Shoes sound great, but where and how?
August 1, 2007 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Triathlon newbie here. Please help me interpret the race instructions about coming out of the swim into the first transition.

My first triathlon is this Sunday. They just posted the final race instructions [pdf], including the following:

The run from the swim to the transition area is on a rocky path. We strongly recommend you wear shoes going into transition after the swim.

Does this mean that we can leave shoes down by the water? If I leave shoes there, can I leave my prescription glasses there too? It's apparently about a 1/4 mile from the water's edge to the transition area. I can't say I like the idea of stumbling half-blind down a rocky path with bare feet, but a pile of shoes sounds like a recipe for creating a pre-transition chaos area.

Please help.
posted by bassjump to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm not sure this is how your triathlon will work, but my triathlon also had a short run between the swim and the bike area.

They gave us a plastic "transition bag" to put your stuff in. You'll put your number on the bag, and then fetch it when you exit the swim.

I decorated mine with polka dots using a sharpie to make it easier to find in the sea of bags, but turns out it was unnecessary since my swim was so slow, my transition bag was sitting all by its lonesome.
posted by dennis at 12:00 PM on August 1, 2007

I would get some of those "AquaSocks" to swim in... you know, those lycra-topped shoes with plastic-rubber soles.

I don't know if those would be allowed, or preferable in a competitive environment, though.
posted by Wild_Eep at 12:17 PM on August 1, 2007

Just to be sure, why can't you email or phone the organizers? As found on the main page: (860) 652-8866
posted by Asherah at 12:25 PM on August 1, 2007

Response by poster: Dennis: thanks for that. I like your polka-dot idea (if they do the transition bags).
Wild_Eep: I do have a pair, but I think they'd create a lot of drag in the water, and I'm slow enough as it is.
Asherah: because I'm so panicked about this triathlon business that I can't think straight anymore. Thanks for pointing out what was right in front of me - I've emailed my question to them.
posted by bassjump at 1:12 PM on August 1, 2007

Best answer: The transition bags may not be at all races. I have never been in a race that has them, though my experience is limited.

You can leave your shoes by the water (most likely you'll see a huge long line of shoes when you head down for the swim start) and you can leave your glasses, too -- just consider that you leave stuff there at your own risk and some harried person clawing for the lead might crunch your glasses. A sturdy case may be in order.

Aquasox are great if they are allowed, and usually they are if wetsuits are allowed.

If not, choose something like Tevas. Leave them unstrapped and wide open, in the right positions to step right into them without fiddling, so you can just jam your foot in and strap them up and go. Don't use flip flops, which are really hard to run in and go flying off at inconvenient times. And don't use sneakers, which are too hard to get wet feet into and out of. Start unstrapping them as you're still running the last few steps toward your bike, so they're already loose and you can kick them off fast and get into your bike shoes.

On your first triathlon, though, don't freak out too much about the transitions. Enjoy the race and focus on finishing. Spend a lot of time making sure your transition area is ready for you so you can have a relaxed transition rather than a panicked one. You'll have the time of your life! You'll do great! Enjoy.
posted by Miko at 5:12 PM on August 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

The whole "transition" thing has been a big hold up for me in thinking about doing a triathalon, so I don't know either. This won't help you but if anyone else has these same questions, it's been suggested to me to volunteer at a triathalon before doing one. (I'll probably learn as I go just like you're doing, but...)

So, mainly I'm just commenting to say -- good luck! And good for you! And let us know what the actual answer was! :)
posted by salvia at 5:29 PM on August 1, 2007

Here is a great, great resource for triathletes of all stripes, despite its name: Beginner Triathlete. It's a good place to ask questions like that, read tips, and so on. People on the forums are lovely, and guess what, they have meetups! (At races.)
posted by Miko at 5:57 PM on August 1, 2007

I have heard that the swim event can be very cutthroat with people getting kicked, or trampled/pushed under -- is that common? What about getting choked by your wetsuit if it's not the right size? What are the stats on triath-trouble?
posted by kaytrem at 7:16 PM on August 1, 2007

Kaytrem, if you're worried about that stuff, do a pool swim. You'll be in with people of your own pace.
posted by Airhen at 7:29 PM on August 1, 2007

Not to hijack the thread but the purpose of my question was to find out from mefites whether what I had heard about the "violence" of triathalon swimming was true... just out of curiosity, not because I intend to do any swim racing.. Thanks
posted by kaytrem at 7:46 PM on August 1, 2007

kaytrem: it's true that you get a bit kicked and pummeled and there is a lot of jockeying for the niches in front. The water becomes very turbulent and it can feel scary. If you don't want to fight through it, you can start at the back of the pack, but that just means that then you have to swim over or around everyone who starts floundering midcourse. The swim start is tough for all triathletes, but once you get a clear spot and just put your strokes in, you're OK.

The triathlons I've done have had abundant lifeguards watching over the swimmers in kayaks and floating around the course with noodles. In some races they let people who are struggling in the water hang on the kayaks or noodles until they can continue, as long as they aren't making forward progress. Every now and then someone does it. Despite the splashing and high nerves at the start, there are relatively few people who bail out in the swim leg or who need help. Don't let it deter you.

Open water swimming is a skill all its own which people really have to practice so they can do all right in the triathlon. Pool swimming is great for building endurance and technique, but there are psychological and technical elements to starting an open water swim with hundreds of people of varying levels of skill flailing around you. The only way to train for it is to swim open water a lot, and the only way to get used to the nutty start is to experience it a few times. It's not that bad though.
posted by Miko at 7:51 PM on August 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hi all. I finally got a human response from them:
You may leave your shoes at the edge of the water near where you will be exiting the water. Because the swimmers go in "waves" there isn't too much congestion when you get out.
I'll probably stick my glasses in a hard case inside my shoe, then dump the case in transition. Thanks for the suggestion, Miko.
And yes, I've spent lots of time at Beginner Triathlete, but for some reason I'm intimidated by their forums. Then again, I'm intimidated by this whole triathlon thing.
Salvia, thanks for the good luck wishes. Feel free to contact me afterwards if you want to know anything about a first-tri experience.
posted by bassjump at 10:58 AM on August 2, 2007

Response by poster: I did it!
After all that, the path wasn't all that rocky - sand, grass, and then some slightly broken pavement, but completely fine for my bare feet. I put on my glasses (glad to have those) and just carried my shoes back to transition. Heh. All that worrying for nothing.
posted by bassjump at 1:06 PM on August 5, 2007

Congrats on finishing!
posted by Miko at 2:10 PM on August 5, 2007

Thanks for letting us know. Congratulations!!
posted by salvia at 6:50 AM on August 6, 2007

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