STOPP Poor Transition Times!!

By Debbie
June 30, 2015 on 3:51 pm | In Community, From the shop, Nutrition Tips, Product Information, Races, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team athlete Lori Sherlock. We’re at that point in the season where it may be hard to drop much time on your swim, bike or run, but what about your transition? Often an afterthought, Lori gives us a few tips to help gain some free time. Follow Lori on Twitter – @tightcalves.

Transition is known in triathlon as the 4th discipline for a reason.  It can allow you to gain time on your competitors or allow your competitors to gain time on you.  These 5 simple steps, plus a properly packed transition bag, can help you to streamline your transitions to make them faster and more efficient.

Transition area

Simplify your Transition

Put a lot of forethought into your transition and don’t put out anything that you don’t need. Including items that you are not planning on using will only elongate your transition times.  You should make all of your decisions prior to your race and mentally review what your T1 & T2 will look like.

Organize

Your transition area should be a well-organized area with everything readily accessible to you as you are coming out of the water or moving from bike to run.  Using a small towel, or transition towel, to mark your spot is always a good idea.  Get a towel that is bright and unique to help you recognize your transition area and set it apart from everyone else.  All of your necessities should be placed in the order you plan to use them to eliminate any confusion from your transition.  Think TYPE A PERSONALITY when you are setting up your transition area.

Organized area

Plan

Every step in transition should be a well-thought-out plan.  This will allow for great execution come race day.  As you are nearing the finish of the swim leg, picture what your transition area will look like and what you need to grab, put on, or eat.  As you are coming to the end of the bike leg you should be thinking about what your next step will be.  Don’t think too far ahead…that can be overwhelming and deleterious to your race performance.  Use mental imagery just as you are finishing each leg to prepare yourself for what is next….bike….run….FINISH LINE!

Practice

As our parents, teachers and coaches have always told us:  practice makes perfect!  This motto rings true about transitions, too!  There is a reason that we call this the 4th discipline!!  We take time to build our fitness, practice our swimming, biking and running, we should also be putting in the extra time to practice our transitions.  The clock doesn’t stop for transitions, so this can end up being time lost in our race.  When you are practicing your transitions, try to mimic EVERYTHING EXACTLY AS YOU WOULD DO IT ON RACE DAY.  Set out your transition towel, your bike shoes, run shoes, socks, helmet, sunglasses, nutrition, gloves, whatever you plan on using for the next A-race so that when you get to your transition you know exactly what you want to do and the order you want to do it.  Consider this “free time” for your next triathlon.

Packing Your Transition Bag:

When you are packing your transition bag, go through your checklist of what you will need from swim-to-bike-to-run.  The amount of stuff that you load up your bag with will probably be dependent upon what distance race you are doing.

A well-packed transition bag

For a sprint triathlon, you should only need the basics:  pre-, during- and post-race nutrition, goggles, swim cap (usually provided by the race but take one just in case), Aquaphor or BodyGlide, bike, cycling shoes (& socks if you choose), helmet, sunglasses, extra tube and the tools to change it, water bottles, running shoes, race belt and hat/visor, Garmin or heart rate monitor (if you train with them).

Olympic/International distance races may require a little more…but not too much.  You would want to add on to your nutrition volume and maybe a wetsuit or speedsuit for the swim.

A half-Iron distance race is going to require a bit more planning and a lot more nutrition.  Your transition bag should include: pre-, during- and post-race nutrition, goggles, swim cap (usually provided by the race but take one just in case), wetsuit or speedsuit, Aquaphor or BodyGlide,  possibly cycling shorts (depending on comfort on the bike), bike, cycling shoes (& socks if you choose), helmet, sunglasses, cycling gloves (for comfort), spare tube x 2 and the tools to change it, water bottles, running shoes, tri shorts if you want to change, race belt and hat/visor, Garmin or heart rate monitor (if you train with them), salt/electrolyte tabs.

Iron-distance races are a whole different ball-game.  Though there are transition areas, your gear is usually in a bag that you have to go through at T1 & T2.  This makes it even more important to plan as you normally turn your bag in the day prior to your race….so check and double check that all of your necessities are in the bag before you turn it in.  Everything that you need for the half-iron distance you will need for the Iron-distance plus a bunch more nutrition and maybe a few more ‘comfort items’.  You will also need a pump (unless you plan on using one provided at the race venue or borrowing one from a fellow competitor) and maybe some chain lube if you want to freshen up your chain before you take off.  You should probably be wearing your racing kit…and maybe some slip-on shoes that could be tossed if the walk to the swim entry is a little rough.  You may also want to pack some post-race clothing or something warm if the weather is threatening.  If you feel like you need someone to go over your list with you can check out www.racechecklist.com

After compiling this load of stuff into one HUGE transition bag, you will need to organize it perfectly at your race site.  Rule of thumb:  DON’T BE A TRANSITION HOG!  Only use the space directly in front of or next to your bike (depending on transition set-up) so that you don’t infringe on another competitor’s transition space.

Race-to-Race Just in Case Bag:

This is a zip-lock bag that you keep stocked and in your transition bag for all of those just in case moments.

-          Small pair of Scissors

-          First Aid supplies (Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, tape)…just in case

-          Black Sharpie Marker

-          A copy of your USAT card

-          Safety Pins

-          Sun Screen & Lip balm

-          Aquaphor or BodyGlide

-          Extra Nutrition

-          Clean-up kit (travel size soap, wash cloth, deodorant, comb or brush)

-          Extra race belt

-          Extra goggles (one thing that people have a tendency to forget a little too often)

-          Duct tape/black electrical tape

-          Empty water bottle (another frequently forgotten item)

Skin Cancer and the Endurance Athlete Community

By Debbie
May 4, 2015 on 3:34 pm | In Community, Product Information, Random Musings, Sun Protection, Sun Protection | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports friend Barry Baker. With the amount of time we spend outside, under the bright sun, we need to be way more careful that I suspect most of us are (myself included). Follow Barry on Twitter – @BrahmaBarry.

I really enjoy the people and the training we do as endurance athletes in Tucson.  We are blessed to have so much great weather to swim, bike and run!  We are also a very high risk group for developing skin cancer because of our hours of training under the Arizona Sun (editor: Although Barry references Tucson and AZ, we felt this topic applied to endurance athletes everywhere and was relevant to share with everyone).

In the US alone, 5,000,000 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer in 2015.  150,000 of those will be the deadly form of Melanoma.  10,000 will die.  I have been diagnosed and treated for five melanoma cancers and many other non-lethal skin cancers. Each surgery was invasive and sidelined me, but I caught each one before they had metastasized.

Melanoma collage - consult a doctor if a mole changes in size, shape, or color, has irregular edges, is more than one color, is asymmetrical, or itches, oozes, or bleeds.

Most skin cancers are preventable through precaution.  Treatment and excisions are less invasive and more successful the earlier skin cancers are detected.

Arm sleeves, leg sleeves, brimmed hats, and good sunblock are all effective measures.  Getting checked by a dermatologist once per year is mandatory!   We are a weird group in that we get to see a lot of each others’ skin – don’t be afraid to tell a friend to get a suspicious looking mole checked out or offer some extra sunblock if you see someone turning pink.

Have anything suspicious checked out by your doctor.

We earn our fitness and some of us (not me) really create amazing bodies as a result of our hard work.  Finding skin cancers late can result in invasive, disfiguring surgeries that can sideline you and impact function.  In some cases, it can be the fight for your life.  Takeaway – be smart so you don’t lose what you have worked so hard to build!

So, enjoy your training in the sun, but use precaution and get checked!!!

This PSA has been brought to you by Buzzkill Barry Baker – seriously, check out the the U of A Skin Cancer Institute for more information.

Barry being sun safe!

Bike Repair for Triathletes

By Debbie
April 21, 2015 on 11:26 am | In Community, From the shop, Product Information, Random Musings, Tech Tips | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Team athlete Becky Bader. Let’s face it, as a whole, triathletes are pretty miserable at maintaining our own bikes. Becky gives us a few tips to help prevent the roadies from laughing at us. Check out Becky’s blog or follow her on Twitter – @becky_bader.

Before transitioning into iron distance triathlon, I spent many years racing bikes and occasionally working at bike shops in between jobs that some might consider to be more related to my Ph.D. When I quietly told my bike racing friends and fellow bike shop employees that I was moving to triathlon, I immediately prepared myself for the barrage of jokes related to poor bike handing skills and an inability to do something as simple as changing brake pads. I wish I could say that my years in triathlon have demonstrated to me that most triathletes are incredibly adept at maintaining their own bikes and that my bike racing friends were wrong in their perception. But no, I cannot say this, and I admit to being embarrassed for triathletes everywhere at some of the conversations about bikes I have overheard in the transition area before the start of a triathlon.

We, of course, all have to start somewhere. I was fortunate enough to be taught how to ride by a former professional cyclist who, on the day that I purchased my first road bike, suggested to me that I had better get to a bike shop and figure out how to change a flat.  I completely blew him off and then cursed his name as I took a slow walk of shame back to my car in my bike shoes after getting my first flat.  So I went to the shop, purchased a set of tire levers, had the mechanics show me the best way to get a tire on and off of a wheel in order to replace the tube, and then practiced until I could change a flat in minimal time. I always suggest to beginners or novice triathletes that they take the time to ask a bike mechanic for a quick how-to lesson on things they might need to know out on the road.

Don't be left walking home

Many years, many bikes, and many bike shops later, I have come a long way from just being able to change a flat, and I can now build and maintain my own road and triathlon bikes. Contrary to popular belief, a vast amount of expensive tools are not necessary to get this done, and a complete set of hex wrenches can go a long way. As a rule of thumb, everything should be overhauled at least once per year (chain, cables, housing, and tires).  If you are putting in some heavy mileage, I suggest investing in a quick chain checker, such as the Park Tool CC-2, to better gauge when you may need to replace the chain. This will save you from having to additionally invest in a new cassette more frequently. If you do need to change the chain, this is potentially the easiest do-it-yourself thing there is. You will need to invest in a chain tool; I use the Park Tool CT-3.2.  After this purchase, changing the chain becomes somewhat self-explanatory.  Simply press out one of the pins from the chain you are replacing with the tool, remove that chain, replace the chain, and insert a new pin using the tool again.  Bear in mind that when you purchase a new chain, you will most definitely need to remove several links before putting on the new chain (all you need to do is compare the length of the new chain to the existing chain).

Moving on to the internal routing of cables. Yes, I am willing to admit that this is a huge hassle, but still completely doable. I recommend ordering a complete set of cables and housing that is a little bit higher end rather than using what is available stock at the bike shops.  Shimano and Jag make great products that will keep you shifting cleanly for the entire year.  Although cable cutters are obviously available at Lowes and Home Depot, the ones that are bike specific (such as Park Tool CN-10) will serve you much better. The key to internal routing is to take a string or dental floss and attach it to the end of the cable. If you do this to the old cable, you are left with a string that can be used to pull the new cable through the frame. Alternatively, you can simply attach the string or dental floss to the end of the new cable and then pull that through the frame using a vacuum cleaner (be careful other holes in the bike are at least partially sealed). As for the housing, simply try to cut close to the length of the housing that is being replaced.

Attach string to your old cable before removal and have an instant guide for your new cable!

Once the cables and housing have been replaced, getting things to shift correctly can be a tad more complicated. To set the front cable, simply put the shifter in the little ring and pull the cable as tight as possible before tightening the anchor bolt with a hex wrench. For the back, do the same, but then try to slowly shift up to the next biggest cog. If this does not occur, you are going to need to turn the barrel adjustor 1/4th of a turn counterclockwise until shifting occurs (make sure the barrel adjustor is fully turned in before tightening the anchor bolt). Repeat this process for the next cog, and eventually you will be back to a smoothly shifting bike. Slap on some new bar tape, and you are ready to roll.

I will add a word of caution that if you continue down this path of maintaining your own bikes, you may someday end up with a dining room where the table has been turned into a mount for an axle vice for changing free hub bodies, and a living room where bike parts, tools, and bike part manuals cover every available surface. Good luck in keeping everything running smooth this season!

Kitchen table vice (make sure to use your place mats properly!)

Living room workshop

Tri-ing to Fly With a Bike (or Flying to Tri With a Bike)

By Debbie
March 23, 2015 on 3:53 pm | In Community, Employee Adventures, From the shop, Product Information, Races, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments

This blog brought to you by former TriSports Champion Dan Dezess (former only because his wife now works for us and he gets all the benefits of being part of the team, anyway!). With the race season upon us, many people spend a ton of time researching how to travel with their bike. Ship it? Fly with it? Bike transport? Here’s one man’s experiences flying with his bike.

I love triathlons and I love to travel. Who doesn’t? Now put the two together and it could be a little intimidating, frustrating and, not to mention, stressful! Questions about how the bike will fare under the scrutiny of TSA inspections, how much it costs to ship and the horror of “what if something happens to it between point a and point b?” race through one’s mind.

I have done a few “fly-aways” throughout the years and each time I think I have it mastered, I learn something new.

The first time I flew was for the 2010 Big Kahuna Triathlon in Santa Cruz, CA.   I had just bought a Velo Safe Pro-series Bike Box from TriSports.com. I packed it with care, making sure that nothing could move which could damage the bike. Flying to San Francisco was fine. Coming back, however, I found that the company outsourced by TSA to inspect baggage did not re-secure the tool bag I had packed in the box. Lesson learned – do not put excess items in the bike box!  What if it had shifted during the flight or handling and had damaged the bike? Shudder!

TRI ALL 3 SPORTS Velo Safe Pro Series Bike Case

In July of 2011 while packing for Ironman Racine 70.3, I felt like I had a handle on the travel thing. Again the box was packed with care, foam padding and all. After some thought, I also decided it couldn’t hurt to place a nice little note inside asking them to please re-secure the items and thanking them for keeping us safe. A little kindness could go a long way.

All was well until I boarded the airplane. As I sat down and looked out the window, I saw, much to my horror,  the airline baggage handler grab the box (which was upside down on the cart) and flip it end over end onto the conveyer belt, landing on its side and up into the airplane. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I dreaded what I would find upon landing.

Those dang baggage gorillas!

We arrived in Detroit and I anxiously made my way to baggage claim. I found the box and opened it. The bike was fine, but the wheels were no longer secured.  The end result was a nick in each race wheel about the diameter of a pencil eraser. I immediately went to the airline baggage office to file a claim, but was told that I needed to do that at the home airport.  Fortunately, I was able to patch the wheels with fiberglass filler. Meanwhile, my wife and I researched what we needed in order to file a claim. We had all of our ducks in a row, or so we thought.

Back in Tucson, we went straight to the airline baggage office to file. To make a long story short, the airline denied responsibility despite the fact that we had photos showing the box being mishandled.  They stated they were not responsible for damage done due to my lack of making sure it was safely packed. Lesson #2 learned – pack your wheels in wheel bags, or a separate wheel box,  and do not expect the airline to pay for damages.

Playing it safe with a Wheel Safe

Determined to finally master the art of traveling with a bike, I invested in a wheel box and decided to fly non-stop from a larger airport nearby to lessen the number of times the box would have to be moved, and thus reducing the chance of it being man-handled. At baggage check in Phoenix, on the way to the 2012 Ironman New Orleans 70.3, I was happy to see that the workers recognized that it was a bike box and knew it contained fragile cargo. Finally a problem-free trip!

After New Orleans, I read about a product called Albopads in a triathlon magazine. They are re-useable pads with Velcro that you attach to the bike frame during transport.  I decided to ditch most of the worn Styrofoam padding in favor of the newer, less bulky pads.

It's like the snowsuit on the little kid in "A Christmas Story," only for your bike!

I used the same non-stop flight strategy to travel to Ironman Steelhead 70.3, again with much success. Flying conquered. Piece of cake!

Just when you think you know it all, though, something happens.  I checked in for my flight for the Rocketman 70.3 in Orlando. Not quite a non-stop flight, as it stopped in Saint Louis, but at least we got to stay on the same plane.  All was well until my wife and I had to stop near where over-sized baggage was manually inspected. I was rummaging through my backpack when I overheard the TSA baggage inspector tell the other inspector, “We have a HAZMAT.”

Being a firefighter, I knew what HAZMAT meant and was a very alarmed. I looked over and them standing around my open bike box. Oh no. I wracked my brain trying to think of what I could possibly have packed that could cause such panic. What if the airport was shut down? Yikes!  It turned out it was the CO2 cartridges. They are apparently banned by the FAA from being transported on aircraft.  I had never heard of that before, but now I know not to pack them. Ever.

Just when you think you think you have the game figured out, you get thrown another curveball. Live and learn. I can deal with all that, though, as long as the bike gets there safely!

The Age Grouper’s Holy Grail

By Debbie
March 3, 2015 on 10:49 am | In Community, Nutrition Tips, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by Brooks Vandivort, former TriSports Champion and current TriSports fan. They say “you are what you eat,” but are you really giving your diet the attention it deserves? Read on to learn the importance of eating right while training.  Check out Brooks’ blog and follow him on Twitter – @TriBrooks.

So you bought a bike, running shoes, a Speedo and more GU, Clif bars, and Honey Stinger gel than you can handle. You probably have downloaded several training programs or might even have a coach. You have read the books, blogs, and magazine articles and slowly your body has responded to become a fit age group triathlete. You probably have a full-time job, family, other hobbies and a busy schedule, but the triathlete in you wants to be even better this season. So what can you do to see a noticeable increase in fitness and performance without killing yourself in training or distancing yourself from your family?

Brooks being a fit age group triathlete

Whatever you call your daily eating habits: fuel, diet, food, sustenance, it is probably the single biggest variable you can change in order to perform at the next level. Let’s face the facts. We wouldn’t run a race with one shoe or ride our bike with the front brakes engaged, so why do we continue to hold ourselves back by eating a poor diet? I’ll be the first to admit that diet is my biggest problem in preparing for my season. To borrow a few boxing terms, my “walk around” weight is 177 lbs. My “fighting” weight or racing weight is optimal at 165 lbs. I’m 6’2” and race in the male 40-45 age group. To the average person I look fit and to many I look a bit too much on the skinny side, but as a triathlete I know that I can be doing a much better job at what goes into my body.

Remember when you first started out in the world of triathlon and training was literally a workout? You had to push yourself to roll out of bed or mentally psych yourself out in order to finish that 5 hour bike ride, but now after a few years, training is a way of life. The same thing can happen with your diet. Make what you eat a way of life. If you are not already doing it, incorporate more fruits and vegetables along with lots of water into your daily routine. I know this is the same advice that you have probably heard a million times, but it really does make a difference. Most, if not all, age group triathletes are never going to run five minute miles or average 28 mph on the bike, but with proper daily nutrition we can begin to shave off those precious seconds that can move us to consistent podium finishers. A couple easy tips to follow that will help you on your way to feeling and racing with more energy and strength:

1. Have a food log. MyFitnessPal is an easy and free website and app that allows you to track what you are eating and drinking. Seeing the amount of calories you are taking in really sheds light on either your good or bad habits. It also tracks your workouts and weight.

2. More frequent small meals versus less frequent large meals. Given the amount of time spent training, frequent small meals really just make more sense, as well as being a better way to fuel your body. Most of us have some combination of two disciplines that we train for everyday and need to be able to fuel the body in order to maximize our training time. Small meals allow for a nice boost of energy without causing that sluggish feeling.

More small versus less big meals

3. The last tip is probably the most important, but also the hardest to accomplish. Make your diet just as important as your training program. Seriously, most us obsess about what workout(s) we have planned for the day, but most of the time think of eating as the thing we do so we don’t die! This season plan your meals just as carefully as you plan your training and I guarantee you will see results. Good luck and keep your wheels on the road!

An Interview with a Future Triathlete

By Debbie
February 24, 2015 on 2:32 pm | In Athlete Profile, Community, Races, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments

This blog brought to you by Meredith Yox, TriSports Champion and super-mom. Youth races are popping up all over, but what do you tell your young’un when they ask you about it? Here’s your chance to let them hear about it from the perspective of another kid.  Check out Meredith’s blog and follow her on Twitter – @cabullydogs.

Sydney Yox is a nine year old fourth grader who, after three years of competitive running and swimming, decided to try her first triathlon last August. The following is an interview conducted with her after completing her first triathlon.

Sydney Yox pre-race

Why did you decide to try triathlon?

When I saw my Mom do all the triathlons and she told me how it was and how she did, it sounded fun. Then my Mom asked me if I wanted to try a triathlon since I had gotten comfortable on a two wheel bike, and I did.

How were you feeling before your first one?

I was feeling really nervous. I was trying to focus on one thing at a time and how it would all work out. How I would run and what it would be like to do it all.

Did you have any plan before the race?

My Mom told me to focus on one thing at a time. The swimming first, then focus on the biking when I was on the bike, and then focus on the run during the run. So that’s what I did.

How did you feel when you finished the swim?

I didn’t have a cramp, and I didn’t feel tired. So I said to myself, “Okay.  Focus on the bike now!”

How was transition?

It was really hard because I was all wet, and it was hard to dry off and get my helmet on over my pony tail. It also was really hard when I came back because someone had put their bike in my spot.

How did you feel on the bike?

I didn’t feel too bad.  I didn’t feel tired.  But I was scared because there were bumps in the road, and I was scared I would fall. But I was able to do it.

Once you made it to the run what was going through your head?

My body was saying, “You’re almost done.  You’re almost there!  You haven’t stopped yet, and you haven’t slowed down.  You’re almost at the finish, and you can do it!”

Sydney killing it on the run (and sporting a 2XU Girl's Active TriSuit)

How did it feel to cross the finish line?

I felt really good because I had just completed my first triathlon! I was really tired, and my throat was sore from breathing too hard. I felt proud of myself when they gave me my medal.

What’s your favorite part about multi-sport events?

I really like the biking because it’s easier than the swimming and running.

Now that you have completed one triathlon and one duathlon what’s next?

The SuperKid triathlon in Santa Cruz, CA.

If you met another kid who was thinking about doing a triathlon what would tell them?

Don’t be nervous, you’re going to be great! It’s actually really fun!

Sydney post-race with her Mom and 6 year old sister Kylie, who competed in the 6 & under division

Editor’s note: Is your child interested in trying a tri? TriSports has a whole lot of kid-specific gear. Check it out here!

Eye Care Needs for Triathletes

By Debbie
February 17, 2015 on 2:27 pm | In Community, From the shop, Life at TriSports.com, Product Information, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Steve Rosinski. We frequently think about protecting things like our head, but how often do you think about protecting your eyes? They’re kind of important. Learn some tips from Steve, who isn’t only a pro triathlete, but an Optometrist, as well! And you thought your schedule was busy! Check out Steve’s blog or follow him on Twitter – @steverosinski.

As a Doctor of Optometry I think about the eyes a lot! And being a Professional Triathlete I think about Triathlons probably even more!  With both of them being such an integral part of my life I want to share my thoughts on the importance of eyewear – whether sun or prescription, goggles and even contact lenses.

Let’s first take a look at sunglasses.  Sunglasses are in every triathlete’s bag of essentials when it comes to training and race day.  They not only make you look extra cool with the latest colors, shapes and designs, but they also protect our eyes from the wind, rain, and dust that we encounter on the road or trail.  If you are not wearing sunglasses or even clear lenses when it is cloudy, I would strongly suggest that you do! I have, on more than one occasion, taken a bug to the face descending at over 50 mph only to have it smack my sunglasses, therefore preventing disaster. As an eye doctor I have had to remove small pebbles, insect parts and have treated people for corneal abrasions (tree branches to the eye) because of similar episodes when people weren’t wearing proper eyewear.  And let me tell you, the eye is highly innervated with nerves, so anytime something gets in there it is painful – don’t let that happen to you…wear your glasses!  Some suggestions for eye wear would be photochromic or “transition” lenses that change depending on the light levels.  They have lenses that go from clear to a grey for people riding at dusk/dawn/wooded areas.  They also have lenses that start at a light grey and go to a dark grey as the sun becomes more radiant.  Popular sunglass companies for triathletes are Tifosi, Oakley, POC and Bolle.  Fortunately many sunglasses can now have prescriptions put into them, from single vision to bifocals (for those ages 40 plus that need to see both distance and your bike computer). For prescription I would recommend going to your local eye care provider where they can put your prescription lenses in the frame correctly.

Wear your sunglasses!

On another note, for those who are active, there is the option for contact lenses.  I am a huge believer in contact lenses when used appropriately. Contact lenses give you freedom and an extra field of view compared to glasses.  But…I still recommend wearing sunglasses when biking and running (to protect the eyes).  Contact lenses are a medical device so they need to be fit by a proper professional and not over worn.  With over-wear you will predispose yourself to eye infections which can be potentially blinding.  Most contact lenses these days do a great job with oxygen transmissibility (the ability of the contact lens to allow oxygen to get to the front part of your eye), which can help reduce the risk of infection compared to contacts of years past.  Most contacts are either a 1- day, 2 week or one month lens. There are contact lenses for people with near-sightedness, far-sightedness and astigmatism, but have even developed them for those who need bifocals.  I am a huge advocate of 1 day contact lenses (wear them one day then throw them out) – I wear them myself. Not only are they convenient – you don’t have to clean them – but most importantly, they are the healthiest option.  One day lenses are great for part-time wearers, allergy suffers and swimmers. I would not recommend swimming in contact lenses in general, but if you are going to, you might as well use the best option with one day lenses.  I especially point out swimmers because people who swim with contacts, whether in pools or open water, are predisposed to an infection from an Acanthamoeba. This infection is a very painful and vision threatening one. So in general, don’t swim in contacts, but if you do, only wear one day contacts and throw them out after use.

You then ask, “if I can’t swim in my contacts what can I do?”  There are companies that actually make prescription swimming goggles. The goggles work well and you can see with your prescription in them – now maybe you won’t run into the pool wall!

TYR Tracer Corrective Optical Goggle

Best of luck this season and if you have any questions contact your local eye care provider!

How Old Am I?

By Debbie
February 3, 2015 on 12:01 pm | In Community, Random Musings, Sponsorship | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Karin Bivens. She got a late start in triathlon, but she’s tearing it up! Join her as she breaks down the confusing age group assignments in various sports. You may just end up more confused! Check out Karin’s blog and follow her on Twitter – @konakarin.

This past year was an “age-up” year for me! I was so excited and looking forward to being the youngest in the new age group which, in my case, is F70-74.  For all of the sanctioned triathlons and duathlons, I would race in my new age group since they have you race whatever age you will be as of December 31st of the current year.

In addition to my multisport events, I signed up for a number of running races, cycling races and swim competitions.  In the running races, however, they have you run the age you are on race day, so in all the running races for which I had registered that occurred prior to my birthday, I raced in the F65-69 age group.  Of course, it was very frustrating to know how much higher I would have placed in the next age group (although occasionally there was an exception where there was some “ringer” in the next age group), but running races do not use the age-up rule.

All smiles, even though she has no clue how old she is!

Like triathlons and duathlons, in official cycling races, you supposedly race your age as of December 31st, as well, unless you race in a “Cat” ranking; however, in a Time Trial which I did in February, results show me in the F65-69 age group even though my US Cycling license has me as F70-74, a mistake perhaps, but it didn’t matter this time as I would have won in either age group.

Swim competitions get complicated.  I did swim a USMS meet last January and asked the official which age group I would be racing under. I was told for that particular event, I raced my age on race day since the event was in yards! If the event had been in meters (International), though, then I would race in the new age group.  In checking out swim competitions online, I found that even this varies as some meets (even those in meters) still had you race your age on race day. Another interesting aspect was that if the swim meet covered more than one day, some races had you race all the days at your age the first day of the meet, while other had you race all the days at your age the LAST day of the meet.  Are you confused?  I sure am!

In the Senior Games and Senior Olympics that I found, they tend to have you race your age as of December 31st no matter what sport you compete in.

It does make it easier to race at the same age for the whole year, especially when it comes to annual rankings.  Plus it is a lot less confusing for races you do before your birthday in a year in which you move into a new age group. Moral of the story? Check closely to be sure that you are correctly registered for the appropriate age group when racing and realize that not all competitions have the same age rules.

Winner, winner!

No More Belly-aching!

By Debbie
January 12, 2015 on 12:00 pm | In Community, Nutrition Tips, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion Monica Pagels. Unexplained tummy aches? Wondering if you can go gluten-free as a triathlete? Tune in and hear what Monica has to say!

Ever feel like your body just won’t cooperate during a workout? Maybe you just feel sluggish, or maybe feel muscle pain or fatigue, or maybe you’ve had that all too embarrassing intestinal discomfort while out on the run. If you’ve been a runner as long as I have (30 years and counting), you have experienced it all!  But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if our runs could all be just as good as that one magical Fall long run in the woods when everything felt perfect and easy, and you remembered why you loved to run?!

Magical fall runs

Recently, my running, and fitness in general, went from bad to worse. In June, I was at the top of my game, having just completed my first Ironman in Coeur D’Alene, and by August I was suffering from extreme fatigue and muscle pain during my runs. Many said it was a delayed reaction to the IM, and to just ride/run through it. By October, my running was suffering even more, I was falling asleep during the day, my belly ached, and I suffered extreme headaches. Never before had I felt this bad for this many workouts in a row! Something had to change! By January, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, which is an auto-immune disorder where your body attacks itself upon ingesting the protein gluten (wheat).  The cure, go figure, is to eliminate gluten from your diet… easier said than done, coming from the pasta-loving queen and post-race pizza crave!  We have all done crazier things, I thought, to improve our performance, so why not give it a try. Within 4 weeks, my everyday symptoms of fatigue, stomachaches, and headaches had all but disappeared, I had lost almost 10 pounds, and imagine my delight – I could finally run under 8 minute-mile pace again! Now, almost a year later, I continue to see improvements in the way I feel and how my body performs during workouts and races…and recovery!

What?! No more of this??

Could your workouts use some improvements? Are you darting off into the woods for those emergency bathroom stops? Giving up gluten may be worth a try! You do not have to be diagnosed with Celiac disease to have an intolerance to gluten. Admit it, we, as triathletes, love our pasta, breads and pizza! Could we have consumed it in such excess that our bodies now punish us? When I first gave up gluten, I thought it would be challenging to stick to the diet. I quickly realized that it is not what you are giving up, but what you are gaining instead!  I turned to much more whole and natural foods such as fruits, vegetables and long grain rice. I also love chicken, and have even come up with my own black bean burger recipe! Yes, I have become quite the pro in the kitchen, from peanut butter balls with chia seeds and red maca powder, to quinoa and apple energy bars, to beet and zucchini muffins! The benefits far outweigh the challenge of foregoing that fine micro-brew I used to cherish after a marathon (gluten-free beer is pretty decent, by the way)!

Gluten-free CAN be tasty!

Give the gluten-free life a try and see how it improves your performance, as well as your overall health. You will be amazed at the results, and your body will thank you by completing runs bathroom-stop free and begging for more miles!!

For terrific gluten free recipes or a list of gluten free foods, try the following websites:

Or, to hear more of my gluten-free journey and how it may help you, feel free to message me on Facebook!

The Best Thing about Triathlon

By Debbie
January 5, 2015 on 12:00 pm | In Community, Random Musings, Training | No Comments

This blog brought to you by TriSports Champion George Cespedes. What is the best thing about triathlon? The fitness? Being able to eat whatever you want? The competition? Read on to learn what George thinks, and I think he’s onto something! Follow George on twitter – @georgecespedes.

We humans like to be part of a tribe. We have evolved to ascend to the top of the food chain, so to speak, by banding together in tribes, and through cooperation and shared experiences, built great civilizations and exist as part of many communities.

Triathlon is one such community that I love being a part of. Triathletes are awesome people. While we often find ourselves solo on long training rides or runs, or swimming endless laps in the pool with only the sound of our own labored breath in our ears, we do this to be a part of special niche in society. We share a love of testing our physical and mental boundaries, of following a training plan and the satisfaction of finishing a race.

As competitive as triathletes can be in training, racing and even life, they are also each others’ greatest cheerleaders, supporters and partners in pain.  We all know what it takes to get from the swim start to the finish chute and we love to celebrate the accomplishments of others.

Celebrating the finish - together

There is no bigger crowd gathered than around midnight of that epic race…you know the one I mean. Watching the last finishers stagger under the giant finish line clock to hear, “you are an Ironman,” somehow invigorates us all.  We race to be fit, to beat our previous finish time, to test ourselves, but we celebrate our fellow triathlete competitors’ accomplishments as happily as our own.

Crowds at midnight

Through my years as a triathlete, I have had enjoyed seeing the race kits from many different organizations and wondered what drives them to raise money for this cause or that person. I have raced for the Melanoma Research Foundation for the past two years and have just joined team Blazeman to race for ALS. I know, personally, that it gives meaning to the training time spent away from my family, the aches and pains that follow, and the tough miles out on the course. I am not just doing it for myself, for bragging rights, but to make a small difference in the world and give back to society in a meaningful and mutually beneficial way.

Another big reason I love being part of the triathlon community is because of how diverse it is. People from all walks of life, ages, and abilities make up the sport and triathlon community. I love meeting triathletes at different events across the country. Being a member of the TriSports Champions team has given me the opportunity to meet so many of these unique and wonderful people. We are all out there racing for our own reasons, but we share a lot of the same experiences and goals.  I follow my teammates and friends to see how they are doing and I know they are doing the same for me. We want everyone to have a good race, to have a PR, to finish, because beyond our competitive fire is a shared passion for the sport and we know what it takes to finish, even if you are the last finisher.

Diversity is the name of the game

Being part of the triathlon community has enriched my life in so many ways.  It’s about so much more than being really fit, new PRs, finisher’s medals and swag bags, though. The best thing about triathlon is the triathletes!

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