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Some advice if you’re participating in St. Anthony’s Triathlon

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

If you live in or around St. Petersburg, or decided now would be a great time to visit, you may have noticed something is a bit different in the Burg. A bit off. The vibe has been altered.

Elderly folks looking for a reasonably priced brunch or Mah Jongg tournament are suddenly outnumbered by Type A personalities with zero body fat. Conversations at the local pharmacy switched from circulation issues and diabetes medication to chafing and chamois cream.

People are discussing fartleks in public, and they’re discussing them loudly.

People are getting shush’d.

Favorite avenues are now blocked off, which makes driving across the street to church on Sunday a nightmare. Sidewalk vendors hawking the wrong kind of compression sock. Smoothies outselling Sanka. And what’s with all the goddamn Jeeps?

You’re shocked, appalled and have considered calling the cops.

I’m with you.

Except I’m really not.

I’m with them.

St. Anthony’s Triathlon is happening this weekend and although I’m a willing participant, the writer side of me can’t help but observe and document the ensuing culture shift with amusement. I do the same thing at political conferences, except at those events I kick back with the bartenders and make fun of everyone.

In Straub Park, the best I can do is kick back with Gu vendors — and making fun isn’t allowed.

This is serious business.

St. Anthony’s will be my second sprint triathlon. I thoroughly enjoy training for these races, but the races themselves are a little strange. I can’t take anything too seriously that involves me being half-naked with sand up my ass.

Like before, I will gather by the water with women my age, and let everyone go before me. I will swallow, spit and burp gasoline-tasting seawater. I will make goofy faces. I will do my best and try not to draft, block, fart downwind or anything else that would get me disqualified.

I promise not to stare at all the Speedos.

If you’re new to the triathlon experience, I must issue a warning of sorts. I know just enough to be dangerous. But I think it’s important to enjoy this weekend. Here are some helpful hints:

The locals

Don’t let the heart monitors and Emergency ID Bracelets fool you…these are not your peeps. They won’t know what you mean by body marking, bonking, lube, bike porn, strippers, or crits. They’ll think they know. But they won’t. Look for someone without a walker or air of disgust.


They aren’t supposed to leak. Not even a little. A professional coach once told me the trick is to simply push them against your face. Then he charged me $150. Try pushing the goggles yourself. It’s free. They make a funny sound when suctioned properly, like grandma after too many hotdogs. That’s how you know those babies aren’t going to fill your eyeballs with half the Gulf of Mexico on race day.

If they make the noise and you’re still having trouble, check your swim cap. Make sure nothing is interfering with the seal.

Oh, and goggle straps should be tucked in. That’s why there are clips on the side. Otherwise, when running in or out of the water, those straps whip around like a duck’s ass in the wind. Not quite the look you want when race photographers start snapping away.

Swim caps

We can land a drone on the head of a pin, but no one has designed a cap that actually keeps hair dry. Speaking of a duck’s ass…bring a visor for the run.

Wipe, don’t blow

Perfecting a snot-rocket takes years of practice. You’re doing it wrong.

Fashion tips

I incorrectly put on my first bicycle kit backwards. When I did that with my first bra, it fit better. This time? Not so much. Trying on new things in front of someone you trust is important.

“At least you’re not wearing a wet suit on race day with the zipper in front,” he said.

Note to self: wet suit zippers go in back.

Transition Etiquette

For popular races, bikes are set up in the transition area the day before and kept overnight. No, don’t bring that nifty little lock you purchased at Wal-Mart. Twenty dollar locks won’t deter anyone. But that 200-lb. security guard with a Glock will. Take deep breaths, you’re racing with professionals. Which means your starter tri bike with the water bottle facing the wrong way will be just fine.


When the rubber padding wears off and you routinely unclip, steady yourself and then fall? Yeah. It’s the time to replace them.


Use the right, or back, brake. Using the left brake might cause you to fly over the handlebars and visit an emergency room. Where there is still no open bar.

Check yourself

Those chubby folks passing your skinny ass are laughing inside.

I learned all these the hard way. Have a great race, everyone.


Catherine Durkin Robinson co-parents twin sons, organizes families for advocacy purposes, writes syndicated columns, mentors kids, runs a few races and is proud to announce Relationship Status: Serious with chamois cream.

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