Frequently Asked Questions about My First Triathlon

Legend: Q = Question, A1 = Answer, A2 = Next answer, etc.

The Swim

Q: How far is 300 yards?
A1: Hmm….
A2: 12 lengths of a 25 yard pool (standard HS pool) or six laps.
A3: Three lengths of a football field.
A4: Not quite three quarters of the way around the track up at the school .
Q: What is the difference between a length and a lap?
A1: Hmm….
A2: A length is from one end of the pool to the other; a lap is to the other end of the pool and back. When you do swim workouts, some will coach using laps, others using lengths, and others telling you the distance, then you have to do the math.
Q: What swim stroke should I use?
A1: It doesn’t matter. Although the front crawl is the quickest and most efficient, backstroke and breaststroke are more relaxing, and are considered as “rest” strokes. Doggy paddle is acceptable as well.
Q: What if I panic in the water?
A1: Roll over on your back, and make sure your head is out of the water. Slowly take a deep breath and think happy thoughts.
A2: Force yourself to smile, and your body will naturally feel better.
A3: Hum your favorite tune, but avoid theme tunes from the following movies: “Titanic”, “Jaws”, or “Halloween”. Good themes to hum to are: “Top Gun”, “The Entertainer”, or any song from “The Sound of Music” or “The Wizard of Oz”.
A4: If all these fail tap the top of your head.  That is the universal symbol that you want out ("Tap Out")
Q: Do I need a wetsuit?
A1: No! Byram in June should be 70+ degree water.
Q: Can I wear a wetsuit?
A1: Yes. Although the time you save by being faster in the water will be lost trying to get the wetsuit off after the swim.
Q: Does a wetsuit help your swim faster?
A1: Yes. You float better.
Q: Will other swimmers collide with me during My First Triathlon?
A1: No. The FirstTry Triathlon has a nice wide swimming channel with lots of room for all the athletes. Generally there is less congestion than at your local pool.
Q: Do we all start at the same time?
A1: No. Athletes go in waves of 30-50 depending on swimming ability.
Q: How do we know which wave to swim in?
A1: When you check in at registration, you will be asked approximately how long it will take you to swim. At that time, you’ll be put in a wave that reflects your time. Don’t worry too much about which wave you’re in. The swim course is so wide open there is little chance of hitting other faster swimmers. If you think you are in too fast of a wave, just jump in after everyone else.

Q: How long will it take me to swim 300 yards?
A1: Slower swimmers will take between 10-20 minutes.
A2: Faster swimmers will take between 5-10 minutes.
Swim to Bike Transition Area (T1)

Q: What is the Swim to Bike transition area (T1)?
A1: The Swim to Bike transition area is the area that you place your bike: usually on a bike rack. At this point you may drop off your swimming gear, goggles and swim cap (both optional) and jump on your bike. In most cases, this is also the same as the Bike to Run transition area where you leave your running shoes as well.

The Bike

Q: How far is 9 miles?
A1: Hmm....
A2: Approximately 15 Km
A2: From the start line in Flint to Miller Rd in the Crim 
A3: Flint to Grand Blanc
A4: Go for a bike ride and when you pass three different Subway's or McDonalds’, you’ve probably ridden 9 miles. Distances may very depending on location.

Q: Do I need to shave my legs?
A1: It’s up to you. We had a whole paragraph on this question but edited it for political correctness.

Q: Why do cyclist shave their legs?
A1: When athletes fall off their bikes and scrape their legs, apparently the hair doesn’t get all messed up with the injured skin and it heals better.
A2: Some athletes think their legs look better and they use the excuse that it’s for the reasons listed above. On the other hand, if you skid hard enough to cause bleeding most of your hair will be scraped off anyway.

Q: Do I need a new bike?
A1: No. As long as your bike works (remove response A1 if your are Under 15 and trying to convince your parents to buy you a new bike, or if you are trying to convince your spouse to allow you to dip into your children's college fund, substitute A2. Good Luck!)
A2: Yes. A new bike is required for optimum performance.

Q: Do I need special bike shoes?
A1: No. Running shoes and toe clips for the bike are all that you need. (See below if you are trying to upgrade.)
A2: Yes. Special bike shoes and clips hold your feet in place for more efficient cycling,.

Note: Bike shoes will help you go a little faster, but the time you save may be lost fumbling in the transition zone while changing from bike shoes to runners.

Q: Should I use a Mountain or a Road Bike?
A1: It doesn’t matter. The FirstTry Triathlon route is pancake flat, so a road bike will go a little faster but a mountain bike lets you view the scenery better. It is also fun passing a road biker when you are on a mountain bike.

Q: What tires should I use?
A1: The smoother the tires the better. Most bike shops carry smooth tires for both mountain and road bikes.

Q: Do I need to wear a bike helmet?
A1: Yes. It’s the law to wear a bike helmet.

Q: What if the local laws do not require a helmet?
A1: Stop being difficult. You still need to wear a helmet.

Q: What type of helmet is required?
A1: ANSI or SNEL Approved helmets.

Q: What is ANSI or SNEL Approved mean?
A1: We think ANSI stands for American National Safety Institute; and SNEL, who knows?
A2: Even though we’re not exactly sure what the names are short for, we do know that all major bike helmet manufacturing companies adhere to a strict set of guidelines set out by the above organizations.
A3: They strap bike helmets onto watermelons and drop them while recording the results.

Q: When do I need to wear my helmet?
A1: Your helmet must be worn at all times. This includes having the chin strap done up the moment you mount your bike, until after you get off your bike. This is usually done at the transition zone.

Q: Can I listen to music or wear headphones?

A1: NO. Never. No exceptions. This is USA Triathlon policy and for your own safety.

Q: How close can I ride to the other competitors?
A1: Athletes should keep at least two full bike lengths away from other cyclists. This is for both safety reasons and fairness, as the cyclist will pick up an unfair advantage by riding close to another rider.

Q: How long will it take me to ride 9 miles?
A1: 35-60 minutes for slower competitors.
A2: 25-35 minutes for faster competitors.

The Bike to Run Transition Zone

Q: What is the Bike-to-Run transition area?
A1: This is the area where you leave your bike and put on your running shoes. At the FirstTry Triathlon, the Bike-to-Run transition area is located at the same location as the Swim-to-Bike transition zone.

Q: Where do I drop off my bike?
A: The same place you picked it up after the swim.

Q: Am I responsible to put my bike back on the bike rack?
A1: Yes, you must put your bike back in your same spot.

The Run

Q: How far is 2 miles?
A1: Hmm….
A2: Eight laps around the HS track.
A3: Approximately 3.5 K.

Q: Can I walk?
A1: Yes. Any form of locomotion: running, walking or crawling is acceptable (please leave the roller blades at home).

Q: How long can I spend at the Aid Stations?
A1: As long as you want.

Q: How long will it take me to run 2 miles?
A1: 25-35 minutes for slower competitors.
A2: 15-25 minutes for faster competitors.

Q: Can I listen to music or wear headphones?

A1: NO. Never. No exceptions. This is USA Triathlon policy and for your own safety.

The Finish/Results

Q: What do I need to remember when I finish?
A1: If the event is timed using a chip transponder, then you must remove the chip and hand it in at the finish line (after crossing the finish line).
A2: If the event is timed using just your race bib and a clock, ensure that the tear off stub at the bottom goes to the timing people at the finish line.
A3: Smile, someone is probably taking your picture
A4: Step away from the finish line so others can cross.

Q: When do I see the results from the race?
A1: We will have the results posted within an hour or so after the last competitor has finished.  In some cases, they are posted as soon as the last competitor crosses the finish line. Keep in mind that results can take awhile to tabulate. Most events will have the results posted on the Internet within a day or so.

Q: If I stand next to the timing people at the end of the race, will the results be done quicker?
A1: No. In fact the timing people are trying to spot your number so they can add a couple of minutes to your time, and blame it on the software program.
A2: Do you like it when 50 people stand around and watch you work hard while trying to tabulate huge volumes of numbers? This being done with music blaring and the sun beating down in your face?

General Race Questions

Q: What is the CSCTriclub getting out of this?
A1: Part of our Charter is to bring new athletes to the sport. Any revenues that are left over for the club will be used to support those provisions in the Charter. 

Q: Is the FirstTry Triathlon distance standard?
A1: No; Super Sprint Races do have a standard but unless you are planning to set a record I wouldn't worry about it.

Q: What distance of race would be good to do after finishing the FirstTri Triathlon?
A1: Doing a couple more races of similar distance is recommended. Completing a triathlon is about attaining a certain fitness level, and then maintaining that level. Competing in a triathlon on a regular basis helps you maintain a certain fitness level.


Q: How can I volunteer for a triathlon?
A: Simply email the volunteer coordinator at 1sttrytriathlon@gmail.com