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Beginner's tips for this weekend's Columbia Triathlon

Aerial view of the swim course in Centennial Lake for this weekend's Columbia Triathlon
Aerial view of the swim course in Centennial Lake for this weekend's Columbia Triathlontricolumbia.org

Maryland's own Columbia Triathlon is this Sunday, and for many it will be the first triathlon experience.

Erin Cahill, Ruxton resident, has run the Columbia IronGirl sprint triathlon twice and provides some good tips for beginners.

  • Be prepared for cold, dark, murky water that can take your breath away. "If you expect the cold and dark and that your heart might start racing at the beginning you will be fine," says Cahill.  "It might take a minute or so until you regulate your breathing and get acclimated. If you find yourself panicking roll over on your back and float for a bit while breathing."
  • Figure out the swim route.  The day before the race when racking your bike, Cahill recommends taking a look at the swim route so that you have an idea where you're going.  Race day can be chaotic.
  • Stay away from the main pack on the swim if you're not a strong swimmer.  "The best spot to be is on the outside and swim to the first or second buoys on an angle," says Cahill.  You can make up any lost time on the bike or run and staying away from the "washing machine" pack is worth it.
  • Put your goggles on under your swim cap.  That way if someone bumps you during the swim they won't come off.
  • Cover your bike's seat overnight using a garbage bag; that way if it rains, your seat and bike will stay dry.
  • Bring a flashlight to set up your transition area in the morning, as it may still be dark.
  • Practice transitions at home before the race, simulating everything but the mileage.

Good luck to all athletes participating Sunday morning!

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