Being nervious about the transitions is totally normal. Transitions are only a part of multiple activity sports like Triathlon so it's a whole, new ballgame as compared to running or cyclying events. Here's some of my thoughts regarding your questions:
Yes. Any official triathlon will have kayakers out on the water for the entire duration of the swim leg. In addition, there may be small boats and other safety officer the water.
If you don't complete the swim, you will typically receive a DNF (Did Not Finish) in the results. However, most races allow you to receive assistance in the form of holding onto the kayak for any period of time as needed. As long as holding on to the kayak doesn't result in forward movement (like you can't ride the kayak for the rest of the swim), you can use it to catch your breath, regroup and then start swimming again. If you truely couldn't stand to be in the water anymore, I guess you can request to be removed from the water. However, I doubt any official would prohibit you from getting on your bike and doing that part and then completing the run. Your race just won't "officially" count as compared to the other athletes.
Some transition areas have marked spots based on your race number. So if 757 is your race number, your transition area would be labeled 757. Other races have first-come, first serve transition areas so its always good to arrive extra early to secure your spot. Transition areas tend to fill up fast and you can end up with no good place if you are too late. Other ideas to mark your area is bring a balloon, bright color towels or chalk and mark the row with an arrow. At my last race, someone did that for our row and I loved it!
For attire, I highly recommend a tri-suit, either a single one piece or you can get a top and bottom tri-suit. The benefit of the tri-suit is that it has a built-it chemoise (bike pad) that will provide some support for the bike leg. That way, you don't need to worry about shorts. Just peel the wetsuit off and go!
In terms of vasoline, you have as much time as you want during transition. It's entirely up to you. You can sit there for 10 minutes if you really want. So take the time to do whatever you feel is necessary for you to have a good race.
Hope this helps and have a happy race!
USAT Certified Triathlon Coach
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This is only my second year, but in all events I have been, there have been lots of kayak/boats to watch people. In my last event, they canceled the swim leg, except for the Pros, because it was to rough for the kayaks. So you'll have no problem with the swim.
The bikes are kept in numbered racks so its easy to find them.
iamtri.com is also a good place to look for training partners.
Relax, you'll do fine. The triathlon community is the most friendly and helpful I've met.
Thank you for your response!
I am going to get a tri suit because I don't want to worry about changing into something else. I believe I will good with the swim, the bike, well I will be good for that and the run! The more I prepare, the better I will be.
I will get my bike the end of this month so that's good. Next week, I will be in full swing with spin class. I am focusing on finishing the race! I also tell my husband that I am going to kick his butt!