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Deciding what to wear for an Ironman

by Meghann on October 22, 2013

Alright, I’m less than two weeks away from Ironman Florida, obviously that means there’s one important question that’s been lingering on my mind… WHAT THE HECK AM I GOING TO WEAR?!

You can read all about my history with my tri-wardrobe HERE. However, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the full Ironman distance is a whole different beast when it comes to everything, including wardrobe. Not only do you want to make sure you’re super comfortable for the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run, but you also have the added luxury of using a changing tent in T1 and T2.

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Awww… changing tents. From what I’ve heard/read they turn into a chaotic mess of naked bodies, Body Glide, and volunteers helping dazed and slightly confused athletes on what they need/ don’t need from their gear bags. For some people it’s a blur as they fight to get out as quickly as possible, for others it’s a place to take a minute to recover before moving on to the next sport.

I’ll head to the changing tent for the first time after the swim, where a volunteer will *hopefully* hand me my gear bag for the bike. I’ll return again after the bike and be handed another gear bag for the run.

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Not everyone will use the changing tents to change. Some folks will wear tri kits that will take them through all three sports. I’ve thought about doing the same – I mean, I wore a one-piece tri-suit for both of my 70.3s and was fine (even though I never did a long ride in tri short padding before race day) – but since the option is there, HECK YEAH I’m going to take advantage of it. I know how much my butt and lady parts hurt after riding 100 miles with full padded shorts, the idea of doing that distance in just tri shorts makes me wince.

I plan to do full changes during both T1 and T2, which means I’ll need three different outfits for race day. Do you think it’s hard picking one race day outfit? Try three!

I’m going to try to go for comfort and durability out there, but I want to throw in a little cute flair into the mix. Cute clothes make me happy. 🙂

Nothing is set in stone on what I’ll actually be wearing (I have the right to change my mind right up until I turn my gear bags in the day before the race if I wanted to), but here’s what I’m thinking…

Swim

  • Sports bra
  • swim suit
  • wetsuit

I’m planning on wearing the same sports bra through the duration of the race. I’m thinking my heavy duty Under Armor sports bra should last me 17 hours.

I thought about just wearing the sports bra and swim suit bottoms under the wetsuit, but I’ve heard way too many stories of athletes accidently flashing everyone when the wetsuit strippers took the bottoms off with the wetsuit. Not that I’m shy or anything, but I figured that’s just one last vajajay the wetsuit stripper has to see that day.

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Bike

  • Sports Bra (same from swim)
  • Polka Dot Cycling jersey
  • full padded cycling shorts, arm warmers

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I’ve worn the same Lululemon polka dot cycling jersey for 85% of my outdoor rides this training season. I love the cut of it, I love the feel of it, I love the HUGE pockets in the back, and I love how comfortable it is. It’s my favorite piece of cycling gear that I own and I can’t imagine getting through this race without it. It has sort of become my good luck charm. Also, I NEED the big pockets. Tri tops are very limited with the pocket space, I just don’t think that’ll cut it with all the fuel I intend to carry (I have a bento box, but I just prefer putting everything in my pockets now).

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Race day temps are expected to be cool in the morning and eventually warm-up as the day goes on. I intend to start the bike with arm warmers (if needed) then toss them when I don’t need them anymore.

Like I said above, I think it’s worth making the change to full padded cycling shorts. My bottom will thanks me for it, I’m sure.

Run

  • Sports bra (again, same one from swim and bike)
  • running top
  • running shorts.

I’m still nailing this one down. To be honest, I might just stay in my polka dot top and just change my shorts to something that’s free of padding. I’ll also have a long sleeve tee in my run special needs bag in case it does cool down at night.

So that’s what I’m thinking for now. What are your thoughts? Did you do a full change for your Ironman?

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ali October 22, 2013 at 10:55 pm

I did a full wardrobe change in T2 for my Ironman. I wore my bike top and tri shorts under my wetsuit and on the bike, but I changed into a bra, t-shirt, and run shorts for the run. Changing for the run was SO worth the time. After 112 miles on the bike, my clothes were disgusting, and I was ready for something clean and dry that didn’t smell like sweat and urine. Fresh clothes = fresh mindset for me, too–I was able to start the run feeling a little renewed. I think you have the right idea!
Ali recently posted..This Week in Training: WC 14 October

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2 Diana October 22, 2013 at 11:12 pm

I can’t imagine having to have 3 race days outfits! Picking one is enough. Love that polka dot cycling top, too cute.
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3 Danielle @ Long May You RunL October 22, 2013 at 11:18 pm

You’ve probably seen this before, but just in case- I’ve seen people get tube socks, cut the toe off, and then use them as arm warmers. Just a thought- I’d hate to toss a perfectly good pair of arm warmers! 😉
Danielle @ Long May You RunL recently posted..Prairie State Half Marathon

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4 Emily October 22, 2013 at 11:37 pm

Like you, when I did my 70.3 I just wore my tri suit. I don’t recall having any wardrobe problems, but I trained in it to make sure. But I would totally take advantage of a tent, especially to change into “real” running shorts after the bike. Non-sweaty clothes would be so refreshing in between a century ride and a marathon!
Emily recently posted..13 Miles and Eat All the Things

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5 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs October 23, 2013 at 12:48 am

Whew, so much to think about with this length of race! I’ve never done anything near as long as an ironman, but I can only imagine that fresh clothes would be a wonderful feeling!
Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs recently posted..Dark & Dreary 

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6 Mary October 23, 2013 at 1:58 am

I’m having the same dilemma at the minute. Not training for an Ironman, but with a 50 mile overnight race this weekend and checkpoints available with the option to leave spare clothes at them so that I can change into something fresh part-way round.
It’s difficult enough choosing one set of clothes, let alone two!
Love the polka dot cycling top. 🙂
Mary recently posted..The pressure of a PB

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7 Char October 23, 2013 at 5:41 am

Couldn’t you wear just the swimsuit under the wetsuit and put on your dry sportbra during T1? Wouldn’t you chafe horribly from a wet sportsbra? I don’t do triathlons, so consider this a clueless question!

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8 Amanda October 23, 2013 at 7:33 am

That cycling top looks so cute! Plus giant pockets?? Pure genius. Pockets are so important! Good call on the shorts. Dry and padded is the way to go. Spin class hurts my hoo-ha if I don’t wear padded shorts so I can’t imagine 112 miles on a bike with no paddig!

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9 Lori October 23, 2013 at 9:06 am

I’m volunteering in the women’s tent during T2 – if I see you in there I’ll say hi!

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10 Dori October 23, 2013 at 9:09 am

Question – will your bra stay dry during the run under your wetsuit? If it will get wet (I know nothing about wetsuits) then you’ll want a fresh bra. But if it stays dry, sounds like you have a good plan.
Dori recently posted..Richmond Marathon Training: Week 15 – My Training Favorites

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11 Victoria October 23, 2013 at 10:43 am

Wet sports bra is totally fine on the bike. By the time you get to the run 6-7 hours later, it’s dry, or at worst, just a little damp from sweat.
Victoria recently posted..October 7-13: Look, It’s a Running Race!

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12 Larissa @ Running with the Dragonflies October 23, 2013 at 9:28 am

you are SO amazing! I’m super excited for you. But I agree with Dory. if your sports bra is going to get wet I would change it… you don’t want to get skin breakdown or a yeast infection. That can happen within hours so be cautious of that! Underneath the breasts is a common place for yeasts infections believe it or not.

LOVE THE SHIRT! 🙂
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13 Katie October 23, 2013 at 9:52 am

I would be a little worried about the sports bra stretching out (at least that’s what happens to mine) but other than that you seem to have a solid plan in place!
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14 Leana October 23, 2013 at 10:42 am

Hi Meghan! I’ve done two IMs and here’s my thoughts on costume changes. It is really difficult to change from a swimsuit to your cycling gear in T1. You are wet and it difficult to pull your clothes on. I’d recommend swimming in your cycling shorts and either your sports bra, or even with your cycling top underneath your wetsuit. You don’t notice the wet padding on your cycling shorts at all and it dries really quickly.

In T2 I’ve changed into a running skirt and for one IM I kept the same tri top, for another IM I changed into a new top. I’ve kept the same sports bra on all day with no issues.

The biggest issue with wearing a tri suit on IM day is that it is difficult to get off and on if you have to hit the porta-potties. Two pieces are the way to go!

Good luck!
Leana recently posted..Race Report: Banff Ekiden Relay

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15 Victoria October 23, 2013 at 10:45 am

Yep. Full changes can be tough. ESPECIALLY avoid changing anything up top, your arms will get really tired.

However, changing shorts for the run is definitely worth it.
Victoria recently posted..October 7-13: Look, It’s a Running Race!

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16 Belinda October 23, 2013 at 10:52 am

Does Lululemon still sell cycling tops? I couldn’t find any on their website, but I love the cut of your polka dot one.

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17 Meghann October 23, 2013 at 7:30 pm

I think they stopped, which is sad because I would gladly hand over $80 for another top. It’s the best thing I’ve ever bought from that store!

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18 Christa October 23, 2013 at 11:19 am

I ended up wearing my tri kit (two-piece) for the entire IM. I did pack other things in my transition bags but in the end did not change because my kit was what I had trained in and I was relatively comfortable, plus didn’t feel like taking the time to make full changes. I had friends who did change, however, and were also happy with what they wore!! Just personal preferences.
Christa recently posted..Pregnancy Pics Comparison – Weeks 17, 27, 37

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19 [email protected] October 23, 2013 at 11:26 am
20 Ashley October 23, 2013 at 11:50 am

For whatever reason — this recap really stuck it home to me just HOW LONG you’ll be racing. You’ve got to plan for the chill of the morning, and the evening. IM are a special kind of people, and I love it 🙂

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21 Beth October 23, 2013 at 11:54 am

I am loving all this feedback b/c I’ve been wondering what I’ll wear next year for mine. Go with what works for you & I think comfort is key. It’s gonna be a long, awesome day!
Beth recently posted..Post Ironman Kona Interview: Meredith Kessler

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22 Margaret October 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I haven’t done a triathlon, but I did a very slow marathon, and I had a lot of sports bra chafing just because of wearing the same sweaty one for so long. It seems to me that 17 hours in the same sports bra could get uncomfortable, and I’d probably change it at least once if you’re taking the time to change other stuff anyways.
Margaret recently posted..The Dark Side of Running

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23 Natalie @ Free Range Human October 23, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Wow, just wow. I have nothing to add to this conversation other than to state my complete and total amazement that people do this! I am so impressed by you, and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.
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24 wendy sue October 23, 2013 at 2:33 pm

are you wearing the same style of sports bra, but have 3 of them or literally wearing the same sports bra? If it’s that latter, a wet and sweaty sports bra might be difficult to pull on, plus there is the chafing factor.
wendy sue recently posted..Hope for Davion

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25 jocelyn October 23, 2013 at 3:09 pm

I’ve not done a full ironman yet, I plan on doing IMLP 2015. One thing you might consider about wearing the same bra is – if it’s going to be cool in the morning, and likely still cool when you get on the bike- I would do one sports bra change during T1 so you’re not in a wet, cold sports bra on the bike. Sure it’ll get wet and sweaty for the bike/run portion, but I imagine it would be nice to have a dry sports bra on when for the chilly morning air. Just a thought- I know Nicole from @fitnessfatale changed her sports bra after her swim at IMCDA.

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26 Courtney October 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm

I plan on wearing the same bra all day for IMAZ. I could see bigger issues if I had larger girls, but for my 4 HIMs, I have had no problems with it drying out on the bike after the swim and being fine on the run. I think I plan on wearing my 2 piece tri kit the entire time. I have a shrug to wear on the bike (link below) and then will have long sleeves in my special needs for when it gets dark on the run. This is totally subject to change depending on the weather though. I’ll be packing pretty much every item of clothing I have for the trip.

the shrug: http://www.amazon.com/Pearl-Izumi-Womens-Intercool-Medium/dp/B00693ZWEG/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1382556043&sr=8-3&keywords=pearl+izumi+shrug

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27 Meghann October 23, 2013 at 7:35 pm

I’ll probably be packing everything I own too 🙂

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28 Heather @ Heather Getting Fit! October 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Wow. I’ve never done a triathlon (someday, I hope!) but holy moly, that’s intense! I can’t imagine the stress of having to change and figure out all that stuff while also doing an intense race! You triathletes are amazing! I do have to say, however, that your plan makes so much sense. If you have the chance to change and be as comfortable as possible, I say go for it! That lulu top is crazy cute and obviously pretty darn functional as well.
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29 Nina October 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm

So many factors that you have to think about! Love that lululemon top! Makes me want to see if they still have it – except that would also mean that I would have to buy a bike. So maybe that’s not such a great idea. Good Luck!

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30 Ashley October 23, 2013 at 5:11 pm

I have never heard of a ‘wetsuit stripper’ before. Just watched a video. They are efficient and kind of hilarious to watch. Or maybe I am just tired.

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31 Ash October 23, 2013 at 5:55 pm

17 hours?! Woah

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32 [email protected] October 23, 2013 at 8:15 pm

I cant even fathom this. Congrats on your training!!!
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33 MissPinkKate October 23, 2013 at 8:43 pm

I’m no triathlete, but I say, don’t sacrifice your comfort for modesty sake! The people in the tents are prepared to see lady parts, don’t ride around in wet things to avoid flashing them!

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34 Amanda @runtothefinish October 24, 2013 at 9:59 am

you are totally right about the tents and bags from what we saw in kona. It’s a blur of arms and legs and glide and SUNSCREEN!!! Don’t forget that little one or man we saw some roasty finishers. I am just so freaking excited for you and I”ll be asking for some tips as I start focusing on my first 70.3 🙂
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35 Annette @FitnessPerks October 24, 2013 at 11:22 am

That cycling top is super cute!

I’ve never done a full ironman, but I can def see why you’d want to use the changing tents!
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36 Steph October 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Are you going to do a post for your nutrition plan as well? It would be nice to see =)
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37 joelle (on a pink typewriter) October 24, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Man, and I thought just planning for a half was a lot of thinking!
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38 Brian J October 28, 2013 at 12:34 pm

I didn’t change at all and I regret it. I was chafing in a lot of different spots during the run. It sounds like you have a good plan. You might want to consider wearing a different sports bra for the swim and putting a running top in your T2 bag just in case you decide your bike jersey is too wet.

Also, I can’t stress this enough…If you’re already chafing DO NOT apply anything to that area. It will more than likely burn and you might feel the need to throw up.
Brian J recently posted..Push it to the Limit

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39 Jillian October 31, 2013 at 9:41 am

I did Ironman Lake Placid in July and I wore my Tri kit for the swim (underneath my wetsuit), didn’t change for the bike and then changed into crops for the run. It was a little rainy on race day and I was so sticky/salty/sweaty from the bike so I am SO happy I made the decision to change. When I was in T2 I pulled out my crops out of the bag and debated changing into them which, the volunteer convinced me to do thank goodness. It made all the difference in my comfort during the run! Also, depending on the temp you may want to consider arm warmers or compression sleeves. I wore mine during the bike and run and again I’m so happy that I did.

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