5 Things That Suck about Triathlon

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triathlon transition setup with socks, helmet, and shoes

If you’ve made the jump into the triathlon waters, you’ll probably start to notice a few things that suck about triathlon. Coming from a cycling background, I find triathlon to be both fun and horrible. What are those little (or big) things that just irritate you? Here’s my list.

1. Being Cold

My collegiate team hosts one of the biggest races of the season, MTS, which stands for March Triathlon Series. But it should really stand for My Toes are in Shock. Pick any triathlon in the colder part of the year, and you’ll find that the 45 degree water temps (we’re in California, what do you expect?) are really just fine with a nice, thick wetsuit. But step out of that water, peel off that wetsuit, and prepare for an icy blast of winter on your very thin tri suit. Not only does the wind find every tiny portion of wet lycra, but your feet soon feel like frozen blocks–that is, if you actually do have any feeling left in them (booties are the only things triathletes find uncool, apparently). Pedal it out for 15 or 20 miles, and maybe the feeling will come back. Maybe not. Either way, you probably won’t get frostbite?

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2. Getting Kicked in the Face

Triathlon swimming
If you ain’t first, you’re a prime target.

Ah, there’s nothing like the thrill of racing with your wave of swimmers, vying for the shortest distance around the buoy, and, well, the joy of someone’s foot making strong contact with your entire face. Of course, if you keep getting kicked in the face, it might just be time to get faster. I’ve never had anyone apologize to me for a swift-footed reminder that I’m following too closely. In fact, it’s generally coupled with a “back off!” or a “bullseye!” Let’s face it, it’s all about survival of the fastest.

3. Mornings

I’m pretty sure it’s in the job description that race organizers have to be morning people. But starting a race, unless it’s an Ironman, at any hour before 10am is simply taking things too far. Those of us who wake up ready to scream at whomever dares to offer up a pleasant, “Morning,” or “Good Luck!” should take their complaints to the race organizers. We’re not all made to enjoy the sunrise. Plus, I’m pretty sure all the face-kickers are night-owls, which is why they always seem so happy to land one square on your nose. Can’t really say I blame them, then. I’m just way more passive-agressive.

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4. Transition Areas

triathlon transition setup with socks, helmet, and shoes
Make sure to arrive early and get everything set up perfectly, so it can get totally ruined by some random triathlete.
At our last race, some newbie knocked my husband’s Cervélo to the ground and spread his gear all over the transition area. Once he hit T1, his derailleur was badly misaligned, and his shifting a disaster. For some reason, people see an extra three millimeters of space between two designated spots and decide it’s the promised land for their setup. This is living dangerously. Especially since some folks aren’t too happy about waking up at 3:20 am to get to transition. Don’t be surprised if you see a sleep-deprived triathlete measuring just how well her foot will fit on your face. Better camouflage your sharpie’d race number. It’s coming.

5. The Run

Triathlon run leg heading out of transition
“Run out” is probably Italian for: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
No surprise here. In fact, I don’t even think this needs any explanation. Just prepare to dig deep into your suitcase of courage to keep from smacking people as they breeze past you in mile 1 and give you an “encouraging” pat on the back. Especially since your left running shoe was taken by the newbie in transition. At least you decided to wear white socks . . . that are now totally black.



Hmmmm . . . triathlon is a dangerous sport. So what are your pet peeves?

About Bek 301 Articles
SLO Cyclist's former chief editor and recovering road snob, Bek made sure everything ran smoothly around here. She was also the one who reminded us not to take ourselves too seriously--unless it involves black socks. Black socks are always serious.

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