Friday, January 8, 2010

Triathlon Terms / Jargon For the Uninitiated

If you are new to the sport, or want to make it through this blog with your head on straight, there are some terms you need to know. And you should want to know them, because letting them slip at random in front of your non-tri-knowledgable buddies will make you seem infinitely cool.

(Note: There are a gazillion tri-terms to choose from. These are the fun ones.)

Let's start off easy. There are a lot of terms that describe the extent to which a triathlete feels like crud.

A brick (n.) is a bike-then-run workout. It is named thusly because that's what your legs feel like when you run after you bike. Triathletes love bricks.
ex: You: I just went swimming easy this morning 'cuz I have a huge brick planned tomorrow.
Your friend: Woah.

You hit the wall (v.t./n.) when you have nothing left. You gave it everything and you can't make yourself go any harder. Like running into a wall. There's nowhere left
to go. And it hurts.
ex: You: Man, I hit the wall at the end and Carlos kicked it in to the finish ahead of me.
Your friend: Carlos beat you? You wuss.

Maybe you hit the wall because you were about to bonk. You bonk (v.i.) when you screw up your nutrition and your body is eating itself to try to keep you going. Or it will start eating you if you don't eat something, like pure sugar. Avoid the bonk (n.).
ex: You: Man, I just totally bonked and limped home.
Your friend: I know, you were sucking my wheel all the way back and never took a pull. You jerk.

Time for some cycling terminology:

Wheel sucking (n/v) the art of riding with only centimeters between you and the person in front of you.
To take a pull (v.) to ride at the front of the peloton so the people behind you can draft off of you.
To draft (v.) to follow closely behind another cyclist(s) so they block the wind and do all of the work for you. The faster you go, the more you energy you save by making someone else pull you. That's why drafting is illegal in most amateur triathlons. Every triathlete for his/herself!
Peloton (n.) a large group of cyclists.
Tri-ton (n.) a large group of cyclists with aero bars.
Aero bars (n.) those funny things that stick out of some people's bikes where normal handlebars used to be so the rider can (comfortably) crouch down in a more aerodynamic position, thereby looking mean and fierce and letting the rider go all aggro if s/he wants.
Aggro (adv/adj) aggressive. You can go aggro. Or you can be aggro. Or some jerk in your
peloton can go all aggro on you and push you till you puke. In which case, if you can keep up for a few seconds an get alongside him, you can snot on him.
To snot (v.) the art of snot rocketing while on the bike. Cycling makes everyone have a runny nose. It's physics. Place your hand on nostril opposite the snot-loaded one, and blow.
ex: You: Dang it! I just snot on myself!
Your friend: Gross! You gotta work on that.
Your friend then proceeds to snot on you, and in trying to avoid the gelatinous projectile, you swerve and hit something, tacoing your wheel.
To taco a wheel (v/adj.) to whack something in such a manner that you bend your wheel in the shape of a taco. Your wheel is now tacoed.
Neapolitan tan (n.) what happens when you wear 2-3 different length bike shorts on separate rides and wind up with a progressive tan up your thigh. Like the shade gradation of Neapolitan ice cream.

T1 (n.) transition #1. Where you go to switch from swim to bike.
T2 (n.) transition #2. Where you go to switch from bike to run.
T3 (n.) transition #3. Where you go to switch from run to massage or food. This term is not as well-knwn as T1 and T2, but is equally as important.

Transition area (n.) where your stuff hangs out and waits for you while you're doing other things. Sometimes, they're in two places. At an Ironman, your stuff is in bags and thousands of volunteers grab it for you, help you change, put sunscreen on you and hand you your bike. It's like being a tri-celibrity.

Ironman (n.) a triathlon of this exact distance: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run. AKA an event that you do so you can brag for the rest of your life, and develop an entire wardrobe based on a corporate symbol: the M-Dot. Maybe even get some tattoos. (See below.)

70.3 or Half Ironman (n.) exactly half the distance of an Ironman (140.6). The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) owns the Ironman and 70.3 names, so if you see a race that's called an Iron-distance triathlon, or a half-iron distance triathlon, it's 'cuz they'd get sued to call it an Ironman. Only official Ironman-distance races can qualify a triathlete for Kona.

Kona. (You know, the city in Hawaii?) The place every triathlete dreams of going. The holy grail of Ironman racing. It's where the Ironman started, and where you can't race unless you qualify by finishing another Ironman at the very tipity top of your age group. (Or you get a media slot, or win in a lottery.)

Olympic distance triathlon: the distance that was used in this year's olympics. This is the exact distance for any triathlon labeled "olympic distance": 1500 meter swim, 40K bike, 10K run.

Sprint triathlon: any combo of swim-bike-run at a shorter distance than an olympic distance tri.

Xterra: an off-road triathlon. They can be all different distances, but most championship races have a 1500 meter swim, about a 20 mile bike, and a 10K run. Just like the Ironman World Championship are in Kona, the Xterra World Championship is in Maui. Unlike Ironman, if you commit a long time in advance to the Maui race, you can race it without having to be the best in the world. ALthough the best in the world will be there, and they will crush you.

USAT: USA Triathlon. The governing body of triathlon racing in the United States.

So now the next time someone says to you: "Dude, I did a brick yesterday morning but I still did the 70.3 today and I went all aggro and hit the wall." You can nod your head in understanding. And not in an eyebrow-raising way as if to say, "Riiiiight. Sure you did."

I think that's enough for now. Let me know if I missed anything! More terms to come: dolphining, chain suck, DNF, mashing, and lube.

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