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...