Losing Your Way in the Water1 of 9
Swimming off course can be an unwelcome side effect of trying to find a smidge of less crowded open water. The best you can do in this situation is hope you realize it early enough so you don't add too much distance to the first leg.
Overzealous Strippers2 of 9
Well-intentioned volunteers, wetsuit strippers can save you precious seconds and save you the trouble of trying to wiggle out of what's essentially a sopping wet second skin. Depending on what you wear underneath your wetsuit, it's not unheard of to have everything ripped off during the post-swim transition. If that happens, try to laugh it off and yank up your bottoms quickly.
Bike Mount Fail3 of 9
You could populate a YouTube page with video of triathletes racing to start or stop on the bike in one fluid motion like the pros do. Take a moment to collect yourself and find balance before you push off.
Road Kill4 of 9
No matter how skilled a rider you might be, maneuvering away from a multi-bike collision can take cat-like reflexes and awareness that only those comfortable riding with the peloton possess. Crashing is scary and shocking, and sends your adrenaline soaring—exactly what you don't want mid-race.
Aid Station Collision5 of 9
While we're on the topic of bike crashes, skidding into the fluid table or possibly an elderly volunteer who rose at 4 a.m. to help stock the station is another mishap to be feared. Careful when you take your hand off the aerobar to reach for that bottle; your competitors are also trying to get the heck out of the aid station debacle-free.
Epic Blisters6 of 9
You've no doubt heard the "don't-do-anything-new-on-race-day" advice, but unless you're a veteran, you may not have tested all of your gear thoroughly enough. Many triathlon racing flats offer time-saving features such as lace-fee or tie-fee designs, but running in these with damp feet can create hot spots and searing blisters. If you're used to running in socks, by all means take the extra 30 seconds to dry your feet and yank on socks before slipping into those shoes.
Everybody Poops...7 of 9
You're not a true triathlete until you've peed yourself in public, but pooping in public is a more traumatic story. Fighting the urge to drop a load while on the bike or in the middle of the run can be futile. While making a pit stop costs you time, it's worth it, especially during an Ironman.
Puke Happens8 of 9
Even if you eat the same thing before and during every race, you can still suffer from GI distress because even the most seemingly insignificant alteration, such as the brand of coffee you sipped or the fact that you ate two bananas instead of one, can impact your digestive system when you're going all-out. The evil double-edged sword: Instinctively, you might reach for an extra sports drink or gel when you feel a bonk coming on, but if your body can't metabolize the extra carbs quickly enough, you could be in for a rough, stomach-sloshing stagger to the finish line. You'll be lucky if you can make it across the line without dropping to all fours and barfing your guts out.