EAST LONDON 70.3 TRANSITION TIPS
Transition is not a simple time waster between swimming and biking and biking and running. In many ways it should be respected as its own discipline. If in the lead up to 70.3 you haven’t given it some thought (or practise), may I suggest that you do. Transition is an art. If you ever have the chance to watch the pro’s racing, and watch their transitions, there is an economy of motion and the speed at which they can navigate this, sometimes tricky, minefield is seriously impressive.
With only a few weeks to go to 70.3 EL you, my dear reader, will not find a quicker way to shave some time off your race than doing a transition training and spending a little time actually planning your transition. And with that in mind, here are 10 tips to bettering your transition:
- PACK A COLD WATERBOTTLE AND YOUR OWN SUNSCREEN
These are the only non-essentials items I like to add to my transition bag. Yes, the volunteers have sunscreen that they will apply, but I prefer my own. I give the sunscreen to a volunteer to put on me, and while they are doing that, I have a few sips of water to rinse out my mouth and rehydrate before getting on my bike. (Time Saved: –10 seconds) (Bonus points for avoiding skin cancer and being hydrated)
Not having to put socks on for the bike saves having to dry or clean your feet with a towel. I guarantee your feet will be dry at the end of 90km of cycling (unless it’s raining). It also enables you to run barefoot through transitions. If you haven’t ever cycled without socks before, go test it now – you don’t want race day to come and find out you got a blister while cycling. Put socks on for the run. (Time saved: 30seconds).
- LESS IS MORE
A very rookie error is to pack far more things in your transition bag than you will ever need. Hint: leave the bandaids, second pair of socks, face mask, eye liner, hand pump, Vaseline, anti-chafe, and a myriad of other potential time wasters out of your transition bags. The chances of you needing most of those things are fairly slim. Take only exactly what you need. The less the better. A volunteer is most likely going to empty out your entire bag on the floor to help you, so do you really want to stand around and wait for everything to be returned to the bag before you can leave the transition tent? (Time Saved: 20seconds of repacking and searching)
- RACK YOUR BIKE FACING OUT
This allows you to grab your bicycle and immediately start running in the direction that you need to go. (Time saved: 5seconds).
- INFLATE YOUR TIRES ON THE DAY
Nothing is more infuriating than coming to your bike and discovering a puncture. When you rack your bike, let a little air out of the tubes the night before, then pump them up on the day (bearing in mind the expected temperatures so that you don’t over inflate your tubes and land up having to change them in T1. (Time Saved: 2-20min depending on your tire changing skills)
- NOTHING NEW
Don’t try anything new on race day. This includes your nutrition and equipment. Even something as simple as lock laces could cause problems if you have never used them before. Rather take the extra 10seconds to tie up your laces than injure yourself. Also you will hear tons of people offering one another advice, Thank them, note the advice and test it out a week after the race to see if it works for you. (Time Saved: Could be the difference between DNF and finishing)
- FASTEN SHOES TO THE BIKE
Use elastic bands to fasten the shoes to the frame of the bike. Use bands that either are going to snap easily or are obviously going to come off quickly. The bands are used to place your shoes in an easier position to start pedalling. (Come to a transition training to learn how).
Leaving your shoes on the bike and running barefoot through transition (both times) make sense:
- Speed: You are much much faster barefoot than you are shuffling along in your cycling cleats. The number of people you overtake in transition are that many people you don’t need to worry about being accused of drafting or having to get passed later on the bike. Even if your goal is not winning or placing – there is a feeling of satisfaction in being able to do things faster.
- Safety: (If you are not convinced by reason A) - your cycling/tri shoes and cleats were probably not designed for running. Shuffling during a race on your cleats is awkward, uncomfortable and if you twist an ankle may be the end of your race. Why not learn how to get on and off the bike “properly” so that you don’t risk injuring yourself.
Yes, I said properly – you’re just being scared – Learning how to do this makes it safer don’t pretend that you are at less risk hobbling along in your cleats and so you ignore this piece of advice.
- It Looks and feels Really Cool: While other people hobble out of the tent and then struggle to “quickly” push their bike out of transition you can prance past them like Dee-Dee entering Dexter’s Laboratory and amaze your fellow athletes with your incredible prowess.
(Time Saved: 30sec-1min) (Bonus Points for Coolness also added)
- PACKING YOUR TRANSITION BAG
Your bike and transition bags need to be racked the day before you race. However this does not mean that you need to leave everything in your bags and on your bike overnight. I have on more than one occasion left a bag of marbles or a rock (VERY IMPORTANT: remove this before the race) in each transition bag overnight and only brought my actual “goodies” the morning of race day. Think about it - if it’s raining the day before the race, do you really want your running shoes to potentially get sopping wet and then sit soaking overnight in your transition bag? Or have your water bottles lukewarm before even starting the race? Or, or, or?
(Time Saved: 0 for the race, but comfort and peace of mind have no price)
- WALK TRANSITION
If you do nothing else, DO THIS!!! The day before the race, then again on race day, walk the transitions (a few times). See exactly the path you need to run from the water to the transition zone, walk the route you need to take to get to your transition bag, then to the tent/changing area, then to your bike and then from your bike to the bike out.
While your bike and both your bags have allocated spots, learn exactly where they are. Make note of special things to look out for. I like to find “markers” to focus on to get to my things. For example at my last EL 70.3 my bike bag was: turn left as you enter transition, hug the fence. There was white line spray painted on the floor and the 2nd bag on the top hook after that paint was mine. – So much easier than trying to count race numbers. I have seen athletes completely melt down crying because they cannot find their bag or their bike. – DON’T BE ONE OF THEM!
I also then go to the bike in, (At 70.3 EL volunteers will usually take your bike for you) walk the route I would take to get to my run bag, then walk the route to the transition tent and then the route out of the tent to the run out. Actually physically walking and visualising yourself running these routes are the keys to memorising them. You have plenty of time to prepare in transition the day before, so use it.
(Time Saved: 10sec to however long it may take you to find your lost bicycle or transition bag)(Bonus Points for Confidence)
- PRACTISE TRANSITION BEFORE GOING TO EAST LONDON
Transitions are an important part of the race, many new athletes and even a few older ones spend far more time than is actually required in the transition zone. Changing clothes, putting on your cleats, sunscreen, running shoes, or removing and placing things back in your transition bag all takes time. If possible actually practise exactly how you want to do all these things. Ask your coach for a training session or contact me ;) and book a session through the MTD website. – I promise you in an hour and a half session I will have you getting on and off a moving bicycle with consummate ease and answer all questions you may have to your hearts content as well as help you plan both your transitions to save you time. (Time Saved: All of the above)
And just as importantly….
GO TO THE RACE BRIEFING.
If you don’t go to the race briefing – you may never get the chance to even get to transition. The race briefing is there for a reason. You get to be informed about changes, the latest rules, routes, plans, etc. You get to see the race organisers and often officials AND hear about just what can and can’t get you disqualified. Remember the officials have the last say, if you break their rules (e.g. Not wearing a helmet while riding your bike – even if it’s around town before the race) you can be disqualified. (Time Saved: All the hours you put into training and travelling)
For all those doing their first Ironman event, this is an amazing race. The spectators are fantastic and out in force - it really is an awesome day out! To all participants: Race well, Do your best, have fun.