Transitions are an easy way to take a couple of seconds off without having to do any extra work in the gym or on the track or in the pool if you know what I mean. I can recall a few races where a friend of mine had come out of the water first and I ran into transition behind her and then ran out of transition before her. I took my transitions seriously though, I practice them and I think through what I am going to do.
It is part of the race- why would you train so hard to improve your run, your bike and your swim and not practice your transitions, they count!
My T1- As I am running out of the water I take off my swim cap and goggles and I am unzipping and pulling my wetsuit down to my waist. So I get to my transition area and do one big pull on my wet suit to get it down to my ankles where I can start the "Step and Pull", a little dance step. As I am stepping on one side of the wetsuit and pulling the other back and forth hopefully only once or twice I have my hands free to put my helmet on and my jacket on which I have placed both up high on the handle bars of my bike so I don't have to bend down(It is hard and not recommended to step and pull and bend down at the same time). By the way Clip your helmet immediatley when you put it on, don't leave clipping it until the end, you may forget and that is a DQ in most races. Now my feet are out of my wetsuit, I usually have a small towel and a squirt bottle of water to squirt on my feet and dry them before I put my cycling shoes on. I have done socks and I have done no socks at this point(undecided on that one). I now have my helmet on and clipped, my jacket on(if it is a race I will need a jacket) and my shoes on and I am ready to go. My sunglasses are clipped on my bike and all of my nutrition is on my bike. I am off to start my favorite part of the race!
T2- This one is easier. As I am coming into the transition area on my bike I unvelcro my shoes. I dismount and run to my transition area and kick each shoe off then slide them into my running shoes where I have yankz so I don't have to tie them. I grab my hat, and my race belt and take off running. I put my hat and race belt on as I am running out. If you don't have Yankz you should get some and try them out before race day-
A few tips to remember when planning your transitions....
1. Simplify. The less you have to do the better. Your less likely to forget something and it will take less time. Things like putting your sunglasses on your bike somewhere to put on down the road help to simplify. Some triathletes already have their shoes on their bike and they rubberband the heel loop to the bike to put the shoe in an upright position. They ride out with their feet on top of the shoe until they get coasting then they slide their foot into the shoe. This takes a lot of practice so don't try it in a race unless you have practiced it over and over again. Just remember to Keep it Simple!
2. Multi Task. You should be good at doing two things at once. As you are running in taking off your goggles and cap and wetsuit and then putting on your helmet as you are taking off your wetsuit. Running out while putting your race belt on and hat on. These are all good examples of how you can save time by doing more than one thing at a time.
3. Practice!!! You have to train your transitions, this is part of triathlon training. The only way to get faster at them is to train your self at doing them. Some triathletes come up with little songs that help them to remember everything- "Helmet, Glasses, Shoes, I'm Off!" Just don't neglect to not practice your transition.