Triathlon #4

I did another sprint triathlon just two weeks after my last one. And guess what? Tim did this one, too!

I did the Tour de Kirkwood sprint triathlon for the first time two years ago, and since I wasn’t able to do it last year I wanted to be sure to do it this year. It’s meant more as a participation event so it’s great for beginners. They don’t give out awards or prizes and don’t announce people’s name when crossing the finish line like at most other races. You can still look up how you rank against everyone online though. And even though it’s meant as a beginner’s event, it’s a bit challenging with hills on the bike AND run portion. This shorter race gives me another chance to run through the motions for transitions—especially since I may (or may not) do an Olympic distance next summer.

These two beautiful photos are provided by the event’s photographer…watermark and all.

2014KirkwoodTri_1

The swim was 400m in a 25m pool, so we had to swim down and back in one lane before moving onto the next lane. I personally don’t care for pool swims—people are so close together and it can easily get congested. However, it’s a security blanket (in a sense) for the “non-fish” people who may need to hang onto the side for a second longer.

The bike portion was 10 miles with hills. There’s one road that’s almost a fake flat, aaaaand then you quickly realize that it’s not. Oh hey long hill! The two five mile loops allow you to see a small portion of Kirkwood, which is full of cute homes.

And lastly, the run! After leaving the transition area we did two loops through the park, complete with more hills. I once again ran slower than my normal pace during this race. I went out and ran at an 8:15 pace no problem this morning, but during the race I was hovering right around a 9 minute pace. Which, by the way, is a totally fine pace…I would just prefer that I was able to be more consistent with my running. Practice. Practice. Practice.

I’m super proud of Tim for taking on this race. He hates swimming, so he didn’t swim once to prepare. He did bike and run though! Since he doesn’t care for the swimming, he said he would just do duathlons in the future.

2014KirkwoodTri_2

Next up for Tim: Pedal the Cause 50 mile bike ride and next up for me: GO! St. Louis Halloween Half Marathon

—m.

Triathlon #3

This past weekend, I raced in the New Town Triathlon for the second year in a row. It’s a challenging race (and one of the more competitive tris in the St. Louis area) but I’ve had fun doing it the last two summers. My only goal this year was to finish better than last year. I ended up shaving about six minutes off my time this years, so I consider that a success!

The New Town Tri is just shy of Olympic distance with a .62 mile open water swim, 20 mile bike ride and a 4 mile run. The swim course changed this year, which I heard a lot of the participants talking about while we waited to enter the lake. Both last year and this year’s swim portion was the same distance, but this year’s swim course was longer.  So either last year’s was shorter than .62 miles or this years was longer than that. Either way, it was longer and my time only differed by 27 seconds from last year.

NewTownTri14_1

I’m not very good about practicing the transitions, but I do run through them in my head. I definitely improved my times this year and cut my transition times almost in half! Last year, I spent 0:05:23 (5 minutes and 53 seconds) between the two transitions and this year I was able to cut that time down to 0:03:21. Obviously, there is still TONS of time that I could cut out. Prime example as to why I should practice those.

One thing I did practice and sort-of nail down was dismounting from the bike when coming in for the second transition. I’m really happy with how I did on the bike this year. It’s the worst leg of the race for me, but I also have the chance to see the most improvement here. I’m not a strong cyclist, but I was able to increase my speed and cut down my time by 5 minutes from last year. It may not seem that impressive, but I consider that a huge win to me. Oh, and I did successfully dismount from the bike without eating it. Woohoo!

NewTownTri14_2

As for the run…enter some slight disappointment here. I consider the run portion my strongest of the three, but I ran slower this year. Perhaps I went overboard on the bike? I would prefer to not think that. Maybe I’ll blame the fact that it was probably over 80 degree with 99% humidity by that point. In all realty, I didn’t run that much slower than last year. I finished that portion just 1 minute behind last year’s time so it’s not the end of the world. (But it kind of is)

Official time: 2 hours and 7 minutes. Goal for next year: Under two hours.

NewTownTri14_3

I’m doing another sprint tri in two weeks and Tim will be joining me. It’s more of a fun one and doesn’t give out prizes, but it gives me another opportunity to practice and go through the motions.

—m.

Pre-Race Jitters

NewTownTri2

My triathlon is Sunday morning and the pre-race jitters have already set in. Instead of focusing on the progress I’ve made during my training over the last 8ish weeks, all I can think about is what I should have done more of—more swimming, biked longer, practiced transitions.

I did this triathlon last summer, so at least I’m more familiar with the event overall. I haven’t invested in a wetsuit, so I’m keeping my fingers cross about the water temperature. And that I don’t eat it when dismounting from the bike. That would be embarrassing. And probably painful.

But it’s not like I’m a pro. I do it for the challenge. And because it’s fun.

“because it’s fun.”  Said like 2 people ever.

(Trying to pump myself up here.)

—m.

My Triathlon Gear & Checklist

I have my first sprint triathlon of the summer coming up in just six weeks. I was actually having a hard time getting motivated to train this year…I think taking the winter off from running really threw me, so I felt like I was in a rut. Well last week was a good training week (despite not getting in any pool time), so I’m feeling better about it already. Tim signed us up for a race next month, and we went and got him properly fitted for shoes. Should be interesting having a running buddy!

But there’s so much more to triathlons than just running, especially with the gear. Since I have only done sprint distances, I haven’t invested in some of the more expensive pieces of gear like a wetsuit. The water temp of the open water tri I did last year was above 83.9 degrees so wetsuits weren’t allowed, and the other tri I’ve done involved a pool. I’ve slowly started buying more appropriate gear, and am lucky to have a husband who gave me his old Specialized road bike so I didn’t have to buy one. My first sprint tri, I wore a regular sports bikini in the pool and then slipped running clothes on over for the rest of the race and wore my running shoes for both the bike and run. Last year, I invested in clipless cycling shoes and tri clothing (shorts and a singlet) that was worn for all three events. This year, I invested in slip-on & quick-lace running shoes specific to triathlons. I use websites like The Clymb and Active Gear Up and take advantage of their flash sales to save money. If I keep pursuing triathlon events and do longer distances then I’ll invest in some other pieces of gear, but for the sprint distances nothing fancy is needed.

tri_gear

1. 2XU Singlet—I love the half zipper in the front for when I got hot, and there’s a pocket in the back to store race fuel. I prefer a singlet withOUT a built in bra.

2. Canari Tri Shorts—My Canari tri shorts are super comfortable. There’s just enough padding to help with the bike portion, but still minimal enough to run in without it interfering. There’s a drawstring to tighten the waist and leg grippers so the shorts stay put.

3. Speedo goggles—I never swim without them.

4. Fuel and Race Bib Belt—Attach race fuel and your bib number before the race so you can just slip this guy on during the first transition (T1). It will save you time from having to pin your race bib on.

5. QuickGrip Camelbak Water bottle—The pouch is the perfect size to hold your keys or race fuel, and the water bottle is insulated!

6. Zoot Ultra TT 6.0 shoes—I love these shoes. They have a snug fit with plenty of room for my toes. I can slip my feet in and they have elastic laces that I can simply pull on to tighten, so I won’t have to spend time tying anything.

7. Specialized Road Bike—I don’t recommend using a mountain bike for these types of races, but I have seen them used. This is the bike I’ve used the last two races—a Specialized Allez Elite Double. It was actually Tim’s, but after he purchased a new bike for himself a few weeks ago this one became mine. Though the tris I’ve done haven’t had any intense hills (just minor ones), this bike has a third set of gears to help conquer hills. Because I just do sprint distances, there’s not much of a need for a triathlon-specific bike or one with tons of bells and whistles…unless you are really going for the win.

8. Giro Trinity Helmet—I wanted a white, sporty helmet that didn’t break the bank and this is just what I was looking for. It has a dial system in the back to adjust the fitting.

9. Pearl Izumi Gloves—Gloves with good padding makes gripping the handlebars for long rides much more comfortable. Plus they add a bit of extra warmth on cool mornings.

10. Shimano Cycling Shoes—The velcro straps allow me to easily slip on and take off the shoes. MTB cycling shoes have tread on the bottom of the foot (vs smooth for road shoes) so they’re easier to walk in. These fit me really well and I’ve never had a problem with any discomfort.

My Full Race Day Checklist
Swim cap—normally provided in race pack
Goggles
Tri shorts
Singlet
Bike
Seat post/flat kit bag and pump—comes in handy incase of a flat during the bike portion
Helmet
Cycling gloves
Sunglasses
Clipless cycling shoes
Socks
Race number belt
Towel(s)
Running shoes
Water bottles x3—my bike has a spot for two bottles, plus one for the running portion
Fuel during race—things like GU, Shot Bloks, energy bars, etc.
Bucket—carry everything in it when you arrive and then use it as a stool for putting on shoes
USAT License Number

Other Items to Consider
Sunscreen
Wetsuit (if water temps allow)
Extra bike tubes
Body glide
Ear or nose plugs for the water
Sports Watch
Hat or visor
Recovery items—food, Ibuprofen, a change of clothes and shoes

There is definitely a need to make a checklist for these kinds of races! Forgetting any one of those items could make for an unpleasant race experience. I’ve picked up on things (like using a bucket) at different races and have added/subtracted items to my list. Besides a wetsuit, getting a different bike saddle (seat) would be next on my list of items to purchase if I pursue longer distances. Who wants to ride a bike for a long distance on an uncomfortable saddle? Not me!

—m.

My Running Gear

Pretty much all of my friends and most of my coworkers know that I run on a regular basis and partake in organized race events, and a few have even asked me what “gear” I use. I really don’t use anything special—no fancy heart rate monitors or crazy expensive running shoes. I prefer to carry at little as possible on me when I do run, as I’m sure most runners do. I don’t even carry my phone on me. That is unless I’m going somewhere like Castlewood where I could potentially injure myself enough to have to make a phone call. The main two items (other than my clothing and shoes) I run with is a water bottle and an iPod Nano That’s about it. I’m a no-frills kind of person.

Everyone has different preferences on what to wear and take with them when they run, so exploring those options yourself is definitely recommended—especially with shoes! The items below just happen to be what I use.

RunningGear2013

1. Fitted Running Shoes: I feel like this is a no brainer, but not everyone may think or feel so. Go get fitted for proper running shoes. No, not from a big box store like Sports Authority or Dick’s. Go to a local running shop or speciality store. It’s free. The only cost is the shoes. These people are there to help you find the best shoe for your running style, foot/arch type, stride, etc. My favorite place here in St. Louis is Big River Running Company. I just purchased my third pair of running shoes from them. The last two pairs I used were the Nike Lunarglide 3’s and 4’s, but I just switched to the Mizuno Wave Inspire 9’s. I only have about 12 miles on them, but so far so good.

Last note about buying shoes: Put aside any thoughts about how good looking or cute or colorful a pair of shoes is. Go with what feels right. I was trying to decide between a pair of Brook’s running shoes with awesome colors and the Mizuno’s I got. In the end, I got the Mizuno’s because of the fit even though I liked the look of the Brook’s better.

2. Running Attire: Have you ever heard the phrase “Cotton is Rotten” ? Well it refers to how cotton shirts are super absorbent, which results in sweat collecting to create soggy shirts. Now I sweat A LOT when I run, but I always wear “tech” shirts. I still sweat through my tops (ew, I know), but they wick the sweat away from me, they’re breathable and help keep me cool so I’m not being weighed down by a soaked shirt. During the summer, I go to places like Kohl’s or Target for warm weather gear. I know I’m going to sweat no matter how (in)expensive a shirt is, so I hit up sales. However, cold weather gear is a different story. I do buy the more expensive, name-brand gear for my heavier stuff. Training for a half marathon this past winter in 20 degree weather with 15 mph wind was not fun. I recommend Nike’s or Under Armour’s cold weather apparel for that time of year. Gear for your ears and hands are also important during the cold months.

3. iPod Nano & Nike+: I have to listen to music while running. It helps with my pace and distract me from whatever is sore. I use the Nike+ system to keep track of my mileage, pace, calories, and time. I’ve considered buying a GPS watch, but haven’t quite made that leap yep because the Nike+ does a good job of keeping track of what I want to know. Because I am not currently using Nike running shoes, I use have a small pouch connected to one of my shoes that holds the censor. I don’t care for the arm band to hold my iPod, so I just clip it to my bra strap right under my top.

4. Water Bottle: I never go for a run without my Camelbak water bottle. I even take it on races with me. A couple of years ago, I could never get past the 5K distance. Heck, I even struggled with that distance. I realized that I needed to be hydrating during my runs. There are different types of water bottles and hydration systems (like these belts with two or four small water bottles,) but I prefer the hand held kind. I see plenty of people not take water bottles on runs with them, which is fine if your body can stand it, but I will always be in favor of using one.

5. Road ID Bracelet: The Hubs had mentioned to me several times about wanting a Road ID bracelet to wear while he goes on bike rides, so this past Christmas I ordered him one. Then we ordered myself one. For us, it’s a security measure to know that if something were to ever happen to us while out running or on the bike and we were to somehow get knocked unconscious, our Road ID bracelets will have emergency contact and medical information on it. I think any active person should consider purchasing one. I actually wear mine 24/7 now. You can customize each line (up to 5 lines) of information on your bracelet. I recommend including any of the following information: your name, city/state of residence, birthday, two emergency contact phone numbers, blood type and medicinal allergies.

6. Pepper Spray: Yes, pepper spray. Or even another type of self-defense mechanism. All of my running is done outdoors, and 99% of the time it’s early morning. It’s not that I don’t feel safe running on the trail that I do (because I do feel safe), but let’s face it….I am a young female. Who knows what’s creeping out there. In all honesty, I’m not so much worried about a person jumping out from behind a bush (there actually aren’t many places to do that where I run), but what I am concerned with is stray dogs. I’ve actually experienced two instances with stray dogs where I was legitimately scared as to whether or not I would get bit. It’s a really scary feeling. I don’t know if pepper spray would help a situation like that, but I feel safer having it than not. The handheld Camelbak water bottle I use has a pouch where I tuck my pepper spray every time I go out.

So that’s my list. Nothing terribly complicated. Every person is different, so have some fun and take your time finding what works best for you.

—m.

Image sources: Running Top / Shorts / iPod / water bottle / bracelets / pepper spray