Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pantyhose, pee, and neoprene

I am a tall woman. Most women are familiar with the "joys" of pantyhose. Let me say, if you are tall, those joys are even moreso because pantyhose aren't really made for any woman taller then 5'8. You put them on, pull them up a bit, and the crotch is at your knees. If you're lucky, maybe it gets midway up your thighs.

Then you have the battle pulling them up. You have to grab the fabric and gradually pull it up a bit at time. Don't put a fingernail in it, because then you'll cause a run. Catch it quick enough, and you can stop it with clear nail polish. Don't and it travels the length of your leg and the pantyhose are ruined.

So, what does this have to do with triathlon, which is usually the focus of my blog? Read on.

There is a lot of gear that is needed for this triathlon thing. Proper running shoes, a bike, bike shoes, lots of socks, goggles, swimsuits, sports bras... The list goes on and on. Some of the stuff you buy are luxuries, but there are a few things that are non-negotiable. In that list, you could include running shoes, a bike, and if you live (and plan to race) in a colder climate, a wetsuit.

According to most triathlon rules, wetsuits are not allowed until the water is cold enough. There are some climates where none of the races are wetsuit legal. I don't live there. Where I live, every race that includes an open water swim is wetsuit legal, and there are even some where the wetsuit is required. A lot of people rent wetsuits, since there aren't too many open water swimming opportunities. But, the cost of renting adds up very quickly.

Now, many months ago, I discovered the reality that some triathletes pee while riding their bike or running. At the time, I was shocked and horrified by it, but I've come to accept it. It doesn't mean that everyone does though, and I have not yet come to accept that I am going to pee while continuing to ride.

Having said that, I have heard the expression, "there are the triathletes that pee in their wetsuits, and then there are the triathletes that lie about it."

Now, I can accept that many triathletes pee wherever. I can even accept that I might pee in a wetsuit. I can not accept wearing (and possibly peeing in) a wetsuit that has previously been peed in by Joe and Marsha.

So, when I saw an excellent sale, I made the decision to buy one. It cost me only a little bit more then renting would for the 2 races and at least one practice I'll be doing this summer. It also gives me the ability to get more practice in, which is a very good thing. And, if I need to, I can always resell it. (Because while I don't want a second hand wetsuit, there are still those that will.)

After chatting online with a customer service representative, I was convinced to order a men's size, because of my height.

Yesterday, my bundle of skin tight black neoprene arrived.

Upon taking it out the package, I looked at it. Despite being a men's version, it had a rather hour glass like figure. With what seemed like a very small waist. My first thought was, how is that waist going to get past my hips?

I was soon to learn that the waist was going to be the easier part.

Following a suggestion I read online, I put some socks on to get the wetsuit over my feet. And pulled one side up - to about my knee. I pulled the other side on, and like all those times I've attempted to don pantyhose, I found the crotch in a much different position then it belonged.

Hence began the battle. I gradually inched the wetsuit up my legs. The technique really is a lot like pantyhose, as is the care. You grab a bit of it, and pull it up your leg a little at a time, being very careful to use the pads of your fingers rather then the tips, because of your fingernails. You won't cause a run quite like pantyhose, but you could cause the neoprene to tear, and it's not nearly as easy to just grab a new wetsuit like you might with pantyhose.

Now, having said that, if I once thought pantyhose were a challenge, they've got nothing on wetsuits. Wetsuits are supposed to fit tight, and I ordered smaller rather then bigger since I intend to continue losing weight...

I realized the wetsuit was just sticking to my skin because I was getting stressed out and sweating. I remembered reading a tip that you could use baby powder. I've had babies! Surely I had baby powder somewhere. Only thing is, I never really used it, so I had to go searching. With the wetsuit around my waist and the crotch still a bit to low, I looked under the bathroom sink where we keep all sorts of products that never get used. There it was.

I peeled the wetsuit down a little bit and applied some baby powder. When I went back to the job of inching it on, it happened with somewhat more ease. Once I had the crotch in the right place, pulling it up around my waist was the easy part. Then came the arms and shoulders.

When I tried to pull it over my hand, my first thought was that the hole was simply not big enough to fit a hand through! Now, while parts of me are as big as a lot of men, my hands are actually a lot smaller then a man of similar size - and this was a men's suit! It had to be possible to get my hand through.Sure enough, I was able to squeeze it through and get the sleeve onto my arm. The arm battle was a little easier then the leg one had been, since I preemptively used baby powder on any sticky sweaty spots. It still took a bit of time, and I concluded that I might want to arrive at triathlons the night before to insure I have time to get the wetsuit on.

Then came the moment of truth. Zipping it up. It's common to need help zipping up a triathlon wetsuit, so I wasn't sure how this would go. My husband wasn't home, and I didn't really trust Spud or Sweetpea to do the task. I gave it a go, and amazingly the zipper slid easily up. I had my wetsuit on!

That mirror has been living in the basement for quite some time, and is in need of a cleaning!

So, open water, I'm ready for you! And the only pee I'll be swimming in is my own.


  1. Wetuits are so much fun to put on (insert rolling eyes here). I use plastic bags on my feet instead of socks and if needed you could use them on the hands as well. One thing I recommend is body glide...amazing stuff. I use it on my legs and shoulders and it helps alot! I would also recommend using it on the back of you neck to prevent getting a "wetsuit bite". I still have a scar for the one time I didnt use body glide. I think you will be very happy with your suit, I have the vector pro x2 and I love it!

  2. LOL, after I put mine on for the 1st time, I felt like I had just worked out! I was pretty sure it wasn't supposed to be that way. Plastic bags and glide are your friends! :-)

  3. The guy that used to coach me said that if it took less than 10 minutes to put on a wetsuit, it was too big. There's a bit of a knack to it. A plastic shopping bag for the hands and feet helps things slide on is good. Bodyglide liberally applied over ankles, wrists, and neck will really help when it comes to off time. Enjoy your first swim it, and don't forget to "christen" it.

  4. I've never put on a wet suit before so I have no words of wisdom for you.

  5. OMG I never thought about other people peeing in rented wetsuits!!!! Ewwwwww!! Good thing I won't be needing one this year- will have to think twice about renting again. The plastic bag thing that Keith mentioned is what I do. Also having someone to help pull it on is good- you can ask anyone at the race. The best part is the wetsuit strippers!!!

  6. This was funny!!!!
    Mine is obviously to big...I slip right into it and it for sure takes me less the 10 minutes!

  7. I love to pee in my wetsuit! The hardest part of going back to lap swimming in the Winter is that whenever I hit the water, my body wants to take a does not seem to distinguish between open water and pools :D