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.