Monday, December 14, 2009

Product Review 14 - Felt F2SL - Sweet!

I had this bike as a loner and I rode it 5 times for a total of just over 4 hours. Before riding this wonderful bike I had a Lemond Sarthe (steel frame) with Shimano Ultegra components and a Bontrager crank. The Felt is a full carbon bike and it is as stiff as the full steel Lemond and light as a feather. I own a full carbon tri bike and the Felt F2SL feels lighter than that bike, it also handles better. The Felt comes standard with the new Shimano Dura-Ace 7900 group which is the nicest shifting component group I have ever ridden. Both the front and rear shifting is solid and precise. I shifted up and down hills and under low and high cadence and it always shifted perfectly. In my opinion, there is a difference, a noticeable difference, between the Ultegra and Dura-Ace. Now, the Ultegra group on my Lemond was 3+ years old and I know there is a new Ultegra group that might be better, so the comparison might not be valid. Also, I only put about 4 hours on the bike, so I have no idea of the durability of the component group. The braking was crisp and sure. I believe this bike is a 2009 and has a list price in the neighborhood of $4800, but I believe it can be purchased now for around $3500, while they last. $3500 for a full carbon road bike (frame, forks, handle bars, seat post) with Dura-Ace is a steal, considering the Dura-Ace components by themselves retail for over $2000. If had the money, I would definitely purchase this bike.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Product Review 13 - SLS3 Compression Socks

I have worn these compression socks a number of times after working out, at the end of the day when sitting around, and I have just worn them around. These socks feel too tight in the toes and upper part of leg. They have been painful to wear, feels like cutting off circulation, not aiding circulation. Which makes me wonder if the pair of socks I have is too small or, because they are manufacturer rejects, defective? It could be possible that my legs and these socks just don’t work well together. At the moment I would not buy another pair of these socks.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Product Review 12 - 2XU Calf Guards

Due to a stress fracture I have not worn the calf guards running. I have worn the left leg calf guard under a walking cast for ~3 months. Wearing the walking cast with the calf guard on was much more comfortable than with the calf guard off. I wore the calf guard on the leg with the stress fracture while swimming to, hopefully, provide additional support. I also wore them while biking, both indoors and outdoors. I am not sure they have helped with the healing of my stress fracture, but they probably did not hurt. If they are working like they are supposed to, which is to improve blood flow in the area that they are worn, they may have helped with the healing process, at least a little.
They fit comfortably and feel good while wearing them. They do feel supportive and feel like they are making a difference when I have worn them working out. I am interested to feel the affects of wearing them while running. I also like they way they look. The left one is pretty worn out from wearing it under the walking cast and swimming with it on. I will probably buy another pay when these are worn out.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Product Review 11 - Gore Bike Wear Windstopper Soft Shell

It has been awhile since I have posted, not sure if anyone is looking, but I will continue.

I have only worn this hat while biking, underneath my helmet and it works perfect. The hat fits great and is warm. There is a thin band of elastic, or some tighter fabric, around the bottom that holds the hat tight on the head, which is important since I have a shaved head. You also notice that from the shape of the hat it is designed to be worn in a particular direction. There is a low end of the hat, which is worn towards the back and a dip along the sides to better cover the ears. The hat, as advertised, is a wind stopper and keeps the head warm while biking. I imagine it does the same while running. The hat is a little pricey, around $40, but it is worth it. I own this product and it is definitely one of the better pieces of winter clothing that I own.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dousman Duathlon, Cannon-Wells Duathlon, and the end of the "season"

It has taken me awhile to write and get this out, I am so slow.
In mid-October Jackie and I went down to Kenosha, where some of my family lives. We went there to visit my family, go to the family gathering for my older half-brother's birthday, and to do the Dousman Duathlon. This was the 4th year of the Dousman Duathlon and I would be doing it for my 4th time, in a different context than usual. Jackie did it with me as a relay, this was her first time doing something like this. The big thing was her finishing the 2mile run, wait for me to finish the bike, and then do the second 2 mile run, which she did fantastically.
I did ok. I did the 20miles at 20.3MPH (59:08). It felt ok. I am still not in fantastic shape.
It was the first time Jackie did something like this and she did exceptional. It was great to see her out there doing it. She was super nervous. That was another reason it was so great to see her finish. She seemed very happy, and relieved, to be finished.

The next week, my very good friend Matt and I did the Cannon-Wells Duathlon as a relay team. This was the first time Matt has done something like this. He has not run a race since April, and has spent the last month training for the Twin Cities 10 mile. I was not sure how he was going to do. He was fast. Swimming over the last year and focused run training over the month had really paid off. Paid off so much that we finished 3rd out of 15 teams. So we got some hardware, which was nice. I had an ok bike. The course was hillier than I expected. Also, it started cold and warmed up quick. I probably over dressed. Coming into transition I was thinking about getting out my shoes on the bike and doing a moving dismount, but decided against because of the still healing leg and the fact that I have not practiced it this year. So I came to a stop and broke the cleats out of the pedal. Except my right leg did not. The screw I put into fix the last screw that broke, broke. Leaving me hanging in the cleat. So Matt ran over while I struggled to drag my bike forward. He took the chip off my leg and ran off, while I pulled my foot out of my dangling shoe. I need new cleats in my shoes.
I will probably be doing this race again next year. It was a pretty nice little race.
It was a 14 mile bike that I did in 40:28, about 20.8MPH. I still have work to do, hopefully this off season will see my back speed and endurance head back up.

So, these two duathlon were basically the end of my injury shortened season. It was a very good way to end this somewhat depressing "season". I was able to do relays with two of my favorite people, and I don't know if things can get much better than that.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

St. Croix Valley Sprint Triathlon and the Long Walk

This last Saturday I completed my first triathlon of the year. Long in coming. It was the St. Croix Valley Sprint Triathlon. The race is out of Hudson, WI and is a third of a mile swim (~590 yards), 10 mile bike, and 4 mile run. The field was about 502 people, with 65 in my age group (35-39).

Jackie came with and took some pictures and cheered me on. It is always nice to have someone out there cheering you on.

Got up a little early so I could shower, shave, and do my PT exercises.  For breakfast I had the "usual", banana, oatmeal, and oj. Then stopped for coffee and a donut, and some bottled water to sip before starting.

Getting body marked and the transition setup was easy. Went for a short ride to warm-up, since I can't run.   Jackie was freezing, so she went back to the car until a bit before the race started.

I wore my Fast Skin and no wetsuit. A third of a mile is to short for a wetsuit, it takes me too long to take it off and whatever advantage I had in the water is gone. It took me long enough in transition anyway.

To the swim, I started in the second wave and near the middle of the pack, maybe a little to the left and in the front. There was traffic in the beginning but I got out front pretty good. Swimming was pretty smooth most of the way. Only issue was turning back east into the sun and catching some of the people from the first wave. The sun made sighting in difficult, but not impossible and I made the swim finish line with no issue.  There were a lot of beginners out there, I passed a number of people doing breaststroke and Jackie said she saw a lot of people swimming with their head out of the water.  I felt I could have swam faster, but I have not raced a lot this year and I was concerned about blowing up.  I now know at this distance I can go a lot harder.

I got to my bike no issue, had trouble with the shoes, went no socks. Encountered algae on the swim and brought some back with me on my timing chip strap.  
Went out on the bike pretty slow.  I spun and I took in some fluid.  After about a mile plus I picked it up.  Until I got to the hill from hell.  The hill at about mile 4 was one of the longest and hardest I have ever had to climb.  As I was pulling up the hill I passed a guy who came to stop and just stepped off his bike.  As I turned around and came down I saw some people walking up the hill.  Going down the hill was frightening.  It was the first time I have ever smelled my brake pads.  Not only was it a steep descent, but it had multiple curves.  I have done 99% of my biking on a trainer this year and my bike handling skills are poor.  To put it bluntly, this hill scared the shit out of me.
I was passed by a number of people on the bike, and I passed a few people, but I am still not in good biking shape.  I have work to do still, that is for sure.
When I got in to transition I took my time.  I was going to walk the run so there was no hurry. Got the shoes off, got the socks and running shoes on.  Took a sip of water.  Grabbed the race belt and put it on as I walked out.  The long walk began.
The long walk was very interesting.  I got to people watch.  I got to watch people suffer and thrive, sometimes separately and some times at the same time.  I had people cheer me on.  Tell me not to give up and that I could make.  I knew I could make it and I was not going to give up. I thought it was great that people were cheering me on and that people also asked if I was ok. People cheering and concern just shows how great the tri community is.  I tried jogging some it, maybe a mile at most.  I enjoyed the walk.  If I were to run the course it would be pretty fast.  It is pretty flat, there is one up and down portion, otherwise very flat.
I came in at a slow jog.  Met up with Jackie, talked to some people I had not seen in awhile, got my delicious pork sandwich and rice at the Luau, and then headed out.  
Went over to Jackie's after the race and laid down in bed, we both slept for about 3 hours in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.  I have not done that, ever.  Usually, after a race, I just fall asleep in front of the TV for an hour or so.  
Below are my results
Total Time - 1:42:10 (418/512 overall, 63/67 AG)
Swim (~590 yards) - 9:13 (1:35/100 yards) - 24/512 overall, 6/67 AG
T1 - 1:56
Bike (10 miles) - 31:06 (19.3 MPH) - 70/512 overall, 18/67 AG
T2 - 2:05
Run (4 miles) - 57:52 (14:28 min/mi) - 508/512 overall, 67/67 AG

Friday, September 4, 2009

8th, 9th, 10th - Some Clif Nutritional Products

Clif Builder – Have not been a big fan of many of the bars out there and I have trouble stomaching chocolate at times. That being said, these bars, with their outer chocolate coating, are pretty good. These bars are not too sweet or too heavy. I have eaten them before doing a TT and they sat just fine, no GI issues with them. I don’t think I would buy them, mainly because I am not a fan of chocolate.

Clif Shot Bloks (Lemon-Lime) – I like Clif Shot Bloks. That being said, I would not eat them as a snack, but I do use them in races and training for nutrition. They stomach well with me and are easy to consume when biking and/or running. I need to drink a bit of water before and after to get them down, and they tend to stick in my teeth, but once they are down, they stay down. I have tried different flavors; in this case I was given Lemon-Lime, which I like. The red flavors are pretty good, Strawberry, Cherry, Fruit Punch. I didn’t care for Margareta. The new package is much better than the old one. The new package lines them all up, which makes them easier to squeeze out and eat. The old package was just a bag and it was difficult to get them out at times.

Clif Shot Electrolyte (Lemonade) – This I like and I have purchased a large can of the powder for myself. I have used it in training and during a race and so far I like it. I am trying to get away from sports drinks with high fructose corn syrup because they are too sweet and hard to take down during a race or workout, even though I have been doing it for years. The Lemonade flavor tastes good and goes down pretty easy. The taste is not too sweet and the consistency is not too thick.

7th Product Review - QR Hydrofull

The Quintana Roo Hydrofull wetsuit is the first wetsuit, and for a time, only wetsuit with full sleeves I had swam in. I purchased the wetsuit in the fall of 2007 and the MSRP is ~$400. I have done 14 triathlons in this wetsuit and many open water and pool swims. The wetsuit fits well everywhere except around the neck and armpits, which I thought was normal having never worn a full wetsuit before. I found out it was not normal when I recently tried on a 2XU Velocity wetsuit and it fit perfectly, but was much more difficult to get on and off. I am a little disappointed in the fit of the QR, but it is acceptable. Before owning the Hydrofull I had a sleeveless QR wetsuit, the sleeveless made me appreciate a sleeved wetsuit much more. The sleeved wetsuit provides much better buoyancy and feels better in the water.
The QR is easy to get on and take off, and the break away zipper is fantastic. It is by far the best feature of the wetsuit. It works perfect and makes getting it off much faster. The break away zipper allows you to reach back with one hand, give the zipper a good solid yank upwards, and the zipper opens all the way down the back instantly. The QR wetsuit also has a feature known as a Virtual Pull Buoy (VPB). The VPB increases the buoyancy in the hips and thigh area, thereby reducing drag and fatigue.
The other issue I have had with this wetsuit is that after the third time wearing it the groin area ripped. It did not rip all the way through, just across the surface. Then recently it ripped again, near the previous rip. Again, not all the way through the suit, just across the surface. I tried to patch the original rip, but the location is bad and the patch does not hold.
When I buy another wetsuit I will definitely give QR a try, but I will also look at other wetsuits for comparison.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Team Ortho Time Trial - Less Than Stellar Perfomance

I did the Team Ortho TT on Sunday morning.  17.5 miles down and back on West River Road (West River Road has some very crappy portions to it, almost frightening.  I was pretty nervous at times).  I got up that morning and did not feel too bad.   Had a breakfast of Granola Bar, Banana, and OJ. Had water and a donut on the way there.  No coffee, maybe should have had the coffee.  Got there plenty earlier.  They had a transition area for the TT riders.  So I set me stuff up, sipped the Lemon-Lime Clif Shot Electrolyte I have started using.  Did a short ride on the bike. Chatted with a few people about this and that, while waiting for the race to start.
As an aside, the day before, Saturday, Jackie and I went to Eau Claire to spend time at a weekend long party that friends of mine were having.  We went to an arts and crafts fair in Carson Park in EC.  We spent time at the my friend's house just hanging out and playing Rock Band.  I am very bad a Rock Band, so I spent time watching.  Needless to say, my nutrition that day was not good and I did not eat enough or that well.  It may have affected my performance on Sunday.  Also my lack of bike, and overall conditioning, may have affected my performance. 
That being said, I did not have a very good race.  
I went out fast, probably too fast.  I felt pretty cooked before I reached the turnaround.  The ride back was hard and I was slow.   After the turnaround I saw Kevin O'Connor and Dan Cohen, first and second place respectively, coming into the turnaround and my thought turned to when they were going to catch me.  I think they caught me with about 2 miles or so left.  I was spent before I got done.  Probably all par for the course when recovering from this injury.  I have to get used to not being where I want to be, or where I was at.  It is going to take time to get back. 
I went to the doctor on Monday, there is still a small, faint fracture in my leg.  Ugh, no running yet.  I have to wait 4 more weeks for another x-ray to see if it is totally gone.
I am doing the St. Croix Valley Sprint Triathlon on Saturday.  I will swim, bike, and walk the 4 miles or DNF.  I will probably end up deciding that day.  See what happens.
Anyway, here are my results from Sunday.
Team Ortho TT - 17.5 Miles
Time - 52:38 (19.96 MPH)
Overall - 22/48, Age Group (30-39) - 6/7 

Sunday, August 30, 2009

First PT (Physical Therapy) last Wednesday - Starting New

I had my first PT appointment last Wednesday to determine what is wrong with me and how to fix it.  Basically, I learned that I am using my quads and lower legs too much.  I am not using my hamstrings, butt, and hips enough.  She determined this from the way I stood, and certain measurements.  I have always known I am tight in my hamstrings.  In the past I have had some hip cramping.  I never put too much thought into it.  I guess I should have.
She started me with 3 exercises, one I can do at my desk or where ever.  That one is basically, keep my feet flat, while sitting, and move them back.  This stretches my hamstrings.
The two others are the 90-90 Hip Lift and the Sidelying Ischial Femorial Ligamentous Stretch.  These I should be doing twice a day.  I am trying to do them twice a day.  When I get images of the exercises I will post them.
On Monday, 8/31, I have my next doctor appointment and I will get more x-rays to see if the damage is gone.  I also have another PT appoint on Wednesday and I will get more exercises.
Today, Sunday, I did the Team Ortho Time Trial.  When I get some pictures I will post about it. My results were less than great.  So, no hurry there. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Saint Paul Triathlon or Almost Completed my First Tri of the Year

No intentional DNF like at St. Anthony's in late April. This one I finished, sort of. I guess the Saint Paul Triathlon is my first race of the season and it was a relay. I did the swim and the bike and Jackie's cousin did the run.

It was a fantastic day for a tri. I got up about 4AM and had my usual breakfast of oatmeal, banana, coffee, and oj. Took a shower and shave, needed to wake up. Stopped on the way to the race for a small coffee and donut, a little pick-me-up. The temperature around 5:30 was low upper 50s-lower 60s. If felt good in the morning.

As usual, I got there early. Sat in the car for about 15 minutes and listened to some music. Finally got out of the car and found a nice spot on the rack. About 20 minutes after I was nicely setup they put out the signs for the relay racks, so I had to move all my stuff. Which was fine, I still got a nice spot at the end. I didn't really warm-up, except for a little swim right before the start.

Jackie and her cousin showed up at about 6:45. Her cousin only had about 3 hours of sleep after working until about 2AM. Jackie only had a little more sleep. We chatted and hung out before the start. I was nervous and antsy.

I was in the first wave, which was International (Olympic) distance all Elite, males under 34, and relay. The start was a bit of a mess like last year. No official at the start and no start line except, everyone in water no deeper than ankles. Ready, set, go, and we were off. I went wide and easy at the start. Since it was my first race I wanted to take it easy for the first lap. It worked well. I was out of traffic and it was very calm water. I did get a little anxiety and had a little problem breathing, so I just took some extra breathes and stayed steady. On the second lap I picked it up to a slightly faster pace. As usual, I didn't start standing until my hands touched the bottom. I stood up, took a few steps, and feel in ankle deep water. A volunteer helped me up. I got going and as I was running up the chute I heard Jackie, her cousin, and her aunt and uncle cheering my name. It was nice to hear cheering for me. I got into transition, had some trouble getting the wetsuit off, it has been almost a year since I have had to do it.

The whole time on the bike was rough. First of all the road it horrible. Lots of potholes and very uneven. It was stressful because I had not been on a bike outside at all this year, except for the Tuesday Night Time Trials, so my bike handling is poor. When I got outside of Phalen Park and to one of the first intersections, a women ran a stop sign with a police officer. I saw it coming and jammed on the brakes, slid, she stopped in the middle of the intersection, and I swerved around behind her. She stopped in the middle because the cop in front told her to and the cop behind her, that she blew by, also told her. I never saw her look in my direction. That left me a little rattled. The second lap of the bike was bad because now everyone from the other waves out on the course and there are people riding 2-3 abreast. Very nerve racking, one reason I don't like urban races. Urban races are usually crowded and the roads are terrible. Another reason the bike was so rough, I am out of shape. So I used the downhills to my advantage, by coasting a bit, and spinning when possible, only really cranking away when I felt up to it. The bike was painful, I was sucking wind, but as the results below show, it wasn't as bad as I thought. I thought I might, might average over 20MPH, and I did.

I got into transition and handed off the chip to Jackie's cousin, who had a really great run considering the conditions she did it under. While she was running I got to hang out with Jackie and her aunt and uncle, which was a really good time. Again, not something I get to do at a triathlon.

Overall it was a really good day. I got to do 2/3 of a triathlon, my girlfriend got to come and watch, her relatives were there, and the weather was perfect.

Results - 7th out of 11 coed teams.

Swim (1 mi) - 28:05 (1:36 100 yard/pace)

Bike (24.3 mi) - 1:08:01 (21.3 MPH)

Run (6.2 mi) - 56

Total time - 2:36:01

What I did last year (2008) on my own at the Saint Paul Triathlon

Results - 5 of 22 (Age group 30-34) and 42/182 overall

Swim (1 mi) - 29:54 (1:42 100 yard/pace)

Bike (24.3 mi) - 1:04:54 (22.5 MPH)

Run (6.2 mi) - 49:21 (7:57 min/mi)

Total time - 2:27:03

A last note, I did this triathlon last year and said then I would not do it this year. I don't like the bike course. It is crowded and the roads are bad. The run and swim are fine. Also, the race is not run very well overall. My girlfriend, who has volunteered with me at a number of races this year, said this was one of the most poorly run races she has seen. I would have to agree. The exit and enterance to the bike transition is dangerous because it is in traffic for the second lap people. Also, the food and drink at the end is poor. Last year they ran short of water. I think all they have at the end is Chex Mix and some fruit snacks laid out. I did it this year because I transferred from a different race and I wanted to do a relay. I think this is my last year doing this race.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is It Me or Is It My Helmet?

On Tuesday, I did my second Tuesday Night Time Trial (T'N'T) of the year.  Leg still not fully healed.  Some times there is some pain in the area of the stress fracture, but I cannot attribute it to any particular activity.  Sometimes it just hurts.  Also, there is pain in my knee (sometimes sharp), ankle, hamstring, and the muscle across my leg.  Enough about the pain, on Monday morning I did my usual morning swim at Masters, about 2600 yards.  Then I went home and did a workout that was stepping up and down on a chair 20 times, and then getting on the bike and doing a 30 sec sprint (not out of saddle) and 60 seconds of rest, repeat 5 times.  Repeated the whole chair and bike thing 4 times.  
After Monday, I was sore on Tuesday, so I did not have high hopes for the TT.  
I warmed up a little and started to feel better.  I was trying to get an aero helmet from the Gear West Test Team equipment pool and I didn't think I would get it.  That is until a guy on the team, Wayne, showed up 15 minutes before the start with a Giro Advantage 2 helmet, see pictures.  He showed up just to drop the helmet off. Since I am doing the Saint Paul Triathlon on Sunday, I also wore my Speedo FastSkin so I could try that out on the bike for the first time this year.  As an aside, I am doing the tri as a relay, my girlfriend's cousin is going to run for me.
Anyway, I sucked wind in the TT, like last time It did not feel as bad, and the soreness went away pretty fast.  I actually felt kind of good, but I didn't have a very good feeling about my time while I was riding.  I had my watch with GPS going and noted that the speed going up hill was as low as 14 MPH and the down hill and flats were as fast as 31+ MPH.  I didn't get a good start and stop on the watch, so I was not sure of my exact time and had to wait until the next day.
Low and behold, I was 77 seconds faster than two weeks ago.  I averaged 21.93 MPH, two weeks ago I averaged 21.04 MPH.  
Did I get faster because of the training, or the helmet?  Wait.  The helmet?  I sent an email to Trent at Gear West letting him know I had the helmet and what my results were.  In the email I mentioned the helmet helping me versus training, and Trent mentioned the improvement is within the known improvements a helmet can make.  What?!  I remember reading numbers, but I didn't have them off the top of my head.  So I did a little searching and came across a number of different website with information.  Here is one example:
Basically, there are results that show anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes of benefit from an aero helmet over 40k, or about 25 miles.  I did some quick rough math that shows a benefit of 13 to 53 seconds over 11 miles, the distance of the T'N'T, assuming the benefit is linear.
I had a 77 second improvement.  How much of that is me and how much the helmet?  I would like to think that me and the helmet can share some of the credit for the improvement, maybe a little more to me.  I will be wearing the helmet at the Saint Paul Triathlon this weekend and the Team Ortho Duathlon TT the next weekend.  Once I am done with my turn with the helmet I will write me review.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Splash and Dash - Minus the Dash

Once a month on a Tuesday in June, July, and August Gear West Bike and Triathlon hosted a swim-run-swim-run race at Long Lake.  Being I was in a cast the last few months I could not participate.  The first one was cancelled due to the weather and I was unsure about doing the second.  I thought I could swim and skip the run, but I was worried about moving too much without the cast.
Once the cast was off, I felt ok to give it a try.  So I decided to do the swim and skip the run.  The race is basically a 50m swim to a buoy, around the buoy, run around the buoy on shore, then swim out to the buoy and back for a total of 200m plus a short run.  You then run to the "transition square" get your shoes on and run a mile.  There is short break and you do it again. The time for the two swim-runs is added.  
I did the swim and ran to the transition, waited for everyone else to finish.  Then I started the second swim with everyone.  The first swim I went out too fast, first time swimming "competitively" this year.  Part way through I thought I might puke and I sucking wind.  I  made it and learned my lesson.  In a triathlon I typically start kind of slow, build to a steady hard pace.  I did that the second time.  My splits were almost identical.  Consistent I am.
1st swim (including short run to transition) - 3:03
2nd swim (including short run to transition) - 3:05
Not bad for me.  200m is about 220 yards which is about a 1:23 for 100 yards for 3:04, including runs.
This morning, Wednesday, I went out and did the usual Wednesday morning lake swim at the Gunther's on Lake Minnewashta.  I have been doing this swim every summer on Wed for about the last 4 years.  This morning I swam one of my fastest times.  It is about 1100-1200 yards one way and I generally swim both ways.  This morning I swam back in forth in under 39 minutes, which is a rarity for me.  I guess the Splash and Dash warmed me up for the morning swim.
Between the time trial and the Splash and Dash I am feeling pretty good about things after a long summer of not racing.  
Leg still gives me some pain, mainly knee and ankle, a little in the area of the fracture.  The pain in the fracture area is occasional and I can put a specific action that causes the pain.  In any case, hopefully the heal is still going and I can start running in September.   

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Leg and "The Race of Truth"

I went to the doctor Monday afternoon for what now has become my monthly x-ray and doctor consult about the stress fracture in my tibia. I was getting pretty down about it. So, it was much to my relief that the x-ray showed the fracture to be almost gone, not gone, but almost. Enough that I can stop wearing the damn boot. No more boot. Hooray.
I can't run for another 4 weeks. After I go back for another x-ray and make sure it is entirely gone. In the mean time I have one PT appointment. I am not sure how many I will need. I know that I need to gain strength in my left leg. I can feel pain/weakness in my knee and ankle in my left leg. I am going to try and do a couple triathlons and a few duathlons. At least the first triathlon (Saint Paul Triathlon) will be a relay or a DNF at the run. No matter, it is good to be going again, even if it is not full speed ahead.
To celebrate my lack of cast I did the Tuesday Night Time Trial (T'N'T). This would be my 4th year doing this race. First year I only did it a two times (on my, now gone, Lemond Sarthe), year after 5 times, last year 7 times (of 8), this year I was going to do all of them, or at least try. So with two left I did one on Tuesday. My goal was to finish, which I did. Next, it would have been nice to go over 20MPH, I went 21.04 MPH. Considering I have been only biking 4 hours a month, for the last 3 months, and it was easy biking on the trainer. I am pretty happy with the results. I was worried about fluids, so I drank probably more water and Power Aid (ick) than I need. I ended up puking in my mouth a few times. I have not done that in awhile. It hurt and was difficult. I did not get out of the saddle, as instructed. I did it.
The TT, otherwise known as "The Race of Truth", felt really good, despite the pain. It is good to be back and competing a little bit.
2009 T'N'T = 11 miles, as always - 21.04 MPH which was 60th out of 65 (Not Last!)
2008 T'N'T Ave = 23.03MPH Ave Place = 35/64
2007 T'N'T Ave = 21.46MPH Ave Place = 40/52
2006 T'N'T Ave = 19.3MPH Ave Place = 52/52 (Average of two, second to last and last place)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Do I Need To Spend the Money ? But I Want a New Toy

I am currently saving money for a new bike. I want to pay for the bike, not put it on credit, so I am saving all my pennies and dollars, mainly pennies at the moment. I wanted a new tri bike and I wanted that bike to be the new QR CD0.1 (, but then I came across the data and I might change my mind. If you look at the attached wind tunnel data my current bike, QR Seduza, has only marginally worse wind tunnel results. The average Cd is .004 worse on the Wind Axis and .006 on the Body Axis. There is 3 watts difference and an average of 19 grams of drag on the Wind Axis and 20 grams on the Body Axis. Do I want to spend 330o for a new frame, fork, seat post, or 6000+ for a total bike. Maybe not for that much difference. Maybe I spend 1200 (+tire and cassette) for a Zipp Sub-9 disc wheel and save some more for a new road bike. I recently sold my Lemond Sarthe, so I also would like a new road bike.

The Zipp Sub-9 disc on my current bike would benefit me more than a new Cd0.1 and my current Zipp Z6 wheels, probably.

I think the disc and a new road bike is a better option. Either way it is going to be awhile before I have the money to make the purchase(s), but it is fun to think about.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

RIP - Break Room Live, you will be missed

Air America Radio, now Air America Media, continues to kill off it's best programming. On Wednesday they put an end to Break Room Live. Break Room Live was a webcast show that featured the intelligent comedic stylings of Marc Maron (formally of the fantastic Morning Sedition, which I woke up to everyday when it was on AAR) and Sam Seder (formally of the fantastic The Majority Report). Again, Air America takes two fantastic talents and pushes them aside. Such a shame.
The show was a mix of news, commentary, and some skits. The last part of the show, usually a half hour or less, was both of them, or near the end just Mark, taking listener and viewer comments and questions by way of IM, email, and text. This show was a great example of how mulitple communication and media platforms can be used to do a talk show effectively.
Brillant at Breakfast had this to say -
I agree with the commentary. Along with commentary by many others
Hopefully, Maron and Seder can find a place to display their funny and intelligence
RIP Break Room Live
RIP Air America?

6th Product Review - Zipp Z6 Wheels

This is a review of the Zipp 606 wheelset, with ceramic bearings, the 2009 606 has new toroidal wheel design, new dimpling, and new hubs. The 2006 and 2009 are still a mixed set of a 404 front wheel and an 808 rear wheel. The Zipp website is

A disclaimer, I have never ridden another set of race wheels, either by a different manufacturer or a different Zipp model, and would like to try something else to see if they make a difference. I will also admit that after riding on one set of Zipp wheels it would be hard to imagine racing on something else.

When I bought my first tri bike, it was 7 short months after I bought my first new bike, road bike (LeMond Sarthe), in about 12 years. After spending the summer doing duathlons on the road bike, I decided that the next year I was going to add triathlons, and to do that I should get a new bike. When I went in and bought my bike, a Quintana Roo Seduza, I asked what upgrade(s) would have the most impact. The answer was race wheels. I did one race on the Seduza before the end of the year and it was on stock wheels, I was impressed with my new tri bike. Over the winter I bought the Zipp 606 wheelset, with Continental Competition tubular tires, Zipp Titanium skewers, and an Ultegra cassette. At the time, the wheel set was approximately $2400. I bought them on sale for about $2000, this does not include the cost of the tires, skewers, and cassette. I believe the 2009 set is going to be about $2400. I anxiously awaited the start of the 2007 season and I was not disappointed. I have only ridden on stock wheelsets my whole life and all those were clinchers, going to carbon fiber race wheels with tubulars is a huge difference. Over the last two seasons, plus one race, I have amassed 850+ miles on these wheels, 33 triathlons and duathlons, plus 14 time trials, and some extra mileage for riding on the wheels during warm-up. I have never put any training miles on the Zipps, they are only used for racing. The wheels have been ridden on the city and county roads of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. They have also seen the streets of San Francisco, St. Petersburg, FL, and the county roads around Austin, TX.

The hubs with the ceramic bearings are amazing, they are incredibly smooth. I have demonstrated the smoothness of the hubs by either holding the bike up and spinning the wheel freely or I have a person hold the wheel and spin it. People who aren’t familiar with racing wheels want to know what makes wheels like this so great, at such a high price. By doing this you can feel, and see, the difference between these hubs and other hubs. When you ride the bike the feeling is dramatic, the smoothness is apparent, especially on flat sections of road where you are really cranking away and you can feel the road, the wheels, and the bike. It is difficult for me to describe how these wheels feel. I don’t have technical cycling racing background, so I don’t know how to couch it in the proper language. They definitely feel stiffer, some might say harsher, than non-dished wheels. They feel faster, but they are also faster. You can feel it and see it in the times. Not just my times, but other people who ride these wheels, from amateur to pro. I have no complaints about the way these wheels climb, accelerate, or corner. It would be hard for me to imagine anything better. If you are serious about racing, purchasing a set of race wheels like this is a necessity.
The 404 front wheel and 808 rear wheel give you the aero advantage at the rear with the deeper dish and the handling advantage at the front with the smaller dish. The 404 front weighs approximately 560 grams and the 808 rear 780 grams, for the tubular. The front has 18 bladed spokes and the rear has 24 bladed spokes. Zipp has done a tremendous amount of engineering both in and out of the wind tunnel to come out with a wheel design that is both strong and aero. You can tell the amount of work that went into these wheels when you ride on them.

Another great thing about this wheelset is how they look on a bike. I have gotten a lot of compliments from strangers on how good they look on my bike. As we all know, there is a lot to be said for curb appeal.

5th Product Review - Easton Attack TT Aerobars

In the past I had ridden a couple different sets of Profile clip-on aerobars, which I had mixed feelings about. The fit of those bars were never quiet right. They served their purpose on road bikes. The first full aerobars I rode were FSA, which I road for a season. The FSA bars are aluminum and seemed very bulky, but did the job. The bars were the standard aerobars when I purchased my QR Seduza. I wanted to go to carbon bars that were less bulky, I looked at the Zipp Vuka, but the price was prohibitive for me. 1200 bucks is a lot for a set of bars. I went with the Easton Attack TT aerobars because they are the lightest, at 388 grams compared to the Zipp Vuka at 860 grams, and the price (retail ~$600) is less than half the price of the Zipp, and I purchased mine on sale. One of the drawbacks of the bars is there is almost no adjustment, but they do come in 3 different lengths (225mm, 250mm, and 275mm). There is adjustment in the elbow pads, but it is very limited. The bars are narrow and very flat, so the position is very aggressive. I consider myself a person of limited flexibility so the aggressive position had me a little worried. The narrowness of the bars also worried me; I was warned when I bought them that it could restrict my breathing on the bike. I am not the strongest with bike handling skills, so the narrow bars are also make handling a little tighter. After the bars were installed I had a Retul fit ( performed to make sure I was in the proper riding position. As an aside, a Retul fit is well worth the money. If you are going to spend the money on a bike and components, you might as well spend the extra to make sure you are setup correctly. Otherwise you are throwing money away by not setting up yourself with the components you spent all that money on.
I have done about 18 triathlons/duathlons and 7 time trials and I have to say I like these aerobars a lot. There are no issues with restricted breathing or control. I am very comfortable on them and they provide an excellent riding position. Up to this point they are the best aerobars I have ever ridden on.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

4th Product Review - TYR 180 Race Mask

All I have ever worn are traditional two lens goggles for swimming. The TYR 180 Race Mask is the first mask I have ever worn.  I have to say that I like it.  The mask is comfortable and the vision is excellent.  I have never worn goggles that have 180 degrees of vision and it is a totally different experience.  The only issue that I have with this mask is that after about 200 yards there is too much water in it to swim anymore.  I tried to adjust the goggles in multiple different ways but they still leaked.  The leaking is occurring around my cheeks.  Apparently my head is the wrong shape for these goggles, which is a shame because I really like them.  There is a clasping mechanism on each side of the goggles to hold the strap in place.  If you lift the clasps up you can move the strap and when you close the straps it keeps them in place.  The only issue is the strap has ribs in it that help hold it in place when the clasps are closed, but these same ribs make it difficult to adjust the straps when the clasps are open.  I think that I would like to try and find a mask that fits my face better.  I would like to try a mask with this kind of vision in a competitive environment to see what benefits it has over traditional goggles.      

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

6 Month Update, and Still a Fracture

I went to the doctor on Monday (7/6) and I still have a fracture. It appears to be smaller, but still it is there. I went in hoping for the best, and so did the people around me, but it is still there. 
So I go back in a month and have it checked again. I will continue to take Vit D supplements, Ca supplements, and use my friend the the Exogen 4000+ Ultrasound Bone Healing System. 
I will continue to swim, pull only, lift weights, and bike a little. Bike very little and very easy when I do. Hopefully, next time I go in there is no fracture and I can start running and biking. 
I just need to be patient, which is getting harder.
I have posted my stats for the last 6 months, including my weight.  Weight has gone up a little, to be expected.  I am getting a decent amount of weight lifting in, almost entirely upper body. The swim is continuing as it should.  The last 8 weeks has been entirely pulling, very, very little kicking.  My shoulders do not hurt as much as I would expect.  Maybe all this pulling is not as detrimental as I thought it would be.  
Of course, I have had to redo my goals.  Hopefully, I can pull some of them off by the end of the year.  I am going to pretty much take my goals from 2009 and use them for 2010.  

Saturday, June 20, 2009

3rd Product Review - Blue Seventy Swim Socks (Booties)

I have never worn anything on my feet while swimming, except for occasionally wearing flippers, so I thought this would be a little odd, and I was right. They are basically neoprene socks that fit very well when wet, which I guess means they are doing their job. I did not race in the swim socks; I believe that they are only allowed in races when the water temperature is too cold. I did open water swim with them when the air temperature was in the mid to low 60s and so was the water temperature. They are really nice for the walk to the water, especially if the walk involves going on cold, wet sand and/or grass. They keep your feet nice and warm. They also have a textured sole which I believe keeps them from being less slippery. Swimming with them is the odd part, they do keep your feet nice and warm, but it felt like I was swimming with wet socks on. They also felt like they were going to slip off, which they never came close to doing, they stayed on perfectly. I didn’t kick much with them on, owing to a stress fracture I have, but kicking did feel strange. Since I did not kick, they were useful keeping my feet warm in the water. I can definitely say that swimming in cold water with these on is very nice, they do keep your feet warm. I did Escape from Alcatraz last year and these would have been very nice. My feet were numb and it made the long run to the transition area even longer. I would definitely pick-up a pair if you do cold water swimming.

2nd Product Review - Continental Competition Tubular Tires

The tires are hand-crafted using a needle and thread. They are equipped with the Vectran puncture protection belt, which appears to be very effective, see below. Some research on the internet reveals that the tires weigh 260 grams (700c x 22mm, with a recommend inflation of 110 psi and maximum of 170 psi). New for 2008, they are made with Continental’s Black Chili Compound. This compound is a more flexible and compliant butyl compound that is supposed to lower rolling resistance, increase adhesion, and improve the tires lifetime. I assume that the tires I bought this year are superior to the tires I previously owned, from 2006, since they did not have the Black Chili Compound.

These are the first tubulars I have ever ridden on, and I may never use another brand of tire again. When I purchased a Zipp 606 wheelset I also purchased these tires. At first I choked on the price, about $100 a tire, but after riding one set for over two years I am a believer. If you are going to drop a lot of money on a wheelset, there is no point on going cheap on the tires. I rode my first set of Continental Competition tubulars through a combined 33 triathlons and duathlons, plus 14 time trials, for a total of 850+ miles without a flat on either tire. I never road the tires for training rides, only pre-race warm-ups and races. The tires were ridden on the city and country roads of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. These tires, and the fantastic Zipp 606 wheelset, have also seen the streets of San Francisco, St. Petersburg, FL, and the county roads around Austin, TX. After all this, and not wanting to push my luck, I removed the tires and put on new ones.
I admit that my opinion is biased, I have never ridden another combination of tubular tires and wheels, but after riding this combination I can’t imagine why I would want to ride on anything else.

Gear West Test Team - 1st Product Review - 2XU Velocity (V:1)Wetsuit

I was asked by the owner of Gear West Bike and Triathlon to be on thier "Test Team". The test team is a group of mixed age and ability athletes that are given products (equipment, clothing, nutrition) to test and review. We can also review any products that we purchase on our own. I think the reviews are posted to the store website and manufacturer. Below is my first review and it is of the wonderful 2XU Velocity (V:1)wetsuit.

The most important aspect of a wetsuit is how it fits. If the wetsuit does not fit the athlete correctly, it will not do what it is supposed to do effectively, which is help you go faster in the water, and it will not provide the wearer with a sense of comfort. As an amateur triathlete, at least in the beginning, feeling comfortable, especially in the water, was very important to me, and I think it is important to most triathletes, at least in the beginning.

I have had two wetsuits prior to testing this wetsuit. My first wetsuit was a sleeveless and I wore it for a season. I decided it was insufficient, but sufficient for my first season, and that I was going to be doing triathlons for a long time so I went to a sleeved wetsuit. My second, and current wetsuit, is a full wetsuit and I have worn it for a season. I thought my current wetsuit fit me well and was doing a great job, until I tried on this wetsuit. Wow, the 2XU Velocity wetsuit fit perfectly. There is no sag or gap anywhere in the wetsuit, the fit around the chest, neck, shoulders, and lower body is ideal. In fact, until I wore this wetsuit I did not know what a perfect fit felt like, now I think I do. I only had a chance to swim in this wetsuit three times, twice in a pool and once in open water. I put about 6000+ yards in with it and it was great. Currently I have a stress fracture, so I was not able to really get a feel for how kicking in the 2XU Velocity wetsuit felt, but I have a feeling it would be just fine. I would really like to race in this wetsuit to see how it feels in a more aggressive environment.

The Velocity wetsuit retails for about $575.00 and has many features (, as do most high-end wetsuits. I will list the features of this wetsuit below and the details of the features. Do these features add anything to the performance of the wetsuit? Probably. Can I really compare and contrast to the features of my current wetsuit? No. I did not have enough time with the wetsuit, or the resources on-hand to give specifics on how, or if, the features are helpful. All I can say is that the suit feels faster, is faster, than my current suit. Part of that is fit, and the other part might be the features. I can definitely say that if I was going to buy a new wetsuit I would try on a couple more brands, but I would have a hard time not buying this wetstuit.

2XU Velocity Features (From the 2XU website):
Concave Water Entrapment Zone (C.W.E.Z) or “Catch Panel” - Channel water for greater water stability resulting in less sideways movement in choppy conditions. In still conditions offering a channeling water process for greater lift and cleaner water flow movement resulting in more speed through the water.
Propulsion Panel - New and exclusive to 2XU are the Propulsion panels, establishing a greater frontal region due to internal neoprene strips, along with 2xu’s propriety Strakes for more grip on the water for more stabilized power from the kick.
Velocity Strakes - Industry first Velocity Strakes, channel water for greater water stability resulting in less sideways movement in choppy conditions. In still conditions offering a channeling water process for greater lift and cleaner water flow movement resulting in more speed through the water.
Nano SCS Coating – The velocity wetsuit utilizes Nano SCS giving the wetsuit an extra 4% in buoyancy over standard SCS. The underwater coefficient of dynamic friction of the SCS Nanoskin is 0.026 in comparison to 4.0 of regular neoprene. Less friction = more speed.
Rollbar - Industry first Rollbar region improves the buoyancy in the core of the wetsuit. Better body position is delivered through maintained buoyancy when the body rolls off the front panel. This ultimately maintains higher body position (speed in water) and derives power from better positioned hips - enhancing the pull phase of the stroke.
39 Cell Front Buoyancy - Optimizing the maximum 5mm thickness allowed under the International Federation Rules, and incorporating 39 cell rubber - the most buoyant on the market due to the cell density (spec gravity=.13). Maximum buoyancy means less body in the water therefore less wetted surface area, and a faster overall speed through the water. Water is 1000 times denser than air, and has a drag coefficient 10 times greater than air. Buoyancy is the ultimate component of speed.
520% Stretch Lining - 520% Stretch Neoprene with 4 way stretch. This is in turn complemented by the highly flexible hollow polyester fiber lining. The high stretch hollow polyester jersey inner lining of underarm, and shoulder panels of the 2XU swimsuit maintain flexibility and reduce weight. Our polyester lining in the important flexibility zones is 4% more flexible than the nylon alternatives. The comfortable inner layer does not reduce the flexibility of the outer neoprene skin, so your energy can be focused on swimming and not wasted working against restriction. Secondly the polyester is hydrophobic and repels water, reducing weight down the arms by absorbing 70% less water than nylon.
Transition Panel Seam - New for 2008 and exclusive to 2XU, the lowered seem , helps minimise friction and increase hydrodynamic features of the suit. The most comfortable neck on the market. The neckline must balance tension perfectly to minimize both water intake and chaffing.This neckline solution is completed with an adjustable fastening collar system, allowing you to personalize the fit and maintain the perfect tension. Seamless front construction so less drag.
Floating Zip/Back Panel - Fundamental panels many other wetsuit brands underestimate. 2XU have engineered a back panel structure which is strong enough to contain the rigid zip, withstanding the punishment of constant use, but more importantly flexible enough to interact with the underarm panel, and allow the zip to float with body movement. This is achieved by the one piece floating zip panel, no seams so less restriction. The floating zip back panel enhances flexibility of our back panel which allows the zip (by construct non stretch) to move in partnership with the body, especially during the recovery and catch phase of the stroke – when your arm moves through the largest motion from beside your hip to entering the water in front of you, requiring the wetsuit to stretch along your back and shoulder. The 2XU floating back panel also has the advantage of contributing to better expansion of the chest cavity, therefore reducing restriction to the breathing motion. The less flexible 5mm front flotation panel is complemented by the hyper flexible 1.5mm underarm panel and 3mm back panels to promote core expansion and breathing.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Still On the Mend

Went to the doctor on Monday and there is still a fracture in the leg. Posted pictures are from an x-ray that was taken about 5 weeks ago. New x-rays look the same. Good thing is that when she pushes on the fracture point it does not hurt. For the last for weeks I have upped my Vit D to 4000 I.U. per day and recently I upped my Calcium to about 1000mg+. I have been swimming, pull only, 3 times a week. Hopefully I don't destroy my shoulders. I have switched to swimming in a wetsuit, which I think has helped reduce the wear and tear on the shoulders.

I have been lifting 1-3 times and biking easy on the trainer a little.

Really frustrating that I have to cancel races and try to get transfers or refunds or neither. I really want to race. I know that I have to be patient and wait this out, otherwise I will never get back to where I was.

On Monday I am getting a Exogen 4000 ultrasound bone stimulator, I think. See how things go with the doctor, sales rep, and insurance. Apparently it is supposed to stimulate blood flow and improve healing. Decrease healing time by 30%. See if I get it and see if it works.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nice Weekends

My new girlfriend's sister and brother-in-law have a nice boat on Lake Minnetonka.  I have never been on the lake before and the last two weekends I went out on the boat on the lake.  Both weekends were great.  My new girlfriend is pretty great and so is her family. 
Tomorrow I go in to the doctor and get my leg checked out.  Hope it is better.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Watching and Waiting, Waiting and Watching

I have not been running in 5 weeks.  Probably the longest I have gone without running in 5+ years.  I have been in an air cast for nearly 4 weeks.  Next Monday I get new x-rays and we will see if I am healing, or, hopefully, healed.
The last two weekends I volunteered at the Gear West Duathlon and the Apple Duathlon.  The volunteering has been a great experience.  My new girlfriend volunteered with me, she does not do triathlons or duathlons.  She appeared to really enjoy the experience.  Which I was very glad to see and made the experience more enjoyable.  
At the GW Du we worked the timing at the finish, so we got to see the finish of most athletes.  The women's finish was great, decide by less than a thousandths of a second.  At the Apple Du we were the sag wagon.  Had to go out in my little wagon and get people if they flatted out.  We only had to pick up one person.  It was great feeling to help someone, and I am glad we could do it.  Since we were working the sag wagon, and there was only one flat, we got to watch a lot of the start and fair amount of the bike.
Watching both races was a great learning experience.  Watching elite triathletes race and transition is both inspiring and good lesson how things are done.  Watching people like me, average triathletes, people out there for the first time, is also very inspiring and a great learning experience.  It is amazing to watch people of all shapes, sizes, ages, abilities, push themselves.  To see people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s racing gives me hope for my own future, and the future of others.
Now, all that being said about volunteering and watching and how great it is, at the same time it is still torture.  I really want to get back out and race.