Spectating your First Triathlon?

The time has come to follow through with the promise “sure, I’ll come and watch your race.”  If you’ve never attended a triathlon, you may think, as I did, what will I do with myself?  There are no stands to sit on, no home and away teams, no halves, quarters or periods, no playing field or a ball for that matter.  As a spectator, what can you expect?

Expect a rush of nervous, excited, and focused athletes hauling a bunch of equipment on a bike and a crowd of people drinking coffee trying to wake up enough to cheer since most triathlons start well before 8 am.  As a newbie spectator, just remember, the best way to help would be to hang back and help only when asked.  Most triathletes become some sort of alien during set-up for a triathlon due, in part, to the loads of equipment they have to set-up before the race start.  Some athletes become prickly, nervous, spacey, worried, angry, or just quiet.  Everyone is different and they all have a unique way to focus before the race start.  Just stick to the side lines and help when needed.

Keep in mind, as a spectator you will have important duties.  First duty: take as many pictures as possible.  Triathletes love to see themselves in action and are dependant upon the spectators for the shots.  To help your photography skills, get your triathlete to print a course map prior to the event.  This way you won’t get lost and will know how many times you can expect to see your triathlete.  Second duty: carrier of extra crap.  Most triathletes head down to the swim start with shoes and potentially a shirt or shoes.  Prior to jumping in, guess who gets the shoes and clothes?  The support team!  It’s the price you pay to get to watch your athlete race around in spandex, which may or may not be future fuel for jokes.

As photographer, where are the best shots?  Take a shot of your athlete before jumping in the water, and then give up taking any pictures until they are finished swimming.  All triathletes look the same in the water except for different colored heads bobbing around.  After the swim, follow the crowd to transition where the athletes must change gear from swimming to biking and from biking to running.  It’s easy to get action shots here because it’s the only time your athlete is moving slowly.  Transition is easy to find considering most races have huge “Bike Start,” “Run Start,” and “Finish” banners flying.

Once on the bike, you have time to play with the camera.  Take practice shots of other athletes riding.  Timing is important or you end up with pictures of part of the bike, a wheel, or may miss them altogether.  Running shots are simpler because the athletes cannot run as fast as the bike.  If the course loops, great!  More shots of your triathlete’s face becoming more and more tired with each loop.  When the triathlete crosses the line, be it first or last, it’s an exciting moment – make sure to capture it.  Completing a triathlon, be it short or long, is an accomplishment.  Once the race is complete, take some happy pictures with other triathletes, supporting crew, and the awards ceremony if your triathlete did well.

While the triathletes are out on the bike and running, most of the time you won’t see him/her.  Take that time to enjoy the day and chat with other spectators.  Most people who compete and attend these events are friendly, personable, and approachable.  Why?  One reason may be very few of the athletes will race fast enough to place; everyone else is there to keep fit, test their limits, and have fun.  Besides, everyone else in the crowd has to wait around for the athletes to return as well; we’d all get bored without chatting with other spectators.

Remember to have fun, cheer extremely loudly for your triathlete and others you don’t know, and enjoy the time outside doing something different.

The above advice can be used for pretty much any event that you spectate at. In summary:  cheer hard, cheer loudly and bring a cowbell everywhere you go.  It might seem like they don’t hear you, but your voice sticks with them for many many miles after they have passed you.

My First 70.3 – Augusta Half Ironman

By Deirdre DeKock

To Coach Jeremy

Where do I start, because I still feel like a kid in a candy store. I have so many emotions and excitement right now.

The week leading up to Augusta I tried to start focusing on my food in take; what I am eating and to be consistent, because as a mother you can sometimes forget or just eat at weird hours due to running in ten different directions. I tried to keep everything as stable for the week, but as you know nothing ever goes according to the plan. The kids came down with a COLD. John-John is in his peak training and I’m tapering and neither one of us wants to get sick, and to make things worse a cold is not good for me because I get recurring Pericarditis, (inflammation around the heart).  I started feeling some stress around my heart, not sure if this is just nerves or am I getting another “attack”. I woke up each morning not feeling too hot. I started upping my medication, but also became more nervous because I am not sure what the increase of the medication side-effect will be on my body come race day.

Having all of this in the back of my head I decided to just get through my taper workouts without pushing myself to hard so I don’t put any added stress on myself and my heart. By Thursday I started “carbo-loading”, the fun part. Thursday night was Pizza and Friday night were mine and John-John’s secret meal, Lamb Chops and Potatoes and a glass of wine :-).

Saturday, my packet is picked-up and my bike is checked-in. I think this is when my nerves were overtaken by excitement and at that very point I got your email, and I was able to relax. We walked to the swim start and I was able to reflect on the last few months, all the long bikes, run and swim. I knew I got this and I was more than just prepared!!!

Had an early pasta dinner and a beer (carbo-loading right?), and went back to the hotel to get everything ready. By 9 it was lights out for us.

Alarm was set for 5:30 but woke up before that, because of all the other early birds in the hotel. Had breakfast at 6am, and took the bus to transition. Set-up everything, checked my bike, and last thing I do was pump my tires. As I unscrew my valve on my back tire it just blew off and I had a flat. This is at 6:55, and transition close at 7:15. I run over to bike repair. They fixed the tire but have to use my spare, because all their tires are already in the truck for the course. By the time I got back to my transition area everyone had almost left, so no way I could bum a tire from somebody, and they start doing the count down to get out of transition.  I try to get this out of my mind, and refocus! I walked to the swim start, while drinking my carbopro!

Got to the swim start, for the first time in a race my swim part was the one I was least worried about. I always dislike the swim, all the banging into each other and maybe just the fear of drowning.  By the time we lined up I need to pee really badly, but there is no time to go. I thought I will go on the dock, nope couldn’t do it.  And off we go at 8:32am. Got in a good rhythm from the beginning. I really felt good, just towards the end I had this girl zigzag over me the whole time. But guess what, I still needed to pee. Then I thought I will do it like you said towards the end of swim, nope couldn’t do that. Got out of the water 29:32, more than 5 min less than I thought I would. I was so happy!!!

Off to the transition, got to my bike (back tire was still fine)…but guess what? I was finally able to relieve myself but then I couldn’t put my shoes on until am done and had to wait and wait and wait. One reason my transition was a little longer. Got on my bike, got onto a good pace without pushing myself.  I had you and John-John in my head the whole time, not to over do it in the beginning. Got to mile 17, first hill and felt great getting through it, just for the bumps and that caused a lot of people losing their water bottles so had to be on the watch-out for it. Not once did I every feel I was over doing it, which was an awesome feeling.  Getting through the first hill I also decided, this is my strongest part of the 3legs, I am going to give it my all on this one and make as much time up as I can.  I only had my 2 carbopro bottles (3x scoops in each) on the bike, never drank my water. Got in 2:49, 11min faster than I thought I would do.  Got into transition and all the bikers in front of me were walking. I thought I have two choices. I can be “excuse me, excuse me” and try to run to my transition area or just enjoyed the moment with the other people, and at that point I thought I’m just going to enjoy the moment, I’m not trying to break any records. So that is the reason for the long transition time. At that point I also hesitate going into my bag and getting some aspirin for my heart but decided not to.

Off to the run, I was able to keep a 9min pace the first 2 miles, I know the split shows different on the website, but that isn’t correct. I almost knew from that point I will not be able to bring it down. I tried to keep it at 9 that but I was just dropping back in the wrong direction. I was taking perform every other station and then water. The perform mixture wasn’t consistent at the stations, which I didn’t like.  (I think next time I might run with carbopro, how much I don’t like the idea I think it is a better fit for me). I did walk the water stations, which I don’t think is a good idea because then my muscles tighten up. At mile 10.5, my chest started hurting and I decided to drop back a little to get my heart rate down, because I’m so close to finishing and really regret at that point not taking the aspirin.  I worked it through the last 3+ miles and finish, 2:03, I was hoping for under 2hours on the run but I am very happy about how the whole day went down, and enjoyed and loved every moment of it. I can’t wait to do my next one!!!

TIME 5:31:05

Thank you for all the time, patient and advise you put in with me!!! You are a GREAT COACH!!!

Thank you,
Deirdre

Post Race Blues

By: Dan Arnett – Head Coach of Endurance Concepts

I would like to discuss a phenomena commonly referred to as post race blues. You have just completed you’re ‘A’ race a couple of days ago and think you should be excited and on cloud 9. But instead, you are moody and irritable. Why is that?

There are several reasons that have been attributed to this and I will briefly touch on some of them. Essentially, you have set your sites on this particular race for a long time now. Your body was primed for it, you went out there and gave it your all and now it’s over. Regardless of how you did, your mind knows the task is complete. So your body thinks it’s time to rest. It’s trying to rebuild itself and you are trying to hold onto that peak fitness because you liked that feeling. But you can’t hold-on to peak fitness for very long, that is just the nature of the body. Mentally, you don’t have a goal on the horizon anymore and feel like you’re lost. It’s best to focus on your recovery from the effort and the lessons learned from the race instead of “What do I do now?” Training is about cumulative effort and the race you just completed is all part of that. Let your body recover and focus on that. Focusing on recovery allows the mind to have an immediate goal to concentrate on. The lessons learned from the race will be flushed out soon enough. Don’t dwell on how you could have done this better or that better.

Discuss with your coach how to progress from here. Together, the coach and athlete will be able to gather the information from the race and use it to the athlete’s advantage. Every race has great lessons to be learned, which are not all time related. You might also experience some weight gain a couple of days after your race. Don’t let this get you down. Remember that you just pushed your body as hard as it could go. You damaged your muscles and now they must repair themselves in order to get stronger. The body will retain water around those muscles in order to help facilitate recovery and flush out any toxins that remain. Allow yourself a couple of days to do the things that you prevented yourself from doing before the race. Relax and enjoy the fact that you pushed yourself; all within reason of course. With the guidance of your coach, you will slowly get back to full speed ahead training and set your sights on the next goal. But don’t get frustrated that you feel down a bit. It’s expected and totally natural. But like anything, if it gets to an extreme, let your coach know and seek assistance from a professional.

– Coach Dan

Stealth on a Budget

By: Dan Arnett
Head Coach – Endurance Concepts

Every athlete would like to see performance gains without spending hour upon hour grinding it out on the road.  While the adage of “you don’t get something for nothing” will always hold true, it is possible to become a faster athlete with no additional work.  The following ways will gain you time for minimal effort.  Efficiency is the name of the game.  These tips will make you more efficient, thus gaining you the free speed you need right away.

I have prioritized my list according to the best bang for your buck.  Our sport is not cheap and budget is always a concern.  So scrape together your pennies and let’s get faster…Now!

  1. Bike Fit
    Cost: $100 – $300

    This is the most overlooked way to gain free speed.  If you cannot maintain an aerodynamic position for the duration of your race, then you are losing both speed and power.  Most people feel uncomfortable in the aero position and the most likely reason for this is that they are not properly fitted to their bike.

    You might have received a quick fit when you purchased your bike, but generally this is inadequate for the time you are about to spend in the saddle.  If you did not spend close to an hour with a fitter, I would recommend doing so.  Not only will you be more comfortable on your bike, which translates into more saddle time, but more aerodynamic and powerful as well.  A good fitter will balance aerodynamics, power and comfort to blend them into a specific fit for you based on your physical limitations.

  2. Aero Helmet
    Cost: $150 – $250

    The most controversial piece of equipment in regards to fashion has to be the aero helmet.  Many people dismiss it because they don’t want to look weird.  Let’s look at this objectively.  As triathletes we are wearing spandex, spilling gel on ourselves, all the while swimming, biking and running only to get to the same spot we started; but are worried about how a helmet looks?

    An aero helmet will give you approximately the same time advantage as an aero front wheel for a fraction of the cost.  Also, contrary to popular belief they are not hot and they do not always have to be exactly horizontal to be effective.  Just like any other helmet, make sure the one you pick fits your head and is comfortable.

  3. AeroDrink and Bento Box
    Cost: $75

    This may seem like an odd one to make the list, but here is my reasoning. Few would argue that the longer you can remain in the aero position, the more efficient you are.  Since nutrition and hydration are essential during a race, it is beneficial to do them while in the aero position.  An aero drink allows you to hydrate with minimal departure from your optimal aero positioning.  Also, a bento box places your nutrition directly in front of you, which will also maximize your time in the aero position.

    Since your hydration and nutrition are within sight the entire time, you will find it easier to remember to eat and drink.  So that, as well, should improve your finish time.

So for a minimal cost, you can get the most out of your bike leg.  While nothing replaces hard work, these are some inexpensive tips to help you gain some free speed in your next race.  Happy Trails.

Working the Downhill

By: Dan Arnett
Head Coach – Endurance Concepts

Think of the last time you raced a hilly course.  After you worked the uphill and crested did you keep pushing down the other side or let gravity ‘help’ you to recover?  For most people the latter is the choice they make.   Almost everyone’s heart rate and rated perceived effort drops on the downhill.  A lot of time is lost when one does this.  Gravity wants to help you go down the hill just as much as it limits your pace going up it.  Using gravity on the back side of the hill will allow you to keep a constant effort and separate yourself from your competition.

You adjust your stride length and body position when you are climbing, so why not when you descend?  Each time your foot hits the ground, you are applying the brakes.  Due to physics, it requires more energy to stop a mass going downhill.  So to keep your pace constant or relax going downhill actually provides more stress on your joints and muscles.  Keeping your effort constant on the downhill will increase your pace with little cost on your body.  Don’t just increase your stride and be out of control, but rather shift your hips underneath you and let those huge quad muscles absorb some of the work.  It will allow you to be under control descending and you’ll create separation from those that are taking the downhill as a rest period.  Now you don’t have to raise your heart rate back up from a low point, which requires more effort.

So next time you push that hill with another runner on your hip, crest and keep pushing.  This will cause you to increase your pace and give you an overall faster time.  It will also separate you from the person that worked the hill with you and now decided to rest on the downhill.  Stay in control and keep your heart rate in your race zone, regardless of terrain.  Practice this during training and you’ll be able to utilize it during a race to your advantage.

Coach Tips: Pre Race Fueling

Read Coach Dan’s article on pre race fueling

This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race.  This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race.  This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race.  This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race.  This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race.   This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race.  This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race.  This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race. This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race. This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race. This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race. This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race. This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race. This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race. This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race. This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race. This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race. This is a lot of information on pre race fueling, if I had anything important to say I’d put it here, but let’s face it I screw this up every time and have no hope of ever understanding how to properly fuel for a race.