Monday, March 31, 2014

The Car Problem

Never in my life have I been so stressed out about a car purchase before!  The past couple weeks have been crazy in our house.  I have felt every emotion possible in the car search.  The first emotion was probably fear.  The trusty mazda6 that I LOVE was starting to fail me.  We were definitely at the point where we needed to either replace or repair the car because the shifting was acting up and since I already feel like I have to go through a few dangerous intersections in the mornings, they were getting pretty sketchy and I needed a huge gap in traffic to feel safe.  Otherwise it still looked great.  Here it is brand spanking new, fresh from a hand car wash in 2004.

The next problem was that I had an odd (well, maybe after reading this, you won't think its so odd, but I felt like people I didn't know thought it was odd, but people I knew well were more like, "of course you thought that" ) attachment to the car.  This was MY car.  I hand picked it, searching dealer inventory daily.  It was the perfect car.  Ryan and I test drove several different cars before confirming that we did want the mazda6.  Working for Ford at the time, we got a discount on Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar, Mazda, Volvo, and Land Rover (and Aston Martin).  We considered the Ford Focus, Volvo S4, Jaguar S type, and mazda6.  The mazda6 5 door sedan was my favorite, and so that is what we got.  Being car people, cost was a factor, but it wasn't the only factor.  We were trading in my Mercury Cougar, a 2 door hatchback, the first car I bought all by myself.  You'd think if I was going to have an odd attachment to a car, it would be the "super cougar", and not my aged mazda6.  However, it was a fully loaded car with ALL the bells and whistles.  There was not an option this car did not have, and its the highest 60 month car payment we've ever had.  But, I had a good job and I had my cougar to trade in and cash to put down, so it was all good.  I signed the papers for this car myself and paid for a good chunk of the payments with my income while I was working (before Keira was born).  So, it wasn't really my first car, but more my LAST car.  The LAST part of my prior life before kids when I could actually use my own money to buy what I wanted.  Whatever replaced it should be special. 

I got the car the week after my first marathon, in October of 2004.  It brought Keira and Soren home from the hospital, and it was the only car that they ever knew.  This car went back and forth between Ohio and MI when Keira was a newborn and toddler.  It took the kids everywhere.  I drove it home from Racing for Recovery 70.3, my first half ironman race- I had driven the truck there and Ryan met me, but I found sitting with my feet straight in front of me in the car was much easier than more upright in the truck.  I also took the mazda6 to Muncie, my first solo trip and race since the kids were born.  Put the bike in the back and packed up and went.  It had been a long time since I went anywhere new by myself, and this was before we had a smartphone or a GPS.  I also drove my bike to bike check in at Ironman.  Seeing it in the back was when it got real and I had a good excited "I'm living my dream" cry.  I could drive it with my knee banged up after my crash.  I could fit both my bikes in the trunk and the kids to race in MI.  I brought Soren to the BMX track in it.  Keira rode in it to school.   It was (and still is) a great car.  It wasn't going to be easy to replace.
Ready for bike check in at IM Lou

Bringing Keira home for the first time
After my BQ in KY with my girl. 

I had my eye on the Ford Fusion for the past year.  I saw it at the auto show last year and fell in love.  The fusion was based off of the Mazda platform, so it would be replacing the car with a very similar sized and priced vehicle.  I had been looking forward to getting the new stylish Fusion. (this photo was taken in 2013 NAIS Detroit show)
This photo was taken a month or so ago at the Y.  One of our members drives my dream car!

I'd kind of thought it was a done deal.  I had been pumped about getting the Fusion.  I wanted a blue one just like the one in the picture above. 

Ryan and I started looking around at cars.  Since he works at Ford and gets A plan, our pricing is set.  So it should be really simple, right?  Well, with inflation and new technology available, we couldn't get the fully loaded Fusion for anywhere near the cost of the mazda.  They were looking a bit pricey.  And then we thought maybe we should get another Ford Escape.  I did not want another Escape.  I was against having two of the same vehicle, plus I felt like the escape was a downgrade from the Sport Trac we traded in from a size and utility standpoint.  Ryan primarily drives the Escape so it was his call that we got a pretty basic one.  It was a cash for clunkers trade and we were on a time crunch.  We were one of the fortunate ones who had our vehicle tagged and waiting for when the vouchers came available and with 27 dealers in the Metro Detroit area, it wasn't hard to find the options that Ryan wanted.  Amazingly, it was available at the dealer across the street from our condo.  Two tenths of a mile away and I could walk there.  Awesome.  The mazda6 came from just another block down.  We entertained the thought of an MKC for about 15 minutes.  We built one of those online and without A plan, comparing public pricing, the MKC with FWD was $80/month more than the AWD Escape, so totally not worth it.

We thought about a Taurus.  This is where all the drama began.  Those of you who know me well will also think, "of course you flipped out".  With incentives, when we were talking with one of the salesmen at our closest dealer, the Taurus seemed pretty close in price to the Fusion.  There were a lot more incentives, and Ryan felt like we could get a lot more car for the money going the Taurus route.  I was not thrilled, but the realistic side of me (yes, I know there is one in there somewhere) knew that I had to give it some thought.  Well, basically I tried to come up with real hard concrete reasons against buying the Taurus instead of "it makes me feel old".  And it did make me feel old.  My mom drives one, and Ryan's dad drives one.  Plus, any Taurus we would get would be far inferior option wise than theirs.  I really didn't want the cheapo version of an old person car.  I cried.  I felt like I was having a full blown midlife crisis.  My run on Thursday was horrible because it was windy, and then I felt even more old.   I came home and measured the garage.  The Taurus is approximately 203 inches long.  Our garage, from the front concrete block to the hardware on the inside of the garage door was approximately 210 inches.  Score 1 for me.  There wouldn't be room in the garage for this car AND my bikes, plus the kids bikes are currently in front of my bike, plus my stroller and our firepit are in the corner blocking the man door.  All of this stuff would need to be moved.  Obviously we could put the firepit outside and purchase a cover for it and move the kids bikes to the front of Ryan's car, and sell or move my stroller to the basement.  But the problem with the adult bikes would still exist.  I knew I would have a dent in the front of the car from an SPD mountain pedal.  One of my very sensible responsible friends suggested covering it with a pool noodle.  Sigh.  Everyone was coming up with solutions that pointed to the Taurus.  The dealer we were working with had told us that if we picked something from their lot, they would give us what we wanted for our trade.  Ok.  We'd see what we could come up with.  They didn't want to retrieve my "dream car" from another dealer because they would lose some money on the sale, so they would take that out of my trade.  Some people we spoke to thought they were being a bit extreme on this, but needless to say, we tried to find a vehicle from their stock.

The other issue with the Taurus/Fusion debate is that Ryan wants to be able to use this vehicle to travel, which means we need to be able to load up bikes and all sorts of stuff on and in it.  The Taurus has a huge trunk.  Massive.  Plus, our Yakima skybox will fit on it and we can take some pieces from the existing Escape rack and move them onto a Taurus.  We would need about $300 in parts from Yakima to make it work.  I called Yakima, and they have no towers that will fit with the Fusion for 2013/14, when they redid it.    However, the woman on the phone said that the skybox will fit with any crossbar as long as there is at least 3 inches of clearance.  Thule to the rescue!  They aren't American, which is a bummer, but they do offer a rack solution for about $600.  I was not about to let $300 be the difference of my happiness.  Then, Ryan found a Taurus with huge 20inch wheels, which I had said I would entertain a Taurus if and only if it had huge 20 inch wheels because that would prevent it from being "an old person car".  Or it would just really date me!  Well, Ryan found one in the sterling gray color with black leather (a must) and 20s.  Crud.  I agreed to go look at it on Friday after I picked up my race packet.   We looked at the outside of it, and I agreed it looked like a pretty decent car.  I had a good cry about my fabulous sporty mazda that was MINE being replaced by an old person sedan, but wasn't going to be totally unreasonable if this really was an affordable car for us and would be better for our family.  I spent the evening cleaning out the food, paper, and stuff that had accumulated in my car.  I ended up pulling an insane amount of stuff out of there.  Some of the items included: double jogging stroller, 5 pairs of safety glasses, a reusable shopping bag of CDs, two reusable shopping bags of reusable shopping bags, one reusable shopping bag of important papers and things not trash, plus a disposable shopping bag of trash and another of recycling, plus 3 unopened bottles of water. 

I ran the PJ10miler and had a great race.  With my parents in town, we thought it would be a great idea to be able to go to the dealer without the kids and test drive the Taurus.  The guy I had worked with in the past was not there, however the guy that confirmed the appraisal was.  We waited forever after the test drive, and finally sat down, about ready to close the deal.  The guy came and got us and we started to talk about numbers.  Wow, we were shocked.  First, they had devalued my trade.  I was irate.  That same man had told me earlier in the week that "had I picked something off the lot, I would get $X for my trade" because he really wanted to sell the Taurus.  Not $X-$500.  That made me and Ryan really angry.  We felt like we had been mislead and told a lie.  They would not budge on this.  Then, the guy we worked with wouldn't explain all the numbers to us as to how he got to our monthly payment, which was HUGE!  Holy moly!  It was bigger than the mazda6 payment.  When we talked earlier in the week with the other salesman, payments were over $100/month lower.  What the heck had changed?  $500 on the trade is only about $10 a month, so even giving us that didn't make this car affordable.  Not at all.  The lack of explanation offered to us and my lack of food from racing was a horrible combination.  I'm a math person, which means if I can follow everything, there is something in there that shouldn't be.  We really felt like there was something being pulled over our eyes here, and we walked out.  It sucked to be back at square one and waste the time I could have spent with my parents being incredibly confused and frustrated.  I went home and added everything up on my own, and it seriously should have been $25 less.  Still way more than the Fusion, but a lot less than what we had been quoted that day.  I read all the fine A plan print and included tax and the fees and that is what I got.  I called Ryan and said that was what we should expect for that size car, and if we really wanted a car that big, we would have a car payment that big.  For an old person car.

Being back at square one brought in more stress.  We circled back and Ryan asked if we should consider the Escape again.  No.  I wanted a car.  Fine.  We looked more at dealer inventory online that night and I decided to go look at another car on Monday with a few free minutes that I had.  They had a blue one online, and to have them go through detailed pricing with me.  These guys made perfect sense to me, except the blue one had been sold.  They appraised the mazda and agreed that it was worth the $X dollars I was initially asking for based on Kelley's Blue Book value for trade in.  They wrote up a fancy form on it too for me that I could bring back when I was ready.  They had two black ones that were affordable with the smallest engine.  I said I'd be in touch.

Later that day, Ryan and I met up at a dealership that had been recommended to us by my tri club.  I pulled up to that dealership and thought, "this is the kind of dealership I am used to in Detroit".  It was massive.  We had looked at their inventory on line and they had lots of options.  It was made from an old mall and had cars as far as the eye could see, plus a fun gallery of classic cars.  They were also a Lincoln dealer, so I could ask about the MKC (which Ryan actually knows more about from his internal Ford knowledge than the dealer anyway).  They people here treated us really well and Ryan took out two different Fusions for a test drive to determine which engine we would want because there were 3 options.  Ryan was mostly interested in the middle sized 2.0L ecoboost of the Fusion.

We had to give it a day because we both had activities on Tuesday night.  We did some searching online of inventory again, and it seemed like Bill Collins, the awesome huge dealership recommended to us by my tri friend, would have something.  We were up against the deadline of March 31st, when the incentives would change.  They might go away, stay the same, or get better, but we have no clue, and won't know until tomorrow!  I went there with the mindset of, "we WILL buy a car today".  I was just worn down of the search process and had decided that interior color (dark charcoal leather) was the top priority.  Leather is so much easier with kids.  Just compare my 9 year old mazda interior with Ryan's 4  year old cloth Escape.  We don't even eat in the escape and it is discolored from Soren being carsick on one trip.  Keira had reflux as an infant and threw up on an almost daily basis in the mazda.  It wiped right off!  Plus our sport trac just stunk like sweaty exercisers by the time we traded that in because the sweat soaked into the cloth.  Ew!  The cloth of the newer cars is supposed to be better, but I wasn't sold yet. 

We met up with our guy, Tone Wesley, on Wednesday.  We told him we wanted 2.0L Ecoboost, preferred dark leather, and few other options if any to keep cost down, and some acceptable colors.  We also said if they had a Taurus like the one at the first dealership, we would rather buy it from him.  He pulled 3 cars into their showroom, 2 Fusion 2.0L Ecoboost engines, and 1 Taurus.  The first Fusion had leather and was sterling gray, the second had cloth and a ton of other bells and whistles, and was black.  The Taurus didn't have the big wheels, but was basic and had light leather.  I didn't want light leather because I'm a jeans girl, and didn't want to stain my leather from denim.  After going to the auto show for years on the first public day, I had seen firsthand what dark denim does to light leather interior.  It turns it blue.  It can be cleaned, but its a pain and not something I want to plan to stay on top of from the beginning.  That car was out.  They had a similar with dark interior, but it was a demo car with a decent amount of miles.  I really liked the first one.  I didn't need all the bells and whistles.  It had Sync to use my ipod and satellite radio, so that was really what was important from an entertainment system.  It had heated seats.  It was sterling gray, so almost the same color as our Escape, but also the same color of the Taurus we almost bought.  Ryan liked the black Fusion with the cloth and all the extras.  We sat down and talked price.  For the first time EVER, the car I wanted the most, with the leather interior and nothing else, was the least expensive!  That was hard to argue with.  All three options were affordable, but it was really hard to argue with "I want the least expensive".  Then we had the mazda appraised a final time.  The kids said goodbye to it, and cried.  It was hard for me to not cry since it was such a great car.

Goodness I was stressed.  We got our $X trade in, and it was done!  We declined all the extras and we have the lowest car payment we've had.   Here's the new car!!!!!

And it fits in the garage!!! (and matches our other car, sort of boring, but it won't be this way forever!)

Sorry for this crazy post, but I really felt like I needed to get this out here.  I was crazy stressed out over this, and documenting it should hopefully help me know what to worry about and what not the next time around. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 Papa John's 10miler Race Recap

This year I finally signed myself up for the Papa John's 10 miler and ran it as myself, instead of scrounging for a bib last minute, or not so last minute.  It lined up perfectly with my training plan that called for a tempo run of 10 miles at a 7:49mi/mile pace.  I've been struggling with the tempo runs this entire training plan (and last year too), so racing one is always good motivation to do better.  Its like I need the adrenalin or excitement of a race to be able to fight through these runs.  This race is only $30, and you get a Nike drifit shirt and chip timing.  Its a total deal!  There is no medal, BUT, there is free Papa John's pizza at the end, which for me, is way better!

This winter has been hard on me.  Last year, in training, I was nailing every workout (except the tempo runs).  This year, so much indoor running seemed to hurt my outdoor running.  Or maybe conditions have just been that much tougher.  Some of my long runs have been improvements on last year, and my track workouts have been better, but a lot of the outdoor runs have gone poorly, mostly from horrible winds.  I had a rough 15 mile run on Thursday prior to the 10miler.  I had entertained the idea of helping out Athletes in Tandem, for the race, but felt so worn down that I didn't think I could handle the additional stress of pushing a stroller.  I know I would have had a wonderful experience being able to devote this race to someone else, but I also needed to be able to check a box next to a workout marking it a success instead of an "x" that denotes that the splits weren't achieved.
My parents came into town for the weekend.  Keira wanted to run the kids race, but Soren had a soccer game, so I needed someone to bring her down to the finish of my race for me so that Ryan could go to Soren's game.  Keira reminded me that Nicole Curtis (of HGTV's Rehab Addict) had only missed her son's games for her triathlon.  That made me laugh.  My dad came with me to packet pick up, which I had never been to before.  Someone else has always brought it to me.  There was actually more of an expo there than I expected, and Keira got a ton of stuff in her goodie bag for the kids race.  No tech tee this year (it was cotton), but she got a lunch bag, cup, crayons, activity book, and chick fil A breakfast sandwich coupon.  I also met with Dennis from Athletes in Tandem briefly and explained my internal struggle. 

My neighbor Jennifer reminded me that I am training for one of the biggest and prestigious races right now and that it is OK to do a race for myself.  Ryan and I were also in the process of selecting a replacement vehicle for my Mazda (I probably ought to do a separate post just for this), and to say the least, I was not enjoying the process.  Not only could Ryan and I not agree on what was best for our family (or me), but neither of us could find what we thought we wanted in dealer stock.  We thought we had settled (and I mean settled, as neither of us were terribly thrilled about our choice) on Friday night before the race, so to add to the stress, I was detailing the interior of the mazda6 to prepare it for trade in the next day at 11pm the night before the race.  Fabulous.  This is exactly what you want to do before a race, shop vac the car for an hour.  I finally did go to bed and was excited to sport my new Coeur Sports kit the next morning.

Jennifer gave me a ride to the race bright and early so she could meet up with the Athletes in Tandem group.  I had told them that I would be an alternate, and thankfully was not needed for this race.  I hope to race with them for a shorter less crowded race as my first experience.  While I consider myself an experienced stroller pusher, I don't love racing with my stroller unless I have to, and I'd like some experience with my own kids this season before I push a stranger.  I took a few prerace pictures with Jen, Erin, and Terri.  I had a Coeur teammate out there running too, but with my stressful week, I failed to reach out to her and with the crowds of people, if you didn't have specific plans to meet someone, it was really hit or miss to find someone there.  I ran into a few other people I knew waiting to start.

I felt like I started a little slow, trying to stick to my plan.  I felt tried and stressed still.  Then I got passed by a guy wearing a shirt that said "Believe in the Blerch".  That cracked me up and I ran a bit faster to try to get a better picture of it. 

I felt like I ran a smart race, I saw a few friends cheering on the hills of Iroquois Park, and got passed by Erin there too.  I didn't try to stay with her because I wanted to stay within my training goals and not try to run this too fast, although I felt like I was pushing pretty hard and going faster would have been a struggle anyway.  I ran the second half faster than the first, which is always good, and I'm sure helped out by the fact that the way out is slightly uphill with the first uphills of the park in the first half and more of the downhills on the second half coming away from the park. (photos (C) Bob Alvey)

I had a strong finish, with a time 1:17:27.  It was only 10 seconds slower total than last year's PR.  It actually felt a lot slower!  I was surprised my time was only 1 second per mile slower, but it was probably mostly in those first couple miles when I was specifically trying to stay slow.  It was great to have my parents are Keira there.  As I walked through the finish area, I found Tracy.  She had hooked me up last year with a bib from her Chick Fil A team, and I worked the kids race in exchange.  It was a blast, but it was nice to just race this time around. 

Since I rode with Jen and my parents were meeting me at the finish, I gave them my hoodie to bring to me, but I kept my foil heat sheet that I brought with me.  I rolled it up like a burrito and ran with it in my pocket during my race.  Tracy shares my affinity for Chipotle, so took this picture for me.  I knew she would appreciate it.
My dad grabbed me as I went through the food line, and we stopped at Papa John's Camero.  There is a story behind this car, and I am paraphrasing here.  This was his car as a young adult, and he sold it to gain the capital he needed to start the pizza chain.  Then, some years later, he (or his people) were able to track down the car and get it back to him.  I'm sure I'm leaving out some details here but that is the basic story and why this Ford girl would want her picture taken with an old Camero (especially given the car drama I was experiencing).  Good thing there is a nice F series behind me too.

We had a decent wait until the kids race.  We were all pretty cold.  I was so glad I had my heat blanket and my hoodie, but I really could have used a coat!  My parents wanted to walk back to the car, but I knew they couldn't be that close based on how many cars were there when I got there.  However, we made it to the kids race. 

Keira had a blast.  It was quite the hassle to have my parents come up and wait for so long in the cold for a short minute long race, but it was worth it.

Stay tuned for the car drama!  It really was a lot more complicated this time around.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Iceman Registration and New Coeur Kit

This past week was super exciting.  I had received word that my Chinese New Year print tri kit from Coeur Sports was on its way.  Plus, Iceman registration opened Friday at noon.

Last year was the first year that Iceman utilized the USA Cycling website and servers to handle registration.  It was my first year, so I don't have any of the horror stories of my own about spending hours online trying to get through to the website of prior years.  However, it used to be an all day affair.  They also offer onsite registration at Bell's where you can use a paper and pen/pencil.  There are a limited number of paper entries, but since we are in KY, that's not an option at all.  Even where we lived in MI, its still a 4 hour drive.

Friday morning I had some blood work that needed to be done for my thyroid.  I still don't feel like we have it right, but thankfully I'm not getting more tired or gaining any weight (that is not explainable) right now.  Its just that blah tired feeling that I get all the time that we are trying to fix, and my levels just seem to stay the same no matter the medication levels.  I go back in a couple weeks to review the results and see if we will make any changes.  I got in a quick swim, did one errand, and then was home around 11ish.  Plenty of time to be ready for registration.  I got logged in to USAC site and made sure Ryan was still listed in my "group", because I was going to register both of us.  I traded texts back and forth with Ryan's friend Kent, the whole reason we got into this, to determine if he was going to be part of a huge group that was being registered by our friend Janelle.  I was on the fence with joining her group, and sort of like the control that I had over my own destiny here, plus, whoever registered everyone had to pay for everyone, so I liked that I could just pay for Ryan and myself on our own card.  Eric was also signing up Mindy, and a few other friends were signing up themselves and spouses only as well.  Here was my set up.  IPad and laptop, ready to go.  I had a timer on the phone too, for 11:55 to start refreshing for the sign up link to appear.  It was just black at this point.  Note the lightsabers.  Our coffee table is a mess!  I also saw our mailtruck enter the neighborhood, and hoped my new Coeur kit was on it, because of when it had shipped.  Such excitement!!! 

Since last year's registration went so smoothly, I expected this year to go the same.  It sold out in 33 minutes or something crazy because everyone got into the website quickly.  I hit refresh at 12 and I got nothing.  A complete white screen.  The same on the iPad.  Crud.  I tried my phone.  I was able to get to the screen where I was supposed to pick a category, but there were none to pick or any links on the page.  Plus, it was teeny tiny on my phone.  AAAAHHH.  I ran into the basement carrying the laptop, iPad, phone, and my wallet, and hoped I didn't drop anything.  I booted up the dinosaur down there called a desktop, and waited there.  Still nothing more than white screens or the screen with nothing to select on my phone.  Its been 25 minutes of refreshing.  I didn't have any other tabs open on the computer just so it wouldn't have to work harder (not sure if that is really helpful or not, but at least it was less distracting to me).  I called Kent, who said he was in, but really he wasn't, and said no one was getting anywhere.  I opened facebook.  Everyone was struggling.  Eric, Kent, and Janelle were all freaking out too.  Whew.  Glad it wasn't just me.  I went back upstairs since the dino computer wasn't doing anything and I wanted to plug back into the wall.  I  just kept hitting refresh on the page with the registration and no boxes.  Eric had gotten passed it once.  It was taking FOREVER to load, but as time progressed, it was getting a little better.  I went out and check the mail, since Soren reported that the mail truck was leaving the neighborhood.  Low and behold was my new kit!  Gosh, it looked tiny.  Standing in the living room, between hitting refresh, I tried it on.  It fit!  It took a bit of wiggling to get it on, but once it was on, I was quite comfortable. 

AND, shortly after putting it on, I got through the system, entered my credit card, and my confirmation email popped up!  The link the email wouldn't work because I couldn't get back into the system, but I took a screen shot of it, and figured I would hold Iceman too it if it wasn't right.  It had a confirmation number and everything.

Everyone else was struggling still.  Eric posted that he had only heard of 3 people who had gotten in.  Ryan and I made 4 and 5.  I told him that it was because I put on my kit right there in the living room and wore it for registration.  I called Ryan.  He was getting worried that none of our friends had gotten in.  This is one of those races that without friends, its just not as fun!  However, after about 90 minutes into it, a switch was switched, and the registrations got through.  First, Eric and Mindy were in, and then Kent.  Finally, Janelle turned over her duty to Eric and he got her group in.  After checking around with everyone, everyone I knew that wanted to get in got in.  It was just more stressful than we expected, but no worse than years prior to last. 

Saturday was actually plenty warm, but I opted to do a tempo run indoors so that I could push the pace and hit the splits, plus test out my new kit.  It felt great.  I ran 6 with the middle 4 at 7:30 pace.  My plan this year calls for 7:19, but I haven't been able to hit the really fast paces so I used last years.  It was tough, but I did it.  Here I am after my workout.  Wow, my hair was crazy!

I had several friends ask what I thought about the white (basically concerned that it would get dirty or be see through).  There is a built in sports bra that is black, so I wasn't worried about the see through issues.  I was pretty well soaked through in this picture, and except for getting a tad chilled under a fan, wasn't too worried about anything.  The bottoms are red.  I did sweat a ton on this workout, and it did sort of look like I peed my pants, but that is just what you get with red bottoms, or really any color other than black for me.  I struggled with sweat spots whenever I had a red leotard.  Since I competed for Buckeye Gymnastics and then Ohio State, I had my fair share of red leotards.  I am more worried about dirt though.  I do have a red tri top with black shorts on order for my summer tris.  Island Lake water is very green, and the Ohio river is brown.  Prairie Creek Reservoir is also on the green side.  I did get a swim skin, but I still don't want to come across the finish line looking green or brown.  I think this will be great for running and my cycling only events.  I plan to try out the shorts on the trainer probably tomorrow.  It washed up great.  I washed the red and white top with the red bottoms and everything stayed the proper colors.  I even used a bit of stain stick on it because I somehow managed to get myself dirty already.  Usually I have pretty good luck with my white gear.  I have a white Lulelemon skirt that I have done OK with, as well as a white based IM kit.  Plus, I totally saved my white PI bolero from what was an almost certain bloody death with oxiclean and peroxide.