Why T2 is the Important One, Especially in Ironman & 70.3 Racing

T2, a time to regroup, assess status and plan for the run

Fresh off the bike, a smile on her face, she's ready to run

Aren't people nice? I had a root canal done about 15 years ago and got a call from the doctor's office telling me that he was doing a study and would I possibly be available for a follow up xray.  Reluctantly, I agreed having been in that position before putting together lectures and am always grateful when patients will go out of their way to help out. When I got to the oral surgeon's office, he mentioned, "I think about you almost every day."

"Right, I believe that!" I replied.  "No, really I do. You taught me that copious irrigation, really wash
ing out surgical wounds the way you ortho guys do, would decrease my infection rate.  And you were right.  So whenever I operate on a patient, I think I'm doing the John Post wash out."

While I thanked him very much, my suggestion was hardly original.  However, if I saved any patients from an infection, then it was more than worth it.

The same thing is true in triathlon.  How often, say before a race, are you just sitting in transition waiting, and you see another athlete with different tires, or a funny transition area set up and you ask her, "say, why do you do that?"  People are very willing to share this information with you.  If fact, they consider it a true compliment that you might wish to emulate them.  So for the remainder of your tri career, every time you set your transition area up like you learned that day, you could tell that athlete, "right, I think about you almost every race."

Slow transition? SlowWhadya mean my transition is slow?
T2 - A Place to Regroup

I've always thought that T1 and T2 served different functions in longer races.  In a sprint, my goal is to have the absolute fastest transitions, both of them, in my age group.  If you've read this blog previously, you know that I preach repeatedly that giving away time in transition is just plain dumb for the serious triathlete.  I enter the race thinking, "how close to 1 minute can I make each of these discipline changes?"  And just like practicing flat tire changing, rehearsing transitions before ever race is just plain smart racing.

But, in a 70.3 (when did the half ironman get that title?  When WTC wanted to corner a larger part of the long distance market. Charlottesville, VA attorney and 2004 Kona finisher Mike Hemenway said "nobody wants to do a half anything. They should call it 70.3.") 
or 140.6 race, the transition areas take on a whole new significance.  Especially at the Iron distance.

In these longer duration contests, frequently larger races, fewer athletes may be aiming for the podium. The remainder just want to finish with a respectable performance and the ability to maintain a near normal gait pattern the next day. T1 after a 1.2 or 2.4 mile swim is the same.  Animated chatter with the volunteers, see how fast can you get into biking mode after a refreshing morning dip with 2500 of your closest friends, and get a heaping dose of sunscreen to head for your waiting 2 wheeled steed.

112 miles later, with dried salt on your bike outfit, a nutrition plan that may or may not have worked as well as planned, maybe a little less enthusiasm or brightness than upon completion of the swim, you enter T2.  For some, like T1, it's continued press. Push, push, push. But for the remainder of us, T2 can be race changing.  It can be a big contributor to race success.

On one hand, especially for first timers, Iron distance racing may now seem a whole lot harder than first imagined last winter filling out the entry on line with one of your kids in your lap.  It's supposed to be.  But with this brief interlude, like the mango sorbet you get between courses to cleanse your palate at a fancy restaurant, you can clear your brain of the past few hours and focus squarely on the upcoming run.  For some it can be almost spiritual as they blast out of T2 teasing the volunteers who are putting even more sunscreen on you pointing toward the transition exit and the first steps of the marathon.  Even those athletes who may have experienced self doubt and possibly considered turning in their chip feel this rejuvenation. Stimulation is a good thing.

This will sound odd, but for those of you who've been around for a good while, you'll remember that T1 in Kona was on the pier and T2 was at the old Kona Surf Hotel some 7 miles to the south in the golfers locker room.  What made this T2 cool was that you were encouraged to take a full shower in the golfers shower room before your run.  Soap on a rope anyone?

Then you remember why you signed up for this crazy adventure, and another athlete pulls up along side you smiling. "Care to run a little?" you're asked. "Why sure," you answer.  The finish line may be a good ways away, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with.....

Image 1, Google Images

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