How to Distract Yourself from Your Horrible Circumstances By Acquiring Lots of Cool Stuff

04.29.2013 | 10:38 am

Some time ago, I realized something very important. But that was late at night, and by the next morning I had forgotten what it was and have never quite been able to recapture it.

If at some point it comes back to me, though, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Meanwhile, however, I have recently realized something that’s not important at all, which I will now share with you, in italics and on a line of its own, to lend it gravitas (also, I just used the word “gravitas” to lend this upcoming realization even more of this now thrice-mentioned gravitas):

The nerdliness of a sport is exactly the same as the quantity and complexity of gear required.

I mean, consider running (no, I’m not telling you to actually consider going running; I’m asking you to contemplate — in a purely passive sense — what the sport of running entails), which requires nothing more than a change of clothing: Shorts, socks, shoes (increasingly seen as optional), maybe a shirt. You don’t have to go anywhere to do it.

It’s the simplest sport you could possibly have. 

Sure, some runners try to geek it up by putting nuance into what their shoes ought to be like, what kind of tracking device they should have, and the pros and cons of various visors, but you can tell their hearts aren’t really in it.

Due to this simplicity, nobody gives runners any grief for being a runner. It’s absolutely non-risky.

On the other end of the spectrum is triathaleticism, which is the act of accumulating and transporting as much junk as is humanly possible from one place to another in order to use all of that equipment to do three races — races that really have nothing to do with one another — end to end.

I have, somehow, managed to get roped into these triathaletic events from time to time. Notably, The Hammer and I will be participating in one — The St. George Half Ironman — this Saturday.

We will be driving my truck there. Because we will need it to hold all the gear required to do a triathalong. 

I’m not kidding. The gear requirements of a triathalong are so complex — so convoluted — that about a month ago I started having anxiety about all the stuff I was going to need to remember, and have since been keeping a checklist, adding to it as I go. Here, for your entertainment, is that checklist as it stands at this moment (note that it’s not even a simple checklist; it’s divided into key locations, times, and checkpoints). Please note that this list is entirely real and not made up or exaggerated in any way whatsoever.

Half Ironman Equipment Checklist

Prior to event

  • Leave jewelry (wedding rings, earrings) at home
  • bring morning-of duffel bags
  • one-piece outfits
  • warm clothes to wear on bus
  • warm socks to wear 
  • shoes
  • gloves
  • sunscreen

Bring on morning of

  • wetsuits
  • Chip
  • goggles
  • neoprene caps
  • colored cap
  • towel for stuff to sit on
  • towel to dry off with
  • ibuprofen
  • arm warmers
  • gloves
  • sunglasses
  • helmets
  • Headband (Lisa)
  • bike shoes
  • socks
  • body glide
  • plastic bags to make it easier to put wetsuits on
  • food (lisa)
  • espresso
  • 2 waffles
  • water
  • water bottle
  • food (elden)
    • 6 gels
    • water
    • 2 waffles
  • food for both while standing around
    • bagels w cream cheese

    Swim to Bike Transition

    • bike
    • bentos box (Lisa)
    • 2 gels
    • 3 pkg chews
    • tums
  • gps: garmin edge 500
  • chain lube + rag
  • Bike to Run Transition

    • Race belts
    • shoes
    • 4 Gels (elden)
    • 2 Gels (Lisa)
    • Excedrin
    • hats
    • water
    • 2 Waffles (elden)
    • 2 Waffles (lisa)
    • Garmin 10
    • Tums
    • Stuff for hanging around finish area after race
    • shorts
    • tshirt
    • sandles
    • Action Wipes

    Please note that all of this is in service to a one-day race. No, not even a one-day race, really. Half a day. 

    Furthermore, we’ll spend the whole day before the race getting all that gear to the appropriate places for the race. And going to pre-race meetings. And getting our bodies marked.

    It’s ridiculous. Truly purely utterly ridiculous

    Here’s the thing, though. I’m outrageously excited for this race. Which, I suppose, says something about me and my outsized love of nerdly athletic gear.

    Hey, let me tell you about some stuff that I love. Even if you’re not a triathalete (I am getting so sick of my spell checker trying to get me to misspell triathalete!), I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some things in here you might like. 

    I Love Ultegra Di2, and I Love My Shiv

    [Full Disclosure: Shimano hooked me up with a discount on the Ultegra Di2]

    Last year I used my superpower — the ability to ask for things — on Specialized to excellent effect; they sent me a Shiv, their no-holds-barred, no-stupid-UCI-rules-observed time trial / tri bike. 

    I fell in love with it, and had some great results on it as part of the Team Fatty (The Swimmer, me, and The Hammer) relay team, both at the Utah Half iron-distance race and at the Leadman Tri in Bend, OR

    Here’s how the bike looked when I first got it:


    And here’s how it looks now:

    IMG 6324 

    Notice any differences? Here, maybe this will help:

    IMG 6327

    Yup. It’s all electrifical. Specifically, I’ve upgraded the shifting to Shimano Ultegra Di2. Which I absolutely love. For obvious reasons, and some that maybe wouldn’t be as obvious.

    For one thing, I love the no-fuss, no-stretchy cables reliability of Di2. I’ve been riding my Orbea Orca with Di2 for four solid seasons, during which I’ve had to have it serviced exactly zero times. (Well, that’s not exactly true — I took it into Racer’s once during this four years and said, “Would you look this over and make sure everything’s good? I feel bad about never needing to bring this bike in.” He returned it later that week saying, “Everything’s great.”)

    Shimano Di2 is just incredibly reliable and precise and perfect.

    For another thing, I love how easy it is to shift. It’s as simple and effortless — literally — as pressing a button. And when shifting is that easy, you shift a lot more often, so you stay at your right pedaling effort a lot more consistently.

    The shifting is instant. It’s precise — no mis-shifts — and it sounds awesome in all its R2D2ness.

    I’m also loving the fact that I can shift whether my hands are on the aero bars or on the brake levers.

    Finally, I love how affordable the Ultegra Di2 is. While Shimano helped me out on these components, I bought The Hammer’s Shiv (yes, I loved my Shiv so much I got The Hammer one so we could TT together) with Ultegra Di2. Expect more stories about our racing these bikes later this year.

    The fact is, there’s nothing I don’t love about this setup. Between the Shiv, the Ultegra Di2 and the fact that I am currently lighter than I have ever been since high school (and am roughly thrice as strong), I expect to have a very good day — at least on the bike — this Saturday.

    I Love Gu Recovery Brew 

    [Full Disclosure: Gu is sponsoring The Hammer and me at this half-Ironman by providing entry to the event as well as Gu products to train with.]

    Have I mentioned anything about working hard to lose weight recently? I have? Oh, well then have I mentioned anything about not wanting to be skinny but unable to race?

    Yeah, that’s been important to me too.

    So in addition to eating light to drop the pounds and using carbs when training long, I’ve been using Gu Recovery Brew – Chocolate Smoothie flavor after big efforts. It’s got a ton of protein, which is a big part of my plan to drop fat, not muscle. It’s also got amino acids and antioxidants, along with carbs.

    But you know what I think really makes it work? The fact that it tastes freaking awesome. I mix and drink this after big rides (or, to my dismay, after big rides and big runs) and I feel good…not like I need to go ambush the fridge and eat everything in the pantry. 

    I Love My Altra Running Shoes

    Here’s an amazing factoid: last week I did a ten mile run with The Hammer. And while this may not sound quite as impressive when I reveal that she had a friend run ten miles with her first, then — after wearing this friend out — had me run the second half of her twenty-mile run with her, the fact remains: I did a solid ten mile run. Here, check out the Strava:


    The thing is, though, I’m doing OK, run-wise. Not that I’m fast. I’ll never be fast. But I’m not in pain, either right after the run or during it. My joints are OK. 

    I speculate there are a number of contributing reasons for this:

    1. I am lighter. 150 pounds is a lot easier on the joints than 170.
    2. I started easier. By running a couple miles a couple times per week with Brice at the beginning of the year and building slowly from there, I’m not injuring myself.
    3. My shoes.
    Of course, it’s impossible to sort out every reason, but I really do think that the shoes I’m running in now — Altra Instincts — are making a big difference in my comfort during and after the run. For one thing, they have a giant toe box that accommodates my big fat feet. For another, they are a zero-drop shoe, which means the heel isn’t any higher than the toe. But — unlike the barefoot shoes some hardcore runners use — they still have a reasonable amount of cushioning. 

    So sure, The Hammer will still put a ton of time into me during the final leg of the race this weekend, but I think there’s a chance that it’ll be closer to ten minutes than the originally-projected twenty-six.

    At least that’s my hope.  

    And In Conclusion

    Wow, this post is getting long, and I haven’t even covered my wetsuit. Or my super high-tech one-piece tri suit. Or my special laces that make it so I don’t have to tie my shoes, thus saving a valuable nine seconds in the transition area. Or my special belt that lets me put on my race number in the run transition very quickly. Or the socks which I have — after much agonizing and conversing with former professional triathalonetes — decided to wear. 

    Really, it’s just kind of sad that my gear obsessing is limited to three sports. What the world needs needs is a dodecathlon.

    Hey, I’d sign up. Apparently.


    1. Comment by Tom in Albany | 04.29.2013 | 11:01 am

      And now we must identify the 12 events of the dodecathalete training regimen. I assume donut eating is one event. Biking. Running. Swimming.

      that’s four.

      We’ll need to have something like, leapfrog too, I think. But what else?

    2. Comment by Curtis | 04.29.2013 | 11:04 am

      That saddle bag is totally killing your aero!

    3. Comment by Mike C | 04.29.2013 | 11:17 am

      How about a Donathlon? Triathlon/Donut race?

    4. Comment by Barton | 04.29.2013 | 11:19 am

      Amongst the items listed was lube and a rag. Maybe I’m naive (well, I am, but striving to b/c more worldly/jaded every day) but why do you need that during the race. Wouldn’t you have made certain the bike was in top form and properly lubed before leaving it there? I am assuming here that you don’t leave them at the transition spot over night, but just bring them there in the morning?

    5. Comment by Mukrider | 04.29.2013 | 11:22 am

      I think you need to consider taking a step up in the multisport racing category. For instance you could do the Iron Horse Relay, just up the road from your old haunt in Issaquah. For that you need a kayak (or canoe), a mountain bike (or cx bike), trail running shoes, a road bike (or tt bike), and “normal” running shoes. Now I suppose you could minimize your gear needs by doing it as a relay as the name implies, but I think your gear hunger would be better satiated doing the iron version.

    6. Comment by Davidh-Marin,ca | 04.29.2013 | 11:24 am

      The gravitas of the situation requires comment before I even finish this post.

      The first item of your check list. Leave wedding ring at home. Is this a race or some kind of hookup event?

    7. Comment by Isaac | 04.29.2013 | 11:27 am

      Who’s Chip? Why does he need to come along on Morning Of?

    8. Comment by Jen | 04.29.2013 | 11:29 am

      Ultegra Di2 affordable?? Okay, if you say so.

    9. Comment by Tim D | 04.29.2013 | 11:51 am

      For my triathlon the weekend before last I took the following:

      Day before: Allen keys, spanners, gloves, 80 8×10 galvanised steel and mesh security fence panels erected.

      Race day: Hat, gloves, tools, food, can of spray paint.
      Open up transition, shout lots, organize marshals,shout some more, for 5 hours.
      Unbolt, take down and stack 80 security fence panels.

      I could not have been more knackered if I had taken part.

    10. Comment by Travis | 04.29.2013 | 12:02 pm

      The Dodecathlon should probably have one of those Mud Run’s thrown in… and a scavenger hunt.

    11. Comment by SteveB | 04.29.2013 | 12:29 pm

      @Jen, re: Di2 affordability: you have to get your priorities straight… what’s more important, eating or Di2? answer: Di2 of course. What’s more important, paying rent/mortgage or Di2? I think you can see where this is going.

    12. Comment by Bee T | 04.29.2013 | 12:59 pm

      I love checklists. I have four for races, and now I have TWO sets of four! (One is for races with T1 and T2 in the same area, and one is for races with T1 and T2 in different areas.)

      In other news, now you need a transition bag. It makes the transporting of gear SO much easier, and then you realize that it’s not really all that much gear when you feel that cool, carrying your stuff in one single bag. Mine even has a zip-off mat to stand on, eliminating one towel entirely.

      I’d also add sunscreen (both the spray on stuff for before the race, and the little stick to rub on your nose midway through the bike and at the start of the run when you start to feel the sun broiling down on you, but then again, I burn incredibly easily), and arm coolers. In fact, I’ve been known to take three different sets of arm coolers/warmers to races, so I can decide on the day of if i want my fleecy armwarmers or just the tights/lycra armwarmers, and which set of coolers for the run, cute design or compression.

      In fact, I have my checklist saved to my phone AND a paper copy in my bag. Doesn’t everyone?


    13. Comment by Nancy_in_MN | 04.29.2013 | 1:07 pm

      Thriathalong. I love it!

    14. Comment by Clydesteve | 04.29.2013 | 1:27 pm

      (I am getting so sick of my spell checker trying to get me to misspell triathalete!),

      OK, Fatty, here is some advice – I will not, however characterize it as sage advice.

      Just hit ‘ignore all and then add your clever and humorous misspelling to the word processor dictionary.

      I never regret this policy!

    15. Comment by Brad | 04.29.2013 | 2:12 pm

      Triathlon gear requirements are child’s play. Try a mountain sport decathlon some day…!i=64413858&k=f7xWzfc

    16. Comment by Kit | 04.29.2013 | 2:40 pm

      Could you explain two things on your lists and why they are there (not to argue but just wondering)?
      1) Tums….
      2) Excedrin…

    17. Comment by Wife#1 | 04.29.2013 | 4:44 pm


      Will hazard a guess the Tums are to keep his stomach calm so he doesn’t poop in his wetsuit, and then the Excedrin is there in case he does.

    18. Comment by Davidh-Marin,ca | 04.29.2013 | 5:16 pm

      Ya gotta love Wife#1! I sure do….but maybe I’m biased .

    19. Comment by Hamish | 04.29.2013 | 7:44 pm

      I bought a bike with Ultegra Di2 last year and replaced my other bike with one with Di2 this year. It is freakin’ awesome.

    20. Comment by Walter | 04.29.2013 | 9:58 pm

      Good luck, Fatty!!

      One quick question about the saddle bag: what brand/model is it? I’m looking for one to fit an aero seatpost, and haven’t had much luck finding one I like. Do you like this one?

    21. Comment by David | 04.29.2013 | 10:06 pm

      Superpower #1 meets superpower #2, you ask for food?

    22. Comment by Thomas | 04.30.2013 | 3:25 am

      Check saddle bag contents
      Heart rate strap

    23. Comment by Nadine Davis | 04.30.2013 | 5:00 am

      Wowzer, that is a lot of gear you need. This is why I love running – a pair of shoes and some clothes and your off to the races :)

    24. Comment by Doug (Way Upstate NY) | 04.30.2013 | 11:27 am

      If I had an “illegal” to the UCI bike, I would have a giant grin on my face every time I rode it.

    25. Comment by Hamer | 04.30.2013 | 1:57 pm

      Altra shoes! Woot! Woot!

    26. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 04.30.2013 | 4:18 pm

      Reaching out to NorCal Fatties: AngieG, Dr.Laura, YannB, MyKill and MattC(who spends alot of time up here). September 29th Mt. Tam Dirt Fondo a great weekend ride. see link for registration, map, and pictures.

      Registration is now open for the Second Annual MCBC Dirt Fondo and we’d like you to join us (and invite friends too)! The ride is limited to just a few hundred riders, so sign-up today to secure a spot on this epic ride in the birthplace of mountain biking.

      Register now at

    27. Comment by Jenni | 04.30.2013 | 4:28 pm

      I know something you forgot. But I’m not gonna tell you..


    28. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 05.1.2013 | 5:52 am

      Jenni, I know what it is, I know what it is! And I am bringing her, umm, “it” to Colorado this summer. :)

    29. Comment by Paula | 05.1.2013 | 8:27 am

      I am also doing a half iron this wknd in (hopefully sunny and warm Cocoa Beach), enjoy that lake! Just saw this video, crazy situation, but at least the Fat Cyclist gear and water bottles were well represented!

    30. Comment by Tes | 05.3.2013 | 7:51 pm

      Plastic bags for wet suit? What am I missing?

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