Archive for the ‘Financial’ Category

I’ve been holding off on this writing this post for a while now because, well, I still can hardly believe it.  But I’ve got the confirmations, did the leg work and I suppose it’s safe to finally accept it as well as put it out there publicly that:

I AM A SPONSORED TRIATHLETE!

Yup.

I shit you not.

That’s pretty exciting, right?

Excuse me while I hyperventilate a little…

(Inside I’m screaming like a tweener at a Bieber concert)

But before I divulge the particulars, let me first comment that I am no rock star triathlete nor do I possess anything resembling a “God-gifted skill”, or even somewhat “pro” qualities and/or status.  I’m just an average guy who works his ass off to be the best that he can be come race day, with what little there is to work with of course.  Or, maybe it’s that there is actually a lot to work with given the current size of my ass, I’m not sure how you want to spin it.  However, what definitely holds true is that I work hard and try my best.

The idea came to me a few years ago to approach a few local businesses of which I am both a supporter and frequent customer, with the request to sponsor me as a local athlete.  I didn’t of course because, well, I’m a schmuck.  I figured that no business owner in their right mind would ever want to endorse a “nobody” which, in the greater scheme of things, I am.  After all, sponsorship’s typically go to athletes who win events and thereby promoting their said sponsors through the act of standing on the podium for all to behold and revel in.  And while I have been on the podium once or twice, it’s certainly not a regular occasion.  Besides, finishing first in the “Clydesdale” age group category isn’t exactly the “Big Time”, so I let the idea slip away like so many lost dreams.

It just wasn’t meant to be.

But this year, I need a new race suit.  And that means a pretty big expense seeing as how I only need the one.  The thought then of spending serious cash on a race suit that calls attention to brands such as Sugoi, Zoot, 2XU, Orca, Pearl Izumi or Louis Garneau who, really, don’t give two shits about me beyond the fact that I just handed over my hard earned bucks to wear their outfit, wasn’t very palatable.  Besides, I’d inevitably be just another faceless lamb in the flock along the race course seeing as how it’s very possible that quite a few other participants would also be wearing the exact same thing.

Boooooor-ing.

So I reconsidered the option of asking for a local sponsorship.  I figured, hey, you could probably see my ass from orbit as it is, so what better billboard for getting ones brand name seen and advertised is there?  Those skinny little pro assholes just don’t have this kind of girth on which to show off their sponsors, do they?

Hells-to-the-NO!

Now I’ve mentioned it before in other posts that I’m fiercely loyal to the area in which I live and train (Ridgeway, Ontario), and I practice “think Global, act local” as often as possible.  I also do my very best to support all our local businesses whenever I dine out, or go to shows and events, or just shop.  Maybe – just maybe – one of these businesses would be interested in returning the favor by making a small investment in supporting one of their own.

Now, let’s be clear.  I wasn’t asking for money to buy (or be provided with) expensive equipment, performance supplements, or even to cover the entry fees for my events.  I just wanted something spiffy to race in that has logos and the brand names of companies and businesses that I believe in, support and endorse; things that inspire me.

That’s not asking a lot is it?

I swallowed my pride then and approached three local businesses that I would love to represent and as fortunate would have it – they all agreed.  I guess that makes this my triathlon equivalent of “Say Yes to the Dress!”

So without any further ado, here they are:

Brimstone Brewing Co.

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CRAVE LOCAL FRESH

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The Unroyal Ride Ambassadors

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It goes without saying that I am HUGE fan of all these businesses, and not just because they’re local and they’ve agreed to give me money.

I love everything they stand for:

  1. Fresh local food
  2. Great local beer
  3. Awesome local riding

Three of my favorite things in life I might add.

Of course, the bragging rights that go along with showing up to an Ironman triathlon in part sponsored by a brewery also definitely ups the “cool factor” just a bit too.

Take that Clif bar!

“Recharge with Milk”, my ass.

(bitches)

Both Brimstone Brewing Co. and CRAVE LOCAL FRESH operate out of The Sanctuary – Center for the Arts, a converted church 30 seconds from my front door.  My family and I love this place and frequent it often on evenings out for dinner, concerts, or just quiet pints of delicious craft beer (which aren’t exactly part of an “Ironman Diet” but, hey, “all work and no play…”, right?).  I will stop in on weekends for a bowl of homemade “recovery soup” on weekends after long winter rides and runs, and this is also my go-to place on “Daddy-Daughter Date Night” for a few rounds of Exploding Kittens while mommy is at work as well.  Chef Matt and staff certainly take care of us.

I am also particularly excited to represent The Unroyal Ride Ambassadors started by local in.cep.tion cyclery bike shop owner Brandon McGuire.  Essentially, they’re a “group of everyday riders, a few racers, all with no glorious ambitions of World Cup domination; rather to support, love and grow our sport”.

In other words, we’re ordinary dads on a mission.

Kind of like this:

But with bikes.

So what will I be wearing this season?

Well, just check out this bad ass race suit:

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How.  Cool.  Is.  That?

This is certainly going to turn some heads.

I just can’t wait for the season to get here already and I’m sincerely looking forward to racing for and supporting my new sponsors this spring/summer – hell, all year – by leading more group bike rides to and from The Sanctuary (rumor has it they have good beer and food) in order to explore the amazing area that I am so fortunate to train and live in.  How lucky am I?  Of course, it goes without saying that I will do my absolutely very best  to make them all proud come race time as well.

And, hey, even if I don’t get to stand on the podium this year, I’m pretty sure I still know a good place where I can get a decent victory dinner and drink and maybe even a congratulatory pat on the back and a “good job!“.  Whatever it happens to be, at the end of the day there will always be good soup and beer.

What else can I ever ask for?

How To Make Your Own Cycle Rollers

Posted: December 12, 2014 in Bike, Financial
Tags:

I’ve always wanted a set of rollers for my indoor bike sessions but, really, I’m just too cheap.

Why rollers you ask?  Well, there are two major benefits to rollers when compared with using a regular trainer which is what I’m currently utilizing (like most, I assume). The first is that riding on rollers is a fast-track method to improving your balance and bike handling skills.  If you struggle on the road with basics such as holding a straight course when getting a bottle out of its cage, digging an energy bar out of your jersey pocket or putting on a waterproof on the go, then you could definitely benefit from the balance and core stability training that rollers deliver.  The second is that the high cadence workouts typically performed on rollers are perfect for developing a super-smooth, even and efficient pedal stroke.  Poetically described by the French as ‘souplesse pedaling’, it’s what pro riders spend most of the winter working on and what separates great riders from the merely good.

Another benefit is that you get a more interesting workout than on a normal trainer because you have something to concentrate on. The ease of setting up is also a bonus – you don’t have to bolt your bike on – and rollers are less stressful on your bike because it’s not fixed in position and subjected to unusual loads or random torquing of the bike’s frame during moments of intensity.

But, still, there’s the whole cost factor; something I’ve yet been able to bring myself to fork out for being the total tightwad that I am.  Hey, decent rollers can cost upwards of $300.00, and that’s a hard expenditure to justify.

Anyway, I think I may have just found the perfect solution:

Now I have all the craftsy-DIY skills as, say, a newborn baby Beluga, so if any of my fellow tightwad triathlon friends and peers are looking for a great (and cheap!) holiday present for me this year, this novel gift idea would be both completely awesome and well appreciated.

I thank you in advance!

Ode to my Water Bottles

Posted: August 22, 2014 in Equipment, Financial
Tags: ,

“See, if now I fly, you must follow;

Your cool spurting gifts, you soon must offer;

For if not, I will surely die;

Lost if not for your precious life force;

On the hot pavement of life…”

In case you didn’t immediately pick up on it – this is a love poem dedicated to my faithful water bottles.

Lord knows that I am a creature of habit.  I typically use the same workout clothes over and over again (clean – usually – of course), I follow a pretty set schedule as to which workout happens on which day and, yes, I use pretty much the same two water bottles.  Call me obsessive compulsive, call me overly loyal, or just call me plain stubborn, whatever, I literally use these water bottles every single day.

And these water bottles and I have been through a lot; four years of completion actually.  Not only does that include one Ironman, five Half Iron competitions and more Sprint and Olympic events that I can remember.

Okay, 15 Sprint and 5 Olympic…but who’s counting?

And it’s not just during these events that they get used either.  No sir!  These trusty companions have also endured more kilometers, time, and training workouts than I could ever calculate.  And, believe me, that includes lots of sitting proudly on the pool wall, or guarding my towel and car keys dockside during long swims, riding in my battle cages for thousands of long (and short) bike rides, and countless He-man sessions at the gym.  Oh, and then there’s the yoga and spin classes, car trips to and from stuff, sitting at my desk here at work (as well as at home) so, yeah, you get the picture.  I use these things a lot.

Too much I’m afraid.  I think I might be killing these things with love.

Sadly, for the past four years I knew this day would arrive as all good things eventually come to an end: my fat shorts, my favorite running socks, etc. – don’t even get me going on all the pairs of goggles and running shoes I’ve gone through (for whom the Bell tolls by the way). Let’s just say I can get pretty attached to stuff and these water bottles (i.e. ‘Pillars of Hydration’) might just be the hardest yet to part with yet.

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Here’s another pic of them in action:

Belly not included.

(Belly no longer included)

Aren’t they beautiful?

These water bottles came to me at exactly the same time I purchased Lucille from Enduro Sport in Toronto (five years ago).  They fit into Lucille’s bottle cages perfectly so you can see a lot of wear n’ tear on them; which are just beauty marks as far as I’m concerned.  In over five years of riding, they may have fallen out, maybe, twice.  And that was more likely due to my own error in returning them back into their cages mid-ride than anything else.

They are made of that soft squishy plastic – sorry to go all technical there on you – I like as opposed to those harder plastic bottles I find hard to use.  I hate having to fight with a water bottle to hydrate myself and if I need two hands to squirt its precious contents into my mouth then it’s more or less useless to me.

In an effort to combat the typical wear and tear and prolong the general life expectancy of these things, I have employed a rather rigorous cleaning regimen (click HERE) to limit the amount of mold buildup and therefore, hopefully, maintain their overall dispensing efficiency.

Regardless, the day of reckoning has finally arrived.

Keeping these bottles sanitary has now become a losing battle.  Their nozzles are leaky and the twist-on-top’s no longer keep a watertight seal so they don’t dispense water so much anymore as they serve as the mere vessel for ineffectually transporting fluids.  On my bike rides, the water splashes from their tops each time I hit a bump in the road and soaking me in the process.  Half the contents will squirt over my face and run down my chest into my bib shorts whenever I try to take a sip.  Furthermore, there’s about an inch of crusty funk built up around the inner lip no matter how often I scrub them (which, truthfully, isn’t as often as I should).

In short, it’s a lost cause.

But it’s not as easy as simply running out and buying more water bottles – oh no! That’s crazy talk.  I just can’t use any water bottle; it has to be the water bottle (there’s a huge difference)…and even then there has to be two of them.  If Enduro Sport wasn’t also a 2+ hour drive away I would just go back and purchase two more but, alas, I am too cheap to pay the gas simply to replace water bottles.

Believe me though, I did consider it.

So I’m on the prowl now to find the perfect replacements, or ‘substitutes’. I will call them ‘substitutes’ because these two Enduro bottles will always occupy a permanent place in my heart.

However, water bottles are something that the inner miser in me would never pay for.  I am a Tightwad Triathlete after all.  In the case of my Enduro sport bottles, they came free with the bike.

No. One has to come by water bottles freely, whether they’re earned or acquired it doesn’t matter but you never pay for water bottles.  I think it’s a law or something.

For shits and giggles, let’s review a few of the candidates currently in contention at my home:

1. The Big Move:

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I have volunteered with the organizers of The Big Move (100k) as the sweep rider for the past few years so I also have lots of these water bottles lying around.  Alright, I have exactly two.  Or I thought I had two anyway.  So maybe I only have this one. Whatever.

I use this bottle periodically and before that Kelly used it on her bike before she ‘purchased’ (yeah, I know) her own.  It fits into the bike cages well enough but they’re made of that hard inflexible plastic I hate so unless I can use both hands to squirt its contents into my mouth while riding, or somehow manage to work my suck into an industrial vacuum-like power, it is rather difficult to use. It can certainly be used periodically – like, at work or something – but it will never be part of my permanent rotation.

2. Ironman Gummies:

DSCF1948

The plus side here is that this water bottle is made of that soft squishy plastic I like since it’s really meant for kids (hence: Iron Gummy vitamins).   It also fits perfectly in my bike cages, which means I could easily use it while riding without any extra effort or care.  Likewise, the seal is fantastic so it doesn’t drip or leak, like, at all.  Sure it does have a rather childlike feel to it seeing as how it’s from a kid’s triathlon series but, hey, that’s as good a program to endorse as any.  It was however, supposed to be the kids’ water bottle and this kid likes to chew her nozzles.

Just look at this madness:

(WARNING: this following picture depicts scenes of graphic violence. Viewer discretion is strongly advised)

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Unfortunately, this is the only one of its kind in our possession that doesn’t also look like it’s been attacked by beavers. I will surely need to protect and preserve this one with straight up Diane Fossey type fervor…however, we definitely have a keeper!

3.  Whatever the fuck this thing is:

DSCF1959

Who the fuck knows where we got this thing from but it’s completely useless; needless to say it’s doesn’t leave the shelf very often.  Personally, while I see people (typically the older people) using these types of water bottle at the gym, I firmly believe they should never – ever – leave the house. Certainly not for a workout, like, anywhere! In this one and only case, style trumps cost.  Do us all a favor, unless your 90 years old, leave the shitty Rubbermaid on the shelf at the local DollarMart and spend the money something else.

This bottle is definitely OUT.

4. The Cancun 70.3 Souvenir Bottle:

DSCF1957

I kept a few of these bottles as souvenirs after my Cancun 70.3 competition back in 2011. It has the perfect ‘Swim, Bike, Run’ advertising on it and it definitely worked at the time but now, well, not so much. Its make-up and over all squeezeability’ is pretty cool but it only contains 400ml of fluid which is well under my usual hourly intake (550ml). So I would have to refill this thing a shit ton more just to keep my current hydration strategy alive and well.

Plus, it’s that ugly fucking orange color (or ‘persimmon’ which makes it sound even worse) is hard to accessorize around.

Sorry.   Won’t work.

5. The Canadian Tire special:

DSCF1960

Beats me how I came into possession of this bottle. It completely solid (i.e. you can’t squeeze it) and it doesn’t fit into my bikes bottles cages making it practically useless on the bike. Likewise, even though it’s measured out in ml’s which might be nice if I was, say, mixing a protein shake or something, for workouts it’s practically useless.   And, really, what the fuck is with that propeller thing on the top anyway?

Basically, this is the water bottle equivalent of any cheap ass water bottle you might find on the shelf in the ‘Kitchen Crap’ aisle at Canadian Tire. Pass.

6.  Don’t even get me fucking started:

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No.

7.  What the fuck is this thing anyway?

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Again.  No.

8.  The Tin Man:

DSCF1964

We use this to send the kid to camp with because they’re unless you’re backing over it with a tow motor, they’re practically indestructible.  Other than that feature, why do they even make metal water bottles anyway?  They’re impossible on the bike and pointless anywhere else.  In fact, unless you have this thing properly clipped onto your Outward Bound backpack while hitch-hiking around, say, Europe, or you’re planning on having to fend off marauding zombies, this type of bottle is just a huge, heavy, pain in the ass.  It should definitely never be used for a workout.

9.  Maybe at my desk perhaps:

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Not sure how this would work on the bike.

10. TryForce

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This is another type of souvenir bottle I got from my triathlon group.  In fact, I have a few of these.  Honestly, I do.  I should be using these bottles given I love my training group and whatnot, but I hate it.  It’s the same 400ml as that Cancun shit thing and it’s that hard plastic I despise, plus it also rattles in my bike cage which drives me nuts.  I want to love it – but I just can’t.

When I do use any of these bottles I inevitably feel like how Hugh Grant might have felt when he was caught cheating on the beautiful Elizabeth Hurley with the likes of Divine Brown – dirty.

Anyway, I am aiming to finish the season with my current two trusty and faithful Enduro bottles but, beyond that, the search will indelibly continue until the perfect two bottles are ultimately located, procured and otherwise assume a regular place in my daily training routine.

Tightwad Triathlete Tip #10

Posted: November 12, 2013 in Financial
Tags: ,

Honey (or Royal Jelly) is one of those staples that I feel every triathlete needs to have on hand in their cupboards.  Besides using the cute plastic teddy bear bottle as a bong in the old days, honey can serve as a simple burning carb to fuel intense workouts as well as replenishing them post workout, as well as stave off allergy reactions by building immunity during the spring and summer seasons of training.  To this effect, I will add it to my water bottles, put it on toast, stir it into some Greek yogurt, or just take that shit by the spoonful straight up; whatever.

But now that it’s nearly winter and the pollen count isn’t really the issue it used to be, I still want it for my water bottles.  However, honey isn’t in as great supply anymore being the off season – particularly the good local kind – so, therefore, it’s a bit more expensive.  But…I may have just found a happy and cheap (i.e. free) solution.

"One free cup of health, please!"

“One free cup of health, please!”

Who doesn’t love Starbucks, right?  It gave us a hip and new coffee language, it popularized specialty coffees, and it’s expensive; so you know it’s good shit.  Maybe you already start or end your workout there for a nice refreshing cuppa after a workout with friends.  You know what else is great about Starbucks?  Free honey packets.  Yes, that’s right…free honey.  Oh, it “bee” true bitches.  Starbucks gives away these little packets of honey to add to their fancy teas and other fru-fru beverages like they do with milk and sugar.  How perfect is that?  Usually, they are stored in an unguarded box on the counter just ripe for the picking.  And pick I do, like, 5-6 of them…at a time.  I have no shame.  But, hey, I assure you – after the third time the guilt goes away.  Besides, it may just be the closest thing I ever experience to an actual sponsorship.

Each time I go to Starbucks (which – as necessity would warrant it – is about twice a month), I order me up a  tea and load up on a pocketful of these complimentary Bee Maid honey packets to squirrel away at home for future use in my water bottles, yogurt, cheese, et al.  I like to have about a dozen or so laying around for just such an emergency (i.e. impromptu workouts).  Usually, nobody even pays you any notice as you help yourself.  Hey, the barista doesn’t care if you want a side order of diabetes to take away with your Grande Vanilla Rooibos; they just want you to go away.  And if that happens to be with a generous helping of bonus honey packets, then so be it.

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Energy to go!

They’re perfect!  Each individual 7g packet contains 21 calories, 6g of carbohydrates, and 5.6g of sugar.  Likewise, as honey comes from natural plant nectars it contains vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids.  It also is a source of essential minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.  It’s a total pharmacy of health benefits – FOR FREE!  Keep in mind though, that the amounts are in trace levels and will vary depending on the floral source but, still, at the cost of absolutely $0, what’s the harm?  Even if there is only a minute amount of anything in it, I’m still ahead of the game!

Furthermore (and as I’ve explained in previous posts), experts in sports nutrition have labeled honey as one of the most effective forms of carbohydrate to ingest just prior to exercise since it is easily digested and released into the body at a steady rate for use during exercise.  And the benefits of honey go beyond energy during activity.  Research has also shown that consuming honey after a workout helps muscles to recuperate.

The best part is that because they come in their own convenient little packages, I can keep them on hand in my gym bag, the car, at work, or wherever else I might have need for loading up on energy either prior to or after a workout.  Imagine carrying around an actual jar of honey with you for the same purpose?  That’s not going to end up well, is it?

Oh and, hey, did I mention that Bee Maid is a Canadian company?  Awesome, right?  Because if you’re going to be lifting stuff, you may as well support local industry by lifting Canadian.

It’s been drilled into our heads that we must hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Hydrate like your life depends on it which, in a way, it does I guess.  But, regardless, it could be said that hydration is a unique discipline to triathlon all unto and in of itself, worthy of its own specific recognition and focus.  And I’m not talking about just any liquids here either like juice, coffee, tea, or whatever, I’m strictly talking about water, bitch, the free shit.  How hard should that be, right?  But then you throw in all the necessary electrolytes and all that other crap you also need and that simple equation becomes much more difficult.  And not speak for any others out there but, for me, it’s pretty freakin’ hard remembering to drink enough ‘good’ water throughout the day.  Sure, I hydrate during my workouts (refer to the linked article above), but drinking adequately throughout the rest of the day is extremely important too and this is where I often fall short.  Until now…

My problem is that basic, run-of-the-mill water tastes like, well, nothing really.  Flavor wise, it’s about as exciting as dust bunnies.  And given that I need to be consuming approximately 12-16 glasses a day, that’s a lot of dust bunnies to get excited about.  I find that hard to do, particularly when there are other more tasty options out there like juice, coffee, tea, or…*gasp*…beer.  Knowwhatimsayin?

Of course, unless you work at home like myself, or have access to a proper water cooler at your office place (which I don’t), most of us probably will rely on the easily procured bottled variety.  Still the same ‘ol boring shit, but now it even comes with a rather substantial price tag attached to it.  It never ceases to amaze me that WATER, a basic building block required for life is more costly than your average can of soda pop, or whatever carbonated sugary beverage you prefer.  It’s as insane as it is unfair.

But never fear the ‘Tightwad Triathlete’ has the perfect hydration strategy to address this concern that simply goes beyond keeping your water glass full with the Brita filter in the refrigerator, or stocking up on cases of bottled water.  The answer:

An important investment in your health.

An important investment in your health.

That’s right; you’re basic household Mason jar that you can find at any neighborhood garage sale or thrift shop for mere pennies.  Here’s the plan…

Each and every day, fill several Mason jars with not only water, but a selection of fruit and, sometimes, herbs.  After an hour or two, that water is automatically transformed into something healthy, delicious and instantly ready to be consumed.  You can then dump this water into your water bottle prior to your workouts, or simply into your water glass throughout the normal workday to ensure that you maintain your adequate hydration needs.  Afterwards, simply refill the Mason jar with another water-fruit concoction and place it back in the fridge for your next visit.  If you have to go to the office, just bring a few of those jars with you and then refill them when you get home for the next day.  Easy, right?

24 hours worth of hydration ready to go...

24 hours worth of hydration ready to go (minus the bottle of gin)…

The fun part is that you get to experiment with different fruits and herbs to create something that is both unique and tasty, while it is still practically guaranteed to be 100% healthy.  With a single trip to the market you can practically acquire enough ingredients to provide virtually an infinite number of possible water concoctions to consume throughout the regular day.  So far, I have experimented with mixing together strawberries, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, lychees, lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, kiwis, cucumber, mint, basil, and rosemary…and I’m nowhere near finished experimenting yet.

Just a couple of possible flavor combinations...

Just a couple of possible flavor combinations…

Besides getting your electrolytes, practically any of these partnered water flavors will also aid in your digestion and assist with internal cleansing; help you with your weight management by reducing your appetite (for those looking to shed a few pounds – like myself); and help you alleviate everything from heart burn, to bodily wrinkles, to bad breathe to indigestion or gas.  In some cases, particularly if you add a bit of honey to the mix, they will provide you with new levels of energy or even just an improvement in your overall ‘blah’ mood during the day. Hey, a bloated, dehydrated triathlete is not a happy triathlete, am I right?  The best part is, that this constant circulation of yummy water through your system will also aid in the movement through your body of all those great vitamins and minerals you are, hopefully, conscientious about consuming throughout the day.  Pretty awesome, huh?

Not bad for a few cheap Mason jars.  Peace, love, hydrate.

In case the ideas’ in Part 1 weren’t enough, here are a few more novel Christmas ideas for your special triathlete this holiday season; no need to venture into ‘No Man’s Land’ at the mall just yet.  Remember, it’s not about how pretty it is but how functional it is.  Sure the new Garmin 310X looks really, really flashy and no doubt has their heart all aflutter, but by the time they figure out how to use it Easter will be here.  In the meantime, they could be getting more use out of these items:

Pretty and functional!

Pretty and functional!

Just about every popular brand name line of bikes comes with their own personalized equipment add-ons for the serious biker like, for example, a tire changing kit.  These kits are invaluable for any cyclist who ventures more than just a few kilometers from home.  Personally, I wouldn’t leave home without it.  In this kit we store our extra tubes, tire levers, air cartridges, quick inflator, etc.  All said and done this can total some pretty good cash.  Even the bag alone is going to set you back a few sawbucks.  However, here’s the perfect alternative that you can easily affix under your seat with basic wire for the same purpose.  Functional AND  pretty!  This decorative box probably even has enough room to pack a lunch for all those really long rides as well…and all for only $2.00!

Truly, this will make your triathlete Glad...to have you as a friend.

Truly, this will make your triathlete Glad…to have you as a friend.

Here’s a true multi-purpose gift idea…a roll of garbage bags.  Forget the expensive fancy water resistant running jackets you’ll pay a fortune for at Runners World, garbage bags the perfect rain poncho.  Just cut out some holes for your head and arms, slip it over your regular running gear, cinch the drawstring tight around your waist and off you go!  Presto!  Hell, its’ even lemon scented…how convenient is that?  The real beauty is that since a typical roll of garbage bags come in packages of 60-100, the thick forgiving roll can double as a foam roller to soothe your aching muscles when you get home later.  Beautiful!

Roller-schmoller!

Roller-schmoller!

And if your triathlete prefers not to use their roll of garbage bags for massage purposes, or the roll gets low if it’s been particularly nasty out, then maybe this $2.00 paint roller will do instead.  It perfectly targets all those particular sore muscles just as easily as any expensive foam roller.  Hell, for a dollar more you can throw in a replacement roller.

Shamcredible!

Shamcredible!

Now what triathlete can’t benefit from having an extra shammy around, am I right?  Use it to sponge off your bike after a sweaty indoor trainer session, or yourself when you get out of the pool after a long swim like a real Olympic diver.  Nobody needs to know it’s by Scotch-Brite…a shammy is a shammy!  At Dollarama, these packages of two shammy towels are even cheaper than your typical ShamWow!

Swoosh-free

Swoosh-free

Needless fad or endurance staple, I’ve already documented how expensive your basic compression wear is, but even Dollarama has a solution!  The TherapyPlus ‘Diabetic Dress Cotton Sock’; at $9.00, these old man socks are the deal of the century!  Forget the $50  pairs with fancy swooshes n’ shit on ‘em, heck, you can even forget about the $14.95  pairs at Walmart!  At that price you can practically dispose them after a single wear and simply purchase new ones.

Nothing says 'Merry Christmas', like hot food!

Nothing says ‘Merry Christmas’, like hot food!

Here’s the scenario:  your beloved triathlete is out on a long winter’s run and suddenly they feel like they may need a little nosh, or pick-me-up.  Sure, they can gobble down a gel or two (or some ‘Yogurt Dips’  if they’re particularly savvy) but wouldn’t they really prefer a hot meal?  I don’t know about anyone else, but a nice hot open-faced roast beef sandwich would sure hit the spot at the halfway point on any of my cold runs.  And how would I manage that you ask?  Why, with a portable Titan Foil ‘Cook n’ Carry’  container, of course.  For a single buck, you can provide your triathlete with three hot meals in these convenient 2lb. food containers.  Yeah.

Coffee.  Duh.

Coffee. Duh.

And if they’re going to be treated to a hot meal, why not a hot beverage to go with it?  As I see it, for a dollar you can’t really go wrong.

Keep their pinkies and piggies warm for $1.25!

Keep their pinkies and piggies warm for $1.25!

If you’ve shopped for winter running gloves recently you probably broke out in a sweat just thinking about paying off the credit card bills afterwards.  Pfft!  You can purchase warm, fuzzy industrial gloves at Dollarama just as easily.

The gift that keeps on giving.

The gift that keeps on giving.

Now, here’s the coup d’état.  Besides being free, you don’t even have to go shopping for it.  Just go to a park or field somewhere, or maybe even your own backyard, and pick up the first stick you see.  Yes, a stick.  A stick is the perfect budget friendly gift for your triathlete and has a myriad of purposes:  you can ward off attacks from local dogs, retrieve stuff from roadside ditches, poke at dead animals during your runs, or just use it to point interesting stuff out to your runner partner.  If you really want to, you can wrap some bubble wrap around it and use it just as you would the real Stick to self-massage aching muscles and soreness, stimulate circulation, and whatever else the Stick does.  Again…functional NOT pretty!

I hate shopping; particularly at this time of year.  It’s like Opening Night at the Coliseum: armed warriors in pitched battle waging war to the death for the last few remaining elderberry-scented candles, plastic wall mounted fish that sings CCR tunes, or discounted boxes of ‘After Eight’ mints with the Best Before stickers ripped off.  Entering into malls in the few remaining days before Christmas would be like entering into the seventh ring of Dante’s Inferno.  Personally, I’m not stepping foot in any of the local city-sized shopping centers without a fully fueled flame thrower.

Making matters worse, is that your typical triathlete’s Christmas list will usually contain lots of very specific requests from Santa like the latest Garmin tracking system, the newest piece of fade fitness equipment, or a bike that weights about as much as my breakfast; and all this shit comes with an equally hefty price tag attached to it (never mind entering the stores to find any of it).  Lord knows that triathlon isn’t a cheap sport by any means.  So what’s a person to do?  How does one find the perfect item for your triathlete loved one without either spending an extortionate amount of money or having fight off the throngs of holiday-crazed shoppers at the local mall?  Well, never fear, Tightwad Triathlete to the rescue!

Yes, I have learned that just everything your special triathlete could ever make use of or need, can be very easily located in the aisles of your local Dollarama.  So what might inevitably cost you an insane amount of money at any other brand name sporting store like Dicks, Sports Chek, or whatever, will only cost you pennies instead.  It’s true!  The following items are just a wee sampling of the great holiday gift ideas I found during a simple 15 minute interval through the Niagara Falls store:

Dumbbells anyone?

Dumbbells anyone?

Winter is the optimal season for strength building, so having some form of weights or resistance-type equipment on hand is always, well, ‘handy’.  But forget about purchasing expensive hand-held weights and dumbbells which can equal mega bucks, the answer lays in finding the perfect weight-bearing substitute like these durable rubber beauties.  Hey, they’re even shaped so much like little dumbbells that no one is likely to suspect any different.  You can purchase the bigger chew toys for your heavier muscle building days, or the medium to light bones for your lighter, more functional strength building days.  Heck, it even has ‘Strength’ labeled right on the package!  What more can you ask for?  And if you’re a bit puckish after your workout, then these chew toys even come made of natural healthy ingredients and gluten-free formula for post-workout nibbling.  And you know how triathletes dig their gluten-free!

If it's good enough for l'il fluffy...

If it’s good enough for l’il fluffy…

And speaking of healthy and nutritious, why spend a shitload of cash on expensive performance gels, chomps, sport beans, and the like as stocking stuffers when you can purchase entire bags of “nutritionally fortified treats”  for all those long winter training sessions.  Forget about fancy flavors like Montana Huckleberry, Double Latte, Gingerbread, or Green Apple (ack!) these energy treats come in more natural and appetizing flavors like ‘Yogurt Dips’, ‘Carrot Nibblers’, and ‘Timothy Bits’…and all for under a fiver!  Don’t they sound tasty?

Essential pilates gear.

Essential pilates gear.

Pilates body sculpting balls anybody?

Keep your supplements organized!

Keep your supplements organized!

Here’s a neat idea.  I bet your favorite triathlete probably vitamins and mineral supplements by the fistful, right? And then a few ibuprofen capsules later after a hard workout maybe?  Well, why not keep all their various pills and tablets organized with this plastic, compartmentalized, multi-purpose storage box?  Sorting and organizing all your morning vitamins has never been easier.

Be seen!  Be safe!

Be seen! Be safe!

Now that our training days are shorter, there’s more probability of nighttime workouts so it’s safety first with this cheap, high intensity water (i.e. sweat) resistant 7 LED headlamp.  Just look how happy and confident that girl on the package front looks!  I betcha she just loves her nighttime run workouts.  That’s two dollars well spent if you ask me!

A moveable feast!

A moveable feast!

Here’s a totally practical gift idea.  Forget about all the fancy, expensive water bottles, fuel belts and what have you, this baby has it all.  Have you seen how much fuel belts go for at the Running Room?  It’s ridiculous.  Why not go with the multi-purpose ‘Sippy Cup and Snack Container’ for the serious endurance athlete on the go?  Now your triathlete can feed and hydrate during their long trainer sessions or out on the road with the same cheap, handheld vessel.  They’re going to be a literal moveable feast with this handy-dandy gift idea!  And conveniently enough, it comes in both blue for boys and pink for girls.

Tennis balls.  The cheap triathletes best friend.

Tennis balls. The cheap triathletes best friend.

Recovery is an increasingly important discipline in triathlon lately, particularly while we’re reestablishing our base again in the off season, so how about a package of tennis balls?  Tennis balls you ask?  Hey, tennis balls can be substituted for those fancy self-massage balls to relieve back and sciatic pain, or for rolling out those common plantar fasciitis aches and pains in your feet.  You’d be surprised what you can do with a package of cheap ass tennis balls and if the LIVESTRONG foundation has an entire page dedicated to it, you just know there’s some merit to it. Are you going to argue with Lance Armstrong?  No, I didn’t think so.

Crocks my ass!

Crocks my ass!

And while we’re on the subject of ‘recovery’, how about a pair of fluffy, ‘Ultra Plush’ slippers to lounge around in after a particularly grueling workout?  They’re even ‘Skid Resistant’.  How can you go wrong with that for $3 a pair?  Shit, buy two pairs!