July Recap

July was such a fun and busy month for us. We had something going on every weekend this month, which is great and exhausting at the same time. The first weekend was filled with various 4th of July events. We went over to a friend’s mom’s house in historic Webster Groves for the parade the morning of the 4th. That night we went and watched Kirkwood’s fireworks. Tim and I both agreed that Webster puts on a better show. It might have been where we were watching the show from, though.

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Tim signed us up for the Freedom 4 Miler race, so we did that on the 5th. It was Tim’s first running race, and he did so good! I thought 4 miles was a little ambitious for his first run, but he powered through and we finished with a decent time! We went sailing later that day—first time out to the lake all summer. (Oops)

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The following weekend we had our friends John and Melanie’s wedding. It was so much fun. Their reception was at Third Degree Glass Factory, so we got to watch glass blowers during the cocktail hour.

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I was “Sober Sally” that night because I had to get up at 5 AM to do the New Town Triathlon the next morning.

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I finally learned how I’m able to ride a bike in a skirt. Now I just need to get a cruiser with a basket so I can ride to the grocery store.

I keep dreaming of going back to Europe. Seeing this time-lapsed video of Barcelona isn’t helping that feeling go away any time soon.

We headed to the Ozarks for a quick weekend getaway for our friend Matt’s birthday. I’m almost shocked I didn’t come home sunburnt. I did, however, come home with a couple bruises on my rear because of a cannon ball into the lake from the dock’s roof.

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Tim came running up the basement stairs one evening and told me that I HAD to watch this “All I Do is Farm” parody video.

And then there’s “12 Ways to Piss Off a Nebraskan“. I’m sure I could add a couple more, even though Nebraska and Missouri are practically the same.

Holy cow, we have vegetables growing in a small garden off the side of our house!! The basil plant seems to be doing okay (I think the sun is frying it), we have peppers coming in and we’re finally started to see the start of a couple tomatoes. We planted a few other things quite late, but the cucumber and zucchini squash has started to sprout.

I did a second triathlon this past weekend, and Tim did it too!

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This week has been busy with cleaning and prepping for a party at our house tomorrow—it’s luau themed!

—m.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.