Saturday, December 29, 2012

Top 10 Reasons to do a Triathlon in 2013

Since the world didn't end last week, maybe you should consider doing a triathlon in 2013.  Here are the top 10 reasons to do so:

10) If it's your first one, there are lots of other beginners at every race.

9) For the aid stations and post-race drinks.

8) Make some new friends.

training partners

7) You can start by picking a race with a pool swim if you're nervous about open water.

6) A great excuse to get yourself that Spandex body suit you've been eyeing.

5) Whatever wheeled device you've got in the garage will get the job done, or you can just borrow a bike.  That's what I did for my first.

I think this guy beat me at Ironman St. George

4) There's approximately a 1 in 3 chance your race shirt will be wearable in public!

3) To stick it to all the animals in the wild who can swim and/or run, but can't bike worth a lick.

2) It will improve your street cred, which, let's face it, has been lacking of late.

1) To undergo an epic transformation of body, mind, and spirit!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Replacements

I've always been a minimalist.  I don't like my life cluttered with too many things.  Most of my life's possessions have been given to me over the years, and besides triathlon entry fees, I don't often spend money on myself.  I try to be organized and prepared, but without having redundant stuff.  Back in college, it became a game to pack a smaller and smaller bag for each of my trips home to see my family over holidays.  By the last trip I was down to a fanny pack, which exceeded even my brother's expectations.  "Wait, that's really all you brought?!?"

this is not my fanny

Along those lines, going into Christmas my fingers were crossed that Santa would hook me up with a few essentials.  I was in severe need of a few items that are crucial to the triathlete's tool kit (I recently wrote about my running shoe experience).  You know the phrase "what do you get for the man/woman who has everything?"  That's a great question, one that I don't have an answer for.  But for the man who has hardly anything?  Well... pretty much anything will do.

Here's a quick run-down of a few triathlon-related gifts I received, along with what they will be largely replacing:

Exhibit A:  These bad boys have seen better days.  They're so threadbare they're practically see-through, and by the time I hoist myself out of the water they're longer than a pair of women's yoga capris.  Last but not least, there's a nice little hole forming in the crotch region.

By comparison, on the right you'll find a non see-through, not stretched-out, no holes suit.  It's a Christmas miracle!

The Verdict: old nastys are gettin' tossed

Exhibit B:  Until yesterday, I only owned one bike jersey (little red riding hood there on the left).  I now have another option for both color and length of tan lines. 

The Verdict: This is a far less dramatic makeover.  Little red is still in great shape so I'm keeping her on an alternating basis.

Exhibit C:  I bought the running shorts on the left in the summer of 2001.  While I run in other stuff as well (cold weather gear, tri shorts, basketball shorts, etc), they have remained my only true running shorts for over a decade.  I think they were the same color as the new ones once upon a time. 

The Verdict:  These are virtual antiques, and will be hard to throw away.  I see them being used sparingly, a la Tim Tebow with the Jets.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Fire

A reader in New York sent me the link to this video yesterday.  He said it's inspired him lately to get out and train even when it's cold out, windy, etc.  I thought I'd share in the spirit that it might do the same for others.  I love this "Bring It On" mentality to triathlon and life!

There's something in your heart
and it's in your eyes
It's the fire, inside you
Let it burn
You don't say good luck
You say don't give up
It's the fire, inside you
Let it burn

Yeah, and if I'm ever at the crossroads
and start feeling mixed signals like Morse code
My soul start to grow colder than the North Pole
I try to focus on the whole of where the torch goes
In the tradition of these legendary sports pros
As far as I can see, I've made it to the threshold
Lord knows I've waited for this a lifetime
And I'm an icon when I let my light shine
Shine bright as an example of a champion
Taking the advantage, never copping out or cancelling
Burn like a chariot, learn how to carry it
Maverick, always above and beyond average
Fuel to the flame that I train with and travel with
Something in my eyes say I'm so close to having the prize
I realize I'm supposed to reach for the skies
Never let somebody try to tell you otherwise


One love, one game, one desire
One flame, one bonfire, let it burn higher
I never show signs of fatigue or turn tired
cause I'm the definition of tragedy turned triumph
It's David and Goliath, I made it to the eye of
the storm, feeling torn like they fed me to the lions
Before my time start to wind down like the Mayans
I show 'em how I got the grind down like a science
It sounds like a riot on hush, it's so quiet
The only thing I hear is my heart, I'm inspired
by the challenge that I find myself standing eye to eye with
Then move like a wise warrior and not a coward
You can't escape the history that you was meant to make
That's why the highest victory is what I'm meant to take
You came to celebrate, I came to sever great
I hate losing, I refuse to make the same mistake


Ohhhh, the fire inside you
The fire inside you
The fire inside you
The fire inside you

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pumped Up Kicks

Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.  Change your oil every 3,000 miles.  Get 7-8 hours of sleep.  Shower at least once a month.  Go to the dentist every decade.  Get new running shoes every 500 miles.  These are all guidelines some authority created that we’re supposed to strive for.  While I fall short on most of that list, I realized yesterday that I’ve been especially delinquent on the last one.  For “fun,” I decided to go through my training log and tally up the miles on my Asics Nimbus 12’s.  It came in way higher than I thought… over 800! (~1300 km)  I figured it was time to gift myself a new pair.  I mean, this is the season of giving, right?  Santa, if you need a reference on my behavior you can check in with der Belsnickel he recently judged my year as admirable, I swear!  I’ve loved my Asics, so didn’t want to get too fancy with my next pair.  Asics Nimbus 13, please.  I ran in my last pair so long the series jumped from version 12 to 14, so the 13’s were significantly discounted on ebay.  Maybe there are advantages to breaking the cardinal rules after all... I mean, who needs a shower that often anyway?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Product Review: Speedfil

The year was 1995.  It was early May, and I woke up excited to drive to Indianapolis to run the Indy 500 Mini-Marathon with my dad and a couple of his buddies.  The county track meet had been the night before, with me running the 3200m and a leg of the 4x800m relay.  Nowadays I rarely run two days in a row, let alone attempt to race 12 hours apart… but I was a young whippersnapper, and was excited to run my first half-marathon.  My mom’s birthday had also been the day before, and in my rush out the door I grabbed two big pieces of gooey, frosted leftover cake for breakfast.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  To make a long story short, I finished the race but ended up puking several times and spent the drive home writhing in pain in the back of a van.  Was it solely caused by my breakfast selection?  I don’t know.  But I do know that’s the day I discovered the importance of nutrition.  

In triathlon, nutrition is so important that it's often referred to as the “4th discipline.”  It can also be overwhelming.  It takes trial and error to figure out what works for you, which can be a daunting process (for what it's worth, in a future post I'll share what I do for each distance).  Part of your plan also involves how to carry your nutrition.  Should you load up like a pack mule, rely completely on the aid stations, stop off at McDonalds, or some combination?  If you plan on going long next year, the Speedfil may be a perfect solution for you.  I’m not going to get too techy, but here’s a run-down of the pros and cons from my experience.
speedfil mounted to down tube
  • Holds 40 oz of fluid, so you don't have to re-fill as often.  For example, I didn't like the drink being offered on the course at a recent half Ironman, so I loaded the Speedfil up with my own drink and didn't have to re-fill once.  Great for Ironman, half Ironman, and long training rides.
  • If you do need to re-fill, doing so is a snap.  Let's say you're carrying Gatorade, which is also on the course.  When you start running low, you grab a squeeze top Gatorade at the next aid station.  The top of the Speedfil is engineered so you don't have to unscrew it... you can simply jam the top of the Gatorade bottle into the Speedfil, squeeze it in, then toss the empty bottle in the trash, all in a few seconds and without stopping.
  • Despite this functionality, the Speedfil doesn't spill.  It's a one-way street... liquid goes in, but it doesn't splash out (from my experience unless you hit a huge pothole).
  • According to Inviscid Design wind tunnel studies, the Speedfil holds its own aerodynamically.
  • Its build encourages you to drink enough and stay hydrated.  With a tube similar to that of a Camelback, the bite valve rest near your aerobars.  It's malleable, so you can bend it out of the way, but when you need a drink it's right there for you.  No messing with bottles, no spilling, and no need to break your aero position to drink.

  • As with many other triathlon products, some sticker shock... think I paid $100 for it. 
  • You have to install a little adapter thing if your bike doesn't have bottle cage mounts on the down tube.  For example, my Felt only has a spot for a water bottle on the seat tube.  The adapter comes with a screw that has been jarred loose a couple times on me while riding on bumpy roads.  I still recommend it, but it's more convenient if your bike is down tube accessible.
the adapter thing if you only have bottle cage option on seat tube
  • For you weight weinies out there, it’s not the lightest system on the market.  In my mind the benefits of having more hydration on board out-weighs this, however (pun intended).
  • The last drops of your drink before refilling can be pretty lukewarm, especially on really hot days. 
  • Due to its shape, it's a bit of a pain to clean.

All in all, I highly recommend the Speedfil if you plan on riding long next season.  It’s worth the peace of mind knowing that you have a convenient method of getting much needed, non-birthday cake calories down on race day!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Great Swim Video

I watched this video shortly after it was posted last year, and it has really helped me in the water. It was confirmed to me that I had a terrible kick, and that the "shoulder-driven" technique was more up my alley.  I stumbled upon the video again today and found it blog worthy.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Giddy as a Schoolgirl

Nothing soothes the obsessive tendencies of the triathlete beast like the release of next year’s race schedule.  I love it.  There are four main race companies in my neck of the woods: RaceTri, USTriSports, BBSC, and TriUtah.  Two of them already have races scheduled and registration open, and TriUtah recently sent out the below email to keep the masses at bay:

“We know you're Type-A. We know you're a *little* OCD. We know you plan WAY in advance.
But, fear not TriUtah fanatics. We'll have a 2013 menu of events and registration open dates coming for you soon.” 

They’ve got me pegged.

The 4th company, who shall remain nameless, puts on great races but I’m not pleased with them at this time.  They’re teasing us.  As the tri geek that I am, I’ve created an excel file listing all races with dates, location, cost, etc, that I update as info rolls in.  I even have the number of participants from the prior year, which I believe officially qualifies me for the “disorder” category.  I currently have only locked in one race, the IMSG 70.3 in May.  The WTC gives you what feels like 10 minutes to get their initial discounted price, so I bit the bullet and signed up months ago.  Besides that, it’s fun to consider different options… I like to get a balance of races I’ve done previously in order to gauge performance vs. prior years (my disorder has a field day with this), while adding in new races to mix it up a little bit and see new places.  

I’m itchin’ to lock down my schedule, but want to see the full gamut of races first before I do.  I guess I just need to be a little patient….it is a virtue after all, right?