Monday, 6 July 2015

Triathlon countdown - Getting my kit off

Now, as well as the obvious challenge of swimming, then cycling, then running one after the other, there is another aspect of my imminent triathlon that has been preying on my mind - the transitions.

The transitions are the bits in between the swim, the cycle and the run when you "transition" from one discipline to the next. Proper triathletes refer to them as the fourth discipline as speed in transition can make all the difference between first and second place.

In my case though, as a complete novice, the sole purpose of the transitions seems to be to add to my worries about what could go wrong on the day. The one that has been causing me the most concern is Transition 1, between the swim and the bike. At this point, I will need to drag myself out of the lake (feeling exhausted and possibly dizzy), run to my bike (remembering where I left it), remove my wetsuit (easier said than done) before putting on my socks, trainers, cycle helmet and finally unracking my bike.

In case you're wondering (and a few people have asked me this) I will be wearing something under my wetsuit! I have a trisuit which is a fetching all-in-one lycra suit a bit like a swimsuit with shorts, a vest-style top and a bit of padding for the bike. It's far too figure-hugging in my opinion and is definitely not the kind of thing I would normally be seen wearing in public but after already posting some fairly unflattering triathlon-related pictures of myself on this blog, I'm beginning to lose my inhibitions ... as well as my dignity!

If you've ever watched the Brownlees in action, you will have seen them emerge from the lake and run to their bikes whilst effortlessly stripping off their wetsuits to their waist. When they reach their bikes, they just slide their legs out of the wetsuit, grab their bikes and off they go. They make it look so easy. In actual fact, triathlon wetsuits are extremely clingy when dry and even worse when wet. Mine is very tight around the wrists and this has been causing me to have cold sweats about getting my arms stuck half in and half out of my wetsuit.

After doing a bit of research, I was pleased to discover that you can buy special lubrication for triathletes to help with wetsuit removal ("suit lube"). So, on Saturday afternoon, with two weeks to go before the big day, the time had come to practise my transitions in our back garden and to put my new suit lube to the test. My children were particularly excited as they had an important role to play in this aspect of my training.

Here's what I did.

1. Got kitted out in full triathlon gear - sports bra, trisuit, wetsuit, swimming hat and goggles, spraying myself with a liberal amount of suit lube on my lower arms and legs. This is not one of my normal Saturday afternoon activities, I hasten to add!

2. Roped in my children to throw water over me and make sure I was completely soaked. They took their challenge very seriously (obviously) and I was indeed soaked. I'm not sure what the neighbours thought about all the shrieks of laughter coming from the other side of the hedge as I endured my own ice bucket challenge!
3. Ran around the garden whilst unzipping the back of my wetsuit with the children shouting encouragement and ... the moment of truth ... pulling the sleeves over my hands. Pop! Left hand out. Pop! Right hand out. To my huge relief the suit lube worked a treat!

4. Ran to my towel, slipped my legs out of my wetsuit, again without any problems (phew!), dried my feet, put on my socks, trainers, sunglasses and helmet and ran down the path to the front of the house to cheers of "Go on Mum!" from the children.

5. Grabbed my bike and cycled off into the distance.

All in all, I was relieved that my first transition practice went to plan and this has helped put my mind at rest. At least I now know that on the day of my triathlon I should have no problem getting my kit off.

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