Race Ready 2016

I’ve been wanting to make several changes/improvements to my bike for the 2016 race season.  There’s nothing like waiting until the last minute to do it (the week of my first race).  Here are a few things I’ve done to make this year’s races even better.

Bike Fit

I’ve been having several comfort issues with my bike.  To the point, that I didn’t want to ride it more than about 30 minutes because the pain/discomfort was so awful.  I ordered a new saddle last month, and about two weeks after receiving it, I scheduled a bike fit.

I didn’t realize how much pressure and pain I was having due to not being fitted properly.  I met with Jon at Endurance House Delafield and he fixed me up in about an hour.  He made several adjustments, alleviating the stress in my shoulders and the pain and pressure I was having in the saddle.  He also moved my seat to ensure the right muscles were firing while I was riding.  I felt the burn immediately.  Underworked muscles sure do have a way of letting you know when they are activated.

Tires (and Tubes)

Because so much of our bike time has been on the trainer, my bike tires had worn considerably this winter.  This week, I put new tires on my bike.  This was the first time I ever changed a bike tire.  And it wouldn’t have been complete unless I pinched a tube.  I one-upped and successfully pinched both the front and rear inner tubes in the process.  So not only did I put on new tires, I have new tubes as well.

Cassette

Most of my races this year will be on hilly courses.  My bike setup included an 12-25 cassette.  I typically struggle with uphills, so I wanted to gain any advantage possible.  I ordered and installed a 11-28T cassette for my bike and am now looking forward to climbing hills (well, that’s a bit of a stretch, but here’s to hoping hills won’t be so dreadful).

New Tires Emily's QR

Power Meter

Over the last few months, I have been researching power meters, mainly based on the reviews from DC Rainmaker.  Because I use Speedplay pedals, my choices are a bit limited.  Earlier this year, Nick installed the Pioneer single-sided power system on his bike, but I wanted something a little different.  I finally narrowed my choice and made a decision on which power meter I would buy.  With Elkhart Lake Sprint (and the 2016 race season) fast approaching, I realized I better click the buy button, and stop analyzing my decision.  Tuesday night I purchased the PowerTap C1 chainring.  The company is located in Madison, Wisconsin, so I knew there was a possibility of receiving the power meter by Friday.  I came home for lunch Wednesday afternoon, and the power meter was at my doorstep!

Wednesday night, I installed my new power meter.  This required a little elbow grease, and some assistance from Nick.  After everything was put back together, I took my bike for a spin around the block.  Everything seems to be in great working condition.  I’m pumped for the 2016 race season!  And my bike is looking good!!

QR CD0.1 new wheels and power meter

Creating Triathlon Decals

The other day, Nick and I were discussing ideas to get more connected in the triathlon community.  We enjoy the sport and decided it would be fun to begin making a few things to commemorate (y)our efforts/accomplishments in triathlon.

As with many of you, we wear several t-shirts and workout shirts each week.  Nick and I spend so much time training, we thought it might be nice to have a few fun/witty triathlon shirts to wear through the sweat and tears.

So we purchased a die cutter to be able to create our own designs.  This weekend I had the chance to try it out.  Here are a few of the decals I made.  I also played around with some old t-shirts I had lying around the house.

Triathlon Decals  Triathlon t-shirt decals

Our goal is to have these, or something similar, available for sale on the site in the coming weeks.

Since we have the ability to customize these quite a bit, is there something you would be interested in having?  If so, please let us know – either comment below or send us a message via the “Contact Us” page.  In the meantime, we are going to put together some fun things to have ready.

Garmin Fenix2

In May 2014, it became painfully obvious that if we were going to add sports to our workouts that we would no longer be able to utilize the Nike+ GPS Watch.  It skewed running data because it was only intended to track runs, not running and swimming.  Over the last 8 months, the Fenix 2 has treated me well and my thoughts about the watch are posted below (this is all on the verge of the Fenix 3 release).

First and foremost, coming from the Nike+ GPS watch, I found that Garmin has a far superior system for connecting to satellites.  I had become quite accustomed to a several minute walk around while waving my arms in hopes of finding satellites, but that wasn’t the case with the Fenix 2.  I was quickly picking up my location (within 10 seconds of starting an activity).  This was a relief immediately because in addition to my pre-run walking and waving, there were many times I had to go back into the house, plug in the watch to update the gps data, and then go back outside for more walking and waving.  My understanding of this, is that Garmin uploads geo data to the watch when you connect to the computer so it has some idea of where you are before you walk out the door.

The Fenix 2 also has a great range of activities to choose from, some of which I will never use.  For instance, I am not a skier and I don’t believe I will ever go rock climbing.  There are, however, many that I have and do use.  Hiking, Running, Biking, Swimming, have all had their turn since I purchased the watch.  The indoor feature is quite good too.  The Fenix contains internal accelerometers so that there isn’t any need for a footpod while running, and when paired with the HRM Run, running dynamic information is available on Garmin Connect after the run.

While I haven’t yet used the Multi-sport mode, I have had plenty of opportunities to.  Last summer we were doing quite a few bike/run bricks.  For some reason I never put it together and so I never used this function.

Accuracy is quite similar to any other gps watch I have used, but I will say that Nike tries to snap your run to paths and roads much more than Garmin does.

Form:

Form factor for the watch is good.  The watch itself is quite large, but it does remain comfortable to wear.  Mine came with a fabric/velcro strap as a replacement that I put on for a short time, but decided I preferred the rubber/plastic band.

Function:

Each activity offers a wide variety of screens for the athlete to see how they are doing.  For running I choose to look at my pace, HR and Cadence.  For me they are the most important parts of my run.  I have a second screen that has vertical oscillation, I review this from time to time since I tend to bounce more at a slower pace.

For swimming, I compared the Fenix2 to the 920xt.  During 1000 yards, the 920 was pretty consistent with measuring the correct distance and the Fenix2 picked upon extra 50 yards somewhere along the way.  This could have been an issue of wearing them on different wrists, but I can’t imagine that my right and left arms were moving that far out of sync that the fenix would sense a direction change, but the 920 would not.

Cycling tracks important things for me, Cadence and Speed.  I also tend to watch HR on this as well, but for the most part, I am watching cadence.  I watch this a lot for indoor rides and almost neglect the speed since I am focused more on consistency than how far I have gone (plus indoor rides are pretty easy to get a lot of mileage because there aren’t any hills on my trainer).

The Fenix2 actually has something on it that I miss on the 920xt.  The Altimeter.  I am sure this is because the Fenix2 functions as a hiking kind of watch and the 920 doesn’t have that same focus, so altitude isn’t likely as big a factor, but I do miss it.

Battery Life

Garmin claims 50 hours of battery life with the GPS on.  I can’t say I have come anywhere close to this, but I can say that I have gone a week without needing to charge it using it for running, cycling and as a daily watch.

Other Features

Garmin has started to build in smart watch features to their multisport and running watches.  If you are reading this and haven’t read my 920XT first look or my Garmin Vivosmart review, or even my note on the new Apple Watch, you can see the same opinion there.  I don’t need to see everything that is coming through to my phone all the time.  It is distracting . . . even more distracting that the phone going off in my pocket.

Verdict

I really like the Fenix2, it is a great watch and has a ton of really great features that aren’t available on every sport watch out there.  For my first foray into a multisport watch, it was perfect.  It did everything I needed it to do and then some.  The large form of the body leaves something to be wished for, but I do not notice it a lot during my workouts.

Wahoo Kickr Snap

If you are reading this, you probably know that we live in Wisconsin.  If you didn’t know that, you do now.  Living here makes winter training incredibly difficult.  First, motivation to workout inside for 5 months is tough to find.  Second, a whole new set of equipment is necessary to complete workouts.

When we moved here, we invested in some cheap trainers just to get us going.  I actually thought at the time that these would be the trainers we used for years.  I was wrong.  The two different brands that we bought were very well constructed, however the orange one provided ZERO resistance and the blue one was about as loud as a jet engine.  If spinning is your intent, the orange one is great.  I don’t recommend the blue one to anyone, unless you are training to be deaf.

Orange Bike Trainer Cruddy Blue Trainer

The downfall of both of these led us to seek out a new trainer.  After some research, I had settled on the Wahoo Kickr Snap.  It arrived and I was up and running in about an hour (this included dragging the trainer to the basement and changing out my wheel).

Setup was very quick.  I connected via bluetooth to my phone and to my iPad (iPad since there are some cool video connected apps that I wanted to use).  After a quick spin down, I was cycling . . . in my basement . . . in front of my television . . . with resistance . . . without feeling like I was quickly losing my mind from the noise.

The first very noticeable change for me was the noise level.  I could hear the tv, I could hear music.  I was no longer fighting to maintain my sanity.  Truthfully though, I find that the Snap makes hardly any noise at all, and the noise that is present during my rides is due to my gears and chain.  This is a huge improvement over the previous trainer.

Second noticeable attribute, it is much higher than my first trainer.  I really have to reach to get on the bike now.  This isn’t a deal breaker, but it does seem to be significantly higher to the point where it would be nice to have a step-stool, since I am not very tall.

Then I started playing with iPhone and iPad apps.  This is where I think the Snap shines.  The Wahoo Fitness app gives you control of the resistance through a couple of different methods, but the two that I tend to use the most as ERG (where I can set a specific power that I am looking to consistently achieve) and Resistance (which provides a percentage scale of what the trainer can do and allows control in increments of 5%).  ERG is cool when my workout calls for me maintaining a specific power throughout an interval or for the entire workout, even when you shift the trainer re-establishes the requested power output.  Resistance is nice for when I am doing standing drills, I crank this up to 40% or 50%.  This allows me to stand on the pedals and not just pedal through.

The other two modes are Level and SIM.  Level is a resistance level from 0 – 9 which essentially equates to a hill grade.  SIM allows you to simulate resistance based on slope and wind speed.  I just don’t find these as useful.

Other apps, like CycleOps, allow you to pick real courses from around the world.  During the ride, the resistance changes based on the hills on the real course.  This is kind of a fun mode for getting variation in a ride.  Even cooler than that is that some of the courses integrate video and you can watch the course as you ride it.  Overall the app integration is really nice.

Overall, the trainer is really well built.  It feels solid and holds up well to anything I have thrown at it.  Standing drills scared me on the old trainer.  Now I don’t have any issues.  I don’t have a lot to compare the Snap to, however, I do think that spending the extra money on something like this is a good idea if you have to (or just want to) ride indoors frequently.  Don’t cheap out and get a $70 trainer because it seems like a good deal.  You won’t be sorry you put a little money into something that gets used as frequently as it does.

Snap 1 Snap 2 Snap 3 Snap 4 Snap 5

 

 

Subscription Services – August 2015

Nothing like waiting until the last day of the month to reveal our StrideBox and Headsweats goodies.

The StrideBox included an Amrita apricot and strawberry energy bar, Crank Sports electrolyte energy gel, Honey Stinger grapefruit energy chews (happy to receive this, we were running low), First Endurance cucumber water, Pure Clean beet juice powder (not too sure about this one), Sportea energy tea, Dr. Hoy’s pain relief gel, and an All Good sunscreen stick.  As always, our StrideBox also contained an inspirational sticker.

Stridebox contents Stridebox contents

This month’s Headsweats box contained a Loudmouth Supervisor Steppin Out.  After some debate, the visor is mine.  Nick gets first right to refusal next month.

Headsets Loudmouth Supervisor Headsweats Steppin Out Supervisor

June 2015 Totals

I’m a bit ashamed of our distances in June, especially since we completed our first triathlon.  I didn’t think we could get any lower than April, but somehow we succeeded in doing just that.  This month we began increasing our distances up for Steelhead 70.3 in August, and our numbers thus far are almost higher than the entire month of May.

Due to our lack of motivation, health club dues were an astonishing $56.97 per visit.

2015
Emily Jan Feb Mar April May June
Swim (miles) 1.4 2.8 6.8 2.8 2.2 0.6
Bike (miles) 102.0 102.4 143.4 47.4 112.1 42.4
Run (miles) 34.0 21.7 25.4 43.9 12.6 9.8
Strength (min) 99 109 183 57 22 0
Nick Jan Feb Mar April May June
Swim (miles) 1.6 3.3 5.8 0.7 1.3 0.4
Bike (miles) 89.0 116.4 125.0 38.5 82.2 40.9
Run (miles) 42.1 36.8 48.0 41.9 18.0 23.7
Strength (min) 76 88 123 79 30 0

In Search of a Wetsuit

With our first triathlon, Elkhart Lake, fast approaching, I began my search to find a wetsuit.  Nick and I decided we would rent wetsuits for this sprint since they are “highly recommended” for the race, and possibly buy one in the upcoming months for our big race, Steelhead 70.3 in August.

I tried on my first wetsuit the other day, an Aquasphere.  I was sweating trying to get it on.  I figured it would be similar to putting on tights.  I was prepared for it to be difficult, however this was quickly becoming a workout.  Sweat was pouring down my face.  I finally got both of my legs in and the wetsuit was about mid-thigh, but couldn’t get it up any further.  I walked out of the dressing room in despair, defeated by the wetsuit.

Knowing my legs are quite large, my calf measures 16 1/2″ on a good day and we’re not even going to discuss my quads.  I decided to try on a larger size.  Same thing, I couldn’t get it past my thighs.  I was beginning to get discouraged.

I tried on another brand, TYR in a women’s extra large.  I was able to pull it over my legs without a struggle.  Ah, I was finally getting somewhere.  Once I got it over my torso, it was obvious I was in the wrong size.  There was a huge gap above my shoulders.  I zipped it up anyway and immediately dismissed it due to the neck.  I have an extremely sensitive gag reflex.  I cannot wear anything tight around my neck, most crew neck t-shirts bother me.

Next up was Zoot.  This wetsuit fit my legs.  I was able to pull the sleeves on, and felt my shoulders were a little constricted.  I zipped it up anyway, and the neck was high and tight.

The search for a wetsuit continued.  I read that a person will try on approximately 5-7 wetsuits before finding one that fits his/her body.  This is due to the fact that each brand is cut different, yet the only measurements they advertise are height and weight.  So it is pretty much a guessing game as to whether or not a particular brand will fit your build.

With the brand selection limited in the Milwaukee area, I began to feel the pressure to find a suit that fit.  The alternative is to rent one online either through a specific wetsuit manufacturer or an online rental store that matches your height, weight, and body type to one of the brands they have in stock.  This option scares me a little.  What if the one I order doesn’t fit?  I know I’m a “special case” and hate being that way.Orca S3 wetsuit, low neckline

I went to another retailer that carried Zoot and Orca.  I told the salesman my height and weight and he recommended I try an Orca.  I got my legs in the suit without much of a fight, and was able to put the suit on and zip it up.  The neck design was comfortable, yet felt like it was snug enough to keep water out.  I was pleased with the fit of this suit.

I went ahead and tried on the Zoot wetsuit for good measure.  Again, it fit my body, but the neck was too high and tight.  This confirmed that the Zoot was not a good fit for me, which was a little disappointing because I really like my Zoot tri shorts.

With a wetsuit that finally met my needs (large legs and low-cut neck), I reserved the Orca for my first race.  I’m excited to see how it performs!