In what ways are Ironman transitions different from shorter races?
Do they allow changing of clothes -- maybe to put on/take off biking shorts?
If so, is this a good idea or just a waste of time?
If I finish the race, I won't be setting any land-speed records anyway. Thought it might be worth the hassle for the comfort.
yes IM distance triathlons the transitions "can be" different than shorter courses, but they do not have to be, afterall pros wear 1 piece suits throughout an entire IM distance race, but then again they are pros, you may not always want to emulate pros in every way.
the main thing is in almost all IM distance races there is a tent for men and a separate tent for women to change in transition, mean unlike every other race you can "be naked" in the tent inself.. so you can change all your gear between disciplines if you like.
whether its a good idea or not to change your bike shorts to running shorts or out of swim wear to dry bike shorts, that is a purely personal decision. THERE IS NO RIGHT ANSWER.
the pros of changing = dry clothes and sport specific clothes for each event so it may be more comfortable.
con = it takes time to do, so transitions can take for some people 5-10 minutes each or even longer.. you may not be breaking speed records but 20 minutes to 30 minutes in transition is a lot of time, but again its your race your decision.
again this is one of those things that you test out in training.
example try riding a 50-80 mile ride in tri shorts if its terrible then you know your answer, try ruinning a long run in tri shorts, if you hate it you know your answer, etc.
good luck and have fun.
ps. humorous side note: in most IM distance races in the United States Male volunteers are in the Male tent and Female volunteers are in Female tents. However, if you do a IM distance race in Europe this rule does not always apply, meaning there may be Female volunteers in the Male tent. I have no experience being in the female tent so no idea what happens there. Just something to be aware of.
Some people love the changing tents for reasons Justin mentioned above-fresh clothes, appropriate to each discipline. However, you can be lulled into sitting there for too long since it feels so good to be out of whatever kind of weather the day has handed you and to just sit down and not move.
I didn't change and wore the same things for the whole day, though I did change socks for the run to have a dry pair on. The best thing is the volunteers who help you do everything-help you get things out of and into your transition bag, actually help peel off your stinky socks, reapply sunblock for you-those people are saints!
My opinion is that preparing for each sport in a specific manner is a good plan for Ironman. It's up to you - whatever you did in training is what's recommended. ie You would ride in tri shorts if you specifically trained century rides in that. Are you gonna ride every long ride and run every long run in the same singlet / tri outfit? You should if you are wearing that on race day, and it can get pretty old.
Subject to the caution that they mention above. You don't want a 20 min transition, and it's very tempting. But you can move quickly, get buck naked in the tents, and completely change in just a few minutes more. The benefits are having the actual bike clothes you biked your long rides in, and the actual run clothes you ran your long runs in. Plus, they are fresh, clean, and dry. After 5-6 hours on the bike you get to change into something dry - it's nice. You just biked a century and are about to run a marathon - every mental edge helps. Going from theory to real data, last IM my actual transition times were 10:28 T1 and 3:58 T2 with full changes. My sister in law, who wore the same thing throughout, was 6:31 T1 and 3:18 T2. Is a few more minutes worth it? Well, she beat me by almost the exact minutes of our transition differences, but over 10-16 hours I'd still say yes. Good luck!
Thanks for the great responses. Not sure what I'll do. I don't mind the running in the tri-shorts. It's the bike I'm wondering about, so I suppose I should get out there and knock out a long ride in them.
You will need to try out the different options to see what works best for you:
1) bike shorts on the bike and run (this is where your brick workouts come in)
2) bike shorts on the bike then change into running shorts (longer transitions but more comfortable)
3) be hard-core and wear tri shorts (maybe one day but for now I just wear bike shorts)
The transitions in an IM are probably different than any other tri you have done, so you should sit down with one of the members that has experienced the joys of the changing tents and take notes. You don’t set up your transition area like most tris, instead, you put all of the gear for the next leg in a transition bag like your bike shoes, socks, and helmet in your T1 bag (don’t worry, they are well organized and you will have plenty of stickers to put on all of your bags).
When you get out of the water, a volunteer will more than likely have your bag for you so you can grab it on the run into the changing tent (you may have to fight the urge to run to your bike to change– I always do). You’ll swap out your gear, stuff your wetsuit, cap and goggles into the bag, and hand it to a volunteer on your way to your bike (make sure to have your name written in your wetsuit just in case).
Once off the bike, a volunteer will take your bike back to the rack, and you will grab your T2 bag and head back to the tent. I agree with Simon that you should not only be used to the gear you are planning on wearing, but the few minutes it takes to make sure everything is straight is time well spent. A marathon is a long way if your sock is bunched or you forgot your sunglasses.
You will have ‘special needs’ bags in the middle of the bike and run for extra water bottles, food, a spare CO2 and tube…etc. I like to get cheap insulated lunch bags and put my replacement bottles on ice so they are still moderately cool by time I get to mile 56 on the bike (you’ll be amazed at how good a cold drink tastes after 10 hours of a race!)
The more you know about the structure of the race, the better.
Just something about the changing tents: there are times that a volunteer may not be able to help you, so plan to change on your own and be happy if someone can help! The water was so cold at CDA last year that many of the women athletes were fiercely shivering and having trouble getting dressed in T1. Those of us who were not so bad off were prioritized down, which made sense (I had a phenomenal volunteer in T2). The volunteers are unbelievably great, but on occasion, are fewer than the number of athletes.
Also, don't put anything in your special needs bag that you really care about - they often aren't tied up and things do come out of them by the time you retrieve them on Monday.
good point...the volunteers are there to help you if they can.
they are not there to do your transition for you and put your stuff into your bag for you, though they do that 90% of the time they are not required to do it for everyone, hey things get busy, you are responsible for your own stuff being in your bag, its not there there "may" be fewer volunteers than athletes, there "are fewer" volunteers than athletes.
general rule of thumb for the special needs bags, only put stuff that you are completely willing and ready to throw out as soon as you are done iwth the race whether you use it or not, more often than not the special needs bags get lost i fyou don't use them race day.