The club’s first training tri is coming up this Saturday, June 6th, and since this will be the first tri for many of you and we haven’t had a chance to have a formal transition clinic yet, I wanted to answer what I would anticipate would be some FAQs.
What is the training tri? – The training tri will be a 400m swim (in the Hains Point pool), 16.8 mile bike (3 long loops), and a 3.1 mile run (1 short loop).
What time should I arrive? What time do we start? – You should arrive no later than 6:30am to check in and set up your transition area. There will be a pre-race talk (usually on the pool deck) at 6:50am, and we will start the triathlon at 7am.
What should I wear? – You should wear tri shorts (like bike shorts, but with a much thinner chamois/padding) and a tri top. You will wear this for the swim, bike, and run. If you do not have tri shorts, you could swim in your swimsuit, and then pull shorts/shirt on afterwards for the bike/run, but it is not recommended. Putting clothing onto wet skin is no easy task. You should apply sunscreen, but not until after you have been body marked with your race number (as the markers don’t write well on greased up skin).
What do I need to do for transition set-up? – We set up transition in the grassy median on Ohio Drive in front of the golf club/pool. We will not have bike racks, so you will lay your bike down on the ground (drivetrain side up!). Next to it, you will have a small towel (keep it small as in real transitions, space is very tight!) on which you will put your bike shoes (straps/buckles open so they’re ready to slip into), socks if you wear them (some people like to roll them down so that they are easier to slip onto wet feet), helmet with straps open and ready (I usually put mine upside-down and in the direction so that when I pick it up, I just flip it onto my head and buckle), and sunglasses if you wear them (I usually place these in my helmet so I won’t forget). I usually don’t waste time trying to put bike gloves on during a race (again, trying to put clothing on wet skin sucks), but if you really want to wear them, have those ready. You should have all your nutrition/hydration for the bike already on your bike. Behind my bike gear, I set up my running shoes ready to slip into (if you don’t have quick laces, you’ll soon be looking to buy them after this), hat/visor if you want, and any nutrition/hydration that I want to carry on the run. We won’t have race bibs for the training tri, so you don’t need to worry about having a race belt yet. However, in a real triathlon, you would have your race number attached to your race belt, and I personally put it over my running shoes so that I won’t forget to put it on before taking off for the run. Also to note, if you are tracking data, don’t forget to reset your bike computer/Garmin/etc before you start the race. Here are a few pictures of my set-up from NJ Tri last year:
Transition (laid-out night before)
Transition at race
What is the swim like? – We will swim 4 laps (up and back), or 8 total lengths, in the 50 meter pool. You will need to have an idea of what your 100m split time is so that you can be properly seeded. Try to be close to your actual time because if you estimate too fast, you might get swum around, and if you estimate too slow, you will have to pass people. Now here’s the part that I found confusing last year when I first heard it, but it made sense after I did it – the pool has 8 lap lanes. We will break into 2 groups, both starting at the same time in the center lanes of the pool - lane 4 (for one group) and lane 5 (for the other group). You will swim up and back in the same lane, working your way towards the outer sides of the pool in a zig-zag fashion. Don’t worry too much about this – it will make much more sense when you see it. I just wanted to mention it so you had some idea of what to expect.
I’ve swam 400 meters. Now what? – You will move from the pool to transition (the transition time between the swim and bike is called T1) and get ready to bike. It’s a good habit to put on and buckle your helmet ASAP. You will ride 3 long loops around Hains Point. Please be sure to follow the rules of the road (stay to the right, use hand signals, call out when passing left, follow all traffic laws), and since drafting isn’t legal in USAT races, try to avoid doing it here. Be careful of oncoming traffic at the turnaround (which is at a circle) for the long loop (we usually have someone watching for cars here, but ride smart).
I’ve biked 16.8 miles, and now have to run. Why do my legs feel like bricks? – Some people find it useful at the end of their ride to either spin at low resistance/high cadence or unclip and shake out their legs (be sure to look around you and make sure you don’t kick any nearby cyclists) to get the blood flowing for the run. After you get off the bike (this transition time is T2), you will lay your bike down by your transition spot (chain side up again!), slip on your running shoes and whatever else you’re wearing, and go. Again, be sure to run smart and be aware of your surroundings as there will still be people biking on the same roads. After you finish, be sure to cool down and stretch. And don’t forget to cheer on your fellow club members who are still racing.
The training tri is a great opportunity to test things out to see what works and what doesn’t. You should be using it as a chance to try out what you will wear for your actual race (you’ll learn quickly where you need to remember to apply sunscreen and body glide ), as well as a chance to test what works for you in terms of nutrition and hydration. You should never try anything new on race day! And don’t worry about your times in transition. Use this opportunity to practice transitions – rushing usually leads to fumbling and making time-costly mistakes. I find that a focused and deliberate transition usually equals a fast transition.
I know that this is a lot of information, and I’m sure that I’ve missed some things, but I hope that this helps answer some of the questions that you all may have. Good luck & don’t forget to have fun!!
okay this may sound stupid but you didn't mention wearing a sports bra top under our tri-top - I asked someone at PRR and they said most definitely and that it should be a dri-fit top. yes? no?
BTW - your tips are extremely helpful - it's great to be able to picture how things are going to go. Do you know if we are supposed to give anyone our swim time before the race?
Dega - not a stupid question at all. I didn't mention a sports bra because I was trying to be gender neutral. Of course, all us girls should strap down "the girls" with a sports bra. Some tri tops will have a built-in bra, but most don't and even if they do, some ladies may double up for extra support. Your sports bra should be made of material that is quick-drying (swimsuit-like material or like dri-fit). Because you will be wet and moving in it, some people prefer seamless bras to avoid chafing from the seams. You'll have to try some out to find out what works best for you.
As for swim times, we were not asked to submit them beforehand (when registering) this time. Just have an idea of what your time is so you know where to place yourself when we line up for the swim (as they will line us up to start from fastest to slowest).
Just to add to Sandy's great advice, remember to put body glide in areas of potential chafing, ie under and around the jogbra, around where seams in your tri shorts hit your skin, around where the edges of your tri top ends especially under armpits, etc.
Just reading up before doing the Richmond 3sports sprint this weekend and realized - what the hell is a race belt?
This is my first tri, how do I know if I'll need one? Any insight would be appreciated.
Race belt is an elastic belt that you can clip your race number to. That way you won't have to pin it to your suit before the swim. Some people put them on before the bike ride and spin them so the number is on your back. That way it just flaps in the breeze a little, then spin it back to the front for the run. Personally, I put mine on top of my sneakers in transition and put it on as I run out. No pin holes in nice new DC Tri Club outfit is an added benefit. Good luck in the race.
Thanks for these tips, they're helpful for a first timer. :)