My wife, Lindsay, is currently in the market for a new bike. She’s paid her dues on my old wannabe tri bike since taking the plunge into triathlon three years ago. The bike doesn’t fit her at all… it just doesn’t work for her. For example, it has clip-on aerobars, but she seldom uses them because it’s too uncomfortable. She wakes up around 5:00 most mornings to train, and has done many races (including three Ironman 70.3s) on this bike. She’s earned a new ride!
Here’s a quick flashback to my own bike buying experience a few years ago. I researched and found what I wanted (Felt B16), then went to a bike shop that happened to have it in stock. A size 54 frame felt good to me, and after a basic fit by the guy at the shop I was on my way. Last year I decided to have my fit tweaked by a local Slowtwitch F.I.S.T. certified guy named Mike Mamales. He overhauled my set up, and I’ve been really happy with the results. In short, a good fitter helps you find your optimal position, balancing power, aerodynamics, and comfort.
As a long-legged, six foot tall knockout, I assumed (correctly) that most “women’s" bikes wouldn't work for Lindsay. Most bikes are built for the middle of the bell curve… in this case, shorter girls. Instead of trying to buy a bike and later get fitted, we thought the other way around would be a better approach. Lindsay recently met with Mike, who used an adjustable “fit bike” to determine the measurements of her perfect bike. A bike fitter will give you a fair amount of data, but the key numbers are “stack” and “reach” as depicted below.
Lindsay’s stack measurement was 580mm, or 58cm, and her reach was 405mm, so 40.5cm. Unless you’re Inspector Gadget (go go gadget arms!), your reach is not very adjustable. Therefore, Mike advised Lindsay to look first for bikes with a reach matching or very close to 405. From there, the idea is to find a bike with a stack measurement close to your number. Stack is somewhat adjustable, but ideally you’ll get it close. Slowtwitch has a database of stack and reach measurements for a whole slew of bikes, and was the source of our research.
the Cervelo P3 is a great bike, but not ideal for Lindsay
There’s more variation among bike frames than you’d think. There were lots of brands that could be immediately eliminated from our list. For example, Cervelo makes great bikes, but they don’t work for Lindsay. Per the below, a size 51 Cervelo P3 and P4 has a reach of 405, which is perfect, yet the corresponding stack is a whopping 10cm (~4 inches) too short. Cervelos are clearly built to be more “long/low” as opposed to “narrow/tall.”
Another good example is Felt. The stack/reach from my fit were 528/411. From the chart below you can see that my Felt B16 has a reach of 414, so very close, and a stack of 513. This is 1.5cm short, but nothing a little tweaking from Mike couldn’t handle. The B16 isn’t great for Lindsay though, as the 406 reach (size 52) has a corresponding 502 stack, a significant 8cm short of her 580 number. Many bikes don’t have a size with that kind of stack, and those that do have corresponding reach numbers that are way too long for her. At this point we were just hoping to find something close enough to adjust upwards.
A much better fit for Lindsay is the Felt B12, beginning with last year’s model. The 405 reach, perfect for her, has a stack of 536, 4cm short as opposed to 8-10cm. This could potentially work with some adjustments.
Eureka! After more digging, we found the closest fit on paper, the Blue Triad. Blue is unique in that they have an “ML” size, in between medium and large, for people like my wife with a narrow/tall profile in need of longer stack and shorter reach. The reach in this case is 1cm too long for her, but probably doable, and the stack is only 2cm short. My bike was 1.5cm short of my stack measurement, so this one should theoretically work.
Thanks to this research Lindsay has narrowed the overwhelming field of bikes to a “short list” of 3-4. Ultimately she’ll shop around for the best value before pulling the trigger.
In summary, I used to think you could just hop on any bike and go. There’s more to it than that, but hopefully this has been helpful to understand some of the basics.
Aussie Amos Gollach went into the Ironman World Championships this month with a men's 18-24 age group victory on his mind. Many in his AG probably felt the same way, but only one brought home the title. Amos swam 2.4mi (3.9km) in 1:02, biked 112mi (180km) in 4:46, and ran a 3:06 marathon to become his AG's World Champion in 9:01:15, two minutes ahead of second. That was good enough for 51st overall, including professionals. Oh, and by the way, as I sat down to post our interview I grabbed a few of these, given to me just yesterday... coincidence?? I think not.
What’s your background and how/when did you get into triathlon?
I actually grew up in Zimbabwe, my family immigrated to Australia when I was 16. I grew up dreaming of playing cricket for Australia. When I realized that that was not going to happen I decided I need something else to fill my time. I’m still not sure why, I just wanted to do an Ironman. I actually thought it was a two day race. Who could do all that in 24 hours? So just after turning 19 I decided to see if I could run a marathon. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I managed to get through that, but injured my ITB and couldn’t run again for 6 months. After getting over that I raced a half Ironman and I was away.
Where did you qualify and what other races did you do in 2013?
I haven’t raced much this year actually. I have been fortunate enough to race pretty well when I have though. After Hawaii last year I raced IM Busselton hoping to make the most of the fitness I had and get an early ticket back to the big island. That backfired totally when 22 year old Justin Brewer, racing his first ever Ironman, went 8:52 tearing the race apart. So I then raced IM Cairns in June and was fortunate to have a good day there and got a ticket back to Kona.
I know Aussie pros often come to the US or Europe during our summer months, which is your cool/rainy season. Is it an even greater challenge to build up for Kona (not just distance but also heat & humidity) living in the southern hemisphere?
Certainly it is an added challenge training for Hawaii through winter. Winter in Australia is not all that bad relative to the US and Europe but the days are still short and most of the training happens before and after work in the dark and is wet and cold. A lot of it is not all that much fun. It’s for that reason I got to Hawaii nice and early this year to help acclimate to the weather. It’s a shock to the system for a few days.
I did a little homework and learned that you placed 7th in your AG last year (9:47) in what appears to be your only previous trip to Kona. What were your expectations going in to this year, and how did your experience from last year help you?
I went to Hawaii to win this year. I didn’t tell anyone but my family and coach that this was my goal, but it was. I learnt a lot in Hawaii last year. It’s a really intimidating place, especially your first time there - it’s easy to get swept away mentally during race week. This year I did my best to stay away from it all. We stayed down on the far end of Alii and only went into town when I really needed to.
On that note, compared to last year you were ~5 min, 31 min, and 8 min faster on the swim, bike, and run respectively. What were the “secrets” to your improvement year over year?
Haha secrets? I think in hindsight getting beaten in Busselton was possibly the best thing that happened to me. It cut me deep but also made me really hungry. I realized I needed to improve a lot and that meant things needed to change. So I started working with Jarrod Evans from Endurance Team. I had a coach previously who was great, but he mainly just wrote my programs. Whereas with Jarrod I speak to him most days and he analyzes all my Garmin files. The fact that he reviews everything means that I’m accountable to him and I know sessions need to get done and done how he wants them. It’s just a really good system. The results Jarrod has been able to achieve over the years speak for themselves.
with coach Jarrod Evans
Did you go through any rough patches, and if so what were the toughest parts of the day? How bad was the contact in the water?
There are always going to be lulls in every Ironman. I hit a big dead patch coming down from Hawi. It was probably the hottest part of the day and my legs went dead. So I took some caffeine which really helped. I was really happy with my last 50kms home on the Queen K, it kept me in the race and gave me a chance on the run. My swimming is not the strongest so I’m always going to get bashed in Hawaii. Having said that it was a lot better than last year, last year was bad!
Did you have a strategy going in? On a scale from 1-10 how hard would you say you pushed on the swim and the bike?
I actually had a few niggles leading in to the race; six weeks out I developed a stress reaction in the medial sessamoid bone in my left foot. As result I wasn’t able run much. In the last six weeks leading into the race I think I ran 10 times. It obviously wasn’t great for the running but it meant that my cycling and swimming training was really good just because I didn’t have the run fatigue in the legs. It was by far the best I have swam/biked in an Ironman. But having said that my coach wanted me to push the swim and ride harder than I have in the past, knowing that the run might not be where we wanted it - so I’m not sure on a scale of 1-10, maybe a 7 mindful of the fact there is still a marathon to go.
Can you share what you did on race day in terms of nutrition?
I try to keep nutrition as simple as possible. For me that’s two gels and a bidden of sports drink every hour on the bike, if it’s hot I’ll drink water on top of that. On the run it’s as simple as sucking on chews and in aid stations I just grab whatever I feel I need. I also use caffeine in the back end of the bike and some salt tablets throughout the race. While there is very little/no research showing a correlation between salt and cramping, it has other important uses in absorption, such as stimulating thirst. So it’s essentially fool proof, if I drop gels or whatever, I just use whatever is being handed out at aid stations.
Looking at the results, you were 25th in your AG after the swim, then moved through the field to 3rd starting the run (~5 min down from 2nd and ~10 min from 1st). You took the lead somewhere between miles 19-22 (30-35km). Were you aware of your position throughout the day? How deep did you have to dig in the final 10k, and at what point did it sink in that you were going to be an AG World Champ?
You don’t get too many looks at where you are at during the day. I saw in T2 that there was one other under 24 bike racked. I then saw my parents on Alii who told me I was in second place. I think I took the lead at the exit of the energy lab. I didn’t realize it at the time, I thought there was a guy in front of me I was still chasing. My girlfriend had cycled down the Queen K to support me but this year they stopped supporters going all the way down on the run. When I saw her again it was with 5 miles to go and she said I was leading, I didn’t believe her. I then saw my coach who had also cycled down and he confirmed it. I think I knew at the top of Palani that it was going to happen, it took a while for me to believe though. Even in the medical tent after the race I asked one of the volunteers to check on her iPhone so I could see it myself. The run home from the energy lab really hurt. I was a mess in the medical tent afterwards. What’s a typical training week for you? What swim/bike/run volumes do you usually get in?
I don’t do the bigger miles. Sure I have some big weekends, but as a total week I don’t think I have done more than 25 hours. I’m slightly different from most in that I don’t have a full rest day every week; I usually have one day off a month or so. For me judging training is not about counting the hours. If you are counting hours as a means of judging a training week you are doing something very wrong. Quality over quantity.
Like most 18-24 year olds, your occupation was listed as "student." What are you studying, and do you have any aspirations to be a professional triathlete in the future?
Haha I think most young triathletes are trying to stay in university for as long as possible and avoiding the dreaded 9-5. I’m doing a Masters of Economics at the University of Western Australia. As for being a pro triathlete, I’m not ready yet. Maybe one day, but not in the immediate future. I would be out of the race after 200m into the swim. It’s a hard way to make a living, and there are not many mid twenty long course triathletes making a living. So I’ll be patient and see where I am in a few years’ time.
Following this huge win, what’s next for you? Will you be back to defend your title?
Hopefully next year goes to plan and I’ll be back on the Big Island. I’m too old to defend the under 24 title so I’ll be racing 25-29. I’ll have to improve in order to be competitive in that age group. So fingers crossed the year goes to plan and I can have another good race over there.
I’d like to thank my family and girlfriend, my coach Jarrod Evans of Endurance Teamand former coach Andrew Budge ofTrysport. Also thanks to Finbar Ingram and Rick Twine, my training partners on the Big Island, as well as Xavier Coppock and my swimming squad coach Ross Pedlow of Exceed tri club.
Based on my observations at races over the years, I think it's fair to say that most of us fall into the category of "weekend warriors." What I mean by that is most of us are juggling many things at once, with a finite amount of time to train each week. We do this stuff for fun, but we also want to improve. As far as swimming and running go, I'd say the field is more or less "fair." Maybe the latest and greatest wetsuit on the market makes Johnny or Jane Triathlete a few seconds faster than you, but it's pretty much a level playing field. Even more so on the run. I'm yet to see anyone reduced to running in high heels or steel toed boots. I've got news for you though... the bike? As the kids sometimes say, "not so much." I've seen all kinds of bikes at races, from "wow, that cost more than my car" all the way down to rusted out junkers with baskets on the front. It's not a level playing field. My first triathlon was raced on a roommate's mountain bike. From there I upgraded to what I'll call a "commuter bike." For the next 2-3 years I didn't even have clip in pedals, riding with my running shoes on. I was slow as molasses on the bike, but let me tell you, my T2 times were blazing fast! These humble beginnings didn't take any enjoyment out of the sport, but eventually I realized that if/when you want to get faster, you need to upgrade. I don't care how hard you train on that beach cruiser, you're not winning your age group! You need to train, and you need to upgrade.
she's not winning her age group
Besides upgrading from the beater you found in the garage to a proper tri bike or road bike, studies have shown time and time again that wheels are the single best upgrade you can make. So how much faster will aero race wheels make you? That's a highly debated question. According to Reynolds Director of Technology and Innovation Paul Lew, you can count on a time savings in the ballpark of 1-2 mph. My back of the envelope calculations showed the following time savings in minutes over Olympic, 70.3, and Ironman distances.
my back of the envelope estimate of min. saved under various scenarios
In other words, if you have aspirations of "going long," (Ironman, 70.3, road races, etc) and want to take a BIG bite out of your bike split, race wheels are the way to go. Also the case if you don't race, but enjoy long rides and/or lots of climbing. People who focus more on shorter races will certainly benefit as well. Maybe you've hit a bit of a plateau, or maybe you're sick of losing to a certain someone by 1-2 min at every race. It may be time to buy some speed. That's where I find myself. Following years of trying to make my old bike "work," with new pedals, clip-on aerobars, etc., I bought my current ride three years ago. I was so elated to have a legitimate tri bike that I figured, for a while at least, that I'd just race on the aluminum wheels that came with it.
my Felt with its aluminum wheels
After my interview with Reynolds a few months ago, I asked if they'd be willing to let me test some wheels so I could compare to mine. They obliged, lending me some 2014 Reynolds Assaults over the past three weeks. These wheels are 41mm in depth and 25mm wide, great for triathlons as well as road cycling. Here's a recap of what I experienced compared to my wheels: So much lighter: Admiring them for the first time, this was my initial reaction. I had my wife hold a Reynolds Assault in one hand and one of my wheels in the other, and she too was amazed. Sex appeal: I refer to my bike as Francesca. I always find her very attractive, even on her "off" days. That said, these wheels took her to a whole new level. This was my second reaction, once the wheels were installed. I regularly caught myself going into the garage just to gaze at her.
Got up to speed very quickly: You know how some days you just feel faster than others? Even when I was riding casually, I had this feeling. A few hard pedal strokes and I was cruising much faster than usual. Easier/quicker climbing: I rode out to some hills in which I'm usually in my easiest gear (and often out of the saddle) to climb. At what felt like a similar effort, on multiple days I climbed them all in the saddle and with at least one gear to spare. Smooth: I went out on some windy days, yet never felt the effects. The Assaults are more shallow in depth (at 41mm) than others in the Reynolds lineup, but still, I was surprised. Strong/stable: I like that the Assault rims are 25mm wide. That's only 2mm wider than my wheels, but they felt more stable. I learned that a simple allen wrench adjustment is all it takes to widen the brake track. In summary, while swimming and running are more or less fair, cycling is not! If you're still riding that rusted out beater, set your sights on a replacement. If you've made that move and are looking for your next significant upgrade, I recommend testing out some Reynolds like I did. If you're on stock aluminum wheels competing against guys/girls with race wheels, the deck is stacked against you. Turn the tables in your favor! As a bonus, Reynolds' best in class "Ride to Decide" program makes it a no risk, high reward proposition.
Saturday was my last planned race of 2013, the SOJO (short for the host city of South Jordan) Half Marathon. I did a trail run in July, but this was my one and only traditional road race of the year. I was reminded of the fun atmosphere at these races, and also of the slightly different crowd than triathlons. You've got your hardcore pure runners, lots of people there just for fun, and others who are deeply concerned about their outfits and playlists who love to toot their own horn. This reminds me of a typical conversation I hear at least three times a week at my day job. "So I ran 4.3 miles this morning" (woman training for a half marathon, has run a few before) "OMG you ran over FOUR miles this morning? That is insane! Are you sore?" "No I feel great, I totally could've gone 5." "Wow, you are so good. That is crazy." "Yeah, and my pace was under 10 minutes per mile." "That is insane." News of this intense workout is then shared with several others and re-visited multiple times throughout the day.
Of course, I document some training and racing in this blog, so perhaps I'm being hypocritical... that said, outside of the blog I hardly ever bring up triathlon/racing/training around others. I guess I'm not opposed when people find out that I do triathlons, have done an Ironman, etc, but I don't go out of my way to advertise it. When I hear conversations like the one I described, I just have to bite my tongue. The alternative would be butting in with "that's awesome. I ran xx miles at xx pace yesterday. And I swam for an hour the day before. Isn't that INSANE?!?"
Ok, I'm off my soap box. At the end of the day I do respect anyone who gets out and races... it takes guts to put yourself out there. So here's a quick race recap. With only three training runs over 7 miles since May, I went into this as a "fun run." My wife and kids are out of town, so what else am I supposed to do... lay around in my underwear all day? I debated whether or not to push hard, ultimately deciding to target 7:30 pace through 5 and see how I felt from there. I stuck to the plan, swallowing my pride when a man seemingly in his 60's cruised past me at mile 3. I experimented with my nutrition at this race as well, carrying EFS Liquid Shot and taking hits of it as I felt like it. I got to mile 5 and thought "crap, I actually feel good... I guess I should go for it." I stepped it up a notch, and was surprised how strong I felt the rest of the way. There are multiple variables, of course, but I'm giving a chunk of the credit to the magic potion I was sipping. I closed out the last 5k hard, picking off lots of runners including the older superman from earlier. Kicking it in, it was annoying to hit 13.1 miles with the finish line still not in sight. They caused me 0.4 miles of unnecessary suffering! :) ~13.5 mi1:37:45 7:15 pace 32/588 O 4/36 AG
At least in my neck of the woods, the triathlon season has come to a close. The days are getting shorter and temps are on the decline. I thought I’d share what I do during this time of year, AKA the “offseason.” I think it’s beneficial and healthy to take a little time off… personally I like to stagger it by discipline. Following my last triathlon of the season (Sep 14th this year) I take 2-3 weeks off swimming. Take more if you feel like it. Everyone’s wired differently, but after a few weeks I actually start to miss it... I’m an addict for sure. Once I hop back in the pool though, it’s only 1x a week and not a hard effort for the next 4-6 weeks. Training is fun for me most of the year anyways, but especially during this time. If nothing else my once a week swim is an effective wake-up technique. After resuming this limited swim routine, I then take a couple weeks off biking. Similar to swimming, when I come back to biking it’s in a leisurely way. I’ll typically ride 2-3 times a week, but only for 30-60 min and at a joyride pace. I think a kid passed me on his scooter the other day.
I have been mixing up my speeds a bit lately, thanks to the opportunity to test ride some sweet new Reynolds wheels (I’ll write up a review in the next week or two). I often have a fall road race, so running is the last thing I take off. This year it’s a half marathon, actually just a couple days away. This was a free race entry as a “prize” (some may argue punishment) for 2nd in my age group last year. With a focus on shorter, olympic distance triathlons this year, I really haven’t done many long training runs… this might be a rare race in which I don’t give absolutely 100%. I’ll see how I feel. Anyways, once that’s over I’ll take my two weeks off running, which may get reduced to 10 days if I’m getting antsy to at least go for a short jog. As a previously mentioned addict who also works in Excel spreadsheets all day, naturally I’ve got my training plan written up for when I start back “for real.” I can create one for you as well if you’re interested... just let me know! I’ll be heading back to Ironman 70.3 St. George in May, and my 6-month program (“The Blueprint” as I refer to it) begins in November. Technically the offseason is all the way through April, and the Blueprint ramps up over time. It’s not balls to the wall suffering or anything from Day 1… more my annual attempt to stay active and maintain sanity once Old Man Winter rears his ugly head!
Following a short morning ride, I was pretty much a couch potato most of Saturday watching the Ironman World Championships online. From the bird's eye view of the swim to finish line glory, it was a good time. Here's my brief recap. The Amazing Admittedly, I didn't know a ton about Frederik Van Lierde going in. I knew he had a great race last year, (I believe he was 3rd in 2012) and had won big prize purse races like Abu Dhabi. Despite his prior success, he always seemed like an "under the radar" guy... not really in the spotlight. Understatement of the year, but I was super impressed by him. The commentators referred to him a few times as the Terminator, and that's exactly how he looked out there. All bizness. He was as consistent as running water and took the lead at mile 17, holding on by 2+ minutes. In his post-race interview he said "after last year I believed I could do it."
I don't often type in all caps, but Mirinda Carfrae was simply AMAZING, breaking Chrissie Wellington's women's course record with a time of 8:52... by all accounts the conditions were pretty mild by Kona's standards, but still... this was an incredible performance. Usually Rinney is significantly back from the leaders at the start of the run, but not this year. She's clearly put a ton of work in on the bike, as she was only a few minutes back. On the run she was flying. It seriously looked like she was running a 5k. Not only did she set a women's run course record with a marathon time of 2:50, she had the 3rd fastest run split overall on the day. Only Ivan Rana and Bart Aernouts ran faster. Rachel Joyce was running great herself, but Mirinda cruised by at mile 15 and never looked back. Random thought... could having her record broken motivate Chrissie to come out of retirement??
The Disappointing One of my pre-race hopefuls, Andy Potts, pulled out of the race the morning of. Evidently he's been dealing with a nerve injury of some kind, and waited until the 11th hour to decide. Bummer. He would've been first out of the water at the very least, and probably a top 10 finisher. I learned a few days prior that my prediction for the win, Mary Beth Ellis, had an accident last month and broke her collarbone. She still raced, but clearly wasn’t in top form and ultimately dropped out. Other pre-race hopefuls Andreas Raelert and Craig Alexander clearly didn’t have their best days… Raelert seemed off from the start, and eventually dropped out as well. Crowie was never really in contention on the bike, and a flat early in the ride didn’t help his cause. The Entertaining It was fun watching American Andrew Starykowicz attempt to break the Kona bike course record of 4:18:23 (Normann Stadler in 2006). As a great swim/biker and relatively weak runner, he said pre-race that he has the "thinnest playbook in the field"... basically trying to crush everyone on the bike and build up a big lead. He came up ~3 minutes short of the bike record, but unfortunately for him better runners managed to stay in touch with him. He faded to 21st. Like I said in my preview, Luke McKenzie goes all-in! He stuck close to Starykowicz on the bike, then gutted out a very solid run to finish 2nd. He narrowly missed being the 7th straight Australian champion, but still, a terrific performance.
It was also entertaining to follow two amazing athletes from my local scene: BJ Christenson and Spencer Woolston. BJ’s swim is virtually on par with the pros (he was 56 min vs. Spencer’s 1:13). Spencer wreaks havoc on the bike (on par with pros himself), and the two entered T2 a minute or so apart. Spencer rode his way from 1344th to 262nd place, while BJ dropped from 103rd to 226th. BJ then uncorked a 3:02 marathon, finishing an incredible 64th overall and 8th in his age group in 9:03. Spencer is also a great runner, and his 3:27 brought him to the line in 9:30. The Random There were various stats being tossed around... here were two that stood out most. Spectators were informed that Ben Hoffman burned 4400 calories on the bike alone, the equivalent of 44 large strips of bacon. Faris Al-Sultan could enjoy 23 bratwursts and not be “worse for wear” following his 4500 calorie effort. At one point on the bike I was also informed that they were "riding at enough watts to power a freezer."
The Somewhat Funny
Commentator Michael Lovato "You notice she’s running with that erect posture, she’s looking very strong." Few minutes later Matt Lieto: “yeah, she’s got that uh, erect form as you say" (Lovato cutting in) “Matt if you’re uncomfortable with the word erect let’s just say upright.” Post-race interview with 3rd place Sebastian Kienle. "He said a second ago he's about to fall asleep. Sebastian you're not gonna fall asleep on us are you?" (Looking absolutely wrecked but with a big smile and heavy accent) "No..... it's more likely that I...... uh, die" Side note: he also said "I can't tell you how many times i wanted to quit." Kinda nice to know the best in the world feel that way sometimes too. How many times can commentator Greg Welch say the phrase “doing a good job of it”? Help me out here, is that an Australian thing? That should be a drinking game of some kind... take a hit of Gatorade every time you hear it.
Top 10 Men (and few notables)
1. Frederik Van Lierde (BEL) 8:12:39 2. Luke McKenzie (AUS) 8:15:19 3. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 8:19:24 4. James Cunnama (RSA) 8:21:46 5. Tim O'Donnell (USA) 8:22:25 6. Ivan Rana (ESP) 8:23:43 7. Tyler Butterfield (BER) 8:24:09 8. Bart Aernouts (BEL) 8:25:38 9. Timo Bracht (GER) 8:26:32 10. Faris Al-Sultan (GER) 8:31:13 23. Craig Alexander (AUS) 8:43:59 64. BJ Christenson (USA) 9:03:34 248. Spencer Woolston (USA) 9:30:22 1682. Former Pittsburgh Steeler WR Hines Ward (USA) 13:08:15 1800. Chef Gordon "Hell's Kitchen" Ramsay (GBR) 14:04:48
Late last year I wrote a post entitled “The Replacements,” which chronicled some triathlon-related Christmas gifts I had received, and what they would be replacing. Some examples included my one, decade old pair of running shorts, and swimwear that had stretched out to be longer than Rafael Nadal’s tennis capris.
My 2013 tri season ended last month, and my thoughts have turned of late to how I can improve for next year. Here are some upgrades I plan on making to accomplish that feat, in terms of gear as well as personal transformations. For starters, one such replacement occurred this past week. For my first triathlon in 2003, I didn’t own a helmet. It was a small event, and they didn’t care. That was also the only race I’ve ever crashed at, and luckily I didn’t land on my head. A short while later I wised up and bought some protection for my melon at a local bike shop. That helmet has served me well, from the Salem Spring Sprint in Apr 2004 to the Ogden Valley Triathlon in Sep 2013. While I’ll still train with old red, I figured it was time for an upgrade. I bought a barely used aero helmet the other day from a local triathlete for $50. The next replacement is more of a figurative one. I was consistent in getting to the pool this year, but I need to step up my game another level. I only swim 2x a week… more power to you if you do more, but that’s all I can consistently get in. However, I want to get more bang for my buck, getting in ~1k more volume at each session.
2014 (maybe the guy on the left? within spitting distance of true swimmers??)
A gear related replacement that I'm hoping to make is from the aluminum wheels that came with my Felt to proper race wheels. From 2003-2007 I was really into triathlon, but it was largely a "happy to be there" era. With each year I got more and more into the sport, but from 2008-2010 I was in grad school part-time and became a dad 2x, and as a result my racing was limited. 2011-present is a new era, not simply happy to be there, free from school, and no longer wetting my jockeys as a new father. Race wheels are high on my list.
hey man, it's tough out here
A simple replacement made this week was making Francesca (my Felt) shine with some new bar tape. She came with white bar tape, which looked cool but accumulated dirt like the cast of Revolution. This was magnified by a few dropped chains that resulted in nasty grease everywhere. As of a few days ago I have some slick new black tape, and I’m hopeful my ride will thank me for it. Next on my list is another figurative replacement. Ever since I battled ITB syndrome when training for a marathon several years ago, I’ve been hesitant to increase my running volume too much. I run three times a week, and never on consecutive days. A typical run for me is 5-6 miles (8-10k) mixing up speeds and/or tackling hills as opposed to higher volumes. That said, to be successful in my 70.3s next year I need to step it up a notch. I’ll still most likely only run 3x, but will target 20-25 miles each week as opposed to 17-20. One of the two runs previously squeezed into my lunch break will be moved to late evening.
The next replacement has to do with nutrition. As a result of my recent interview with First Endurance, I’m a believer in the company. I’m excited to tinker with EFS drink, EFS Liquid Shot, and potentially other products in training and future racing. I’ve used Hammer Perpetuem along with Shot Blox and PowerGels for the past few years. I like those products, but while I rarely have what I deem a "disappointing" sprint or olympic distance race, I don't feel I've raced to my full potential in 5 Ironman 70.3s and 1 Ironman. At least a part of that could be due to nutrition. With up to three 70.3s in the works for 2014, I figure it’s worth trying something new. I’m convinced that First Endurance’s research-based approach is worth a shot. A liquid shot, that is. I tried the stuff on a long run last Sat, and felt really strong. I’ll do a review on various First Endurance products soon. The next replacement is TBD. Despite overwhelming feedback claiming that shaving one’s legs for triathlon does not constitute a Man Card violation, I’m still reluctant to go under the blade. We shall see...