Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pointers for Your first 70.3- Half Ironman

So I jokingly said when I was getting packed to do my 4th 70.3 distance event, "if I haven't figured this stuff out yet I don't know when I will." I recently had a few friends doing their first 70.3 distance event and I have other friends prepping for their first this year. I realize after doing a few of them I have a few tricks and pointers I have picked up along the way, some of them my coach gave me before my first and some are just learned (some the hard way).

1. TRAIN- it is a long day and training is what will get you through it. Not only physically but mentally. This doesn't mean you have to spend tons of money on a coach but it does mean put some thought and effort into following a training plan.

2. FUEL- it will make or break your day. It is best to go into the day with some practice of what you are going to eat and when. That way when you get to the show you have some idea of what you are doing and won't have to think too much. I always stash a couple extra gels in my back pocket at the start of the day (yes I swim with them back there in a wetsuit) to be sure in case anything happens I have them.

3. NUTRITION- your race day fueling is only part of the battle. Make sure in training you are sticking to a good nutrition plan. Race week limit fiber intake. And know your nutrition plan for the race weekend, race morning being super key.

4. IT IS A LONG DAY. I was telling those friends getting ready for their first that you will go through every emotion and every ache and pain but just know in about 5 min whatever you are thinking or feeling it will go away and you will be focused on the next thing. My coach put it to me this way before my first- figure you are going to be racing about as long as a school day for a kid. Think about how many emotions and how much you went through over the course of a school day.

5. BATHROOM BREAKS. So in your shorter distances you may or may not use the bathroom once you start, generally I don't. But in a longer event like this you will most likely (and hopefully) have to go at some point. It is perfectly acceptable to go on the bike while riding, it requires some relaxation and flat road (I've done it). Also- it is key to know whether that feeling in your tummy is more fuel that you need or do you really just need to hit that next porta john. Also- plan your race kit accordingly to deal with bathroom breaks.

6. Have some tricks to get you through when things get tough- MENTAL TRICKS. I have used form checks in the past. This past Quassy I used pulling my visor down so I could only see a little in front of me (a blog post I read suggested that) and singing to myself. This blog has some great suggestions -Fuel Your Passions- Mental Playlist

7. RACE PLAN. My coach has me do them before any A-race. They really help me think through packing and my plan for the day. Sometimes I start with taper week and my plans for sleep and training, through travel. At least set one up with race morning, what time to get up, what you are going to eat, then take you through race day. With the swim I usually put some idea of time I want to hit turn buoys. Bike I give myself the goal pace I would like to stay on. And same with run. I put in my mental tricks I have planned, I put in my fueling strategy. I even write down the plan to get me through transition.

8. Practice in your RACE KIT. I always try to do one of my last bricks in what I plan to wear race day- especially if you haven't worn it for that distance before. You never know if what you think is the perfect race day top may leave a chafe spot till you wear it that long. Make sure you know what gear, shoes, clothes, and visor/hat you will wear and give em a test drive.

9. BRICK TRAINING- It is essential to every triathlete. Knowing how to make that switch after a LONG ride makes all the difference. Your brain will switch to autopilot and it is good to have the muscle memory to rely on come race day. The runs off the bike don't have to be super long even if they are just 10-20 min just get yourself to go through those motions.

10. Biggest of all- have fun! RELAX! Its your first! There is no expectation of time to beat. Just go in with the goal to finish! Set yourself up for success.

Thanks so much to some of my friends who have done a 70.3 or 2 and provided some of their thoughts for first timers, Greg, Jen and Lisa!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Triathlon Basics- Triathlon 101: Gear and Race Day

To continue the rest of my Basic Triathlon advice from my last blog here are some of the gear I would recommend, a basic race day and a transition layout.

The Gear for Training and Racing:
Fitness swim suit (bikini doesn’t usually work well) – For Training
Optional: fins, kickboard, wetsuit, skinsuit

Bike- be sure it has bar ends
Water bottles and cages
Can use flat pedals or pedals with shoes
Optional: Bike shorts, flat repair kit

Running shoes
Run gear- socks, fuel

Towel for Transition
Optional: race belt for your number, GPS, Cadence sensor, Aero Helmet, Race gear (shorts, tri top, one piece race suit)

Race Day Basics- from getting set up race morning to finishing:
Get to the race early to set up transition. Some races designate your transition spots others you must put your bike (rack) within a certain area. Do your best to keep yourself in a small area to the left or right of your bike on a small towel. In your transition area you will want your biking equipment and run equipment since this is where you will return switching between sports. Don’t leave your swim equipment in transition take that with you to the swim start. Make sure you put the chip for timing on your LEFT leg so it doesn’t get caught in your bike gears. Always make sure to make a mental note of how to get to your transition spot from the swim exit and where the exit for the bike is, note where you will be coming in off the bike and where to go out for the run.

Swim- generally wave start based on age groups or divisions. Caps generally designate waves and are given in gear bags on race morning.  Some starts are from the edge of the water some start in the water, depends on the race. Generally the swim has bouys to “sight” for the course, sighting is lifting your head while swimming to see where you should be headed. There is no requirement for the stroke you swim in a triathlon. Generally freestyle (crawl), breast stroke and backstroke are seen.   Make sure you swim around the bouys. Drafting is okay in the water and can really help you use less energy. There are always people in the water to help- so look for them before you start. You can rest on kayaks and anyone there to help they just can’t help you advance in the swim.
Upon exiting the swim generally there is short run up a beach to transition. As you run take off wetsuit if you are wearing it and remove cap and goggles so when you are in transition you are ready to put them in your area. DO NOT drop anything- it is a penalty.

Put on your bike shoes if you are wearing them or your sneakers. Find out if the race requires wearing your number on the bike- if so put it on your race number belt with it on your back. Make sure you put on your helmet and clasp it before you run with your bike out of transition. NOTE: you are NOT allowed to mount your bike until you reach the marked MOUNT line. So run with your bike next to you until you reach that line.

Bike- rules play a big part in the bike. Make sure you never cross the double yellow line in the road and always follow the rules of the road keeping right. Do yourself a favor and learn how to change a flat tire for road racing. Try to maintain a good line on the bike. Learn the passing rules for your race. It is always best to say “on your left” when you are passing someone.

When you come into transition for the run, make sure you slow down for dismount- it is usually really congested. Even consider dismounting earlier than the dismount line so you are off your bike out of the way. Take your bike in your hand and run into transition with the bike. Best to leave your helmet on until you rack the bike again. Put the helmet back on top of the bike.

Switch shoes if needed, and put on a visor or a hat generally for the run. Make sure you put on your race belt with your number flipped to the front (you want to get those race photos!)  And put on those running shoes and do what comes natural- RUN the course! I carry water with me on half iron distance races anything shorter I don’t.

Always be sure to cheer for everyone else on the course. A simple “nice job” goes a long way. Traithlon unlike many other racing communities is very supportive of others on the course.  Just so you know- there really is no place to go to the bathroom on a course usually- except on longer distance events. Transition almost always is your spot with a port-a-potty.

In Ironman distance events age group athletes usually choose to change their clothes between events in changing stations. In shorter distance events there is no place to change. So plan your race outfit for the duration. For shorter distances, I generally will wear a sports bra and 1 piece tri outfit. Longer distance I am worried about having to hit the bathroom on the course I go with a sports bra, tri top and bottoms- easy escape for the bathroom stops.

Transition Area:
Try to stay contained to a small area. You will notice no swim stuff is in the transition set up since you need to use it. This is a set up from a 70.3 a shorter distance event will likely have less stuff.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Triathlon Basics- Triathlon 101: Definitions

I recently taught a seminar for my run team, Team LUNA Chix Run Boston at Athleta on Newbury St. The intent of the seminar was to teach anyone who has thought about doing a triathlon the basic ideas behind the sport, I am by no means an expert but I have been competing since 2009 in the sport. This is meant to give someone who is thinking about trying out a race the basic knowledge to find out if triathlon is something for you and teach the person who has signed up the basics for their first race.

Lets start with the overall basic definitions shall we:

Triathlon- Swim bike run, all taken on as one event. Can be done individually or as a part of a relay. There are on road versions (road ride and generally road run) and off road versions (mountain biking, and trial running).
Duathlon- Run bike run, all taken on as one event. Can be done individually or part of a relay. There are on road versions (road ride and generally road run) and off road versions (mountain biking, and trial running).
Aquabike- Swim bike (no run), all taken on as one event. Generally done individually. Usually a great option for people with knee or hip issues, who don’t run. Not many of these event options but getting more common.
Aquathon- Swim Run (no bike), all taken on as one event.  Generally done individually. Not many of these events in the north east. 

Now lets talk about the different distances: 

Sprint- Swim varies from ¼ to ½ mile Bike generally around 10 miles and Run usually a 5k.
Olympic- 1.5K swim  (just under a Mile), 40K bike (about 25 miles), and a 10k. Also sometimes called International
Half Ironman- 1.2mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a Half Marathon 13.1. Also known as a 70.3 (the distances add up to 70.3 miles). Race must be completed within 8.5 hours of the last wave of swimmers.
Ironman- 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a Marathon 26.2.  Also known as 140.6 (the distances add up to 140.6 miles). Race must be completed by midnight on race day.

Not all sprints and Olympics/International are the set distances. Anything sanctioned by World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) is that distance for a Half or Full Ironman. The name Ironman belongs to the WTC so any races that are that distance and not run by WTC are not considered Ironman and cannot be named such.

Then you have the governing bodies of triathlon:

USAT- USA Triathlon- The governing body for USA races. You must have a license to participate in a race, day passes are generally available with registration for about 12 bucks. If you decide after a race you want a year membership you can apply that 12 bucks to the year cost. They create and enforce the rules!
World Triathlon Corporation- WTC- The Half Ironman and Ironman distance events governing body. They have slightly different rules and enforcing.

Different types of races and race series:

Kona- Ironman World Championships- it’s the super bowl for triathletes. In order to attend you must win your age group in an Ironman race throughout the year. There are lottery and charity spots available for the common man. This is the race every triathlete hopes to get to at some point.
Rev3- A new race series offering the 70.3 distance, full distance, and Olympic distance all over the US
Challenge Series- A European competitor to the WTC offering similar distance events.

Registration for most races is available online. Ironman events generally are registered for a year in advance starting registration the day after the race day. Depending on the race size the race will include an early packet pickup or an expo- similar to run races.

There are some rules that are really good to know going into your first race here's a few:

Wetsuits are only legal in water temperatures less than 78. 78-84 can wear but not eligible for awards. 84 and higher not legal.

Littering on the course is a violation- keep your wrappers in your pockets or drop them in trash zones at aid stations. Dropping your goggles or your cap can be considered this too.

Helmet must be on for you to be on your bike. Bike must have bar ends

Bike Course rules:
Ride on the right side of your lane.
Keep three bike lengths between yourself and the cyclist in front of you.
Pass on the left of the cyclist in front, never on the right.
Complete your pass within 15 seconds.
If passed, you must drop completely out of the zone, to the rear, before attempting to re-pass.


If you are going to do a triathlon its good to know the big name pros in the sport. Here are the few that just about everyone will mention at some point:

Chrissie Wellington- She was the queen of Ironman. Recently retired but everyone is compared to her she did 13 Ironmans WON ALL OF THEM!
Mirinda Carfrae- aka Rinny- Little 5 foot tall speed demon. Has won Kona and holds the marathon course record at Kona.
Chris McCormick- aka Macca- Has won Kona. Well known Aussie triathlete.
Craig Alexander- another well known Aussie triathlete has won Kona MULTIPLE times and 70.3 World Championships
Winners of Kona last year: Leanda Cave and Pete Jacobs
These are the resources I have used since I started triathlon:
Triathlete Training Bible
Triathlete Magazine has great pointers training plans etc
 Next time- gear suggestions, transition layouts, and race day basics.....