I'm getting ready to compete in my first Ironman (Arizona) and I have no idea about the transitions. Are the transition area's set up different or is it a normal set up? How many water bottle area's can I expect to find on the bike ride? Any help is appreciated.
the best thing to do is to attend and pay close attention to the race course meeting and also diligently read all the materials they give in the race packet.
the layout of the transition area and how to use the various bags will be explained to you by the IM race organization.
The 2010 Athlete's guide will be out 3 weeks prior to the race. It will answers 95% of your questions including the location (i.e., how many miles apart and where) and contents of the aid/water station. If you can't wait that long, I believed that the 2009 version is there for you to view. By the way, bottles up stations on the bike are usually 10 miles apart. On the run, everthing will be 1 mile apart. They will have caffinated drinks and chicken broth to go along with all of the usual stuff.
Transition areas for an Ironman are 100% different than any other races. You don't set up your transition next to your bike like you do with the shorter distances. They give you bags, color coded and clearly labeled, that you will place your items (bike shoes, wetsuit, run shorts, helmet, etc) in at different points during the race. You will get 5 bags (T1, T2, special needs run, special needs bike, and morning clothes) to place your things in. You have a big changing tent where you change into and go au naturelle if you wanted to.
You will have a volunteer hand you everything ... including your bike. They will help you tie your shoes and strip you naked if you want. When you start the bike ride, they will hand you your bike near your rack. When you finish the bike ride, you don't rack your bike. You give it to a volunteer at the dismount point and they will rack it for you. You will also have a couple of special needs bag that you greet you near the midway point of the bike and run. There is also a morning clothes bag that you can put your clothes in prior to leaving for the swim.
Your every needs and desires will be taken care of in the transition area of an Ironman ... unlike the short distances. If you are slow enough, you will get a couple of your own personal assistants there to do everything that you need done. You want a drink? They'll get it for you. They will pack up transition bag after you have made a mess of yourself in the transition area.
If you are a female, you may even have a closed off area within the female changing area with a curtain so as to provide extra privacy. A volunteer can be in there to help you with stuff if you ask for one. The dudes ... we just go Euro inside the tent.
As a matter of fact, I'm thinking about skipping the swim this year just to hang around the transition tent/lounge a little bit longer.
Most of the things that I've mentioned so far are all in the Athlete's guide.
Have fun :)
All of Tuan's stuff is good info. Here are a couple of things to add:
1. To be clear: your bike shoes, helmet, glasses, etc. will be in your transition bag, not on or near your bike.
2. Since you can change shorts (i.e. get nekkid), you can put on bike shorts for the bike then change to running shorts for the run if you want. You're not just stuck with a Tri suit. Remember to put body glide in your run bag if you're not in a huge hurry.
3. You also get to bring 'special needs' bags, one on the bike leg and one on the run. You can pick them up approx. half way through each. Put whatever you want in there, but you might not get back anything after the race. So don't put in expensive electronics or car keys.
4. If you have people coming with you, you can give them a card that has your bike number on it. They can pick up your bike and shuttle it back to the hotel for you, so you don't have to. This comes in handy because you might be tired after the race.
The bike course map shows you where the aid stations are:
I volunteered at this race last year (changing tent and on the run course). Pack your transition bag with everything you need, and anything you think you might need. If you pack something you don't use, you should get it back later (for example - if you pack gels and you don't eat them, the volunteers will pack them in your bag with your wetsuit). The best thing I found in a transition bag last year was a sheet of stickers saying "good job" (I asked the woman if she needed a sticker, and she said no - - not sure if that meant that the swim didn't go so well...).
The volunteers will help you as much as possible. If you are a fast or slow swimmer, you will probably have a volunteer or two helping you... But if you are in the middle of the pack, it will probably be closer to a one volunteer to three athletes ratio.
The water is cold, and a lot of athletes last year had a hard time moving their fingers. As a result, I did a lot of putting on socks, arm warmers, etc. for people who couldn't do it themselves. My biggest piece of advice is to tell you to be vocal. If you want to wear the black socks and not the blue pair, say so. Ask for help, and tell the person how to help you.
all good advice from people here.
but remember even from IM event to IM event there are sometimes unforseen changes that are made race weekend, etc.
so while we may say bag 1 do this, bag 1 do this, etc, and it may be true for the last 10 IM races people have done, that can all change for your race if the race director sees that changes must be made 24-48 hours before the start.
I can't stress enough reading the ENTIRE athlete's welcome packet, attending and paying attention at the mandatory race meetings, and asking questions at the "questions" tent, they provide all the information you need for that specific race on that specific weekend and can update you on any last minute changes that may need to be made to the course and how you should adjust to it.
Goodluck and have fun.