Every sport has an expensive "getting started" phase. Triathlons are no different. I'm hoping to calm the nerves some on. I don't have all the answers, but here are some things to think about.
You've decided you want to do your first triathlon and you're freaking out because you don't have the bike everyone else is riding! Calm down! Unless you're going to be the next Peter Jacobs, you shouldn't worry about what bike you're riding. Trust me, crossing the finish line on your first race is all you should worry about, and having fun while doing so. Triathlon specific bikes can run you anywhere from $1000-more than $5000 new. I've saw bikes of all kinds at the Sprint I did back in July. People were just happy to be there, so should you. This is what you do, go down to the local bike shop, surf craigslist and find a suitable bike for what you need. I've seen some pretty damn good used bikes on there and you should have no trouble finding something to propel you through this portion of the race.
I recommend reading the rules and regulations usatriathlon.org regarding the use of wetsuits. It's confusing, but I've been told and follow "if the water is above 78 degrees, you can't use wetsuits."
A new wetsuit will run you anywhere from $100 to $500 and beyond new. I recommend going to a shop, getting fitted which takes about 30 minutes, and then renting a suit. Renting a suit will only cost you about $30 to $40 and I believe you'll have that suit for a few days. No keep in mind, you don't need a suit to do a triathlon. Depending on the temperature of the water, you may not even want one. I could imagine a warm lake or body of water would make swimming just in your tri suit would be way better than a wetsuit. Scope out the projected water temp and course to find out if you even need one.
Bike shorts, tri suits....You don't NEED them. They'll make the ride a little more comfortable on your tokhes. So the fact that you don't NEED this, I'm going to skip it. We're talking about triathlons on a budget and unless you're made of money, you might want to think about cutting corners. Heck, wear never nude shorts!(Arrested Development reference)
Rules require you to wear a helmet during the bike portion of the race. Don't go crazy and buy one of those aero helmets. Again, this sport might not be what you thought it was. Then again, you should already be wearing your helmet if you're riding a bike out on the street! Ok, I'm guilty..... I've seen people wearing their skateboard helmets, so you're not going to need to spend more than $25 for a helmet. It really depends on the coverage of your head and what you want to protect. Personally, I find skateboard helmets protect better all around, but you're going to sacrifice wind resistance. Yes, you can buy time with being more aerodynamic. Think about your priorities here, are you there for time or are you there for the experience?
People often neglect a good pair of running shoes opting for a inexpensive alternative. Let me tell you, you don't want to be running whatever length in your slip on vans. You're shins and knees are going to hate you. Running is such a high impact portion of the race that you should seriously consider getting a nice pair of running shoes. I bought a $130 pair of shoes for $75. It's possible, you just have to shop for deals. Don't setting on a pair that have great color or whatever. This is what you do....Go to the local running store or whatever place that sells a good variety of running shoes. Try on a few pair and walk around like you're buying new shoes. Don't forget the brand and size you like and then order them through whatever site you find the best deal. I feel this is one of the more important investments you're going to make, aside from your dieting which I have been covering through my blog so I'm not going to touch on here. Fact of the matter is, take care of your body and wearing GOOD running shoes and practicing proper technique will help.
I hope to continue on this subject. I was waking up and thought about saving money and being able to do these races on a limited budget. For beginners(myself included), you are subject to people trying to sell you things you don't need. Always do your research.
Active Gear Up requires a membership fee, but can save you money. Their deals are amazing and they're not just a triathlon store. You'll find a plethora of outdoor activity deals. If you love the outdoors like I do, you'll see that a $60 yearly membership is worth it.Check out Team Green!!!!
If you've been reading my blog, you'll notice I have a bad case of ADHD and often times ramble, not fully explaining myself. Here's the thing, when I get excited about a subject I start to just go full speed and...at times I have so much on my mind that I don't finish a topic. So please, bare with me and we'll get through this together! I have a passion for the sport and hope to inspire others to give it a TRI!