(This post on gear, and others on the subject of bikes and running, is getting a wee bit out of date, but that’s okay. Since I started, I have, naturally, added a few bits to the armoury. The big one is the new Orbea bike to complement the steel frame racing bike. And I now use clippies (the cleated cycling shoe that clips into the pedals). Other bits and bobs will also come and go as they submit to the usual wear and tear; runners, swimming togs, goggles – that sort of thing. But I will leave the original post here, as it is the way I started out on this journey.)
Doing an Iron Man is one of life’s little luxuries. Whilst this may seem counter-intuitive, if you think about it, things can’t be too bad if you can take some time off to train for one during the week, are reasonably fit enough to take it on in the first place, and have a few spare quid lying around to pick up a few things you will need to get you over the line. That you can even then blog about it too means you also have a computer, or access to one, and an internet connection. So, yeah. Overall, an Iron Man is something of a luxury. And yes, I am sure at some point over the next year I will have cause to regret that last statement.
Anyway, I am going to try and do my own Iron Man on a budget. Not to prove a point or anything. Just in case the Revenue are reading this. I promised them I was broke.
The first event is of course the swim. For this you will need some form of wetsuit you can swim in. If you are already way past this point, then this page is not for you. For the budget-conscious Iron Man wannabe, then your first port of call will be online ads. Here in Ireland, all triathlon events require a wetsuit. Water temperatures here can be quite ‘parky’. Not for us the luxury of a pair of budgie-smugglers and luke-warm water. Here we are made of sterner stuff. Well, some of us are anyway. Tom Crean, Arctic Explorer was from Kerry. They sure are tough down there. I’d say Tom did an Iron Man each morning before breakfast.
Once I had worked out that my shortie suit (all 15 quid from Lidl) was trying to kill me on longer swims, I decided to really push the boat out and get a proper ‘swimming’ wetsuit. I was lucky to score a good Speedo suit from a decent gent on Adverts.ie, probably the best place to shop online for second-hand stuff. He was trading up and was good enough to let his old suit go at a very good price; 70 quid. It’s a good philosophy to have: use it, enjoy it, then move it on to another person who can do likewise.
I splashed out for my first Tri in Athy, and also bought a neoprene hat. That’s perhaps a luxury many triathletes dispense with. What convinced about the hat was a trial swim in the Milltown Feeder canal last year, before the Athy event. The water in the feeder is spring-fed from the Curragh Aquifer. It’s cold. Bitterly so. I have swam in canals before, in my pelt, but this was quite a shock to the system, and when you get that open water cold shock, your breathing goes out of whack, and that can spell the end of your swim (and race) before you’ve even got going. So rather than risk that, I chickened out and bought the neoprene swim hat. Good investment, and recommended if you are planning on doing a lot of open water swimming, especially in the sea. Pricey enough for what they are – about 30 quid, though that’s for a new one.
You will also need a pair of swimming trunks and goggles. The goggles are vital so you can see where you are going, and the trunks even more so, in order not to get arrested and thrown out of your local pool. My trunks were a tenner in the local store, and seem to be breaking down badly with the chlorine. That’s my second pair in a year. But they are holding on manfully for now. The goggles are nothing special, but the main thing is that they don’t leak or leave me with dreadful panda-eyes. Pro swimmers all swear by certain brands, but I am not a pro, nor even a particularly good swimmer, so you are on your own on this one.
Next up, biking on a budget…