11 Things That Have Gone Wrong for Every Triathlete in a Race

November 6th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By: Raquel Torres

It doesn’t matter how many Triathlons you have competed in everyone has experienced  these common things that go wrong.  The more important aspect is how are YOU going to handle it when it happens!

Especially for a beginner, you need to know that things do not always go right even for a pro athlete.  You can’t let  things that go wrong ruin your experience during an event.  Part of  the challenge of a Triathlon is overcoming situations that are out of our control  even including  Mother Nature.  Triathlons offer many benefits not available in other sports, such as avoiding injuries since you doing a variety of training and a great number of psychological benefits.  The  satisfaction of improving, resilience and determination are only a few of the many abilities and skills we develop as individuals as we overcome the challenges of a triathlon, thus strengthening our self-esteem. The following situations can happen in a triathlon to anyone regardless of their experience level:

  1. Getting water in the goggles during the swim. It can happen as another athlete strokes or kicks us and our goggles fall off. Also its common when the googles develop fog and we lose visibility. Solutions: Keep calm, take a deep breath, think positively, find the space to correct what is needed and take your time in this process. It’s better to get the water out or clean the googles than to continue swimming without good visibility, in the long run you will lose more time and energy unless you correct the issue.
  2. To get lost in the water, bike or run. It can happen in the water as you start to follow another swimmer by aiming at their feet or due to loss of visibility and becoming disoriented. Simple solutions: Stop, re-establish correct direction, swimming straight and breathing in front and using a quick glance in front. On the bike or run it is very common to lose the trail so it is very important to study the route.  Remember that it is your responsibility as an athlete to know how many laps you are suppose to do and keep track of how many you have done. We don’t want to leave the trail, do extra laps or less than required and risk disqualification.
  3. To feel that our breathing rate is accelerated more than the usual or to feel that we are outside our “ideal breathing” rate (It happens to all of us sometimes), due to multiple reasons such as not having a proper warmup, very cold water temperature, starting too fast, nerves or adrenaline. Solutions: deep breaths and positive thinking will help to adjust the breathing rate. In events over 200 meters in open water, experts recommend to breathe every 2 strokes so to give sufficient oxygen to our brain and body. Clarification, this is not recommended for training sessions it is to do during the event in open water and for the first meters.
  4. The feeling of heavy arms or legs during the swim. (Due to lactic acid accumulation) Solution: Focus on breathing well and with more frequency, give it some time, keep calm and positive as it will subside in a few minutes. If necessary, take a rest by swimming on your back (its legal to also hold on to a boat or kayak to rest).
  5. Dizziness and loss of visibility after the swim. Loss of balance , tripping or loss of breathing rhythm as you make your way to the bike transition are all very common things as we make the switch from swimming in a horizontal position to running in a vertical stance. Solutions: Remember there is #noshame. If we trip, simply get up, take a deep breath and keep going. It is always a good idea to take our time or pause, I believe that the transition is an opportunity to recover as needed.
  6. Needing to use the restroom right before the start. Solution: #Adaptation lol. It is good to always carry toilet paper or wipes and try to plan at which moment on race day are we going to stand in line to use the bathroom before the start.
  7. Not finding the bike or gear when you arrive to the transition. Solution: Keep calm, find an immediate solution or ask for help, always with a positive attitude. Ideally its best to study the bike location and your transition space. This is to be done after we set up all the gear in the transition area before the start. With hundreds of bikes it can be hard to find yours. A tip is to use a bright towel to set your gear on top.
  8. Mechanical problems with bike like flat tires. Most events provide some type of technical support, but remember that this help is not always prompt, keep in mind that it may take 10-30 minutes to resolve the problem and in events such as an Olympic Triathlon of over 2 hours it is worth to solve the problem and continue the race. Always remaining calm as we don’t want to spend energy in negative vibes.
  9. Being afraid on the bike. It could be the downhills, other racers passing close or riding too close, or being afraid to reach for our water bottles. It helps to practice before the race (ride with friends and practice the action of taking your water bottle and drinking from it). Another tip to consider to become more comfortable and sure of yourself is to be deliberatively obvious in your movements as to show other riders what your movement intentions are. Look in all directions before you adjust your position on your bike (in route). It’s important to make your movement and position changes slowly to avoid sudden and unpredictable changes. The rules and riding etiquette are very similar to those of driving a car. It is imperative to read the event rules before the race. This will better prepare you and make you feel more secure in yourself to minimize stress and nerves. Again, in a triathlon, the athletes are exerting themselves greatly and many are beginners. In these conditions, less blood is flowing to the brain and thoughts and reflexes may not be at 100% which necessitates our need to remain alert.
  10. Back pain, cramps, stomach problems or other digestive problems. (Vomiting or #1 & #2 bathroom needs). It could be a new or existing problem and depending on the race distance and the condition of the athlete many digestive related problems can occur. In races of over 2 hours it is required to consume some food along with hydration and for multiple reasons sometimes our body is not able to digest properly. During a strenuous event like triathlons our blood flow to the digestive system is reduced making the process slow and sometimes halting the process. It is critical to practice several sessions taking in the nutrition exactly as we plan to eat during the race. In many events heat may also affect the digestion. Something to also mention here is that many athletes will urinate on the bike or running be it by accident or simply because that is the only option. In many cases of stomach pain the body has the amazing ability to recover and deep breathing always helps. If you get cramps, its ok to stop, stretch, hydrate or take salt tablets or electrolytes. If you get back pain it will help to take short breaks by lifting up from the seat on the bike and also to shift the hand position on the handlebars. To prevent back pain it is important to work on core muscle exercises to strengthen the core such as sit ups, back extension at least 2 times per week. (Ex. Planks)
  11. Start the race too fast. You will later feel as if your body is shutting down. It’s a good idea to practice what is called “Bricks” = When you do two of the disciplines one after the other. (Ex. Bike + Run or Swim + Bike). In a triathlon at the start of the race, the legs will often feel heavy after the bike, so try to start the run with shorter strides than usual and adjust gradually as your body becomes used to the new discipline.

Remember that each and every one of these tips should always be taken with the understanding that they will be applied depending on the person and situation. It’s a priority to always be safe and healthy. The mental mantra will help us stay focused and positive, eliminating stress, increasing relaxation and  saving energy. The mind is like the steering wheel of a car, it will go in the direction we dictate and we have the control. To live in well-being, we must steer it in a positive direction.


Flashback to my 2018 Ironman Louisville Race

June 10th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Brian Reynolds

This past weekend I went out for my 2nd outdoor ride in prep for the Tri race of the season.  When I grabbed my aero helmet for the ride I still had my race sticker from Ironman Louisville. While removing the sticker it brought back so many memories.  Here is a flashback to that race.

The Swim – 13:38 – The weather on race day was far from ideal.  The temps were in the high 40s to low 50s and it was raining all day.  The 67 deg water temp was going to be the warmest part of the race (with wet suits of course).  At the start I even had a coat over my wet suit to stay as warm as possible. A few minutes before the swim start the race announcer said that the currents in the Ohio river were too strong which meant the swim course would have to change.  The modified course just had us swimming down current .9 miles. I was disappointed that they had to shorten the swim since this is one of my strengths, but it was the right call.

The swim was a rolling start so I seeded myself in the top 20.  One by one we jumped off the boating dock to begin our Ironman journey.  We were given little information on the new course which made it a little challenging finding the swim buoys.  I could tell the currents were strong since the buoys were almost floating away. The swim went by quick since it only took me a little over 13 mins to finish.  The leaders were probably no more than 30 seconds ahead of me. When I got out the water I felt very fresh and warm.

T1 – 6:53 – This was probably the longest T1 transition of my career.  It was still raining when I got out of the water. I had to take a lot of time to dry off and put on 4 layers of clothes.  In addition, I also placed hand warmers in my gloves and toe warmers in my shoes. There were other athletes putting on layers of clothing so I didn’t feel the need to rush to make up time.  After changing, I ran to my bike with my bike shoes to help keep my feet dry.

The Bike – 5:09:38 – My goal for the bike was to keep warm and ride steady.  My legs felt great starting out and I passed a few riders within the first 20 mins.  The light rain and 50 deg temps continued during the ride. The 4 layers of clothes I had on kept me warm for the first 30 mins before I became soaking wet.  After that I was getting cold especially on the downhills because of the windchill at the faster speeds. In fact, I actually looked forward to the uphills because I was able to stay a little warmer.

The bike course was a lollipop route.  The first and last 10 miles of the course were flat. The lollipop loops were the toughest part of the course due to the hilly terrain.  When I began the first loop I was already having thoughts of wanting to drop out. There was a little voice in the back of my head that kept whispering “drop out and call it a day”.  I’ve never had these thoughts this early in the race. I’ve never been this cold and uncomfortable in a race which was the reason why I wanted to call it quits and get to a warm place.  However, it made me feel better when the male pro who won the race said afterwards that he thought about dropping out during the bike leg!

I just tried to tough it out and keep moving forward.  When I finished the first loop my split was 2:32 which was on pace for a 5:04 bike time.  When I started the 2nd loop there were a lot more athletes on the course. At one point along the course it got so congested that I had to slow down going up a hill. I lost all my momentum up the hill and I had to walk my bike because the hill was so steep.

It did stop raining halfway through the ride and I did feel slightly warmer.  The hand warmers inside my gloves stopped generating heat after 2 hours so my hands got cold which made it hard to grab bottles.  During the last two hours of the ride I could hardly squeeze any liquids out of my bottles  That said, I was looking forward to getting off the bike.

T2 – 6:45 – When entering transition my hands were too cold to even unlace my shoes when I dismounted off my bike.  It felt good to get off the bike and not have to deal with the cold windchill anymore. My legs felt stiff and heavy as I ran through transition which is typical for me during an Ironman.  In the changing tent I changed to a dry pair of socks but kept the same clothes I had on during the bike. I wanted to err on the side of being too warm for the run because I could always remove layers.

The Run – 3:13:34 – Starting off on the run my biggest concern was my left hamstring cramping up.  I took it easy for the first mile and gradually worked into the pace. I started off at a 7:30 ish pace and by mile two I was just under 7 min pace.  I got stronger as the run progressed. I felt great from miles 3 to 10 as I was running between 6:40 to 6:50 miles. As I approached the halfway point my energy levels were starting to drop off a bit.

At mile 12 I found out that I was in 3rd place in my age group and only 2 mins down from 2nd place.  This news gave me motivation because if I could finish in the top 2 I would get a Kona slot. When I got to mile 14 I was given the news that I was in 2nd place!  I was laser focused at this point to hold my position and not give up any time. However sometimes good things must come to an end. At mile 18 my left hamstring began cramping up every few minutes and my energy levels continued to drop.

For the last 8 miles I was forced to slow down and I was taking in as much nutrition as I could stomach.  My only goal at this point was to keep running and not walk. I knew the longer I kept running the better my chases were of holding my Kona slot.  When I got to the finish line I didn’t have a clue on my placement. Fortunately, I only got passed by one athlete and I managed to finish 3rd. I would have to wait until the next day to find out if I qualified for Kona.

The next day were the award ceremonies and the Kona roll down allocation.  I would find out that the top 3 in my age group got Kona slots which meant that I needed to plan a trip to Hawaii in October next year:)  This made it extra rewarding to have kept running during the final miles of the marathon because 4th place was only 2:20 minutes behind me.  I was thankful to cap off my 2018 triathlon season by not giving up on myself.  Perserverance was taking me to Kona!


Start’Em Young

May 20th, 2019 by JoAnn Cranson

By Dawn Hintz

“An athlete cannot run with money in his pockets. He must run with hope in his heart and dreams in his head.” – Emil Zatopek.

Or as I translate it “Run like a child”. When I watch children run I see joy. I see pure satisfaction racing to the imaginary finish line. I see them run with an unbridled passion whether it’s chasing a friend or to the edge of a lake ready to plunge in.

When my eldest son, Jacob, was 9 years old he wanted to compete in his first triathlon. He completed that day with a smile that didn’t end and a passion for a sport that has the chance to keep him healthy and active for life. When he was 12 I signed him up for Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program. A 6-week program that took him beyond the fundamentals of the 3 disciplines; swim, bike and running.

The same 6-week program prepared kids as young as 9 for their very first triathlon. Some of who had very little experience swimming in a lake. They were guided through a mass swim start, exiting the water and making the transition to the bike. When they returned from the 6 mile bike, they were coached through the transition to the run. And boy did they run! Every one of them ran joyously to that finish line where they triumphantly received their medal.

The Youth Triathlon Program has continued to grow. This year will be the first year of two youth groups. The first group will be for very beginner triathletes and the second group will develop teenagers who are ready to go beyond the basic triathlon introduction. While both groups will be ran side by side; each program will be tailored to that group’s needs.

The beginners will spend more time on the fundamentals of each disciple. Each training session will include a workout but more time will be spent giving a solid introduction to each of the disciplines and answering necessary questions. Swim technique will be reviewed in a pool before venturing to the lake. Then they will be taught safe road biking and transitioning to running. It will all be brought together with a miniature triathlon practice and a race course preview before the big day.

More experienced youth triathletes will follow a similar schedule with more emphasis on vigorous training. They will be guided to new levels of athleticism. These children already know how to swim, bike and run. Now they will fine tune their technique in each discipline and learn how to peak for race day.

Both groups will race the Shermanator Triathlon on August 3rd, 2019.

If your child has an interest in triathlon, this is the program to give them the best start and a joyous finish!

Athletic Mentors Youth Triathlon Program

Click this link to signup for Shermanator Triathlon



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