Advice for competing in a triathlon.
July 8, 2004 8:50 AM   Subscribe

In ten days, I'll be running my first triathlon. I'm physically ready, but I have a lot of small practical questions… any pointers from seasoned tri veterans would really be appreciated.

A. There's a time gap between the closure of the transition area and the start of the Amateur race. Since I'll be leaving my shoes and socks with my bike in the T-area, and do I just wander around barefoot for a while before I start swimming?
B. Really dumb, but sort of obvious question: are bathrooms generally available during transitions? Or is holding it part of the I'm-made-of-steel mystique?
C. Should I expect to get pounded on/kicked/etc. during the swim?
D. Any other obscure bits of tri lore I should know?
posted by COBRA! to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
I'm training to run my first marathon... so I've gotta ask -- what the heck made you decide to do a triathalon? Isn't a regular ole' marathon enough for you people? When will the madness stop?
posted by ph00dz at 9:51 AM on July 8, 2004

A. Yes, you wander around barefoot on the beach, it usually isn't too bad, my feet are tender, so it kind of sucks for me, what sucks worse is when the transition area is far from the water (sometimes up to a 1/2 a mile), running out of the water disoriented and barefoot trying to get to your bike, especially if the path contains rocks or nettles or other such nonsense.

B. Well, here's a dirty little secret, you can pee in the water. But otherwise there are usually port-o-potties near transition, and depending on the length of the bike course, sometimes there as well. Although hard-core (not me!) people have been known to pee while riding on the bike!

C. Yes, open water swimming is probably the most frightening part of triathlon, since you're usually in a crowd of people. If this bothers you, start towards the outside and back of your wave.

D. If you're in shape, the most important thing to do is to get your transition stuff ready, and there's a million checklists on the web for this. Make sure you have goggles , bike shoes, helmet, running shoes, running cap, race numbers, water on your bike. Above all have fun, for 99% of triathletes, finishing is the important part.
posted by patrickje at 11:11 AM on July 8, 2004

Just out of curiosity, what length triathlon are you doing?
posted by letitrain at 11:32 AM on July 8, 2004

what the heck made you decide to do a triathalon?
Actually, I wanted to do a marathon, but I've had plantar fascitis trouble, and the training was too much. This way, my training's split up, and I had an excuse to get a road bike. Might try to do a marathon in a few years, though.

Just out of curiosity, what length triathlon are you doing?
It's Olympic-length. 1.5 km swim, ~24 mi bike, 6.2 mi run.

Aaaand thanks for the tips, patrickje. I sort of suspected there'd be water-peeing, but didn't want to mention it...
posted by COBRA! at 11:51 AM on July 8, 2004

No tips, just wanted to say good luck.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:59 PM on July 8, 2004

Just for those curious, when people think of triathlon, they usually think of Ironman. But triathlon has many distances. The 'standard' ones are.
  • Sprint
    1. Swim .75K
    2. Bike 20K
    3. Run 5K

  • Olympic/International
    1. Swim 1.5K
    2. Bike 40K
    3. Run 10K

  • 1/2 Ironman
    1. Swim 1.2 Miles
    2. Bike 56 Miles
    3. Run 13.1 Miles

  • Ironman
    1. Swim 2.4 Miles
    2. Bike 112 Miles
    3. Run 26.2 Miles
And most race directors will adjust those distances to fit the course.

I've done every distance but Ironman and I've done a marathon. From my experience, a marathon is far more difficult than a triathlon. Especially the longer distances in triathlon, you approach a steady state of effort, but to actually run a marathon requires months of training and for me the effort required for the marathon was excruciating, actually running at race pace for 3 1/2 hours. But, that's just my experience. Triathlon really is a sport most people can get into, it is really a great time, great people, just a great experience. But for me, running is the thing, so while triathlon is a great way to spend the summer, winter will continue to revolve around the marathon. Running a marathon is a complete mind-control game.
posted by patrickje at 3:23 PM on July 8, 2004

I appreciate you explaing that, patrickje.... because really, I'd assumed he was doing an Ironman. That actually sounds really, really fun... Good luck, Cobra!
posted by ph00dz at 8:56 PM on July 8, 2004

Thanks again, all.
posted by COBRA! at 7:06 AM on July 9, 2004

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