September 18, 2013 on 1:01 pm | In Community, Races, Random Musings, Sponsorship | 1 Comment
This fun blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Scott Perrine, who is about to compete at the inaugural Ironman Lake Tahoe.
All history ties the roots of Triathlon back to San Diego, CA in the early 1970s, but after spending the last two years in the San Francisco Bay, and on Alcatraz Island completing some concrete restoration work, I believe Triathlon may actually have its roots tied to Alcatraz. There is even a Triathlon named Escape from Alcatraz which I competed in this year.
Not possible you say? A simple look at the history of Alcatraz and the attempted escape of John Anglin, Clarence Anglin, Frank Morris and Allen West shows many similarities to Triathlon and multi sport. While a prison escape is obviously not a sport, there is a lot of preparation and dedication required for both, even some failed attempts along the way.
Start with the preparation. John, Clarence, Frank and Allen began their planning and preparation in September of 1961, eight months before their attempted escape. They spent every minute allowable planning and working towards their escape. Many of us that race long course competition dedicate eight months or more to training. We focus and plan for the event, training for the worst and hoping for the best. We spend countless hours focused on that specific event, sacrificing time with friends and family, sleep, etc.
They created tools to chip away at the concrete in their cells; we continually develop new “aero” equipment to make us go faster. They designed wetsuits utilizing raincoats to survive the swim through the San Francisco Bay; we continually develop wetsuits utilizing the latest technologies in neoprene to get us through the water faster.
The night of their escape they crawled through the openings they dug in their cells, climbed up through the service corridor to the roof and out to the Northeastern side of the Island and jumped into the water, that is a lot to go through just to go jump in the water. At the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, you get up early in the morning and head to the race site, set up your transition, get onto a crowded bus and ride over to the ferry, crowd onto the ferry and head over to the Island, then everyone jumps off the ferry and off you go. Adrenaline is racing as you jump off the boat, imagine what is was like for the guys that night in 1962.
They jumped into the water in the darkness of night during the incoming tide, fighting the currents and the cold. Some of their belongings were found washed up on the Shore of Angel Island the next morning. We jumped into the water during the early hours of the morning sunrise with an outgoing tide, had to cross three different current flows (as well as fight all the other competitors) and a majority of us swam (some washed up) onto the Shore in front of the St Francis Yacht Club.
A few other similarities:
- Allen West was unable to fit through the hole he had dug into the wall of his cell and never made it out to meet up with the other three. The first DNS (Did Not Start)?
- The other three were never found. The first DNF… we will never know?
- The FBI closed their case against the three 17 years after they escaped. In Ironman competition they close the finish line after 17 hours?
While the original Escape from Alcatraz was not a triathlon in any true sense of the meaning and I have taken some great liberties tying them together, it is fun to compare true history to activities we enjoy in our daily lives. What triathlons have you done where you can intertwine history with the event in this type of manner? Give it a try and see how creative you can be…. It will definitely help you get through some of those “dark holes” we sometimes go through during our training and racing!
September 11, 2013 on 9:37 am | In Community, Races, Random Musings, Sponsorship, Training | 3 Comments
This blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Nicole Ramsbey. Check out her blog at www.nicoleramsbey.com and follow her on Twitter – nicoleramsbey.
I raced a sprint tri the other weekend and was not in peak form to say the least. I managed to perform, and perform not too badly, which led me to thinking about a few things. One of the things I started thinking about was how much of triathlon is physical fitness and how much is mental fitness? At this point in the season when you may be approaching your ‘A’ race, now’s the time to figure it out.
I guess my first thought was, how many people, when they reach a tough moment, give in to the negative Nancy talk? I hit many negative points throughout racing, but rarely do I “give in” to those thoughts. Say you are coming up on a big hill during a sprint tri, you’re maxing out your heart rate and you get halfway up…what’s the first thing that you typically hear in your head? Is it, “I can’t do this anymore, I have to walk”? If that’s a typical thought process for you, how do you respond to it?
If you respond by giving up the race in your mind and walking, then I’d have to say your mental toughness might need a swift kick in the @**. I may get this thought once in a while, but I immediately counter it with a positive thought. During the sprint tri, I had my own mental battle, but I won. Every time a negative thought comes to mind, I always attempt to counter it with a positive. Last weekend when I hit the hill, I had to remind myself that I can do anything for a mile. My responses are almost automatic now, and if yours aren’t they will get to be that way if you continually work at it.
I’d say mental toughness is at least half of triathlon…if you can’t handle the mental stuff then the fitness won’t matter. Even though you may not be physically fit, if you are mentally fit going into a race, you can still do well. Imagine the day that you are physically AND mentally fit…you can OWN that day like no other. Don’t short change yourself, and remember it’s not always about how many miles you’ve logged.
August 1, 2013 on 3:25 am | In Races, Random Musings | 1 Comment
This fun blog brought to you by Team TriSports athlete Liz Miller (who also happens to be a geologist). Check out her blog at www.femwnliz.blogspot.com and follow her on Twitter – FeWmnLiz.
What factors do you consider when signing up for races? How close the race is to where you live? Or whether the race destination would also make for a good vacation? Most triathletes like to plan and give careful consideration to every race that we sign up for, but sometimes even the best-laid plans can get sidetracked. Just in 2012, the Oschner Ironman 70.3 New Orleans swim was cancelled due to unsafe water conditions, and the bike course at Boise 70.3 was shortened to just 12 miles due to SNOW on the course (in June!). Some of the pro men even rode in their wetsuits, due to the 47 degree air temperature! But the chance of cold weather or choppy water isn’t the only thing that you should consider when signing up for your next race. I’d like to propose another factor to consider – geology! I know this is a triathlon blog, but how about we “switch gears” and talk some science.
I should preface this blog post by pointing out that geology has indeed affected some Ironman races in the past. Just 6 days before the 2006 Ironman World Championship race in Kona, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the island. Reports say that in the days before the earthquake hit, Kona was unusually hot and humid, and in the days after the earthquake, the area got slammed with torrential downpours. On the day of the race, skies were overcast and winds were light – a beautiful day for racing. But, at about 7:20 PM, a torrential downpour happened on Ali’i Drive. Some athletes had to wade through knee deep water just to make it to the finish line. Within an hour the downpour had stopped and the water receded. So earthquakes really can affect your race, even if the quake doesn’t actually happen on race day!
Now, in order to determine which races are safer (geologically speaking), we need a quick geology introduction. The Earth’s outer shell is made up of plates which are constantly moving. Most geologic activity occurs as a result of the interaction between these plates. There are three types of plate boundaries:
1. Convergent boundaries are boundaries where plates collide. At these boundaries, plates are colliding to form mountain ranges, or one plate is diving down beneath the other plate in a process called subduction.
2. Divergent boundaries are boundaries where two plates are moving away from each other. Magma can rise to the surface at divergent boundaries, forming new crustal material.
3. Transform boundaries are boundaries where two plates slide past each other. As the plates slowly move past one another, pressure builds until the plates rupture in one big movement, causing an earthquake. The San Andreas fault in California is a transform boundary and is responsible for the frequency of earthquakes in California.
Here’s the United States Geological Survey’s simplified map of plate tectonics; the red arrows indicate plate direction. Arrows pointing towards each other represent convergent boundaries; arrows pointing in opposite directions represent divergent boundaries; arrows that are side-by-side represent a transform boundary.
The other geologic hazard that should be considered before registering for a race is hot spots – the kind formed by liquid hot magma, not the painful ones on your feet at the end of a marathon. Hot spots are areas where magma is able to make its way up to the surface and form volcanic features. The Hawaiian Islands are one of the best known examples of hot spot volcanism – these islands have formed as the Pacific Plate moves over the Hawaiian hotspot. AND hot spots can also experience seismic activity. In the image below, the Hawaiian Island chain is visible in the center of the picture; this chain has formed as the Pacific Plate has slowly moved over the Hawaiian hot spot.
Now, let’s compare the geologic maps to TriMapper’s map of Ironman races around the world.
The Australian races are probably safe. Australia sits on a large plate of its own, and the plate boundaries are a significant distance from the continent itself. Ironman New Zealand could be problematic – the plate boundary runs right through the north and south islands! The earthquake that hit Christchurch in 2011 was in February, and Ironman New Zealand is typically early March. Japan is also at risk, since it is located on a plate boundary. In 2011, a very large earthquake hit Japan, causing tsunamis, structural damage, and a nuclear release. I wouldn’t want to be racing in that environment! Additionally, Japan has historically had some of the largest earthquakes, causing the most damage and casualties.
Most of the North American races are in the clear, except for Ironman Canada – Whistler is located near the triple junction of the North American plate, Juan de Fuca plate, and Pacific Plate.
The Ironman races in Mexico aren’t looking too promising – Cabo San Lucas is near the triple junction of the North American plate, Cocos plate, and Pacific plate, and Cozumel sits pretty close to a plate boundary too. In fact, the United States Geological Survey calls Mexico one of the world’s most seismically active areas. But further to the south, Ironman Brazil looks to be in the clear, since Brazil is located near the center of the South American plate.
Ironman South Africa and Lanzarote are both centrally located on the African plate and are probably safe bets.
Some of the European races might be a little risky – Ironman Wales and UK are probably far enough away from a plate boundary, as well as Ironman Kalmar and the Ironman European Championship. But Ironman Switzerland, Austria, and France are getting a little close to the Eurasian and African plate boundary.
So, out of 29 Ironman events worldwide, at least 8 Ironmans are located at or near plate boundaries. That’s nearly 30%! Not to mention the fact that the Ironman World Championship race is located on an island that is still being formed by an active volcano. I certainly won’t complain about making it to Kona one day to race, but in the meantime, I might stick with the North American races (or convince my boyfriend to buy a plane ticket to Australia…).
Here’s a map of all the Ironman 70.3 races – I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which races are safer than others!
July 9, 2013 on 10:28 pm | In Product Information, Random Musings, Training | 2 Comments
This blog brought to you by TriSports Team athlete Scott Bradley. Check out his blog at www.scottbradleytriathlon.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter – scottbradley11.
When I walk into transition on race day, I am amazed at some of the things I see. I’m pretty sure that there are several people who come into transition with a tent in their backpack as if they are going to hang out for a few days. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but seriously, I do see lots of people bring in huge, plastic buckets of gear and I think to myself “What am I forgetting?” No…really what I’m thinking is “How could one person actually use all of that stuff in one day?” What it boils down to is this: by bringing all that stuff that you don’t need into transition, you are cluttering the area and actually slowing yourself down during the race as you try to sort through all your gear.
Saving space comes with practice and growing accustomed to what you actually need during a race. As you race more you become more confident in your practices by finding out what works and what doesn’t work for you. These are things you can practice on your own though, to find out what your essential items are. It may seem silly, but you can solve this problem with a few dress rehearsals at your house or a park. Set up a little transition area with the items you think you’ll need in the driveway or in your trunk. Run in as if coming from the swim (you can pretend here or put your wetsuit on if you want to practice getting out of it), practice T1, and head out on your bike. Then ride for a bit, come back and do the same thing for T2 before heading out for a short run. What items did you bring that you didn’t use? Don’t bring them to transition for your next race and give it a go without them. I would bet you’ll make it through the race just fine, your transitions will be faster, and you’ll be happy at the end of the day when you aren’t lugging as much stuff back to your car.
If you think about it, what do you really need? A wetsuit, goggles, a helmet, your bike, sunglasses, your race bib, bike shoes, running shoes, some nutrition (depending on the length of the race), and maybe some socks and a hat. You probably won’t need extra socks, an extra top or bottom, three sets of goggles, an infinite amount of nutrition, towels, extra shirts, four spare tubes and tires, etc. That stuff will just get in the way and slow you down.
This brings me to the other place for saving space…your bike. I always find it ironic that people will spend literally thousands of dollars on expensive bikes and race wheels to make their bikes are super aero and to shed a few hundred grams. Then on race day, they put gels and nutrition all over the frame, creating tons of drag, and then carry enough stuff to stock a small local bike shop. Again, ask yourself the question “What do I really need?” You can help yourself out here by finding out what is available on the course and using that if it is something you are comfortable with. If not and you want to use your own, that’s completely fine, but how much extra do you need? Practice your nutrition plan and carry what you’ll use and not the extra 1500 calories your stomach couldn’t process anyway. How much fluid will you actually need? Carrying that extra bottle or two adds a lot of unnecessary weight if you can grab something at an aid station on the course or if it’s a shorter race and you won’t need more than a bottle or two. How many extra tubes, CO2, and tires do you really need hanging off the back of your seat?
As triathletes I think we are paranoid by nature. We imagine the worst will happen on race day and prepare for it by stocking enough nutrition for a six hour ride, four flat tires, one of our hats not working properly, and our tri shorts needing to be replaced half way through the race. I always try to take the minimalist approach to setting up my bike and transition area. Only items that I absolutely need and know I will use get brought in on race day. I’ve learned the essentials through practice and thinking back to what I really need to get me through as fast as possible and to set myself up for the best race I can manage.
June 8, 2012 on 1:11 pm | In Announcements, Life at TriSports.com, Random Musings | 1 Comment
Construction for the new TriSports Tempe store is on the home stretch. With just a couple weeks to go, all final preparations are coming into play. It is funny, today I was reminded that TriSports was in fact the first triathlon store to ever enter the Phoenix area way back in 2003 with the launch of our first expo at a race that would eventually move on to be the now popular Soma Triathlon. I remember seeing the store manager of one of the local bike shops (the now defunct Bicycle Showcase) looking quite shocked at the lines outside of our expo setup while no one was at his booth. Soon after he quit his job and eventually started Tribe Multisport (he sold this operation about a year ago). So, coming back full circle, we are opening up our store across the street from the location of our first full blown expo at the Tempe Mission Palms. It is good to be bringing TriSports back into the valley in a more permanent fashion. See everyone soon!
May 9, 2012 on 1:53 pm | In Announcements, Life at TriSports.com, Random Musings | No Comments
Construction is moving along rapidly up in Tempe on the new store. We took what we have learned at our Tucson location and teamed up with Architekton to accomplish one small task – take the greatest triathlon retail store on the face of the planet and make it even better in Tempe, and oh, yeah, keep sustainability at the forefront of the project. Our general contractor, Caliente Construction , is now well on the way to getting us moved in by the end of June, 2012. Here are some pictures of the progress.
April 23, 2012 on 10:46 am | In Fat Tires, Life at TriSports.com, Random Musings | No Comments
This past summer I did quite a bit of crazy riding to get ready for the Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race. One of the guys that I trained with was Paul “PT” Thomas. This conversation took place about 16 hours after the finish of the Leadville 100 Mtb Race (August 13, 2011) between me and PT (who subsequently went 7:13, a blazing time especially at the young age of 41).
Vangina – the name of Paul’s VW Euro Van
Noreen – Paul’s wife
Debbie – Seton’s wife
Molino – A basin about 5.5 miles up the famous Mt. Lemmon climb in Tucson.
Sabino – A popular walking/running/cycling canyon in Tucson.
PT: How do the pistons feel?
SC: Feeling good, I just got back from an easy ride up to Molino Basin. It was a bit warm.
PT: I am actually motor pacing behind the Vangina as I write. I told Noreen to keep it between 45-48 mph.
SC: Just got back from my run. Kept it easy, just two repeats up Sabino. I had to run on the road because it was getting dark.
PT: Interesting….I don’t want to make it seem like I am one upping you, but Noreen ran outa gas after 3 hours of motor pacing. We are fixing up a cabled harness and I am going to ride the Specialized, pulling the Vangina 30 miles to Deming.
SC: That sounds similar to my experience earlier today. Our plane ran out of fuel right after we landed so I volunteered to hop our and pull that bitch to the gate.
PT: I am way too familiar with runways. I once had to tow a plane up to speed that needed help as it was carting the space shuttle Challenger back to Florida….not to “one up” you though.
SC: Yeah, I remember that, they had me on that mission hooked up to a power bike to provide aux power for the shuttle.
PT: Sorry for the delay in responding…I was pre occupied with taking the lug nuts off with my bare hands. Noreen thought I should rotate the wheels as the Vangina was pulling to the left a bit.
PT: F#*c….after all of that manual labor, we figured out it was not the wheels, as now it is pulling to the right. I switched my one legged drills from left to right leg.
SC: Damn, I am spent. There was a creaking under the house so I had to lift it off the foundation so Debbie could have a look underneath. Turns out it was just noise from my one-arm clap push ups I was doing.
(2:26 PM next day)
PT: Just read this one. You are the winner as I am laughing hard!!!!!
April 1, 2012 on 10:13 am | In Announcements, Random Musings, Tech Tips | No Comments
Tucson, AZ (April, 1, 2012): TriSports.com, the world’s premiere triathlon store, announces its patented new leg shaving technology known as Hybrid Shave Technology. After 2-years of research and development using wind tunnel, CFD and real world data, the engineers at TriSports.com have released their findings. Seton Claggett, who earned his Master’s in Hydrology from the College of Engineering at the University of Arizona, says “we have been using this proprietary shave method with our athletes for years but as we have grown as a company we know that for the betterment of the sport and in light of great customer service that we should reveal our research to the world.”
The Hybrid Shave Technology uses a scientific approach to removing leg hair on cyclists and triathletes to improve aerodynamics and speed. “The experiment,” says Tom Demerly, one of the chief investigators on the project, “was performed over many conditions and using many different shave patterns and what we found was that using basic aerodynamic principals of laminar boundary conditions coupled with muscle formation resulted in the ideal real-world power conversion on the bike.”
The final testing came down to analyzing the real world results of 1) Hairy Leading Edge Legs, 2) Full Shaved Legs, and 3) Short Stubble Leading Edge Legs (the Hybrid Shave Technology). Full hairy legs performed exponentially worse than the three chosen tests. The results are shown in the diagram above. “It was amazing how superior the performance was using the Hybrid Shave Technology”, said Claggett, “the power savings were staggering. It is amazing how basic aerodynamic principles such as using the Navier-Stokes equation and Reynolds numbers to estimate the boundary layer conditions of a hairy legs work in wind tunnel and real world testing.”
The results have shown an actual average power savings of 10 Watts over distances greater than 30k (compared to a full hairy leg and almost 6 Watts over a fully shaved leg). Over a 112 mile relatively flat course with little wind the TriSports Hybrid Shave Technology will save you about 6 minutes. “6 minutes”, says Claggett who used the Hybrid Shave Technology at the 2011 Ironman Arizona, “is a ton of free time, especially if you are trying to get to the finish line as fast as possible.” Claggett consequently won his age-group by a mere 45 seconds. “You can spend hundreds of dollars on an aero helmet, thousands of dollars on aero wheels and an aero bike, or you can use the TriSports Hybrid Shave Technology and get the same benefits – do everything and you are all-in.”
A video showing actual footage of the TriSports Hybrid Shave Technology
Conclusion: Hold off as long as you can during the season to get the training benefit of hairy legs and then shave them just before your “A” race. The results of the TirSports Hybrid Shave Technology speak for themselves, so when you do shave, use this method if you want to optimize aerodynamics.
February 15, 2012 on 12:14 pm | In Random Musings | No Comments
The Emerald Health Triathlon, Ohio, 1985 or ’86. A half Ironman. That’s what they called them before “70.3’s”.
Time has distorted the memory in some ways, sharpened it in others.
The race unfolded across open farmland on smooth roads. Even though it was a major event there were only about 200 competitors. The “pro” field was three men. A lithe foreigner with a vaguely Anglo accent, favored to win. A tan man from California and a boy with a red tri suit from whom we expected little.
The sun was out. Dust from farm fields blew on breeze that gathered early. The swim was inconsequential. Empfield wasn’t around yet. We didn’t have wetsuits yet. I had been racing every weekend and had good form. We spread out quickly among the top athletes on the bike course. After the first twenty minutes I didn’t see anyone on the bike course. “Volunteers” stood at corners to direct us. They were spectators really, local farmers whose plots butted up against the roads. They watched more out of curiosity than concern for competitive outcome.
The race unfolded, the wind picked up, it got warmer. I recall being about twentieth out of the bike to run transition, that’s what we used to call “T2”.
The run was out and back, 6.5 miles each way. Good. We could get a look at who was in front of us. A mile and a half before the turnaround the kid in the red trisuit was coming back toward me. He had about eighteen minutes on me. Hmm. There was a big gap, then the foreign pro. He was fit but he looked in distress on the run, his face twisted like a forgotten fig bar. The third pro followed at a more reasonable interval.
How did that kid in the red trisuit get so far out in front?
The race ended. I don’t remember how I did. I got a plaque with green writing on it at the awards ceremony. Hanging out at the little host hotel a debate was raging between officials, race directors and the kid in the red tri suit. He had an older man with him too. Apparently the boy had won the race, but been relegated for missing a turn on the course. The other pros were adamant since there was an unprecedented $500 prize purse on the line. There was no way this kid could have won. He was only 15 I think.
A jury of sorts was assembled. An inquisition was held. Questions and accusations flew. The boy was fiery and determined to argue his case. The others were dismissive of his performance. Finally it was determined that if each of the marshals could confirm the boy completed the course his win would be bona-fide. If any volunteer did not see the boy in the red tri suit pass, he would be relegated. The survey began.
“Yeah, well… I seen him comin’. He went through here first.” The first farmer said. The survey continued. The final farmer told the officials, “Well, that boy came along before we was set up. Just puttin’ up our table to watch. He came tearin’ through here in that red suit. It was a long time ‘fore we saw anyone else.”
The other pros were deflated. The result stood. The boy in the red tri suit was awarded the check. He left in a businesslike manner.
When the results were mailed to us I saw the boy’s name at the top: Lance Armstrong.
February 10, 2012 on 11:18 am | In Employee Adventures, Product Information, Random Musings, Tech Tips | 2 Comments
There aren’t many products that I gush about, but I have found myself more than once in the past few months on the sales floor gushing to a customer about the Saucony Kinvara. I had been a long time Mizuno Wave Rider wearer, but after my last 70.3, the first thing I did was take off my shoes. My heels were once again blistered, my feet ached, my shoes were soaking wet and seemed 5 pounds heavier. It was time to find a new pair of running shoes.
I headed to the TriSports shoe wall and consulted with one of our expert shoe fitters. I wanted a light weight shoe with good drainage, enough cushion to run an Ironman marathon, and a lower heel-to-toe drop (around 4-6mm). I tried on the Brooks T7, the K-Swiss Blade Light, and the Saucony Kinvara. Right away the Saucony’s were noticeably different. The shoe’s upper was soft and flexible, free of unnecessary decorations, and allowed for good ventilation. The heel cup was also very pliable and securely wrapped around my narrow heel. With 4 mm of drop between the heel and toe it was the perfect shoe for transitioning to a more minimalist style of shoe.
Fast forward 5 months and I still love my Kinvaras. I am well over the “300 mile limit” and the shoes still feel like they did when they came out of the box. If you are in the market for a light weight trainer/racer with a low profile, try out the Saucony Kinvaras, and if you need a stability shoe, try the Fastwitch. Happy running!