Triathlon = An event for people who wish to suck at three sports on the same day.
Sprint Triathlon = a triathlon featuring a 750-meter swim, a 20K (~12.5 mile) bike, and a 5K (3.1-mile) run.
Olympic Triathlon = a triathlon featuring a 1500-meter swim, a 40K (~25 mile) bike, and a 10K (6.2-mile) run.
Half-Iron Triathlon (also called “half-distance” triathlon) = a triathlon featuring a 2K (1.2-mile) swim, a 90K (~56 mile) bike, and a 21K (13.1-mile) run.
Ironman Triathlon (also called “full-distance” or “Iron-distance” triathlon) = a triathlon featuring a 4K (2.4-mile) swim, a 180K (~112-mile) bike, and a 42K (26.2-mile) run.
“Double-Anvil” Triathlon = Iron distance x 2 (4.8-mile swim/224-mile bike/52.4-mile run). People who do these races need such anvils dropped on their heads.
P1 = Peeing before the race. Often done in the wetsuit, although many athletes deny doing this. While we’re on this issue, there are only two types of triathletes: those who pee in their wetsuit, and those who lie and say they don’t. Just sayin’…
P2 = Poop stop before the race. If you don’t do this before the race, Murphy’s Law guarantees that you’ll have to do this during the race, and–when this happens–your distance to the nearest port-a-potty will be directly proportional to the square of the urgency of your need to go, and the probability of it being unoccupied when you reach it will be inversely-proportional to the square of your need.
T1 = Swim-bike transition area.
T2 = Bike-run transition area.
Brick Workout = a workout involving a multisport combination–usually a bike-run combination–in order to prepare your body for transitions during race day. Otherwise known as a masochistic workout done by people who are just nuts.
Mass Start = swim start where everyone starts together. This is also called a “washing machine”.
Rolling start = swim start where people stand in line to enter the water. Your time begins only when you start. This method is prominent in some Iron-distance events where athletes swim in a river and the start area is a set of boat docks. Examples of this include Ironman Louisville.
Wave start = swim start where people go out in groups (called “waves”). Your time begins when your wave starts.
DNS = Did Not Start. Athletes who were registered but otherwise skipped out due to injury, illness, sharks in the water, alligators in the water, jellyfish in the water, algae blooms in the water, human feces in the water, etc.
DNF = Did Not Finish. Athletes who started the race but, for whatever reason, did not complete the race. Reasons include quitting (rare), getting pulled for medical reasons, missing designated cutoff times, or dying during the race. On a serious note, the latter DOES happen a couple times per year, usually during the swim, and usually due to undiagnosed heart problems and/or swimming-induced pulmonary edema (SIPE).
DQ = Disqualification. Athletes who started the race but, due to rules violations, were disqualified.
Draft zone = that distance–usually 10 meters–behind a bike that, in USAT races, athletes must remain outside in order to avoid a drafting penalty, assuming the officials are enforcing draft zones, which they usually don’t.
Drafting = On the bike, that means following another athlete closely enough in order to take aerodynamic advantage of the slipstream, which minimizes the drag forces you encounter, therefore making your work on the bike easier.
This practice is actually very common in cycling events and is actually an integral part of the strategy. In ITU (International Triathlon Union) events, it is also a common practice.
But in USAT (USA Triathlon) events, which is what most triathlons in the US are, it’s a big no-no. If you get caught doing this, you get penalized.
This is often a sore spot among American triathletes, because while drafting is illegal, the rule rarely gets enforced, and many of the elites will draft with near-impunity.
It’s like federal laws against mishandling classified information: they only apply to little people.
Sucking Wheel = synonym for drafting, usually a perjorative term.
“That cheater is sucking wheel!”
Penalty tent = a prison where athletes guilty of various offenses hang out for a designated time and kvetch about the officials. I’ve never been in one myself, but I’ve heard stories from folks who’ve worked them in Ironman events.
Special Needs = In Iron-distance races, a designated point (usually during the halfway point of the bike, and the first loop of the run) where athletes keep items that they may need during the race. This could include an extra clothing item, a food item, a bottle of beer or vodka or bourbon.
(Well, not really, but–trust me–when you’re starting the back half of the marathon portion of an Ironman, bourbon sounds like a wonderful idea.)
HTHU = Harden The Heck Up. More common variations of this include HTFU, and–since we’re adults–we all know what the F stands for. This is a common admonition to embrace toughness, and is popular among the ultra-distance community, which includes ultra-marathoners, long-distance swimmers and cyclists, and triathletes who go out at distances from the half-Iron and beyond.
Athlete #1: “I am dehydrated, I’ve hit the wall, my legs are killing me. And I still have 20 miles left on the run.”
Athlete #2: “HTHU! You got this!”
RTFM = Read The Flippin’ Manual. (OK, that’s the clean version anyway.) The response when athletes on Facebook groups ask the same question over and over, and the answer is in the athlete manual.
Body Glide = one of the greatest inventions of the last 50 years. Helps prevent chafing. Failure to use it often results in bloody nipples.
Chamois Butter = another great anti-chafing aid. Often used to prevent saddle sores and chafing in the crotch and buttocks.
Modesty = Forget it.
Gatorade = sports drink that royally sucks but, due to universal availability, is very standard at endurance events.
Infinit = high-end sports drink that is popular among Ironman triathletes.
Tri bike = a road bike that is specially-designed to accommodate the aerodynamic position and includes aero bars. Also called a “time trial” or TT bike.
Aero bars = special handlebars that allow the rider to pedal while resting in an aerodynamic crouch. These are a hallmark of TT bikes, but also can be installed on standard road bikes.
Podium: If you place overall, or place in your age group, or place in any group that receives awards, you get to stand on the podium for a photo op. Example: “I made podium; I got second in my age group.”
DFL: Dead Flippin’ Last. Again, that’s the clean version. In triathlon, this is often a badge of honor, as finishing always beats the heck out of a DNF or a DNS. A crappy finish is better than no finish. And if you manage to finish in spite of severe setbacks, it can be a “Peacock Moment”.
Peacock moment = a major accomplishment. Whether it’s your first triathlon finish, your first open-water swim, your first century ride, your first “podium”, a first-place finish, or even a DFL. If it matters to you, then it’s a Peacock Moment.