Going into my first sprint triathlon, I consulted a lot of endurance sport buddies for tips and suggestions. I purposely picked the Sullivan Civic Center Triathlon because I knew it was small, laid back and would be okay if I made some mistakes. After completing the tri, I realized most of their tips were right on and I also learned a few lessons to carry onto my next event, which is the more competitive, crowded, and actually sanctioned Chicago Triathlon in late August.
Tips and Lessons Learned:
Be prepared to be kicked, scratched and swam over in the swim. Even though the swim leg of the Sullivan Tri was in a pool, it didn't stop the faster swimmers from bull-dozing any slower swimmers in their way.
- Take your time in the transition from swim to bike. Taking an extra minute to fully prepare yourself for the bike is not going to have that big of an impact on your overall time. And come on, if it's your first tri, you're probably not going to win anyway, so take your time for this important transition.
- To speed up the transition, you may want to invest in a tri suit. This is a one piece suit that you can wear for the swim and continue to wear for the bike and the swim. Otherwise, like me, you'll be attempting to change behind a towel with people watching you in transition and wasting time when everyone else is just putting on shoes, socks and helmets and are on their way to the bike.
- Lay out your towel, shoes, socks, energy gels, and anything else you may need by your bike for the transition. Roll your socks, so that they'll easily slip on when you're feet are wet after the swim.
- Invest in a decent bike. I invested in my first road bike and was so glad I did! It made me feel a lot more competitive even though there were still triathletes making me jealous speeding past me on their tri bikes. It probably would have helped if I went on a few more long rides rather than just relying on my Express Spin class at my gym to carry me through the 12 mile bike.
- Check out the bike and run routes prior to the race. It will help you plan how much effort you want to burn throughout the legs, and will keep disappointment out if you have to do the bike lap twice to get to the mileage needed. It will also help you avoid doing extra mileage in the run if you miss the turn to the finish ;)
- Going from the bike to the run will feel weird! My butt hurt, my legs felt like lead, I definitely recommend practicing that transition prior to the event. It wasn't until mile 2 during my 5k that I felt like I was running normally.
- Don't forget to take you bike helmet off before the run!
- Just because it's a sprint, doesn't mean you can blow off training. I'm training for a half marathon right now, and I grew up a competitive swimmer, so I knew that no matter what I would muddle my way through the event. I definitely wish that I would have actually went through a formal training program to prepare myself. Completing three competitive events in a row is a lot different then training and racing them separately. Train hard and practice back to back workouts by going straight from a swim workout to bike workout and bike workout to run.
- Celebrate being done with the first tri! You deserve it!
What other tips do you have for a first tri?