I shop online a lot because I can do it at 6 o’clock in the morning or 10 o’clock at night, which is handy when I need to fit in as many training sessions as possible. At this stage of my triathlon training (with mountains of work in front of me) I am only really leaving the house to earn money, swim, bike or run.
Shopping online, especially on auction sites, often means you have to buy on impulse: you can’t touch the item or even see it properly sometimes. You have to be prepared to take a bit of a risk, which adds to the fun I think.
Some of my impulse purchases have turned out to be fantastic. Namely, the cycling shoes I bought from EBay secondhand – which I purchased before I even had a bike, because they seemed perfect for my needs and my budget and I decided I’d use them eventually (a week later, in fact)
Unfortunately, some other purchases have not been quite so successful.
Firstly, the running shorts I bought on EBay, which arrived from China 4 weeks later and turned out to be running singlets in size XXL. I have conducted an email exchange with the seller and they claim they have now sent me the shorts that I originally ordered. They seemed to think I should pay for the shirts as well (which I didn’t order and can’t use because they are too big) but I stood my ground and refused. I was happy to send the shirts back (at their expense) but I guess the return postage would be more than the profit they made from me because they weren’t interested. So… score! I think?
Secondly,the swimming costume I got for a bargain from Big W. At only 20 bucks, I didn’t even need to try it on – it was a suitable-looking sporty one piece that would be fine for a beginner swimmer.
Having never bought a swimming costume for swimming before, I didn’t realise that I could have bought a proper Speedo brand one for only about $35 when on sale. Although in trying to be a bit frugal, I may still have stuck with the Big W cheapie.
Unfortunately, the result after only 8 weeks of training (and only swimming at most twice a week) is a tattered and raggedy old piece of lycra, unfit to be seen on anyone trying to be a triathlete. I put it on Wednesday morning and looked in the mirror to find that I could see through the torso entirely. I may as well have worn nothing.
Although, being a choice between the costume and my tri suit pictured at the top of this post, you’ll understand why I still wore the see-through cossie to the pool that morning. I just jumped in really quickly, praying that no one saw.
And yes, the tri suit. I bought it on EBay as soon as I made the commitment to doing the baby Bribie Island Triathlon, because I am a champion shopper and I want to look the part on race day. It was only $70 and still had the tags attached so I thought I’d done well, but when I wore the suit publicly for my first OWS last week, I realised that perhaps I had rushed in too quickly.
It’s not because it looks so hideous – I don’t really care about that and I enjoy the hilarity factor, especially when combined with swimming cap and goggles. The transparency is a bit of an issue when you’re outside and not in the low light of your living room, but it’s not as bad as my swimming costume – and with a sports bra underneath I’ll be fine.
It’s not that I can’t swim in it either, because having tested it in the ocean I can confirm it was great to swim in and is super comfortable to wear. For the first time in my life, I know what it feels like to be a sausage… and it’s good. Don’t ever feel sorry for those beautiful bangers on the supermarket shelves – their life is one of perfect encasement, blissfully squished in and supported from head to toe. Wearing my tri suit is heavenly, from a comfort perspective.
It’s not even the nappy, which I have come to love because you can’t wear knickers under a tri suit (same as your swimming costume) and frankly I enjoy a bit of extra cover-up ‘down there’ – I’d like it in all of my swimwear, if I’m honest. Plus, the nappy is the only bottom-cushioning I’ll have for the bike portion and I don’t want to go without it just because it looks weird.
So no, the problem is not anything obvious, which may be why I didn’t foresee it even though I am a well-versed online shopper with a good eye for spying potential downfalls.
The issue is that the zip is on the back of the suit, and nowhere in my Triathlete Manual did it say that the seventh sport of triathlon (after swim, bike, run, transition, weight-lifting and food) is ‘trying to unzip suit to go to toilet, and then zip back up again’.
I needed the loo when I got back from Bribie Island and hadn’t even considered the challenge I was about to face. For that kind of training session, I’d normally eat a banana, have a glass of water and warm up for 10 minutes AT LEAST. I burned approximately 791 calories trying to first reach the zip, then pull it down to where I could contort my arms back around and underneath to again reach the zip and pull it all the way down. And of course, performing the entire stunt whilst doing the international jig of the toilet-needy.
Luckily I was at home so I didn’t bother to zip it back up again, but just went and got in the shower to contemplate yet another reality check.
On race day, I could lose 30 minutes to the zipper if I need the loo half way around the course. Bear in mind that the swim will take at least 45 minutes, the bike about an hour and the run an hour too, by the time you add in transitions that’s three hours total (on a good day!) and I am definitely going to need the toilet in that time.
Having researched triathlon suits over the weekend, I found that there are lots of different styles available and I was foolish not to research them before buying mine. Apparently many people opt for a shorts-and-matching-top combination, but I prefer the one-piece style because anything that helps me avoid getting tummy ache (as I often get from tight waistbands) will be a good thing, especially when bending over for an hour on my bike. I found lots of one-piece suits with the zip at the front, which is of course what I should have purchased.
So unfortunately I have a less-than-perfect triathlon suit which will do me for Bribie (where the race is short enough that I shouldn’t need the toilet anyway) but may have to be replaced before Noosa. Which makes me sad because I kind of love it and the memory of buying it.
I’m wondering whether adding a long tag or piece of string to the zip would make it easier to locate and pull, but then I am not sure if that will result in someone accidentally unzipping me as they try to swim over me in the first leg of the race. Could be embarrassing.
Definitely one to mull over, and a lesson for the newbie triathlete – being an elite shopper does not make you an elite triathlon shopper.