Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Interview with Lauren Goss!

For the uninformed, Lauren Goss is a top-notch professional triathlete from South Carolina. Over the past few years she's racked up a slew of victories and podium finishes across a variety of race series. Our teammate from the Palmetto State, Mark Watson, has zero Charleston charm... however, my hunch is that he used the Clemson connection to get an interview with this rising star. Thanks to you both!


What made you sign up for your first triathlon?


I was encouraged by some friends to sign up for the James Island Sprint in July 2009. I grew up swimming so was already solid there. I started running at Clemson just to stay in shape and randomly signed up for a marathon (Lauren crushed it in 3:11). I started working out with the Clemson University Club Triathlon Team and ultimately placed 5th at Collegiate Nationals. Afterwards I was recruited by USAT, and the rest is history!



What did you do/focus on to make 2015 so successful?

I switched to the half distance from the Olympic, because of the prize money and sponsors. Unfortunately, Olympic distance races are fading out… all the amateur athletes are doing Ironman races so that’s where the prize money is and where my sponsors wanted me to race. I also decided to change my bike position so I was more comfortable on the bike and could help save my legs for the run. I was in a very aggressive position from doing shorter distances. Lastly, I also decided to make a major change and switch coaches. I felt like I was chronically fatigued during the 2014 season and never felt like I was able to give it my all in races.


What are your race plans for 2016 and what is going to be your main focus?

I started the season in Panama at the end of January, then had St. Anthony's and Wildflower back-to-back in April. I’ll be looking to better my 2nd place finish from last year at Escape from Alcatraz in June, but my main focus for 2016 is the Beijing International in September (one of Lauren's six victories in 2015!). I’m not going to compete at 70.3 Worlds this year in Australia, but do plan on making a strong showing in 2017.

When and why did you decide to pursue triathlon professionally?

In 2010 when I graduated college. I made a monetary goal every year and was able to meet it. You can make a decent living off triathlon if you are willing to put in the time and effort.

Do you have a dream of qualifying for the Olympics and being able to represent the USA?

No, that ship has sailed. I would have to move to Europe to have several options at the ITU qualifying events. There is also not as much money in those races and my sponsors prefer that I race in the 70.3 circuit, as they tend to be higher publicized and have a bigger following. You have to win the races to really make money though.

Do you ever see yourself jumping up to the full Ironman distance?

I plan on racing one in 2017, so I can do it before I turn 30. I feel women tend to peak between 32 and 33 years old. I prefer the 70.3 distance because you can recover quicker and race different events closer together. My Ironman will be an end of the season race. One day I’d like to qualify for Kona and be able to podium.

What is your favorite course you’ve raced and why?

Escape from Alcatraz… I love the uniqueness of the terrain changes and the course itself. It’s the hardest swim I’ve ever done. The run through the sand and up the stairs is like no other course. St. Croix is my favorite 70.3 course… I remember riding on the bike and thinking to myself, am I really racing?



What is your least favorite course?

Florida 70.3. I find that course very boring, hot, humid, and windy. I’m also not a fan of the 3 loop run.

What is your bucket list of courses?


Vineman 70.3: the course runs through wine country and it is point to point.

Chattanooga: I like hilly courses a lot

Buenos Aires: I really like racing in South America

The 3 big races in China for pros that are a result of the WTC being sold

How do you balance being a professional triathlete and still being young and having a social life?

I make time to go out with friends, but I also make sure I think about staying hydrated, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep while I am out with friends. You can’t throw it all away for one night out. You have to find a balance that works for you and also gives you something to look forward to.


What is the best advice you can give to someone just getting into triathlons? Someone looking to improve their current status?

Buy that bike you want! I think it’s best to get what you want so you want to ride it and not wish you had bought something else (or have to find a new bike after a year). Other advice is to just have fun, be happy and enjoy the moment. You can’t put too much pressure on yourself if this is just your hobby or you can burn out quickly. Make sure you are recovering enough. If you don’t enjoy it then why do it?

What fellow pros do you admire the most?

Greg and Laura Bennett. I feel that they have done a great job with their finances, as they have always thought of triathlon as a business.


How do you find sponsors?

I enlist the help of my agent. For example, I tell him what brands I’d like to represent and let him reach out. The most important advice I can give is to figure out a way to get in face time with the companies you are pursuing. This way the companies can put a face and personality with the request they received and get a better idea of how you can help them.



Rapid Fire Questions

Favorite guilty food? BBQ chicken pizza

Pre-race amp-up song? This is going to sound weird but I listen to country music to calm me down and make sure I have done everything I am supposed to do.

What was your career goal before you found triathlon? Physician’s Assistant at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.


What do you like to do outside of triathlon? Fix up my house I bought
Ariel would throw down a ridiculous swim split

If you could travel anywhere, but not to race where would you go? 
Thailand. I love Thai food and the beaches are beautiful.

If you could have any super power what would it be? I would want to be able to read peoples minds.

Favorite Disney Character (My 4 yr old daughter wanted me to ask you)? Little Mermaid

Favorite Quote? “Do or do not, there is no try” - Yoda

Race day superstitions? I don’t have any because of racing all around the world. You have to be prepared for anything and have a back up for everything. You can’t find the same foods around the world.

Favorite thing to do when you come home to Charleston? Visit with my family, running the Cooper River Bridge, hang out with my friends, and go to the beach.

Favorite Restaurant? Basil. Serves Thai food and is located in Charleston, SC



You can't follow Lauren on the course but you can here!

Instagram: laurengoss

Twitter: @lauren_goss

Facebook: Lauren Goss

Website: www.laurengoss.com



Thursday, May 19, 2016

Nixon's Nuggets: Tubulars vs. Clinchers

Stewart Nixon (Colorado) is a recurring columnist on the Triple Threat blog. He's been a triathlete for 25+ years, and has a ton of knowledge on the sport. Here he breaks down a difficult question many triathletes face: "should I go with tubular or clincher wheels??"


I remember the first time I got a “real” bike and the exhilarating feeling of riding it. It was light, (compared to my previous single speed Schwinn), sleek, had lots of gears and the tires were really skinny and fast. I was in love. Fast forward about 10 years, my second season racing triathlons. A cycling friend convinced me to build a set of dedicated, lightweight racing wheels. Mavic 531 hubs slotted by hand with DT bladed spokes laced to Matrix ISO T rims. The “T” stood for tubular; my first foray into “real” wheels. Once they were done and tires mounted, I took them for a test spin. A familiar feeling came over me as I rode around an empty parking lot on my new wheels. It was that same exhilarating feeling I experienced 10 years earlier on my first “real” bike. I was in love, again. And I haven’t ridden clinchers since then. All of my road/TT bikes, all five of them, have tubular wheels.

Tubulars or clinchers, which is better? This is an age old question almost as old as the bike itself. For a long, long time, the answer was simple; if you wanted to ride fast, you rode tubulars. After all, they were the wheel of choice of all professional riders.



tubular rim
Tubular rims required a little less material to manufacture than clinchers, so they were lighter. Most tubular tires were made from superior materials than clinchers, often using latex tubes instead of butyl, which made them lighter also. Since you mounted the tire directly to the rim, there were no pinch flats. Tubular tires often could hold a much high PSI than clinchers with no fear of them blowing off the rim. This higher PSI rating also meant lower rolling resistance. And they just felt darn FAST! The one downside was the gluing process. It was (and still is) messy and can take a while to set up a fresh pair of tires onto tubular rims. Then there was the big question, how much glue to use? Use too much and you could be stuck for quite some time if you flatted while you wrestled the tire off the rim. Use too little and you could roll a tire off the rim (I’ve seen that happen and it ain’t pretty).
clincher rim

Over the years, clincher technology closed the gap both with regard to rims and tires. Carbon rims seemed to be a major game changer, giving tubulars the advantage as the whole rim could be made from carbon, even the braking surface. All carbon clinchers had an aluminum braking surface until 2010 when Zipp debuted the first full carbon clincher rim. So performance wise, the differences are almost negligible now.

Which is best for you? I think it all boils down to two things: your mechanical abilities (read flat changing capabilities) and money. Carbon clincher wheelsets are a little more expensive that the same tubular wheelset. You then need to factor in tires and tubes. Typically, a high quality tubular racing tire is more expensive that similar quality clinchers. And clincher choices are more available at your LBS than tubulars. The initial tire mounting process for clinchers is a bit easier and less time consuming than for tubulars. If you do decide on tubulars, you are better served to learn how to glue tires yourself rather than leaving it up to your trusted mechanic. The benefit is two-fold; you’ll know how much glue you used to mount it so you’ll know the force required to take the tire off in the case of a flat and you’ll get practice mounting the tire which will help you when you have to mount a new tire after a flat. Then there is the tire changing process in the event of a flat to consider. Many feel, myself included, that changing a tubular is easier and faster than changing a tube on a clincher. Either way, practice is the key to changing a flat quickly. But with the advent of preventative tire sealant technology, unless someone litters the race course with tacks, you can pretty much sail along without worry. Finally, there is the “feel” factor. Which one feels fast to you? For me, tubulars will always win this battle.




Nixon's Nuggets of Knowledge - Archives:

Nixon's Nuggets - Indoor Trainers... A Pain Cave Necessity



Sunday, May 15, 2016

Never Hire a Triathlete...

Triple Threat teammate Gina (Virginia) recently wrote this "Note to Hiring Managers" about some hidden benefits of hiring a triathlete.

Unfortunately, I must respectfully disagree. Here are the Top 10 reasons why you should never hire a triathlete.


10) Overly hydrated, requires a bathroom break every 15 minutes


9) Speedy time at company fun run causes "emotional distress" among fellow employees, creating litigation risk

8) Nuff said...



7) Liberal-leaning "lunch break" interpretation

6) Ever the multi-tasker, known to stretch out hammys, quads, and glutes mid-presentation

5) Reeks of chlorine, AKA "eau de piscine"

4) "Helmet hair" has more waves than the Atlantic 

3) Not known as a top performer at the company hot dog eating contest

2) Don't be deceived, that spreadsheet they've been "hard at work" on for the past hour is an analysis of race results

1) Incessant clanking from finisher medals distracting to co-workers













Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Ironman St. George 70.3 Race Report - 2016

A trusty sidekick, your instincts, Honest Abe, the St. George weather forecast, Jack Bauer, and the beloved family dog.

Which of these things is not like the others?



I’ll let you stew on that while we back up a few days…




Last Thursday I embarked on the ~5 hr. drive to Ironman 70.3 St. George. With 46 states and 24 countries represented, most people traveled a lot further than I did, including my TTT teammate Kristen’s 10 hr drive from Colorado. My fam was already in St. George, and it was requested that I bring down my daughter’s stuffed sheep, Lala. Lala turned out to be a surprisingly good road trip partner, serving as a sounding board for some race ideas, providing a shoulder to cry on, and rocking out with me to some 80’s classics.


Lala & I agreed that the waiting is in fact the hardest part




As I’ve done in past years, I timed my travel to be in the Ironman Village for the "pro panel." Being the North American Ironman 70.3 Pro Championships, there’s always a stacked field. On the women’s side the panel featured multiple IM World Champ Mirinda Carfrae, Heather Wurtele, & Meredith Kessler. On the men’s side was multiple IM/ 70.3 World Champ Sebastian Kienle, Lionel Sanders, Ben Hoffman, and Brent McMahon. It seems that Ironman is stepping up their game in terms of marketing some of their stars, and I hope they were compensated for their time, etc… they were all very generous with it, taking pictures with lines of age groupers, sitting in 90 degree heat answering our nerdy questions such as “what kind of tire pressure do you run." After the panel there was the usual time allotted to lots of pros milling around, making themselves accessible and hanging out with us. I talked with some of them and, like always, was very impressed. Tyler Butterfield, Sanders, Kienle, Magali Tisseyre, Hoffman, the Wurteles, McMahon, and Leon Griffin to name a few were all super cool.



Kienle, McMahon, Hoffman, Sanders, Kessler, Wurtele, Carfrae

The forecast called for clouds to come in Friday with a slight chance of rain, dropping the high from ~90 degrees and windy on Thursday to ~70 with less wind. Saturday was to be a high of 70, not much wind to speak of, and a 20% chance of rain only during a 1 hour window when I’d most likely be running. Perfect!

Race morning, Kristen, her friend Mark from Houston, and I were up and at’em by 4:30. My friend Russell who had crashed at the house with us got up as well (actually he had no choice) and gave us a final check on the weather. Same as it ever was.



We only made one wrong turn on our way to the shuttle buses, dropped our run bags in T2, and hopped on a bus for the drive through the dark to Sand Hollow reservoir. I chatted with the guy next to me for a while, then couldn’t decide between Rage Against the Machine type music or super chill to stay relaxed... I settled on the latter.

After the usual pre-race stuff, I lined up in the parade of wetsuit-clad weirdos with my wave (10th wave out of 20 or so). I was glad for a few extra minutes to brace myself… with the flurry of activity before a race like this, it’s only a few minutes before when it sets in that it’s actually go time.










SWIM

We entered the water in the “on deck” circle, with 3 min to go. I like to get a good warm up in when I can, but it’s not feasible sometimes. The water was chilly at first and I just treaded water and took in some deep breaths. As Derek Zoolander once said, I had "a few butterflies in my basket, but I was doin' ok."

The horn sounded and I felt good from the start. In the past at times I’ve struggled with a painful/tight shoulder, but switching to Roka last year has really helped in that regard. I felt strong. There was a little bit of chop, but not even 1/1000th like four years ago.

37:13, 32nd percentile… I think my best result vs. an Ironman 70.3 field (lower # the better)



















BIKE

I hopped on Rip and within less than a minute it started to rain. It was light, mainly just annoying, and I had some flashbacks to 2012. The roads those first few miles were rougher than I remembered… I wonder if they’ve been washed out due to recent flooding or something. There were a couple sections that had become a water bottle graveyard. The roads smoothed out and the rain stopped for a few miles, then picked up again before giving us a break. I was riding within myself and enjoying it, spinning up the various climbs with relative ease and occasionally making a little small talk with people around me.


love this bike
At mile 30 something on the course (on the Red Hills parkway, which doubles as the middle section of the run course) off in the distance were storm clouds that were dark as night. Ominous. That said, they seemed too far off in the distance to impact us.

Unfortunately I was dead wrong, as we soon were getting absolutely pummeled. In talking with people after the race, some avoided the downpour altogether, but most of us caught at least a piece of it. It was coming down, and I soon had to navigate one of the steepest descents of the course, from Red Hills onto Snow Canyon Parkway. It was a little sketchy, but thankfully I kept the rubber to the road. I witnessed one guy who was not so lucky, and I hope he's ok. The next couple miles I was locked in and it was actually pretty fun. It felt hard core. After a few miles the downpour stopped which was good, but this kicked off the most miserable part of the day for me. Soaking wet, with no sunshine and some swirling winds, I was freezing. My arms and legs were shaking, and it dawned on me that if I had a mechanical of any kind I wouldn’t be able to move my fingers enough to fix it. Making matters worse, at this point I turned left to begin the beautiful yet nasty Snow Canyon climb. 




My primary fuel is Hammer Perpetuem, and from a nutrition standpoint I felt fantastic. My struggles were more due to the cold freezing up my legs. Whereas I felt so strong on lesser climbs throughout the ride, I now just felt like the pistons in my legs had stopped firing. I was so slow up that climb, it’s embarrassing. At a few points I was tempted to get off my bike and walk, but mercifully I eventually saw the little shack that marks the top. I was spent. From there, the good thing is that what goes up must go down, and you fly the last 7 miles or so into T2. I think I maxed out at 45 mph. I tried to take in some gel during this time and was able to move my hands just enough to pull it off. Into T2 volunteers kept warning people that the asphalt was slick and to go slowly. It was kind of like the kid that’s not technically running at the pool after the lifeguard yells at him five times, but it’s pretty dang close. I racked my bike, dumped the puddles out of my running shoes, and was on my way.

2:58   26%

RUN


I felt good the first 3 miles of the run, despite the varying grades of steady uphill. I was still thawing out, as was everyone I’m sure, but it was no longer raining and the sun was even threatening to make an appearance. Once you crest mile 3, miles 4-6 are the opposite, varying grades of downhill. The whole course is a roller coaster, with hardly a flat part to speak of. Even though I was running downhill, I held back a bit and reminded myself to be patient. I could tell that it was going to be a “grind it out” variety of run as opposed to two years ago when I was enjoying myself out there and closing out strong. 

You turn around to climb miles ~7-10, and it ain’t easy… I counted my steps to 20 over and over for a while, just trying to keep “running” during this stretch. The last 3 miles you’re home free, going down what you climbed in the first few miles. As long as your legs aren’t completely shot, you can lean and let gravity do a chunk of the work for you. After a little sun and warmth during the middle portion of my run, it started to sprinkle the last few miles and I actually welcomed it. Ironically, after tough conditions on the bike I must say that the weather for the run was pretty ideal... better than a blazing hot day for sure. Eventually I could hear and see the finish line, which is always a welcome sight.

2:04   40%

                                                  here's a cool video recap

Either Mother Nature threw us a curveball, and/or the untrustworthy St. George weather guy got a kick out of deceiving us once again, but it’s great to conquer any obstacles the day throws at you and still get’er done. I was disappointed with my run, having targeting ~1:50, but did the best I could muster on the day. If you’re going to do this race, which if you’ve got a little experience under your belt I highly recommend, make sure to train for this specific course by doing lots of hill training. In looking back, this is something I didn’t place enough emphasis on over the past few months. All in all though happy to have 70.3 #10 in the books! Shout out to Kristen and Mark, it was great doing this race with you.

5:45   28% overall




Thursday, May 5, 2016

Interview with Stages - I Haaavvvve the POWER!!

Triple Threat Triathlon team member Sean McLean (New Jersey) recently had the opportunity to interview Matt Pacocha, Marketing Manager at Stages. Matt has been with the company since its first power meter shipped to the public, and has a lot of great insight. Thanks fellas!


Can you describe some of the struggles that Stages encountered when trying to break into the power meter market? Brand-loyalty and skepticism of new players into this market is quite the hurdle to get through, but Stages seemed to have no (obvious) issues here, and from a consumer's perspective, quickly gained a solid following. 

We had the right product at the right time, and that made it really easy for us to break into the category. Our engineers approached the task of making an accurate, consistent, durable and affordable power meter in a way no one else making power meters ever had. In reality, though, making it simple to install and use are our greatest achievements—they’re a hallmark of Stages. Sure there were opponents to our ‘radical’ one-sided design, there still are, but now we’ve proven to be just as useful in training and racing as anything else out there.




This solid grasp of the market is pretty evident in your successful partnering with a cycling team like Sky. Can you expand a bit on how this partnership has affected Stages? 


In a single sentence, our experience with Team Sky forced us to be the best we possibly could, in every way. Support of Team Sky tested our product, and led to perfecting our second generation of Stages Power meter. The Team also tested our technical staff, they honed our customer service skills, and they’ve helped us look at all of the systems in play when measuring power. Of course, they’ve also helped legitimize the product, and their use of Stages Power has raised awareness of both the Stages Cycling brand and our products.

The introduction of the Stages power meter really lowered the financial bar needed to start training with power. However, over the past 6-12 months, we've seen some new entrants trying to compete on price. Do you feel that this is a threat to Stages?

At Stages, we have always designed, engineered, and manufactured the product that we wanted to use. We’ve always sold Stages Power at the fairest price we can achieve. Most of us on staff would not have been able to afford a power meter before Stages Power, so that was a driver in the development of the original design. During the 2014/2015 seasons we made significant gains in the efficiencies of producing Stages Power. For example our first upgrade came through the implementation of a laser for etching the raw alloy cranks. This tool took our first production step from 3 hours of manual work, to 38min of machine work per power meter batch. Our second improvement came in the form of our robotic gluing process, which again lopped hours out of our production time, while increasing quality and consistency. We now have two of these machines. And finally, we’ve been able to realize price efficiencies through greater volume with our crank arm vendors. All of these factors combined to allow us to reduce our prices. It still takes 16 individual steps and more than a day to produce one single meter, and we have highly skilled professionals making the meters in Boulder, Colorado. For the quality, and professionalism that goes into producing a Stages Power meter, we see our price as a great deal!



Among the many debates in the cycling community, one-sided vs dual-sided power meters seem to be one of the most contentious. How does Stages feel about the perceived limitations of only capturing one-sided power?

We have, and continue to, exhaustively test dual meter systems. There are gains to be had with regards to the accuracy of total power measured, however, we have not seen this data show any benefit to the performance of a rider when training or racing. Our meter is supremely consistent, an attribute not always focused on, yet arguably more important to training than ultimate accuracy. As you note this topic is one that can be argued over for days. We understand with some people, a single sided system will never be good enough. Regardless, we firmly believe that our single sided system will always have merit.

We’re always testing. Let’s frame a dual sided product for what it is: considerably more expensive and more complex in both set up and usage, but without clear performance benefit. It’s heavier too. All this being said, would you still want it? That’s the question, and it’s a tough one, because everyone at Stages has proven to themselves that they can train and achieve their individual goals with our current meter.



Does Stages have any inclination to delve into other cycling products besides power?

Yes. We make a beautiful line of bicycles. Seriously, our SC Series indoor cycling bikes are changing the indoor cycling space, and they’re a pretty compelling product for any cyclist who spends time indoors at home. You guys should definitely check them out.

Any other Stages tidbits that you would like to share with our readers?

For sure! As you know, we’re passionate cyclists at Stages Cycling. The company is constantly working to help cyclists meet their goals through training with power. In your team's world, that’s through both training and pacing with power during the bike leg of racing, but in other aspects of cycling someone’s goal might simply be losing weight or quantifying the work they do on a bike, much like they track movement or steps throughout their days.


All of these are legitimate uses of power and we want to help people understand every way that Stages can help them meet a goal.

We’ve started a campaign called I am a Stages Cyclist #iamastagescyclist in which we’re looking for Stages riders to share stories of how the Stages Power meter or Stages SC series bikes have helped them meet a performance goal.

If any of the racers on your team or readers have stories to tell, they can win both a forum to tell the story and some sweet Stages schwag should their story be picked and highlighted on the 
Stages Cycling website. Encourage them to share their best Stages accomplishment with the #iamastagescyclist tag on Facebook or Instagram!


Related Posts:

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Note to Hiring Managers

Iron Gina Shand (Virginia) is a cagey tri veteran as well as an HR professional. Here she shares a few of the not-so-obvious benefits of hiring a triathlete.


Note to hiring managers – are you sick of interviewing all kinds of candidates, only to find out they just aren’t what you are looking for? Here are some reasons why you should hire a triathlete:
  • Triathletes always have extra snacks in their desk/pocket/car 
  • They make a great ringer in your office fitness challenge 
  • Who doesn’t love the smell of chlorine? 
  • Fast bathroom breaks – triathletes understand they are always on the clock 
  • Triathletes love to exceed a goal – maybe a Training Peaks version for daily projects? No one likes to see red in Training Peaks 
  • Triathletes can sit in the same position for hours


Related Posts:



Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What Kinda Soap Does This Got??

Maybe the whole world saw this before me, but I just discovered for myself over the weekend. The whole series is pretty hilarious. I don't know what all the fuss is about... that's about how much shampoo you need to not smell like chlorine or salt water all day, right?