When you come of the water, you are a bit disoriented, your heart rate is a bit high, your nervous system has to now adapt from being immersed into a liquid to standing upright. Sometimes I think that the creators of Triathlon courses are cruel, they might put a 600m run from the swim to the bike UP-HILL!!!
Ok, so what do you do??
- Train for T1: about once a week ( if possible because of weather), swim at least 400m and then go for a little run. If not possible then start doing this as soon as you can before your races.
- When running, use small-little steps, take deep breaths.
- Start unzipping the wet suit and bring it down to the waist while running.
Now that you are used to getting from swimming to the transition area, let us talk a little bit about this. This is where you have you bike racked and hopefully you remember where you racked it. My memory is really bad, and I have been known to wonder around aimlessly looking for my stuff; 10 minute transition, shameful!
Now what I do is put a towel down that is a crazy colour, so it is easy to recognize.
Setting up the T1 Transition.
If you plan right, this transition will be very easy. So we will go through these few steps:
- Rack the bike either by the seat of the handlebars, ensure that the bike is in an easy gear before you rack it.
- Put the helmet on the handle bars or seat (this is the first thing that you will put on in the transition area).
- Set out a funky coloured towel and put your, running shoes, gels, bars, sunglasses, sunblock, and anything else your will need.
- Ensure that you have your bottles of water already in the cages in your bike. I also tape a gel to the cross tube of my bike, so that I could get a quick zip of energy to start the bike.
Once that is setup you are ready to rip. Once you come into the transition area, put your helmet on immediately, take off your wet suit, put on your cycling shoes (I did not want to be too complicated, and have you have the shoes already clipped in, this is a bit advanced and needs special shoes); remember to clear the shoes for insects. I did a duathlon, and forget to do this and soundly squished a few caterpillars in both my shoes, that definitely was not fun.
Un-rack you bike and run to the transition line (this is the line that you need to cross before mountain your bike, officials tend to get a bit testy if you hit this line riding at full speed), move a bit to the side, so that you don't block up the zone, mount the bike, clip in and away you ride.
If there is one thing that you take aways from this: "Training should mirror the race." This way race day is not different from a training day. Train for the transitions, and during race day they are easy and save time.
This does not apply to an Ironman and Half Ironman as much, these races are so long, that a super quick transition is not as important. But for the Spring and Olympic the transition is key.