Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Expense of Triathlons

I am reminded daily how much the sport of triathlons costs and it is so so frustrating.  Running was simple.  I bought a few outfits and a pair of shoes every few months.  My Garmin is still ticking after four years and I may have to replace an iPod every year because of sweat, but that is it.  Easy peasy!

Triathlons on the other hand, oh my, my middle-class budget doesn't compare to my competitors at all the events.  My bike was my biggest purchase, last May...

I will throw out numbers for you since I would want to know if I were looking into trying a triathlon.  My bike cost $1300.  This was not a low-end road bike, but it was FAR from a high-end bike.  It is the Canondale Synapse and it is smooth and fast.  This was totally worth the steep price tag, though I am thankful I don't have to do that again anytime soon.  Would I like a triathlon bike?

I would love a triathlon bike, but it is not in my near future.  Maybe when I am a middle-aged age grouper, but this new age grouper will stick to her road bike with new aero bars that my husband bought me for my birthday.

He found them on eBay for $65.  This was a pretty good deal, so if you are looking to add aero bars to your bike, make sure you shop around.

Next up is my gear.  If you are looking to buy a wetsuit, make sure you shop around.  I found my wetsuit for under $150 with a discount code that was offered by my triathlon I was signed up for.  The codes are floating around all the time, and this was for 60% off.

My helmet, pedals, and bike shoes were another $250.  I bought the bike shoes off clearance so they were half off.  I bought the basic clip in pedals and the cheapest helmet.  I would LOVE to get an aero helmet before Lake Placid, but I don't think a $200 helmet is in the budget this year.

As for triathlon clothes, I purchased a few pairs of tri shorts and a few tops from Athleta.  The shorts are around $60 each, but I finally found a pair of tri shorts that I love.  Athleta just came out with the Queen K shorts and I HIGHLY recommend them to you.  

They are by far the most comfortable tri shorts I have worn and they are actually cute.  And, if you donate to Team in Training  through my blog you are entered for a chance to win a $100 gift card to Athelta so they could be even cheaper for you.

And the technology is the part that is getting to me right now.  Currently I ride with my Polar RCX5 + cadence sensor. It keeps track of my heart rate and cadence while indoors.  Outdoors it has a GPS which allows me to track my speed and distance.  I am currently looking at getting the speed sensor for it so that I can find out the speed and distance that I am doing indoors as I feel the motivation to ride harder may be higher if I can see actual results.  I don't really count the unit as an expense because I had it before I started doing triathlons.  I do count the accessories as an expense.  The cadence sensor was $50 and the speed sensor would be another $50.  If you are looking to add this to your Garmin you can buy a cadence/speed sensor for $40.  These are small expenses, but I have avoided them because I have also been looking at the Garmin 910XT.

Or the Garmin 505 Bike computer.

These both have pretty big price tags, but I know I want something to help me on my 100 mile bike rides this summer.

All these expenses are just additional things I felt were necessary to purchase in order to have a successful triathlon season.  If I were planning on doing a sprint triathlon, I would not have invested so much money.  I did a sprint last year and it was so fast that I don't think the extras made that much of a difference.  Since I am training for an Ironman I have put extra money into it including a monthly check to my coach, but I know it is a good investment.  I cut down on other expenses this year in order to make this work.  (Including reducing my races.  I used to spend $50/month on races and this year I am only signed up for Lake Placid and the Boston Marathon.)  Sure, I am looking forward to post-Ironman training when I can relax a little bit, but I am having a BLAST and I know that come July this will all be worth it.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pushing Yourself in Training and a SparklySoul Winner

Training for an Ironman during the winter in Massachusetts is a mental challenge in itself.  I have been riding three to four times a week on the trainer in my garage.  I have been doing workouts that include intervals and endurance riding.  The workouts, on paper, don't look that bad.  Mentally, I am making it through the 60-90 minute rides without wanting to poke my eyes out.  The thing I am noticing on my rides is that I don't know how to push myself during these rides.

Yes, that is a cruise cup in my water bottle cage.  I use it to hold my remote.  :)

My new aerobars, I love them and hate them, but did make it 35 minutes in aero yesterday.

On Saturday, I had a 95 minute run with increasing heart rate zones.  This run was EASY for me.  I made it into the correct heart rate zones and was running fast at the end.  I ended up doing 12.23 mile in 95 minutes for an average pace of 7:47.  When I say it was easy, I don't mean it was effortless.  This run was hard and my body told me that the whole day.  When I say easy, I mean, I had no problem pushing myself on this run.  When I run, I know how to reach deep down and push myself to whatever paces or heart rate may be on my schedule.

Now, the next day, I felt like a totally different athlete.  I had an 85 minute trainer ride followed by a 15 minute brick run.  I could NOT get my heart rate up on my ride.  I feel like I am pushing myself as hard as I can go, but my heart rate is not reflecting my effort.  I know there is nothing wrong with my heart rate monitor because I use it on my runs as well.  I just can't get my legs to move fast enough.  I know in my head that this will improve, because it did last summer.  My legs are trained to run and not ride.  My quads are getting used to riding, but apparently they still fatigue a lot faster than while running.  But, I am frustrated with myself and almost embarrassed to report back to my coach that I can't hit my workouts.  Yesterday, I thought, maybe I am just having an off day.  But, as soon as I hopped on the treadmill for my brick run, I saw that it wasn't an off day as I was able to run 1.9 miles in 15 minutes.  Nope, my legs were fine.  They just hate the bike.  :)

Again, I know this is temporary, as I had an amazing Half Ironman last summer with paces on the bike that I didn't think I could do at the beginning of the summer.  I know the bike will come back.  But the competitive, impatient person in me is having a hard time accepting that it will take time to get back to where I want to be.  Spring can't come soon enough so that I can at least get back on the road and enjoy these rides a little bit more.  (Thank goodness for Downton Abbey as I was able to zone out to my new discovery.)

And, my Sparkly Soul winners are:

Christine R. (wide headband) and Kelly B. (thin headband)!!!!  Please contact me with your address and color choice.  Thanks everyone for entering and good luck on your races this spring!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Race Day Nutrition--Why I Run with SaltSticks

It's no secret that I have bonked at many many races.  I am sure many times it was because I went out too fast but I also know that many times it was because of nutrition.  When I crashed during my first couple marathons it was a death march to the finish line.  I had no mental control and walked in many races and was completely miserable with cramping legs, stomach cramps, and no energy.  I would make it to the finish line and swear off running another marathon.  It sucked that bad.

In all three races that I qualified for Boston at, the race felt easy.  Imagine that, running 7:40 pace for 26.2 miles felt easy.  I was trained for that pace, but unfortunately, training is only half the battle.  During those races I also had my nutrition figured out which allowed me to execute my training without a problem.

At my Half Ironman in September I was introduced to the SaltStick.  My coach wrote my nutrition plan out and included taking SaltSticks during my race.  I had no idea what they were but went to REI to purchase a few single packets to see if they would help.

On race day, I got out of the water with a TERRIBLE headache.  I have no idea what happened, but my nutrition was off-balance before my day even started.

I hopped on the bike and followed my nutrition plan to a T, but didn't take any SaltSticks.  My headache was still there for all 56 miles.  I got off the bike and started my run.

It was hot out there and my head still hurt.  I finally thought to take 2 SaltSticks.  Within a mile, my headache was GONE!!  I took another 2 SaltSticks on my run and crossed the finish line with a pretty great time.

When I did finish, I got dizzy, cold, and numb.  I had a similar feeling at Boston last year, due to the heat and knew I was in trouble.  I spent a while in the medical tent drinking coke, eating soup, and finally took more SaltSticks and suddenly the color returned to my face and I was fine.  Apparently gels and sports drink are not enough for me.  I needed the extra salt and electrolytes from the SaltStick to get my body back in balance.

At Disney, things played out a little bit differently.  I knew the benefits of taking a SaltStick (All this information comes from the SaltStick website):

Sweat typically has about 1000 mg sodium/liter, a typical sports drink has 440 mg sodium/liter. If, during the course of training, you ingest nothing but sports drinks (or worse, water), you will become hyponatremic at some point. Many sports drinks also do not address any form of supplementation of the other key electrolytes, potentially causing yet further cramping and muscle issues.
  • The ONLY electrolyte capsule that was formulated to closely resemble the electrolyte profile lost during activity: sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
  • Only 1 capsule per serving. Suggested use: 1 capsule per 30-60 minutes during activity
  • Buffered salt composition that helps digestion and absorption
  • Each capsule contains: 215 mg sodium, 63 mg potassium, 22 mg calcium, 11 mg magnesium, 100 IU Vitamin D
  • Vegetable-based non-GMO capsule composition; Bio-available active ingredients. GMP production.
When I realized that the forecast for a HOT race was most likely going to happen I decided I needed SaltSticks for my race.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find any at the expo like I had hoped.  (Runners need to start using them so that vendors start selling them!)  After watching a hot half marathon on Saturday I knew I needed to find SaltSticks, so I started calling bike shops in the area to see if I could find some.  Luckily, I find a shop about 10 minutes away who had one bottle left so I ran there before they closed.

On the morning of the race, I took one salt tablet with breakfast.  I then packed 6 tablets in a tiny plastic bag inside my race belt.  (Apparently, they sell dispensers that attach to your belt, I am going to have to find one for my next race.)  My plan for the race was to take a gel every 4 miles.  I had EFS drink in my water belt and planned on taking water at every stop.  I was not going to let dehydration defeat me!

I took my first gel at the starting line and we were off.  The humidity was incredible and we were sweating instantly.  I knew my body would lose way more salt than normal so was trying to be aware of my body.  I took my first gel at mile 4 and drank my EFS in between water stops.  Right at an hour into the race, my stomach started hurting.  My plan in my head was to take a SaltStick at an hour so I popped my first capsule, hoping that would help my stomach.  Within a mile, my stomach felt better and I was able to continue to drink water and take gels.  

Another hour went by and back came that stomach ache.  (A side note about this stomach ache.  I sweat a lot more at race pace than training paces.  I lose a lot of salt and have noticed I don't get past 13 miles in a race without my stomach acting up, so these were all normal aches that usually cause me to stop to use the bathroom.)  I popped my second SaltStick and kept running and the stomach ache went away.  This was my first time using salt during a marathon and I was excited that I may have found a solution to my stomach issues.

Fifteen miles in, and it started getting hotter and I was feeling it.  I took another SaltStick at hour 3 and my headache that I was developing went away and I was able to pick up my pace.  (Please note, I was still taking gels every 4 miles and drinking lots of water.  I credit the salt for allowing my body to absorb the nutrition that I was putting into it.)

I finished the marathon, with a huge PR and a BIG smile on my face.  I went to find my husband.  I drank a Powerade and a water and sat for a little bit.  About 30 minutes later, I got up to go back to my hotel and the stomach cramps started again and I got very dizzy.  My husband told me to take another SaltStick and I did.  I sat for about 5 minutes after taking the capsule and all the nausea and dizziness went away and I was able to walk to the bus.

I am amazed that I found a solution to my nutrition problems, particularly at a hot race.  I can't promise these will work for you, but many triathletes swear by them and I highly recommend looking into them for yourself.  I finished the Disney Marathon with an incredible time and didn't have to go to the medical tent.  I ran my heart out and didn't have to suffer because my body wasn't willing to take in nutrition.  I plan on using SaltSticks on my long training rides as I prepare for Ironman Lake Placid and you can bet they will be with me on my race belt at the Boston Marathon in April.

**I was not compensated for this post nor was I given free product.  I am a huge fan of SaltStick and wanted you all to know about this product.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ironman Training Totals and a Sparkly Soul Giveaway!

So training is going strong right now and I can confidently say that I am getting stronger.  When I started Ironman training around three weeks ago, I was slow moving both on the bike and in the water.  This past week I posted some workouts that left me feeling much more confident.

I put in 10 1/2 hours of training last week that broke up to:

  • 3 days of swimming: total of 8400 yards or 4.77 miles
  • 3 days of biking for a total of 3:30.  I don't have a distance as these were all on the trainer and I haven't purchased a speed sensor for my bike yet which will give me my distance.
  • 4 days of running for a total of 26.67 miles.
I am happy with my numbers and a little scared at the same time knowing my numbers are low.  Thursday's run was a little hard on my confidence as it was really tough but I followed it up with my long run on Saturday which was amazing.  Saturday I was forced to run on the treadmill due to all the snow from our blizzard. 

Like I mentioned last summer, I do a lot of my training by heart rate instead of trying to hit an actual pace.  By the end of mile 2, I was supposed to be in heart rate zone 2.  This ended up being right at an 8:00 pace.  I held that pace until mile 4 when I dropped pace by 10 seconds per mile.  I held that pace until mile 6 and dropped another 10 seconds and did the same thing at mile 8. At mile 8, I was running 7:30 pace and felt pretty strong.  I finished my 1:35 minute run with 12.1 miles and feeling really strong.

After Saturday's run, my hip flexor was pretty tight so I was worried about Sunday's longer (not long yet, we are still building) ride.  I hopped on the trainer Sunday morning and hit all my heart rates that were scheduled and was able to get into aero for at least 20 minutes.  Aero position has been a very hard thing for me to get down, so 20 minutes is great for me.  I finished the ride feeling great and hopped on the treadmill for my 15 minute brick run.  Legs were TIRED at first but I was able to pick it up after 5 minutes and finish 1.83 miles in the 15 minutes.  Post-run, my hip flexor from the day before felt fine, which was a huge bonus.  I made it through a tough build week and have one more build week before I get a cut back week.

As I mentioned last week, I am helping the girls at my store raise money for Team in Training.  I have a give away posted for donations and today I have another way of helping out.

Last year, I posted my review for Sparkly Soul headbands.  I love love love these headbands.  I have a very large head and have had a hard time finding a headband that stays in my head and also doesn't give me a headache.  Ever since I got my first Sparkly Soul headband last year, I have been in love.

According to a Sparkly Soul press release:

Sparkly Soul non-slip headbands were created by a marathoner who couldn’t find a headband that would “stay put” and “look stylish” during her own workouts. Now there is a fabulous headband that really (yes, really!) won’t slip….no matter how intense your sports and fitness activity!
Sparkly Soul headbands are stretchy all the way around. They softly and securely fit to your head so you won’t wind-up with a headband headache – even after hours of wear. The sparkly design is continuous for 360 degrees of sparkle so you can now be fit and fashionable at the same time. You no longer have to compromise. It is the comfortable solution for all you athletic fashionistas!
You can find a wide variety of colors of headbands in both the 3/8" and 5/8" widths. I have both sizes and couldn't tell you what my favorite width is as I wear them both all the time.  What I love most about these headbands is that I can wear them running or I can wear them to work.  They don't look like your typical running headband so I am not forced to use them only when working out.

This week, I am doing a Sparkly Soul fundraiser and would love for you participate.  Until Sunday, February 17th, you can use the promo code ROBIN when purchasing your Sparkly Soul headbands.  You will receive 10% off your order and 10% of the proceeds will go toward Team Burrr's Team in Training fundraising.  This is a great time to stock up on your headbands for the spring racing season.

---->>>>  AND, not only can you purchase headbands, but I am also giving away headbands today!  This is a simple giveaway and I will have two winners!  I will give away one headband each to my two winners.  To enter my giveaway simply answer the following question in my comments:
What color would you choose if you win and what race will you be wearing your new headband to?
*No purchase is necessary to enter this giveaway.  You must be 18 years old to enter. The sweepstakes runs February 11, 2013 until February 18, 2013 at 11:59pm EST. I will be using to pick the winners and will announce the winners Tuesday, February 19, 2013. The prize will be provided by Two winners will be selected. I will announce the winner in a blogpost on February 19th and the winners will have one week to contact me before a new winner will be chosen. will ship the item to the winner as soon as it is possible. Incase of a technical glitch and entries are lost, all entrants must resubmit comments for entries.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

TNT Fundraiser--Win an Athleta Gift Card!!

Last year, through my blog, I met some wonderful ladies.  I started talking to them strictly on a fitness level and it turned into a new job that I love. 

I started working for Athleta in May of last year and surprisingly love my job.  I am not a sales person at all, or at least I didn't think I was.  But, working for Athleta is more than a retail job.  Every weekend I get to talk to ladies like you all about my sport that I love.  I share my story and help women to find clothes that will allow them to find fitness in the way that I have.

Through my job, I have met some incredible women.  I have run many races with my coworkers and will even be attempting my first Ironman with one of my managers.

One thing that I have really enjoyed about working with the women of Athleta, is that I have encouraged others to learn that they can do anything they want to.  A few of my friends are planning on running the Nike's Women's Half Marathon in DC this spring and I was so excited to help them out.  

Team Burrr is running the Nike Women's Half with Team in Training and are looking for donations.  I'd love to share my love of Athleta with you and am having a raffle for donations.  We are giving away a $100 gift card to Athleta (can be used online or in stores).  To enter my raffle, I ask that you donate to Team Burr on their team homepage and email me or comment letting me know that you made a donation.  For every $10 that you donate, I will give you an entry into the raffle and $25 will get you three entries.  

I really hope you all can consider donating as even the smallest donation will help our team make their goal.  And if you win the gift card I will be glad to help you pick out something, you will love all the new spring clothes!

On March 7th, I will draw a name from all the entries and we will send the winner a $100 gift card to be used at Athleta.  (Can also be used at their sister stores, Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic.)

**Rules:  A $10 donation buys you one entry into the gift card giveaway.  $25 buys you three entries into the give away.  After making a donation, please email me to inform me of your donation.  A drawing will be held on March 7th and the winner will be announced on my blog and I will also email the winner.  You have until midnight eastern time on March 6th to make donations at the Team Burrr donation page.  You must be 18 years old to enter the giveaway.  The value of the gift card is $100 and is being provided by Team Burrr.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Getting Used to Training AGAIN + Giveaway Winner

You would think that being in shape to run a fast marathon would transfer over to Ironman training but I was so very wrong.  After two weeks of recovery, I am back to triathlon training and I am SORE.  I am barely running (like last summer, it is a wonder I got faster) and am biking four days a week and swimming three days.  I am seeing both disciplines improving but it is hasn't been easy.

The first week back left me hungry and tired.  All the time.  I knew that is was temporary so pushed through.  My second week back, I found myself with tight, tight muscles.  My calves were killing me and my hips were achy.  The new aches reminded me that I shouldn't be doing extra weights workouts anymore.  So I cut back on my weight class and am following my coach's plan very closely.  I am also attempting to stretch more than normal.  (I am a terrible at remembering to stretch so anything is better than nothing.)  My workouts have been a challenge but in a good way.  I have been doing a lot of high heart rate intervals on the bike and long sets in the pool.  Each day, I see my workout and dread it as I know it will be hard, but am finding myself moving faster to get it done than just a few weeks ago.  I am seeing progress though am anxious for when these workouts get even longer and harder.

In December I found out I was accepted to the Brooks ID team for my 4th year so a few weeks ago I placed an order for some new shoes.  I am going to try out the T7 Racers for my shorter racers this year.  Apparently my heavy Brooks Ghosts are not fast shoes.  :)  I also purchased the new Brooks PureFlow 2's.  I haven't worn the Racers yet, but I have worn the PureFlows on a few runs and I am liking the update.  I will have a full review on them once I put some more miles on them.  So far I am loving my new shoes.

And my winner for my iFitness belt giveaway is:

I love that my winner is someone that is local and someday I will hopefully get to run with.  Bikeocean, please contact me and I will get you your belt and other goodies from my runDisney Meetup giveaway.