Wednesday, March 30, 2011

B-day & More prizes for ya!!!

Quick fyi that you need to know: Remember how I said there aren't that many cool lifestyle clothing companies geared toward triathletes/endurance athletes.... except for PunkRockRacing? Well, the founder and CEO himself (he's kind of big deal if you didn't know lol) read that and graciously decided to add more prizes to my blog contest. The schwag he's adding into the mix is brand-new never-released PxRx stuff, so it's extra exciting! I'm going to keep the prize details a secret for now, but I know it will be well-received!

So, if you haven't entered the Contest & Giveaway yet, get on it!!! Only a few days left. Oh crap, that means only a few days till I race! :)

So, yesterday was my birthday and I had three goals (on top of ditching work and school-related stuff for the most part).

1) Swimbikerun. Had it not been mega taper time I would have planned an epic workout, but we kept it to about 30 min of swimming & floating in the ocean, followed by a bike (trainer sess to keep it simple and traffic-free) and run of just over an hour. We did everything in Laguna beach with home base at my gym, so we had the luxuries of showers and towels too :)

2) Stay as far away from computers as possible. I am on and/or near a computer way too much, and I didn't want to spend my b-day in the ol' routine. However, because I get facebook updates on my phone, I still felt connected to the social-media world all day with all those b-day wishes! Sorry that I didn't respond to everyone, also sorry if I didn't respond to all text messages.... tech difficulties, plus I had a date with mother nature.

3) Eat good food. Duh! Sara, who spent the better part of the day with me, treated me to an epic acai bowl for lunch at this new place in Laguna Beach called Banzai Bowls. Basically they're a blended mix of acai and lots of goodness topped with granola, fruit, almond slices and honey. Did I mention they make the acai bowls in a Vitamix? I felt right at home lol. For dinner, it's cliche, but I opted for sushi. I don't get it all that much and really really really enjoy it. A kombucha and one glass of vino also made it in the mix, and somehow I forgot the beet-of-the-day! Oops!

Some pics from the day:

Pre-swim at Main Beach Laguna Beach. I swear I didn't coordinate wearing my PxRx shirt with the updated blog contest schwag... I just love my shirt and wear it 24/7 :)It was a perfect test-the-ocean-water day. The water was NOT cold at all in my opinion and perfect for swimming "hard" in a race situation. Even with the clouds/overcast morning it still felt great, that is, except for my poor feet that were blue before we even got started. Ask the peeps who were with me.... ugh.
Lunch time!This angle of the below pic doesn't do justice to my acai-bowl-to-go... i.e. we ordered larges with extra add-ons and they were HUGE. It probably took me at least a half hour to eat. And that half hour was heaven in my mouth lol.

After SBR'ing and lunch, Sara and I laid out on the beach for a few hours. Haven't done that in forever and, again, had it not been taper that wouldn't have happened, but it was a nice, relaxing treat to say the least. Perfect weather helped.
Got my haircut... can you tell? lol
Gotta love the 10-second timed shots with the camera on some sticks.
Another classic leg shot. No, I'm not flexing my quads, that's just how they are. Raaarrrr ;)
Did I mention I was a dummy and forgot my SCAPE? Silly me!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Helmet Wars

Before I get goin with today's post a reminder: enter this contest... only several days left; what's there to lose? :)

I had two choices for my birthday present, which would be an aero helmet: the Rudy Project Wingspan or Giro Advantage 2. Neither would bought in a store; but rather ordered on the Internet, thus I was unable to try them on. But obviously a helmet is an individual sort of thing -- one person may hate what another person loves. Advice I got from Twitter verified that (yea, I know, Twitter advice? but I have legit followers!!!). So I decided we'd order both then return my least favorite.

Well both came, and I had no trouble making a choice: the Rudy Wingspan.

I'll start by saying that the Giro is not bad in any way, shape or form!! It's comfortable and extremely lightweight, it looks super hot and I'm sure helps with speed. But it's really hard to get on and it is a little claustrophobic on the head -- the whole thing fits extremely snug on the noggin, ears and all.

On the other hand, there's the Rudy. They (John Cobb actually) crafted it in a way so that there's a layer of space between the helmet and your head wherever the pads and front/back don't touch. To me, having that extra breathability will be KEY in the longer races. Plus, even though there are less "contact" points, the helmet doesn't move around while riding and it still fits snug enough. Furthermore (this is big), the Rudy is 10x easier to put on, and in T1 I know that will make a difference! Also, it's about the same weight as the Giro.

The other thing that sealed the deal is that the tail on the Rudy helmet is a little shorter, so if my neck does get tired and I look down, I won't have a huge pointy thing sticking up, negating any speed benefit to wearing an aero helmet. I know I look down at points during the bike because everything else is just working so hard, so I'll try to minimize that, but if I do mess up, Rudy still has my back.

Bottom line: This is just my opinion. I really believe everyone should try on all equipment before purchasing such a "personal" item. For some people, the Giro may win hands down; for some people the Rudy and Giro might suck and they like Specialized. Who knows. Hopefully, I've just highlighted some good things to look for when choosing an aero helmet.

Also, fyi, I was not paid or persuaded by freebies to say one thing or another regarding these helmets.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Contest & Giveaway!

I've been waiting to post this blog for a while and am super excited to finally do so! My friend Nick started a great new triathlon "lifestyle" clothing company called Ignis, which is Latin for fire/ignite. There aren't that many cool "non-race" clothing companies geared toward us endurance athletes that resemble the likes of a Volcom or Billabong. (Well, of course, there's the awesome PunkRockRacing, ****update: who's recently offered up some cool schwag for the winners of this contest too***, and Endurance Conspiracy... etc??) You can see more about Ignis on the website, I'll be on the Ignis team this season and thus sporting their logo a lot, including on my new race kit, which will be made by Zoot. I couldn't be more stoked :) I just hope I get the kit in time for Oceanside, but not sure that's going to happen. Bummer.


The Contest/Giveaway
Nick and I were discussing a good idea for a contest to give away some free Ignis shirts, and he came up with a good one, so here it is:

In the comment section of this post, tell me: Which male pro and which female pro will win Ironman 70.3 California on Saturday, April 2, and what will each of their finishing times be? Again, just so we're clear: Give me the name of one male & one female pro triathlete who you think is going to win, and give an estimated overall finishing time for each.

Example: Joe Shmoe in x:xx:xx and Jane Doe in x:xx:xx (Not their combined times like Beth & James did lol)

Deadline: 12 a.m. PST Friday, April 1, 2011

Prize & Winners:
I have two shirts to give away (one for a dude, one for a chick), so there will be two winners: one male and one female who make predictions that are closest, or on the dot, to what actually happens on April 2.

I'm including gender because if two dudes were to win, I don't want to make the choice as to who gets the boy shirt and who gets the girl shirt. Make sense? Also, I'll pay for shipping costs to anywhere in the U.S. to get you your schwag.... maybe you'll even get something extra ;)

***UPDATE**** New prizes from PunkRockRacing have been added for both the male and female winner. It's brand-new schwag from PxRx!!!

So that's it! Simple right? Or is that a hard contest? I guess we'll see huh. I know exactly who I'd pick, but the finishing times makes it a toughie!


PS - If you make your way to the "shopping" section on the Ignis website, please don't give me too much grief for what looks like my attempt at a "Blue Steel" face lol. But really, how embarrassing are those pics! Haha! Oh well, I had a blast with the guys doing the shoot that day!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

5 Observations as of Late

Observation #1
Going No. 1 & No. 2 when you eat beets is "different." This is something I forgot to mention in my last post (thx for the reminder GoBigGreen.) I'm already familiar with this phenomenon, if it can be considered that haha, so no surprises to me, but just fyi if you don't know: Basically the deep-red color of beets has a lasting effect, down to your bowls and urination. Yes, my friends, No. 1 & No. 2 take on a reddish hue. So if you take on the beet-eating lifestyle, then expect to see some new colors coming out of you. Don't be afraid and freak out, nothing is wrong. Sorry, not going to picture document this one ;)

Observation #2
I watched the movie "How Do You Know" recently... just another mindless and fairly stupid chick flick. The movie pretty much sucked, but there was one aspect that got me thinking. Reese Witherspoon plays a softball player who gets cut from the U.S. National Team. Her character is clearly passionate about the game, but that sub-story isn't even developed that much.

Here's my observation... Seeing Reese as an athlete got me thinking: We NEVER see fictional female characters in regular ol' movies who are athletes, let alone as athletes who play at a high level of sport. Most movies that have female athletes are based on some sort of true story, or it's a biographical or documentary-style film that glorifies their legacy (Million Dollar Baby). You never see movies where the "sexy leading lady" kicks ass at a sport... instead, women are usually shopping-obsessed, man-crazy girly girls (Sex and the City). Yes, there are movies that do have women who kick ass, like Uma Thurman in the Kill Bills or that chick in Terminator 2, but that's not what I mean. I'm talking a regular movie where the woman plays a sport and plays it well and it's not under the category of "sports films" or some unrelaistic fantasy/sci-fi/hardcore stuff.

I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong or I'm missing something -- I do suck at watching movies and I suck even more at finding good movies to watch. Not a high priority in my life, to say the least. I've had people gasp at some movies I've never seen... like some of Star Wars series or Harry Potter or "insert classic flick here."

But despite the fact that I'm not a movie-obsessed person, I know movies and Hollywood impact people all over the world a lot, so that's why I even bring it up in the first place. I'm not a feminist in any way, it's just an observation.

What do you guys think?

Observation #3
One more thing on the movie with Reese: Her softball teammates in the movie looked NOTHING like real softball players. The girls cast looked like supermodels, NOT cut athletic women. Such BS. And we wonder why women have self-esteem/body-image issues.

Observation #4
Taper sucks and is awkward. Yea I'm feeling refreshed and more rested, but also sluggish and BLAH. After two days off, the last two days I can say with confidence that I've felt weird and to the point that I didn't even want to start my training, which is very odd for me. But I got going with it anyways (duh), and once into it I felt like a friggin rockstar. What a little rest can do! I felt sooo good that I could have kept going for way longer than what was on the schedule, but I was smart and cut myself off. There's no fitness to gain in two weeks before a big race, but you can dig yourself into a bad rut of fatigue and have a shitty race as a result. No thanks.

Bottom line: Taper is such a mental game, which is why I think people struggle with it so much. It's hard to rest, and it's even harder to cut yourself off from overdoing it when the workout sesh feels oh so good!

Observation #5
This is kind of silly, but had to mention. At the pool today I saw the epitome of "OC Housewife-ness." A license plate on a big ol' SUV that read "platmum." Not only that, but it was in some cheesy diamond-encrusted plate frame. Ugh! I hate the materialism I see sometimes. At least she apparently had her kid in swim lessons. And, btw, I would have taken a pic but she was by her car so I couldn't be rude ;)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beet it

Leading up to CA 70.3, I'm going to do a little experiment with something. (It's ok, I've had exposure to this "thing" before so it's nothing new lol.) I won't really be able to measure or compare data to draw definite conclusions because there are so many variables involved in the lead-up to the race that will have an effect on performance, but nevertheless...

I'm going to drink beet juice 1x a day, every day; I started on Monday. Why? Beet juice is shown to improve endurance performance (more below). The ideal amount according to studies is ~500 ml per day. My protocol is to just throw a large beet into the Vitamix with a bunch of other fresh fruits and veggies, i.e. I put enough stuff in the mix to mask the flavor of pure beet juice. I mean it tastes OK, but it's not thaaat great and it gets old quickly :)

So, beet juice is one of the only naturally occurring "supplements" out there that shows promise for working as an ergogenic aid for endurance athletes. The reason beet juice may work is because it has a high level of nitrates, which allows the athlete to use less oxygen at a given intensity (reduces oxygen cost), thus conserving energy. In other words, the energy requirement for whatever workout being done is lowered, which means the athlete could potentially last longer and perform better. The mechanisms of how the nitrates work are a tad more complicated (i.e. there's more detail about mitochondria, etc), but that's the main idea.

Studies have shown anywhere from a 15% to 20% increase in time to exhaustion, meaning the subjects have lasted longer in whatever they're doing because, again, you don't need as much energy to do the task at hand. Do a Google search and you'll find these studies and more info.

At this point, I'm still skeptical, but I do think there could be something to this, like with chia seeds. I haven't read the studies in full detail, but I can say with confidence that for someone doing a half-Ironman, beet juice alone isn't going to make drastic improvements in overall time, maybe a couple percent, if that. There's just so much more that goes into it, and we're not test subjects in a controlled lab environment.

However, beets are still healthy regardless of their effect on endurance performance, so having one beet a day definitely isn't going to hurt in any way.... Beets are shown to improve cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure; they're full of potassium, could help reduce inflammation, and beet greens are a rich source of iron. Us athletes need our iron! (I eat the stems and leaves separately from my drinks.)


Quick & easy beet drink:

1 beet*
12 small-med frozen strawberries
1/2 peeled orange
slice of fresh ginger
~1/2 c water
~1/2 c almond milk
1/2 c ice
splash of agave syrup or 1 packet of stevia

Blend all that in the vitamix

*It's best to chop up the beet so it grinds down more easily, especially if you don't have a vitamix. Also, just make sure it's washed; no need to peel or do anything else (aka raw!)

-The orange really helps offset that extreme "beety" flavor. You can also add more almond milk and less water, or even vanilla whey protein, to enhance creaminess and get in more nutrients.

-Adding in your greens & veggies is easy too: throw in a leaf or two of kale, handful of spinach, fresh parsley, a carrot and/or cucumber. When I do this, I will add more orange, almond milk and water to so it doesn't taste like pure grass and isn't overly thick.


That's it for now... more blogs in the works. In the meantime, I've had two full days off from exercise and one sports psych midterm, so I think it's time for me to get out and enjoy a nice bike/run!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ask Tawnee: Sand Running!

I had a great question from SixTwoThree recently that was first in line to be answered. It's especially a great question now that the weather is getting nicer and those of us on the coast can take advantage of beach days... and beach runs :)

Q: As you know, I've been slowly recovering from knee surgery. My P.T. advised me to run on the beach, which I've been doing religiously. I know it's gentler on the joints, so it will prolong my triathlon career; however, I'm really curious how to gauge my slower times without biting the bullet and running on pavement. What do you think? Is there a rule of thumb to go by? [My pace] varies by how deep the sand is that day as much as how good I'm feeling in a
workout. Either way, these beach runs feel like brick workouts because my legs
feel so much heavier when running in the sand. I'd love your opinion. Especially when it comes to fitting in long runs. Should I just swap out times versus distance? -- SixTwoThree

A: First off, to anyone interesting in sand running, I would not recommend just going out and doing lots of miles on the sand if you have limited to no experience doing so. Sand running time & mileage needs to increase in baby steps because the instability of the surface can negative consequences. However, sand running can be great for building strength, focusing on proper technique and increasing cadence. Just proceed with caution.

Thus, it's best to use time as your gauge for run workouts, not distance, especially when first incorporating this. Reason being, it's almost guaranteed that most people will run slower on the sand than on asphalt or other surfaces, even if their miles are fewer. So your long run could be many minutes longer but you're still working just as hard if not harder.

The main reason you're slower: You're not getting as much push-off from the ground. It's pretty simple, really. Imagine running on a nice springy track vs. sand. You sink into the sand--the deeper & looser the sand, the more you sink--and thus you're having to work extra hard to propel yourself forward. So don't get down on yourself if your mile times are off!

There's not really a "rule of thumb" that I'm aware of in terms of time/speed transfer from sand running to runs on harder surfaces, but I can almost guarantee running on sand will make you faster when you run on asphalt (avoid concrete please!). It's a good idea to test this, especially with a race coming up (SixTwoThree is doing CA 70.3). Run on a harder surface and note the differences in time and feel. Plus, your half-Ironman will be on a combo of asphalt, concrete and sand, so you need to get some exposure to varying surfaces. (No surprises on race day!)

So, SixTwoThree, slower running is not a reason to get frustrated about your time, and your PT was wise to advise it given that you're well recovered. There are many benefits to running on the sand if you are careful... yes I'm taking it even further :)

1) By being forced to run slower in the sand you have more of an opportunity to concentrate on form and technique while still getting a killer cardio workout. By form and technique, I'm talking everything: your stride, cadence and how you strike; your core strength and stability; and your posture and how you "hold" your upper body. Think about leaning forward, really lifting those legs up and maintaining a good turnover.

2) It's great for building that aerobic engine even if you're overall miles of your sand runs are low. This is helpful post-injury*, early in the season or even if you're at a point in your season where you need to add in another run to the weekly routine--breaks up the monotony. It's great cause you don't have to do so much in the sand and you still get some big endurance benefits.

3) After some experience, eventually you can start incorporating a little speed work on the sand and go more anaerobic to help increase your VO2max and whatnot, but do so with extreme care. Do short drills and work your way up to longer efforts. It's best to do any speed work on hard-packed sand. Don't always expect your numbers to match up with your track sessions in terms of speed.

4) Sand runs are a strength training session in essence. The sand's surface is always different and morphing, so your foot lands at different angles and your legs/hips are adjusting to what's beneath, which is all great for building strength in the foot, ankle, leg and beyond. But that can also be dangerous: The unstable nature of sand can put extra stress on certain areas (i.e. Achilles), and it can even lead you into "tweaking" something like your ankle if you're not careful (another reason not to worry about running your fastest on the sand).

*Only do sand running post-injury if you've had full clearance from your doctor and team of people in charge of your rehab.

Bottom line of Sand Running:
-Yes, you're going to go slower in the sand. But that will likely transfer over to faster running on harder surfaces.

-You can anticipate being more sore and even more tense in certain muscles from sand runs. This might require more recovery time.

-Don't overdo it. As I say with barefoot running, do it in small doses as an "accessory" to your overall run training. There are enough risks associated that it can be problematic.

-If you have prior issues with running, injuries, etc, I'd highly recommend talking with an expert before incorporating any sand running.

-Shoes? Your call. Wearing an old pair of running shoes might be wise, not necessarily for the support, but to avoid the risk of stepping on something gnarly, like glass. It's annoying to get sand in your shoes, but it's better than having a rusty nail in your foot.

-Last thing, important: Make sure you run on a stretch of sand that's flat and not sloped/at an angle. If you run on a slope, that can really jack up your body.

-Enjoy the beauty that sand running offers!
Thanks for the question, SixTwoThree :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Stupid foot

So I got a gnarly blister from the Desert Tri in the arch of my R foot. It's my own dang fault for choosing that time to NOT wear socks for the first time ever with my shoes. Oh well. Here is the beauty after the race:

Normally a blister doesn't bug me, and life goes on. But this one was pretty nasty and me being the stubborn person I am decided to keep on schedule with my running the following week after the race... it was a 20-something mile week. I started noticing an issue on Wed or Thur. My ankle was sore and so was the lateral side of my R foot. Basically, I must have been subconsciously changing how I was striking in order to protect the tender area and not strike there. As a result I jacked up my foot and ankle by landing way on the outside of my foot. Ugh. The weird thing, though, it didn't hurt during our Saturday 8-miler off the bike. Maybe I was too high on endorphins... like I said, I was pretty loopy and bonky during that run. I was fine for the rest of that day, and even that night when we went out that night in Laguna Beach. But then, oddly, the pain showed up on Sunday's easy/short run BIG TIME--so bad that I quit early and was limping around the rest of the day.

I got it checked yesterday and there's no major damage, but I'm still going to take caution and not run for a few days. The blister just needs more time to heal I guess... normally my cuts and stuff heal fast, but not this time because I chose not to give it time to heal in the first place, oops. (This is where I need to start practicing better patience in my life, and where I often fail to do so. Part of it is because I can tolerate a lot of pain.... and sometimes I'll endure pain until it's too late. But I'm learning to be smarter.)

So today I had a killer fun workout planned, which was also very "green" aka no cars and no gas-guzzling motors required. Ride 10 miles to my gym (the long way), do a 30-minute strength-training workout (see below) and then ride the even longer way home, 32 miles, which included a nice jaunt up PCH past this gem of an area:

Thennnn, I was going to do a t-run of a few miles. But I decided to play it smart and quit after the bike because the foot was even bothering me during the strength workout (thankfully, not on the bike). Looking ahead, I have a pretty darn long run planned on Saturday and I want to do it in style! Plus, there's no way I'm about to really jack myself up for Oceanside in a less than 3 wks!


Strength workout*:
10 rounds (for time)
5 pullups (Rx- jump pullups or band pullups)
5 burpees
10 thrusters (like a push press but with a lot deeper of a squat to really work that booty & the hammys; use Olympic bar or DBs)
10 inverted ring rows

My time: 17:40ish

*Let's just say that workout is going to make my swims the next two days HURT! I had to do the Rx on the pullups too.

PS - Also, please have patience with me with the blogs I keep hinting at doing... they're coming.... so much to do, so little time! :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Podcasting Gig... Team RWB... Epic5

So in late January, my friend Ben Greenfield came to me with a job offer: Be the new host of the Endurance Planet podcast. The old host, Kevin, was stepping down for various reasons, and Ben thought it'd be cool to get a girl who's "in the know" at the mic. Well, you know me... more work that's endurance sports related? Sign me up!

The problem: I have NO broadcast/radio/podcast experience, and although I've been interviewing people for years for journalism and my articles, this was a whole new world to me. I thought, "How hard could it be?" Ugh. Talk about a rude awakening. Frankly, I've been struggling to find my groove... and it probably shows in the podcasts! It's not easy to develop a "radio personality" in a matter of days, especially when the previous host was a bad-ass veteran of the biz and did it so well (aka Kevin Patrick). I still think people hate me as the new host (yes I've had some hater comments), but whatever. It is what it is, and as someone in the public eye, you have to expect to get hated on every now and then. I can see past that. I refuse to give up... it's become one of those tasks in my life where I could easily quit because it's "hard," but I don't crumble under that sort of pressure, I rise to the challenge. Trust me, there were a few moments where I was ready to say "I'm done!" But I didn't. I'm the same way with racing... my mind will say "stop, this hurts too badly," but hell no, I ain't stopping!

Anyways, I'm getting more comfortable with the podcast gig, thus I'm starting to enjoy it more and more every day. Not to mention, I get to talk with some AMAZING people all the time and the info we're putting out is SO great. Our usual shows include "Sports Nutrition" with Ben Greenfield, "Ask the Doctor" with Dr. Mark Klion, a sports medicine specialist and triathlete, and "This Week in Multisport" with LAVA Magazine's Brad Culp. It's great to chat with these guys regularly, and I am learning so much as a result about all the topics at hand! Bonus! Plus with the nutrition and sports med shows, the listeners submit questions for the experts to answer, thus we have a lot of involvement with the audience, which is rad.

Team RWB
We are also doing special interviews in which we highlight people doing incredible things in endurance sports. The first of these interviews for me was with Army Major Mike Erwin, who started Team Red White and Blue (Team RWB), a group of endurance athletes who raise money for wounded veterans. You can find out more about Team RWB here. Once I starting talking with Mike, who is just an amazingly wonderful guy by the way, I was immediately drawn to the organization, so I decided to join myself and do some fundraising. Why not use triathlon as a platform to help others? Why didn't I start this earlier?! Hence, you might notice a little fund-raising widget at the top right corner of my blog... please don't hesitate to donate :) If you want to hear my interview with Mike on Team RWB and his life, click here.

Epic5 Challenge
I also recently interviewed Christian Isakson, who was hand-picked by Jason Lester to do this year's Epic5 Challenge, five Iron-distance triathlons in five days on five Hawaiian islands taking place May 5-9. The event obviously requires a special person, and Chrsitian is just that. He's a prime example of a hard-working American who has a kind heart, morals and dedication--we should all strive to be more like Christian, because, heck, he's fun too! We had a great time chatting before, during and after the interview (as was the case with Mike Erwin lol). Click here to listen to my interview with Christian.

Anyways, so point is: Yes, I am struggling with this job, but at the same time I'm helping to expose some great things to the listeners and am helping to get the word out on some good people and good organizations. That is pretty darn cool.

PS - Answers to compression questions coming soon and blog contest with giveaways coming soon too!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bonk Town...

...but still a successful day! Saturday morning was a fairly big bike/run brick, not as big as I had originally planned due to time constraints and other commitments, but still big enough to get a feel for where I'm at going into the final weeks before Oceanside 70.3. In short, I feel satisfied after today, and ready and confident for the race.

I've had no days off since the Desert Tri, which isn't that big of a deal because I had a lot of rest going into the race, and the race itself was half the time I normally spend working out on a Sunday. Nevertheless the back-to-back & increasingly big workouts were starting to catch up with me and by Thursday evening I was feelin it.

Some workout highlights from the week include:
Monday: hard trainer session with "iTunes intervals;" Tuesday: birthday swim set for Marta that included a main set of 30x100 (she turned 30) and a run; Wednesday: tempo ride with Mike from the gym on our regular 33ish-mile loop, which we did it faster than we ever have before (avg 21+ mph) and with higher power than ever too, then a t-run; Thursday: s/b/r- it was so nice out that I added in "bonus" workouts. Thankfully Friday was just a nice lake swim with awesome company. I wanted to go faster in the lake than I did, but my body just laughed and said "yea right b*tch you're dreaming." After that, just rest in anticipation of Saturday....

Marta and I set off for a hard and hilly bike starting through Santiago Canyon then seeking out every other significant hill in the area it seemed. We only got in 52 miles (as mentioned, a little less than planned) but the clock was ticking and with all the significant climbs--way more than Oceanside has--that was good enough. Plus we avg'd 18 mph overall, which I was happy about. We had a quick transition and headed right into an 8-mile run, which we finished in 1:01 (about a 7:40 avg pace), our fastest pace to date for a long-ish run off a solid bike ride.

It was during the run when I hit bonk town. It hit me at around mile 2. Ouch. So early!? I had fueled like I normally do starting the previous night with a big dinner, then a big breakfast and then GU Gels and Chomps and coconut water on the bike. Guess that wasn't enough on this particular day! The big mistake was that I thought I'd be fine without gel or hydration for the hour run. Wrong! Thankfully, Marta had one gel and we decided to share it, also sharing the tiny bit of water she had (yes, I know, me as the coach, I should be the prepared one! Oops!). That helped a bit and somehow I held on to the pace we were going even though I was feeling way off. Oh well. I survived... toward the end all I was thinking was, "Get me a mountain of food and my compression on." I also thought, "Who needs drugs when you can get all 'loopy' from mega workouts and/or a bonk?!" I'm crazy. I know.

So, as we speak, I finished my mega meal about an hour or so ago, my compression is on, and I'm about to take a mega nap. The plan is to go out with friends and be social tonight so I need to recoup if that's going to happen.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Compression & Interview with Andy Potts

So ya know how I was asking about compression recently? Well, the reason: I just got finished writing an article on the topic for Triathlete Magazine, which should hit stands in June I believe. I wanted to reach out to various athletes and experts to get an idea of peoples' perception of compression; maybe even find some quote-worthy material for my article (which I did) :)

From all the people I talked to (beyond just the blog world), my unscientific conclusion is that more people trust and believe in compression than those who don't. Not life-shattering news, but it's still interesting to see that even though compression garments aren't 100% proven to be effective, people are still willing to pay quite a bit for them and make quite a fashion statement when wearing them around town.

Last night I wore these when teaching my fitness class at Sport Performance Institute... um, only a few perplexed looks lol. Talk about Zoot'd-out in pink! The crazier the better I say!

I also dug into my grad-school research I've done on compression to guide my article (my lit review was my BFF) and interviewed some experts and pros, including Joe Friel and Andy Potts. My talk with Joe inspired this blog, I even sent him my bibliography on compression so hopefully some of the studies he mentions were thanks to me ;)

I want to talk more about compression, starting with my interview with Andy and share the stuff we discussed (not all of what's below made it into the article, so I guess you can say this it a TriTawn exclusive lol). As a side note, Andy is a great guy; I've met him a couple times in Kona and even though I don't know him that well, talking to him on the phone was like talking to an old friend. I could have written a whole article on our talk alone.


Andy is sponsored by CEP, but he started wearing compression even before that for recovery reasons. He eventually wore out the one pair of compression socks he had, which prompted the sponsorship. He now wears compression during big workouts and competition, too. He's a believer!

He believes compression works for recovery: "After a tough workout, I throw them on and elevate the feet; I pay more attention to getting blood flow back to the heart. One of the properties that turned me on was no issues with tweaking tendonds, ligaments and muscles [after a workout]; the socks help keep everything in place. I relax and focus [on recovery], and I don't have to worry about being so gentle to the lower body... The socks are part of the [recovery] process. It's one of the triggers to relax and gets that exhale effect going."

Andy now wears compression during big training sessions and racing, too, and believes they have a significant effect even if it doesn't necessarily make him go faster: "In terms of training and competition, compression keeps everything together. It helps with rebounding in the muscles and you're not as violent on the muscles. It reduces muscle [oscillation]. When you have so much fatigue, it's easy for the muscles to just quit, but with CEP compression, muscles are kept in place so they can fire properly. It may not add to physical performance, but it makes a difference to have compression keeping everything in place, especially over longer durations.

He's willing to take a few extra seconds to put the socks on in T2: "It takes time to put them on, it's a technique. I sit down to do it. I fold the socks into quarters then fold them down and have them waiting in the proper shoe. First it goes on over the toe box then over the heel then up the calf. It probably takes 7 seconds longer than putting on regular socks, or 20 seconds longer than if you were to put no socks on in T2."

Compression also helps Andy's temperature perception. "I play a game with myself; I tell myself the socks are keeping me cooler in a place like Kona and warmer in a place like Coeur D'Alene when it's cold there."

As a side note, there are some claims that compression could aid in thermoregulation (maintaining the right body temp), and while this hasn't been proven in studies, there's still the potential, even if it's placebo, which seems to be the issue in Andy's case.... whatever works!

Lastly, Andy was excited to talk about what CEP will be offering in the near future: "CEP, which provides the medical-grade compression, has a new product out called the Clone, which is over-the-hip pants and everyone gets a custom fit for them. The rep takes [a bunch of] measurements and then custom makes their Clone; it takes about 10 days to get it."


Some of my thoughts on compression in brief (I could go on for hours)....

1. I do believe compression works for recovery. Personally, I notice significantly less swelling in my feet and ankles if I wear compression post-exercise, no matter if the workout was moderate or major. That makes a difference the next day and so on because compression helps get the blood flowing and shuttle out all the "gunk," aka bodily fluids, that could cause DOMS (muscle soreness) and other delays in recovery. I also have circulation issues to begin with, so my feet/lower legs love compression.

2. I don't think compression will work for enhancing performance significantly, i.e. don't expect compression to be the key to setting new PRs, etc. However, I think it's worth putting on during exercise/competition for the reasons Andy stated (enhanced perception, muscle "comfort," etc) and beyond. There is some research to show that it can help physiological mechanisms and even enhance efficiency, but more so compression increases comfort for a lot of people. Even if you can't measure the data to show a faster race or better circulation, if it's more comfortable for you, then why not wear it?! Plus, wearing compression during exercise can begin the process of faster recovery--you don't have to wait until after the workout or race to throw them on.

3. I have some skepticism about the "grade" and mmHG of commercial compression garments, and socks in particular. In most studies I read, they use some heavy-duty compression, the real medical-grade stuff, and I'm not sure that all athletic compression companies offer the same level of compression. Not to mention, some of these studies get custom-fit compression for the subjects, which makes benefts more likely (we are not a one-size-fits-all world!).

Compression is measured in mmHG, which implies how much pressure it exerts. The best kind of lower-leg compression is graded (differnt pressures), with mmHG that ranges from 20-40 mmHG, which promotes the upward flow of fluids to prevent stagnation. For any compression used in the athletic arena, it's safe to say anything below 15 mmHG is probably pointless. My Zoot stuff has some numbers: says it's 18-30 mmHG, which is pretty decent and personally I think it's enough to get some results recovery-wise. I don't know about the other brands.

4. Compression for body parts beyond the lower legs is a little sketchy. If you're on a budget, stick to the socks, which help shuttle out the by-products of working out, help the calf-muscle pumps works efficiently. Plus, they're great for traveling, for those overcoming injury, for people who work on their feet a lot, and helpful in clinical situations (i.e. DVT -- Serena Williams anyone?), and so on...On the flip side, compression tops might help with posture ever-so-slightly and shorts or leggings might help with muscle response (studies show it can increase jump height but do triathletes care about that?), while any extra garment might keep you warmer and more comfortable, but overall, I don't think those garments will do much to help circulation and blood flow or enhance recovery like the socks do. The socks are meant to flush the gunk up and out, so I don't get how that works with compression on other areas, not to mention compression sleeves (??). If it's a comfort thing or about compressing the muscle to "keep everything in place," like Andy said, that's one thing, but that might be where it ends. Hm.

*If you want to anything more about compression or have any specific questions for me, let me know, I'd be happy to discuss the subject further.

PS - Because I might have gotten your hopes up about a potential reward for telling me about your compression habits or lack thereof, I feel bad and am therefore going to do a little giveaway on here in the coming days in which a male and female will benefit... I just have to think of a good contest.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Desert Triathlon RR :)

Well, I survived! My first triathlon since May 2010 went great! I couldn't have asked for a better weekend on all levels -- amazing company, great weather, a spectacular race and a podium finish. In short my RR goes like this: a crappy swim, stellar bike and pretty good run. But read on for the whole sha-bang...

I was traveling and doing the race with three of the athletes I coach, so the weekend was beyond special to me. Plus there was a big 3-0 birthday in the house on race day, so even more reason to have a blast and race hard. We got to Palm Desert Saturday afternoon and were lucky enough to have a huge five-bedroom house to stay in thanks to my athlete's gracious family. The weather was in the 80s... a tease of summertime conditions.

Saturday night we cooked up a great dinner of brown rice, quinoa, baked sweet potatoes, grilled chicken breast, teriyaki veggies and salad. Perfection. Tatiana joined us, forcing us to consume wine... lol jk. And of course, I spilled on my brand-new Ignis tank.
Marta and I cooking up a storm to fuel the crew. Her hubby knows how to grill some good chicken, too :)

There were lots of laughs that night, and personally I think I was the most calm I've ever been going into a race. Stress-free is the way to be :) Among the good convos, we made sure to have the all-important talk with Marta's husband on his important role as sherpa; he was the only one not racing in the house so he had to take care of four of us! (He succeeded... with flying colors.)

Before we knew it, time for lights out at 9:30 ish only to hear that oh-so lovely 4 a.m. alarm in what felt like just minutes. The troops rallied for coffee, brekkie and typical race-morning chatter. I made sure to add chia seeds into my bowl of oatmeal, along with vanilla whey and almond milk... mmm.

Next thing I know we're at the lake and it's gorgeous outside! By 7 a.m. it was probably in the mid-60s and clear sunny skies. We got in a little warmup swim, and it felt like a bath tub compared to the lake we swim at by my house.

So onto the race...

The Desert Triathlon is somewhere between an international and Olympic distance so long enough to get in a good beating, but short enough to not feel like death after.

Gorgeous start to the morning...
Marta and I trying to spot the far-away buoy, blinded by the light!With my peeps... happy coach!!!!
My race:

SWIM -- 24:xx, darn it
Knowing this is my Achilles' Heel, I lined up around the back of my wave, which is fine with me despite the "competitor" in me wanting otherwise lol. We ran into the water and got going. Right away I tried to get into rhythm and not get trampled. All seemed to be going well. I wasn't over-exerting myself and I felt good. The buoy was impossible to see heading out due to the sun, so we used some palm trees for sighting. I was really happy with how well I held a line the whole time. The only hiccup I had was with my goggles. I borrowed my mom's of the same brand but different model and they ended up leaking like crazy, causing me to lose some time, but not significantly (a minute or so?). During the second half of the swim back to transition I felt like it was taking a long time so I picked it up more, but it wasn't enough to make a big improvement time-wise. Oh well. The fact is I got out feeling fresh and not depleted/drained, so that's good. We think the course was longer than before because all the times seem to be slower than last year's--the elites and everyone. Not to mention, we did 1200 open-water TT the previous week (same as projected race distance) and finished in 20:xx, so who knows.

Finished the swim in 24:xx and felt fresh but a tad annoyed with my time. Brushed it off quickly... slow swims mean one thing to me: time to hammer on the bike baby!!!

Let's just say I need some practice with my transitions... it's been a while :)

BIKE -- 1:04:xx, 22.2 mph average for 24 miles
Of course my SRM chose not to work this one time despite having charged it the night before, so I don't have any of my power data or anything, which really bums me out because I had an amazing bike! I felt so damn good the whole time and had a blast. Only gnarly part was almost getting hit by a huge truck that was hauling a load of horses--he was seconds from making a turn right in front of me, and I would have T-boned him had I not screamed my brains out. That was quite scary.
Anyways, I just love riding. Plain and simple. Knowing that this course was "flat and fast" my goal was to just hammer the whole time. I did that. Passed lots of people and got some comments like, "You're flying girl!" Not gonna lie, that felt good. The course heads out a mile or so then you do two big loops, the scenery was really nice and it reminded me how thankful I am to do a sport that lets me see more of the world without a motor to get me around. The second loop was more crowded, but in a way I think that helped me because I had to work HARD to make some big passes and keep them legal. Seriously, I wish I had the SRM data. rats.

Ooh yea, can't forget to mention the good nutrition on the bike: Vanilla Orange GU Roctane gels and my new obsession, GU Tabs, in my bottle. Not overwhelmingly sweet, just perfect. YUM!

I was keeping track of time on my watch and noticed that for the 24 miles I was set to finish in just over an hour. Bueno. I hit transition area not knowing my exact time, but later found out my bike split was 1:04:xx, an average of over 22 mph and the fastest bike split in my AG. To put it in perspective, Heather Jackson (pro) did the bike in 59:xx (24 mph avg), so I was happy to finish how I did.

Marta on the bike... how gorgeous, right?!

This was probably the funniest part of the race, but also shitty for the time I lost. I bent over to put on my run shoes and my abs cramped up like I've never experienced before. They were seized up to the max and literally sticking out of my stomach. I'm not joking when I say it looked like it was straight from the movie Aliens--a creature wanting to burst out. I was trying so hard not to laugh because it made it worse, but it was freakin funny. I had to lay on my back for a while and take deep breaths to get it to subside, all while still trying to get the damn running shoes on. Ugh! Wish I had a video of that one lol.

RUN -- 41:xx, 6:53 avg pace for 6 miles
Finally made it onto the course and was happy as could be. Smile from ear to ear. I saw Nytro Women's Kristin Mayer just in front of me; I had passed her on the bike, so she must have got me during my T2 episode. Knowing she's a great runner, it was my goal to keep her right in front of me, about 5-10 yards or so. My legs felt great and I felt like I was in good form, but I could tell my HR was a lot higher than it had been on the bike so I was going to have to dig deep to sustain the pace I was running, 7:00+/- a few seconds.

Think this pic was toward the end...
The course goes around the lake twice, and it's all flat with a good chunk of it on dirt and sand. I loved that... I hate running on concrete and avoid it whenever I can. I noticed I passed a few more girls in my AG during the run, and by the second loop, I felt like I was pushing hard, maybe too much, but I just kept saying "only a few more miles, that's nothing! suck it up!" I finally caught Kristin and we chatted a bit about Oceanside 70.3 and how this was my first tri back... she could tell I was beaming with excitement to be racing again and said something like, "You're so stoked girl." It was true. I passed her and then it was just about holding on for the last couple. Oh yea, I almost got hit by another vehicle in motion during the run too. Sheesh.

I finished the run in 41:xx, a 6:53 average pace, feeling like I had given me all. However, I think the course was a bit short according to my Garmin, so my pace might have been a tad slower. Still, I'll take it, especially having hammered on the bike.

FINISH -- 2:14:xx, 3rd AG
I hadn't set a goal time for this race, just loosely said I wanted to go between 2:00 to 2:30. When I was on the bike I realized 2:13-2:15 was possible, so going sub-2:15 became the goal. I think that helped push me on the run because I just made it with my 2:14.

Podiums were not really on my mind being that this race truly was about "dusting off the cobwebs," but as luck would have it I squeezed into 3rd place in the 25-29 AG. Great way to get back to it I suppose :) Not to mention I missed 2nd by like 10 seconds. Crap... had I only known she was so close... but you can't think like that, right? Btw, Kristin still beat me because she had started in a later wave, so I don't want to give the impression that I'm faster than her haha.

My three athletes who raced all did fabulous as well! I couldn't be more proud to be their coach. Everyone had great experiences and great times. I'd like to think that us being together really helped to motivate and inspire each of us to race hard and have fun rather than get overly nervous, stressed and anxiety-filled. After all, we do this for the love of it and escape life's stressors.

Happiness... love the triathlon lifestyle and environment!!

Chillin with our amazing sherpa post-race. Hanging out...Ray spoiled us with Girl Scout cookies, mmm.

After the race we had to high-tail it back to the house, shower up and head home. The fabulous sherpa was throwing a surprise 30th birthday party for the b-day girl, Marta, and we were all invited. It turned out to be a fabulous day overall... and man did I splurge all day... love it. Samoas, muffins made by my mom, REAL lasagna and meatballs (the gluten-filled authentic kind haha), chocolate covered strawberries, birthday cake and, of course, some celebratory drinks :) How I stayed up until 11 p.m. I have no idea.... time flies when you're having fun!