One of my earliest memories of Bill Black, the Triathlon Academy coach, is when he was commentating on one of my races earlier this year. I was in transition and struggling to get my bike shoes on with any kind of grace. His comment over the loud speaker was something along the lines of “Could this girl be any slower? Has she forgotten she is in a race?”
I’ve never actually told Bill that this was me he was teasing for the benefit of public amusement. Instead, I’ve kept quiet and concentrated hard on his transition lessons, vowing never again to be the victim of commentary ridicule.
Happily, I think I’ve recently had something of a breakthrough.
I’ve now accomplished the elastic band trick, which seems to at least have the effect of making me look a little more like I know what I’m doing. Still a little slow getting the shoes on and off while I am cycling, but at least by this point I’m out of sight of the commentary box!
Bill has made us practice the T1 routine – wetsuit, helmet, sunglasses, bike and go – so that we don’t need to think about it. Having also tamed the ‘scoot on’ and ‘scoot off’ the bike – essential for keeping the bike moving out of T1 and into T2 – I’ve managed to shave a good few seconds off both transitions.
I tried this out last week at the King Sturge Property Triathlon. It all went smoothly – well, at least the bike mount and dismount bit did anyway. Unfortunately, I had two minor incidents that put all those seconds saved from the scooting and the elastic bands back on.
In T1 I managed to drop my sunglasses while running at full speed, catapulting them to the next row of racks. I decided it was worth the time to go back for them – a decision I won’t make again.
The T2 mishap was out of my control entirely, as a group of marshals decided to brief the next wave of swimmers right in the middle of the racking aisle. Yelling at them furiously as I dismounted and ran into the transition area, I assumed they would move so didn’t reduce my running speed. Next thing is a pile of me, bike and high-vis clothing as I take out two marshals who didn’t quite cotton on in time after all.
This time, the transition practice didn’t necessarily pay off for me. But the groundwork is there and I’m ready to save myself some time in T1 and T2 at the London Tri in a few weeks. I wouldn’t say I have got it perfect, but I hope I’m now at least safe from the commentator mockery.