperature will rise to 84F by this weekend, meaning that no one will be allowed to wear wetsuits. Everyone should at least prepare themselves mentally for this possibility.
The way wetsuits (even those with sleeves) work is that they are designed to allow a small amount of water in. That water is then trapped between your body and the neoprene of the wetsuit and your body heat warms the water which, in turn, acts as an additional layer of insulation and helps keep you warm for the duration of your swim.
There are drysuits (suits that keep water completely out) but not for triathlon swimming... I believe those are mostly for diving in extreme conditions. There are also speedsuits and the like which are used for triathlon swims when the water temps are above the wetsuit cutoff... they fit very tight and keep water out completely but differ from wetsuits in that they are primarily designed to reduce drag and don't provide the buoyancy of a normal wetsuit. That said, speedsuits have been banned by the ITU and WTC and USAT is likely to follow suit later this year. Probably way too much information but this may be where some of the confusion comes in with some of what others have told you.
Your wetsuit should fit tightly around your whole body when you put it on and it is designed to stretch up to a half size once in the water. If there is a noticeable gap in the small of your back when you first put it on, you can try adjusting the fit by playing with the slack in the wetsuit... starting at the ankles and working it up so that the wetsuit is flush at the crotch. A common mistake is thinking the wetsuit needs to cover all the way to the ankles & wrists (if you had a full). What that does is stretches the wetsuit out further than it is designed to fit and creates these gaps. There should be a few inches between your ankles / wrists and the wetsuit... this also allows for better range of motion as the wetsuit will be flush at the armpits & crotch.
If that doesn't work, you may need to size down. Xterra is one of the better brands out there and they have a great exchange policy so, if you find that the one you ordered is too large, you still have time to return it and receive a smaller one before your race but you'll need to move quickly and expedite shipping.
Hope that helps. Have a great race!
After having swimmer's ear problems my first season I began using Mack's Aqua Block reusable earplugs and they've worked well for me. They keep the water out and are pretty easy to remove at the end of the swim. Definitely recommend those or something similar if you're having problems with water in the ear.
2010 NTP Co-leader
Here's a last minute kit question: I didn't get an order in early enough for the DC Tri. Any chance anyone out there has a women's small DC tri race top they'd be willing to let me borrow?
Thanks, and now I'll get back to trying to get some sleep in the days before the race.
And THANKS to all the NTP co-leads and DC Tri members who have made NTP such a great, motivating, and fun experience!
Actually, I've got a top question too: been doing all my running & biking in regular (sleeved) bike jerseys. Was planning on just doing tri shorts under the wetsuit then tossing on the jersey in T1. Will the sleeves cause a problem with obscuring the number painted on my arm?
Gabby, sorry, I can't help you with that one. :)
As for putting on a bike jersey in T1, that's what I have been doing. The numbers painted on your arms are pretty much to identify your body in the water (and for pictures of you coming out of the water). Once you're done with the swim, you don't have to worry about obscuring the body markings. You'll have the bike helmet number and running bib number to identify you for the last two legs of the race.
2010 NTP Co-Leader
Sleeve may obsure the number but that doesn't really matter. You won't get penalized to DQ for that. You'll have your number on a bib (required), on your bike frame(required), bike helmet (required), and perhaps even on your calf (varies from race to race). In other words, if you do something stupid, they will find you :)
A lot of times you will see the numbers smudge to a point of not recognizeable. It's due to the sunscreen lotion that people put on or the water or just general smudging or all those combo. I wouldn't worry about it. I do most of my races wearing bike jerseys.
Not sure if anyone has mentioned this, but it helps to have a race belt. You can tack the number to the race belt and wear it backward for the bike, turn it to the front for the run, and not have to put holes in your nice jersey.
You can buy one for about six bucks at any race expo.
Since we're all leaving our bikes overnight anyways, are there athletes that will lay out all their gear on saturday night and not go to the transition area sunday morning to set up?
It makes me nervous to think about laying out my stuff 12 hours before my race, and not seeing it again till I come in from my wetsuit-less swim, but I'd really like the extra couple hours of sleep in the morning.
I would highly not recommend that you lay out transition stuff the night before. Maybe some people have done it, but I have never seen someone set up transition the night before. You take a chance of someone messing up your setup as well as any rainstorms totally soaking all your gear. If you want a couple hours extra sleep, then go to bed a couple hours earlier.
For bike racking on Saturday, JUST leave your bike there and nothing else.
You don't need to get there at the crack of 3:30(!) am, though the usual pre-race nerves will probably mean that you will be there before sunup anyway. And you'll have to get there while transition is open for body-marking anyway.
Generally, all you leave at transition overnight is your bike. In the too-and-fro, you don't want stuff to move around or disappear, like shoes, clothes, etc. Setting up transition isn't that big of a deal. 1: Quick once-over of the bike, 2: helmet upside-down on handlebars, (glasses/gloves inside if you're using them); 3: water bottle/nutrition in their holders 4: shoes/socks by front wheel; 5: if putting on a jersey at T1, put it over your saddle or top tube; 6: running shoes/hat behind your cycling shoes; 7: towel underneath shoes. (if using a race belt, put it in your helmet with your sunglasses/gloves) Shouldn't take you more than 15-20 minutes. Everything else is optional.
If you're racing the Olympic, you'll have some time before your race, but it's a good chance to see the swim start in action, how folks are managing the swim exit, etc.
Re sleep, you probably won't sleep well on Saturday night, or at least enough. Therefore, concentrate on getting sleep on Thursday and Friday. Also, make sure you keep your hydration up Thurs.-Saturday I'm not a propnent of magic formulas, but keep a water bottle around.
x3 on not laying out your stuff the night before. Even if folks don't steal it, it can be moved by other people intentionally or accidentally. The last thing that you want to see coming out of the water and into your transition area is stuff not where you last put it.
The area that you have to set up in the transition is VERY small and it gets smaller once people start setting up their things. If you set your stuff up and it infringes on other people's area, it will be moved "accidentally." I've seen things "accidentally" moved a few times at races by other athletes when one athlete decides that everything within a 5 feet radius of their bike belongs to them.
You have the other 355 days of the year to get your extra sleep. Why ruin your race experience by taking the chance of your stuff not being where you last left it. If your helmet or bike/run shoes get displaced then your day is over pretty quickly.
Keep in mind that not every one there is a newbie looking to just complete a race. There are a lot of competitive people there who are there to get a podium or top AG spot. If your stuff infringes on one of these people, they won't think twice about moving your stuff around.
Is there a Pre Race checklist on the DC Tri website? I feel like I am going to forget something that I will need.
remember you only "have" the area that you are supposed to have which is the approximately 18 inches of space in width that is your numbered spot on the bike rack, that is it. if you take up more than that spot and there are other people next to you, you ARE infringing on their space, just as they would be if their stuff was in your spot on the rack.
granted the bike racks at times are tight so the area you have may be even smaller than the 18 inche or even 12 inch wide area that is your numbered spot so you will have to work with this and adjust accordingly on race day, its all part of the experience.
it should be stressed that you should be courteous to those around you and not take up more space than you are provided, in most instances this will alleviate problems and politely asking others that infinge on your area to move would also at times work before being rude to the person.
the race referrees can only "suggest" that the racers move their stuff, they are not allowed to actually physically move stuff. Its mostly a self policing by athletes with athletes, which in some ways is a very good thing.
do not leave anyting more than your bike racked overnight, you can leave more but i wouldn't personally suggest it.
PLEASE REMEMBER TO PLUG YOUR BAR ENDS AND BRING A VALID WORKING CPSC CERTIFIED HELMET ON RACE DAY. Those two Big things can get you dq'ed and sent home in the transition area before the race even starts if you don't have them.
DO NOT BRING ANY GLASS CONTAINERS OR BOTTLES IN TRANSITION AREA. (for obvious safety reasons this is major thing that will get you disqualified and sent home before the race begins.)
(HINT: these 3 things are why you have race referrees walking in the transition area before the race starts, they are specifically looking for these violations)
I've put a version of the pre-race checklist I use on the NTP Google group. If you look at the list of topics, there's a link in the May 16 post under my name. This is an all-seasons comprehensive list, so things like arm warmers and other stuff aren't necessary (like directions to the course). Other things (like TP) are essential.
Don't remember if this was repeated recently, but always, always, always have your helmet on and the chin strap buckled BEFORE you even think about getting on your bike. Do this before the race, during the race and even after the race. (Ideally you should do this any time you are on a bike.)
You can get DQ'd for not having your helmet on and the chin strap buckled while on the bike, even after the race.