When triathletes train, they tend to focus mainly on swimming, biking and running. However, the time elapsed during transition portion of your race can be the difference between winning gold — or coming up a stride too short.
I competed in 2011 USAT Junior National Championships in San Diego, CA as a junior elite athlete. This was my first national-level triathlon, and I was a mixture of excited and nervous. My training had been going really well, and I was stoked to see the outcome of all my hard work.
The swim portion of the race went really well! I ended up coming out of the water in 3rd place and was in the zone to hang with the lead bike pack. But when I got to the transition area, I encountered major complications.
Transition at USAT Junior Elite Nationals!
I got my helmet and sunglasses on quickly, but as I went to pull out my bike from the rack, it wouldn’t budge! Somehow my bike had gotten tangled up with a youth elite girls bike on the other side of the rack! Panic struck at this point, and I was freaking out. My emotions did not help solve the problem. It took me about 20 seconds to get my bike untangled, just enough time to watch the lead pack leave me (every second matters in such a short race) and I was stuck by myself for the first loop of the bike portion.
My legs died out as I watched many bike packs pass me — and although I finished the race, I did not finish where I wanted to in the pack.
Although my race didn’t go as planned, I learned a huge lesson: expect the unexpected, especially in transition. What I learned from my race is to stay calm when something goes wrong, so you can more easily solve the problem If you stay calm during a race, you can think quicker/more efficiently and you can go for the gold!
YoungTri Executive Board Member & Swimmer at University of Texas at Austin