this Swim, Bike, Mom post. After typing, and typing, and typing I realized this was much better posted as a blog post rather than a comment.
I don't wholly agree with SBM's "wear one thing" & "don't put anything else on" rule. I completed my first sprint tri last year at 6'0" and 240 lbs, which makes me about an 18/20, and most women's triathlon clothing doesn't fit someone of my frame size. What to wear on race day was one of the biggest "mysteries" to figure out during my training.
I didn't want to spend $150+ on a triathlon suit when I wasn't sure if I would actually enjoy tri-ing. Especially when I would have to order specialty size or go to a men's cut. In fact, I didn't want to invest much money at all in triathlon gear until I realized I did in fact love it. So I ended up wearing my plain black Reebok one-piece swimming suit and a pair of Men's XXL compression shorts for the swim, and then pulling on a pair of mesh basketball shorts for the bike and run.
My advice to beginners (still being a beginner myself) is to NOT go out and buy a bunch of unnecessary gear. You DO NOT NEED a triathlon suit/kit to complete a sprint triathlon, unless you have an extra $100-$150 laying around and would just feel more comfortable doing this. I just don't want anyone using the expense of the sport as an
excuse to not train and complete their first race when they really want
Here's what my "gear" consisted of during my triathlon training and race:
-One piece no-frills swim suit (with supportive straps and full-coverage)
-Pair of compression shorts
-Pair of old school Speedo goggles I previously had (I paid $5 on clearance for them years prior)
-Swim cap (purchased half way through my training)
-Pair of mesh basketball shorts (pulled over compression shorts after the swim)
-Hand me down bike from the 90s - with proper safety tune up
-Water rack and water bottle on bike
-Properly fitted running shoes
-Sweat and moisture wicking socks
-Garmin 405 GPS enabled watch (this is not mandatory, I just happened to have been gifted one the Christmas before my first triathlon season)
-Hard work, determination, a training plan, and a commitment
Now your mileage may vary. I didn't find the need for padded bike shorts on my training rides and/or padded triathlon shorts for my race because I was only riding twice a week and not that far most days. I may buy a pair this year because I'm planning on spending A LOT of time on the bike and I can already tell it may affect...ahem...me.
Also, I am small chested, so I didn't feel uncomfortable riding and biking in just my bathing suit with shorts pulled over. If you are a better endowed woman than I am, you could easily wear a sports bra under your swim suit.
My point is, you can get by with less if you need to. You do not need clip-in pedals, a fancy bike, or lots of fancy gear for a sprint tri.
I would love hear other people's comments about their experience on completing their first tri and sharing their best tips and practices!