Triathlon of Compassion Tips and Tricks

Three wooden medals hanging on orange and black ribbon back to back so that we can only see the face of the one in front. It says "Tri of Compassion" at the top, "Finisher" at the bottom, and "Human Powered Racing," in the middle above their logo, which looks like the silhouette of a jagged mountain range. Behind them is an out of focus field of green grass, and to the left is part of the inflatable orange finish line.

With the new “virtual” format of this years Triathlon of Compassion, we thought it might be useful to go over some of the questions that often get asked at our annual pre-race briefing and also give a few tips and suggestions on how to get your best times in this years event.

The one area of this years race that will be eliminated (and often causes the most anxiety and stress for first time athletes) is the transition area. Most questions at our pre race briefing revolve around the flow of the transition area and how you actually transition from one sport to the other effectively. Obviously, you need not worry about this. Normally the transition area is the one place you can make up time (or lose time) without any physical expenditure. Simply knowing where your bike is racked and where to go when you get out of the pool and back from the bike are little things that often go overlooked. Since you can have actual days to complete your transition this year we will not delve too deeply into the nuances of the transition.

Something people may be interested in is what to wear when doing the race. First and foremost, you want to be comfortable. In a triathlon it is most advantageous to wear something that you can wear in the swim, on the bike and onto the run. So, if you are using this as a dry run for your first triathlon you may want to do just that. Wear the same thing in the swim and then when you do your bike and then again for your 5k run. Whatever you decide to wear, make sure that it is not too loose fitting. You want to be hydro/aerodynamic in both the pool (or in this years event the open water), on the bike and then on the run. You don’ t want to have a lot of material flapping in the wind and slowing you down like a parachute. Triathlon suits come in both one and two piece versions, so if you do want to experience what it would feel like to race in one, now might be the time.

Another question that often gets asked, but won’t be an issue this year is your race number. In the real world event you would be body marked with your race number in thick black marker that would stay on you as a badge of honour for days, so you must only make sure that you wear your race number on the front during the run. Make a note of this for 2021.

What about race routes? Normally this is when we would be harping on you to KNOW THE COURSE. It is amazing how many athletes with “race brain” (we have all been there) forget the course on race day or forget how many loops they have done on a multi loop course like the Tri of Compassion. Good News in 2020 (perhaps the first time this has been written), only you have to know YOUR course. We do suggest that you plan a course out in advance and try it out before putting down your race effort. You can do the Tri of Compassion Course or you can make up your own, just try and make sure that it is actually 500m in the swim, 20k on the bike and 5k on the run and try and make it fair. Sure swimming downstream in the Cowichan River or riding down from the top of the Malahat might give you a faster time but…..

Since most, if not all, people will be doing their swims in lakes and not everyone has a GPS watch that will measure the distance you can do a couple of things. One option is to roughly measure out a 250m stretch along the shore of the lake you plan on swimming in and do an out and back to get your time. Another option is to get someone to paddle or walk beside you on shore and they can measure your distance (using phone or watch) and record your time. If you are swimming at Thetis Lake and you swim from the Main Beach straight out to small Island and around it once (stopping after you have gone around) that is also 500m.

The bike portion is where you will want to really be smart about your route choices. You will want to pick a route that has minimal stops or impediments that might slow you down. You should also look for a route that is as flat as possible if you are going for a fast time. If there is no construction happening, loops of Ring Road at UVIC might be a good option or you might want to choose a flat stretch of Lochside out by Sidney. If you are comfortable riding on the road and are an experienced rider you may choose a long stretch of the Pat Bay Highway when you know it will be quiet. Whatever the case may be, be sure to be safe and respect the rules of the road.

For the run I do highly recommend running the Tri of Compassion route. It is a beautiful course with views of the Olympic Mountains at the far end. It is also relatively flat. You can also visualize finishing on the field and running under the finish line arch to the cheers of the massive crowds (or family members).

We know that this years Triathlon of Compassion might lack the fun, low key race day atmosphere that makes it a “one of a kind” event, but we still want you all to have a blast, push yourselves and know that you are supporting a very worthy cause in The Victoria Sexual Assault Centre. At times like this, these support agencies are needed more than ever.