Occasional postings about Maz and Si's big adventures

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Dr Curly's Guide to Your First Triathlon

All triathletes need to start somewhere - and it might as well be here. Dr Curly, triathlete of literally hours' experience, has produced a comprehensive guide for the "successful" completion of your first triathlon.  No prior experience required.  Here are some of the highlights:

Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
Or so they say. I recommend a maximum of two weeks' advance notice that you are going to do your first triathlon.  If your mate, (Sven), has done an Ironman and your boss is a triathlete, this will add to the perceived pressure and you won't be able to resist. Two weeks is more than enough to cram in some training and learn almost all there is to know about participation in this new activity.

Being able to swim is a bonus.  Being able to swim 750 metres in open water, preferably without drowning or stopping is a double bonus.  I suggest that you check you can do this at least a few days before your race.

As you stand in the water on race day and look around, everyone else will be wearing full wetsuits and swimming caps while you will be wearing a borrowed, vintage, ripped (oops), armless suit and no cap, ignore it - more smug satisfaction for you when you get out of the water... even if it is a few minutes after everyone else.  At least you didn't stop.  Or drown.

As you "transition" or, as I like to say, "change", from one discipline to the next, you can save valuable seconds.  Speed, agility and preparation are key.  "Tri-suits" ( full suits for all disciplines worn under the wetsuit), are cheating.  As are stretchy laces or quick-access cycle shoes. Really you should have to put on a shirt and shorts.  Try not to have safety pinned your race number through both the back and front of your shirt at the same time. (This rookie error was brought to you by Sven).

Gears, carbon fibre and anything aerodynamic are cheating. Dr Curly recommends a single speed bike every time. You'll probably be the only one on a single speed, but your colour co-ordination will be improved and another smug point will be yours.  More spectators will notice you too as you remove your bike from the now nearly empty rack in the transition zone.  Add a smug point for each competitor you pass not on a single speed as you ride. Bonus smug points if they are wearing a pointy helmet!

Preparing your bike is paramount.  Try to do this the night before the race, after a couple of beers.  Add new peddles, new shoes and mess with the seat height.  This ensures a "challenging" 20km on the bike for race day.

Punctures are to be avoided.  This is especially true when your puncture repair kit doesn't actually include the right spanner to take off your wheel as you don't have quick release skewers. 

For most, a run of 5km sounds like no big deal.  This is essentially true. On your first triathlon you will discover that running 5km after the swim and the cycle actually feels a little hard.   If you've prepared your bike the night before with the cleats too far forward and the seat too high, your calves should at this point already be jelly, and the run will be a painfully satisfying experience.

Silver lining
With all the errors on your first event the second can only see an improvement...  Or at least next time I'll beat that fat chap.

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