When I began in the triathlon world, I had no idea what transition was all about. I heard stories of athletes taking breaks to sit, eat, or even put on make-up before leaving for the next part of the triathlon. The fact that time in transition counts towards the overall time was not something I really thought about or appreciated at my first triathlon.
At my first tri, I wore a one-piece swimsuit. I swam competitive in a pool for eight years and was used to swimming in a bathing suit. But, what I didn’t think about was the bike and run. For the bike, I threw bike shorts on top of my suit, sunglasses (even in the rain to protect my eyes while on the bike), running socks/shoes, and my bike helmet.
During the bike to run transition is where I lost time. Why? I needed a bathroom stop but still had on my bathing suit. I took my run clothes with me into the port-o-pottie to change. For this race, port-o-potties are located within transition but this is not always the case. This mini stop definitely added time to my overall race time.
After this race, I began focusing more on what happens in transition and asked a lot of questions. Many great tips were shared and through trial and error, I made a lot of changes for my second tri. Some of these include:
- Know that one cannot be naked in transition! For my second tri, I wore bikini bottoms with a zippered tri-top over a running bra. This allowed for running shorts to be pulled over the bikini bottoms for the bike then run and I could change tops between bike and run.
- Transition starts at home with packing the backpack. After the rainstorm in my first tri, I now place what I need in separate labeled Ziploc bags.
- Bring a small bright towel or mat to place items in transition under the bike. But, be aware that items can blow or roll away unless they are weighted down in some manner.
- Once the bike is on the rack, athletes have a very small space to work with. Be economical in how items are packed and placed. Place items in the order they are needed.
So, what is in my backpack?
- Swim – goggles (two pairs – one reflective and one clear), swim cap, and anti-fog spray
- Bike – helmet, gloves, sunglasses, nutrition, water bottle (already on bike), socks (covered with baby powder), shoes, and shorts
- Run – running shirt with bib attached, nutrition, phone, and hat (when raining)
- Additional items – sunscreen, bug spray, tennis ball, extra hair-ties, flip flops, extra set of contacts, glasses, contact solution, baby wipes, and clean set of shorts and shirt to change into after race
What’s in your bag? What have you seen on a list that surprised you? Many companies create checklists – check out Ironman, REI, Time to Tri, and Training Peaks for some ideas for your own checklist. Good luck in your packing!