Nothing new on race day. That is the cardinal rule of triathlon. Don't scarf down a breakfast burrito race morning when you've been training on oatmeal. Don't wear compression socks if you've never put them on before. And don't swim in a wetsuit you haven't taken for a considerable test swim.
I've been racing tris for six years, so I should have known better than to make race day at Ironman Arizona my first swim in a new wetsuit. I didn't have the chance to swim in open water while training and was afraid the lifeguards at the local rec center would tackle me if I tried to jump in their pool dressed like a human tire.
But I was making an educated guess. In 2006, I bought my first triathlon wetsuit: a Quintana Roo Superfull. It was the morning of a race in Ventura, Calif., and a guy from a local tri shop told me I would either freeze or sink or both without one. So he brought me the QR Superfull and made me pay later (I believe about $375). I wore that suit every weekend for ocean swims and through almost five seasons of racing before I ripped it down the side putting it on last September. The suit's coloring--a big silver V down the front--made me look like a whale, but I didn't care; the suit made me swim like one, too. I had to try out the new version.
For peace of mind, I pulled on the 2010 QR Superfull the day before the race, then jumped into a 55-degree private pool. I took two strokes before I deemed myself ready for Ironman--I hate cold water.
My first impression: Damn, this suit is hot! As in,"Erin, you look smokin' hot!" I posed for a photo (see above). In the 2010 suit, the whale design is replaced by a sexy, technical-looking blue and silver motif. I thought I looked like an intimidating triathlete who knows what she's doing. The QR passed my first test of women-specific tri products: must look hot. But how would it perform?