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Getting started for my daughter
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My daughter, 12 years old, has been a competitive swimmer since very young and is a year-round club swimmer. She's also been riding bike with me on and off, but started riding more seriously since last month after I got her a real road bike. We rode 55 miles last Saturday for an event here in NoVA, and she averaged 15 mph with running shoes and platform pedals. I've since got her to start riding with clipless pedals (Speedplay) and real cycling shoes which she really enjoyed in the last couple of rides. Now she's interested in trying triathlon even though she hasn't been a runner other than what they do as kids in school, and the odd 5k run here and there (we did two 5k runs last year). Since I am a cyclist and never did tri myself, I figure I would post this to the forum to get some advice so I can get her started. So here are some of my questions (some are probably really basic, so please excuse my ignorance):

1. what kind of race should she start as her first race? I checked into the kids races but they appear to be more for fun than competition. So is my focus on getting her started first on a sprint tri the right choice?
2. Does she need a tri suit? Does she swim/bike/run in the same tri suit? What do you do in the two transitions?
3. If she doesn't wear tri suit, can she just swim with her regular swim suit, and then put on a pair of cycling shorts for the bike part, and then take it off and run in the swim suit? We are pretty committed to do this, so I don't mind invest in a tri suite, but want to see what other options are there?
4. What are some good suggestions for tri suits and what to look out for?
5. What about wet suit? Do you only need it when you doing swim under certain temp? I assume you wear the wet suit OVER the tri suit and take it off after the swim, right?
6. What other additional gear does she need beside the tri suit other than her current swimming stuff (goggle, cap) and road biking gears (shoes, gloves, sunglasses)? Does she need special shoes for running? And if so, what to look out for, and what are some good suggestions?

Any other expert advice would be very much appreciated.
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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First off, AWESOME!

1) She'd beat me in a sprint tri with that history and bike pace, so I'd say go for it and don't waste her time with the kids races.
2) Most of the womens here prefer two-pieces to a one-piece tri suit - I'd say get her some cheap tri shorts off Amazon (I like my Zoot ones) and a tri top.
T1 will be:
  • remove wetsuit
  • dry feet, put on socks+bike shoes
  • helmet, sunglasses, and race belt if she's required to wear her bib on the bike portion
  • Grab her bike and go!

T2 will be:
  • remove helmet (it's amazing how many folks mess this up)
  • switch bike shoes for run shoes
  • hat if desired and go!

3) That can work, but I stand by my 2-piece recommendation - she should try out the outfit and make sure she feels comfortable.
4) There is a wide variety of tri gear out there, but it's about finding what fits her best. Things to look out for include:
  • chafing in the neck and armpits (we'll get into lube later)
  • tri top doesn't ride up on the bottom (this can be VERY annoying and earn you a sunburn along your lower back)
  • fits snug but not restrictively tight
  • ... and of course, does she feel like a badass. This is KEY in getting psyched up and feeling powerful and having a good time out there. Trust me.

5) Wet suits are required for MOST open water swims and are popular even if the water is warm enough that they aren't required. It also helps you float, makes you more hydrodynamic... it's a benefit. And because she's young and growing, you have the great option of renting. Stores like Sports Basement rent out wetsuits for weekends or months, so she can practice in open water with it (and this is valuable - it's VERY different form pool swimming) and find a brand she likes before you invest a couple hundred.

6) Most don't use bike gloves unless it's a really long race and that's an ongoing issue. I love my Tifosi sunglasses, but it's important that they fit her tiny head well. Visor vs. hat on run. I wouldn't say "special" shoes for the run, as most sprint tri's are just a 5k run, but definitely good running shoes she feels comfortable in. Everyone's feet are different, so there's no "best". Go to a running shoe store and try them out. A good store will help her find the right fit/style. A race belt is super handy (clip belt with plastic bits to attach your bib so it's not pinned on to your clothes). A repair kit for her bike, so she can fix a flat. If it's a USAT-sanctioned race, she will have to buy a one-day pass or an annual pass. The quarterly magazine actually has a kid-specific section, though I think she'd be a bit old for that - it would still be nice motivation. Triathlete magazine has a lot of good articles and gear reviews - healthier on the body image than Teen, Seventeen, or Vogue! Chamois cream + Bodyglide. The chamois cream goes in her tri bottoms (and no, no underwear under the tri bottoms) and prevents soreness and also numbs for longer rides. I love "Deez Nutz Bliss" though "Buttonhole Cream" is mentholated and tingles. BodyGlide is a stick that looks like deoderant but you use it neck, underarms, wrists, and ankles before a race; it helps the wetsuit go on easier and prevents chafing.

I'm not sure if she's started to develop breasts, but most womens wear a sports bra under the tri top - make sure it doesn't have seams across the nipples. Even if she doesn't need it for support, it is nice to have a layer to reduce showing off nipples through an otherwise thin tri top (especially when a bit cold coming out of the water).

Bring her here! Let her lurk and read all the wonderful discussions and learnings of the group and ask her questions as she goes.


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You. You make me stronger.
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [Agilecipher] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks a bunch for the great advice, the helmet one is good. I can see she would probably forget to remove it before starting to run. I will hit some stores this weekend to get her the right stuff. I did sign her up for a sprint tri for next Sunday (mother's day).

I also signed her up for an 1-year membership at USAT. Looks like most races require her to be a member of USAT.

I will definitely get her to join the forum and read some of the stuff herself. There are really good info here, and I already learned a lot since this morning by reading some of the threads.
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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55 miles, that's impressive as hell

Just so you know, the minimum age for Olympic distance tri's and longer, for a youth is 16. So I would assume you are entering her in youth events where they have age groups in 2 year increments.

She really does not need a wetsuit. You live in NoVa and the lakes and ponds and pools around there should be warm enough for the her considering the short distance of the swim for her age.

Also, running shoes are very individual. I would take her to a GOOD running store (Fleet Feet?) who can look at her feet and help her choose a pair she likes that fit her foot. Don't skimp, as a good pair of shoes are very important and the wrong ones can wreck havoc. The store can explain the different types of shoes (racing flats, training shoes, trail shoes, blah blah blah) and help you decide. Most adults have several pairs for training, and "racing flats" a minimalist, lightweight shoe used only for races or track.
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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1. what kind of race should she start as her first race? I checked into the kids races but they appear to be more for fun than competition. So is my focus on getting her started first on a sprint tri the right choice?
I would take her to watch a race before she participates. Since you don't do triathlons, I assume she's never seen how one works (swim waves, transitions, etc.). If she feels comfortable swimming in open water with a bunch of other people (because it really is different from swim team practice when people are vying for space in the water) and understands cycling etiquette and isn't freaked out by people trying to pass too closely, shouting "on your left," etc., then start with a sprint. If not, a kids' tri might be more appropriate before she moves up to racing with adults. Check out USATriathlon.org for the rules. They have some info there for kids, too: http://www.usatriathlon.org/...resources/youth.aspx

2. Does she need a tri suit? Does she swim/bike/run in the same tri suit? What do you do in the two transitions?
I have adult female friends who race in a one-piece swimsuit. She can certainly do the same if you don't feel like buying more gear yet or if she's comfortable in a swimsuit.
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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Are you in Virginia? If so what part? I can get you in touch with some people to point you in the right direction depending on where you live.
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [GhiaGirl] [ In reply to ]
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I'm in the Leesburg area.
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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My daughters are 11 and 12 and both compete. They do both kids triathlons and adult sprints. many of the kids triathlons are super competitive, some are even draft legal and then you have those that are just for fun. Biggest tip, look at the bike course... for some reason they seem to have a lot of bike courses that are multiple loops. My girls did one last year where the bike course was 1 mile and they had to do 6 loops, stopping at the ends to get a mark on their arms.... My oldest ended up doing 7 loops and had 8 marks? and there were lots of kids who only did 3-4 loops. very frustrating and dangerous, 2 laps = okay... just make sure she knows how many loops she is supposed to do
there are USAT Nationals in Ohio at the end of August. Good luck! My girls have a blast
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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I have a couple of pieces of Zoot tri gear (tops and shorts) that are new with tags. Not sure of sizing but I will check and add a list of what I have to this post over the weekend. If anyone is interested in the items, PM. I will send you the items for free if you cover shipping :)
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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Our sons (11 and 8) are year-round club swimmers here in Clearwater, Fla. A few thoughts:

1. Unless the water is really cold, she probably won't need a wetsuit. Adult triathletes often wear it for the buoyancy advantage hence all of those wetsuits heading into St. Anthony's every year in 78 degree water announced as (cough) 75 degrees. Kids who are year-round club swimmers don't need them and won't be bothered by the cold water.

2. Forget kids tris. Your daughter probably swims 15,000-plus yards a week. Swimming 100-200 yards in a pool or 3-foot open water will not be a challenge.

3. Our older son, 11, started doing the swim and run portion of sprints last year. (I do the bike leg of the relay). I can't get him on the bike and it's the one leg I would worry about for him just in terms of endurance, crashing, etc. In a 1/2 mile swim, he'll be in the top 5 percent of the field. Since you're daughter bikes a lot, I'd find a sprint tri. Even if she doesn't run much, her endurance from swimming is off the charts. Two weeks ago, one of my 11-year-old's swim teammates, also 11, did the run portion of a relay. He had never run 5K and did 25 flat. And he's a small 11-year-old. There are 12-year-old girls on their swim team who post very competitive times in sprint triathlons. At that age, as you know, girls are way ahead of boys. BTW, all of the 11-13 year olds just wear swimsuits -- nothing tri specific. When you see a kid that age in a tri suit, teardrop helmet, etc., they're inevitably a poser. (My son's word.)

4. I'm not a fan of kids focusing on triathlon, especially if they're competitive swimmers. We see a lot of teenagers down here training like adult triathletes. But we have pre-teens and teenagers from our kids' swim program who just show up for triathlons and smoke the tri kids. There's a 15-year-old in the program who routinely finishes top 20 in 1,000-person adult sprints. Thankfully we have some race directors smart enough to let him into Olympic distance events.

http://www.endurancesportsflorida.com
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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Awesome and so exciting that she's interested in triathlon at such a young age. I live in Hampton Roads, VA and do a lot of races with Setup Events (www.setupevents.com) they have both a Virginia Triathlon Series (VTS)and Maryland Triathlon Series (MTS) so there should be plenty of races within a few hours of your location that she could do. I would start off with a Sprint Triathlon, the distances can vary a bit but the swim is typically 300-meters to 750-meters, bike from 10-18 miles, and a 5K run - all of which sounds like she is perfectly capable of handling. If you decide to do a race in the Setup Events series they give a good description of the courses and typical water temperatures and minimum age limit - after a quick look most were around 10yrs old with some of the shorter ones being a bit younger. As far as races coming up take a look at the Setup Events website VTS abd MTS schedule there are generally sprint races every month. Also you can look up all triathlons by state and even month/year at www.trifind.com. I only mentioned Setup Events because I do the majority of my races with them since they do a lot in the VA/MD area and I've had good experiences with them... many other organizations put on great races as well.

As far as clothes - you can certainly do the wear a swimsuit and put bike shorts over top route for her first tri - with such a short distance there shouldn't be too many chafing issues and I see a lot of kids and adults doing this for their first tri. You could also get an entry level tri suit from Amazon or find a bike/tri store near you. As far as a one piece or two piece suit it's all personal preference. A lot of women prefer two piece because they have trouble finding a one piece that fits them well (due to varying bust/hip sizes) also for longer distance races it makes bathroom stops a little quicker. I have a good mix of both one and two piece but don't have much in the bust or hip area so no issues for me as far as fit. Two pieces give you more options for mixing outfits as well. As far as what to look for trisuits shouldn't be baggy at all, otherwise it will catch water during the swim. It's spandex so it should be a snug fit but not too tight - same rules as when buying a swim suit. Tri shorts pads are also personal preference some have a thin layer of foam in the seat where others have a thin felt pad... I prefer the felt but that's just me.

I would not say that most races require a wetsuit... a wetsuit is an expensive investment so I'd either find one where she doesn't need one or look into renting one for the race (if you google triathlon wetsuit rental you'll find plenty of companies that do it - I've used Bonzai Sports in Falls Church, VA for a 7-day rental at $35 and they ship it to you.) There are rules as far as what are allowed as far as wetsuits and when they can be worn. From the USA Triathlon website: "Wetsuits:Each age group participant shall be permitted to wear a wetsuit without penalty in any event sanctioned by USA Triathlon up to and including a water temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water temperature is greater than 78 degrees but less than 84 degrees Fahrenheit, age group participants may wear a wetsuit at their own discretion, provided, however that participants who wears a wetsuit within such temperature range shall not be eligible for prizes or awards. Above 84 degrees, wetsuits are prohibited. Effective January 1, 2013, any swimmer wearing a wetsuit with a thickness measured in any part greater than five millimeters shall be disqualified."

I just did a quick google search and found Transition Triathlon located in Leesburg, VA (http://transitiontri.com/). They are a triathlon shop and have a a triathlon club as well. Looks like they give free clinics including beginner ones that you should look into. I'd give them a call or stop by and they'll be able to help you out and answer most of your questions. Triathletes are generally more than happy to recruit more people to their sport, take them under their wing and help them out, especially young ones as it's a fantastic life-long sport to get involved in. Another good resource is www.beginnertriathlete.com/ they have race reviews and a beginner section. Congrats on having a young athlete and fostering her interest in sports!


Elisha
"Triathlon doesn't build character. It reveals it."
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [f_ahsile04] [ In reply to ]
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Wow, thanks so much for all the great info and advices. I am definitely 200% more educated than I was just a few days ago about tri. I did sign her up for a sprint tri for next Sunday near here. I bought her a inexpensive tri suit and will see if she likes it or not. Otherwise, I will just do the bike shorts over swim suit routine. God knows she has more than enough swim suits.

I will also check into my local tri store and see if I can sign her up for some camp or lessons. I hope there are kids around her age are also interested. Having friends at the swim club is a key to her commitment to swimming. So I hope she can find some peers.

I plan to take her out next week to ride the bike route first, and practice a bit about the transitions. Will report back how she does.
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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If it's a sprint, she might just (1) do the whole thing in her bathers or (2) swim with her bike shorts on - putting them on when wet is nearly impossible. For sprints without a trisuit, I prefer bathers (with bra under - I am big up top) and tri shorts over the bottom. I wear the whole thing the entire race. No changing. Saves easily 1+min in T1 and/or T2. If she wants to be at the pointy end of the field and doesn't like trisuits, it's another option.

Tell her good luck!! Awesome to read about it.

AP

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"How bad could it be?" - SimpleS
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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Endorphin Sports out of Richmond has a youth triathlon program, starting with six year olds. They've always got a big crew of kids at the Setup and Richmond Multisport sprints. You might contact them and see what resources they know of in your area
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [AndyPants] [ In reply to ]
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Oh and unless the distance is OLY (1500m) or longer skip the wetsuit - caveat being water temp of course. AP

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"How bad could it be?" - SimpleS
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [AndyPants] [ In reply to ]
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The event is almost here, on Sunday, and both my daughter and I are pretty excited.

For this tri, the swimming is done in a 25 yd pool so they have to do a 16-lap snake swim. I took her to our neighborhood swimming pool to practice the "sit and slide" start, and the snake swimming. Since she's a swimmer, it felt unnatural for her, but I think she got a hang of the "touch the wall, go underneath the lane line to the other side, and then push off" routine.

We then practiced a couple of times of changing from swim into cycling gear: drying off, putting on helmet, sunglasses, socks, and clipless shoes, running off with the bike. She forget her gloves the first time, but since we are not sure if she really needs the glove to begin with, so it may not matter. I timed her the second time, and it took her about a minute and half to do all that. Not sure if that's good or bad. We also practiced twice from bike to running, mostly about parking the bike, taking off helmet and shoes, putting on race belt and running shoes. It took her less than a minute to do that.

The bike course is a 2-loop ride, so I hope she won't have problem remember the course. My daughter is pretty famous with her "squirrel" moments :).

There is pre-race packet pickup and then a short clinic tomorrow afternoon which we are going to attend, and we may be able to ride the course too. I think regardless how she does, she will have a lot of fun.
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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She had a blast this morning in her fisrt tri.

The event was a 400 yd pool swim (16 25-yr snake swim), 8.2 mile bike ride, 2 mile run.

Because she's was a swimmer and had a good seed time, so she was 2nd into the water, and she came out to the transition area in 2nd place, with 6:19.

The swim to bike transition took her a bit of time, mostly because she was just giggling and having fun. By the time she got over the mount/dismount line, she was in 4th place. But she made up a place by the time she finished. She average around16 mph on a flat course.

The bike to run transition was a bit better, but she was obsessed with her shoe vamps, and took a while to get them straightened out. She was in 3rd place going out, and came home in 7th place over all. She ran a 8:07/mile pace.

We hang around a bit and she got her age group award (being the only 10-12 racer). A big (2 pasta orders) Mother's Day brunch followed, and fun was had by all.

Thanks so much for everyone's advice here; without them, I wouldn't have been able to prepare her as readily and she probably wouldn't have had this much fun. She's still a bit nervous about the running part, but I am sure she's ready to do the next one.
Last edited by: dalava: May 11, 14 14:06
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [dalava] [ In reply to ]
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Congratulations!!! I hope she is now hooked for life!!!

Since she is so young, let her just do what she enjoys for now. As a teacher and HS coach, I see far too many talented kids burn out on endurance sports bc they got too serious too soon. Keep it fun and keep it like play and she will be hooked for life.
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Re: Getting started for my daughter [themadcyclist] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks.

That's a very good point, and I will keep that in mind. She's very much having fun and specially riding the bike. So I will take her on more fun rides.
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