The Daylight Savings Time Triathlon Checklist


Daylights Savings Time is a little inconvenient in that we lose an hour, but it marks a great time for triathletes to conduct a reality check. With March marking the start of the triathlon season, this is a great time to run through a checklist and get ready to rumble; taking inventory of your planning and gear.  Preparedness is a huge part of a successful triathlon.

Here a few things to check to make sure your season gets off to a good start. The list is not entirely complete, but it covers the most important concepts to help you be prepared:

  • Planning
    • Have you made a list of your races and ranked them by A, B and C?
    • What are your goals?  How many people know about your goals?
    • Do you have the first few weeks of your training plan scheduled?
    • Is your gym membership renewed?  Have you paid your triathlon club dues?
    • If you are using a coach, have you communicated your races and other needs to them?
  • Swim
    • Check your goggles, are they in decent shape?  The lens too scratched? The strap worn? It might be time to replace them.
    • Do you have a skull cap that fits you well?  Skull caps can wear out and be ill-fitting.  Silicon skull caps tend to last longer than latex and have a more comfortable feel.
    • Does your suit fit?  Whether you are wearing a speedo in a pool or a wetsuit in the ocean, does it fit? Poorly fitting suits that are too large can cause access drag in the water and slow you down.
    • Do you have enough anti-chafing gel for your first triathlon? Now is the time to stock up.
    • A small amount of baby shampoo.  When applied to the inner side of the goggles, it will prevent fogging and not sting the eyes.  (Thanks coach for this tip!)
  • Cycling
    • Is your bike clean?  If it is still sitting in the corner yet to come out of winter hibernation, now is the perfect time to dust it off and get it looking sparkling again.
    • Take the bike for a ride around the block; is everything in working order?  Do the brakes work?  Is there any hesitation in shifting gears?  Make note of anything that is abnormal.
    • Take the bike in for a tune-up.  Whether or not there is anything wrong with the bike from your test ride, take it to a good bike shop and have a tune-up performed.  This will help lube bearings and make any minor adjustments.
    • When you pick up the bike, get fitted.  You would be amazed at how minor adjustments to the fit can make a huge difference in your performance and your body can change since last season.
    • Check you helmet and make sure it hasn’t been damaged or shows signs of rot and that it fits properly.  If the helmet is damaged and needs to be replaced, it will be obvious.  Make sure the fit is snug and the straps are appropriately trimmed.
    • Grab your cycling shoes, shorts, and jersey and make sure they still fit.  Again, loose fitting clothes cause drag, so invest in new ones if need be, especially the shoes.
  • Run
    • Since we just took a look at your bike shoes, check your running shoes next.  Running shoes should be replaced about every 300 miles.  If they show the slightest bit of wear on the bottom, go ahead and buy a new pair, your feet with thank you.
    • Check your running shorts and shirt.  Replace if they don’t fit right or perhaps show off more than many people care to see.
    • Are you a FiveFingers wearer of the barefoot running movement?  Ah, okay, so when was the last time you washed your FiveFingers?  Maybe that is why you are running alone?
    • Adjust the fit of your hat and make sure it is snug but not tight.  Also, wash your hat.
    • Grab your running belt and make sure the zippers work and it is in good shape.  If it needs to be washed, wash it.  If it comes with matching water bottles and you’ve lost one, consider buying a new running belt as the bottles need to fit snugly into their holsters.
    • Do you have a number belt?  If so, make sure it too is in working order.  If not, toss some safety pins into your running belt.  You don’t want to arrive at a race and not have a way of securing your number to your clothing.
  • Nutrition
    • Have you made a nutrition plan? Are you going Paleo?
    • Have you documented your race fueling strategy?  If not, makes notes of how long your events are and what your caloric needs are.  You’ll have to experiment, but start by writing down a preliminary strategy and modify as you train.
    • Is your training/race fuel in your workout bag?  Nothing like leaving the house to start a long run to realize you left your fuel at home.  Always put extra bars in your workout bag.
    • Are you near your race weight?  If not, consider losing a few pounds. Your feet will thank you.
  • Transition
    • Do you have a spare towel?
    • Consider purchasing a helium filled balloon to mark your transition area for the upcoming season.  They can be re-used with a helium refill only costing a few bucks at the store.
    • Have you made your transition area checklist?  I’ll post one in coming weeks.
  • Other Stuff
    • Do you have a foam roller?  If not get one as I recommend foam rolling and stretching every night before you go to bed.
    • Purchase a RoadID.  If anything happens to you during training or a race, this simple strap can give emergency personnel much needed information at a glance.
    • Replace the batteries in your heart rate monitors and GPS devices.  I was on a long bike ride (30 miles) when my GPS’s heart rate strap battery gave out and it sucked.

I hope this list helps.  It is rather comprehensive, but there is no time like the present to give yourself a triathlete reality check and kick off your season right.   Taking a little time now to buy a few new pieces of gear and getting the bike tuned up can save you a major headache and possibly a “DNF” later.

Available at the following link is a triathlon race day equipment checklist to make sure you don’t forget any essential equipment on race day.  <Download our Triathlete_Race_Checklist>

Cheers!

PS If I left anything out, please leave me a comment or send an update to @AricInTraining on Twitter.

Expect the Unexpected: 2010 Santa Barbara Triathlon Sprint


Let me start this post by saying that I awoke in the wee hours of Saturday, August 28th with a severe case of food poisoning.  I was so sick, I wasn’t able to join friends at East Beach for the Santa Barbara Triathlon Long Course that day.  In fact, I didn’t even think I would compete in Sunday’s Sprint.

Luckily, I recovered enough that I felt comfortable competing.   Late Saturday night, I put the final checklist and plans into place and set my alarm clock for 4:30am the next morning.

Waking suddenly to the bitter sound of “beep, beep, beep,” I immediately hit the snooze.  “OMG! It’s already time to get up…  I need at least another hour,” I said to myself.   But, triathletes don’t need another hour, so I got up, got dressed, packed the rest of my stuff into my GYST transition bag, loaded the car and headed toward East Beach.

Parking was easy and I met some other triathletes, which helped brighten my mood. As we walked along the waterfront above the transition area, I can hear the waves off in distance. We talked about how cold the ocean water was projected to be and agreed that today’s swim was not going to be a walk in the park despite the calm conditions.  This was real!

Being at the transition area so early, I was able to choose the best transition spot, the outside end of the 1140-1180 bib range.  Five rows down from swim in and very convenient.

Of course, setting up transition was super simple with my GYST transition bag. Set it down, unfold it, and you are set to go!  The wetsuit is ready, the change of clothes, the shoes, snacks and water bottles are there and ready to go.

For some reason time really seemed to fly.  I had plenty of time to stretch, make multiple trips to the bathroom, chat with other triathletes, and focus on the task ahead.

But then I found myself in the porta-potty when they announced the first wave was leaving in fifteen minutes!  OMG! I still had to put on my wetsuit and do a practice swim.  However, fifteen minutes is plenty of time to wipe your butt, put on an over-sized wetsuit, and walk down to the beach.

The practice swim confirmed what we all have been hearing for the past few days, the water was really, really cold!  I also realized that entry into the water might be an issue as I watched a group of swimmer get taken out by a wave.  Once past the breaking waves, the feet didn’t seem to mind the cold much, but the hands and face protested.  I started out with side stroke and got into a rhythm and then transitioned to crawl. But the ice cream headache during crawl was a bit much for my food poisoned, recovering body so I stopped to tread water for a bit before heading back to shore.

Uh-Oh, WAVE!

Lining up at the start was a little scary.  It was the first time that I realized just how far apart each of the buoys were.  Was this really a 500m swim?  Looks to be a lot longer! Time to concentrate.

The first wave left and the 2010 Santa Barbara Triathlon sprint had begun! I could see that very few people were swimming with their heads in the water.  They also seemed to take a while to get around the first buoy and make progress toward the second. Not very reassuring as the second wave, my wave, lined up at the start.

Then they announced 30 seconds, time to focus.  I pulled my goggles down, checked my swim cap and took a deep breathe.  Then the countdown began.

The horn blew and the wall of men in front of me disappeared.  I remember seeing feet, splashing, and then looking up and seeing a wave. A giant and thinking to myself that this was going to suck.  Why didn’t I look up before I entered the water and waited two seconds?  The wave hit me and a few others, flooding my face with salt water and knocking the wind out of me.  Time stood still.

Unlike the others, I was still standing where I was hit.  I immediately dove into a side stroke, but quickly noticed that something was wrong.  I was out of breathe and every movement of the arms and legs felt like I lacked power.  Was it the cold.

While getting to the first buoy and turning to parallel shore didn’t take long, looking the length of the buoys and barely being able to see the far buoy was psychologically distressing.   This was going to be a long, painful swim.

Despite my body trying to tell me to stop, I pushed on, doing any stroke I could muster that would keep me moving toward the end.  From side stroke, back stroke, dogie paddle, to crawl, I kept myself going, absolutely determined to see this through to the end.  While I realized that my goal of 55min was probably not going to happen at this point, I knew that I still had to give this event my all.

Rounding the last buoy, I realized how wide I went.  I went so wide that I was in a world of my own, seeing blue and white caps splashing about 20 meters to my right.  I must have swam crooked for a little too long… oops.   I swam straight toward the chute on the beach.  While others were starting to stand up, I gave myself a few extra strokes and then exited the water.

My heart was racing, I was out of breathe, cold, and wondered if doing this was really such a great idea.  Of course it was, the hard part was now over and the fun was just about to begin!

The Little Piggy Goes “Wwweeeeee”

T1 was pretty fast. All I had to do was strip off the wetsuit, toss on the shorts, GPS, helmet and shoes and go.  While I had some issues getting my Polar watch off and replacing it with the Garmin GPS, not putting on the gloves, socks and switching shirts like I did last year really saved some time.  I grabbed the bike and mounted.

Those first few pedal strokes after the swim are some of the most amazing to me.  You are covered in salt water, the wind is drying you off and your legs are still a little confused about what you want them to do.  Yet, you can feel the power being transferred to the road and it is exhilarating.

It wasn’t long before I caught up to a few cyclists and went whizzing by them.   I was moving at a speed just under 20mph and it felt great to pass someone else for a change.  I had ridden this course almost a hundred times over the past few years, so this really was like a Sunday ride to me.

Going up the first hill, I came upon two young-ins making their way up the hill on mountain bikes.  As I approached them at high speed, I yelled some words of encouragement.  As I passed them, I could hear the frustration of my passing them in their heavy breathing.   One remarked to the other to get moving, to which he replied with a gasp.

Going down the hill toward the Biltmore, I was reminded of the Geico commercial where the little piggy goes “weee” all the way home.  This was fun, I was hauling ass, so what the heck.  At 33mph down the hill, I let out a big loud “wwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeee.”  I don’t think the volunteers were amused.

The turn around came quickly and I thought I was slightly ahead of last year’s pace. Knowing that a run was about 12 minutes away, I backed off on my return ride to East Beach.  Even still, I kept passing people.

I even passed people climbing up “hell hill,” the hill that I came screaming down just a few minutes before.   There were three cyclists making their way up the hill and that was the motivation I needed to get to the top.  “I’ll pass you and you and you, and you,” as I started my climb.  Before I knew it, I got to the top and looked back just before the turn…  to my astonishment, it looked like the other rides were just starting their climb.

Settling in and cruising back to East Beach was fun. I knew the bike was coming to and end rather quickly and I wanted to enjoy it.  Turning on to Cabrillo Blvd, leaving the volunteers and officer in my dust, I turned my attention toward T2 and the run.

Dismounting and running back to my transition was a blur.  I didn’t notice the crowd or much else.  I was in my zone, mentally ready to finish this event.

Body Says Stop

T2 was quite fast.  Rack the bike, slip off the helmet, change shoes, grab the waist pack and go.   It went as easily as it sounds.

Unfortunately, about a quarter mile into the run, my entire right leg from hip to heel decided it had had enough and started cramping up.  I pushed on, focusing on my form, lift the heals, push forward from the hip and stare at the horizon.

I then noticed my GPS was showing some odd readings.  For instance it said I had covered 2,600 miles and was going 86mph! If only!  Without the GPS, I had no idea what my pace was and my strategy relied upon knowing the pace and keeping my run consistent. But that was before my right side decided it had had enough.

The run was one of the most painful of all, and I found myself limping along.  I was crushed, this wasn’t how I expected to end this event.  Still, I pushed on, and brought the event home, crossing the finish line in 1:08:44, a full four minutes longer than last year. <results posted here>

Crushed, but Motivated & Content

Yes, my time was worst than last year.  I suffered through a freezing cold swim, had the time of my life on the bike, and pushed through one of the worst cramps I have ever had on a run.  I even did it while still recovering from food poisoning the day before.

Even factoring in all of the above points, comparing times to last year leaves me crushed.  The Santa Barbara Triathlon was an event that I was sure I could pull off a decent personal record in.  Unfortunately, things happened that prevented this from happening.

Did I give this event 150% effort? Yes.  Could it have gone a lot worse? Yes.  Am I so crushed that I’ve lost motivation to go on?  No.

Triathletes have good and bad events.  The 2010 Santa Barbara Triathlon is perhaps one of my bad events.  There will be others in the future too, but I must learn from this and move on.

With that said, I have three weeks to get ready for the 2010 Carpinteria Triathlon.  See you there.

The Latest in Triathlon Transition Gear


Transition times in a triathlon, while short, can really hinder a triathlete’s mindset.  The switch from swim to bike and bike to run is really what triathlons are all about.

For my first five triathlons, I used a small backpack, a yoga mat and a canvas bag to carry around my stuff.  Maybe I over pack, but the reality is that setting up the transition area is never easy.  Seems like nothing has a home.

Well, after meeting Dominique Aris, Founder & Creative Director of Gyst Concept, at the Ventura Triathlon, my stuff has a home.  After spending the today packing and practicing transitions with the “Backpack 1-10“, I am blown away by the revolutionary design of this bag.

You literally pack the bag, unfold it, and go.  Easy as 1-2-3! Check out my video below for a personal walk through of this triathlon experience changing gear:

For more information on the Backpack 1-10 and other models, please visit the Gyst Concept store.

2010 Ventura Triathlon Sprint… Done!


After an early start this morning and pushing my body to new limits, I completed the 12th Annual Ventura Breathe of Life Triathlon sprint in 1:37:47.   I placed 270 (of 363) overall and 20 of 24 in my age group (M30-34).

So what was it like?  It was satisfyingly hard.  From the 8am start of the 400m swim to the somewhat confusing 13.3mile bike course, to the left sided 5k run, each sport presented its challenges and I met them head on!

(note, a link to the official results appears at the end of this post)

SWIM: I stepped on a fish!

The swim was 400m, just inside the breakwaters of the Ventura Harbor.  The water was warm at 66 degrees, calm and quite pool like. This was going to be a little easier than I thought.

Heading out for the practice swim, I was surprised to feel how uneven the sand was walking out into the water.  It was like hiking along an old road full of potholes and bumps.   But that wasn’t the real surprise.   As I took another step, I felt sand being pushed against my leg.  It wasn’t sand being moved by the wave, it was too concentrated and seemed to be coming up from the bottom.  Then I put my foot down and felt the fish fluttering.  As I started to panic, it swam off.  Oh boy… swimming with the fishies…  this was going to be interesting.

The horn blows and I hit the water just behind the group.  I started out side stroke and was keeping up.  I switched briefly to forward crawl with my head in the water.  Only got in two strokes before I realized I had a breathing problem.  Back to side stroke… “just keep moving and breathe” is what I reminded myself.

Half way to the first buoy, the happened.  My arms and legs hurt like no tomorrow.  Every stroke was painful.  Slow down, breathe and glide was the best move. But then, I was swimming in a pack, which made it difficult to relax.  Every time I stroked, I hit someone.  I was not used to swimming in such a crowd, so that added to my anxiety.

To make a long story short, I settle into an alternating left/right side stroke and got through the swim.  As I noticed people starting to stand up in waist high water, I took advantage of the footing and did two dolphins to avoid having to run through knee deep water.

Running up the beach to the transition area sucked.  It was a very long (0.15 mile) beach run which drained me even more.  I was so happy to step onto pavement and cross the timing pads!

T1 – Remember the Sequence

Transitioning to the bike, it was all about going through the steps.  Unfortunately, my transition area was setup opposite as it had been in the past (stuff to the left of the bike, before it was right).  It took a little getting used to.   I didn’t have the GPS out, so I didn’t turn it on until after I was ready to put on my shoes.  Putting on my left shoe, I found my right glove riding glove. ugh!

Eventually I got everything together, but I forgot the bib.  While this wasn’t mandatory for the bike (both the bike and helmet had my athlete number) it was something that I missed.  The sequence of T1 was out of order, but I got 99% covered

This points out that I need to practice my transitions more.  I hadn’t practiced them since the UCSB Triathlon in March, perhaps I dropped the ball.

Bike – Just Keep Cranking

The bike course was a little odd and required a turn around on Harbor Blvd followed by a right hand turn onto Gonzales Rd. The turn around isn’t so bad, but the right hand turn could be missed.  I personally didn’t miss it, but I heard that a number of riders in the event did and were disqualified.

Heading east on Gonzales Rd, I just kept cranking.  The course is fairly flat and there isn’t much time to relax on a downhill.  Just keep cranking isn’t hard, until you try and eat something.  Fuel for this event was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I had in a ziplock bag in my jersey.  I clearly wasn’t thinking about how I was going to open it while riding, so I did caveman… tore open the bag with my teeth enough that I could bite a piece off and suck it through the hole.  It worked, but the peanut butter… well you know what happens when you eat peanut butter.  I never tried eating one before while on the move, now I know!

The bike itself was really good, fast and fun.   I settled in behind #45 for a bit and just cranked.  I eventually passed him and found myself back at Ventura Harbor for T2.

T2 – Grab the Droid, stupid. Don’t Forget the Bib!

T2 was pretty fast.  All I had to do was put the bike away, strip the helmet and gloves, put on the running shoes, and go.  Unfortunately, I was a little concerned about finishing the race without my Droid.  I wanted to take pictures and video of a friend of mine finishing after me.  In a last minute decision, I grabbed my water belt and crammed the Droid into it.

I started off and suddenly realized that I sill didn’t have my bib!  Ugh.  Run back, where is it?  Its under the shirt that I didn’t put on as I decided at the last minute just wear the jersey.   With the bib on, it was time to run.

Run – The Pain and the Surprise!

Starting the run, I quickly learned that grabbing the water belt was a huge mistake.  My Carpinteria Triathlon water bottle kept bouncing out of the holder.  I had to stop multiple times in the first quarter mile to stop and grab it.  After the third time, I just held it in my hand.  Annoying, but better than stopping.

After the bike, it is always the first half mile that is the worst.  Unfortunately, this run never improved.  I was tired, my muscles sore and I was mentally drained.  Still, I had a goal, to beat my 2009 time of 35 minutes and finish this 5k with a sub 11:00 pace.  I pushed on.

Then I saw my friend, passing me on her way BACK to the finish.  H0ly moly, she was kicking my butt, how did that happen?  I had to catch her, despite the pain.  At this point, my mental ability took a downfall.  The person that I thought I would beat was ahead of me and it really made me think about the pain, the pace, and the humiliation of defeat.

I think too much.  I pushed on, inspired by fellow Olympic triathletes and the fact it was only another mile.  I can do this!  Then I saw her.  I caught up…  but my legs weren’t going faster.  Strategy, sometimes, is more powerful than mightiness.  I decided to follow her to the finish and pass her in the last few hundred feet.   It worked well, I surprised her, she took off sprinting, I took off sprinting and I passed her just in time to beat her across the finish.

As it turns out, she was one of the ones that missed the turn and was dq’d.  Figures, as glorious as I was about the win, I was a little embarrassed too

The Results

I finished the triathlon in 1:37:47:  12:37 swim, 52:14 bike, 32:56 run.  Placing 20 of 24 in my division and 270th overall.  I know this is a repeat of the beginning of this post, but let’s look at what happened last year.

Last year I placed 24 of 25 in my division and 312th overall.   The 2010 results definitely show improvement… and I am happy!

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If you are looking for your results, follow this link to Prime Time’ website.

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For an interesting account from an Olympic triathlete’s perspective, read: They Can’t Take That Away From Me…

UCSB Triathlon is Done!


Campus Point, UCSB TriathlonYesterday, I finished the 2010 UCSB Triathlon.  It wasn’t easy, it was lonely, it was a learning experience, and yet somehow I disappeared off the results!  However, I met my first big goal of Q1 and finished my fourth triathlon and my first barefoot triathlon!  Time for celebration, relaxation and get geared up for the Morro Bay Triathlon in early June!

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though, here is the break down of times:

Swim (800m) ~ 26:48

T1 ~ 1:34

Bike (16.93 mi) ~ 1:06:10

T2 ~ 2:34

Run (3.06 mi) ~ 36:30 (ran this wearing my lucky FiveFingers KSO)

Overall ~ 2:13:40, which puts me into 85th place of 86 competitors.  Second to last… I’ll take it!

Unfortunately, bib 371 is not listed on the official “Open” results.  I emailed the timing officials, but have not heard back.  It is very disappointing to put so much work into an event and be left off the official results.  However, glitches are always possible… (Update: There is an updated list of results at the SBTiming website here, that includes me!)

I am writing up a summary of each leg and some final thoughts, which I will share in the coming days.

For now, it is time to recover and relish in the accomplishment of finishing my longest, barefoot triathlon yet!

I also want to give a huge shout-out to Chris Petrosian, my personal trainer, who finished the LA Marathon in 4:41:49.  “Congratulations, Chris!  You are inspiration!”

Such an awesome Q1 for both of us.