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Archive for the ‘Triathlon’ Category

Calling all cyclists of all levels to check out a great new book that comes out today: Bicycling Magazine’s 1,100 Best All-Time Tips: Top Riders Share Their Secrets for Maximizing Performance, Safety, and Fun. For the list price of $12.99, you get 224 pages packed with advice on a wide range of subjects: bike set-up, maintenance and repair, cycling safety, racing, nutrition, riding positions, training techniques and skill building. The book is bound to please every kind of cyclist, from mountain biker to road racer to distance rider.

I learned a lot from the book and I know it’s a resource I will consult again and again as I grow my skills in cycling. Right now I’d say I’m a beginning intermediate rider (as in, I am a newly intermediate level rider who can stand to learn a few things). I road a mountain bike for several years on the trails in Michigan and got to the point where I could handle the bike pretty well. Now I mainly ride my road bike to train for triathlons — two sprints and two Olympic distance races so far where I averaged up to 19.6 mph on the bike — and to cross-train during marathon training. I especially appreciated the tips on road safety, riding etiquette for group rides, and training techniques. I hope to put to good use many of the tips on maintaining and repairing a bike as well.

Disclosure: Same old same old. I received an advance digital copy of this book for review. I did not receive other compensation. Will someone please use the Amazon affiliate links in this post to buy me a print copy of this book? Thanks.

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It happens to everyone at some point: no matter how hard you tie and even double-knot your shoelaces, the laces come undone. It’s bad enough when it happens during a regular run, but it can spell disaster when it happens during a race. Precious seconds tick when a runner must dash to the side of the road to re-tie laces (please tell me you follow running etiquette and make your way to the far right on the race course if you ever need to stop). Worse yet is when the runner either (1) stops in the middle of the course and blocks the people behind him, or (2) continues running with the shoelaces untied, endangering both himself and those who will crash into him when he trips over those laces. You might wonder who would ever be crazy enough to run with laces untied, but I can tell you I saw two racers do it at the Brea 8K this year. It took all I had to bite my tongue and not chastise those runners. In retrospect what I should have yelled at them was, “Buy some Lock Laces!” (This is not a sponsored post. The lovely Lock Laces people have no idea who I am. However, the Amazon product image is an affiliate link).

Lock Laces are elastic laces that replace your regular shoelaces. Instead of tying them you cinch them with an adjustable toggle.

Pros:
– you never have to worry about laces coming untied again
– it’s easy to slip the shoes off and on (which is handy for everyone but especially helpful for shaving time off in transition for triathletes)
– they come in all kinds of cool colors
– they’re relatively inexpensive — I’ve seen them for sale for anywhere from $3 to $8 per pair.

Cons:
– they can take some getting used to and some fiddling to adjust them properly. Cinch them too tightly and the shoes become uncomfortable, too loosely and your feet move around in the shoes.
– Some people might be bothered by the end clasps flopping around but that is easily solved by tucking the ends underneath the rest of the elastic laces just as you might tuck in regular shoelace tips.

Obviously I am a convert and I love my Lock Laces. It’s one less thing to worry about on race day. I wore them for the Santa Barbara International Marathon last November and did not have any problems.

Do you use Lock Laces? What do you think of them?

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During the last two and a half months of “off-season” I’ve been following a loose plan of running three days per week and cross-training at least two other days. During triathlon season, my cross-training would consist of a mix of swimming and cycling. Ever since the Nautica Malibu olympic distance triathlon though, I’ve wanted a break from swimming. Maybe it was all the work I did on open water swimming, but I simply burned out on spending time in the water. What is an off-season for if not to recharge and ready oneself to get back to training as usual?

Me entertaining myself with the old cell-phone-photo-in-the-mirror trick, showing you how my Nautica Malibu tri cap happens to match my favorite TYR reversible swimsuit.

Me entertaining myself with the old cell-phone-photo-in-the-mirror trick, showing you how my Nautica Malibu tri cap happens to match my favorite TYR reversible swimsuit.

Somehow, fate conspired to get me back into the water. Last week I helped my fifth grader get ready for her “Famous American” oral report on Clara Barton (founder of the American Red Cross). My daughter and I shopped at the thrift store for a long skirt in keeping with the Civil War era clothing. She tried on several skirts with a white blouse we also found on the rack. I asked her if we should buy the white shirt too, but she insisted she had a blouse at home already. “Does it still fit you? Do you know where it is?” Yes, yes. In reality? No, no. That’s how, the day before the report was due, I found myself back at the thrift store, plunking down $3 for that darn white blouse.

What does all that have to do with swimming? Well, the outdoor pool is just down the road from the thrift store. If I was going to drive to that part of town, I might as well stop in at the pool. Fate had spoken: Angela, GET IN THE WATER. So I did. And it felt great! Outdoor swimming in the winter in California can be a fun treat (really!) The weather was sunny and in the 70s, but cool enough that the pool water felt warmer than the air so it was easy to jump in the pool. I made up my own swim set for a simple 40-minute workout:

Angela’s Don’t Get Bored in the Pool, Completely Random Swim Set

200 yards freestyle
200 yards breaststroke
200 yards backstroke
200 yards freestyle kick with kickboard
repeat above
plus 1 lap your choice to make it a full swim mile (33 laps).

I swam at a leisurely pace with no rest intervals in between. I suppose I should start throwing some speed work in to my swim workouts sometime soon. I don’t have a triathlon on my calendar right now but I do like to stay in shape in the pool. I plan to start picking from some of these 50 Swim Workouts. That requires printing out the workout and putting the paper in a Ziploc bag so it doesn’t get wet poolside, but I trust that someday I will be organized enough to plan ahead and do just that!

Do you cross-train with swimming or train for triathlons? What’s your favorite workout in the pool?

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January represented the last month in the off-season for me. I took it relatively easy as I tried to heal from shin splints and an adductor magnus groin strain injury.

January Miles

Note that my triathlon training positively requires me to write up the miles in swim-bike-run order, followed by other miscellaneous workouts.

Swim: 1 mile in 40 minutes in 1 workout

Bike: 98.12 miles in 7.5 hours in 8 workouts

Run: 82.55 miles in 14 hours in 14 workouts

Weight training: 2.67 hours in 11 workouts <— That is a new personal record of strength training workouts in a month

Snow Skiing: 4.5 hours in 1 workout

House cleaning: 11 hours in 2 workouts <—- Not just your average light housework

Yardwork: 40 minutes in 1 workout <—- turning the compost and shoveling in the garden

If you count the one yardwork and two big housework days, that constitutes 28 workout days out of 31.

Random January Photo

My husband celebrated his 42nd birthday in January and I threw him a surprise party at our house. If you’re a loyal reader of this ol’ blog you know my philosophy on birthday cakes: grab any nearby children to help you decorate your homemade cake so that no matter how it turns out, it is “cute” and “fun” and, at a minimum, what could kindly be called “remarkable.”

Are you shocked that it only took me 30 minutes to shape, frost and decorate this cake? No? Come on, you know you want to hire me for all your future cake-baking needs.

Are you shocked that it only took me 30 minutes to shape, frost and decorate this cake? No? Come on, you know you want to hire me for all your future cake-baking needs.

Random fun fact of the day: the hole in a guitar is called a “sound hole.” If you want to be accurate in your cake decoration, the sound hole should be placed in the upper portion of the sound board. If you want children to help you make a sound hole out of yellow Smarties 15 minutes before the guest of honor is expected to arrive, then you let them put it wherever it fits on the cake. And then you order your guests to help cut yellow guitar “strings” out of licorice. Again, do not feel the need to be accurate in the number of strings that belong on a guitar (typically, six).

February Goals

Eat less cake.
Run the Brea 8K and earn a PR at that distance.
Start training for the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon.
Do not injure myself (a perennial goal).

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Willpower

When it comes to willpower, I think many people believe you either have it or you don’t. You either have the ability to stick to a diet, workout plan, or resolution, or you don’t. If you miss a run in your training plan, you obviously didn’t have the willpower to make it happen, right? Wrong. In my mind, having willpower does not mean that you check off every workout on your plan without fail. It doesn’t mean that you always meet your goal of working out X number of days a week. Willpower means that when you’ve missed a workout or had a day of bad nutrition, you have the ability to forgive yourself and start over again. You have the power to rededicate yourself to your goals.

Any number of things can get in the way of your sticking to a plan. Many of them have nothing to do with what people usually think of as “willpower.” The top two things that come to mind when I think about missed workouts both have to do with illness: yours or someone else’s. You might have had every intention of hopping on the treadmill, but instead you spent the day coughing up a lung. Maybe you sat on the couch all day long, but it was only because you’d made your sick toddler a couch bed of towels on which to toss his cookies.

It might even be something less dire that keeps you from getting that workout in. Unexpected bad weather. Workout gear forgotten at home. Maybe even — gasp — a dreaded case of “I just don’t feel like it today.” Suddenly you’ve missed a workout, and now there’s something stopping you from getting back to it and getting that next workout in. Is it a lack a willpower? You didn’t feel like it yesterday, and you don’t have the willpower to force yourself to workout today? No, it’s not a lack of willpower, it’s an abundance of guilt. You feel guilty that you didn’t get that workout in for whatever reason, and now you’re blaming a “lack of willpower.” You have the power. You have the ability to kick your guilt to the curb as you hit the street for a run. Don’t waste your energy beating yourself up over a missed opportunity! Put all your energy into your next workout.

Willpower is simply the ability to see the big picture and to know that one slip-up (or two or three) should not be an excuse to keep you from doing what in your heart you know is best for yourself.

What do you think? Do you have willpower? What happens to you when you hit a bump in your training or eating plan?

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I am proud of my race times. A lot of training (and a little luck) went into achieving those times, and I’m still constantly working to improve on them. They don’t define me though. I don’t hang my self-worth on whether or not I sub-4 in the marathon (I haven’t, but that is a goal of mine), or get a PR in a race. I strive for goal times, and I hope to achieve them, but I do not lose a piece of myself if I don’t hit that time. Why? Because a race time is just a number. It doesn’t come with a little asterisk that says*

*41-year-old female, 5’6.5″ and 133 pounds, running since March 2011, Graves’ Disease, three children, recovering from injury, raced some serious hills and fought the wind (does that sound like some Fit Fun Mom you know?), or

flooding at CIM

Typhoon running not highly recommended, CIM 2012

*dealt with typhoon-like rain in Sacramento for CIM 2012 (“365 days of awesome” blog), or

*was the victim of an unavoidable bike crash at IMAZ (“Cook Train Eat Race” blog), or

*got up with the baby three times during the night before the race (any new-ish mother, anywhere).

Those aren’t excuses. I’m saying that it’s useless to tie your self-worth to a race time because there’s never going to be another person out there just like you, racing under conditions just like yours.

marathon finishers

Finishers at the Chicago Marathon in 2005. Photo by rbackowski.

Think about it another way. Who is more “worthy” of admiration after completing a marathon?

1. The 23-year-old female who’s been running for 5 years and comes in at around 3 hours.
2. The 41-year-old female who’s been running for 1.5 years and comes in at around 4 hours (*cough cough*).
3. The 35-year-old with type 2 diabetes who’s lost 30 pounds in training and comes in around 5 hours.

I’d argue they are equally worthy of admiration. They each ran 26.2 miles. They each put in a tremendous amount of effort to achieve those times. They each faced different challenges on race day.

I race against me, myself and I, and sometimes it’s still not a fair race. When you sign up in November for a race in June, who knows what will happen in between now and then? Injury? Family crisis? Weather? Perfect conditions? Crash? Take your satisfaction from checking off each workout in the training plan. Consider any race finish the icing on the cake. And if you do happen to PR? We know it was hard-fought and well-earned and should be celebrated.

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I cornered my husband for an interview about his experience at HITS Palm Springs 2012 on Sunday. He did his first sprint triathlon and came in 6th of 12 in his 40-44 age group and 91st of 238 overall!

A newbie crosses the line to become a triathlete!

A newbie crosses the line to become a triathlete!

Swim: 00:19:12.982 (130th of 238)
T1: 00:03:18.792
Bike: 00:41:51.931 (105th of 238; 17.77 miles per hour)
T2: 00:02:07.115
Run: 00:26:03.499 (81 of 238 — best segment! 8:24 pace, 7.14 mph)
Finish: 01:32:34.319

1. Congratulations on your first triathlon! How do you feel 36 hours later?

Sore! Accomplished. Proud of wife because of her triathlon adventures and her super fast times!

2. What was the farthest race you had run before doing a triathlon? What was your experience with cycling and swimming? What did you work on most as you prepared for the tri?

I had done a few 5K races. The longest run for fun I’d ever done was 9 miles. I’d never competed before on the bike or swimming. At first I had to see if I could even do the swim — swim that half-mile distance. I did a couple of weeks of swim tryouts and I realized I could do it. Then I got out Your First Triathlon and started following one of the training plans from that.

3. What surprised you about the training?

Nothing really surprised me. I knew what to expect from watching you train. It turned out about like I expected — you have to commit to it, you have to prioritize the training over other things. It put a dent in some of my other activities like music, and I quit yoga and Pilates in order to spend the time on training.

4. What surprised you about the triathlon itself?

The swim. The swim start was unmanageable. I was on the verge of having to float for a while to catch my breath. In the pool it was no big deal. I could get my groove, I could push myself to the limit and back off when it got to be too much, and never break my stroke. But when you’ve got hundreds of bodies interfering with your kicking, and splashing you, and going out of the gate so fast, it interferes with your stroke and your breathing and it’s hard to get back to your pace. After about 100 or 200 yards I had a moment of worry that it might be the end of my race and I could not keep on going. So I flipped over on my back and did backstroke for a while, then I floated on my back while I kicked my legs to catch my breath. After a while I was able to flip back over and complete the swim at my normal pace.

My dead legs on the run surprised me too. I got a decent time for the run — 26:03 — but I would have estimated it was 30 minutes based on the way I felt.

5. Do you feel like just from doing this triathlon, you’ll be better prepared for the swim start next time?

Yes, for sure. There’s some nervousness at the start of the race that freaks you out a bit. Having all those people around you makes you freak out.

I think that there are a few other things that could help. Practicing a shore start at a lake. Also practicing swimming through surf waves would be a good way to try that out because you have to put out a lot of exertion right through the start and then come back and get your groove.

6. What did you learn from doing your first tri? What do you wish you had known before going into the race?

I wish I had had some more coping skills for the swim start. I also need a tri kit for the bike because I was the only shirtless bike rider out there, to the point that I worried that it was against the rules. [It wasn’t].

7. What did you think of the HITS Palm Springs organization? Would you do the race again?

I think they did a great job. They did a better job than last year [the first year of the series, when I did the Olympic distance race]. It’s a really great venue and the organizers are really nice people. They’re cool and they care a lot about the racers and the sport and it comes through in their attitude. I would definitely do the race again.

8. What’s your advice for someone considering signing up for a triathlon?

Try out each of the pieces to see how it feels. Try out running, try out swimming, try out biking and see how it goes. The likelihood is that will give you the confidence to do it. Then pick a training plan and stick to it. Be honest with yourself about the time commitment and the discipline it takes to stick to that plan. The success of the triathlon is in the training for the race; the race is just an indication that you trained well. [I totally agree!]

9. What are your goals now that you’ve successfully completed a sprint?

Don’t overeat. Keep up the training. Sign up for another one at some point!

Thanks Mike! I am very proud of you for challenging yourself with the training and race and I’m glad it went so well!

Any other triathletes out there? What was your first triathlon like? What advice would you give someone who is considering signing up for his or her first tri?

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