Friday, March 8, 2013

Gearing Up

Before I get started, I will openly admit that I am a gear junkie.  It's not so much that I need everything I buy, but I just love getting new stuff (even if its used).  Plus, I can never have too many pairs of running shoes or swim suits ;-)

It is OK to Borrow Equipment

In her book "A Life Without Limits: A World Champion's Journey", Chrissy Wellington (4 time Ironman World Championship winner), wrote about the borrowed equipment used in some of her first races.

Coast to Coast (New Zealand) Run, Bike, Kayak

"I'd turned up to this event on a whim, learned how to kayak in a few weeks, borrowed equipment and very nearly won the biggest endurance race in New Zealand."

2006 National Sprint Championships (Redditch)

"As usual, I had borrowed equipment.  First there was the road bike.  Paul Robershaw, the very man who had introduced me to the idea of triathlon at the Birmingham Running and Triathlon Club two years earlier lent one to me.  So: road bike, check.  Now I needed to get hold of a wetsuit.  Mark Hirsch, also of the BRAT club, had a spare."

2006 Shropshire Triathlon
"The night before the race, he taught me how to mount and dismount in my new clip-in shoes.  I even borrowed a wetsuit that actually fit".

2006 ITU Age Group World Championships (Switzerland): 1st place

"And of course, I had borrowed a wetsuit."

2007 Ironman Korea
"I'd borrowed kit off my team-mates and worn an old black vest - not great in the heat - onto which I'd ironed the team logo."

Here is someone winning world championships on borrowed equipment!  She didn't need the latest and greatest technology to reach her goal.  In fact, the day before she won the 2007 Ironman World Championship in Kona, one of the pedals on her bike broke.  In her book she describes how she "fixed it with industrial glue." She didn't run out and buy a new set of carbon fiber pedals.

You Don't Need Fancy, Expensive Equipment

Racing without a fancy outfit
When I showed up at my first duathlon with my Performance store brand bike I moaned to Mike how everyone else had real race bikes.  I looked for other Scattantes, but didn't see any.  I was convinced I was going to get my butt handed to me by these athletes with their fancy cycling outfits and expensive bikes.

I ended up being the 3rd place overall female.  In fact, not only did I not have a fancy outfit, but I did the majority of the race in my running bra because I had dressed too warmly and overheated half way through the first part of the run.  So much for decorum and fancy racing clothes.

Stick to the Basics 

So what will you need in terms of gear for your first tri?  You will need a swim suit and goggles (Stage II in Lincoln Center has just about every type of goggle you can imagine); a bike and helmet; and some running shoes.  That's it.  Basic, basic.  Depending on the time of year, you may or may not need a wetsuit.  My first triathlon was in October so I bought a used one on eBay.  My reasoning was that it was going to cost me $50 to rent a wetsuit, so why not buy a used one for a bit more (I got mine for $75).  If I decided I never wanted to do another triathlon, I would just sell the wetsuit on eBay to some other tri hopeful and not be out any money.  Mike purchased a brand new wetsuit for $99!

I feel a little hypocritical writing this because I love getting new gear, but that is a personal preference and it is not necessary (as evidenced by Chrissy Wellington).  Start with equipment you are comfortable with.  After you are hooked on the sport of triathlon (and you will be after you complete your first race) then you can gear up! :-)