A Couple of Long Bricks

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I just got back from a 5 day marathon of wedding festivities for my sister and Borsch. It was so much work but so much fun. I am super behind on posts. Hopefully my Gear West Du race report will be up in the next day or 2. It went really well.

Last week's long brick by the numbers:

Temperature: nearly 90 degrees
Humidity: 30%
Number of miles ridden: 72
Number of miles run afterward: 4.5
Number of water bottles consumed on the bike: 7
Number of water stops on the run: 1
Number of NUUN tablets: 4
Amount of Chocolate milk consumed before hitting my door: 2 cups
Number of pounds lost despite all of those liquids: 1.5
Number of times I almost got killed on the bike: one - I was headed down hill and had a green light. The guy in the opposite direction decided to make a left turn. I screamed, slammed on my breaks, and popped out of my pedals, and managed to miss being hit by just a couple of feet.
Average on the bike: 15.2 mph- I need to get this up if I'm going to succeed at Liberty. I know the 6 detours (3 out, 3 back) on my bike trail didn't help the average, but I need to see better...
Average min/mile on the run: 9:10. I'm hoping for at least sub 10s for Liberty.
Length of nap that ensued afterward: 1 hour
Number of sunscreen applications: 3 - had to keep the tan lines in check for Steph's wedding!

Today's Brick:

I met Steve's swimming buddies at Square Lake for our second OWS of the year. The water is warming up quickly - it was 74 degrees today, WAY ahead of where it was last year. Steve drove us out there, and we brought my bike along so that I could get in some hills. After my 56 minute swim, I changed my clothes, slathered on a lot of sunscreen, and waved goodbye to the gang. The plan was to ride out in the the Stillwater area before taking the Gateway 25 miles to get home. At mile 5, I hit a small bump in the trail, and I heard a huge noise. I stopped and saw that my rear water bottle cage had fallen off. Closer inspection revealed the the screws holding it together had snapped off. I had 65 miles left to go and knew I couldn't just leave the bottle cage, the water bottle, and my emergency pack out on the trail. After some creative shuffling, I managed to jury-rig my pack and cages onto my aero bars and shuffle all of my food, keys, phone, etc onto one side of my top to make room for the extra water bottle on the other side. It was a little annoying, but it did the trick.

My legs felt a little heavy from the 5 hour dance marathon on Saturday at Steph and Jon's wedding, but I was happy to be out there with such beautiful weather. The Liberty course is pretty hilly, and I was trying to find lots of them today. At mile 35, I was on my way down a HUGE hill when I hit a small crack in the road and heard a loud noise. I knew it was my tire. Turns out it was my back tire. Boo. I blew a hole right in the side of the tube. It must have been a combination of the speed and the bump because there was no visible damage to the tire, just the tube seam... It wasn't until I got the new tube in that I realized that my old bike pump is no longer functional. I had to wait around for 5-10 minutes until someone with a pump rode by. The lady seemed a little annoyed that I didn't have a pump (I tried to explain that mine just wasn't working), but her husband was super helpful and had it inflated in no time. Thankfully, the next 20 miles were pretty uneventful. At first, I was bummed about all of my mechanical snafus, but then I realized that it could have been so much worse. I can fix the cage before Liberty. I'm so thankful that it didn't wait till the race to snap off. Also, when I flatted, I did it in a well-traveled bike area. I very easily could have done it 25 minutes earlier when I was on a low bike traffic road. I may not have finished my ride if that had happened. It was a gorgeous day, and I even made a friend on the way home! I passed a guy with about 13 miles left, and when he kept up with me, we started talking. It turned out that he only lives a mile from Steve and me, and we pushed each other all the way home. I'd like to get in a few hard workouts yet this week, then it's taper time! Goals for liberty to come. They're a little lofty...

So Freaking Excited!!!

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I have been sworn to secrecy for the last couple of days, but today it's official - I made the Evotri team! I am so excited and wanted to tell EVERYBODY, and now I can. I feel so honored to be picked from such a talented group of applicants. I know they had a tough decision to make.

Of course I am going out of my mind thinking of all of the amazing gear that this appointment will mean. I'm curious to see what having better equipment and a coach will do for my training and race times. I am looking forward to learning so much more about myself and the sport.

I may be equally excited, though, to have a bigger platform to share one of my passions - getting more people into the sport. One of my objectives as part of the team will be to cater to people thinking of taking up multisport and those who are very new to the community. I'd like to show people how to get more friends and family involved in addition to providing a resource for newcomers.

When I ran my first marathon in 2000, I knew one other person who had run one. When I participated in my first tri in 2004, I personally didn't know anybody who had ever done one. I have made so many mistakes over the years, and I hope that other people will be able to learn from them - just as I hope to continue learning through my new teammates.

Back in the Saddle

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I had the most fantastic weekend. After a beautiful spring, the last two weeks have been super cold and rainy, and I lost so much motivation. This weekend was sunny and gorgeous. I finally got my gardens planted, and I had great workouts.

Saturday, I met up with a group of 7 other bikers to ride the Liberty Half Iron Distance course. Most of us will be doing the race in four weeks. The sun was shining, the lilacs are still blooming, and the hills were calling us. It reminded me so much of the IM WI course - the green farm country, the hills, and all of the other bikers we saw out there. It was one of those rides where you're just so thankful to be out there. My friend Jess rode the first loop with us. She will be doing her first duathlon next weekend, and I asked her to come along to get a feel for the course since it will be similar to our du course. She just bought her bike a couple of weeks ago, and even though our ride definitely was not beginner friendly in terms of hills, she did great and got a lot of practice shifting :) I am so excited to be able to cheer for her at the finish line of Gear West du!

After Jess left, we headed out for a second loop. I got to chat with Sarah, Amy, Nat, Matt, Adam, and a woman and a guy whose names are escaping me (sorry!). Sara, Amy, Nat, and Matt are all training for their first Ironman in Wisconsin this fall, and once you get me talking about Ironman and tris in general, I can't stop! I got to talk to Sara the most before we lost the shoulder on our road and had to ride single file. All of the talk about Ironman made me really excited to head out to WI in July for WIBA. Including the "extra credit" Jess and I got for missing a turn on the first loop, my ride totalled 59 miles. I thought about tacking on an extra mile for that even number but had to get back to gardening... I don't often get to ride with other people, and I had so much fun. I think the hilly tempo rides I have been doing are paying off. I felt really strong on the hills, and though I was plenty hungry by the time I was done, my legs still had gas in the tank. I'm hoping to get in at least two 70+ mile rides before Liberty.

Today I went on a long(ish) run with my friend Haley. She'll be doing her second half marathon next weekend. We talked strategy for her race, caught up on life, and enjoyed another lovely day in Minnesota. Nine miles flew by before we knew it. I'm so proud of her. She has come a long way since her first race in January, and I'm really excited to see her smash her previous time.

Next weekend will be my second duathlon of the year. Gear West Du is an intense course with a deep field. Then it will be full speed ahead for my sister's wedding. June and the tri season will be here before we know it!

Things That Kept Me Motivated This Winter - My New Tri Suit

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Well, as I mentioned in my race report for last weekend's duathlon, I've been sporting a new tri suit lately. I wore it in last weekend's du to see how it would hold up so I didn't get any nasty surprises for longer races coming up. It was part of my Christmas present from Steve (and Outside PR) along with the Piston tights that I talked about a couple of weeks ago. I've been getting a lot of questions on what to wear for upcoming races from friends and blogger buddies, so this is a good chance to review some of my racing "outfits" over the last couple of years and talk about the pros and cons of each one.

Swimsuit Only:

I did my first tri in 2004. I was a broke college grad student married to another broke college grad student. I'd already dropped a boatload of money on a bike, a helmet, and some race fees, and I didn't have the dough to go out and buy fancy clothes too. I was 23 years old and didn't know any better, so I just raced the ENTIRE olympic distance race in nothing but a sports bra and a swimming suit: See exhibit A, just after a water stop:

Pros to this approach:

  • It was cheap. No extra clothing required. If fit the budget of a college grad student
  • It made transitions fast - no monkeying around
  • The race was nearly 100 degrees when you factored in the heat index. I probably would have been a lot hotter had I been in more clothes
  • I did the swim without a wetsuit and had no issues

Cons to this approach:

  • Now in my 7th year of tris and nearing 30, I'm not sure I'd have the guts to run around Minneapolis in nothing but a swimming suit for 6 miles.
  • No padding on the bike - this may be OK for shorter distances, but it can get uncomfortable quickly.
  • Could get really chilly on a cooler day...

Conclusion: It wasn't pretty, but it did the trick. I'd never do it today, but if you have the bod of a pro triathlete, go for it!

Getting Creative With What's in Your Dresser:

In 2006, I did my first half iron distance race. Having only done two olys before that (in my swimming suit), I wondered what I should wear for a longer race. I didn't have any mentors to ask. I knew that there wouldn't be a changing tent in transition. I knew I couldn't swim or run in my bike shorts, but I would need plenty of padding under me to survive a 56 mile bike ride. I had just finished grad school, had just dropped $1000 for boards, and was training for Ironman. Blowing our food money wasn't a viable option. I knew that I would be doing a full change for every leg of Ironman, so I decided that this would be my trial run. I swam in a two piece athletic swim suit under my wetsuit. In T1, I slipped a sports bra on over my suit top and took the suit top off (just like changing on the sports bus in high school except in the middle of transition!). I put a pair of bike shorts on over my bikini bottoms, donned the rest of my gear, and headed out for the bike. In T2, I took off the bike shorts, put a pair of running shorts over the bikini bottoms, slipped the bikini bottoms off a la high school changing again, and headed out for my 13.1 mile run. Although the swim and the run were fine, the bike was MISERABLE. Never in my life have I been so uncomfortable on a 56 mile bike ride. The swimsuit under my bike shorts was a HORRIBLE idea, and had the corn or grass been taller, I may have stopped in the middle of the bike ride to leave them out in a field. The rubbing and the chafing in the 100 degree heat made me SO glad to be done with that bike ride.

I also chose a top that was way too big, and when it got wet on the run, it turned into a dress:

Pros to this approach:
  • It was cheap. I already had bike and run gear. I did have better tops than that white one, which would have made the run more comfortable.
  • In some senses, it was good practice for the full change I did at Ironman
  • That race was ungodly hot. To me, nothing is more comfortable to run in than running shorts.

Cons to this approach:

  • See above explanation. I was miserable. In retrospect, this was a terrible idea. Live and learn...

Conclusion: While I'm all for mixing and matching and using what you already have, I could have done this much better. Had I used a more fitted running top and tried a pair of tri shorts (see below), the whole thing would have worked much better. It makes for a good story though!

Mix and Match From Your Local Tri Store:

I mostly told you about the above experiences to let you know what you may see out there and so you can see how far I've come :) I am absolutely in favor of using what you already have if you can. It's cheaper, it's less wasteful, and often it'll work just fine. Before I did my 3rd olympic distance tri in 2008, I decided that I really needed to invest in a good pair of tri shorts. I looked at the meager selection at a local outdoor store and a local running store before making the trip out to Gear West - the local mecca of all things tri. I must have tried on 20 pairs of tri shorts before deciding on the Sugoi Blast. Many of the shorts were too short, too long, the chamois was weird, I didn't feel like they'd stay put, or (you fill in the blank). To my surprise, they weren't as expensive as I thought they'd be. They cost less than a pair of bike shorts (mine were around $45). I have really meaty legs, and these shorts didn't make them look like sausages crammed into casing. I chose basic black (they come in a few color combinations) so that I could pick a tri top in whatever brand/color I wanted. I tried on a whole bunch of tops from all different companies, and I finally settled on a Nike one. It had big pockets in the back, felt like it would stay down, and the built in bra seemed to add just enough support when paired with another sports bra. Side note: I know there are plenty of triathletes out there who can get away with wearing just the built-in bra, but I'm not one of them, especially for longer distances. I ended up finding a couple more tops like it on sale later. I had had so much success with the one I owned that I bought them.

Pros for this outfit:
  • It wasn't as expensive as I thought it would be.
  • Tri shorts are comfortable to wear in the swim, on the bike, and on the run.
  • By mixing and matching at your local tri store (I recommend going in person as opposed to buying online to get a feel for what fits and what will be comfortable), you can find an entire outfit that fits well.
  • I LOVE the pockets in the back of these tops. I can fit an entire 70.3's nutrition back there.
  • This top stays put well - no belly hanging out.

Cons for this outfit:

  • Although it's not that expensive, it is still extra money that I didn't have several years ago. I probably could have gotten away with the tri shorts and a running top.
  • This top is a little low cut. That combined with the squishing going on with the extra sports bra leads to some interesting race photos on the bike - a little too much cleave for me...
  • I did my first splash and dash last summer. It was the first time that I didn't have a wetsuit on over my top. To my horror, the low cut top acted as a GIANT parachute, and I could feel it slowing me down in the water.

Conclusion: Tri shorts are a must. The advice that I give to all athletes doing their first multisport event is to go to their local tri shop and try on a few pairs until they find something comfortable and flattering. A good top is nice too, but if you are strapped for cash, you could always swim in a sports bra and tri shorts and put on a shirt in T1. I know this may alienate me from the cool crowd, but I still can't bike for longer than 30 miles in tri shorts. This usually means that I put a pair of bike shorts on over my tri shorts in T1 and take them off again in T2. It doesn't feel too bulky, it's never gotten uncomfortable for me, and my bum and lady parts are SO much happier.

Sugoi Velocity Tri Top and Shorts/(Insert Fast-Looking Tri Suit Model Here):

I've already talked about racing in this suit last weekend. Here's a reminder of what it looks like from the back and the front:


Pros for this outfit:
  • The built-in bra is very supportive (I'm still wearing my regular sports bra underneath, but the combo is almost too much support).
  • My other Sugoi shorts have little grippies around the bottom of the legs. I was worried that since these didn't, the shorts wouldn't stay put. I had no problems.
  • No sausage leg syndrome!!!
  • Although I haven't taken this suit in the water yet, I don't think there will be the same drag issues my old tri top has. You can zip the top up quite high.
  • The fabric feels like it will be fast in the water and dry quickly - a big plus for races where the swim is too warm for wetsuits.
  • There's a lot of technology put into the fabric that these things are made of.
  • I feel the part when I'm out on the course.

Cons for this outfit:

  • It's pricey! The top and shorts together will set you back around $220 if you pay full price for both.
  • I'm not sure I'm a huge fan of the big white panels on the sides. For one, they are see-through. I have a freckle on my left hip, and you can see it through the shorts.
  • I am a very average sized person, and I don't know how forgiving these shorts would be if you are much larger than a medium. They're certainly worth a try!
  • The top does creep up a little, but I didn't feel like I was racing the whole time with my belly hanging out.
  • The pockets in the back of the top are pretty small. I'm used to the huge ones in my Nike top. I'm going to have to get creative in stashing all of my food and gear at my 70.3 in 5 weeks.
  • The fabric doesn't breathe as well as I would have expected. This could be an issue for hot races...

Conclusion: I feel fast when I'm in this suit. It's surprisingly comfortable, even though it's literally skin-tight. I think it will perform better in the water than anything I've used before, and so far, it has shown to perform well on the bike and the run too. They make a one-piece Velocity, but I'd much rather have the two piece. Although the one piece would solve any midriff issues, I'm not keen on having to take the whole thing off for every pre-race potty visit I make. Plus, I've had more than one race that required a duck in the bushes. It's one thing to have your shorts around your knees. It's quite another to be naked in the bushes.

I'll keep you posted on how this suit performs later this year for longer and hotter races. If you've got the money to spend on a higher-end tri suit, this is a fun place to do it.

Anybody out there have anything additional to add?

Cannon Falls Duathlon Race Report

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I still owe you a race report from last weekend's half marathon, so that'll be coming soon. We had a ton of fun, and although it wasn't my fastest half marathon, it wasn't my slowest either. Since yesterday officially marked the start of my multisport year, I am too excited to wait to tell you about it, so I figured I'd put up that race report first! It's also a continuation on my "Things That Kept Me Motivated This Winter" series - I'll be showing off my new tri suit.

We took a carload down to the Cannon Falls Duathlon last year, but this year, my aunt Jen was across the pond for business and my sister is just a couple of weeks out from her wedding, so it was just my brother Matt, Steve, and me racing it.

Last year was the first year that Final Stretch put this race on. We loved the low-key feel of it and the beautiful course. Plus, for some reason there's a huge difference in weather here between the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May.

The race was only 45 minutes away, and we got there just as transition was opening. We picked a great spot and quickly set up our stuff. Then the social time began. Steve and I have gotten to know Mark, the race director for Final Stretch, over the last year or two. We greeted him and his brother Steve, said hi to local speedster Julie Hull. We also found our friend Tim. Steve and I were in the same high school class with Tim, and we all ran cross country and track together. Since Tim's parents came to cheer him on, we joked that it was just like old times. Tim has done a few tris, but this was his first du. Soon my friend Jess found us in transition. Jess has been one of my running/marathon buddies for years, but she just bought a bike and is looking to do her first du in a couple of weeks. We invited her to come get a feel for how things were run and let her know what to expect for her first race. Jess took all of the pictures for the day. Thanks again Jess!

The run: My overall plan for the day was to beat last year's time. I've been doing plenty of speedwork on the run and have been putting in the miles on my bike. I was ready. I kissed Steve good luck and lined up with my brother at the start line. I was hoping to do the first run with him. We have been running together once a week, and he's really good at pulling me.

He's just a little faster than me. I was hoping to hang with him for as long as possible, and I (barely) managed to.

The course took us along the Cannon River, past the waterfall, and back to transition. Total run time for the two miles: 15:30.

T 1: This was my first race where I was going to try wearing no socks. My feet were already sweaty from the run. Good thing my bike shoes have tabs to pull them on. It took me forever as it was! Next time I'll try some talc. I threw on some long sleeves and my helmet, and I was out in 1:18.

The bike: We knew from the weather forecast that we'd have a head wind on the way back that would be nasty. People had been joking about it all morning. The reports after the race said that it was 25 mph with gusts of 30 mph. Since it was an out and back bike course, I was ready for the tail wind at the start. I still tried to push it, knowing that I would be paying for it on the way back... The great thing about an out and back bike was that I got to see Steve, Tim, and my brother out there, and I cheered them all on as we met. Everybody doing the return looked miserable. When I hit the turn around cone, I had a 21 mph average (20 minutes on the dot), but nothing could have prepared me for the wall I met. The headwinds combined with a quick uphill led to an unimaginable force pushing against me. I shifted to nearly my granny gear and told myself that I needed to keep pushing. By mile 8, my average backed down to 20. By mile 9, it was 19.1. I knew that I wouldn't keep that 18 mph average I was hoping for. I went back and forth with a couple of women. One of them told me I was her carrot. She beat me by a few meters, and I made it my goal to get her on the run. I passed several people in the last few miles and joked that running was going to be a piece of cake after battling the wind. I made it back in 30:18 for a total bike time 50:18 (16.7 mph).

T2: Again with the sweaty feet. I struggled to get my running shoes on and made it out in just under a minute.

The Run: I booked it out of T2 determined not to let any of the girls on the bike catch me. One lady did pass me right away (not one of my rabbits) and mumbled something about how terrible the bike was. I set my sights on two guys up ahead. I was a little cramped up but just kept pushing. I hit mile 1 in 8:09. Just after mile 1, I finally caught up to one of the guys. He turned around and said, "I hear footsteps!" "I've been chasing you since transition!" I replied. I told him he looked great and he thanked me. Then he shouted, "I better not see you cutting any corners at that cone up there!" I laughed and told him I had to beat him to the finish somehow. :) I love all of the great people I meet at races. I hit mile 2 in 8:16. Then I started to hear footsteps. I pushed harder. I was worried that it was one of the girls from the bike. When I turned around, though, I realized it was two guys chasing me down. I finally turned to one guy with just under 600 meters left and said, "Go ahead and pass me! I've been hearing you coming for a half mile now!"

He told me that he didn't want to get injured, and I continued picking up speed. Neither guy passed me, and I was able to catch one more guy just before the finish line. Total run time: 24:22 for the three miles. Not too shabby for me! My overall finishing time: 1:32:29 (it's a little longer than my watch time because they didn't have a mat at the start).

I caught my breath, compared wind war stories with Steve and Matt, hung out with Jess and some great local folks, and waited for the awards ceremony to start.

We had a pleasant surprise when the announced our age groups. Steve, Matt, and I all took second in our age group. Woot!

Some final thoughts:

* I beat last year's time by just under a minute. My bike split was a minute or two slower than last year, but my first run was 10 seconds faster, and my second run was 35 seconds faster. Given the crazy conditions out there, I'm pretty happy with that.

* My Sugoi Velocity tri suit held up great! This was my trial run for some of my longer upcoming races, and I was really happy with the way it performed. It's not necessarily the most flattering thing I've ever worn (seriously, I've been more worried about fitting into this tri suit properly than fitting into my sister's bridesmaid's dress...), but it performed well, and it made me feel fast. I'll have a later post comparing this tri suit to the outfit I've been wearing for the last couple of seasons.

* Official race results aren't up yet. They're still working some bugs out of their timing system.

* I'm a distance girl through and through, but I love sprints for the sheer sake of not having to worry about my race nutrition at all. I know that if I properly fuel the night before and the morning of the race, I can get away with just drinking during the event.

* My feet did not love the no sock thing on the run. I've gotten away with it plenty of times before, but they're still a little beat up from last weekend's half marathon. I think I'll be wearing them for at least the second run at the Gear West Du.

* I am SO excited to be leading my friend Jess to her first multisport event in 3 weeks.

* Holy cow, I'd better get in the pool. Six weeks to my half iron distance race! (Official race schedule to come soon, I promise)