I’m Back!

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That’s right, I’m back at it.  After moving to SC from AZ almost three years ago, my racing career slowed down considerably.  Mostly because I missed my racing buddies Ems, Carrie, Anna, Brian, Rob and so many others. It just wasn’t the same to be at the start line having to keep all of my nervous energy to myself.

I also suffered a few injuries along the way. Shortly after moving, I was playing in the surf with the dog and fractured my foot.  I didn’t realize that I’d hurt myself until midway through a 15-mile run weeks later.  It was a long walk limping home and a couple months of recovery.

I did a few races after that healed but soon found myself battling with plantar fasciitis that has been bothering me for almost a year.  Right after planning to run the Savannah Rock n Roll 1/2 marathon with my besties was when I had such bad heel pain that it hurt just to walk.  I was hoping to start my training in July and then pushed it to August.  While I was slightly better, I postponed training until September but ended up injuring my heel again as we were dealing with hurricane prep and then clean up.

Needless to say, I never really ended up training. Fortunately, I decided to give a cheap pair of orthotics a try and they seemed to do the trick…a few months too late though. Race day was quickly approaching and I was just beginning my training.  My total miles of training for the race ended up being about 13 miles.

Luckily Carrie found an option to run the half as a relay team.  I quickly emailed the race company to see if they would let us switch since we were both recovering from injuries and they said it wasn’t a problem.  I figured I was still in shape from cycling and swimming so half of a half was the perfect solution.

Emily and Carrie arrived in Savannah on Thursday evening.  It was great to see them and get caught up. Friday we hit the expo and Carrie and I got everything switched over to the relay and we were officially Team Drumstick Adventures. She decided to run the first leg since it was supposed to be more scenic (after seeing her pictures, I’m pretty sure I had the more scenic leg).  I didn’t mind taking the second leg which gave me more time to get through my “pre-race ritual.”

We spent the rest of the day wandering around town, experiencing Savannah.  We took an interesting tour of the Prohibition Museum and had a cocktail in their little speakeasy.  We walked even more trying to find a place for dinner that wasn’t overbooked and ended up at the Mellow Mushroom.  Pizza isn’t our normal pre-race dinner, but we got our carbs and were ready for bed.

Since we could walk to the start, it felt like we slept in on race morning, with our alarms set for 6am.  I walked to the start to wish Emily and Carrie good luck then headed back to the hotel to get some work done. Carrie was sending me updates and cruising through her leg, so it wasn’t long before I had to make my way to the transition to start my run.  It had warmed up a bit, but the temperature was still comfortable when Carrie came running past and I headed out.

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Team Drumstick Adventures

Because I hadn’t really trained, I had a hard time holding a steady pace and not going too fast.  The miles kept ticking by and I felt great.  I had a little shin pain but that quickly went away.  My heel wasn’t hurting and I was able to find a good groove.  As I hit mile 12 I sent Carrie a text to let her know I was close to the end.

At mile 13 she snapped a quick picture of me and we took off for the finish line.  Since Carrie is more of a walker, it was a rare event for us to finish together. Our combined effort put us in the top 25% of finishers! Emily had a great finish too and now has 50 half marathons in the books – she’s a machine! Surprisingly I wasn’t sore after the race and I’m looking forward to picking our next race together and actually being able to train properly!

Three very happy finishers!

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Heat and Humidity

I recently moved from Arizona to South Carolina. Both states are known for their warm weather but AZ is a dry heat and SC is most definitely not!  I went for my first run here last night and although it was a short one, I wondered what I should be doing differently now that I’m working out in such a humid environment.

Studies have shown that when the temperature rises above 65 degrees, your average heart rate can rise about 10 beats per minute and your speed will slow. Add in high humidity and your heart rate raises at least another 10 beats per minute.  The key to training in heat and humidity is to be aware of your heart rate, aiming for normal numbers. This means adjusting your workout to reduce your effort, minimizing the stress to your heart.  Your pace will be slower but physiologically, you’re still getting the same benefit.  In the long run, you can probably get in a longer, better workout than if you went fast and hard and had to cut your workout short.

Dehydration is another risk factor when exercising in the heat and humidity.  The general rule is that you need to replace the amount of fluid lost through sweat with an equal amount of water/electrolyte mix to prevent dehydration.  Average sweat rates are approximately 34–85 fl oz per hour (1.0–2.5 liters per hour). That means carrying or having access to water and sports drinks during long hot workouts.  Remember you typically don’t feel a sensation of thirst until after you’ve lost 1–2 percent of your body weight as fluid, so don’t wait until you’re thirsty to take a drink.

If you notice any of these signs that you may be over heating, stop your workout and cool off:

  • side stitches
  • shallow and uneven breathing
  • chills or goosebumps
  • fatigue or headache
  • nausea
  • dizziness or confusion

Next time you might want to keep your workout inside in an air-conditioned room. If that’s not an option, try an early morning workout, find a shaded path (versus heat-absorbing roads), run close to water (bodies of water offer breezier conditions), and take walk breaks.

The bottom line for working out in the heat and humidity is to hydrate properly and let go of any time-based goals.  Either use a heart rate monitor to keep a normal heart rate or make sure to slow your pace and not overexert yourself.  Another tip I found was to minimize the amount of clothing you wear in hot weather conditions, and make sure what you do wear is moisture wicking.

The good news is that your body does eventually adapt and will learn to respond more efficiently in the heat. Your heart adapts by pumping more blood and delivering more oxygen to working muscles while your body learns to better regulate its core temperature.  What this means is that if you train smart in the heat and humidity, the body has to adapt in ways that benefit your overall performance.


Rules of Triathlon 101

There’s no question about it, triathlon is a complicated sport because it’s really three sports rolled into one.  Each of these sports has its own set of rules making the rule book for triathlon a long and boring read.  As I was preparing for my Ironman race I was so afraid of getting penalties I tried to brush up on the most common violations.  USAT actually sends out an email newsletter that reviews one rule a week which does make it a little less daunting than trying to read them all at once.  I know learning the rules can be tedious but it does make things easier for everyone if we’re all on the same page when it comes to things like setting up in transition.

Did you know there are some penalties you can incur before the race even starts?  If an official sees you riding your bike to transition without your helmet you could get a time penalty as early as the day before race day.

Transition seems to be the place where people don’t think rules exist and there are a few that I see broken quite often.  And they’re rules I broke when I started in triathlon.  The biggest one which is now my pet peeve is racking your bike.  The official USAT rule for this one is Article 7.2 Placement of Equipment: the front or rear wheel must be down on the same side as the number and the gear.  That means when you rack your bike don’t hook your seat on the side with the number.  It also means, don’t put your gear under your rear tire which is hanging in the air.  Inevitably about half the people on a rack know the rule and half don’t which makes for a jumble of bikes and a mess of gear on the ground.  Another common infraction in transition is placing a marker to help you find your bike.  When you get out of the water and your head is spinning, sometimes it’s hard to find your bike so people will put a balloon or colored tape on the end of their rack to help them find it.  I thought this was a genius idea until I realized it could lead to a penalty.  I don’t often see officials in transition but you never know so it’s better to just memorize some landmarks to find your bike.

A few other tips while we are on the topic of the transition area (commonly called TA).  The bike rack is a rack for bikes, not a clothes line.  If you get out of the water and there’s space on the rack, don’t use it to hang your wetsuit or your wet towel.  Remember how full that rack was when you started the race? That’s how full it will be when everyone is on the run.  If you really want to spend time hanging your wetsuit or towel, use the fence that surrounds TA.  The other “no no” in TA is moving someone’s bike.  If the rack isn’t marked, that person got there before you and picked that spot for a reason, most likely because it was a prime spot to easily get in and out of the TA as fast as possible.  If you do move someone’s bike, don’t be surprised to find your bike moved to the worst spot on the rack when you get back, if it’s even still on the rack.  I’ve had people move my bike even when the spots were numbered.  If you have problems with someone moving your bike, it’s always best to let the race personnel know and they will get your spot back and deal with the offender.

Swimming is the sport with the least amount of rules.  The swim is generally a free for all.  Most people dread the swim and just try to power through it since it’s the shortest part of the race.  The only rule that is often talked about is that it is legal to stop and hang onto a support craft as long as you don’t make any forward progress.  The other one that has caused some controversy is regarding standing up and running/walking through the water instead of swimming. This is actually legal and this does come into play sometimes depending on the tides.

Beyond that, there really aren’t many rules for swimming.  The philosophy I go by is that if I’m coming up from behind to pass someone I’m the one who needs to move out of the way if we start drifting towards each other.  Since the sun is usually just starting to rise during the swim, most of the time people are swimming blind.  It’s hard enough to see what’s in front of you, never mind worrying about what’s behind you.  Expect to get bumped and knocked around.  If you bump someone there is no need to stop and apologize and if you get bumped there is no need to stop and start screaming at people.  If you don’t like getting jostled in the water, maybe you should stick to pool races and skip the open water swims or look for races that have a newbie wave or just swim way to the outside away from the pack.  The only thing that shouldn’t happen in the water is deliberate dunking or pulling.  If that does happen to you, keep in mind it may feel deliberate, but it more likely is just someone who isn’t a great swimmer so just swim away.

The bike leg is the one with the most rules. Drafting is the most commonly violated rule here.  To avoid a drafting penalty you need to keep at least three bike lengths of clear space between you and the cyclist in front. If you move into the zone, you must pass within 15 seconds. Position is another area with frequent violations.  If you are not passing keep to the right hand side of the lane of travel, just like when you are driving your car.  Blocking is also against the rules – this refers to riding on the left side of the lane without passing anyone and interfering with other cyclists attempting to pass. If you don’t want an Overtaken penalty, once you are passed, you must immediately exit the draft zone from the rear, before attempting to pass again. And the simplest penalty to avoid is to make sure that before you get on your bike, your helmet is on your head and the chin strap is buckled.

The run might just be the simplest leg of the race.  You’re almost done and you’re tired so it’s easy to slip up and incur a penalty here.  Remember littering at any point on the course is a penalty, so keep those gel wrappers tucked in a pocket or pitch them at an aid station.  The other thing to keep in mind is that it is your responsibility to know the course.  It’s the same for the bike course but because your riding on the road there are cones to guide you and because no one wants to see a high speed bike wreck, the race directors make sure there are volunteers out there who know the course and keep you going in the right direction. The run on the other hand is a different story, most of the time the volunteers do not know the course.  If you ask them which way to go they will try to be helpful and point you in the direction they last saw someone headed.  That person may or may not have been participating in the race.  If they were, maybe they were confused and made a wrong turn.  I’ve gone off course on a run and come back with a terrible time.  I’ve also beaten someone who was ahead of me but went off course.  Even if it’s a simple out and back, know your course.  This past weekend I raced on a sprint relay team and our runner turned around at a sign that said “Sprint Turnaround”.  Apparently that sign should have said “Super Sprint Turnaround” and we had cut the run short.  That put us in first place but we did the right thing and notified race personnel.

I know there are a lot of rules to triathlon and it seems overwhelming but the rules are there to ensure that everyone has a safe, fun and fair race.  If you don’t have time to learn the rules at least brush up on the most common violations.  It’s no fun to race your heart out and then get stuck with a time penalty for something that could have been avoided.

Team Savannah Sendoff at the Esprit de She Tri (my last AZ race)

Team Savannah Sendoff at the Esprit de She Tri (my last AZ race)

 


No More Team Aquaphor

I have been sponsored by Team Aquaphor for the past four years.  Sadly, I found out last week that Aquaphor decided they need to focus solely on moms and will no longer be spending money to target athletes.

Being part of Team Aquaphor was a wonderful experience and I made a lot of friends through the team.  It was always fun to recognize another teammate in uniform at a race and make a new friend.  The support that the team provided as I trained for my Iron Man race was incredible and motivating.

This year’s race season isn’t going to be the same without a new blue race kit.  I’m going to have to buy my own racing cloths?!  That means you’ll probably still see me out there in my Aquaphor gear.  Zach loved it since it was easy to spot for pictures, so why change a good thing.

That also means no more Aquaphor samples.  Although I think we’ll be finding those little tubes stashed around the house and in jacket pockets for years to come.  Hopefully everyone is OK with the chocolate samples I’ve been sharing.

I still have some incredible sponsors that I’m proud to represent this year: Island Boost, X-1 Audio, and Superhero Events.  I’m looking forward to a few more races in AZ before moving to SC.

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Free Shoes!

Who doesn’t want free shoes when the average pair of new running shoes costs anywhere from $50-150?  This past year I’ve been lucky enough to get 5 pairs of free shoes!  How did I get so lucky and what’s the catch, right?  I signed up to be a wear tester with as many manufacturers as I could find.  The catch is that there is a little bit of work involved and you do have to give the shoes back at the end of the test. 

Part of your responsibility as a wear tester is keeping a log of the miles you ran, the surfaces you ran on, and what you thought of the shoes.  Periodically during the test period you will have to fill out surveys describing your experience with the shoes.  Most companies send prototypes and do not allow you to take pictures or publically post anything about the test (hence no pictures to go with this post).

I’ve been lucky enough to test shoes for New Balance, Nike, and Mizuno.  New Balance was the easiest company to get started with and Mizuno was the hardest because they heavily advertise their tests and have lots of people to choose from.  Every company sets up their surveys and reports a bit differently and they don’t always provide a lot of detail on what their expectations are but they are always quick to answer questions to help you give them the necessary feedback.

If you are interested in becoming a wear tester here are some links to get you started:

http://weartest.newbalance.com/

https://producttesting.nike.com/signin/7055

http://www.mizunousa.com/running/evo-wear-test-form

http://www.brooksrunning.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-BrooksRunning-Site/default/Runhappy-Content?cid=wear_test_application (currently not accepting applicants at this time, but check back often)

Most companies offer apparel wear testing as well, but I haven’t been lucky enough to get picked to test any cloths yet.

There were some tips I found helpful as I got started as a wear tester:

  • Round  to your nearest comfortable full size shoe, most tests will not select people with half sizes
  • Make sure to respond to all emails and survey deadlines promptly, if you don’t, chances are you won’t be asked back for future tests
  • Read the documents they send regarding shoe terminology, use their lingo so they know you are a quality tester invested in their products

Even though I don’t get to keep the shoes, it is nice not to be putting miles on the shoes that I do buy which means I don’t need to buy shoes as often.  The hard part about being a wear tester is having to give back shoes that you love, especially if it’s a shoe that’s not on the market.  It goes the other way too –  sometimes you have to keep running in a shoe you just don’t like until the test is complete (if a shoe is causing an injury you should send it back immediately).

Good luck if decide to sign up as a wear tester and feel free to use me as a reference!


Government Shuts Down Triathlon

10-7-2013 10-19-59 AM

Ok, so technically the government did not shut down the Lake Powell Triathlon, but due to the government shut down and the closure of our national parks, the Lake Powell Triathlon was cancelled.

I can’t even go swimming or paddle boarding at my favorite lake.  All of the parking lots are closed and even if you park elsewhere and walk over to the beach, the sheriff’s department has said you will be removed.

At least all of this is happening at the end of race season.  I was looking forward to Lake Powell being my last race for the year.   And I was looking forward to the nicer weather  so we could spend time on the lake with the dogs.

Since that’s not happening, it looks like we’ll finally be finishing up the last part of our painting and flooring project!


Tempe Triathlon Race Recap

For some reason I just didn’t feel like racing this past weekend.  I had ramped up my training which included more swimming and more running and I didn’t miss a single workout.  I think I was just tired from last weekend’s race and a little unnerved from having to dodge traffic at my last 2 races.  It was also very hot the day before when we went to rack my bike which did not help with my motivation.

The alarm went off Sunday morning and I still just wasn’t in the mood for a race, but it was paid for and my bike was there so we headed to Tempe.  Because it was so warm, wet suits were not allowed.  Some people miss the extra buoyancy the wetsuit provides but I swim enough at Canyon Lake without a wetsuit that this wasn’t an issue for me.   I felt like I had a good swim.  I stuck to the outside for the start which meant nice clear water and I was able to find a good rhythm pretty easily.  My good swims always seem like they should be faster, but this one didn’t break any records.

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I transitioned pretty quickly into my bike gear but I was at the far end of the transition area which meant a long way to go trying to run in my bike shoes.  After wiping out running on wet pavement in my bike shoes a few years ago, I take it pretty slow which was reflected in my transition times.  I did see 2 people leaving transition barefoot, looking like they knew what they were doing with their shoes already clipped into their bike pedals.  Both failed miserably and couldn’t get their feet into their shoes once they got on their bikes.  Maybe that’s something I’ll work on this winter.  The pros make it look so easy.

The bike was uneventful.  It’s the same course for almost every race in that area so I knew what to expect.  I had my Island Boost taped to the frame of my bike and took one at about mile 5 which is where I usually realize I’ve started out a bit too fast and feel a bonk coming on.  I think I took the second one around mile 10 as I was staring to fade.  My legs felt pretty tight on the bike, probably from all of the hills I ran last weekend.

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It was another slow trip through the transition area with my bike shoes on so I could switch into my running gear.  I really thought it would be the run I would struggle with after running 23 hilly miles last weekend but I found a comfortable pace right at the start and was able to pick it up a little at the end.  It was starting to get hot on the run but there were plenty of aid stations with ice cold water.  There were even some Girl Scouts out volunteering who were offering to spray people as they went by and that felt great.

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As I got close to the finish the guy in front of me had a great pace and was steadily passing people.  I had another Island Boost and was able to keep up with him and pushed a little harder than I would have on my own.  I passed him as I sprinted to the finish line and thanked him for helping me finish strong.

I only saw one woman in my age group pass me on the bike and I passed another one on the run.  I was really thinking I finally made the podium for this race but it turns out I was fifth in my age group.  Looks like I’m going to have to train even harder for next year!