TriSmart Transition Clinic

Our run club received an amazing offer from MJ, the coach and founder of TriSmart Coaching, to host a FREE Transition Clinic for those of us partaking or interested in triathlon.  Although the focus of the clinic was to help newbie triathletes, those of us who have been TRIing for a while still showed up to hang on her every word in hopes of learning something, anything, to speed us up. 


Realistically, I have done a lot of triathlons over the years but that doesn’t mean I know anything.  I like triathlon because it keeps me moving in ways that I don’t move when I’m not TRIing.  I’m not cutthroat serious about it but do have hopes of improving my skills.  Since my time to train in the three disciples is very limited, I try to make the most of every aspect of the race, even transition.  And let’s just say that transition can get a little hectic at small and big races alike.  Photo below of the 2012 transition area for IM Muncie 70.3.  Race report from the 2012 race HERE.


MJ’s secrets:

  • If you get to pick your own spot in transition, rather than it being assigned, get there early and get as close to the “bike out” spot as possible.  You can move thru transition the fastest on foot, solo, when you aren’t trying to push your bike.  Plus, there will be people everywhere in transition, sitting on the ground putting on shoes, washing their feet, throwing around their wetsuit, eating/drinking, panicking, changing clothes.  Consider transition a warzone (my words, not MJ’s) and move thru as fast as possible.
  • Set up your transition towel (pick a bright, obnoxious, UNIQUE towel to help you spot your area) in front of your bike, under the back tire of bike racked next to you.  Bikes get racked front to back (opposite) all the way down the rack.  This way when you drop your bike to roll out, you will be in front of the rack (with your bike) and won’t have to duck under the rack to try to catch up with your bike while simultaneously attempting to keep it from bouncing off all the other bikes on the rack.
  • Be a minimalist in transition.  Take & put out as little as possible.  Then haul that monster of a transition pack back to the car and get it out of the way.
  • Don’t waste time with a bin of water to wash those feet, just GO, GO, GO!
  • Set up your transition towel being mindful of what you need first.  At the front of your towel is your bike stuff.  Helmet on top, upside down, facing the direction you need to put it directly onto your head, straps out and ready to fasten, sunglasses in the helmet and OPEN to be put immediately on your face.  Shoes on bottom, with the velcro open and ready to go.  Socks if you use them bunched up in your shoes so you can just grab them, lean down to your foot (keep that foot on the ground so you don’t topple over), stuff your toe in, then lift the heel and finish it.  Stuff the foot in the shoe and go!
  • Run stuff at the back.  Shoes on top with speed laces (Lock Laces are my favorite & easiest to use), hat/visor & race belt (with number attached) underneath so they don’t blow away.  Put your shoes on and grab both your visor/race belt and GO.  Put your visor and race belt on while you run out of transition.  Race Belt – Cost $8-$13 – Speed acquired in transition = Invaluable.

image    image

  • When getting your bike in and out of transition, roll it by the seat.  You know you’ve seen people do it and they look so smooth!  Well, I always thought that my bike was too loose to roll like that.  Well, it’s not.  I just didn’t know what I was doing.  Hold onto the bike by the seat and push!  Run at the same time, you can steer the bike by tilting it (by the seat) in the direction you want to travel.  The faster you go the easier it will be to steer so move it, Move It, MOVE IT!!
  • Fueling.  Where do you put your gels?  I have a Nathan SpeedFeed Box on my bike for long rides but MJ gave us an awesome tip.  If you tape your gel/gels to your bike stem really well by the little tab, then you can just grab and rip when you need it and it will be open, ready to go, your tab will be contained under the tape so you won’t need to worry about the garbage and then you can just push your empty gel wrap into the leg of your TRI shorts or into the back of your TRI tank.  Done.  Easy.

If you are hardcore, you can body glide up and put your race belt with your bib folded up like an accordion, into the waistband of your tri shorts.  This will enable you to swim & bike with it and it will be “on” and ready for the run without needing to add it in T2.  Expect chafing.

That’s about as much as my brain soaked up.  If I think of anything else, I’ll add it in later or put it in the comments below.  Can you think of anything I missed?  Tell me!

Thanks to MJ for this amazing opportunity to learn a few of her secrets.  If you need a bit of assistance, you can contact her HERE.  She also helped me earlier in the year with a swim analysis but I fear my lack of pool time will not properly showcase the skills that I was taught.  I’ll keep trying though!  Bottom line, I know triathlon can be intimidating but there are people willing to help.  Don’t be scared to contact MJ or someone in your area to give you a few tips!  It will be fun and super beneficial!  TRI it!!

** Speed UP Your Transition  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

Positive Community Development…….

Sometimes that little “extra” that you need in your life is not sitting right next to you.  Some of us need motivation to get off the couch workout, run and give life a TRI!  It’s just too easy to be lazy!


This is why I started the TTF blog, to meet other people who were as crazy motivated as myself and to hold myself accountable.  I am a decent self motivator but it’s always good to think that “we are in it together” and that was what I was missing, a group of like minded people with whom to share my insanity passion.  I did know a lot of people in the running community, and ran on and off with various groups but due to my hubby’s work schedule I was mostly on my own.  I got thru all of those “solo” years with on and off, training partners (Lisa E, Abby S, Kerry C & Shelly O) and the mantra, “If it’s easy, it’s not worth it”.   I pushed forward, not for any reward but solely because the desire burned inside of me to be stronger, faster and better than ever.  I raced a lot to keep from being lazy focused on the end goal:  Staying Fit!

I am certainly no longer alone in my quest.  It seems the last year or so has brought an onslaught of positive community development on various levels.  I credit social media in helping to increase the awareness of fitness groups and new area running clubs, like the Frankfort New Lenox Running Club (aka:  The F’N Runners – photo below).   Plus, the creation of websites like Chicago Running Bloggers brings together like minded people who may or may not have ever come together otherwise. 

So now, as I hit the trial, I see more and more people out there giving it their all on a Saturday morning before the sun rises.  Last week, I saw the F’N Runners, the Park Forest Running & Pancake Club, Tinley Track & Trail, Tri Smart and I knew the Looney Chics were out there somewhere too.  We continue to increase awareness of our groups and develop a massive community to support and motivate each other in life, training, & racing.  We know that regardless of where we go, there will always be a “friendly” in the crowd and for that reason we keep pushing our limits to better ourselves and each other. 

Thanks to all my virtual, real life, and on the run/trail training partners who continue to push me when I’d rather be sitting on the couch. 

Have you noticed the growth and how much more visible the fitness/running groups have become as of late both online and in real life?  Do you credit the internet and social media for getting the word out and helping our community grow?  Does the growth of our community push you to be better?

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

88 Laps….

For me, swimming is a task like no other.  When I run or bike, I have a constant stream of thoughts and am actually able to work things out in my head.  When I swim, I focus on not drowning, breathing, stretching my stroke and counting my laps.  I have random thoughts that come and go but mostly, I just focus on not drowning and counting.  No joke.

88 laps in a 25 yard pool is equivalent to the 1.2 miles I need to swim in the two half iron events in which I will be participating this year.  I swam the full 88 laps yesterday for the first time.    I am only 55 days away from the July 7th Ironman 70.3 Muncie.

A few of my random thoughts….

  • 44 minutes, the amount of time it took me to swim 1.2 miles in my last half iron event.
  • 56 minutes, the amount of time it took to swim the 88 laps yesterday.
  • 4, the minutes I hope to eliminate from my swim with it being in open water and not having to turn around every 25 yards.
  • 5, the minutes I hope to eliminate from my swim by using my wetsuit that will hold my momma hips up in the proper position.
  • 10, the number of mini prayers I sent up asking for water temps on July 7th & September 1st to be cool enough to be USAT wetsuit legal.
  • 78, the max water temp for an event to be wetsuit legal.
  • 3, the lap I was swimming when I started thinking about Kelly’s post on her first swim lesson.
  • 4, the lap I was swimming when I thought about contacting Maggie’s cousin, Coach Judie, or MJ at TriSmart , or anybody somebody to tell me if my swimming is even remotely adequate.
  • 50, the number of times I tried to “hear”  my stroke like Kelly discussed in her post on the first swim lesson.
  • 0, the number of flip turns I performed.
  • 6, the number of times I stopped to readjust my goggles.
  • 4, the number of times I breathe in 25 yards.
  • 7, the number of years that I have owned the TRI tank I was wearing that I will never again wear.  Can you say skintight and see thru?  UGH!

2XU Tri top

  • 35, the lap I was swimming where it finally all came together and I relaxed.
  • 36, the lap I was swimming when I started to wonder if the turnover rate of my arms during the swim is also called cadence like the rate of turnover of foot fall/pedal stroke while running/biking.  Answer:  YES, look HERE.
  • 3, the number of sets I did to equal 88 laps.  Set 1 = 48 laps, Set 2 = 30 laps, Set 3 = 10 laps.  Don’t ask why, it’s random, just like my thoughts.
  • 25, the lap in the 2nd set where I was wondering if CrazyBoyDon actually counts laps or if he somehow adapts 99 bottles of Beer on the Wall to keep track…..  88 laps to swim in the pool, swim one down, flip it around….yeah that doesn’t work. 
  • 1, the lap in the last set where I realized that I don’t know how to kick.  I have spent so much time “not kicking” to save my legs, that the kick just seems foreign to me now.
  • 12 the number of times Michael asked me if I had been swimming with Santa when I got home.

Santa Swim

Michael is obsessed with Santa and wants to go swimming with him so badly.  He is always flailing around the bathtub pretending to swim with Santa.  If you know of any swimming Santa’s, please let me know.  PLEASE

What do you think about when you swim?  Will you be thinking of swimming Santa’s the next time you go to make some laps?  Maybe you should! 

Santa Swimming_scuba

Happy Swimming **  Amanda – TooTallFritz **