One of the many tricks to triathlon is figuring out what to wear. This is not an easy proposition! You need something that you can wear through the swim, the bike and the run that is (1) tight enough to act as a bathing suit (either on its own or under a wetsuit); (2) fast drying to work after the swim on the bike and the run; (3) supportive enough for the run but without any extra bulk; (4) cushioning enough on the seat so you don't die on the bike ... but not so much cushioning that you cannot run for 3, 6, 13 or 26 miles after; and (5) comfortable enough so you can focus on your race and not feel chafing, rubbing or riding up at any phase of the race.
For women, there are a bunch of options, but the two main choices are (1) a one piece tri suit or (2) a two piece tri kit [note: for whatever reason, in triathlon and cycling lingo, two pieces are called a "kit"]. I have always worn a one-piece in my races, and if you've read any of my triathlon recaps, you have seen it a bunch! My suit is the Orca Women's Core Race Suit which I purchased from Swimoutlet.com. I like my tri suit - it functions well, I don't have issues with chafing, it's comfortable for all the legs of the race and cushioned enough for even a half-iron distance ride and is nice and vented to keep me cool. The own downsides to the suit are that it's a bear to get off if I have to use the bathroom and ... pardon the total girl in me here ... it's not exactly attractive. That said, I will *always* (mmmm, ok almost always) choose function over form when it comes to sports, and I was of the belief that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. You can see my tri suit in these pictures.
I read a bunch of fellow triathletes' blogs, and I kept seeing the women rave about the women's specific kits from SOAS Racing. I have been thinking about switching to a two piece kit for Ironman Lake Placid, because the odds are, I will want to stop during the run part to use a porta-potty. And I cannot imagine, after hours on the swim and bike, that I will be up for the contortionist-type maneuvers that I have to go through to get my one piece suit down to use the bathroom. I loved the philosophy at SOAS (copied from its website):
SOAS started out as one of the pioneering women's specific triathlon clothing lines in 2010.
Three years later we are finding that the need for edgy, sophisticated, high end women's endurance apparel stretches far beyond triathlon.
SOAS has always offered more than boring black shorts and overly exaggerated "girlie" pink tops, and to this day we are sticking to our roots. "Pink it and Shrink it" is just not acceptable in our eyes. Who says you can't have clothing that is attractive, functional, and fits your body properly... well maybe some of our competitors. That's why we have built an amazing team of athletes, designers, and loyal followers to change the perspective of what's acceptable for women's endurance apparel.
The styles are perfect! Feminine but not too twee ... there is only one pink tri kit in the lot, and it's still really cool. They are obviously really popular because this entire Summer I could not find my size anywhere! Finally a few weeks ago they announced new designs for their Triathlon Kits, and I jumped on it. I went with the Nantucket Navy, but I'm also loving the Navy Rings and the Polka Dot styles. For me, dark shorts are an absolute must. I was a little concerned about the white top ... but it is lined in black and there is no see through. Here's the kit again!
Now, to be fair, I have not worn the kit at a triathlon yet. But I did wear it on a 45 minute fluid trainer ride (a fluid trainer is a contraption that you set your road bike on that turns it into a stationery bike -- it's like a treadmill for bikes and it takes up very little room. If I am home with my kids and cannot get out on a run, you'll find me on my trainer. get used to hearing me complain about it in the next 10 months). I liked it on the bike. The padding was just in the right spot. The tank was long enough to make me feel covered, but the cut was really comfortable. I liked where the shorts hit on my legs - a bit higher on the quads than my other tri suit, but in a really good (and frankly flattering) spot. The shorts did not ride up at all. I was sweating like an animal (as I always do on the trainer) when I was done and can attest that the lining in the tri tank worked great. Here I am during and after the trainer workout. I told you I (love to) hate the trainer.
|during ... counting the minutes til I am done|
|after - sweating like a wild beast|
I also wore the tank on a 15 mile training run. It was great. It has a bunch of pockets in the back (not unusual for a tri suit or tri kit) so I could keep my iPod and energy gels in them. I didn't chafe at all and the tank was super comfortable. It was also very supportive in the bust - not that I need much, mind you. But I wore the tank on its own without the need for an extra sports bra under it. To give you an idea of size, I took a Small in both the top and the bottom. The bottom fit perfectly. The top was a little harder: I tried an Extra Small too, but it felt a little too "compression-y". The Small is more comfortable for sure, and while I am a little worried that it will be a hair big after it gets wet in the swim, I know it will dry eventually, and I'd rather have a bit more "give" on the run.
I'm very excited about my new purchase! The test, of course, will be how it performs and how it feels at an actual tri. I'll put it to the test in the Spring when I start racing again. I'll be sure to report back!