Saturday, April 11, 2015

Race Report: Arlington Place International Triathlon


Tri season is underway and Saturday I had my second race of the year:  Setup Events Arlington Place International!  I've never done this event before and figured it would be good for me to get an olympic distance under my belt before White Lake Half.  Plus, with an extra long bike (53k), I knew it'd be good practice.  It's only about 2 hours north of Wilmington so I drove up the morning of the race (a plan I was seriously re-thinking when my alarm went off at 4 am).  I stopped to get gas on the way to the race and it was so remarkably QUIET outside at that hour!  I felt like I was in The Walking Dead and half expected to see a zombie start hobbling towards me.  The rest of the drive was uneventful as was the usual pre-race packet pickup & transition set up.

The Swim (1500 m) - 32:52
The water was a pleasant 68 degrees and wetsuit legal.  Though very beautiful:


It was nowhere near as calm as this photo.  It was extremely choppy and the first 500m was directly into a current.  It was the kind of chop where you can't see the buoys unless you are at the top of the wave.  Not a non-swimmer's swim.  When I was about 25 meters away from the first turn buoy, I kept sighting repeatedly only to see that the buoy was never getting any closer!  This must have gone on for at least 5 minutes!  To get out of the endless pool situation, I amped up my kick and sprinted just long enough to make the turn, after which there was some relief.  Of course there were no other swimmers to draft off of because they were all ahead of me (that's what you get when you swim 1-2x/week).  By the end of the swim my arms were dead and I couldn't believe it when I looked down at my watch and saw that I had been in the water for over 30 minutes!!!  After the race I talked to my former coach Dave Williams of Triangle Multisport Coaching and I felt a little better knowing he was 5 min off his usual 1500 m swim time.

T1 - 1:48

The Bike (53 km) - 1:39:30 (19.9 mph)
I was excited to be on the bike and out of the water.  I suppose it was a little windy, but it honestly felt just like typical riding in Wilmington, so the wind really wasn't a big factor for me.  I felt really comfortable with the bike handling, despite wet roads & the wind.  I think I've come a long way in that department and that excites me :)  I had a few saddle issues (what else is new) which got pretty painful.  I'm on my 4th saddle and am planning on writing a blog soon about that whole process, sigh.  Regardless, I was hoping to be able to hold around 20 mph and I accomplished that so it was a good ride.  I enjoyed the course too.  It was a double loop with low traffic and smooth roads!  The ride was little lonely cause I never caught anyone and the top age group men didn't start passing me til about 20-25 miles into it, and I'll admit I was kinda happy to see them.

T2 - 53:02

The Run (10 km) - 42:31 (6:50/mi)
I was curious to see how my legs would feel on the run and they felt pretty tired.  My first mile was slow, around 7:10, but I just tried to not worry about it and settle into a rhythm.  This happened about 2 miles into it and I fell into a 6:45 pace.  I felt like I could have run a few more miles as well, so that's a good sign.  It seems like no matter what distance I run these days my pace is always 6:45-6:50.  Need to get back to the track I think!  The run course was nice, it was entirely on the premises of the Arlington Place development and there were ZERO cars!  There was a fun little off road section as well.  I passed one woman on the course, but turns out she was DQ'ed for cutting the bike course.  The woman in the lead was WAY ahead of me - like she was at mile 4 when I was at mile 1 - and looked super strong.  So no other carrots to try to chase down.  There was a little wind to content with and a few real gradual terrain changes.  Overall a nice course.

Total Time - 2:58:03 (2nd female)
This was a great race and I think more people should give it a shot.  The venue is perfect and you have the option of camping on-site as well.  It reminds me of Stumpy Creek, which was a race that I always really enjoyed, but without the crazy hilly run!  It's the perfect early-season olympic distance race.

I also have to say I'm really enjoying racing again.  I'm having a lot of fun and it feels like I'm just starting the sport again for the first time.  Lots to look forward to :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Greensboro Training Camp

Last weekend I went to Greensboro to spend the weekend training w/ my friend & bad-ass triathlete Jordan:
Yeah, she's pretty ripped & pretty fast!
It was so much fun to be back in Greensboro and spend time catching up during 12 hours of workouts in 3 days.  Jordan had a 10,000 yd swim planned for Friday and there was no way I wanted any part of that.  So I left a little later on Friday morning and got there around noon after she crushed one hundred 100's.  We hopped on the bikes and headed out towards Caraway mountain.  I was worried that I was going to be dying on the hills, but surprisingly my legs felt pretty good spinning up them.  I also felt pretty comfortable getting up some real speed going down those big hills.  We rode for 90 minutes then did a 4-mile negative-split transition run.  Again, my legs felt surprisingly spry given the terrain.  That evening we relaxed by getting bright pink pedicures and fueled up for the next day with some delicious veggie fajitas!


Saturday morning I slept in and then went to Starbucks while Jordan went to the pool and cruised through another 4,000 yds!!!  After that, it was all about the bikes.  It's kinda funny that we both used to have blue Cervelo P2's and now she has a new matte black Specialized Shiv & I've got my new matte black Felt IA - I feel like we've both upgraded and graduated, haha.  Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate so we had to start our 5-hour ride on the trainer.  Every hour we checked to see if had stopped raining, but it kept coming.  Finally, 3 hours later the rain stopped.  It was still wet outside, but we were pretty much done with the trainer so we headed outside and rode my old usual loop to round out 5 hours total in the saddle.  It was really fun and I felt like a giddy kid while riding that old familiar route :)  By the end of that ride, my legs were filled with fatigue.  That night we ate at my all time favorite restaurant (Boba House - omg soooo good), sipped a little of Shannon's homemade apple pie moonshine, and fell straight asleep.



Sunday we woke up early and got running.  We did a 2-hour loop starting on the insanely hilly Greenway that used to be the staple of my weekend long run.  It was glorious.  So many great memories of hard workouts and what a great change of scenery and terrain from flat-as-a-pancake Wilmington!!!  We got in almost 14 miles before making a quick transition back onto the bikes.  Jordan had a gnarly set of trainer intervals prescribed, but I really wanted to take advantage of riding outside in Greensboro while I was there so I decided to do my entire 3-hour ride outside.  I rode another one of my favorite loops and enjoyed the hell out of it!  I hit up every hill I could find and omg at about 2 hours into it I was exhausted.  I stopped at a country gas station (the kind where the locals all meet up for breakfast and a cigarette) for some nourishment.  "What the hell," I thought.  "I'm going to get a Moon Pie for old time's sake."  Moon Pies used to be one of my favorite things to eat on long rides.  The double decker ones have 300 calories and 55 grams of carbs - perfect for when you are about to bonk or already have.  I was sitting in the rocking chair outside the gas station eating a moon pie and drinking a Gatorade and thinking about how tired I was.  I started to wonder how on Earth I'll ever be ready for Chattanooga in only 28 weeks, doubting whether or not I'll be able to do it.  For some reason, even though I had already eaten the entire moon pie, I decided to look at the ingredients list to see if they were still vegan (aside from the gelatin) and lo and behold I saw this:  !!!!



Talk about receiving a sign at the perfect time!  There is no way anyone can convince me that this was a coincidence!!  I keep getting signs and so far all signs point to Chattanooga!  I got back on my bike and finished the final hour of the ride.  It was really windy but I felt nice 'n comfortable in my aero position.  On one of the final flat straight-aways I had a massive tailwind and I felt like pushing it for the first time on this bike.  I got up to 35 mph which was pretty exhilarating!  I can't wait for more long rides on my bike!!!  I think I've said this before, but I know I haven't even scratched the surface of what this bike can do and that thought is very exciting.  At the very least, it gives me a reason to plan another training trip to Greensboro (yeah, like I need a reason).



It was a great weekend with a great friend & I can't wait to go back.  In the meantime, if there's anyone in Wilmington who is not doing Quintiles and wants to ride 5 hours on Sunday LMK!




Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Save UNCW Track & Field 5K


Despite being one of the top performing athletics programs at UNCW with many CAA championship wins under their belt, the university has decided to cut the track & field program.  Given the talent on the team, the diversity that it brings to campus, and the importance of the track facilities to the local endurance community, it would be a major tragedy if the program was cut and the facilities were bull dozed.  Since the announcement the team, coaches, & endurance community have been fighting for the opportunity to raise money to save the program.  We have finally been given that chance!  In order to save the UNCW track & field program we must raise $250,000 by the end of May 2015.

As a supporter of all local athletes and fitness enthusiasts, TrySports Wilmington has decided to hold a 5K for those who want to help raise funds and run to save UNCW Track & Field.  And I'm super excited to announce that I am going to be the Race Director!!!!  I am pumped that my first stab at putting on a race is for such an important cause!  Here are the deets:

What:  Save UNCW Track & Field 5K

When:  8:00 am Sunday, April 26th

Where:  TrySports Wilmington at Mayfaire Town Center

Why:  Raise funds & run to save UNCW Track & Field

How:  Register online at www.saveuncwtrack.com

You can register as an individual or sign up a group of friends as part of a team.  There are timed and un-timed options available.  Prizes for age-group winners and for the fastest & biggest teams!  If you don't feel like running, you can still use the website to donate to the cause.  Anyone who donates $100 or more will have their name added to a banner of UNCW supporters that will be displayed at the track.

If you have more spare change, you can donate at the benefactor level of $1000+ which will get you a banner with your company logo or personal message that will be displayed at the track for 1 year.  The most visible and highly trafficked areas will go to the highest donors.

Lastly, TrySports is also doing a raffle for this sweet Felt Bixby Cruiser Bike:


You can purchase 1 ticket for $5 or 5 tickets for $20 either online or at TrySports Wilmington.  The drawing will be held after the race (you do not have to be present to win).

Please help spread the word about this worthy effort and get everyone you know to show up at this race so we can demonstrate how much support there is to save UNCW Track & Field!!!!

For more information on how the community is coming together to save the track, check out this story by Time Warner Cable News!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Race Report: Azalea Sprint Tri 2015

What a great race for my first foray back into triathlon!  Signing up for this race I knew it was going to be cold cause it always is, but I had a glimmer of false hope that maybe this year it would be warmer.  The big chatter leading into this race was what to wear on the bike and whether or not to put shoes at the swim exit for the long run to T1.  It was fun talking to everyone at TrySports on Friday and listening to their strategies.  The last time I did this race I didn't wear anything on the bike aside from my tri suit and I was freezing.  This year my plan was embrocation cream + winter coat + gloves + hat.  I also placed a pair of shoes at the swim exit, just in case.

The Swim (300 yd pool swim) - 4:40
I seeded myself with a 1:28/100 yds for the swim and that actually turned out to be pretty accurate.  I hit the wall in 4:17 (1:26/100 yds) as per my Garmin and for swimming twice a week, I'm pretty happy with that time.  The swim was very uneventful; I didn't pass anyone and no one passed me.  I was successful with flip-turning under the lane ropes and I didn't take it out too hard on the first 25 :)  One noteworthy comment about the swim is that SetUp has changed the start to a chip start.  This works SO much more smoothly that the previous start style where swimmers were started via a clock every 15 seconds.  I noticed much less congestion in the pool!  When the swimmer in front of you reached the first wall, you ran across the timing mat, jumped in the water (no diving allowed) and started your swim.  I jumped in really close to the wall so that I could get a push off, and it worked pretty well.  Here's a video of my swim start & my first few laps:


T1 - 1:59
After running down the stairwell of the natatorium, the door to the blast chiller opens and you run out into the arctic air and across the timing mat for T1.  I decided not to waste time putting on shoes and made the trek to T1.  My feet felt like blocks of ice by the time I got to my bike.  But I still had good dexterity in my hands and was moving quickly until I tried to put on my gloves.  Rookie mistake here - I know that the fastest gloves to put over wet hands are the cheap dollar store gloves, NOT nice Pearl Izumi winter cycling gloves!  When I started having difficulty putting on the PI gloves, I scrapped the idea and headed out on the bike gloveless.  Despite this mishap, my transition was still pretty lickety split!



The Bike (9 miles) - 26:10 [20.6 mph]
The bike was probably my favorite part of this race - it was fun racing on my new Felt IA for the first time!!!  And, with my sweet PI winter coat my core was actually warm!  My hands started to freeze off about half way into it and by the end I couldn't move my fingers.  I don't know why I thought skipping out on the gloves in 30 degree weather was a good idea... I didn't see too many cyclists out there - I got passed by 2 dudes and I passed 1 dude, so I figured I was doing ok, but not great.

Riding off to glory!
T2 - 1:20
T2 was painfully slow.  My fingers weren't working which gave me a hella time trying to take off my cycling shoes & helmet and put on my running shoes!  I didn't even bother trying to take off my jacket.  My hands were so cold I grabbed my gloves and put them on during the run (yes, probably a waste of time).



The Run (5k) - 20:54 [6:44/mi]
Unfortunately the run didn't go that well for me.  I felt like I was hyperventilating a little and couldn't catch my breath - maybe this was d/t the cold, IDK.  I looked down at my watch at the first mile and it read 6:45, and I was like you've got to be kidding me!  Only 5 sec per mile faster than my marathon pace?!  This ain't right!  haha  But I kept it moving and although I didn't get faster I was able to hold that pace for the entirety of the race.  This course had a lot of twists, turns, pine needles, & an extension cord in it which made for a more technical run course that I was expecting.  But it was fun, and as with the bike, all turns were clearly marked and had volunteers pointing out the route.



Total Time - 55:01
I was about 4 minutes slower than the last time I did this race, but hey, it was still good enough for 2nd place female, so I'll take it!  :)  I really enjoyed racing this race and I think SetUp really stepped it up and put on a great production.  For me, it's a solid start to a good season.



Next up is Arlington Place International on April 11th in Arapahoe NC.  Never done that one before and I just noticed that the bike is a 53k.  I guess it's all about the bike... right?

Friday, March 6, 2015

DZ Nuts Embrocation Cream

I was sifting through the clearance items recently at work and saw this:


and thought, "What in the world!!!???"  I thought it was some kind of warming chamois cream.  TrySports Terri laughed at me and explained that it should never be used anywhere near body parts that come into contact with a chamois.  In other words don't confuse the above for:


Turns out DZ Nuts Embrocation Cream was developed by pro cyclist Dave Zabriskie


on his quest for "freedom from water-logged tights" during inclement weather.  Embrocation cream heats up once you put it on your skin giving you the sensation of warmth.  As per the bottle it "loosens and prepares muscles for maximum exertion, as well as providing warmth, protection, and comfort during the most nasty weather conditions."  Another benefit is that it apparently gives you "that 'euro-trash' gleaming shine".

I was skeptical after hearing about all this and put it back in the clearance bin.  A few weeks later I looked at the weather forecast for the Setup Events Azalea Sprint Triathlon and after I saw that it was going to be 30 degrees that morning, I got curious and pulled out the embrocation cream again.  After reading the directions, I was sold!


I've tested it out twice so far and it works really well.  Maybe a little too well.  It seems like there is a bit of a delay between when you put the cream on and when it starts working.  The first time I tried it I didn't really feel the burn until after I was down with my workout.  The second time I put it on 15 minutes ahead of time and it did kick in during the workout, but again I felt most of the effects afterwards, especially while taking a hot shower!  It seems to last 2-4 hours.  I do really like the concept of this cream because in a cold race you do not want to stop and take time to put on pants in T1.  As an added bonus the active ingredients are plant-derived:  capsicum, the same spicy ingredients in peppers!  My plan is to put this on 30 min before the race starts and then like direction #3 says above, "Ride like a champion."  

Friday, February 13, 2015

I Got The Power!

It seems like all the best cyclists & triathletes train with power meters on the bike.  It makes sense to use power as a tool for structuring workouts and a metric for measuring performance improvements because it's constant.  What I mean is, while speed, heart rate, and RPE are all subject to variables like wind, hills, heat, and residual fatigue, power is always power.  Therefore it's presumably a much more consistent and reliable way to configure interval workouts, maintain a steady effort during a race, and monitor gains.

I've never trained with power and have been wanting to purchase a power meter for quite a few years now.  But unfortunately, I've never been able to fit one into my budget.  Given that I just purchased a Felt IA, I still can't fit one into my budget!  However, TrySports Charlie clued me into another option; a poor man's power meter... let me explain...

It's called the Kurt Kinetic inRide and the MSRP is $170.  The inRide is compatible with Kurt Kinetic Fluid trainers and, lucky me, I just happen to have one of those!!!  Actually I have to put in a quick plug for Kurt Kinetic trainers right now.  I bought this thing back in 2004 and it still works perfectly and quietly!  It's got a lifetime warranty and I have had to submit two warranty claims for pieces that wore out, but it was as simple as filling out a form and the part showing up at my doorstep.  So I'm a BIG fan of Kurt Kinetic trainers and wouldn't hesistate to buy another one, except that I don't forsee ever having to buy another one ;)


Here's a little Q & A with myself about the inRide:

How does the inRide work?  
Ok, so it's actually not a power meter in that it doesn't directly measure watts.  It measures speed and cadence at the tire and uses an esablished fluid trainer power curve to translate that data into wattage.  All of the following data is displayed on your phone in real time as you ride:  power in watts, heart rate, cadence, speed, calories burned, and distance.  You can use the app to do a general ride, intervals, or an FTP test.  It saves your workouts and you can view your history in the app, or you can upload the workouts to other platforms like Training Peaks or Garmin Connect.

How accurate is it?
I don't have the means to personally compare the data output from my inRide to other power meters.  Thankfully, DC Rainmaker as already done that for me.  He compared the inRide vs. CycleOps PowerTap G3 vs. Power2Max.  His conclusion was that after completing the 10 minute warm up calibration period, "the power accuracy is pretty spot on" and "within a couple percent in most cases."  Here is a link to his blog with an in-depth review on the inRide & the analysis he did on the 3 different power meters.  From other reading, I think it's definitely safe to conclude that the inRide is reliable - that is, as long as you pump your tires to the same psi every time and tighten the resistance wheel the same amount every time you will get reproducible results.  This is great because it means that you can do an FTP, determine your power zones, and do power-based interval workouts on the trainer.  I've started doing this and I'm pretty excited because it gives me a real way to measure my effort during trainer rides and to track progress!!!

Can you use it outside?  
The only way you could use the inRide outside is if you set your trainer up in your back yard.  Since the sensor is connected to the trainer itself, I'm still not using power for my outdoor rides.  BUT, I don't have a huge problem with this b/c 1) I enjoy riding outside because I think riding bikes is fun.  If I was staring at a watt number the entire time I think it would start to suck some of the joy out of riding.  Chances are you know people like this.  2) If you wanted to determine zones for outside all you would have to do is note your heart rate on the trainer at different power outputs and base your outdoor rides on heart rate.  3) I like the approach of using this power meter as a tool for dialed in specific workouts a couple times per week; kind of like a session at the track.

How difficult is it to set up?  
It's really easy.  Here are the steps:

1.  Plug magnetic sensor into flywheel of Kurt Kinetic Fluid trainer.

2.  Adhere the inRide sensor to the base of the flywheel.


3.  Put on the inRide heart rate monitor (included in package).

4.  Download Kinetic inRide app (available for iphone 4s, 5, & 6, as well as the ipad 3 & 4, ipad mini, and ipod touch 5).

5.  Put your bike in the trainer & start riding.  Open the app and pair the HRM and sensors to the app.

6.  Enjoy the ride and pedal along to the snazzy beat this excellent 90's song while thinking "Oh Snap!  I got The Power!"







Tuesday, January 27, 2015

It's All About The Bike (My New Felt IA That Is)


As soon as I saw Felt's IA (Integrated Aero) triathlon bike I knew it had to be my next bike.  Kind of like this:


Sexy, aero, and hella fast, it leaves nothing to be desired.  Compared to other TT bikes on the market it's simply lighter. stiffer. better. faster.  It's also pretty cool that Rinny won her last Ironman World Championship on this bike!

I rode my IA for the first time last Sunday.  I went 65 miles, but it didn't take me that long to realize that we have good chemistry.  Whereas I always wanted to love my P2 but never fully did, I felt an instant bond w/ my IA.  I can tell that it fits me way better than the Cervelo ever did.  And I just cannot believe how smooth the ride is!!!!!  Granted I've been riding an aluminum frame for the last year, but it felt like I was riding on a perfectly smooth runway that had been freshly paved just for me.  I honestly wouldn't have been too surprised if I had actually taken off!  The bike sliced effortlessly through the wind without any turbulence.  The shifting was instantaneous and precise.  Oh and of course it was fast!  There's nothing that I don't like about it.  It's a decadent bike with a velvety ride.  It's pretty perfect :)

I have to give a HUGE shout out to TrySports Bike Technician, Charlie George!!!  I'm amazed at the depth of his knowledge and the degree of skill he has pertaining to all things on 2 wheels.  I've never known someone who knows more about bikes.  Thank you for your patience and guiding me through the intricate process of putting the entire bike together!  I learned a TON and am super happy with how everything came together; in fact, I'm a little incredulous that everything did come together, haha!  Seriously, you are a bike sage!








I can't wait to put a few more hundred thousand miles on my IA and get to know it more intimately.  I know we've got a lot of fun times and fast races ahead of us and I'm really looking forward to training and racing this year!




P.S. Felt Bikes are the bomb and for those interested in the finer things in life, here are the technical specs for my bike!

Frame:  Felt IA1

Finish:  Satin Carbon (Gloss Black, Shadow)

Size:  51

Fork:  Felt Dagger UHC Advanced carbon fiber

Headset:  FSA IS2 integrated

Stem:  Felt Dagger

Handlebar:  Felt Dagger UHC Ultimate + Nano base bar w/ Felt f-Bend 3-position extensions

Grips:  Salsa black gel cork tape

Shifters:  Shimano Dura-Ace bar end shifters

Front Derailleur:  Shimano Ultegra

Rear Derailleur:  Shimano Ultegra

Crankset:  Shimano Ultegra

Bottom Bracket:  FSA BB30 w/ 24 mm spindle reducers

Pedals:  Shimano Ultegra SPD-SL 6800 carbon pedals

Chain:  Shimano Ultegra 11-speed

Brake Levers:  Shimano Dura-Ace carbon TT brake levers

Brakes:  Felt Aero Brake System with integrated cover

Saddle:  Shimano Pro Aerofuel Tri Saddle, black

Seat Post:  Felt Vibration Reducing Aero Tri UHC Advanced carbon fiber

Seatpost Clamp:  Felt Internaloc integrated w/ titanium bolts

Wheels:  Shimano Dura-Ace WH-9000-C50-CL carbon clinchers, 50 mm

Tires:  Michelin Pro4 Endurance

Water Bottle Cage:  Shimano Pro carbon bottle cage

Aero Drink System:  Profile Design aero bottle (somewhat old school, but I still dig it)