Gearing up for my first triathlon

Our own Adena Andrews -- former swimmer and more recent couch potato -- is training for her first triathlon, to be held March 19 in South Carolina, and is blogging every proud, painful or demoralizing step along the way.

Eight more days until my very first triathlon and you know what is on my mind? Clothes!

What the heck am I going to wear that will be comfortable and functional through three races? My trainer didn't tell me wardrobe was another aspect I would have to worry about. I've just been focused on practicing and not fainting from all the work in my life.

Breathe, Adena. You can do this.

I caught up with my trainer for advice on how to handle transitioning gear during my race. After doing my best to avoid the scary "how are your workouts going" questions, we got down to business.

The start: I'll begin wearing a one-piece Speedo Endurance swimsuit. My trainer said I could get a two-piece triathlon specific suit that will transition from the pool to the bike easier, but I wasn't feeling that. I've been swimming in competitive one-piece swimsuits since I was a toddler and switching to some fancy, high-tech, two-piece triathlon swimsuit would be too weird for me. I need to feel as comfortable as possible for my first race so I'll stick with the one piece.

Swim-to-bike: For my first transition I'll have a pair of cycling shorts, which have padding in the seat, in the transition area next to my bike to put on over my swimsuit post-swim. Even with all the junk in my trunk, I still need padding because the bicycle seat is killer. My trainer told me towels are for wussies, therefore I won't be toweling off after the swim.

I also have special cycling shoes that clip into my pedals that I have to slip on. They have no laces, just snaps similar to ski boots. I'll also be wearing special socks that wick moisture away from my feet so I won't have to worry about the soggy sock feeling -- it's the worst.

Lastly, there's my hair. After I take off my swim cap a hair storm will ensue. The plan is to loosen the straps on my helmet, tie a bandanna on my head and stuff my curly crown in the helmet. My trainer hasn't worked with many athletes with curly hair like mine so this was a grey area for her. She told me to wing it and let her know how it goes. Great.

Bike-to-run: I'll change into a pair of my running shorts, which for me are a pair of mesh basketball shorts that sit low on the hip and stop at my mid-thigh. My trainer does not recommend running in cycling shorts. With basketball shorts and a one piece swimsuit, I may not look the complete part of a triathlete, but once again it's about what I'm familiar with and what makes me comfortable. Because of chafing, I wouldn't recommend mesh basketball shorts for longer distances but for a 5k they are fine. Keeping my one-piece swimsuit on has me worried about the infamous running wedgie. I may be crossing the finish line with an uptight friend between my cheeks.

I'll switch out of my cycling shoes into my Nike Free 7.0 shoes. My trainer was surprised to hear I have been training in Nike Frees but not surprised to hear my knees are hurting. These shoes provide very little cushion for the impact from running and are supposed to simulate running barefoot. I'm not a crazy hippy that runs barefoot, but I do like feeling light on my feet and Nike Free shoes do that for me. My trainer is OK with me running a short distance in these sneakers, but for anything longer I would need a shoe with more cushion.

As for the hairy situation under the helmet, I'll keep the bandanna on or fashion it into a headband to keep the hair out of my face. I want to look as good as possible while running. I'm sure the paparazzi will be out there trying to catch a shot of the dominating espnW reporter. My trainer warned me that looking crazy while racing is the name of the game. I'm just hoping to get one decent picture to post on the blog.

And, of course, I'm looking forward to sharing a picture of me in the finish area, having completed my first triathlon!

All of these transition tips are in the planning phases, and I haven't really worked on my transitions yet. I do back-to-back workouts, but most of the time I will change my shorts and shoes slowly in the locker room or in the backseat of my car.

My trainer has a practice triathlon on my schedule this week, and I'll attempt to put all these tips to work and see what happens.

The next time we talk I'll be slowing down my training to prepare for the big day.

See you in South Carolina.

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