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Top Tips for Your First Race

Transition at the 2011 Strathmore Women’s Triathlon
Transition at the 2011 Strathmore Women’s Triathlon

You’ve put in the work all winter and you’re getting your head around lining up for your first triathlon this season. Here are five must-follow tips to help you nail your first race.

1. Put your helmet on first: Your helmet must be done up properly before you leave transition or you could face a penalty or even DQ. Make it the first thing you do in T1. To speed this process up, leave it on your handlebars with straps open, ready to throw on.

2. Scope out the entrances and exits of the transition area. Know which archway is for the “Swim In,” “Bike In/ Bike Out” and “Run Out.” If the race has two transition areas be sure to check them both out. It can be very disorienting coming in from the water and running to transition after having been horizontal, so rehearsing where to go can help with nerves and disorientation. Similarly, have a good look at your spot in transition and pick some kind a landmark to help you identify your spot after the swim and bike. The transition area can look very different when it’s half full than it does early morning with many people milling about.

3. Practice putting on and and taking off your wetsuit well before race day. It’s essential that you practice doing so when the suit is wet. This also means you must get in the water with it before race day. Even experienced racers can find that a new wetsuit requires adjustment and getting used to–particularly the feel of it through the chest and arms. If you are renting a wetsuit, consider renting a few days early or for a training day in the weeks before your big event.

4. Set your gearing for leaving T1. Before the race, make sure you leave your bike in transition in the proper gearing for the road out of transition. Don’t be caught in your hardest gear on the mount line or as you try to readjust our shoes in first few hundered metres of the bike course. Pre-ride the first and last few kilometres of the course before the race so you know what you’re in for.

5.Swim straight. Know your line. Avoid swimming any extra metres because you’ve veered significantly off course. Practice sighting every few strokes so you can stay on course. Your Garmin may have you swimming your target pace, but if you only look down, you could be swimming away from where you need to go. Know your line before the start by examining it from different vantage points on the beach. Even if you’re tucked in behind fast feet, regularly check up and beyond the swimmer in front of you to be sure you’re headed where you need to go.