Teaming up with SBR Sports! TriSwim, TriSlide, Foggle!

You heard me right – I’m teaming up with SBR Sports this year. They are the makers of some awesome products that I’ll be using (actually, that I’ve BEEN using) and SHARING with you this year!

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TriSwim products consist of Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash, and Lotion. They work to neutralize and remove the Chlorine, Bromine, salt water and chemical odor from your skin and in your hair. It’s so good, that it’s the official hair & skin care product of US Master’s Swimming.

The lotion is by far my favorite product. Swimming + dry air + winter cold = super dry skin right now. This it my go-to lotion to undo the damage from the pool… and the dry desert air… and the chafing… and the sunburn…

It’s also paraben-free and not tested on animals.

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TriSlide is a silicone-based spray on anti-chafe / anti-friction lubricant. I discovered TriSlide later than I would have liked… picture this…

My family does the Florida Keys Ragnar Relay every year. Two years ago was my dad’s first Ragnar! He started running just to participate in this with us! Well, the Florida heat and humidity caught him by surprise. He was chafing and needed relief. All I had was the stick of rub-on lube. And, not one to let someone suffer, I lent it to him. Ew. I won’t go into detail, but you can imagine what parts that stick came in contact with… we wiped the top layer off with the towel and pretended it was all ok.

So, now, I bring TriSlide to EVERY race – and every ride… and longer runs. It’s super sanitary! Not just for others, but for myself. I’m not rubbing the same stick on my feet, nether-regions, and that weird spot under my arm. I also don’t have to give my business a through rub-down – just a spray. It sprays where you need it and stays put! I use it running, bike riding (3+ hour rides and no need to re-apply), and even ruck marching. It works great to help get your wetsuit on and off, and to avoid chafing on the back of your neck.

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Foggle is a cleanser and anti-fog towelette. It looks like those little lemon-scented sanitizing wipes.

Foggle isn’t something I use daily at the pool, but it is something that comes out as race day approaches. Sighting isn’t critical in the University of Arizona pool, but it is on open water swims and races. For about a week or two leading up to a race, I’ll foggle my goggles, and then use it on race day. It’s awesome, and keeps me fog-free!

I also use these Scuba Diving, I’ve used them on my sunglasses before long rides, and I’ve even used them to clean and de-fog my snowboarding goggles. If you keep the wipes in a zip-lock bag, they last for a few uses.

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So, there it is! The SBR Sports family of products. Now, the REALLY cool part is, I get to share! There will be a giveaway here once the sponsorship gets in full swing… but I’m also hooking up some groups, clinics, practices, and races. So – do you want some SBR Sports swag for your next event? If so, send me an e-mail and we’ll chat 🙂

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Aero Camp!

First, thank you to Team Red, White, & Blue for this opportunity. A triathlete donated their deposit for the camp to Team RWB, and I happened to be willing to pay the remainder and able to attend. Thus, I ended up in over my head at Aero Camp!

This Aero Camp was the brain child of Accelerate3’s Brian Stover, HD Coaching’s Heath Dotson, ERO Sports and Alphamantis.

Let me start by saying it was an amazing experience!

I walked into the Velodrome – the first one I had ever even seen in person – and was terrified. Here’s a shot of the group post-ride. And yes, that’s the track, not the wall!

To kick off the camp, we got some instruction on track bikes from Missy Erickson – an all around-badass on the track, and an Olympic hopeful for 2016. She managed to get a bunch of triathletes riding in a pace line on fixed gear bikes on a track. Impressive! No crashes, either 🙂

The thing that really helped calm me down on the track was that faster = safer. If we ever felt like we might slip, just pedal faster! And with no potholes, hardware, furniture, or dead javalina to worry about – it was easier to just get in that mentality. Fast can be scary, but on a smooth track, it was awesome.

My confidence grew, even though my hands hurt from the death grip I had on the handlebars.

Anyway, next was lunch and a pool-side discussion of what we wanted to test.  With guidance from Brian and Heath, my run list looked something like this:

#1 – remove spacers under stem

#2 – possibly add a spacer

#3 – go narrower on my pads/bars

#4 – placeholder in case more fiddling is needed with my aero bars

#5 – remove bottle cage, use BTA (between the arms) bottle

#6 – one piece suit (2 piece was my baseline)

#7+ – helmet tests

We were set and ready to go…

Then, my ego took a blow…

That happened.

I knew my fit wasn’t aero-optomized, but I didn’t think it was THAT bad. Well – more room for improvement, right?

Jim from ERO had me jump on a trainer for a 3D Retul view of my fitting. He really wanted to lower my seat 2 cm before we even started, but we kept it, just so we could see what a drastic difference it would make.

This alone was an eye-opening and educational experience. Perhaps my too-high seat was a factor in my shin pain?

Given this info, we rehashed my testing plan.

With all of that work done, it was track time!!

Each testing run was about 12 laps. One lap to get up to speed, one lap to calibrate, and 10 laps of testing. We tested two people at at a time, so when one was testing, one was making changes. Let me tell you, by my final runs, I was getting TIRED!

#0 – baseline with current set-up

#1 – Saddle down 2cm; aero bar down approx 4cm

#2 –  -17 degree stem, s-bend extensions rotated in

#3 – Remove Cages, BTA installed

#4 – One piece suit trial

#5 – LG P09

#6 – Rudy Project Wingspan

#7 – LG P09 and attempted shrug

But wait, don’t my #1 and #2 runs violate the rule-of-thumb of only changing one thing at a time? Yes. But, my fit was THAT bad. And, we were trying to get me to a more reasonable baseline position.

For me, my best run was #5. My BTA set-up was SLOWER than my bottle on the down tube setup. A one piece suit made virtually no difference over my two-piece tri suit. My shrug helped nothing.

I also left knowing I still have work to do on my fit. I need to get lower in the front, and probably longer. And get some shorter cranks. But, overall, I’m saving myself close to 35W, and that ain’t bad. My first run is the top picture, my best run is the bottom one.

I’ll leave you with some general observations:

-lower is better, until it’s not

-speedsuits are only good if they fit WELL, and then, only for most people.

-the Trek Speed Concept also had really good numbers overall – similar to the LG P09 – it just seemed to be low drag, no matter what – same with the TorHans aero bottle

-shorter cranks aren’t just a new trend – seems like they are a great way to go, especially for us shorter people. They suggested swapping my 172.5 for 165 or 160.

-things that look aero, or are aero for one person, might not actually be aero for you. for example, a girl had her torpedo-mount bottle sticking up really high. they put a smaller bottle in and changed the angle of the cage. it LOOKED faster, but it was slower. It even surprised the guys running the clinic.

-bottle position (torpedo-style mount beat frame mount – this is “generally” the most aero-neutral)

Dr. Frayed Laces or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bike Trainer

I live in beautiful Tucson, Arizona. That means that year-round outdoor riding is totally an option.

The past few months, I’ve been working with Laura (aka Frayed Laces). I sought her out when I still had Ironman dreams for 2014. She’s a beast at that distance, very experienced, awesome on the bike (my weakness), and had a PhD in Biology. Unfortunately for those dreams, the Army had other plans for me. Adapt, overcome, and all that 🙂

A lot of her awesomeness on the bike, and therefore, a lot of what she’s got me doing to make me awesome on the bike, is based around my bike trainer.

So, yes, I’ve passed on riding outside on quite a few beautiful 70 degree days this winter to slave away on the trainer.

And I like it.

Here’s how I’ve learned to love it:

1. Embrace the simplicity.

No toe covers, arm warmers, bike lights, windbreakers, helmets, flat kits, route planning, traffic, potholes, sunscreen, unwelcome drafters, sunglasses, etc.

2.Make it count, literally.

Chase that data. I got a PowerTap, but with about $100 or less, you can get an ANT+ stick, a  Speed/Cadence sensor, and a Heart Rate strap. You can then sync these up with free software – I use Golden Cheetah – and produce some pretty stellar virtual power numbers. For $10 a month, you can go to a more user-friendly software platform with built-in plans like TrainerRoad or PainCave – but I chose to invest about two hours into learning a bit about Golden Cheetah instead. It’s so much easier to maintain focus and discipline when you are looking at numbers representing your output.

If you’re on a tight budget, the classified section on Slowtwitch  or a trip over to eBay can generally yield a Speed/Cadence sensor and ANT+ stick for under $50 total.

3. Entertain yourself

Unless I’m cranking out a 5′ power test, ending a 20′ power test, hitting some really tough intervals, or really focusing on drills/cadence, I can generally “set it and forget it”. I broke out the old laptop, so I’ve got one screen with my data where I can keep an eye on cadence/power/heart rate, and I can entertain myself with the other.

For warm-up, cool-down, tempo and steady state intervals, I LOVE watching movies or TV shows. In fact, to make myself like the trainer MORE – I save certain shows or movies that I’m excited to see for when I’m on the trainer. When seasons 7&8 of Dexter hit Netflix, I promised myself I’d only watch them on the trainer. So, now I look forward to catching my favorites!

For harder intervals, I’ve got a playlist going on Spotify of high tempo, fun music. Current favorites are Danza Kuduro (Reggaeton Masters), Pompeii (Bastille), and On Top of the World (Imagine Dragons).

4. Set yourself up for success

I usually create my workout in Golden Cheetah, but I’ll also write it on a white board in front of my bike. Sometimes I’ll put some notes/inspiration/tough love on the board, too. I’ve got both laptops on an ironing board right in front of my handlebars. I’ll have 1-3 water bottles ready to go, and a stash of PowerBar goodies, too. And, of course, my handy can of TriSlide just in case.

I also usually give the dog a new bone, leave the door to the yard cracked for him, and top off his water dish to minimize his desire to bug me while I’m riding… though I do play tug of war sometimes during rest intervals 🙂

Now, get on that trainer and get to work!

Picacho Peak and tempo runs

Well, I already knocked one thing off of my Tucson Bucket list…

Last Sunday, I headed up to Picaho Peak with a few friends!

We climbed the one on the right.

It was full of crazy, sketchy sections where you needed cables/supports to climb:

It was challenging, fun, and my quads hurt for days.

So glad I went!

I got home and lounged on the couch for hours, because I had a tempo run to get in. I put it off, and put it off, and put it off… and finally convinced myself to get out the door around 9:30pm.

I started running, and my warm-up miles were nearly 11 minutes/mile. SUPER slow. Oh well, that’s what a warm-up is supposed to be, right?

My first tempo mile felt awful. I felt like I was full-on sprinting, but my HR avg for that mile was 13bpm lower than my prescribed tempo run, but somehow, my pace was right around where it normally is for that tempo run.

I told myself if I was still struggling around mile 3, when I’d pass by home, that I could stop.

By the end of that first mile, I had built to 2bpm below my target and I had knocked out an 8:36 mile.

Now, for these runs, when I’m doing my tempo miles, my Garmin screen only displays current HR, and avg HR for the mile. I try to ignore pace completely.

Mile 2 went by. I still felt like I was sprinting… and when my Garmin beeped, I saw my split. 8:02. Still averaged 8bpm under what I was trying to hit.

The next miles went by… 7:55, 8:01, 7:47…

Holy cow. I may actually be able to hit that sub-2:35 goal at Superseal.

Of course, because training wouldn’t have ups without downs… I had a terrible run two days later.

But, I redeemed myself with a great FTP test. 20 Watts higher than 5 weeks ago. Seriously. I think this is the most time I’ve ever spent on a trainer, but my workouts have been very focused, and executed to the best of my ability.

Now, I’m coming off a weekend of rest… well, rest from tri training. I was drilling with my Guard Unit all weekend. I’m ready to hop back on the trainer tonight for increased pain with my brand new FTP!

My Arizona Bucket List

Goal: Complete this list prior to headed to Fort Leonard Wood in June.

1. Visit the Grand Canyon (done!)

2. Summit Mt. Wrightson

3. Hike Piccacho Peak

4. Snowboard the Southwest (AZ or NM)

5. Climb Mt Lemmon on my bike (done!)

6. Go to Kitt Peak Observatory

7. Visit BioSphere 2 (done twice!)

8. Explore Saguaro National Park (done A LOT!)

9. Ride the Tucson Shootout

10. Visit Lake Powell

…what great things in the Southwest am I missing??

Working on living in the moment

With 6 months of Army training looming on the horizon, I’m definitely struggling to live in the moment. This is something that I used to be awesome at! 

I was pretty nomadic from 2007-2010. I lived out of two suitcases for two separate four-month periods during that span. And I LOVED it. I could tell stories for days about undertaking crazy adventures, borderline shady living conditions, and cramming entirely too many people into a hotel room/cabin/tent all for the sake of some fun times together.

So, what’s changed? Why am I worried?

I guess this time, I’m facing the bad kind of professional uncertainty. I’m potentially facing a need to find a job post-army training. I’m working under a grant right now that should keep me working until May/June, when I pick up and leave Tucson. There’s no guarantee that grant money will be available after I complete training. I may be facing dreaded unemployment!

  • Solution: the world is my oyster, yet again! Well, at least the US is. I’m in the AZ Guard, but I can transfer states.  Plus, I’ll have time to explore my options as training wraps up. I may end up right back where I started, too. Tucson is great – but the market for Mechanical Engineers isn’t stellar.

I have a dog that I need to leave behind for 6 months… again!

  • Positive side: He’s most likely staying with my parents, but I did reach out to an OCS classmate who is stationed where I’ll be training to see if anyone wants him for a while. Either way, Duke will be happy and well-taken care of! Also, I’ll embrace life sans-dog – spontaneous trips, guilt free long days & workouts, no picking up poo, and all of the bed space I could possibly want.

The last time I left for six months, my 3-year relationship blew up in epic fashion.

  • I’m never allowing myself to remain in a situation like that again, anyway, so this shouldn’t be a problem 🙂

Sweating the details: do I keep my lease and collect the housing money? Do I walk away from the lease and put my stuff on storage? Do I sell/give away most of my stuff so it all fits in my car? Where will my mail go? When will I leave?

  • It doesn’t REALLY matter. Any solution will work, one way or another! The best solutions will become more obvious as time goes on.

Friends are settling down, which makes my semi-nomadic life not quite fit in.

  • Stop comparing myself to them! Embrace the adventurers, the quirky ones, the ones that will love me and visit or vacation with me despite the miles and other life obligations!

I’m going to live in the deep, dark hole that is TRADOC for another 6 months.

  • It’s not THAT BAD. Besides, that sort of group suffering/commiseration is what builds strong bonds. Seize every opportunity to have fun, even if it’s outside of my comfort zone. Improve myself.

I’m getting that restless feeling that always seems to occur when a big change in imminent!

  • I’m creating an AZ Bucket List. I generally HATE bucket lists, but it will give me something to chase while I’m here. It should keep me focused on the awesomeness that is Southern Arizona – and not focused on the uncertainty that 2014 will bring. It will also help ease the pain of separation from AZ if no good job opportunities present themselves here late next year.

So, here’s to embracing life’s changes and spending 2014 living in the here and now!

Looking back at 2013

I usually love doing a year in review post, like I did in 2012

…but, this year has been weird!

I spent 10 weeks living under a rock (Army Basic Training), and another 12 peeking out from under that rock (Army Officer Candidate School).

“Real life” picked up again at the end of June – but the beginning of July saw me scrambling to get my job back AND find a new place to live. I feel like I finally got it all together in August, just in time to leave for family vacation.

In September, I transitioned to a new job – which has proved to be a major improvement professionally, personally, and mentally. In October my parents made their first trip to see me in Tucson and it was wonderful!!

Now, suddenly, I’m prepping for my flight home on Saturday for Christmas. I just saw the entire family three weeks ago, and I couldn’t be more excited to be heading back again.

To say that 2013 has been somewhat stressful would be an understatement, for sure.

But let’s reflect on the good for a moment, shall we?

This is my reminder that, no matter the distance, I’m loved and supported by the important people in my life. This is all of the mail I got while at Basic:

I was easily in the top three people in my platoon for mail volume. I even got letters from people I didn’t know that reached out to me via my mother. My dad’s letters always included a joke. My mom’s were insightful. My oldest sister’s included drawings from my niece. My older sister’s were short, but frequent (like 3x/week! I could spot her stationery from across the room). My little sister’s always included hilarious drawings. My brother even wrote more than once! Friends, grandparents, aunts… you name it, they wrote. Yes, I still have it all! And yes, I wrote A LOT of letters in return.

These people were my sanity. They reminded me that it was ok to strive for nothing less than excellence:

This girl taught me a lot about patience, perseverance, and determination:

This guy on the right pushed me physically, encouraged me, and challenged me mentally:

This crew helped me rediscover fun after way too much training:

This little guy bounced back strong and helped me do the same. We’re resilient:

These people (and more!) were waiting patiently for me to return to Arizona:

And these girls were strong, supportive, and fun:

And, the family:

Family has played a huge role in my happiness, sanity, and direction in 2013. They do every year! But in a year of so much change – and so many out-of-my-comfort-zone experiences – their positive effect on me is magnified. I love them all, and I’m incredibly lucky to have been born into this wonderful group of people.

I’m ready for 2013 to come to an end, and I’m looking forward to 2014 and the challenges and opportunities that come with it!