Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cycling Indoors...What's it good for?

Coach Mari's Tri Bike, Jena, is ready to rock the trainer ride!

It's that time of year.  The days are getting shorter, the temperatures getting cooler and the additional clothing layers are coming out of the back of the closet.  I hate to say it, but our triathlon race season is winding down.

We definitely need some downtime from the rigors of training, racing and living our lives.  However, let's not hibernate on the couch for the entire winter. There are ways can work on some skills to get us ready for the spring racing season.

One skill we can work on over the winter is our cycling.  More specifically, we can use our bike and indoor stationary trainer for a huge benefit this winter. 

There are huge gains to be had by using an indoor trainer.  Its efficiency due to time savings and not having to haul the bike anywhere can lead to effective gains without spending so much of your valuable time.  Furthermore, there is less hassle to deal with on the trainer.  For example, you will never have to stop for a street light, stop sign, deer, car or other crazy cyclist!  There are no concerns about weather conditions, the time of day, or poor road conditions. 

Here are a few tips for Indoor Cycling:

#1 Fluid Trainers are the best!  My personal recommendation is the Road Machine by Kinetic

#2 Follow a workout! Don't just sit and spin in front of the tube or computer.  Have a purpose for each and every workout.  NOTE: Keep following my blog for a future post about how to read and follow a workout.  I'll also provide a few samples.

#3 Start off with a base training workout that includes some technique.  

#4 Train in a well ventilated area or get a big fan.

#5 Use a couple of towels to catch sweat: One on the floor and one near your handlebars.    

#6 Fluid bottles should be filled and ready to use.

#7 Music doesn't hurt!  My favorite Pandora channel for Indoor Cycling is Pop and Hip Hop Workouts, which was a suggestion by my blog friend, Frayed Laces, who is a fantastic triathlete who just won Rev3 Cedar Point Full Iron Distance Triathlon.  Woo Hoo!    

#8 Gather your training buddies to join you!  I am a firm believer that workouts that are difficult to do on your own are much easier when you have the motivation of your friends or arch nemesis! <smile> 

Now, get out there and gather all the tools you need to get your cycling skills ON.  Then, be ready to see how fit you are when spring rolls around!

Happy Winter Training!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Master of Experience!

Over the years, I've been to bunches of triathlon races at Lake Lanier.  The funny thing is, it's usually been to support, cheer or volunteer.  This time, I headed up to race Georgia Multisport's Lake Lanier Islands Sprint Triathlon, 400 yard swim, 13 mile bike and 5K run.

I was feeling very nervous because it has been a long time since I've done a Sprint distance triathlon.  Also, I decided to try a TRX class at Abby Schonier Fitness two days before the race and I was a bit sore from the one leg squats.  <sigh>

My goal?  Simply to go as fast as I could for the entire race.  Easy, right?

I lined up at the front of my wave which is a new strategy for me this year.  When the buzzer sounded, I booked to the water and started swimming...hard.  I wanted to get out of the crowd and to the first (of only three) buoys as soon as possible.

Right off the bat, I felt a girl swimming on my back.  No sweat!  I just lifted up slightly and she slid right off like a slick of oil.

I decided to move a bit to the right side of the crowd, which gave me a direct line to the buoy.  Great!  Perfect!

I kept my breathing pattern to every three strokes.  I kept telling myself to go as hard as I can, but not to the point where I'm losing my form.  This is what I teach my athletes.  A lot of racing and training is about control.  It is also about knowing yourself, your limits and when it is time to push past those limits to see what you are made of.

I rounded the next two buoys without any problems and popped out of the water in 7 minutes and 31 seconds.  (NOTE: This is the time my Garmin clocked, however the results page says differently.)

Since I practiced the run from the swim finish to transition earlier in the morning, I knew I was in for my first test of Zone 5.  I told myself to run as much as I could, but slow down over the metal covers along the bridge.  There was no need to risk slipping and falling.  The route was long and daunting over the bridge and up the hill to transition, but I made it.

As I entered transition, I thought I counted six racks to my spot, but alas, I turned down the wrong aisle.  Ugh.  No worries!  Since most of the bikes were gone, I just ducked under the rack and made it to my spot.  I was out of there in 3 minutes and 6 seconds, including the bridge and long, daunting hill.

I dashed out of transition and hopped on my bike.  Away we go!

Big S and I drove the course the day before so I knew exactly what I was in for: A few hills for the first four miles, Peachtree Industrial Blvd for a couple of miles, back toward Lake Lanier Islands with one minor hill and a couple more hills just for fun back to the park.

Within the first two miles, I got passed by a girl in my age group.  She was flying so I wasn't worried about trying to catch her.

This course was rather crowded.  I was ready for this because I was in the 10th wave.  I knew there would be a bunch of athletes on the course with me.  I just played it smart, passing at every opportunity and making sure I wasn't getting too close to other racers.  I made myself known when athletes were riding in the middle of the road with my favorite phrase "heads up" and my second favorite phrase "passing on your left".  <smile>

As I turned off of Peachtree Industrial Blvd, another girl from my age group passed  me riding like a wild woman!  Seriously!  She was using more upper body than lower body.  Wow!  She was on a mission.  We played *leapfrog* a couple of times, but she finally left me in her wild dust.

Coming back in the park was annoying because several cars were lined up to go through the main gate.  I hated this because we were forced to ride up the right side of the cars.  Once we got through the gate, it was smooth sailing through the park and back to transition.  I finished the bike in just under 40 minutes.  Nice!

T2 was much better than T1.  I ran right to my rack, put up my bike, slipped off my helmet and shoes.  I put on my new Newton Energy running shoes, grabbed my race belt and number and I was off like a dirty shirt and out of transition in under one minute!  (ANOTHER NOTE: Yep!  I tried something new on race day...running sockless!)

The week before the race, I was at Lake Lanier Islands for the Eric Shanteau Swim for Your Life Open Water Swim race.  After the event, I decided to run the course.  This was a big help because I knew what to expect.  The start of the run was no biggie.  Just a nice, flat stretch for a half mile or so.  Once we made a slight turn to the right, the gradual uphill began.  I pushed it.  Yeah baby!  I was not going to slow down my pace for all the homemade granola bars in the world!  <wink...for those of you who know me, you know I LOVE these homemade granola bars>

It was fun seeing several smiling faces along the course like Kelvin D and Marion W.  It reminded me to SMILE, even though I was hurting.  The fact that I was not smiling reminded me of this true fact: SPRINTS HURT!  Hello!

At the run turn-around, I knew it was mostly downhill and the finish line was becoming a reality.  I stayed strong and was feeling great about my race.  Then, duh-oh, I got passed by another girl in my age group!  She looked strong in her Fit Nation tri kit and cute, blonde pony tail swaying back and forth.  As much as I wanted to dislike her, I admired her strength that late in the race.

I turned at the pennant flags that shepherded us to the finish chute.  It was so nice hearing the cheers from fellow Peachtree Tri Club members as I made may way around the last little hairpin turn.  It was SO FABULOUS seeing Big S, Keith and Bill at the Blue Iron Coaching tent!  The finish line was within reach.  I crossed it with a big smile across my face...I think!  My Garmin clocked my run at 26:12 and my finish time was 1:14:21...good enough for 3rd Place Overall Master Female!

I feel strange being categorized as a Master, which are athletes 40 years old and older, but my driver's license confirms my status.  I was told by my good friend, Tony Hammett, that it also means I have experience.  Well, that is true.  I've been participating in this sport for eleven seasons.  I've definitely learned a lot over the years.  But...I continue learning and that is what I love about the sport!

A big THANK YOU to everyone who came out to support, cheer and volunteer!  It makes a big difference to have you out there!  Please know ALL OF YOU have banked a TON of GOOD KARMA POINTS!

I'm totally stoked about my 2013 triathlon season!  I was able to do four races: Great Clermont Olympic (PR), Turtle Crawl Olympic (2nd Overall Female), Chattahoochee Challenge and Lake Lanier Islands Sprint (3rd Overall Master Female).

For 2014, I've got these races on my calendar: January - HITS Naples Olympic, April - West Point Lake Olympic, May - Turtle Crawl Olympic and September - Tugaloo Olympic.

Happy Training & Racing!