And other triathlon truths.
I'm a triathlon noob. Completing my very first tri in March, as a prelude to my first 70.3, I was immediately hooked. And I suspected that might happen. That was the whole reason for buying a road bike last summer, even if I didn't admit it then.
As analytical as they come, I had (and still have) lots of questions. Fortunately, I've got a lot of great tri friends that I can go to with my concerns. I'm so grateful to have such a great resource in such knowledgeable and experienced friends! And y'all surprise me by asking questions of me. Me, a newbie! This is certainly a learning year and I still have plenty to learn, hopefully before IMTX next May. But I'm working on it!
If you'd like a peek into my pink noggin, here are a few things I've learned about tris, either from patient friends or just from experience. Please remember, these are for brand newbies!
1. Triathlon is expensive. No, really expensive. You thought cycling was spendy? Just you wait. But it is worth every dime and I'll be honest, don't skimp the first time or you'll just end up re-purchasing items and spending more than you needed to in the long run.
2. You don't need a fancy tri bike. Yes, I love my racing bike, but I did several triathlons on my heavy skillet of a road bike. And there will be people on hybrids and mountain bikes. Promise. No one will make fun of you. Promise. All you need to get started is a bike. You've already got your arms and legs for the other two disciplines!
3. I get this question a lot via email and I'm just going to go on record as stating, "No, you do not wear unnawears." Do you hear me? No unnawears in tri! Think about it, do you really want wet bunchies in your bidnass on the bike? You do not. Embrace going commando. It's freeing.
4. A happy hoo ha is a happy triathlete. Make sure you have a good bike fit and for goodness sake, if you're going to ride long, slap some ride glide around. I like Hoo Ha Ride Glide, but I'll warn you, it's minty. And that's all I'll say about that.
5. After a race, or after a long brick workout, your house will look like triathlon threw up all over it. There will be wet gear everywhere. Yes, those are socks and a tri-kit in my sink. Don't judge. You'll think you should dry out on the bike or run, but you'll just sweat so much it will all stay wet. And disgusting. There is no smell like lake + sweat smell. I swear it takes me longer to clean up after a tri than to actually race the dang thing.
6. You don't need a race kit to get started. For a sprint, just throw on a swim suit over your jog bra and then pull on shorts over that for the bike/run. Did I mention triathlon is spendy? Just race in what you have the first few times. No one will point and laugh. I promise.
7. When you're ready for tri shorts and a tri top, know that it will look horrible. Tri gear is insanely unflattering, even on the most lean, fit athletes. Just imagine how you feel swimsuit shopping, then add that to jeans shopping and bra shopping. Now you're about halfway to the discomfort of shopping for a spandex tri-kit. It's awful. But everyone will look stuffed into their gear. (don't mistake cycling shorts for tri shorts - tri shorts have a much thinner chamois so it doesn't get all bunchy in your bidnass when you are killing it in the run portion)
8. Having a fun swimsuit and swim cap makes all the difference for those early swim practices. No, I am not kidding. Splish makes the most fun suits and they are great quality. Why buy plain black when you can have flying sheep on your suit?
9. Wear your timing chip on your left ankle, away from your gears.
10. If you are concerned about losing your goggles when you get kicked, wear them under your swim cap. And yes, you'll probably get kicked. It's not the end of the world and it won't make you drown. And if you really get desperate, you're welcome to borrow my Nutria Powah.
Bonus Tip: You will meet the most amazing people. And you will have so much fun! Triathletes are like ultra runners - everyone is family. And it doesn't matter if you are riding a Toy R Us mountain bike, wearing a Wal M@rt bathing suit and have no idea what T1 means, they'll embrace you and guide you the entire way.