So you want to have a quick and successful T1.
As the season approaches I’ll be doing a series of posts breaking down the race into its sections and offering some tips. There’ll be some stuff for the first timers, and some for amateurs looking to be more competitive in their age group. I was going to start with general race morning stuff but I was asked a question by someone getting ready for a race how to get out of their wetsuit quickly. So I figured I’ll do this one a little out of order. I’ll get to the wetsuit but will take a look at T1 (Transition 1), that’s the transition from swim to bike, in general.
First off. If it’s your first race and your not looking to do a brilliant time don’t sweat this stuff. It’s not all crucial. Likewise for some of you out there some of the basics that follow you can ignore as you already know it.
So, the foundation for a quick T1 starts before the race. Of course you want your transition area to be neat and organized, but maybe even more important you want to know how to get there and get there quickly. It’s one thing to be able to walk around and find your spot. It’s another to run to it with your heart rate skyrocketing, feeling nauseous, with shouting around you, and competitors pushing and shoving. So practice running to your spot from the swim entrance and then practice running from your spot to the bike out section. Second thing. Find out where the mount line is. That’s the spot that if you get on your bike before then you’ll be hit with a time penalty anywhere from 15sec to 4min depending on what level of competition and category you race in. Either way, it’s not worth it. Find the line. Memorize where it is. And remember to run a few steps past and then mount your bike once the race is on.
Cool. So now you know where all that is. Let’s get to the nitty gritty of executing T1. For the beginners not looking for time. While you're swimming wait to get up and start walking/jogging out of the water until your hand brushes the bottom of the ramp, or water bed. Then get up. DON’T start taking your wetsuit off until you are out of the water. If it’s half down or so and for whatever reason you have to swim again you won’t be able to effectively and could be quite dangerous. So wait. And remember when you get vertical you may feel a little dizzy, thats normal from going from a horizontal position to vertical one. It’ll pass.
For you guys looking to do it dirty fast. 200-300 meters out, start kicking a little more. Especially if you have a slow two-beat to four-beat kick. This starts waking up the leg muscles a little. Prepare yourself that what is coming. It is going to suck. Your going to feel dizzy and probably a little nauseous. Especially when you start running after swimming and you HR jumps up a few more beats. Keep swimming until your hand hits the bottom. Then it’s usually good to execute two or three dolphin dives. These will help you get to the point where it is ALWAYS easiest and fastest to run. And run with those high knees and feet out to clear the water. When you start running you don’t want to be dragging your legs in the water. That’ll slow you down a lot. So high knees!
As you are running googles up (not off). With your left hand grab your velcro closure with your right grab the zipper cord. Pull them in opposite directions. From their I always reach over with my right hand and grab my left shoulder to free the left arm first. Hard and fast and you’ll get it out. Then the opposite. I push the suit down to my waist so I can still run, but my torso is free. Then, now that my hands are free I take my goggles and swim cap off. By now I should be at my bike or at least getting there. Put your goggles and cap away (or in a box if required by the race). Push the suit down to your ankles. Now. If you are skilled and have applied some lube and have trimmed the ankles of your wetsuit (more on that later— but basically cutting a few inches off your wetsuit legs) while you are putting on your sunglasses first, then helmet and buckling it you are stepping on your wetsuit to free your feet. If an ankle gets caught or you are having issues getting it over your timing chip, you can always reach down get some fingers in there and help it over your feet. Put the wetsuit out of the way so no one trips. Don’t just leave it in the middle of the transition area. Grab your bike. AND RUN!!!!! To the mount line. two steps over jump on top of your bike shoes which should be rubber-banded so that they are open and parallel to the ground. Feet on top and start pedaling. Wait until you get clear and some momentum so you can reach down and get your feet in your shoes and secure them. Make sure before the start of the race that you are in the right gear. You don’t want to be in a super hard gear so that you struggle starting. You also don’t want to be in the easiest so that you’re spinning at 95rpm to gain that momentum. Something nice and in the middle will do.