"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
TRANSITIONS: Tale 'O The Turtle
Dear Tri Babes, PLEASE remember that when it comes to the topic of "transitioning," I can't really give
you "black & white," definitive information; I can tell you to start experimenting so that you can figure out a
system that works for you. So, instead of taking my comments as "edicts," consider them as "prompts"
which will help you start thinking about the system YOU want to create.
The first "prompt," I want to give you is that "less is more!!!" The more you think you need, the more you
bring with you, the more frazzled you will be trying to remember what you are supposed to do. And, the
more discombobulated you will feel. Please remember that you will have very little space in your transition
area. So, the more you bring, the more cramped you will feel. And, there IS the "security" issue. Because
the transition area is open to participants and volunteers ONLY (no exceptions; no matter what), the risk
of theft is miniscule. However, the risk of misplacing something and/or losing it to the utter chaos that is
the essence of a triathlon transition area is VERY high. So, before you pack for EVERY contingency,
re-consider and pack only what is absolutely necessary for the most LIKELY contingencies.
The second "suggestion," I have for you is to realize that you are NOT multi-tasking - you are NOT
swimming, and then biking, and then running; you are TRI-ING to do ONE mono-task called a "Triathlon."
Or in other words, stop thinking that you need to bring clothing and gear to "change" for three separate
activities. Instead, you need to create a single foundational layer that is capable of multi-tasking
throughout the day. Then you are going to spend the day adding and subtracting from that foundational
layer based upon what stage of the triathlon you are in currently.
Here is how I do it . . . I start my day naked. Then, I add a sports bra and a pair of form fitting Tri Shorts
that have a very light shammy in them. I put on a pair of sweats and a long sleeved comfy shirt , (perhaps
a jacket if it is a chilly day). I grab my backpack full of Tri Gear and head out because I am set for the
"Pre-Triathlon" Stage. I get myself to the MY Transition Site and shed the sweats, long sleeved comfy
shirt, and jacket. I spray myself with vegetable oil in any conceivable body area that might chafe and then
pull my wetsuit on OVER my sports bra and Tri Shorts. Then, I organize my gear by my bike at my
transition site. Now I am ready to do my reconnaissance of the transition area. I get myself to the actual
place where I will be returning when I get out of the water. I then walk from that "Swim In" location to my
transition site (know as MY T Site). I go from My T Site to the place where I will leave with my Bike (called
Bike Out). Then I go to the spot where I will return from the Bike ride (Bike In) and walk from Bike In back
to MY T Site. Then, I walk from MY T Site to the place where I will leave on the run/walk (known as Run
Out). Once I have made sure that I know how to get back and forth in the Transition Area, I take my
goggles and swim cap down to the water's edge. I am now ready for the Swim Stage of the triathlon. If
logistics permit it, I get in the water and do a 10-15 minute warm-up swim. If logistics do NOT permit such
a warm-up, I walk around in circles, march in place, etc. practicing my Square Breath and visualizing
myself doing the Starfish Float. Then I decide where I want to position myself and await the swim start.
Once the gun goes off, I Happy Hum and count to my Magic Number and make my way around the swim
course. I care not about the entire swim course and, instead, only care about the NEXT course marker
directly in front of me. I get to that marker, rest at it if I want to and then journey on. If at any point
between course markers I don't feel comfortable, I stop swimming and tread water OR Starfish Float while
performing the Square Breath. Once I feel better, I start swimming again. When I get out of the water, I
journey back to MY T Site, strip off my goggles, swim cap and wetsuit. I leave my wet Tri Shorts on,
re-apply my vegetable oil spray/Body Glide and pull my Tri Top (with Race Bib Number already attached)
on OVER my wet Sports bra. I put on my bike helmet, socks, bike shoes, and sunglasses, grab my bike
and walk/run my bike to the Bike Out location in the transition area. I mount my bike ONLY where the
volunteer tells me to and head out on my bike ride. While riding, I NEVER ride beside another biker; I
NEVER ride within 3 bike lengths of a previous biker; I ALWAYS say "on your left" when passing another
biker; I notice ALL directional arrows and signs on the course; I follow the directions of ALL volunteers; I
pull off to the far right and walk my bike up any hills I need to; I cheerfully yell "Tri Babes ROCK" to all
Pink Shirted Sistren I see; and I drink LOTS of water!!! As I am completing the bike ride, I notice WHERE
the volunteers want me to dismount my bike and I follow their directions. I walk/run my bike back to MY T
Site. Once there, I strip off my bike shoes, helmet, and sunglasses. Then I put ON my running cap and
running shoes and head out from MY T Site to the Run Out area. I follow ALL course markers and
volunteer directions. I walk when I need to, run when I can and accept ALL hydration from course
volunteers. I cross the finish line jubilantly and celebrate whatever form that day's comPLETion came in -
slow, fast, pretty, ugly, smelly . . . who CARES? I comPLETEd!!! I make my way to the sidelines and join
the Tri Babes who have finished ahead of me so that we can cheer on those that comPLETE after us!!!
When I can't stand my skanky, stinky self one more minute, I make my way back to MY T Site, cover up
with a HUGE tee-shirt and strip out of all my race clothes. I change into my dry pre-race clothes or other
dry clothes that I have brought and begin basking in my glory - no matter how gory the day was!
My third comment (what the heck, let's just call them what they are, "edicts!") is that while you may be
pressed for space in the transition area, you are allowed to take ALL the time you want to -- regardless of
what that snotty Rabbit will tell you. So, don't let yourself get caught up in the chaos and frenzy of the
race moment. Take a few deep breaths back at YOUR T Site and make sure that you have followed your
prescribed transition organization plan the way that YOU want to. It is MUCH better to waste a few
seconds/minutes in transition "double checking" and preventing likely problems than it is to suffer for the
entire Bike or Run/Walk sections of the event OR to have to frantically return to Your T Site to retrieve a
forgotten gear item like your helmet or running shoes!!!
Whew . . . I promise that doing the triathlon will be less exhausting than reading about it in excruciating
detail. Now that you know the general guidelines, you are welcome to begin perfecting your OWN system.
Here are some common ways that people deviate from my game plan:
~ Use a Race Belt (available at Poulsbo Running) to strap/clasp on your Race Bib Number. This saves
you from having to pin it to your Race Shirt.
~ Pack your triathlon gear in a Bucket rather than a Backpack. This way you can just dump out your
gear, grab what you need, flip the bucket upside down and use it to sit on while putting your shoes and
socks on. When you are dressed, you throw everything back into the bucket and go on your merry way.
~ Bring an extra water bottle for your transition area and use it to wash your feet off between the swim and
~ Have your support spectator carry a back-pack with dry post race clothes, a towel, and some diaper
wipes so that you can get cleaned up and changed right at the finish line. Those wet, sweaty race clothes
feel just fine while you are tri-ing. But the instant you cross that finish line, you want dry clothes!!!!