Triathiversary (Elkhart Lake Sprint 2016)

Happy Anniversary, Triathlon!

It’s been such a great year, even though you tried to kill me once and on a few occasions made me doubt my abilities. I haven’t always been good to you either. I have skipped you at times. I have mistreated you. I have over trained and under trained for you. I promise that this year I will do better, but I won’t always be perfect. Just remember that I am trying very hard and I expect you to do the same. No more, “I’m going to change the course”. No more, “waves are fun”. And for the sake of the relationship, no more DNFs, those make me feel really bad.

Anniversary

Seriously though, this last weekend marked my first full year in Triathlon, and we celebrated by returning to the race where it all began, Elkhart Lake.

Elkhart Lake Sprint 2016 Race Report

My goals this year were to improve in every discipline, but more than anything, I needed a PR on this race. Coming away from a great race in Galveston just a few short months ago, I had everything going my way. Then I got sick to the point where I had a hard time breathing. I was measuring the miles by how much snot I had collected on my shirt. And generally, I haven’t felt well. Even still, I am battling some serious muscle pain (fatigue and stress related).

For some reason I got really nervous about the race, something felt off about racing and not traveling (because I didn’t have to prep a week ahead of time) and not staying in a hotel (having to re-prep once I check in) and not having to rack my bike the night before (one less thing to think about race morning).  All of those things seem to make everything a lot easier for me (counterintuitive, I know).  The morning of the race wasn’t great either, but I made it through with only one port-a-potty stop before the race started.

Elkhart Lake

My swim wasn’t great. I was breathing every other stroke (always on the left). I think this was the water temp taking my breath faster than normal, but who really knows. It could have been anxiety also. Really it was a great swim and I took 52 seconds off my time from last year. Not bad for a 400 meter course.  Having completed several 1.2 mile swims, I was sort of surprised at how stressful this 400 meter swim was.

T1 sucked. Because of where transition was this year, Sprint racers had to run about a 1/4 mile to their bikes. Still, I took 1m20s off my time.  I think the reduction has something to do with having gone through transition many times now and know what to do and what not to do (and honestly not worrying about anything since the bike is so short).

My bike effort was awesome this year. Some of the hills beat me up a little, but there was something different this year (I’ll explain in the run section). Rules weren’t followed well on the course, so I was passing people on the right and was getting stuck behind groups of riders. The night before the race, the course changed, but it wasn’t very significant, just a u-turn vs. a turn around on the roads. Overall, I was 4 minutes faster on the course.

T2 sucked. Again, an extra 1/4 mile to get to the run start from my bike . . . BOOOOOOO. Still, I made up 40 seconds in T2.

Finally, the run. Last year Elkhart’s hill of honesty killed me. The hill lasts for over a half mile and it sucks. More than that, the whole course killed me last year. I walked more than ran. This year, that wasn’t the case. I had a few drop outs to drink water and eat a gel, but ran the majority. The hill didn’t even kill me. I credit this to all the work I have done on the bike in the last 365 days. I was able to hold a high power number and still run a 5K at the end of it all. Overall, time savings on the run was 1m30s from 2015.

Nick Elkhart 2016

All said and done, my first year in the sport has been awesome, with incredible improvements in every discipline (I’m looking at you swimming, seriously you aren’t my best, but I have made you work). Nailing a workout makes the rest of my week seem great. Finishing my first 70.3 on a tough course validated my decision to change from running to triathlon. My PR at Galveston and at Elkhart in 2016 have really shown the progress I have made (thanks to the coach’s insistence that I make progress and not just be happy with my current paces).

It’s been a good year, triathlon, let’s see if we can have another good one.  Chattanooga is less than 100 days away and I plan on knowing that I can complete that distance.

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

Elkhart Lake is Coming (2016)

It is with great pleasure that I announce that this weekend is my first anniversary in Triathlon!

Last year I registered for and subsequently raced my first triathlon. Elkhart Lake promised a great atmosphere and a short distance event that I was sure I could complete with the training I had done. I was given a sense of accomplishment leading up to the event and even following the event. I was sure that this was a sport I was going to continue.

The race was a bit tough for me. I was a first timer getting in the open water for the first time (the day of the race) and was grossly under prepared for the swim. On a 400 meter swim, I stopped several times to catch my breath and re-compose. I probably stopped as many times in Austin and Galveston and they are 5 times as long! Either way, I completed the swim. This year I don’t plan on stopping at all.

The bike was a bit rough as well. I remember the hills killing me, again, I was under prepared for what the race was going to be. I only really remember, vividly, one particular hill that I went up and on the back side coming down gained an enormous amount of speed. At the bottom of that hill was a greater than 90 degree turn where I hit my brakes and slid a bit due to the roads being a little wet. I was lucky enough that my bike recovered and I didn’t hit the ground. This year I plan to be a few MPH faster than last and have a much more successful bike.

The run was the killer for me (though even my time doesn’t reflect accurately how I felt). I was warned of a hill on the back side of the course. I went up the first hill and thought for sure I had overcome the challenge only to find that there was yet another, steeper and longer, hill. I am now prepared for that. I don’t plan on letting the run eat me up again this year.

All in all, I am super excited for this race and to improve my year on year results. Last year I finished in 1 hour 40 minutes. I plan to be a bit quicker this year. My time was good for 3rd from last in my age group. I don’t plan on being there again this year. The top competitors in my age group last year finished in just over 1 hour 10 minutes, I also don’t think I will be there. I only aim to be better than 2015 “Elkhart Lake Nick” and finish with a higher ranking (though this all depends on who shows up on race day).

Congratulations to all of the All in Racing athletes that raced last weekend and to those who will race this weekend with me and in other races.

A New Ride

Two members of our household each got a new ride this weekend…

Lately, our dog walks have gotten longer and longer in time spent, not in distance walked.  Tabasco is 12 years old, and can barely finish our two-mile walk.  She slows down to the point that we are barely making any forward progress.  And sometimes she just flat out refuses to go any further.

Tabasco refuses a walk

I have been trying to convince Nick that Tabasco needs her own set of wheels.  The problem is Tabasco doesn’t like to move unless it’s under her own will.   After much consideration, this weekend we broke down and bought her a wagon.  I wanted something that could be stored easily, especially when traveling, as we are planning a trip that will involve hiking, etc.  Monday afternoon, we did our typical two-mile walk, and waited until she slowed significantly before putting her in the wagon, figuring she would be more accepting of moving forward with someone else in control.  The good thing about lugging around an old dog, is she can’t just jump out of a moving wagon; it’s a long, slow process.  So every time she would stand up, we would stop moving, calm her and make her sit down, before moving forward again.  I won’t say she liked it, but she did much better than we both expected.  Now we just need to buy her some doggles, and she’ll be good to go (kidding)!

Red Heeler, Dog Wagon

The other new ride purchased this weekend was a new car for Nick.  In an effort to downsize and find a more gas-efficient vehicle, Nick has been eyeing a new car for a few months now.  He has been looking at different hatchbacks and smaller SUVs.  We wanted something comfortable to ride in for long road trips, roomy enough to take the dogs with us along with our luggage, and able to accommodate our bikes too.  We test-drove a handful of vehicles, none quite meeting all of our expectations.  It was not our intention to buy a hybrid, but the only car that fit the bill of power, comfort, spaciousness, fuel efficiency, and durability was the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron.

2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

We are looking forward to loading up the A3 for a long trip this summer.

Alpine Apple Cinnamon Four Points Bar

Folks, I don’t know that I have negatively reviewed anything yet on the site.  That is changing today.

A few months ago, we received a Four Points bar in a monthly nutrition box.  For my ride and run today, I needed something and chose it out of our box.  It was the Apple Cinnamon flavor and . . .

IT

WAS

BAD.

The flavor was not good, the texture was not good, and overall it was not pleasant to eat.  I took my first bite and was not happy, but I was willing to keep trying. I took a second bite and was totally displeased, so I stopped eating it.  Emily saw my face and offered to take a bite.  She was also not pleased by the flavor either.

I have two thoughts on why the flavor wasn’t good.

1. The outside of the bar was covered in dry cinnamon, this caused a slight peppery taste and gave me dry mouth.

2. I just don’t like the taste of dried plum and fig, which were the first two ingredients, a bit odd since it was an apple-flavored bar.

Anyway, that is what I have to say, and I don’t believe I will try out any more of their bars (which is disappointing, since they are a Colorado company and I would love to support them).

Under the Weather

Nick and I have both been sick.  We haven’t been exercising (sorry Coach), and have pretty much been bums lately.  We will be back soon!

Regular posting will begin again this weekend.  Thanks for your patience.

2016 IMTX Congrats

Nick and I typically spectate at Ironman Texas because, when we lived in Texas, it was only a few miles from our house.  We watched it this weekend via lifestream, wishing we were there to cheer on the athletes. IMTX Live Coverage

Congratulations to all who competed in Ironman Texas this weekend.  The bike course was less than desirable; the weather during the race was horrible, enough to stop the race momentarily; and you persevered.  You accepted the challenge that was Ironman Texas!