Swimming in California is a very cold affair, and as a consequence wetsuits are common place. Fortunately, my wetsuit is also one I could use for surfing… If I ever went surfing (looks like fun). I do have a problem feeling claustrophobic, however, and so a one piece wetsuit never sounded appealing. Fortunately, Desoto makes a two-piece triathlon wetsuit called the T1 which works wonders (I love it). Getting the suit both on and off seems to be much easier than a one-piece suit, plus you have the option of just wearing the lower half, when you have those warmer swims. Personally, I hate being cold in the water, and the Desoto has kept me warm in the SF Bay at water temperatures of 55 degrees… So I have no complaints about warmth. More on this later and my other swim equipment, from goggles to swim caps.
At the end of 2009, I had signed up for the Iron-Length Vineman Triathlon. The only problem was that I didn’t even own a bicycle. So, I started perusing Craig’s List, and I found a nice road bike to get started on: An aluminum Giant TCR, “large”. After some research, I realized the bike wasn’t quite the right size for me; Also, if I was going to spend over 8 hours on a bicycle riding 112 miles, I would need something a little… better. I was single, so I thought… Why not? I did my research with the following criteria: It had to be fast, it had to be a tri-bike (I’m not in to road races) with aerobars, and it had to include a professional fitting. Although Trek is very popular in the San Francisco area, after reading a lot of articles (mostly from slowtwitch.com), I settled on what is now my favorite bicycle of all time: The 2010 Cervelo P2 all composite bicycle. It’s a fast machine, and with it I knew my success or failure would be entirely dependent on me, and not my equipment. We’ll be riding together for a long, long time. The only change I made: Tires.
Another important part of my bicycle gear is my helmet and glasses. I got mine from Rudy, and I love them. They work great, they’re light, and the helmet is amazingly comfortable.
I used to run with the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11 stability shoes, since I have a tendency to overpronate. I also own a pair of Brooks ASR Trail shoes, for women. Yes, women. I have extremely narrow feet for a man (“B” Width theycall it), and nobody makes a trail shoe in a narrow width. So, I’m stuck buying a size 12 woman’s trail shoe, but fortunately it doesn’t really look like a woman’s shoe.
At the start of 2012, I started wearing Brooks PureCadence, part of their PureProject of minimalist shoes. So far, I love them, even if they are ugly. The “PureFlow” isn’t much better, but I’m not sure how much stability I need any more. Soon, I’ll be wearing the “PureGrit” on the trails and switching from purecadence to pureflow shoes (which are less ugly, also, but are more like the “stability” rather than “stability+” shoes).
The real test will be on my long runs. And yes, I am still forced to buy women’s size 12 shoes thanks to my narrow feet. But, I’ve come to accept the fact my running shoes will be very… visible. It takes a real man to wear women’s shoes. At least the puregrits look more manly-trail like. I guess.
Trail running in the San Francisco area offers both a challenge and some of the best scenery. Pacific Coast Trail Runs often has races on challenging courses; I hope to do more next year. But with trail running , one of the most important things is to remain hydrated… As a consequence, my favorite way to keep plenty of fluids available is with a Nathan’s Endurance Race Vest, based on the popular HPL-20 series. This thing is, in a word, awesome:
After I finished the Vineman triathlon, I decided I need to reward myself with a little gift. Again, after much research, I settled on the Garmin 310XT. And boy, have I ever been amazed by this little computer that sits on my wrist. The ANT+ technology, being waterproof, and simply the amount of customization that’s available on this device is truly outstanding. Although some might think it would be bulky or heavy on your wrist, it’s actually neither. In fact, for it’s size, it’s actually very lightweight. I’ve worn both the watch and the heart rate strap (it comes with the “premium” strap) for over 10 hours at a stretch, and didn’t chafe or notice the weigh of the device. This worked for me for years.
However, I now am awaiting my Christmas gift: The Garmin 910xt, the successor to the 310xt. The 910xt has a few more valuable capabilities and I’m excited to be getting it!
Another one of my essentials is gu gel, which is simply a personal preference. During my long workouts, or long races, I like the taste of GU. I’ve used other types
of energy food (Clif Bloks, gatorade chews, FRS chews, etc), and I have nothing to complain about with any of them. My very first race – the San Francisco 1/2 Marathon – had gu gel, and that’s where it all started. I’m used to GU, and it’s easy to find. Ultimately, I think it’s merely about what works best for you.