Friday, September 28, 2012

A life on the go

Life as an on-the-go working triathlete mom requires creative scheduling, but I sometimes find I have pushed my luck, and tried (and failed) to put ten pounds of flour into a five pound sack.

Case in point: Earlier this week I had an open-water swim on the schedule. As the workday unfolded, I found a narrow window of time that would allow me to dash out the door, get in my swim, and still get to school in time to drive through the car rider line to retrieve my son. Or so I thought. As I approached the school, a little late, my heart sunk as I realized the teachers had already ushered the unclaimed kids inside. Grant would be waiting for me in the office....which meant I had to get out of the car and walk into the school.

Not a big deal, save for the fact that I had no clothes other than the swimsuit and shoes I was wearing. In I went. Fortunately, it's a very small neighborhood school, I know all of the teachers, and they know I'm a bit odd. What was priceless was that my own child, at that tender age of 10, didn't flinch or react or seem to find it strange that his mom was standing in his school in a swim suit. He seems to take the good with the bad of me. I figure I am contributing to his character development! LOL!

I didn't get THIS look that says "stop embarrassing me"
There are plenty of other instances of my workout timing going awry. It wasn't too many weeks ago, I tried a similar swim-school schedule but discovered I was nearly out of gas (literally and probably figuratively). That left me pumping gas in my swimsuit. You would think I would have learned from that and thrown some extra clothes in the car (I still haven't...but as I type this, I am making a note to do so.)

There have also been countless episodes of finishing a bike ride with a sprint finish into the garage followed by a lightning-fast transition to the car to pick up a kid. Yesterday I retrieved Spencer from an after-school activity this way, complete with bike helmet hair and colorful cycling clothes.

Another notable -- A few years ago, I had a Saturday morning haircut AND a marathon prep long run scheduled. I had the bright idea to put the haircut stop ON the run loop, so I'd get in most of the miles before and just a few miles after as a delayed cool-down. Again, I didn't have that timing issue worked out exactly right, so I found myself having to run faster and faster so I wasn't too ridiculously late. (Thanks, Dawn Hale, for still putting up with me after all these years!!)

There are also the instances of riding the bike trainer at soccer practice and alongside the pool so I could watch the kids but still get my workout in. I've finished up runs doing laps around the soccer field. There have been unscheduled narcoleptic in-van naps at various practices too.

My guess is that moms have some of the best transition times at races. Now you know why.

Perhaps my unorthodox mom ways have contributed in some small measure to having confident kids who are not afraid to be their own person and to do things like this. Or perhaps they will require therapy long into adulthood. Time will tell.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Top 10 Advantages of having a Triathlete Wife (or spousal equivalent)


1. By the time you finally wake up, she's already made the coffee (and probably already trained).

2. Thanks to all the biking, she knows the back roads if ever a detour is needed.

3. She doesn't require a lot of "primping" to leave the house or be seen in public.

4. She has a coach to listen, talk her down, or talk her up as needed (less for you to do).

5. You won't have to shop for jewelry when that money can be better spent on gear that she will gladly specify for you.

6. She can out-eat you.

7. You can follow her race splits, rankings, and's the fun of horse racing, but you "get to" live with the horse.

8. She's in too much of a hurry to worry about unimportant things like yard work and walls that really should be repainted, so you don't have to either.

9. She won't let you do the laundry for fear of drying her beloved workout clothes on high.

10. She is happy :-)

  1. None that I can think of. I even asked my husband, and I'm confident the long pause and deep sigh meant he couldn't think of any either.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

News from the home office....the Swim Update!

Good morning from the 'home office'!

I just discovered Photo Booth on my Mac so grabbed a picture in the "home office". Yep, I pretty much come in from a workout and sit down for an immediate download of the ideas I came up with while in my swim, bike, or run "zone-out". I've been known to proceed to work a few hours in a damp swimsuit (or tri suit or bike clothes) before I peel myself away from the computer for a shower.

Oh....yes the swim update!

One of the givens of triathlon is that it's pretty hard to keep swim, bike, and run progress simultaneously moving in the direction of continual gains. That doesn't mean we ever stop trying, but it is like the proverbial "herding of the cats". For me, the swim has been the unruliest cat of all with four bared claws, matted fur, and a big hiss. But I've made some progress recently that I thought I'd report on. Maybe it will help someone else.

After the Bath County race in June, I was pretty frustrated about my swim. While I'd made some progress in the pool, Coach Jim and I noticed it wasn't translating to my races. It was time to get a little more radical. Coach Jim formulated the plan and I got to work.

So what changed?
  • Swimming frequency was increased to 3-4x a week (from 2-3)
  • Stroke check-ins with Coach (minimize head turn, fish-tailing, keeping hand entry wide)
  • More challenging interval work
  • Committed to a weekly open water swim (previously done just a few times per season outside of races)
  • Swam with faster swimmers and practiced drafting off of hips and feet
  • Learned to sight more efficiently 
  • Made swimming straighter a priority and learned how to do it
  • Allowed myself to deviate from the L-R-L-R breathing pattern that suits aerobic swimming to things like L-L-R-R that works better for harder efforts
  • Became more aggressive with more "Umph at the Front" (as coined by Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen)
  • Focused on higher turnover/cadence and conscious of eliminating dead spots
  • Greater and more relaxed body roll
  • Reaching further in the catch
  • Thinking of kicking "up" (this is tough for me)
And of course, I never stop believing that I can and will get faster. After a month and a half of this, my swims at Nationals were my best race swims to date. I lined up front and center, went out harder, and "raced" the swim rather than just survived the swim.

But Nationals had also shown me my bike and run are in line with the top women in my group, but the swim is holding me back. Since then, I've continued my efforts and have seen further evidence of change -- Some interval work that was nearly un-doable has become very doable. Times on my open water swims have dropped and I am swimming straighter. My mindset has changed too - timidity has been replaced by a more confident and aggressive approach. I've got a ways to go, sure, but I'm off that dang plateau and I think I'd stand a chance against the local 10-year-old freestylers now!

What else changed? Just like with the "evolution of my cycling brain" I looked for and found some new ways to think about my stroke. I like to watch, read, and hear what others have to share.

Back in June, I asked our race team sponsors at Endurance Films to send me everything they had on swimming, which they very kindly did! I've watched and rewatched the titles from the Go Swim series and picked up nuggets from every DVD. Swimming is one of those things that is hard to just read about or hear about, you need to watch it!

Rather than review all the DVDs here, I'll just say one of my favorites has to be Freestyle with Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen. She is a master's record holder and is unique in her ability to communicate how she swims in a way that makes sense and is different from the "typical" list of swim fixes you see repeated time and time again!

Karlyn talks about swimming with "Umph at the Front" which has stuck with me. There are times I am swimming and envisioning doing a lat pull down and breathing just as intently as I do for a hard set in the gym. If you want a different viewpoint on swimming and new ways to think about it, I would HIGHLY recommend her DVD from Endurance Films.

I've also read some pieces by tri/swim Coach John Murray of Team MPI (Multisport Performance Institute) in Pensacola. He had a few posts on Facebook pertaining to body roll, and it was just something about the way he said it that clicked with me. One of the local swim coaches, Scott Baldwin, showed me how I need to use my core, how swimming is more of a dance than a strut!

To grow as an athlete, we need to be adding to our mental and physical playbook. If what you are doing isn't working, simply doing more of the same is not a very good solution. To see a small change in results, you need to be willing to make big changes on the input.

The process itself is fascinating and fun, even as it is a test of patience ;-) The joy is in the pursuit!

Now I'm off to "pursue" some tempo miles!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Evolution/Maturation of the Cycling Brain

This weekend I rode with Marcos Mazzola Lazzarotto, a cat 2 racer from the Integrated Sports Medicine Cycling Team who recently moved to the area with his wife. I came across him through the Virginia Tech Cycling Team listserve as I was looking for a cyclist whose brain I could "pick". I wanted to know how a competitive cyclist approached training and racing and what they think about when they are putting down those miles. (In human factors research, it's the "think aloud" method of data collection!) I was ready to have a few new things to mentally chew on and I got those today.

When I first got my bike in June 2009, I thought only about two things:
  1. Pedal.
  2. Get through stoplights and stop signs without falling over.
By the 2010 race season, I was ready for the next phase of the "evolution of my cycling brain" and with Coach Jim's help, I added a few more things to think about:
  1. Shoot for a 90'ish cadence.
  2. Get aero as much as possible, especially down hills.
  3. Pedal full circles.
 Last year I took it up another notch and into my little cycling play book went things like:
  1. Power through turns more aggressively.
  2. Cut tangents.
  3. Attack the tops of the hills.
Then I started noticing that there was a "sweet spot" in my cadence that got me the most speed for a given heart rate. I began to get braver through turns and down hills. I felt stronger out of the saddle. I got a bit more tactical in my passing. There was a marked improvement in my cycling which left me wanting to know find new ways to tighten things up and gain efficiencies. Today was a data collection day!

I'm still digesting what I learned from Marcos but much of it boils down to minimizing deviations from race pace - conserving slightly down hills and in tail winds to have a bit extra for things like climbing and headwinds where that marginal effort can get you more. Better to work a little harder over the crest of a hill than to have to work a lot harder down the hill to make up the ground that was lost. Boldness must be tempered with safety - power carefully through a turn and accelerate more quickly out of it, rather than risk crashing and wasting a lot more time. He also reminded me that this was intended to be a "conversational pace" recovery ride!!

And of course, you can't have a conversation with a competitive cyclist without wishing for a power meter ;-)  Oh, SANTA!!!!!

(One funny aside...I have to confess to being thoroughly tired this weekend. So when the weather looked rainy, I emailed Marcos with an "out" for the weather, which he did not take. I sucked it up and met him, and of course was glad I did. At the end of our ride he said he read my blog and almost threw my "#38 Double-check the forecast, but train regardless of the weather" quote back at me. Hahaha! I'd say he has a bright future as a coach!)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Mobile Transition Area

Yesterday was a double-brick: ride-run-ride-run. You know it's going to be a good one when you have to write it out on your arm and allocate 3+ hours for it. For these kinds of workouts, I especially LOVE my Mobile Transition Area (aka the vintage minivan) - it's my sheltered and secure bike parking, muli-tiered equipment storage, ready-made bench seat, and changing area. Plus the minivan comes fully stocked with towels, gels, extra clothes, and thanks to the kids, randomly dropped sugar-laced treats I can peel off the floor and enjoy! LOL.

I'm pretty proud of myself for knocking this one out. That morning, I'd taken Grant to an early soccer game and driving home at 10 am, I could hardly keep my eyes open. I felt awful, crawled back in bed, and woke up at noon. I was better, rough still, but nothing seemed to be wrong aside from just being tired. I figured I'd go for it and would just be open to the idea of pulling the plug if I felt worse rather than better as I went. But if I pulled it together, it would be a good reminder that I can still work out or race strong feeling less than 100%.

It ended up going quite well - all 32 bike miles and 10+ run miles - and I came in under my goal paces for the fast parts of the run, which always makes me happy.

Rough days like this are part of the deal but the upside is that pushing through them can provide a much bigger confidence boost than the days where you feel on top of your game.

Friday, September 14, 2012

10 Running-Related Questions. These are my answers, what are yours?

My friend Kristin came across this list of questions on another blog (Colene, in Training) and suggested I respond....I'm hoping she, and my other fellow running bloggers will do the same!

1. Best run ever: "Best" is quite nebulous. If I have to pick one stand-out, I'd say the 15-mile long run I did in San Diego last October. I thought my coach was crazy for scheduling a long run when I was traveling (and at a conference) because I get kind of nervous in unfamiliar cities and I have a terrible sense of direction. But I got it done and enjoyed not only the freedom that comes from running, but freedom from my own fears. My stride -- and my world -- opened up that day.


2. Three words that describe my running: Focused. Flowing. Free. 

3. My go-to running outfit is: Mizuno Inspire short tights, tank top (no short sleeves ever), Balega socks, Saucony Kinvara 2s with Xtenex laces, SweatVac cap, Garmin 405 watch (old school!), heart rate strap, foot pod, and iPod nano loaded with music and podcasts (This American Life, the Moth, Whadya Know, Competitor Radio...)

4. Quirky habit while running: Groaning out loud, mainly on speedwork/threshold runs, or up hills.

5. Morning, midday, evening: Absolutely, unequivocally - morning. Even if it means running by headlamp!

6. I won’t run outside when it’s: Icy. I haven't been on a treadmill or missed an outdoor run due to weather in years, but the risk of injury from ice is not worth it. There is no such thing as too hot/cold/rainy/snowy/windy to run for me.

7. Worst injury—and how I got over it: The second broken fibula, definitely. It set off a chain of events that plagued me for most of 2011 including a case of drop-foot in the other leg, followed by a long bout of posterior tibial tendonitis

8. I felt most like a badass mother runner when: I showed up for my second Pittsburgh Turkey Trot 5K, dressed as usual, as a turkey. Another female racer came up to me pre-race and said they remembered me and their goal since last year was to "beat the turkey". I don't know if they did. I came in 8th out of 1232 women and earned the top master's spot despite being less than aerodynamic!

9. Next race is: Giant Acorn International Triathlon on October 6. Next running race will probably be the Blacksburg Classic 10-miler in February.

10. Potential running goal for 2013: Run a healthy and happy Boston marathon, then hit some new 5K and 10K PRs at my triathlons. A sub-20 minute 5K would be nice! 20:31 is my best to date -- done at the USAT Sprint National triathlon.

OK, YOUR turn! Let me know if you respond to these!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A week of 'firsts'...including a biggie!

Summer is wrapping up and we are surely being flung head-first into fall around here! With the change of seasons, the week has brought many post-summer "firsts" --

First indoor swim. I'm back at the Blacksburg Aquatic Center with the early morning gang, and I enjoyed a first swim in my new swim cap!!  The caps were organized by my Endurance Films teammate, Bill.

First ride on the bike trainer. This took place the morning prior to our 340 mile drive to the beach. I'd forgotten what a puddle-making mess I am on that thing. I soaked completely through my towel and onto the mat. Yuck. 


First early morning run with gloves. It was in the upper 40's which is perfect for a tank top and shorts...annnnd gloves. My hands are the one thing that get cold. These are my original beloved running gloves that I have had for four years.

First announcement of my NEW JOB!!!!! YES!!!  New job!!  I am the new Director of Client Marketing for the fortyninegroup, an endurance sports strategy and marketing firm. I work with event, athlete, equipment, accessory, coaching, media, and registration clients primarily in triathlon! I could not have dreamed up a better opportunity. The CEO, John Jones, is an accomplished endurance athlete in his own right, and I have been delighted to work for him and with the athletes, coaches, and innovators in endurance sports. In my marketing role, I have the opportunity to write, think creatively, organize, wrangle, help, strategize, and communicate. I'm also learning a lot.

I could go on and on about my excitement and how I love to get up every day and get to it, but I will wrap up simply by saying, follow your passions, you never know where they may lead.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Blog Post #600....Thoughts from the Tri-Journey

I've been anticipating blog post #600 for a little while, wondering what I might do with this monumental multiple of 100.

My weekend sort of set the stage for this post. Yesterday I returned from a quick trip to Myrtle Beach (pics here and here). The kids and I drove 360 miles each direction for 40 precious hours at the beach. Throughout the weekend, we talked about things that we don't normally discuss a whole lot - dating (no hurry), how to hold a wine glass (stem), drugs (spend that time and money making life genuinely and not artificially happy), why the shower curtain should go IN the tub (avoid flooding), what makes a life happy (little to do with money). It wasn't preachy or dictatorial, just conversational -- suggesting things for them to consider as they formulate their own ideas along their life journey.

So when I woke up at 4:11 am today, I knew what I would do with this post - 60 thoughts gleaned from my tri journey and reflected in the 600 blog entries written since May 4, 2008.

In absolutely no order and typed in one sitting:
  1. At least once, run under a full moon 
  2. Dream bigger than you think you should
  3. Smile for the race photographers, it won't slow you down
  4. It's OK to invest in a decent bike, but focus on your engine
  5. Train consistently - NO excuses (or at least very few)
  6. Train in solitude enough to develop your own positive thought patterns
  7. Give up soda
  8. Don't look at race results right after you finish. Wait and linger in your personal feelings before breaking the spell.
  9. For most people, it only takes six weeks to train for a 5K (not six months) and maybe 12 weeks for a sprint triathlon...not six months. Don't make it too big a deal.
  10. Run and race an assortment of distances. Know how to go long AND fast.
  11. Find goggles that work and buy multiple pairs
  12. Have a good massage therapist/rolfer/ART etc person
  13. Wake up early every day and go to bed early as often as you can
  14. Hang up your workout clothes to dry, they will last much longer
  15. Don't go out of your way to add carbs in your diet, we get more than we need
  16. Keep "emergency" clothing in your car just-in-case: arm warmers, hat, gloves, rain jacket, etc.
  17. If you want to race your best, work with a coach if at all possible
  18. Learn to change a's time.
  19. Have the equipment you need, but not to excess. Take care of it and it can last a long time.
  20. Support your local running and bike shops even if it means spending a little more to shop there
  21. Be systematic about race packing - have a list and keep all your race things together
  22. Live a healthy lifestyle, but don't be an annoying martyr
  23. Talk less about your sports, people aren't really that interested
  24. You should be hungry a few times a day (except pre-race day)
  25. Pump your tires and be sure your bike wheels spin freely before every ride
  26. Track your workouts (online is best)
  27. Get race nerves under control or they will wreck your enjoyment of the sport
  28. Eat green veggies, at least once but preferably twice per day
  29. Strength train 2-3x a week
  30. Keep emergency food in your car so you won't eat junk. It should be healthy, but not too tasty (so you won't eat it unless you need it).
  31. Accept that injuries are part of the journey and they have much to teach us. You'll bounce back.
  32. Plan your training and fit it into your schedule. It WILL fit...somewhere (even if at 5 am)
  33. Take a moment to be grateful every time you swim/bike/run
  34. Race in costume once in a while
  35. Encourage newcomers and others in the sport, be inviting and not exclusionary
  36. Don't take yourself too seriously (we are not professional athletes)
  37. Doctors are mainly helpful if something is broken or torn; for all other cases see a GOOD sports physical therapist or soft-tissue expert.
  38. Double-check the forecast, but train regardless of the weather
  39. Eat fast food nearly never; eat ice cream regularly
  40. Get off the road and hit the trails. Your soul and legs will thank you.
  41. Learn to suffer in workouts (where appropriate) so it's no big surprise on race day
  42. Don't overthink how you feel during a race week taper. Just ride it out.
  43. Keep your phone in a ziplock bag or waterproof case no matter what the forecast.
  44. Don't expect miracles on race day and be disappointed when they don't materialize
  45. Establish good pre-race routines - eating, packing, setup, warmup - and stick to them
  46. If you get the chance to race at a national level race, do it
  47. Eat out as a special occasion, not as a matter of habit (or laziness)
  48. Listen to your coach 98% of the time; reserve 2% to be a bit of a rebel when needed
  49. Don't waste time thinking about limits, you can't possibly know what yours are
  50. Have a little in reserve for that finishing kick, then burn up everything you have left in the tank even if there's no one chasing you.
  51. Invest in many identical pairs of high quality running socks; it makes laundry easier
  52. Have a professional critique your swim stroke periodically
  53. Be open minded (often requires shutting mouth and opening ears)
  54. Inspect and replace swim suits and bike shorts as needed, we really don't need to see your butt crack through the paper thin fabric
  55. Stretch and roll
  56. When injuries hit, don't waste time. Get help pronto (PT or massage) -- the root causes can extend beyond the area of pain. 
  57. Don't complain out loud; it's probably petty anyway
  58. Have a trusted adviser outside of the sport
  59. Be silly on a regular basis
  60. Love and be loved

To think I was the kid in school who would write big and use huge margins to "stretch" my papers out because I hated to write....LOL!

Thanks to all who read and comment and share a piece of their own journey with me!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tracking and Interpreting Race Progress

It's been a heck of a race season in terms of podiums and placings but that's not a very objective gauge since it depends on who shows up to race. I knew my bike and run paces had improved this year but I was less sure of my swim. It was time to stop guessing and time to finally collect ALL of my race splits and rankings in a spreadsheet for every race I have ever done. Spreadsheet! Yay!! Very fun!

It wasn't too hard considering my first ever race of any kind was just four years ago - a local 10K. I ran it in 53:26, but my mouth ran even faster. I talked a LOT in that race - to other runners, cops directing traffic, spectators. That sure isn't the case any more, I don't say a word (other than "on your left" on the bike course ;-)  It's amazing what I can remember from this and every race I've ever done.

After painstakingly gathering the data, it became apparent that it can only really be viewed at arm's length. There are so many modifiers - wetsuit or not; pool vs open water swim; bike courses that run long or short; hilly vs flat terrain; weather/time of year; stand-alone run vs tri run; state of health and injuries, and whether I was wearing a turkey costume (!).

Then there are the "outliers," like the run at the Patriot's Half, which was not so much a run as it was a mix of 'shuffling' and doubling over from full body muscle cramps.

So you see with all the caveats, it wouldn't make any sense to do something like graph all my 5K finishes over time. Of course I did! But I stopped short of running a linear regression model because that would just be nerdy! Suffice it to say the trend is heading in the desired direction.

The spreadsheet did provide some evidence of speed gains in all three sports...including swimming!
I discovered that my Nationals swims showed marked improvement. Coach Jim made some swim training changes back in June and it seems to be paying off - more frequent swimming, regular open water swimming, and tougher interval work. There's also been a shift in my mentality -- more determination and aggression.

If you are like me and fascinated by and motivated by numbers, I'd definitely recommend keeping some sort of race data history; is a great source for mining your data.

In the end, remember -- it's just data, just numbers -- we give it meaning. Collect it up, hold it at arm's length, and draw some general conclusions to motivate and guide your training.

Then look at the numbers AGAIN and recognize that EVERY number on there is a victory unto itself because it shows you got out there and did it!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

All Triathletes are Solar Powered

My long bike ride on Saturday (50 miles, zero traffic lights, 2 stop signs each direction) took me out past the Catawba Farm Fest where the Solar Connexion Solar Trailer was set up and supplying clean (and quiet) energy. Solar Connexion, a local long-time solar contractor, has been a generous sponsor throughout this race season and while some might find the pairing of solar and triathlon odd, it's rather a perfect match.

After I stopped off at the Solar Trailer for a photo, I spent much of the rest of the ride thinking about the connection between solar energy and triathlon.

We are all solar powered!

Solar energy is at the core of everything that sustains us:
  1. Food - Solar energy is at the root of the food chain, starting with the plants and animals that convert solar energy to starches that are in turn consumed by animals. All that fuels our bodies to swim/bike/run are solar derivatives.
  2. Water - Solar energy runs the water cycle which is basically a big storage and filtration system. Hydration is essential to life...and to training and racing!
  3. Fuel sources 
    1. Solar energy created our non-renewable sources of energy like gas, oil, and coal. They are from ancient living things (made possible by food and water, above), compressed and heated for a lonnnng time.
    2. Solar energy is responsible for all of our renewable sources include solar, wind, and water. Wind is a direct result of heating effects from the sun.
Triathletes seem to have a greater than average understanding of and appreciation for the environment, probably because we spend so much time out in it swimming, biking, and running.

Races are "going green" with reduced paper use and other measures. Recently I got a flyer from and discovered that much of their store roof is covered in solar panels enabling them to create about 90% of their energy!! They share information on their blog about the water, gasoline, methane, and carbon dioxide that is "saved" from their 128 kW system. It's impressive. Their use of solar will definitely factor into my future online triathlon purchasing decisions!!

The price of solar continues to drop while electric utility rates continue to climb. Solar energy just makes sense. It requires an initial investment and the problem is, most people can't see past that $$ to the payback, but again, I think triathletes who understand "investments" in training are used to taking a longer view of things. (There's a 30% Federal Tax credit too...)

My interest in renewable energy sources dates back to my involvement as the course coordinator for Virginia Tech's Earth Sustainability Series and teaching a Sustainable Energy class in the College of Engineering. I served as the co-PI for the Blacksburg Wind and Solar Power project at our local Y where I first met Bryan Walsh, owner of Solar Connexion. He donated considerable time, expertise, and materials that made the project possible when I was way in over my head.

I'll wrap this up by reiterating that triathletes ARE solar powered, so now it's time to bring it home.

If you can swing it, call up your local solar contractor and at least look into solar for your home.  For less than the price of a Prius, you can be well on your way to energy independence. Yeah, it's about the small changes, but frankly, we need to be making some BIG changes to turn our environmental problems around. I believe triathletes can help lead this charge.

Please comment and share other examples of solar power in the triathlon world,
or let me know if you utilize solar at your home or workplace.

If you are interested in solar energy, please "Like" Solar Connexion on Facebook!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Triathlon Race Series and Companies - Simplified

Today is the Hy-Vee 5150 Championship race. 5150? Hy-Vee?

The 5150 indicates it's the Olympic/International distance championship race for the 5150 series, owned by World Triathlon Company (aka Ironman). Hy-Vee is the sponsor, a chain of grocery stores in the midwest.

We are now in championship race season and it can quickly get confusing. There are a number of prominent race series - Ironman, Ironman 70.3, 5150, ITU, Xterra and prominent race production companies - Rev3, HITS, Challenge series. They vary on race distances offered, types of venues (i.e. city or amusement park), and drafting. I thought I'd take a few minutes and try to sort out some of the biggies for myself as well as others. Let me know if I've missed anything major or have anything incorrect

There are other race series in addition to the major ones I list below including many popular regional series. For instance, I participate in the Virginia Triathlon Series races as part of SetUp events. While there is no year-end championship race, they do offer overall and age group awards for season-end standings for each participant's five best races. I only race in USAT sanctioned events, which would include (I suspect) most of the races below.

These are some biggies with championship races:
World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) - controls all things M-Dot branded. Races that use the same distances as Ironman, but that are not owned by WTC, are often called iron-distance or "full" triathlons. Similarly, half-iron or "half." The 5150 series corresponds to an Olympic or International distance race, with 5150 indicating a 1.5k swim, 40k bike, and 10k run. (Technically they are off by a factor of ten and it should be 51500 but that makes for an awkward logo). These races are all non-drafting (bike), and each of the race distances has a championship race.
  • Ironman (140.6) - Championship is in Kona, HI
  • Ironman 70.3 - Championship in Las Vegas
  • 5150 - Championship in Des Moines
ITU World Triathlon Series - the International Triathlon Union series features draft-legal cycling, with multi-lap bike and run courses that are designed to be spectator-friendly. This is the style of racing that was used in the Olympics. The series culminates with a Grand Final World Championship, that is run as part of a multi-day event that includes World Age Group Championships, Paratriathlon, and Aquathlon.

Life Time Fitness Triathlon Series - This features six non-drafting Olympic distance races culminating in the Toyota U.S. Open Cup race in Dallas Texas in October.  Noteable races include Nautica South Beach Tri, CapTex, and the Life Time Chicago Tri.

Xterra - This is an off-road series of generally shorter races (i.e. 1.5k swim, 30k bike, 10k run) with single-track mountain biking rather than road biking, and trail running. There is a championship race.

You'll see these series too, though none feature championship races.

Rev3 - The Revolution3 company focuses on "family fun" races that take place at amusement parks around the country. They offer one Full Rev (140.6), Half Revs (70.3) and Olympic Revs.

Challenge Family Race Series - This is a European-based alternative to Ironman races, with primarily full-distance races and a few halves. They boast some of the fastest and most difficult courses including Challenge Roth, Challenge Cairns, and Challenge Barcelona.

HITS Triathlon Series - This is an offshoot of the Horse Shows in the Sun group. This new race series offers a full "desitnation" weekend of racing with events at every distance from sprint to full and an "open" race of a 100m swim, 3 mile bike, and 1 mile run, that is free to enter.

While the expansion of triathlon is terrific, one hopes it doesn't get so complex and fragmented that it turns people away. I've seen that happen in other sports. As an age-grouper, I'm glad to just race in anything USAT sanctioned and and leave it at that.