Advices for your first triathlon
Your first triathlon! The day has come, the stress is there and you just want to leave rather than face up to the race!
What is the dress code for the event?
Preferably, choose a unique clothe that dries quickly (trisuit) and that you can wear even during bike and running. Change after swimming is not very easy because the clothes are wet and sticky. This will make you lose your time and most of all your concentration. If swimming is done in a swimming wet suit, it is better to have your racing suits directly under it. Howeerv, you will have a time, once your swimming wet suit will be removed, to wear a complementary jacket or short for the bike.
Classical bike shorts are not recommended because their protection is likely to swell with water and becomes unpleasant! It is thus much more recommended to use a trisuit or all-shorty singlet designed for triple effort. The simple swimsuit can be a solution if the cycling course is short and if you do not mind too much discomfort and irritation on the saddle. Keep in mind that the wet and unsuitable clothes can cut under the arm and crotch and can become especially unbearable and uncomfortable.
Your equipment: the indispensable!
The best idea is to have :
- a swimming wet suit if the water temperature is below 17 °C.
- goggles and possibly a swim cap
- a towel to dry your feet before the transition (the towel will be left on the ground next to your shoes)
- 1 bike adapted to the race (road or mountain bike)
- 1 helmet (mandatory)
- appropriate shoes to your pedals and possibly socks to prevent blisters
- possibly a pair of shorts and sunglasses
- drink adapted to the effort and possibly bars or gels
- suitable and confortable running shoes
- cap if the sun is shining
Now that you're missing anything, here we go!
You do not forget your license! Fine. So wallet in hand you go at organisation basecamp long time before start for not rushing thereafter. You will be given a bag with your race bib-offs. Back to your vehicle and equip your bike, your outfit (vest), including among other things (shoes, socks, goggles, drinks .. .). It is recommended to use the checklist for each subject and keep it with you in the basket (in case of the stress ).
Once everything is ready, it will have to go to the bike park and drop everything.
Before entering the park by bike, your helmet must be properly fastened under the chin on your head. You will be asked to wear it at the entry of the bike park to allow marshals to control your protection. It must be well secured to your head and should not be able to move (at least too much). Before going into the bike park, and even before you leave your vehicle, check that you lack nothing, hence the usefulness of the short list.
Be careful, you can leave in the bike park only what is needed for the race (no more). For the other stuff, there is a dedicated area in the park or you can leave your bag. No bag or plastic bag will be allowed in the park outside the dedicated area. Distinctive signs to quickly identify the location of your bike are also prohibited.
Swimming start also named "the washing machine"
Before leaving the bike park to direct you to start swimming, remember to bring your glasses (if you don't have any it's not so bad). So start swimming is by far the most impressive and represents the main obstacle for many triathletes. You have now to enter in the water anyway. Either you are looking for a fight and you stand in front with the big guys and big swimmers, either you go behind and wait for the start. So : no need to panic !
If you wear goggles, you probably need to eliminate the annoying "mist". An effective advice is to spit in your goggles. Then rinse quickly and mist should magicaly disappeared. Do not try so-called miracles solution (soap, shampoo, ...) on the day of the race because you might be surprised. Golden rule: everything must be tested before the race.
Cool and breathing: the key is to monitor breathing and stay as relaxed as possible. Do not force it and let those who want to take the lead. However, never let them take over your mind. Tell yourself that the first few meters are the worst meters and after everbody will take his place in the water. This is sport and you have to take the same pleasure in the lake together. The course is generally wet and flat without large bumps!!
Aim for the sides : to be quiet, at your own pace, stay away from the ground and use the sides outside the first buoy. Start the race on the side and you draw a line that takes you to the first buoy but from the outside. Keep this buoy in order to achieve and do not worry, you will succeed to finish.
Out of the water: Wait until you can properly straight up and go out of the water while breathing calmly without panic. This passage from the supine to standing position can be tricky. Take a few steps to the bank and remove your glasses. Directing you to the bike park (follow the crowd), begin to open your wet swimming suit and withdraw it in stages because it is much easier when it is still wet until it is dry.
Once in the bike park, you must find your bike... Where am I? What is my number? Ah yes, we should have told you to precisely identify your place... Well ... at last you finally find your bike. It is quiet. You breathe and you pull your suit without putting down other triathlete suits. Put your shoes, your shorts, your shirt, your glasses and especially YOUR HELMET. ITS MUST BE ON HEAD AND FIXED before taking your bike in hand. The output of the bike park must be joined with your bike by hand and fastened helmet. Bib for the bike fits in your back.
Out of the bike park, you must just go for happiness. Don't go too fast in the first few meters because the legs are cold and be carrefull to cramps.
Think glasses: it is adviced to bike with a pair of goggles to protect from insects and wind as this can quickly become dangerous and unpredictable. Even when the days are less sunny. Remember to hydrate: drink in small sips regularly and feed regularly because after you quit your bike, you still have to run.
Do not stay behind an other bike, drafting is forbidden and you shall not do it even if you do it at training. PROHIBITED. Observe the racing commissioners and traffic. You will of course not need to stop at the stop sign or red light (the organization is here), but your safety depends on certain rules that marshals remind you during the pre-race briefing. Please, have the respect to listen hem: they are here for your safety. In the last kilometers, prefer a soft pedal velocity and feed you because it may become complicated.
Now, you have to descend from your bike before the input line in the bike park. The helmet is still on your head until you join your place and quit your bike.
Of course you need to put on a pair of running shoes (if you had dedicated bike shoes), take your glasses and your hat. You come in the opposite direction of where you just enter the park!! It's not complicate, just listen to the briefing before the race. Now put your number in front of you to avoid running in reverse.
In the first meters, take a flexible pace. Buddies now await for you at the finish line. You just have now to cross the line with a huge smile for the camera !
So it was not that difficult ...
Welcome in the triathletes family