Ironwoman Wednesday: Transitions

It’s time for another Ironwoman Wednesday, a weekly link-up brought to you by Jamie at From Couch to Ironwoman, Michelle at IronwomanStrong and myself! We’re all training for Ironman Louisville and are talking triathlon every Wednesday. (Checkout Tri Talk Tuesday for more triathlon-related talk).

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It has been amazing to share my Ironman journey with Jamie and Michelle and I’m so excited to have more of you join us every week!  It’s actually been so motivating, that I have decided to keep the link-ups open through our race date on August 24! So if you have any post about swimming, open water swimming, cycling, running or nutrition check out our other link-ups and add your posts! I love reading your stories!

Today’s we’re talking transitions.

This topic is kind of a fitting at this point of my life because just like my favorite shirt says life is truly one big transition and this month I am right in the middle of it as I am leaving one job, starting a new one, and taking on all of kinds of fun but challenging new ventures!

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Love my One More Mile shirt

Ironman training has taught me a lot about life; organization, balance, time management, discomfort and happiness…you practice it all during triathlons and transitions!

Organization: While I have a lot of respect for her, you do not want to be Jessica who biked the entire 112 miles of Ironman Cozumel barefoot, BAREFOOT!  Planning out your transitions is absolutely key! I use checklists and a visualization of the process to make sure all my stuff makes it to transition. Another key to organization is making sure you don’t bring too much. Your space is limited, so you’ve got to maximize (I swear triathlons have made me a better packer when I travel!)

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I like to lay it all out and walk through my day before putting everything in the designated bags.

Discomfort & Happines All At Once: When you reach T1 and T2, you are super excited about finishing the discipline you just finished, and, at least for me, simultaneously experiencing some discomfort. You’re ecstatic that you’ve finished the swim, but are wet and getting on a bike for potentially a long time..it’s not comfortable. Or you’ve just gotten of the bike and are running around on super wobbly legs.

My first every transition!

My very first transition back in 2009!

Balance: You have to find the balance between your happiness, the adrenaline and the discomfort. You don’t want to rush through transition too quickly (remember your helmet!) or start the next leg too fast. At the same time, you also don’t want to focus too much on the discomfort…trust me thinking about the daunting 13.1 miles ahead while in T2, don’t do it!

Time Management: Efficiency is key in transitions. You can chose to take 5 minutes, like I did at Raleigh 70.3, or you can fly through there like I did at Nations. Whatever you choose, transition times do count and most of us set transition time goals just like we set swim, bike and run goals!

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My transition at Nation’s Tri 2013

In shorter distance triathlons you typically have one transition area and you are allowed to lay out your gear. This helps, because you can see everything and review your checklist twice!

In this type of transition, you rack your bike, set up your stuff either next to your bike and get ready to go! Note, your space is often small and you set up your stuff next to your bike, behind the bike of the person across from you.

For longer distances it’s a different ball game, because you’ll often have two separate transitions. In this case, you typically drop your bike off the day before (if it’s a hot day, take some air out of your tires and refill them in the morning). You drop off your T2 bag either the night before or the next morning (yes, you part with your run stuff for a long time, so make sure it’s all there!) Then you can set up the contents of your bike bag when you get to T1 in the morning…unless it’s an Ironman.

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You drop this stuff off at 4am and don’t see it until sometime between 1-5pm on a half or full ironman day!

For the full Ironman, and some shorter distances, you actually get a changing tent!

IMG_4588I’ve only had this opportunity once before at the ChesapeakeMan Bugeye Classic (it happened at the same time as the half and full distance), but I didn’t even enter the tent because all I needed was my running shoes.

I basically handed off my bike to a volunteer, called out my bib number and was handed my bag. I took out my race bib, hat and running shoes, took off my helmet, gloves and bike shoes, put the run gear on and the bike gear in the bag and I was off!

That’s probably the thing I need to remember most in these types for transitions: You must leave everything but your bike and things on the bike (hydration/nutrition) in your gear bags both before and after transition. In Louisville, I’m going to be spoiled, because apparently a volunteer does it all for you at Ironman events. I think I can stop being a control-freak and let someone spoils me post-2.4 swim and 112-mile bike!

Has anyone had a volunteer walk them through their gear bags before? How do you set up your transition area? Are you fast at transitions or do you take your time? So many questions!



5 comments
  1. I always “talk” my way through the whole race as I pack everything for transition. That’s the only way I don’t forget something. I’m training for my first 70.3 and little worried that I will not have something need! I feel like I need to pack a suitcase of the “justincase” stuff!!! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    • For me it’s such a balance of don’t bring too much, but bring everything you need. Talking/walking through the race and visualizing the steps is definitely my key to success!

      Happy to find another triathlete! You should join us for our weekly link-ups! We’ve had swim, bike, run, nutrition so far and have mental skills (which you mentioned in your post), strength training, training load and more coming up!

  2. Great tips! I haven’t had to experience the transition bags yet, our 70.3 and 100 mile tri were non-Ironman races, so I’m not used to that part yet. I definitely write lists, put things out and in bags and check things multiple times!

  3. You are truly amazing. I wish I could be good at 3 sports, but alas, I am just a runner (although I do love a good spin class). I haven’t ruled a tri out completely, but I am TERRIFIED of the swim portion. My good friend is training for her first IM in August, I love hearing about her training!

    • Thank you!! IM training has been an amazing, exhausting, empowering experience. You can totally do it! I used to have an intense fear of open water swimming and now I love it!

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