General Discussion Triathlon Talk » All the questions...need all the answers! Rss Feed  
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2021-07-01 12:01 PM


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Subject: All the questions...need all the answers!
Hello! My name is Annie, I am 40, and I am just beginning to train for a sprint tri in September. I did a sprint in 2009 and I was true beginner (mountain bike, ran in a bathing suit and cotton tee shirt/shorts) so while this current event isn't my first, it may as well be as the last try was long ago. I actually still have that same mountain bike, ha. Im looking for a bit of advice on gear and training.

1. In regards to a wetsuit (will be swimming in open water), a triathlon suit, road bike, how would you rank in order of importance? I would love a proper road bike but purchasing a new road bike is out of the question for now (until I am certain I will continue with these events). I am a stay at home mom so finding the time to train is a goal in and of itself! I haven't had much luck finding used road bikes ( are there reputable online sites that sell refurbished bikes?). Do I NEED a tri suit or can I just rock a sports bra and bike shorts under a wetsuit?

2. I have a very good baseline of fitness and am confident with the bike and run, the swim is my worry. Distance is 1/2 mi swim, 13 mi bike, 3 mi run. I basically printed out Hal Higdon's intermediate tri training program and its all time blocks (swim 30 min, run 30, etc). Any other resources out there that folks would recommend?

3. Lastly, any advice is welcome! I am excited, this is something just for me after many years of caring for small children. Im looking forward to the challenge! And showing my kids their mom is a bada**.


2021-07-01 7:01 PM
in reply to: 0

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Champion
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Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!

Welcome Annie.

Did you have FUN riding your mountain bike and running in your swimsuit and cotton shorts?  That sounds a lot like my first triathlon.  

what are the expected water temps?  How fast do you swim?  A wetsuit might help a lot....it might not...As cool as 70F might not be too bad after the initial plunge.  Understand that a wetsuit works by trapping a layer of (initially cold) water that your toasty body warms up.  (Some people bring a thermos of hot water to pour into their wetsuit.  The wetsuit May be constricting and make you feel claustrophobic.  

Depending on your size, you can find used road bikes.  You’ll want to use a fit calculator to get a starting point.  Repeat after me:  “There’s no such thing as a cheap bicycle...”. Unless you (or a loved one) are prepared to do you’re own maintaining and rehab, paying the bike shop mechanic will be crazy expensive.  Your local bike shop may have some used bikes.  You can also search eBay and Craigslist.  If there’s a local cycling club, (and BT here) sometimes has buy/sell. I've bought 2 eBay bikes and both worked out.  What I typically see are late model bikes offered for only a little less than new or old (both of mine were old) bikes.  

For the swim, get some lessons/coaching and do some open water practice.  The murky water, aquatic plants, waves/chop, and contact by other swimmers can be “unsettling “ if you aren’t prepared.  



Edited by McFuzz 2021-07-01 7:02 PM
2021-07-02 10:36 AM
in reply to: McFuzz


6

Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!
Thank you! Great, great feedback. I actually loved my first triathlon. I had a blast. Hence why I am looking forward to this. Ill continue to keep my eye out for used bikes, I saw a great option but it was just too big. I had a hard time finding a sizing guide for certain brands, one site said the size would work, one didn't.

Im not certain of the water temp (the event is early September) so I think it should be at least 70 if not a touch higher (August has the warmest temp, Im in CT). Im currently training a few days a week in a lap pool to focus on distance and stamina and then plan to do one open water swim a week to get the hang of swimming against a current or waves. The washing machine effect of legs and arms in the last event was jarring but I did ok. I was part of a group who trained together but this time Im on my own. And the distance is longer (first swim was 1/3 mi this is a 1/2 and the body of water is more rough for this event. Im struggling with the leg drag thing. I find I work a lot harder bc my legs aren't horizontal with the rest of my body.

Think it makes sense to train on my mountain bike and rent a road bike for the day of or would that be a bad idea to ride on a new bike? Its a 13 mi bike leg so not terribly far. I just don't see myself spending thousands on a new bike right now so unless I find a used option Ill be on a mountain bike. I should clarify, I want to do well but Im also not looking to break records. I just want to have fun and finish strong, that's all. Thanks!
2021-07-02 2:27 PM
in reply to: AnnieMac81

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Champion
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Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!

Why not just ride the mountain bike?  Are you going to lose sponsorships or a job because you’re riding the slower mountain bike rather than a roadie?  You can set your goals and expectations based on the mountain bike.  when I did my half-Ironman, I saw a couple people on mountain bikes.  

If your legs are sinking, focus on your head position (an exaggeration, but look for your belly button) and that you’re ROTATING to breathe rather than lifting your head (your lower ear should be in the water...you don’t breathe through it...and the corner of your mouth should just clear the water). I was a lifeguard and swim instructor many years ago.  

2021-07-02 9:22 PM
in reply to: McFuzz

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Master
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Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!
If you're a weak swimmer AND the water temps are such that the swim is wetsuit-legal, a wetsuit might be a really good investment that would help you feel more confident and get through the swim with more left for bike and run. That being said, a lot of triathletes are too dependent on them and don't take the time they should to develop proper swim technique. Best to get a wetsuit AND check out any opportunities you have to work on swim technique, especially proper body position and efficient breathing. A wetsuit's a good investment if you plan to do more races or other open-water swimming.

Trisuit....not absolutely critical but can make things more comfortable. If funds are limited, tri shorts might be the best choice--they are great because they don't get too heavy on the swim, are more comfortable than swim clothes or run shorts on the bike, and are comfortable for running as well. Anything else is problematic for at least one of the events! You can always do the swim in a sports bra and then put on a T-shirt for the bike and run.

As for the bike, I don't think it matters unless you're seriously competing for age group or overall awards OR the race doesn't allow them (some don't, usually longer events). I did my first two tris on a MTB (the first had an off-road component to the bike leg, so I had to). My second tri was an Olympic distance, on the roads. I was something like 9th overall and 6th in my age group (I think?). (It wasn't a really deep field, and I'm a strong swimmer and runner.) My third tri was the same distance, same race series, stronger field, (but different, harder course and hotter conditions) and with a decent road bike I was about 20 minutes faster, first in my age group, and 4th overall. (I still got creamed to some extent on the bike leg by women on tri bikes, but that's yet another step up!) So that would give you some idea. Both bikes were fine as far as safely completing the race, but even with an outstanding swim and run, you generally won't be competitive on a MTB in most races.
2021-07-02 9:31 PM
in reply to: AnnieMac81

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Master
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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!
Wanted to add that you should check out the beginner plans on BT. I used them for several years (at beginner and intermediate levels, for distances from sprint to Olympic to half-ironman) and was able to get to where I was very competitive regionally in my age group. You may find you need to tweak them a bit if you have strengths or weaknesses in a particular area, but they can be a good place to start.

One thing I wouldn't recommend is following 3 separate plans (one for each sport). I tried this in my early days in tri (partly due to training with others and following what the group did, partly overconfidence since I had a big swim and run background and some coaching experience in both). I tended to get into trouble with it, because it didn't provide a balanced amount of stress and recovery across the three sports. I'd end up overtrained, get sick before race day, get niggling injuries, or feel too "flat" from other training to nail key workouts that would have increased my fitness. A good tri plan will try to balance your effort and fatigue levels across all three sports. Hope this makes some kind of sense!


2021-07-04 3:36 PM
in reply to: Hot Runner


6

Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!
So much great advice! What a great resource this is- and so supportive! Thank you for weighing in, I really do appreciate it!
2021-07-06 12:25 PM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Master
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Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!
x2 on the tri shorts. Also it's easier to do bathroom breaks than in a full tri suit.
You can wear regular bike shorts under a wetsuit, but depending on what the pad is made of, they can be a big soggy mess. Tri shorts have a lighter, thinner pad that dries quickly. Once I got used to it, it's mostly the only type of shorts I wear, even on long training rides. You can find these on eBay, and we also have a bunch of BeginnerTriathlete tri shorts on eBay in women's sizes that are discounted because they have our old logo on them.


Originally posted by Hot Runner

If you're a weak swimmer AND the water temps are such that the swim is wetsuit-legal, a wetsuit might be a really good investment that would help you feel more confident and get through the swim with more left for bike and run. That being said, a lot of triathletes are too dependent on them and don't take the time they should to develop proper swim technique. Best to get a wetsuit AND check out any opportunities you have to work on swim technique, especially proper body position and efficient breathing. A wetsuit's a good investment if you plan to do more races or other open-water swimming.

Trisuit....not absolutely critical but can make things more comfortable. If funds are limited, tri shorts might be the best choice--they are great because they don't get too heavy on the swim, are more comfortable than swim clothes or run shorts on the bike, and are comfortable for running as well. Anything else is problematic for at least one of the events! You can always do the swim in a sports bra and then put on a T-shirt for the bike and run.

As for the bike, I don't think it matters unless you're seriously competing for age group or overall awards OR the race doesn't allow them (some don't, usually longer events). I did my first two tris on a MTB (the first had an off-road component to the bike leg, so I had to). My second tri was an Olympic distance, on the roads. I was something like 9th overall and 6th in my age group (I think?). (It wasn't a really deep field, and I'm a strong swimmer and runner.) My third tri was the same distance, same race series, stronger field, (but different, harder course and hotter conditions) and with a decent road bike I was about 20 minutes faster, first in my age group, and 4th overall. (I still got creamed to some extent on the bike leg by women on tri bikes, but that's yet another step up!) So that would give you some idea. Both bikes were fine as far as safely completing the race, but even with an outstanding swim and run, you generally won't be competitive on a MTB in most races.
2021-07-08 3:10 PM
in reply to: alicefoeller

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Champion
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Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!

I would also recommend trishorts.  You can wear them for any kind of bike riding and they hold up better when wet.  This is an investment you will not regret.   Get this early on to use in training since the padding is thinner.  

Regarding the wet suit, I am a BIG fan.  You might be able to rent one.  Something to investigate.  Usually it includes an extra day so you can practice swimming in it.  HOWEVER, a sleeveless triathlon wetsuit can be pretty inexpensive and worth the purchase if you will do a handful of races over time.   I was/am a weak swimmer and having a wet suit changes everything for me.  I come out of the water with energy to go.

I would NOT rent a road bike for the race.    You should race the same as you train.    It you have a mountain bike and can train on that, just do the race with that.   But, road bikes are great and there's always room in one's life for more bikes!   If you're looking, it's REALLY hard to know if it's the right size until you sit on it.  There are many sizing factors (height, reach, etc.) and no one can really just say "If you're 5'6'' you ride a x size."    Lots of test rides are in order.

Best of luck!

2021-07-13 11:28 PM
in reply to: 0


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Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!
OK, here is a reply from the peanut gallery. Did my first tri, a sprint, on my mountain bike. Did a 70.3 Ironman the next year and although I had bought a road bike by then, there were a couple of people on MTBs...on a 70.3! I own a $100 sleeveless wetsuit I bought off of Amazon. I think sleeveless, while colder to swim in, saves you from arm / armpit chafing issues. I swam a 70.3 at 61* water temp in the sleeveless suit. It can be done. I think having a wetsuit will help you with issues of your legs sinking although, as others have said, technique figures more into the equation.

I have tri pants I use for the bike and run segments of sprints with a tech tee on top. When I did the 70.3 I did the bike in full bike shorts and jersey and changed to running gear for the run. And finished. Now, I am not concerned about being on the podium. I didn't do a tri until after I turned 60. So that extra couple of minutes in transition is not a big deal to me.

I am jumping back into the 70.3 game as a 67 y.o. athlete next summer after sickness and then Covid shutdowns killed my last two 70.3 race plans. I will be wearing the gear listed above...in comfort.

Edited by HaydenHunter 2021-07-13 11:28 PM
2021-07-14 9:43 AM
in reply to: HaydenHunter

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Denver, Colorado
Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!
1. Go with your mountain bike! That's how I started, and I have seen many, many riders on all sorts of bikes - from MTB to some retro stuff, to those commuter bikes. The best part was when I (or another fellow on the old non-tri bike) passed someone on a fancy bike... Bike is a bike and the fitness is what matters. One day you switch to a roadie and you will have all the power in your legs from the mtb

2. I bought my wetsuite for $60 from here: https://xterraoutlet.com/
All legit, and I had several friends buying from there too. That's a great way to save on a fantastic wetsuit.

3. I did all my triathlons, including one HM, in my swimsuit. I only added shorts for bike/run to feel more comfortable in HM, but otherwise, I did not bother with anything else. However, I was not using wetsuit for any of my races (I bouth the Xterra one just before Covid), so I basically started and finished in the swimming suit. But if I ever race in wetsuit, I will wear sports bra and athletic pants, and then just jump quickly into shorts and complete bike and run in shorts and sports bra.


2021-07-16 2:40 AM
in reply to: AnnieMac81


1

Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!
I would consider getting a road bike from walmart or somewhere like that.
Smaller wheels are usually easier.

You can absolutely do the 12 miles on the mountain bike, but a quicker bike with smaller tyres will be easier to go that distance.

Simple road bikes from walmart are usually like 250 max.
2021-07-16 9:40 AM
in reply to: HaydenHunter

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Roswell, Georgia
Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!

Originally posted by HaydenHunter  When I did the 70.3 I did the bike in full bike shorts and jersey and changed to running gear for the run. 

Did the 70.3 you did have a change tent (I've never seen one at that distance)? Or how did you change your shorts in T2 - just out in the open? I ask because of the 'no nudity' rule but I know some people can do an 'inside a towel' change.

2021-07-25 1:50 PM
in reply to: Blackvans1234


6

Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!
This is such a great forum! I love the input, it is so helpful!

Ive been poking around online looking for used road bikes. I think Id be happy to go that route if one seemed to be in good shape and reasonably priced. That being said....Im a newbie. How do I know if something is outrageously overpriced?

I saw a Cannondale R300 CAD2 priced for $650. Is that insane or ok? And after all the support I may as well just plug along on my 20 year old mountain bike with a big ole smile on my face. I have no aspirations of winning, this is purely for enjoyment and fitness for right now and a way to celebrate 40! Thanks again all!
2021-07-26 10:40 AM
in reply to: AnnieMac81

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Roswell, Georgia
Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!

There's a Bicycle Blue Book site that may be helpful when looking at used bike prices - https://www.bicyclebluebook.com/ 

2021-08-02 10:40 AM
in reply to: marysia83


6

Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!
I would up purchasing a wetsuit from the outlet you suggested, seemed to be the best deal I could find online! That being said I fell exactly within a size range and purchased what the guide suggested. It is TIGHT. And I should note Ive never worn a wetsuit before. I assume it fits appropriately but man, it might take some getting used to. I feel like the neck feels snug. The next size up seemed like it would be too big. Is this just me getting acclimated to something totally new? TIA.


2021-08-02 11:32 AM
in reply to: AnnieMac81

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Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!
Originally posted by AnnieMac81

I would up purchasing a wetsuit from the outlet you suggested, seemed to be the best deal I could find online! That being said I fell exactly within a size range and purchased what the guide suggested. It is TIGHT. And I should note Ive never worn a wetsuit before. I assume it fits appropriately but man, it might take some getting used to. I feel like the neck feels snug. The next size up seemed like it would be too big. Is this just me getting acclimated to something totally new? TIA.


No, don't get the size up! This one will be perfect - just learn how to properly put it on.
When I purchased mine I wanted to do the smae thing, because I could not breath (on my chest and around the neck). What you need to do is make sure you pull the wetsuit from the legs - easy does it. Slowly, a little bit after a little bit - it needs patience. Once you're done up to your hips, just keep pulling a little bit and a little bit up, and then it will fit perfect.
2021-08-02 8:25 PM
in reply to: AnnieMac81

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Champion
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Albuquerque, New Mexico
Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!

Originally posted by AnnieMac81 I would up purchasing a wetsuit from the outlet you suggested, seemed to be the best deal I could find online! That being said I fell exactly within a size range and purchased what the guide suggested. It is TIGHT. And I should note Ive never worn a wetsuit before. I assume it fits appropriately but man, it might take some getting used to. I feel like the neck feels snug. The next size up seemed like it would be too big. Is this just me getting acclimated to something totally new? TIA.

sounds about right!  There was a thread from Elilio DeSoto about taking care of wetsuits. One big one is the neoprene dries out and gets hard just like your kitchen sponge. Soak it the day before you plan to wear it and it’s less likely to tear.  

To put it on, pull the legs over your feet and get the ankles as high as you can above your ankles with the rest of the legs rolled back down. Slowly work the legs in place by rolling the suit up your legs. Get the crotch in place and work it in place. If you have sleeves, do the same for the arms starting at your wrists. Last step is to get it around your torso and zipped. Oh...and race day, don’t leave your swim cap tucked into your suit while putting your wetsuit on.  
https://beginnertriathlete.com/discussion/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=47822&page=1

 

2021-08-17 10:41 PM
in reply to: AnnieMac81


1

Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!
Annie... In years past, I worked in the bike industry and I can share a couple of thoughts to your question about bikes and cheap bikes.

First, unless you know exactly what size works for you AND (equally important) you are able to look at a used bike and determine its mechanical fitness, going the used market has some risks. Get the wrong size and it won't be comfortable to ride. Get something that needs a tune up or even a major overhaul (mechanic takes the entire thing apart and rebuilds to get it working great again), and/or some replacement parts (ie. needs new rubber... the wheels need a good truing), you could end up spending $75-$200 more just to get it road ready.

Someone here gave great advice. Is there a bike club or tri club that you can get word out to the members that you are looking for a used bike? That is where you are likely to find a used bike and that seller (because he/she is a club member) is more likely than not to talk straight with you about the bike. It's not some guy selling an old bike from his garage on craigs list. If I ever had a bike I wanted to sell, there is zero chance I would have sold it if I knew it needed work. Or I would have said up front that this bike is $X, but you really need to budget another $100 for a big tune up.

If you are training, then you are going to eventually need a road bike that doesn't punish you when you put in miles. A mt bike is fine for your first (and 4th) tri but when you move onto a road bike, you will be so happy you did when you go out on Saturday training rides.

That said, there are options at lower price points... If I had $750-$1000 to spend, most of the bike companies (trek, specialized, giant, etc) have a fairly good entry level road bike option at that price. It would be a big improvement over a mt bike for your tri events and even better for your daily training.

If your budget is closer to $500, then there are a few flat bar road bike options to look at. A Trek FX 1 is about $500 and it's new... and will be properly fit to you... and you won't have maintenance costs right out of the gate.

If you only have a couple of hundred bucks, save it and keep riding your mt bike. Whatever you find used won't be an upgrade over what you have now.

Good luck!
2021-09-15 3:49 PM
in reply to: marysia83

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Regular
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Wisconsin
Subject: RE: All the questions...need all the answers!
Originally posted by marysia83

Originally posted by AnnieMac81

No, don't get the size up! This one will be perfect - just learn how to properly put it on.
When I purchased mine I wanted to do the smae thing, because I could not breath (on my chest and around the neck). What you need to do is make sure you pull the wetsuit from the legs - easy does it. Slowly, a little bit after a little bit - it needs patience. Once you're done up to your hips, just keep pulling a little bit and a little bit up, and then it will fit perfect.


Not adding much, but this is good advice. If it feels a little too tight, and maybe even makes you a little panicky, you are doing it right.
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