Monthly Archives: June 2010
I’ve never really thought of myself as a fashionable runner. I train in whatever is clean, and when I previously lived in an apartment that didn’t have a laundry facility, that would mean I was training in whatever was clean. Since Baberaham and I have moved to a house and I bought a washer and dryer, I get to cycle through my running clothes more frequently (and am notably less stinky because of it).
And since we’ve moved, I have started to put more thought into what I wear when I am training. And being more color-coordinating-conscious has become a part of my garment-selecting process. For example, I like to run in my Saucony meadow-colored Empress shirt and matching Run Lux shorts, but rarely reach for my bright yellow shorts from college and a mismatching tee.
So, obviously, I’ve become more and more into the gear from Lucy activewear. The really sweet PR folks sent me some apparel to preview before their June release, and I am loving it.
But what I really love, most of all, about this stuff is the comfort of the fabric and fit. The new print, In Motion (azure), is super-stellar too!
The new Propel line, which has just been released, has some really flashy looks. The In Motion block patterning on the Propel Tank camouflages my tube-shaped torso, and gives me a more feminine look. It even comes in a berry-color too! Sure, I really shouldn’t care about what I look like when I run, but what really impresses me about the lucy clothes is that I don’t have to wear them just-to-run. They are nice enough to wear anywhere, and I have been known to wear my spandex to work (and even out to the movies with B).
What’s even more impressive, is that the Propel tank is fitted just-so that, for a small-busted gal like myself, I can get away without wearing a bra. Seriously. There isn’t a built-in bra (which is often hit-or-miss with tank tops), but its fitted and seamed just right to provide support and comfort without any extra underwear. I dig that. Granted, when I wear the top for running only, I wear a sports bra out of habit…
I also dig the coordination of the tops and bottoms. I have a legit running outfit when I get some lucy stuff. The Color Blocked Propel Knee pants have a wide waistband that matched the tank, so I don’t have to worry about low-rise belly popping out when I am jogging along. The seams on the capris are both functional and fashionable, and the colors are bright but not obnoxious. The drawstrings are not chinsy, and won’t get eaten by my dryer after round one. Plus, reflective piping keeps me a little more visible by the cars at dawn or dusk.
The tank top has a slit in the back that aids in venting, and the capris have a stash pocket for keys, goo, or my ID. The capris don’t ride nor are they low rise, and I am not worried about looking good when I am running through downtown, I just run.
In one word, lucy clothes are FUN. They are well constructed and modest, and absolutely functional.
Check out lucy’s new summer line here.
This week has not been very awesome.
In fact, last week wasn’t either.
With traveling, conferencing, interviewing, meetings, research, and training, I have been feeling the weight of life slam down heavy on my shoulders [although, I can’t even imagine how Marg must feel with her upcoming wedding and job search]. And of all things, its my training that suffers. I feel tired, and my speed work ends with me crapping out. I swim 2000yards and I feel like I am drowning. My plans for running after work end up with me and heading home from campus at 7pm, only to seek refuge in grilled cheese and True Blood on Blu-Ray because I don’t have any energy for anything else. Yesterday, I tried to get in a long road ride, and a flat tire had me in tears and calling my boyfriend to come get me in BFE.
The question I have asked myself every day this week: Who took my energy, and where did they go?
Last week, Baberaham hinted that I might have symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, and taking it easy is probably not a bad idea. Granted, we were in Florida, where swimming in a lap pool set to 86 degrees and “getting refreshed” by jumping in the ocean (which was 91 degrees) was only minimally satisfying. Not to mention, running at 4pm before lightning storms because that was the only time there was a breeze didn’t really help my energy levels. But I wasn’t having any headaches (except for when I wasn’t injesting caffeine) and I felt descent after napping, so I chocked it up to a shift in the climate and a lot on my plate.
Then I got to thinking about one of the cruxes of endurance training: my diet.
It’s true, I hadn’t been eating as great as I should have been after Rev3 Quassy. I do a great job of hydrating and eating right before a race, but afterwards I don’t care as much. And a trip to Florida, with big meals and glasses of wine, threw me out of whack a little. It wasn’t until I got home, spent a week cooking for myself, and feeling like absolute dump, that I realized what mgiht be going on.
After the failed bike ride of yesterday (55 miles does not equal 130, thankyouverymuch flat tire), I had a craving. Not a normal craving, either. I usually want to eat things like chocolate or ice cream, or a Snickers bar or cheese. No, this craving was unusual, for me, especially since I am no longer a vegetarian. The craving: a big fat juicy STEAK.
Growing up, I was raised on red meat. My parents bought a cow and had it processed, and we’d eat beef 3-4 times a week. Hamburgers, chili, meatloaf, you name it. I depended on finding, during summer weekend evenings, a T-bone steak and an ear of corn on my plate. When I went off to college, I stopped eating so much meat, and when I went to graduate school I became vegetarian. I never had too big of issues with training, but I rarely trained as much as I do now (plus, so it goes, I was younger and could apparently recover faster then… plus during graduate school I was adament about having a protein shake after every big workout).
Now, even though I have reincorporated meat into my diet, I struggle more in recovery, and have found that it takes more time and more discipline to feel good during and after a big training block. Although we don’t eat a lot of meat, Baberaham and I usually fill our meals with a good variety of foods like black beans, eggs, and whole grain rice. I usually make an Ultragen shake after long workouts, but my First Endurance supply has been depleted and my ambition as of late has not been focused on reordering more.
So, yesterday, sitting on our friend’s couch watching World Cup, I saw a Bon Appetit magazine on their coffee table with a big rib eye steak. I then counted the meals I had consumed this week and could count on one hand the number that had either meat, egg, or beans in them. Immediately, I turned to B and proclaimed: “I need to go get a steak dinner.” He looked puzzled, and I continued, “My treat.”
After the US’s disappointing loss, we went to Calumet and both ordered the rib-eye. All 16-ounces of the bone-in, medium rare meat melted in my mouth and slid down my gullet. I felt euphoric, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my mouth. Baked potato? Gone. Grizzle? Gone. Sour cream? Gone. Of all things, I left the limp green beans on my plate, I suppose as a sacrifice to the bovine gods.
I didn’t know how it happened, but I had put my finger exactly on the issue that my body was dealing with. After the meal, and the post-feast lethargy of more True Blood and muddy buddies, I slept like a baby and woke up in the morning before the alarm. I pulled on my running shorts and darted out of the house, tackling the 3hr run to South Range with more umph than I’ve had all week. I felt like I was flying during the last hour, and I felt strong, fluid, and forward. I felt good.
True, part of that could have been because my ride yesterday was cut so short and I let my brain and body rest all afternoon. But I really, truly believe that the thick, juicy, delicious slab of meat I ate last night changed my week, and my week-long bonk will happen again if I don’t pay better attention to the protein I put in my body.
In July, Traverse City has the famous Cherry Festival.
There’s also the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, Christmas in July festivals practically everywhere, and more 4th of July festivals than you can imagine.
But in July, I’m having my very own Festival of Races.
The first weekend, 4th of July, will include the Horsetail Scramble– a 10K on some of my favorite trails. I’ve never done it, but since I will be in town and not camping (my parents are coming up to visit), and its a late start (1pm) I think I am going to give it a go. Plus, TK (the RD) is one heckuva good guy!
On the second weekend, Run the Keweenaw will take place in Copper Harbor. This event is going to take full advantage of the awesome Copper Harbor IMBA Epic trails, including some of the new ones. It also has the infamous hill climb up Mt Lookout.
The next weekend, July 17th, is my best runnin’ pal Marg’s wedding, and coincidentally (although I’m pretty sure she intended it) is also the Canal Run. This is the only 10mile race I’ve ever done, but it’s definitely my favorite. It’s a fast, USATF certified course, too!
After that, I’m throwing in my hat in the half at Chisago Lakes again.
Phew, its going to be a busy month (did I mention I am trying to wrap up my research, too?). Good thing these races are so local!
I started biking about two and a half years ago. My friend, Ben, convinced me the day before to roll out on a long ride with him. He was signed up for the Copper Country Color Tour – a 50, 100, or 200K ride that cruised the leafy-tree-lined roads of the Keweenaw during peak color-change. Of course, I didn’t have a pair of padded shorts, or a road bike, so I borrowed my boyfriend’s spandex and rented a bike with clipless pedals and a pair of shoes from Downwind Sports. And, of course, we went big- signed up for the 200K – and had a sort of epic-fun day.
I discovered a lot from that one day of riding, including a passion for road riding and the way seven hours of riding can lead to an odd craving for pickles and Snickers. I also learned the importance of having a good pair of shorts and anti-chafing cream.
Known to the masses by many a name, chamois cream (or butt cream, butt lube, anti-chafe cream, butter, etc. etc) is an important staple for any newbie rider, but its also key for many riders in keeping comfortable (even when they’re on their 8000th mile of the season). Yes, you can get used to riding without chamois cream. But why not just use it and save yourself the pain and suffering? Saddle-soreness is mitigated with the use of chamois cream, and it can also provide anti-microbial and cooling effects. Besides, if reduced chafing on the inner thighs isn’t enough, chamois cream alleviates chafing on the, um, unmentionable areas, too.
I am a huge proponent of chamois cream use, but I know of a few tougher-than-nails people that don’t use it very often. If I am going out riding for more than half-hour, I am lubed up (ok, call me a wuss… I don’t care). But the truth is, I didn’t realize its importance until I started Ironman training, and I realized very quickly that comfort in my nether-regions wasn’t entirely due to having the wrong saddle or the wrong shorts. Using the right chamois cream made rides much more tolerable and now I don’t want to cry after every 100-mile ride (at least, not because of that).
Earlier in the season, I contacted practically every butt cream company I could find. The mission: to test out chamois creams and provide my readers with a thorough review, a side-by-side comparison of the biggest names in the business. The tubes and jars started rolling in, and I must admit I was a little overwhelmed. I had a lot of biking ahead of me…
Here’s how the review worked.
Step 1. Read the ingredients. Is it something I would have bought anyway?
Step 2. Look up the price on Google Shopping. Write down the lowest price equivalent (not on eBay) listed. Again, is it something I would have bought anyway?
Step 3. Try out the chamois cream on a trainer ride that lasts between 45min – 1.5hours. Note the thickness, scent, feel, etc.
Step 4. Try it out on a longer ride (at least 2hours, but more like 3-4). How did it feel?
- Wash the bike shorts in between rides.
- Use the same pair of bike shorts for each comparison (Craft Active)
- Use approximately the same amount (a dollop on the end of my index finger)
- Apply directly to skin, not chamois pad.
- If the trainer ride didn’t go well, I didn’t wear them on a long road ride
Note: I didn’t get every anti-chafe product out there, and although I have a few bottles, I’m not including the anti-chafe sprays or sticks in this review. There are some really slick (har, har) products out there, like SBR Sport’s Tri-Slide, that can be used as chamois lubes, but I wanted to (fairly) review products that were explicitly intended for the same use (that is, lubing up the crotch/chamois).
And the results? I made a table to describe each product in detail. See below for more information.
And to preface my review, I use a lot of the same words that have some weight-
Parabens – a common ingredient in chamois creams that fend off bacteria, but might be linked to breast cancer.
Chamois– (pronounced shammy) if you haven’t caught on yet, the chamois is the pad inside bike shorts that provides cushion and reduces friction between the saddle and your crotch.
Tingly– Yes, I mean tingly. Think Icy-Hot (only not *always* as strong).
My first chamois cream was Paceline Product’s Chamois Butt’r. Baberaham bought me a tube from the Bike Shop soon after I had major issues on a long ride. Although it was my first, it wasn’t my first love. Although it did the trick, I’d still complain after about two hours. Granted, it could have been because I was just a beginner biker, but at the end of rides I was not very happy. I also found it to be sticky. On longer rides, I felt like someone had put gum in my shorts. More recently, I used it on a hilly 30-mile ride, and must have missed a spot (by the way, blisters are rarely, if ever, good). Good news about Chamois Butt’r is that I can get it through my local bike shop and its not very expensive. Overall, I give this chamois cream a C.
My pops bought me a jar of Assos from Machinery Row in Madison the day before IMoo last year, mostly because I just wasn’t confident that the Chamois Butt’r would survive for 112 miles (or, rather, that I would). Assos has the reputation as one of, if not THE best chamois creams out there. I didn’t read the ingredients, but I tried it out while sitting in the hotel room to make sure I didn’t have any allergic reaction to it. I knew to expect a tingling sensation, but boy-o-boy did I experience one. It was a little exhilarating, to say the least. I really liked it, so I rolled the dice and used it on race day. I am very glad I did. For the entire 5hours and 49minutes in the saddle (not to mention the hour fifteen in the water beforehand…), the cream stayed put, and the tingling managed to keep things cool even though the temperature was busting into the 90s. The Assos cream has been my go-to cream, and I have set it as the gold standard of chamois creams in my little collection. It does contain parabens, which is a downside. And, of course, its on the more expensive side, which in part is why this awesome cream only gets an A- in my book.
The Century Riding Cream by Sportique is interesting, to say the least. It’s really thick, and somewhat difficult to squeeze out of the tube, but that might be a good thing. It is a little more tough to put on, but once its there, it stays put and doesn’t leave a nasty residue behind on my chamois pad. The scent is pretty strong and spicy. It lingers, too, and I could smell it even after a few hours in the saddle. A downside to this cream: B doesn’t like when I use it because of the smell. The cream isn’t tacky or sticky, though, and I love that the ingredient list has so many things that I can recognize, including olives. Also, it tingles (which I like). I’m a fan, indeed, but I still find myself reaching for the Assos instead (maybe because its easier to apply?). I give this cream an A-.
Booty Balm is nice, but another tricky one to apply. The balm in the jar is solid, and I have to scrape to get to get it out. Like the Century cream, though, once its on, it stays put and isn’t tacky. It doesn’t transfer at all to my chamois pad, either. According to the website and rep, it’s designed to “work with the heat of your body” – and it does become much more compliant once its applied and worked in a little (otherwise, though, it can be sort of chunky if I don’t rub it in; but it doesn’t take long to rub in!). The scent is not overwhelming and quite pleasant (think lemon and summer), and there isn’t any tingling sensation (likely because its specific for women; the Ballocks cream is the men’s version). It’s a little on the expensive side, but a little goes a really long way. I give this an A- as well.
Beljum Budder is something I first became aware of because Selene Yeager talks about it in her Fit Chick section of Bicycling Magazine (My First Ironman, December 2008). I then saw it on Loopd.com, but I never did try it until Beljum sent me a tube per this review request. I was expecting it to be a step up from Chamois Butt’r, with some tingling like Assos, because it contains witch hazel. It didn’t tingle, though, but I was impressed with how smooth and silky it was. It literally sparkles, and it goes on thin without leaving a residue. It’s easy to apply, and it isn’t tacky either, so I didn’t stick to my chamois. It was moisturizing, too! The price-point is pretty pleasing. Since it’s probably ok to not ride every ride with the tingling sensation of menthol or wintergreen, this cream is pretty high on the list. I give it an A.
Dave Zabriskie’s brand, DZ Nuts, recently released a women’s specific version of their chamois cream called Bliss. The neutral scent and thick cream are pleasant to put on, and it’s nice to know that companies are taking notice of women’s needs. The cream was easy to apply and stayed put without transfering to my chamois, and I didn’t notice any hot spots after a few hours of riding. However, I wanted to reapply or wished I would have laid it on a little more thick, but I didn’t want to use too much because its so dang expensive. I think I’ll buy the regular DZ Nuts next time and leave the Bliss for women who don’t want the tingles. Bliss gets an A-.
Udderly Smooth makes a chamois cream, along with a plethora of other farm-hand products that are amazing at relubricating skin (…udder, get it?). Their line is creamy and thick, and really gets into and moisturizes dry skin. Unfortunately also loaded with parabens. The chamois cream smells like baby powder, but it stuck to my chamois (and took a few washings and scrubs by hand to get it all out). It was also a pain to get off my skin because it was a little greasy. It is, however, the most economical (and readily available) chamois cream, because its stocked at stores like CVS and costs a quarter of the price of most other chamois creams. Because of the stickiness and the parabens, Udderly Smooth Chamois Cream gets a C-.
One of my new favorite creams is Friction Freedom, which is practically the same as Assos – only without the parabens. It feels the same, smells the same, but it costs a little less and is safer. I wore this in the half at Rev3 Quassy, and it worked like a charm. My only qualm is that I needed to reapply it to my bike shorts during a 70mile ride, but that could be because I was wearing bike shorts on my tri bike… But I now reach for the big Friction Freedom tub before I reach for Assos, which is really saying something. I give it an A.
So which one do I like best? Well, that doesn’t really matter. It’s important to remember that not everyone likes the same thing, and what works for me might not work for you. The intent of this review isn’t to tell you what chamois cream to buy next, but to give you my take on the side-by-side comparisons so you can make a more educated decision next time you try a new chamois cream. So take this review for what it is, my opinion and my analysis of a wide range of products. I tried to be systematic about it, but it’s hard for me to quantitatively assess something so qualitative as the happiness of my … well you get the point.
I’d like to thank the following companies for sending me their chamois creams (and other products) for free, so that they could be included in this review: Sportique, Chomper Body, Beljum Budder, Udderly Smooth, DZNuts, and Friction Freedom. Although they sent me their creams for free, they didn’t pay me to review their products, and the text written in this post are my own thoughts and assessments.
There are some things that I just can’t get the knack for. Like remembering to put on sunscreen before a century ride. Or remembering to take my multivitamin in the morning. Some things just don’t come easy to me. I’d probably walk out of my house without my keys if I didn’t need them to unlock my bike (oh, wait. I have done that before, and locked myself out of my house in the process).
So when it comes to certain things, I really have to put forth an effort to make them habit. Fortunately, there are certain other things that are so fun, I make an effort to fit them in. One thing that I’ve gotten really into the habit of: training.
Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to my rest days. And I’m not so addicted to it, like I am to caffeine, that I need it every day – or else. But when I take a break after my A race or even when I have a recovery week, I’m itchin’ to get back into the game. And when I have a disappointing “check” race or a busy week at work, I yearn to spend some serious time in the saddle and on my feet.
There are definitely some tricks into making training a more consistent (and desired) part of the day. I schedule certain workouts, like morning lap swims and afternoon runs, with training friends that will help pour on the peer pressure if I hesitate or skip out of a session. Not only am I being held accountable, but I also use these sessions to catch up with my friends. Over the past few years I’ve started to get bored with just sitting and chatting (I find that I zone out… how rude!)- I think its much easier and enjoyable to be moving and catching up. So, penciling in a long run or two a week with my best friend really keeps me in the loop, and helps with stress relief as well.
I also set aside time to get in the training. Sunday mornings are reserved- I don’t work until the afternoon (yes I know, it’s Sunday. If you’ve been in grad school, you understand). I’m not a pro triathlete, and I can’t imagine spending 30+ hours training (at least, not while trying to finish my dissertation). And since I’m trying to wrap up three years of graduate work in the next few months, well… let’s just say putting the feet up after a 3hour run isn’t really feasible. But, I do the best I can, and bank on the effectiveness of my TriggerPoint Therapy (and splurge every once in a while on active release massage).
I write out my schedule, I post it somewhere I can see every day. I am holding myself accountable by writing my CedarPoint FullRev training plan on the calendar in our kitchen. This weekend, I made a few modifications to my season schedule, and by re-writing the plan, in ink, on the calendar that everyone in my house can see, I feel more committed to accomplishing the daily tasks. Plus, it reminds me when to rest, and reminds me to not throw down too many hard days in a row (which can be tricky to avoid with the swimbikerun).
One caveat of my habits: I don’t do diets. I just try to eat well as best I can. In high school, I developed a silent obsession with food, and I simply stopped enjoying it. There were “good” foods and “bad” foods. I read labels and counted calories and scolded myself for hitting more than a low-ball amount of calories (even though I was running collegiate xc and had upwards of 16hours of run training a week). I’ve since discovered that food is good, and good food is great. I’ve reincorporated meat into my diet in a fierce way after being vegetarian for three years, and luckily, unloading gluten from my meal-worthiness lists has also allowed me to reincorporate dairy, so I no longer have any issues with that. My free reign on food is limited, of course, to my gluten sensitivity, but being that our cupboards are entirely g-free (Baberaham has adopted the same diet), I eat without too much regard. I eat more slowly and deliberately, and I know what goes into everything I eat. I eat fresh foods and whole foods and delicious foods (but I also eat a candy bar if I feel like it). But I’m not counting calories anymore or “saving” any up for a special occasion. I don’t weigh myself or have any pairs of “skinny jeans.” If I want to drink a beer, I buy a six-pack of New Grist (and it might last me a few weeks). If I want a candy bar, I eat a candy bar. If I am hungry for nachos, I eat nachos. And just in case, since long course training is ramped up, I have the freezer stockpiled with ice cream (and did I mention there’s an ice cream stop across the street?).
I make it fun (and make it a destination). Although swimming is my least favorite of the three (probably because its the one I’m least good at!), I am starting to really enjoy swimming, and I’ve been looking forward to my lap swims instead of dreading them. And since I usually train in the pool with friends, we make do with some really fun workouts, like endless relays and time trials. It passes the time and helps me keep track of the laps. And I definitely count the open water swims as a legit swim workout, and those are always fun. With running and biking, its not as difficult for me to have such a good time, and I typically look forward moreso to the intensity workouts than the “filler” recovery runs and aerobic days. But I remind myself that these runs are important too, and I plan out my run before I leave the house so I assure myself the right distance (and I can’t back out of it). That, or- I call a training bud and ask them to come along too.
My “off-season” is not really so much off as it is rest. Recover. Recoup. But I don’t fall out of habit. I still have a plan to follow, but its usually more flexible and includes more free-days where I get to pick a less-focused activity (like snowshoeing or kayaking). I still have friends to run with. I still have good food to eat. I still have beer to drink.
For me, training is the batter that makes the perfect cake. You don’t wanna whip up the batter too hard, otherwise the cake will not be fluffy and delicious. But you don’t want to forget the eggs, or leave the lumps behind. And with longer races, putting in the training the right way and making a habit of doing the right things can make your cake just-right every time.
I really don’t like feet. I think they are ugly (at least mine are), and I have foot envy of some ladies who wear cute sandals with their long, slender toes, moisturized heels, and bony ankles.
My feet are not pretty. They haven’t been pretty since … I don’t know if they ever were. Take post-Quassy:
I’ve got a hole in my toe, my three of the five nails are going to pop off, and I have this weird bruise under my big toenail that doesn’t hurt but doesn’t look pretty.
But I can’t just accept this. I mean, I could… but only if I stay hidden in my office/lab with socks and wornout running shoes to cover them.
Since I am at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Summer Bioengineering conference this week in Naples, I can’t wear wornout running shoes all the time (although, according to some of the gentlemen, I could still wear socks, even with sandals). I am also in the process of looking for a post-doc position, prepping for my first podium talk, and of course (more importantly?)- spending time by the pool. So, I bought my first bottle of nail polish since high school, and dolled up my toes:
I did a little digging, and found photos of me from Dan Hicok Photography online. Word.
Can I just say that I LOVE my bike fit? Thanks to Chad Johnston from Skier’s Peak in Sylvan Lake. Dude knows his stuff. You can just see the laminar flow!
Also, I am now tan.
There’s mounds of work to be done. It’s 8pm and I’m sitting in my office working on a presentation for an upcoming conference in Florida. I have two papers to write, qPCR to do, and histology to perform. But I wanted to write my race report while the race is still fresh in my head.
The night before:
I kept it pretty chill on Saturday, with my feet up and fluids in. It was humid, sticky, and hot, and I must have drank a gallon of water/Nuun/EFS (at least). At least every other bottle of water I drank had electrolytes of some kind, and since I was sweating just standing around, I knew it wouldn’t hurt me. I went for a short run to get my legs moving and came back to the hotel after 20 minutes dripping in sweat. I then took a cool shower and read a book. I just relaxed and thought about the race, the course, my strategy. I tried to avoid stalking other athletes out in the blogger-world who were doing races that day, and just tried to let my brain wrap around the next big day. I got to bed early (around 930) and set an alarm for 4:15am.
I got up before the alarm. Hmm. I laid there for a while until the alarm went off, and I tried to be quiet and got my stuff out of the room. I put on my uniform, ate some Panda Puffs (5-6 handfuls) and drank a bottle of EFS (1 scoop in 16oz water). I threw my stuff in the car around 5:30 and rolled up the hill to race site, which was only about four miles away from my hotel.
I mixed a bottle of EFS and Pre-Race (1 scoop each) and sipped slowly on it while I set up my transition. In the aero bottle (50oz water) went three scoops of EFS, and in my Nathan Trail Mix sling went 3/4 scoop EFS, 1 tab of kola nuun (caffeine please!) and water in each bottle. I sprayed my bike shoes with some Tri-Slide, and then sprayed down my shoulders, neck, and thighs with it too. I finished the Pre-Race mix and headed to the beach with my wetsuit, where I got into the warm water for a quick swim. The water was 72 or so, and it was definitely warmer than I expected.
The pros were getting ready to start, and after the national anthem, their wetsuit-free swim began. By the time my wave was lining up, Matty Reed and the first group of male pros were exiting the water. It was exciting to see them coming out. The amateur elite wave, which was supposed to take off after the pros, was canceled due to lack of entrants (apparently only four people signed up, and I was one of them), so I was shimmied back into my age group start which was the second to last wave to take off. It didn’t really matter, since all the women started in the last two waves besides the pros, but it might have been nice to not have to pass some people on the bike by crossing the yellow line because some didn’t know how to stay to the right…
The swim- 37:04 (1:55min/100m)
I turned my Trakkers device on a bit before the start and the red blinking lights were searching for a signal. I threw it in my back pocket and literally forgot about it. The swim was fairly uneventful, although I felt like I slowed down after the first buoy and couldn’t really find any feet. I found some, and then they left me. I found some more, and then they were swimming away from the buoys. I found another pair, and then they slowed. I quickly ran into blue caps and silver caps (the two waves that started ahead of me) and I was soon passed by red caps (the 40+ women). Overtaking some of the swimmers was annoying, because many forgot to sight and were zigzagging, but I was impressed with how spread out and low-impact the swim was. My feet were touched, but not grabbed; I was bumped, but not shoved or elbowed intentionally; and I could see where I was going fairly well. I swam as far as I could and stood up, right behind Jill from All3sports. I was right on her heels, but had to stop because I dropped my goggles and a guy behind me kept yelling “GIRL! GIRL! You dropped your goggles!” (I would have left them, because they are $2 a pop, but then I was worried I’d get in trouble for littering on the course or someone else would step on them…).
I got to my bike and there were quite a few left on the rack, which made me think that I had a decent swim (after the race, I wasn’t too happy about my time; it was a good 4min slower than my best, and I thought I had improved muchos-muchos since last year). I grabbed my helmet, clipped it, slipped into my shoes easy-peasy, and grabbed my bike. That was all I needed. Off I went.
Bike- 3:00:54 (18.6mph)
The bike was fun. It started downhill, on a part of the course that I rode with Jenn on Friday. I was excited to get my legs spinning, and I was surprised at how steep some of the hills were in the beginning. Not long, just steep. And none of the hills were really all that steep; there were just a lot of them.
I felt good, considering the past several weeks of training. My biggest fear was that I would putter out toward the end of the bike, so I tried to stay conservative. I felt my butt burn on the ups but got out of my saddle and attacked the hills. I continued to push on the crests and just felt like smiling the whole time.
The “Big Hill” that everyone was talking about- that I remembered from driving the course on Friday- was better than I expected it would be. It was long, sure, but there were breaks it seemed, and I passed a lot of people who were riding the train (at the bottom of the hill, it looked like a train of triathletes riding side-by-side up the hill). About a mile into the hill, I caught up with a Spaniard that asked where this big hill was, not knowing that we were already there. He and I traded places for the rest of the race- him bombing past me on the downs and my catching up and gaining ground on the ups. It was so great to see my Trakkers teammates at mile 29- I was so excited I started flailing my arms and waving and smiling at them. I grabbed a bottle of water and filled up my empty aero bottle (surprised at myself that I drank 50oz in under 30 miles) and rolled through quickly.
Around mile 34, my EFS Liquid Shot literally shot out of my Nathan Propeller, and I had to stop to pick it up. It was, unfortunately, at an intersection where the downhill leading into it would have catapulted me into even MORE downhill and pushed me up the next climb a bit, but I didn’t want to get penalized and I didn’t want to be without my nutrition on this tough day. I pulled to the right, stopped, and waited for bike traffic to clear, and although a group of guys went blowing by me while I waited, it didn’t take long for me to catch back up. I tried to apologize to them for stopping as I went by.
There were a lot of flats on the course and I didn’t really know why. I mean, a LOT. I would say I probably saw at least 15 people stopped. I never saw any sharps on the road, and there were pot holes but they were well marked with red paint. I was relieved to have bought some Gatorskins a few weeks ago from The Bike Shop, and even though they are a bit heavier, I didn’t get a flat.
Sometimes gaining momentum on the downhills was difficult. One thing I wasn’t happy about- I did a really bad job of transferring my power from the downhills to the ups, and I found myself spinning without any force where I should have been at least pushing something. I would drop by gears too soon, for fear that I’d drop my chain or have some other stupid mistake, and instead it just cost me a few passes on the beginnings of the ups.
I got to the out and back and saw my teammate, Kathleen, as I was making the turn. She was flying and looked great. Not soon after, I saw Sonja with what might have been a big grin on her face. I wondered where Michelle was, because I expected them to have similar bike splits and that Michelle might have got out of the water first. Sure enough, she was close behind. I couldn’t remember just how long the turn around was, but I was glad to see that the ladies (Son and Michelle) were likely only a few miles ahead of me (maybe 4? 5?) and considering that I was a weak swimmer and they are great cyclists, I was feeling more confident. I saw Jamie and Chris, and that was it for green. I made the turn with a woman in front of me, who I didn’t expect to have as good of bike handling skills as she did. She got out of the turn faster than me, granted she was on a road bike, but she stayed ahead of me even on the downhills. I would gain some ground, and she’d go flying off the front again. She was looking strong.
I had no idea what time it was or how long I’d been biking (mileage or hours) because my bike computer sensor would go in and out, especially on the downhills. I hit mile 40, and my computer read 36 miles. I hit mile 50, and I was at 46. So the last six miles I tried to rally the troops (my legs) and get moving. I didn’t want to have too much junk in my legs, and I knew the bike ended in a climb, but I didn’t remember the exact route. I was relieved when I saw runners, because that meant that I was basically doing the reverse of the beginning of the run course, and before I knew it I was heading up Old Sherman Road and back to transition. I saw Anthony and Chris around mile 2, Kathleen, Sonja, and Michelle as they were railing down the hill. I wasn’t confident I could catch them, but I knew if I could get moving like they were I’d have a good shot at placing well.
T2 was mostly uneventful, minus the tongue of my shoe getting stuck and having to finagle it free. My bike was one of the first back on the rack, which made it easy for me to get in and out of transition (aside from the girl next to me throwing her wetsuit right on top of my shoes). I grabbed my visor, race belt, and water belt, and I was in and out, probably one of the quickest transitions I’ve had, even with a shoe hiccup.
Run- 1:42:26 (7:49min/mile)
I was glad to have brought along my Trail Mix belt, because I skipped through a few aid stations and sipped on my EFS. I lost a bottle in transition, though, so I only had one 8oz bottle to hold me over. I was also glad that I brought the belt because it had my inhaler stashed in it, and around mile 2 my head started throbbing and the sound was going in and out. This was not the time for me to be having an asthma attack. I took a puff but kept running, holding my breath as I passed a relay girl (she must have thought I was crazy), and my head throb subsided. A woman with a 30 marked on her leg went bobbing by me, running on her toes and just flying. I couldn’t match her speed, and I didn’t want to for sake of blowing up. Off she went, out of my sights.
I was cruising, but I wasn’t uncomfortable by any means. My feet felt light and fast in my Fastwitch 4s. I felt like I was just out running, below threshold but not easy, just comfortable. I wasn’t sure how hard I wanted to push it, but I was knew I needed to hold back a little. Around mile 3.5 or 4 was the big, steep climb, and it seemed to just keep going. I walked a little, but then decided that I could just get over it and keep running, and so I did. I knew the top was coming soon, and as soon as I got there, I was greeted with a turn. Down down down, I saw Michelle and a few other women. I skipped driving this part of the course, so I wasn’t sure how long it was, but I figured it was around 2 miles or so. There was an aid station at the turnaround and I took my first cup of (not flat) Pepsi. Slurped that and a cup of water and off I went, not stopping. Run run run, I felt strong and comfortable. I wasn’t breathing hard, I was focusing on keeping my arms pumping and my form strong. I stood up, relaxed my shoulders, and just moved. I was picking off the miles, and I got to a climb with a green lure ahead of me. I was hoping it was not Michelle. I noticed then that bobbing girl was just ahead of her. She was slowing too, because she was now back in my sights. I found out on the bike path (as I passed her) that it was Michelle in green, and I gave her a not-so-gentle tap on the behind and tried to get her to go with me, but she looked in pain. And bobbing girl was limping and flailing from left to right on the bike path. I went by her, and that was when I realized that I hadn’t let a single person pass me besides her. And there I went, passing her back. I started focusing on picking people off, and I started to smile as I caught the next person, and the next. I heard feet behind me, but they were not catching up- they were falling back. I saw Sonja again at the turn around, me at little before mile 10 and her past mile 11. She looked strong, and I felt a wave of confidence as I rolled out the out-and-back. Charlie passed me on the cart, and yelled at me. I passed the coach from Terrier Tri, and smacked him on the bum too, and he yelled and we exchanged thumbs ups and I kept pushing forward. After the turn around and another cup of Pepsi (not flat) and I felt the bubbles that had shaken up in my stomach come bubbling out of my mouth. Well, at least it wasn’t vomit. I spit and kept moving.
One last hill, and I knew it would be tough. And I felt like I hit a brick wall. Under the bridge, and I wanted to cry. My legs hurt, my body was tired, my head was hoping that the next turn would be the highway, but it wasn’t. I wanted to be done. And then I was back on 64, and I had a quarter mile left, and I ran across the railroad tracks. I sprinted into the finish and wanted to topple over. The volunteers gave me a bottle of water and a medal around my neck, and I moved through the finish chute. I saw Jenn and the Trakkers team and I smiled. I was done!
I ended up finishing 2nd in my division, and 13th overall for amateurs. Count the pros, and I was sitting at 25th. Yep, there were more pros racing Rev3 Quassy than both the Honu and Kansas IM 70.3s combined. With 2nd place, I received some amazing swag, including a Fuel Belt (pink!), plaque, and a $75 gift certificate to Cannondale. The post race food was outstanding, with a buffet line of some delicious salads, burgers, slaw, and even mac-and-cheese (if only I could eat it!).
Unfortunately my Trakkers device lost signal around mile 6 or so, and anyone trakking me online must have thought I crashed my bike. Luckily I was just fine, no crashes whatsoever; I think the tree cover and lack of cell reception really hindered my device from working. I literally forgot about it in the swim, couldn’t even notice it in my pocket. I made sure every once in a while during the bike that it was still in my pocket, and on the run too, but it stayed put. The new design of the device is really cool, I was just bummed that my parents got worried about me during the race. Sorry, Mom and Dad!
I feel great about this race, even though my time is not a PR and I didn’t have a very strong swim. My transitions were spot on, and my run felt strong. I left it all out on the course, but I didn’t bonk or cramp or blow up. My stomach was solid as a rock the whole race, and my energy levels never plummeted. The heat and humidity, which I am definitely not used to because I live in the UP, was not an issue for me and I hit my nutrition like a hammer to a nail. It was an incredible experience, and it was an incredible venue.
EXTRA-special thanks to my friend, Jenn, who received the Best Friend Award for hanging out with me this weekend. Not only did she meet me in Connecticut to hang out, but she followed me around Middlebury while I did neurotic triathlete things. She held my bike when I was getting my timing chip, she drove the course with me, and she was a mega-outstanding-super-awesome volunteer for both Saturday AND Sunday. Cripes. She also got in a 3hour road ride on Saturday on the hilly roads. Daaang. She rocks.
My Trakker teammates are phenomenal. The ones that raced on Saturday stuck around and ran the show, busy-bees all day on Sunday, taking on multiple tasks and just being awesome.
Also, thank you soooo much to my sponsors, Trakkers, Saucony, First Endurance, Tri-Swim (Tri-SLIDE was amazing as always), Nuun, Nathan Sports, and TriggerPoint. Rev 3 put on an incredible race- this was by far the best race I’ve ever done and it was challenging, rewarding, and incredibly well organized. I am so excited to race in Ohio in September!
Pictures to come soon!