Monday, April 25, 2011

Swim Boy, Swim

Triathlons aren't cheap.  At least, if you really wanna get the cool gear, you'll have to spend some coin.  For example, a good pair of running shoes can set you back $60 - $80.  But then you'll need the running togs as well... a couple of shirts, shorts, and sweats if you plan on running in the cold - like here in Minnesota.  So maybe $150 - $200 for running stuff.  I wanted to do my first tri using as little dinero as possible, so I got an OK pair of running shoes for $30 and used the shorts and shirts I had.  I did splurge close to race day and bought myself a couple of $16 "exercise shirts".

Biking is where the real money goes. After the padded diper like bike shorts to protect the "boys" and the running tights that I use for biking and a helmet, I can upgrade to clipless pedals and add accessories that will increase the value of the bike to that of a two door car.  That's without even purchasing the bike itself!  Google triathlon bikes and you'll find a dizzying array of techno-bikes for the triathlete.  Most are between $700 and $2000.  Though I did find one once for a mere $12,000.  Again I did not feel like dropping a few months worth of food budget on a bike, so I headed to Wal Mart and got a road bike for $99.  It is heavy and a little slow, but so am I, so I didn't mind too much.  It was rated as a 21 speed and is geared for it, though really it is good for around 16 or 18 and that was plenty for me.  The only upgrade it can accomodate is a different water bottle, so options are limited.  Now that I am a little better and faster, I have given some thought to upgrading this season to a Tri-specific bike that I found for $500.  That would be a lighter and therefore faster bike for triathlons and have aero bars and such.  But... well... read on.

Swimming shouldn't be too bad, right?  Just a suit and some goggles and a towel.  My racing suit cost me $30.  Goggles were $20.  And I have towels galore.  So $50 all together.  The trouble is, I wear glasses.  Right now I have a pair of Speedo Vanquisher goggles that I love.  But they are not, nor can they be, prescription.  So after about twenty minutes of wearing them I get a good headache going and develop quite a bit of nausea.  Now I like feeling pukey in the pool as much as the next guy.  But I would really like to be able to swim for an hour or so without losing my lunch.  Not to mention that there is a great deal of standing around before the start of a triathlon and after the transition area closes.  I could leave my glasses in the transition area, but spending a half hour to 45 minutes without glasses would ensure nausea and headache before I even enter the water.  Not a great way to do triathlons.  I was fortunate to be able to leave my glasses next to the water exit during my first tri, but even then I spent a good fifteen minutes without them, and had the headache and nausea when the horn blared.  I may not be so lucky at all of the triathlons.

So I looked into prescription goggles.  There are some called step diopters, but those are for people with really weak prescriptions.  Unfortunately my astigmatism is such that step diopters are not an option.  So custom prescriptions it would have to be.  The closest thing to racing goggles are made by Barracuda, and will cost me $290.  Now, for me to spend almost $300 on goggles and another $500 on a bike... well.  I just can't bring myself to drop that much in one season, especially after I've already racked up a few hundred bucks in race fees. 

I ordered the prescription goggles without a prescription in them to see if I liked them or not.  They came today and it turns out that I don't.  They have foam around the eyes, which is comfortable, but I've never had luck keeping the foam attached to the goggle.  Not only that, the goggles and the foam are so big that it looks like I have neon white glasses from the 80's on while I swim.  It would be a sure thing for my fans to see me in the water from the shore if I wear them.  I'm just not sure I want to go all Elton John while I'm swimming.

Even Elton is shocked ...SHOCKED by the whiteness.

 It was while I was adjusting the nose piece of these goggles that I had an idea.

A couple of years ago when I got my glasses, I got an extra pair for the shop made of safety plastic.  I have worn them three times since then, and they were gathering dust in the shop waiting for my next trip to the optometrist to donate them.  I decided that I had nothing to lose by popping the lenses out and grinding them to fit my well loved Vanquishers.

Well, after a little grinding and fitting and grinding and fitting and just a dab of glue... Behold -

Prescription Vanquishers!  I actually bought a brand new pair to mount the lenses in, and will use my old goggles as a back up.  Total cost - $20!  And you know what that means... I won't feel nearly as bad while I consider investing $500 on a new bike!

I'm off to the pool on Wednesday to test them out and see if they will work.  If they do, the new bike just might become a reality!

More Later

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