What to expect at your first triathlon

So, now that I am done with my first triathlon, what did I learn? What surprised me?

  • Go to sleep early. Get plenty of rest. Drink lots off water, and eat a carb-rich meal 4 hours before you go to bed.
  • Pack your stuff before you go to bed.
  • Know the maps. Maybe drive the course if possible the day before.
  • Wear a full-body running suit. You may look terrible (I deleted a lot of photos), but you don’t have to fuss with changing clothes later and you will be more comfortable in them.
  • Arrive early. No need to be stressed with sleeping in or getting lost.
  • When you register you receive a swim cap and number. Competitors have their race number marked on their arms and legs, along with having their age group marked on their calf.
  • Athletes set up in one or possibly two transition areas: one for the swim-to-bike transition, and one for the bike-to-run transition.
  • Athletes don their swim gear and head to the swim area. If you can, wear a wetsuit– you spend less time wasting energy on staying warm and afloat. I timed a 20% time improvement!
  • When transitioning from water to bike, take your wetsuit halfway off. Finish taking it off when you get to the bike.
  • The hardest part to me was the run. So, mentally and physically prepare for it and don’t be surprised if you go slower than when you are fresh — you’ve spent a long time swimming and cycling prior!
  • And last but not least, enjoy the post-race goodies.
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2 thoughts on “What to expect at your first triathlon

  1. David, you forgot a couple of things:

    First – Don’t use an old mountain bike with semi-flat tires…trust me. It’s a terrible way to race unless you’re a masochist who enjoys questioning your decision to embark on such a ludicrous event every time you see a hill.

    Second, bourbon is not a good choice of fluid intake the night before. Yes…I know, that sweet Kentucky liver killer tastes so good on the way down, but sweating it out in 90 degree weather is just plain dumb. Again, you’ll regret every time you see and a hill and feel like the Little Drummer Boy came along with you for the race…only he took up residence in your head.

    Third – Be prepared to get kicked by your competitors in the swim. And, more importantly, be prepared to kick back if someone “accidentally” grabs your ankle in the swim. I heard more “shit-talking” in the water portion of the race than at a UGA – ________ (insert any team we play) football game.

  2. Yes. 35 miles on a mountain bike are a lot harder when it was sandwiched with 30 to 45 minutes of swimming prior and 5 or so miles of running after. Borrow a street bike.

    Bourbon, even if “electrolyte juice” enhancement, is not a good pre-race drink.

    The swimming piece is something to behold. It is like a river full of floundering salmon. If it is your first, avoid the kicks by staying back. You aren’t out there to make or break any records this time around.

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