Sunday Morning: Transition Set-up, Part 2 of 7 for 2010 Triathlon Recap

Post Triathlon Recap Part 2 of 7. I started writing up a recap of my event, and it kept growing and growing and growing. I decided to break it up. The purpose of the recap is give new people the thoughts and ideas they can use to help them prepare for their own future first endurance event!
Chicago Triathlon Swim Start

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP- Transition Time

Transition set-up is early. When you plan on doing a triathlon, no one really tells you that you have to be up at 3:30am even though your start time might not be until 7:52 or even later (9:36am). That’s right.

You have to wake-up and get your bike, your bike/run gear into the transition area and set-up before they lock the transition area off for the event by 5:45am.

Now thinking back on it, I should have expected this. How can you have people setting up a transition area, when racers are motoring through converting from swim mode to bike mode.

So awake I did.  In fact, it was difficult sleeping.  I could have set-up my transition at 2:00am if they let me.

While I was in transition, I’m looking for a spot. Experts say get to set-up early and try to get a spot near the end of your rail.

I couldn’t find my wave number. Finally, I found it. It was hidden under a tree. Yet, I had a sweet spot as I was near the end of the number.  Near me, around the tree, was open running alley that I could use to get near the fence line between the sprint racers and the international distance racers.

Now, that I’ve done one Triathlon.  One suggestion I do is actually practice your transition about a month before your event. What I mean by that is put out your items on the floor. Then, slowly and methodically go through the process of putting on your socks, shoes, etc.  This will help shorten your transition time and prevent you from forgetting anything.

Forget Anything?

One thing I did forget but remembered as I was a couple of steps from my transition area was my Heart Rate Monitor. Since I always trained with it, I felt like it would be a good idea for me to have during my bike and I stopped went back and grabbed it. Had I prepared and practice my transition more often, I’m sure that would have been avoided. Also, I think I will wear my heart rate monitor during the swim to avoid even having to worry about it during the transition. I was little worried it would be uncomfortable under my wet-suit. I don’t think that will be the case.

During the transition set-up, I walked to the bike-out area. I took mental pictures of me jogging out my bike. I also tried to mentally picture jogging my bike-in to converting from bike mode to run mode. I decided the path I was going to take. I’m glad I did that, because I had no decisions to make during the transition about how I was going to find my bike. I just followed the path. I didn’t do any crazy balloon or tape jobs like some people did. I just looked for my unique striped towel. That was a good idea. Bring a one of kind towel to put on the ground. It will re-assure you when you see it during transition that you’re in the right spot. Also, I walked to the swim-out, run-out transition spots. Again, I took mental pictures of the path I was going to take to find my bike. I went back a couple of times to my bike to make sure no one messed with my spot or squeezed it too much. All was fine.

Finally, I walked from the swim-out to the water exit area.  The idea again was to try to get the lay of the land and prepare myself for the actions I would need to take in just a couple of hours.  I walked the length of the swim. I checked out the water. It looked fine.

Despite the early set-up time, I have to say the whole transition set-up was really fun. I mean can you imagine there are 8,000+ triathletes all doing the same thing as you. Chicago and London duke it out for the title of the largest Triathlon in world. All these triathletes are out there pre-dawn focused on the task at hand. It really is very exciting, and the total energy was enormous. So, even though there are butterflies, I was having fun.

I went back to the swim start area. I wanted to watch the first swimmers off. Then, as I’m standing there waiting. The event announcer asked everyone to rise for the National Anthem.

Whoa, I am at a sporting event. That was a cool surprise to hear the national anthem pre-sunrise with bunches of other competitors and spectators.  I was pretty inspired.


The first waves got in the water even before the official sun-rise. There were a few clouds at the horizon that was keeping us shaded for a bit. After about 4 waves of swimmers (16 minutes), the sun decided to peak out from the clouds and the rays of sunlight was a beautiful yet powerful foreshadowing for the rest of the day. I decided to lighten my pre-swim gear bag and to do a pre-race restroom break. I walked about 10 minutes to my hotel room. I wasn’t worried about waking my family. Jen is a light sleeper, and I knew she would be up when I got up. I’m glad I went back, because I’m not sure that my bag would have fit in the swim-gear check bags they were handing out.

Tune in next time to see how my swim went.

Part 1:  Expo Day
Part 2:  Transition Set-up
Part 3:  The Swim
Part 4:  The Bike
Part 5:  The Run, if you must call it that.
Part 6:  Post Race.  Will I do a triathlon again?
Part 7:  Race Day Gear Thoughts

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