Category Archives: triathlon gear

In the thick of things, a new training toy

Anyone who trains for swim meets, runs, cycling events or triathlons knows the inevitable will happen: you will collect a variety of training gadgets.

Sometimes, you will actually use them.

Sometimes, that sometimes will turn into devotion to the device and you’ll wonder why you ever did anything without it.

This is an example of that:

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It’s a Finis Tempo Trainer. It is about the size of a half-dollar and I should have had it inserted in my brain years ago. Basically (at least at this point, because I am still learning how it works), you can set it to time yourself to swim a certain distance in a certain time before it beeps in your ear, letting you know you either made it to the wall and turned in the set time or you didn’t. It has other uses, such as maintaining stroke tempo, and for running and bike training.

Right now, its primary purpose is to be annoying and let me know that I don’t need to look at the pace clock for feedback. It does not play music or emit other nice sounds. Just that regular persistent beep. I find myself wanting to #beatthebeep now. I like it because I can already see it helps, but I want to hurl this aquatic accessory into the locker room sometimes. In the long run, I think any training tool you buy that benefits your performance is a good investment, and I  think this trainer will be one of those. At least this item is small and relatively inexpensive.

Now if only I could stop hearing that beeping noise in my sleep…

quitting

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Filed under athletic competition, Cycling, Exercise, Ocean swimming, Running, Swimming, thought, triathlon gear, Triathlons

Olympics done, my racing begins

After a two-month break from competition (but not from training), it’s time to plan, pay and play once again.

I have a new calendar and it is getting full already. At this point, I have one free weekend in September, October and November. December has one competition (the state Senior Games), to be followed by minor surgery and two weeks off. I ramp it back up and prep for an event I said I’d never do again (a half-marathon) in March.

Some would say I have lost my mind. I question whether I ever had any sanity to work with in the first place. Regardless, I am having fun at this, even when the body is tired and the brain cannot keep up with work, workouts and stuff at home. And I don’t have kids. I have no idea how people who have kids do it all. They are brave and heroic souls.

It’s been fun and inspiring to watch the Rio Olympics. I’ve learned new stroke techniques during the swim competition, and picked up a pointer or two on transitions during the triathlon. And let’s be honest: at age 41, few really thought Meb Keflezighi was going to medal in the men’s marathon event. It was an amazing achievement that he qualified to be there, and while his 33rd place finish was not memorable, he turned a slip at the end into some Jack Palance-worthy pushups.

So much about the Olympics was good – there were moments of athletic greatness and  sportsmanship, along with compassionate acts and contributions for residents of Rio’s favelas for whom the Games held no benefit, other than to spotlight their plight. And then you have Ryan Lochte and his little band of ugly American aquatic brothers, with their party-hard attitude coupled with the ability to lie badly about it afterwards. A trio that deserves a podium of their own – gold, silver and bronze in the douchebag competition.

With these games over (and the even more powerful Paralympics yet to come), it’s time to dig down, rest up, eat well and train steady. It’s time to go out and play. inspire

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Filed under athletic competition, Current news, Cycling, Exercise, Rio Olympics 2016, Running, Swimming, travel, triathlon gear, Triathlons

I missed the hardware (this time)

Good news and bad news about the 5K I ran today.

Good news: it was my first 5K of the year, after doing 10Ks, swim meets and triathlons to start the year.

Really good news: I finally broke my old personal best time and set a new one.

Sort of bad news: no medal this time. I finished fourth in my age group, forty seconds behind third place. No medal for fourth, which is disappointing, as this particular race had especially nice hardware.

But I’m happy with the new PR time, as that old one was from two age groups ago, and set on a flat course (today’s race had three small hills and a persistent headwind). Also old for this race: my current running shoes, which are retired from regular use as of today. I’ve been saving for a new pair, and got the money together yesterday, even though I have still not found full-time employment.

Being out of work has made me healthier, because I force myself to get up and move around more often. I’m not sedentary for eight hours a day. The weekly track workouts, with the bleacher climbs and sprints, have helped as well. And competition has kept me focused on not getting depressed and caught up in the frustration of not having a job just yet. It’s also something of a social outlet, after sitting in front of my home computer working on the job search, or freelance writing, or both.

I plan to keep competing, though not spending hog-wild on it at this point. I realize this is not the ideal time to be spending money on these endeavors. But I consider regular racing, whether it be running, swimming or triathlons, a reasonable investment in my health and my sanity. At this point, it’s hard to tell whether I am chasing what’s left of my mental marbles, or they are rolling behind me, trying to catch up. Either way, the personal race should be at least as interesting as my next event.Motivational-quotes (1)And a note to my friend Steve, who suggested that I “throw a little chocolate into every day”: my friend, I know you meant that literally, because you know how I feel about chocolate. But I’m going to consider your advice in the figurative sense as well. I’ll consider a good competition day to like a piece of the best chocolate: sweet, satisfying and a tonic for the senses.

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Filed under athletic competition, Cycling, Exercise, mental health, Running, Swimming, thought, triathlon gear, unemployment

Triathlon minus 10 days; is a no training day a cop-out?

. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

It’s almost here, and it’s a sprint distance tri this time.

Training is really a grind as you get older.

Stuff hurts more often and for longer periods of time. And because you’re more forgetful, you don’t recall just how bad it was the last time you ached. That first aid kit on the shelf now takes up the entire shelf. Where once there was lingerie and other silly pretty things, there are now bandages, tape, first-aid creams and muscle rub compounds.

The living room couch boasts a permanent addition: a heating pad, plugged in and always at the ready.

I now look at Relax The Back catalogs  with the same drooling devotion I once reserved for Williams-Sonoma.

Getting out of bed in the morning requires a 10-minute stretch, or my body makes sounds like a bowl of crispy rice cereal and four-letter words issue forth from my brain to my mouth.

I now have so many bodily scars, dents and pings, I can probably go to my plastic surgeon and ask if a total body refurbish job  is a possibility.

Why does anyone do this? Where’s the root of obsession, addition and dark-side desire to get up, get out and go to yet one more event? I’ve even scheduled an “away” 5K while we’re on vacation.The Husband does have a sense of humor about this, as long as he gets to do and see what’s on his list. But considering we go on one vacation a year, because most of my other time is used up for competitive events, does make me wonder if my motivation switch is stuck in the “On” position, somewhere between “Hell, Yes!” and “Can’t Stop.”

And what’s so hard about a day off that I was actually forced to schedule two of them a month in the months leading up to my next triathlon on Sept. 6? The body needs rest, but compelling it to do so makes me jittery, guilty and in search of something to do.

We have a storm brewing off the coast. Right now, it’s Tropical Storm Erika. It will likely be Hurricane Erika in a few days. Conveniently, it may blow through on Monday. I could use a Monday to myself. I mean, normally I’d be out running a few miles on the local high school track, but I have a final transition practice to do Sunday, so a Monday off would be nice. A day off, six days before a triathlon. Really, I can do that. I have projects, like dust bunny removal, window washing, yard work and paperwork to file. What’s that, you say? I don’t seem concerned about the storm itself? On the contrary, a Category 1 hurricane is a concern. It can bring downed trees and power lines, flooding and damage to homes and businesses.  Oh, and block the road for cyclists, close the pool for practice…WHAT? It’s almost here…and a sprint tri this time. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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Two Weeks To Triathlon, And What Was I Thinking Again?

Actually, it’s less than two weeks until triathlon Saturday.

It’s for real now. The two-day camp is done: no bruises, no blood and nothing broken (on me or the bike). I did my first ocean swim, which is very different from the discipline of the pool. No lane lines, no walls, no guidance other than the buoy markers. It’s liberating, in an odd, “welcome to the dark side” sort of way, especially if you’ve only been a lap swimmer.

I’ve practiced transitions (and decided to get the elastic laces, though I don’t think it will be much of a time saver for a first-timer like myself), practiced doing and undoing my bike cleats while riding, walking the bike to and from “the line” and even spent time running the wood chip trail that will comprise the run. I hate trail running, I don’t even consider it running; it’s somewhere between a slog and a jog for me. I’ll never get to the point where I like it, but by June 27th, I figure I’ll at least hate it a little less.

What else can I do? Watch what I eat (nothing unusual, no heavy meals, no carbo overloads and drink plenty of water), try not to cut myself (open wounds and salt water are not a good match), rest (a four-letter word meaning inactivity) and not overthink this. Don’t overthink how I look out there (I could go into the lack of triathlon clothing for participants larger than stick-figure size, but that’s a whole ‘nother post), or the time factor, or what could go wrong.

This is about getting it as right as possible the first time, not getting it perfect, while still having a perfectly good time doing it.

The Triathlon start: it’s a jungle out there. Photo courtesy of Maria Georgieva/Creative Commons.

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