Saturday, December 29, 2012

Rules of the Road

How many of you got a new bike for Christmas? Lucky you! How many have set New Year’s resolutions around getting an old bike out on the road? Good for you! One of my favorite things about riding is the social aspect of it. Group riding does come with its’ share of rules and etiquette. Here are a few of the common ones. 

Make sure you know your hand signals before joining a group ride. There are the obvious left turn and right turn signals but there are also slowing down, stopping, turning around, waving someone to go ahead, and pointing out hazards in the road signals. People behind you can't see what is happening in front so these are critical for the safety of group rides. In addition to using hand signals, it is also important to yell out to others what you are doing. Those in the back might not be able to see your hand go up for a turn, but they should be able to hear you call it out. Also be sure to call out any debris in the road, dogs on the side of the road, cars behind you or passing you, speed bumps, pot holes, etc. What may be obvious to the first rider may be hidden to those in the back. Communication is key for a safe ride.

Do not use your aerobars in a group.
Triathletes are notorious for this. In a group ride, your hands need to have quick access to your brakes at all times. It is also harder to control your bike in your aeros. When you’re riding in a tight pack, with wheels centimeters away, stay upright. Save the aero riding for solo rides and race day.

No headphones, earbuds, etc. This is fairly obvious. What’s the point of wearing them if you’re with a group?

Hold a steady pace.
It's not appropriate to get to the front and take the pace up a few notches. If you are struggling to keep the pace, drop back to the end and take a short turn at the front. There are usually designated spots on a group ride where it's known to everyone that the pace is going to pick up for sprints or just because it's fun.

Always be aware.
Group riding can be a great way to be social with friends. While chatting, you still need to be looking forward and have your hands on your hoods with quick access to your brakes. You need to be ready when quick stops or slowdowns happen. If you hit someone's back wheel, it's you that will go down and you’ll take the rest of the pack down with you.

Get off the front and go to the back. If you are riding single file, you signal first then peel off, first checking for traffic behind you. Wait until the last person goes by and take your spot at the back. If you are riding in two lines, one rider goes to the left and the other to the right at the same time, fall to the back, and take your spots as the last riders again. Signal that you are about to go off the front with a quick flick of your elbow.

Group riding is a good way to improve your fitness and meet people. It's also fun to take advantage of the benefits of being in a pack and go faster than you normally would on your own. Keep these tips in mind so it is safe for you and the rest of the group.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Year End Triathlon Club Update

There may not be many triathlons scheduled for the next few months, but that hasn’t stopped area triathletes from staying busy. The Gulf Winds Triathlon Club is participating in the National Club Challenge, a national off-season competition amongst triathlon clubs sponsored by USA Triathlon.  Club members log their training miles for swimming, biking, and running. While the miles accumulate in all disciplines for the next three months, each month has a different sport-specific focus. December’s focus is swimming.

The largest Gulf Winds team is composed of 73 members, with another smaller team also competing. As of Friday morning, the larger Gulf Winds team is ranked third nationally, behind triathlon teams from San Diego and Washington DC. The team is in sixth place for the swim competition. Division winners are eligible for prizes from USAT sponsors such as Garmin, Computrainer, and Rudy Project. Up to the minute results can be found here.

The Gulf Winds Holiday Party will be held Monday December 17th at Momo’s. The social will begin at 6 and year end awards start at 7. Awards handed out include Rookie of the Year, Most Improved, and Masters of the Year. Grand Prix awards will also be distributed. Not sure if you're getting an award? Click here to see the list of Grand Prix winners. Members and nonmembers are invited to celebrate another successful year of racing and training. 

The Club recently held its election for next year’s officers. Rob McNeely is the newly elected President, with last year’s Vice President Kathy McDaris continuing to serve in that role. Jerry Chesnutt remains as Treasurer while Lisa Cox reprises her position as Secretary. Directors at Large include Bryan Desloge, Jillian Haddaeus, Jennifer Kilinski, Mike Weyant, and Bobby York. This slate of officers is sure to keep the club running smoothly as well as offer up some innovative ideas and programs.

The 2013 Grand Prix schedule was finalized last month. The club’s Grand Prix competition is based off of the Gulf Winds Track Club’s format, focusing on offering a variety of races for members to participate in, with the aim of increasing club unity and presence at races. While several traditional races are included in the schedule, there are a few new offerings as well. Members will be happy to see favorites like Red Hills, Beach Blast, Gulf Coast, and Freedom Springs on the list. New races include Georgia Veterans, Santa Rosa, and Alabama Coastal. Here's a complete list of races and dates on the schedule.

Alabama Coastal is a wild card race, meaning members can earn points for racing either the Sprint or Olympic distance race. Those in a close Grand Prix divisional race may employ some strategy when deciding which distance to participate in. In the past, members who raced St. Anthony’s, the Florida region’s Championship race, did not earn Grand Prix points. In an effort to increase the club’s participation in the Championship race, St. Anthony’s is now a Grand Prix race.

This is supposed to be the off season, but it’s obvious that Gulf Winds Triathletes are not taking it easy. Hopefully, these athletes will reap the rewards of their hard work in 2013.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Gift Ideas for the Multisporter

Buying a gift for that special swim, bike, runner in your life but don’t know the difference between goggles and Google? Perhaps these ideas will help.

On the lower end of the price continuum, consider a pair of cycling or running gloves, arm warmers, or a good pair of running socks. Gloves that let you use your touch screen device are nice, while socks that prevent blisters are a requirement for any runner. Local bike and run shops should be able to advise you best on what to get. Still not sure what to get? A gift card to one of these shops will surely be appreciated.
these look really nice
Another useful gift that won’t break the bank is a foam roller. There are all kinds of different models out; some that are smooth, others that are textured to reach trigger points better. A simple Internet search will get you to the type you want.
these are by Trigger Point. You
can get a variety at Perform Better

One of my pet peeves about winter running is wearing a shirt that makes me cold at the end of my run because it got wet from sweat. Help your favorite runner upgrade their winter running wardrobe from cotton tees to something a little more user friendly. The Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve shirt by Lululemon is a fashionable option that will keep your runner dry during her winter runs. It comes in an array of colors and has the much-loved thumbholes to keep wrists warm and sleeves in place. For the guys, Lululemon offers the Blaze Long Sleeve, a super soft, pre-shrunk shirt guaranteed not to chafe or stink.
for the ladies. lots of colors available

for the men. there are more colors than gray!
Are you tired of hearing your triathlete complaining about how slow they are or how they can never beat so and so? Help them out by giving them a few months of quality coaching, provided by one of Tallahassee’s local coaching groups. Training for triathlon is akin to throwing darts at a board; you can randomly throw them and hope you make a bull’s eye or you can narrow your focus, hone your skills, and nail the bull’s eye. A coach can take the guesswork out of daily training and make you feel really guilty for skipping an early morning run. Chances are, your multisporter already spends way too much time and money on their hobby. Help them see a more positive return on these investments by getting a professional involved.

A proper bike trainer is an essential piece of any triathlete’s training gear. There are many different versions on the market, most of which won’t break the bank. The latest and greatest, however, is not for those on a limited budget. The Wahoo Kicker bike trainer connects directly to your bike by swapping out your rear wheel and placing it in the provided cassette. It is Bluetooth and Ant+ enabled and has a built in power meter. It works with Apple devices, as well as sites like Trainerroad and Strava. It retails for about $1000.

After swimming, biking, and running, your triathlete may be tuckered out by the end of the day.  To help pass the down time, they may like flipping through multiple Ironman Champion Craig Alexander’s book "As the Crow Flies: My Journey to Ironman World Champion." The book features breathtaking black and white photography and captures Alexander training hard, as well as spending time with his family.  Readers will get more than a glimpse into what it takes to balance family with being a world champion Ironman.

What would I want tri Santa to bring to me? A year of healthy, consistent training would be nice, along with some good memories to go along with the training and racing.  



Friday, November 2, 2012

Take a Load Off!

Ironman Florida takes place this weekend, marking the end of most triathletes’ racing seasons. It is now time to take a break. Yes, you; the triathlete who spends more time exercising in a week than most people do in a month (or a year). You need to relax for a bit.

This time of year is called the “Transition Period.” It typically runs from a couple of weeks after your last race to the beginning of your Prep Period, the time when you start getting ready to build up your aerobic base for the upcoming season.

The Transition Period usually comes at a good time. While you may be riding high after your last race-you are probably the fittest you’ve been all year-you may be a bit mentally and physically fatigued and not even realize it. I’m always surprised by how late I stay up when I take a break after my last race. Multisporters become accustomed to constant fatigue and aches and pains. These are not normal feelings. Rest and recovery are needed so your body can recharge and repair. 

(St. Teresa Beach, where I spent my first post-race weekend)
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, use some of this time to evaluate how your triathlon season went while it’s still fresh in your mind. Also begin to plan your next season, at least the first part of it. If you’re thinking about hiring a coach, now’s the time to do your research and interviews. Don’t wait until January when they’re getting overloaded with requests and might not have any room.

The Transition Period is not intended to turn you into a couch potato. Don’t use it as an excuse to overindulge in junk food and adult beverages. But don’t beat yourself up if you relax on the diet a bit. This is the time to do it.

The activities you do in the Transition Period should be for fun rather than fitness. If you happen to miss a day or two of exercise, don’t sweat it. However, do something to stay active on most days. Take your kids and dog out for a hike at one of our local parks. Run with your spouse or friend, running their pace, not yours. Try a yoga or Pilates class. Give Stand Up Paddleboarding or kayaking a try.
Also use this time to catch up with friends and family. Instead of heading out for an early morning run, make breakfast for your family. How about running a race with your child, instead of using it as a training session? Consider volunteering at one of our local road races. You’ll gain a new appreciation for how much work goes into putting on a race after you’ve volunteered for one.
(Cheering on Team McGehee at Tri the Rez. My sister did her first triathlon-woo hoo! And her and her husband won the Clydesdale and Athena categories. Way to represent! And those are my 2 adorable nieces, my up for anything parents, and my brother in law's mother)

(Me, my niece in the green, my dad proudly sporting his Harvard hat, and my niece's friend at Tri the Rez)
Don’t let yourself get distracted by your training partners and competitors who may be hammering their workouts right now. You’re not trying to be a “January Champion.” You can’t go hard all the time. Let these winter warriors burn themselves out while it’s cold outside. You’ll be the one who’s ready to tackle the challenging workouts when they count.

I like going cold turkey from swimming, biking, and running for two weeks after my last race. I start my Transition Period after that, implementing one workout a day of low intensity aerobic exercise. Yes, you will lose fitness during this time. You may even gain a couple of pounds. But you will regain your fitness and lose the pounds once you start training again. After a few weeks of unstructured easy training, you’ll be motivated and refreshed and ready for the next season.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Starting a blog now? That's so 2003.

I'm finally getting over myself and starting a blog. I've put this off for years because, honestly, I think it's a little self-centered. I don't know who would want to read about me. I'm not that important and haven't done anything special. I'm not saying that people who write blogs are egotistical...I like reading blogs and very few are what I consider egocentric (if they are, I stop reading them. Or make fun of them. Who really cares how long you could hold XXXwatts? Or what your workouts were this week?You're probably lying anyway).

But, it seems like I've got quite the collection of newspaper articles (about 5 years worth!) and various other writings scattered all around. I was thinking it might be nice to have them in one place. Especially for people who are featured in my newspaper articles and never have the chance to read the article because they don't subscribe and don't want to pay to access it online. I don't blame you. I don't get the paper and don't pay to see it online, so I never see the articles either!

So, here we go. Maybe someone besides my mom will read this. Of course, I'd have to tell her about it, which I'll probably forget to do and she'll find out about it from someone else and get mad at me.

And please, experienced bloggers. Help me out when you see I need it. I'm all up for any well meaning and useful criticism.

More of an intro and pictures to come, I promise. For now, this thought occurred to me in the car this morning while I was dreading a certain chore...Sir Mix A Lot makes me laugh. I need to remember that next time I'm grouchy.