Thursday, June 24, 2010

Careful with that Wetsuit

You might need to rethink wearing your wetsuit during triathlon. Come 2013, the wetsuit you've been using might not make the cut for legal use in competition. Not because its warmth factor is ahead of the pack, but because its thickness can possibly help you move to the front of the pack.

USA Triathlon, the governing body for the sport of triathlon, recently announced that beginning in 2013 it would disqualify anyone using a wetsuit thicker than five-millimeters from competition in a USAT-sanctioned event. It found research that showed athletes received a marked advantage over the field by wearing wetsuits laden with the latest technological advancements. While some age-groupers might appreciate the added aid, they won't be able to use those wetsuit technologies that have been found to add even more buoyancy in the water. Why? Because they reduce passive drag and can help the athlete cut through the water at a faster pace while expending less energy.

So much for technology advancements in sports--or rather, using those advancements. Remember the LZR Racer swimsuit that was all the rage in the pool at the 2008 Beijing Olympics (and all the records smashed at the U.S. Olympic Trials and the Games)? Banned from the pool in part because the full-length suits make human skin far faster, their NASA wind tunnel-tested fabric designed to repel water, reduce drag, create better oxygen flow through the muscles and hold the body higher in the water. That went into effect in January. Then the World Triathlon Corporation banned the speed suits popularized in triathlons where the water temperature is too warm to wear wetsuits (i.e. Hawaii's World Championship). Well, actually, they specified that swimwear needed to be made of a textile material, no rubber, and needs to only go so far as the knee and shoulder, otherwise it's considered a wetsuit. Well, sort of. That's my interpretation after reading the why's and why not's for the acceptance of Xterra's Velocity suit in USAT-sanctioned and WTC-sanctioned events. If you see a sale on speed suits, you know why.

For the most part, this doesn't really change much on the wetsuit front. Take Xterra's priciest model, the $695 Vendetta. It's labeled as the "most technologically advanced" wetsuit on the market, yet it still meets the requirements for competition. And usually expensive price tags--if I'm thinking in bike mode--mean more top-of-the-line goods. Carbon frame, race wheels (Zipp, HED), components. But that's for another discussion. Maybe. I might be opening a whole new can of worms with that one. Photo grabbed from Ben Lawson at flickr

Note: The LZR Racer link sends you to the newly designed Speedo suit that meets the FINA regulations. For a picture of the suit used at the 2008 Olympics, click here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Guess Where I'm Going, The Reveal

One thousand miles. Less than 16 hours, closer to 14 actually, behind the wheel. A bike and enough gear to survive the coldest and warmest of conditions. A wetsuit, two pairs of running shoes and a bag full of random triathlon accessories. Leaving the flatlands for some Rocky Mountain Highs. Yes, I'm in Colorado, but this isn't the typical Colorado trip that sends tourists to Rocky Mountain National Park (although I have done that before). I'm not packing a tent nor am I attending a triathlon (that was last weekend). And I'm not sitting around a campfire, sharing ghost stories and roasting marshmallows. I will be camping but it's not camping in the traditional sense--the kind of camp you'd ship off to for entire summers as a kid, or day camp to keep you occupied when school wasn't in session. We're talking a full-on week all about triathlon at Endurance Corner's Boulder Camp.

Immersed in sport and surrounded by athletes of all ages and abilities, it's a camp scenario I haven't seen since I was 14 or 15 when I attended swim camp for a one-up on the high school season around the corner. But yes, adults go to camp too--just take the Chris Carmichael camp I passed up to attend this one--just that these camps are more elective than the kiddie ones. Just that this time around we're all motivated and excited to be at camp because we chose to attend. Take that, Mom.

As for what I'm expecting, I really can't say beyond the plan to be active for the six days that I'm there. There's an undisclosed number of guests that won't be revealed until the evening's kick-off dinner. And we didn't learn until yesterday the specifics on the activities that would be filling our days. But would you really want to pass up this camp even if you only read the initial description and itinerary?

  • Sunday – Arrival, camp overview talk and welcome dinner
  • Monday – Metric or Imperial Century in the local mountains
  • Tuesday – Open Water Session with Brick to Follow 
  • Wednesday – Practical Skills Sessions (all sports) and Transitions
  • Thursday – Aquathon followed by shorter ride option
  • Friday – Mt. Evans (we will get you high in the Rockies!)
  • Saturday – The Classic Boulder Big Day (swim, bike and run)
  • Sunday – Depart
It's too hard to pass up, right? Plus factor in the price --$875--and the inside information that last year's campers dined at Dave Scott's house one evening, and you'd probably be on the next plane, train or automobile out to Boulder. A week to be well spent, at least in my book. And only further solidified by learning last night that I'd be in the company of Chrissie Wellington, Craig Alexander, Matty Reed, and Greg and Laura Bennett, plus famed coach and running expert, Bobby McGee. It's a ton of activity for a week, but that's just how we roll--we'll be altitude trained (at least a pinch), mountain climbed, run down and tri focused by the end. And gaining knowledge and tips from a great assembly of professionals that many wait a year to meet one from the above arsenal.

First up, Chrissie Wellington, a three-time Ironman World Champion, who makes triathlon look easy with a grin practically tattooed to her face during the Ironman. Then mountain riding tomorrow--or at least what I'll consider mountain since it's so flat at home.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Guess Where I'm Going, Hint 3

It's only T minus 24 hours--give or take--before this adventure gets underway. I passed up the Horribly Hilly Hundreds. I couldn't run Grandma's Marathon again and listen to Kara Goucher speak at some of the expo activities. I can't race two favorite Chicago-area triathlons: Big Foot and Pleasant Prairie. But in going on this trip, I'm thinking I won't be missing those events by the end of the week.

Clue 3 is two-fold: one is a giveaway for where I am, the other, not so much. The more difficult hint to guess:

This is one place many of us go shipped off to in the summer when we were kids--full of kayaking, arts and crafts, swimming, and more. Or on a personal note, I haven't done a week-long intensive of this magnitude since I was 14 and all I did was think swimming for seven days straight.

And here's what I think is the giveaway:

I'll be in a part of the country that I also like to visit in the winter, participating in a sport that consumes a lot of my time back in Chicago. This sport is also very popular where I'll be traveling, so much so that the town is full of some of the sport's top athletes. I might get to hang out with some of them and what I'm attending is led by one such athlete.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the reveal.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Guess Where I'm Going, Hint 2

I'm not quite sure why I'm into this guessing game for my latest adventure but I think part of it stems from my excitement, and trepidation for what's about to unfold. Trepidation because I'll be conquering some fears, hopefully, or at least trying.

You saw my packing list. You read my lame-o first clues that didn't really provide accurate hints as to what I'm doing. You read clue 1: I'll be spending a week in one of the top outdoor meccas in the country. People here put Chicagoans to shame when it comes to physical activity. And I fear posting a picture from the area might give it away. Now it's time for No. 2. Again, this next clue still might not make much sense unless you heard me talking repeatedly about the trip or looked at the itinerary, but it is one of those things I can't help but think about and recall when I start worrying about everything I still have to pack.

Hint No. 2:

A lot of people head out this way for winter and summer outdoor activities, creating traffic to and from. And this place in particular is home to several professionals in sport--and I'll get to meet a few of them.

Stay tuned for a third and final clue tomorrow.

Guess Where I'm Going, Hint 1

You already saw my packing list, but that--and my lame-o clues that I was too tired and brain-dead to describe properly the other night--probably didn't provide much of an idea for my next adventure. So I figured I'd attempt to write up some better hints. And while this next clue still might not make much sense unless you heard me talking repeatedly about the trip or looked at the itinerary, it does include some of the highlights I'm looking forward to.

Hint No. 1:

I'll be spending a week in one of the top outdoor meccas in the country. People here put Chicagoans to shame when it comes to physical activity. And I fear posting a picture from the area might give it away.

Stay tuned for a second clue tomorrow.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Guess Where I'm Going...

Can you guess what next week brings for me by reading this list?
  • Shorts and/or Bib Shorts
  • Jerseys; Short Sleeve & Long Sleeve
  • Base Layers; Lightweight & Midweight
  • Wind Vest
  • Wind Jacket/Rain Jacket
  • Sunglasses
  • Cycling Cap/Head Gear
  • Gloves; Long Finger & Short Finger
  • Socks
  • Helmet
  • Bike Shoes
  • Shoe Covers
  • Arm Warmers
  • Leg Warmers
  • Knee Warmers 
  • Comfortable clothing for post ride
  • Casual clothing for dinners & discussions
  • Jacket
  • Athletic Shoes
  • Shorts & T-Shirt
  • Flip Flops
  • Toiletries
  • Swimsuit (optional) 
  • Water Bottles
  • Bike Computer
  • Seat Bag
  • Heart Rate Monitor(optional) 
  • Camera
  • Film or Digital Media
  • Cell Phone
  • Chamois Cream
  • Sunscreen & Lip Balm
  • Emergency Contact & Insurance Information
  • Swim goggles
  • Swimsuit
  • running shoes
  • running hat/visor
  • long sleeve running shirt
Number of bags packed: 0 Number of projects to finish before I depart: 3 (and counting) Number of items I will accidentally forget: at least 5

Where am I traveling this time around and why would I pass up a perfectly good race weekend in Chicago--both Big Foot and Pleasant Prairie are set for June 27 in Wisconsin--for it?

Here are a few clues to help you out:
  • The Kenosha Bike Club Century, the Udder Century, and random rides in Wisconsin were only prep-work for this week.
  • It's how you may have spent your summer when you were nine.
  • I think I may finally shock myself into the realization that Ironman is not even 12 weeks away.
More will be revealed next week. I just needed something to get excited about and keep the stories coming.

Friday, June 11, 2010

What's to Love This Weekend

What a week! For me, anyway, between work, play and what always seems like a million other things. Chicago's celebrating after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. Festival season is in full swing. The weather's nice--almost all the time. Marcus Samuellson, the underdog I was rooting for, won Top Chef Masters, and Landon and Carley, deemed the underdogs as the teams whittled away, won $100,000 at The Challenge: Fresh Meat II in an endurance adventure I totally would have loved. But that's not to say that all good things happened during the week and that the weekend means wind-down time. Sure, we'll be getting some R&R from the office, but there's plenty to look forward to. Last weekend may have been the weekend of the half Ironman with 70.3 races in Hawaii, Kansas, and New Hampshire in addition to triathlons of all distances, Rock 'N' Roll San Diego, century rides and 5K/10K races, but this weekend promises to have just as much excitement. Check it out:
  • Thirsty on the run? If you're running along the Lakefront Path in Chicago, forgot your hydration and can't fathom another sip of water from a water fountain, look for the Fleet Feet hydration stations. Fleet Fleet Sports Chicago sets up three stations along the heavily trafficked parts of the path that are fully equipped with friendly volunteers, water and Gatorade. You have to get out there early as they usually shut down by 10:30 but those stations make running in the heat so much less worrisome. And it's far easier to tackle those 20-milers when you have a hydration source to rely on for your needs--personal experience taught me that one.
  • For some reason I like to escape Chicago the weekend of the Old Town Art Fair--I do it every year. It's an easy excuse to go to Michigan and get in the first tri of the season, the Motor City Triathlon. It's not as large as the Chicago races, which I love, a fun course, and if you stick around for the raffle, you're most likely to go home with something.
  • Kara Goucher and Paula Radcliffe will be bearing their baby bumps at the New York Mini 10K on Saturday. I'm so curious as to how fast they'll still be able to run with their extra baggage--bets are on that they can still beat me.
  • Hy-Vee Triathlon...where the big names in the sport come to race. It's only in Iowa, but I think because of the celeb status at this race--with the likes of Emma Snowsill, Laura Bennett and Hunter Kemper appearing in the past--that made me think that way. And I remember watching it on TV on a random weekend afternoon a few summers ago, right around the time I was getting into triathlon.
  • More half Ironman action in Boise and Maryland (Eagleman)
  • Or if those races aren't in the schedule, tune in to watch the 2009 Ironman 70.3 World Championship on TV come Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. Eastern. You'll see how the race unfolded for the pros and a few fan-favorite stories like Rocco DiSpirito's. I already have the DVR set for this one.
  • Half marathons around Chicago that I still haven't had a chance to race for one reason or another--North Shore Half and 13.1. And the North Shore Half had an awesome goody bag this year that included a race backpack.
There's definitely more to look forward to, and I know I'm missing a few that were on my list, just that I have to pack and hit the road for my Motor City adventure.

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Fit-Q: How Much Would You Spend on Running Shoes?

    I'm not in the market for new running shoes. In fact, I've been told by several family members that I have too many and need to pick through my collection. But I was reading about recent offerings now available at a local running store which got me thinking about the price tag on these shoes that we wear for all those miles. My shoes have varied in price over the years, from the Nike Pegasus sale find around $50 to the $120 Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ 2 I sported for two (or was it three?) seasons and still have a new pair to break in sitting in the closet. Not to go all Nike on you--although that's always been my shoe of choice and most comfort--but I did wear Under Armour's new Apparition last year which settled in around $110 or $120 at the time of purchase. And currently I'm loving the dynamic support collection from Nike with my LunarGlides ($100) that I like to say carried me through the 2009 Chicago Marathon.

    But enough about the sneakers in my closet. What are the price tags on the shoes in yours? Or what do you think is a reasonable amount of money to spend on your running shoes? Answer below and share comments in the comments field. I can tell you my husband's answer right now: He's a bargain shopper who could care less about the style and more about finding a deal. I think he found his current Reeboks on Amazon for $40 max.

    Friday, June 4, 2010

    Girls, Giggles and Group Running

    GOTR in Red Wing, Minn.
    Chicago likes to do things big. We have some of the tallest buildings in the country. We have one of the largest--and one of the most spectacular, I might add--Whole Foods Markets. We've set a Guinness World Record for the largest triathlon, August's Chicago Tri has drawn about 8,000 competitors, and our Bank of America Chicago Marathon is known as one of the biggies in North America. So it didn't come as much of a surprise when I read that our city's branch of Girls on the Run is shooting to be the largest ever when it kicks off tomorrow morning.

    But we're not talking about it being the largest New Balance Girls on the Run 5K that Chicago has ever had. It's aiming to be the largest in the world. Girls on the Run Chicago only needs 6,301 people to be registered to receive that honor. And between the 3,000 girls in the group, which encourages young girls to live healthy lives and have self-respect through a 12-week running program, plus their coaches, parents, friends and the general public who want to support this mission, the race is getting close to that milestone.

    The 5K kicks off tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. at Montrose Harbor along the Chicago Lakefront. Beware about trying to park onsite...that Montrose parking lot fills out pretty fast on any race-day morning but with a nice weekend ahead, girls being bussed to the start and a lot of people for a relatively small space, you're better off arriving by bike, foot, or public transportation. The morning promises to be a fun one for all involved. It's an amazing site to see these girls geared up for the race--for many it's their first 5K--and their cheerleaders, ready to watch them reach their goal. To keep the competition from getting out of hand, everyone is a winner at this race, with a clock running but no one really caring about how fast or slow they take it out there--makes sense, right? And if you are that lucky 6,301st registrant, the one who's responsible for bringing the race over that record-setting line, you'll go home with a special prize. No word yet on what it is, but Girls on the Run has a lot of great sponsors so it should be good.

    What are you waiting for? Online registration closes at 5 p.m. today or you can register on site tomorrow morning, beginning at 7 a.m. Registration costs $35, which goes back to providing all of this great programming for the girls. For more details, check out or click here to register. Photo grabbed from chief_huddleston at flickr.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    Hey, Hey, It's National Running Day

    What's better than getting over that midweek hump--even if this work week is shorter than usual thanks to the Memorial Day holiday--with a little time spent outdoors? Nothing in my book, especially if it includes a run or a ride, too.

    Well, my bike might have to sit on the trainer today (call it laziness and tired pedaling legs after too many miles in the saddle over the long weekend) but there are plenty of ways I can get out running. And plenty of reason too: June 2 marks National Running Day.

    Forget the excuses you usually give yourself for skipping the treadmill or the trail--even if you've never run before, you can lace up your shoes for this second annual holiday. Today is all about running's accessibility and how easy it can be to go for a run no matter your activity or experience level. In fact, National Running Day encourages newbies to the sport to give it a try today, offering tips on its website to get started. Call it following the phrase, "If everyone else is doing it, why can't we?" Plus there are free events around the country begging for your participation. Check this calendar to find one near you.

    Now rarely do I go for self-promotion on here but I actually have a Chicago-based event begging for runners tonight. I run with Team LUNA Chix here in the Windy City and we happen to be hosting a run at Universal Sole, 3052 N. Lincoln in Chicago, at 6 p.m. It's free, it's fun, it's fast--if you want it to be. And it's a great group of women who love to run and want to share their running love with the rest of the city--and share some LUNA bars in the process. The LUNA Chix are big on encouraging women to get out and active in a non-competitive environment--this blog does a great job of summing it up. Read more about LUNA Chix teams around the country at and if you're in the Windy City, come out and run with the Chicago group. Or if you're not in my neck of the woods, consider going for a run to join the masses on this running holiday. Photos courtesy of Team LUNA Chix and Running USA, on behalf of National Running Day.


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