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With your transition area prepared, you can now have your number written all over your body. At most triathlons, volunteers will mark your race number and age on your arms and legs. "Body marking," as it is called, makes it easier for officials to see who you are from many different angles. It's also a way to show off that you are a real triathlete for a few days after your event.

Plenty of volunteers make bodymarking a pretty tame process. But if you're not a morning person and are going to get all huffy because you have to wait a spell, you can always bring your own marker (a Sharpie works great) and have a friend or relative draw on you. Just make sure you know where all the numbers go and remember to do it before putting on your wetsuit.


With your transition area set up and body marked, take a minute or two to look around the transition area. Find out where you'll enter the transition area after the swim and where you will exit and return during the bike leg. Be sure figure out where you'll exit the transition area for the run, too.

Determine where your transition area is located. Sometimes it helps to count the rows from the point where you'll enter from the swim. Some people even tie a balloon to the rack near their bike to help guide the way. In the end, knowing the flow of the transition area can eliminate confusion, making for more peaceful, speedier transitions.

Surviving the swim - the underwater body checks, the foggy goggles, the blinding sun, the people-eating perch - provides a huge mental lift for many people. Triathlon swimming can be terrifying and so many of us just want to get through it. Well, most do make it and enter T1 feeling exhilarated.

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