Sunday, May 9, 2010

Belews Lake Sprint

On April 17th I competed in the Belews Lake Sprint Triathlon in Stokesdale, NC. Here is the race review:
Belews Lake Sprint: 750M swim, 14 mile bike, 5k run
April 17, 2010
Stokesdale, NC
Entry fee: early $55, late $65
Hotels: Most are 20 to 30 minutes away, either in Greensboro or out by the Piedmont Triad Airport
Travel: 20-30 minute drive from Greensboro, NC
Restaurants: Not much around the lake—need to venture into Greensboro where there are lots of choices
Race Goodies: T-shirt and Hammer Gel
Swim-The swim is in a clean lake with a sandy bottom and the water temperature ranges between 69 and 74 degrees all year round (thanks to Duke Energy)! The race was an in-water start time-trial start with participants swimming a triangular-shaped course. Participants exited the water at the end of the boat launch and had to run about 50 yards to the transition area.
Run—The run is a rolling out and back on mostly paved road (a short portion is on a gravel road). The finish is a speedy ½ mile downhill to the finish line.
Bike—The bike is a rolling loop course on low traffic roads.
Aid Stations: There were two aid stations on the run.
Volunteers: Friendly, helpful volunteers.
Expo: At the race site—Inside Out sports were set-up at the site with the basics….
Timing: Chip timing—Benji Jones does a great job with the race.
Awards: Awards were visors and socks…
Post Race Food: Drinks, pizza, hot dogs, chips, fruit….
Parking: Plenty of parking available at by the lake—the earlier you can get there, the better.
Porta Potties: Lake facilities and porta potties by the transition area.
Transition Areas: There was a large paved transition area with good flow—some small rocks/pebbles throughout the transition area. The racks were numbered, as were the individual spots.
Waves: Time trial start for the swimmers, going off in pairs…..
Synopsis: This is a great home-town race that is well run on a fun course. It is so nice to just roll out of bed and head to a race that is just 20 minutes away!!!

Rating: 4.0 CRANKS

1 CRANK = Don't even think about doing this race...
2 CRANKS = Hmmmmm, a last resort...
3 CRANKS = Not bad, you get what you pay for...
4 CRANKS = Solid event all around...
5 CRANKS = Can't miss, a must-do race...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Powerman Alabama Race Review

On March 28th I competed in the Signature Duathlon (5k-40k-5k) at the Powerman Alabama Multisport Weekend. Here is the race review:
Signature Duathlon: 5k run, 40k bike, 5k run
March 28, 2010
Oak Mountain State Park, Pelham, AL

Entry fee: $65 by 1/31, $75 by 2/28, $85 by 3/24
Hotels: Lots of choices and all are fairly close to the Park—all of the popular chains right off the Interstate. We stayed at the Comfort Inn about 2 miles from the park.
Travel: 8 hour drive from Greensboro, NC—Closest airport is in Birmingham, AL
Restaurants: Lots of choices along the same strip as the hotels—chain and independent restarurants. I had good Italian at La Dolce Vita and a great post race breakfast at The Egg and I.
Race Goodies: Very nice black long sleeve shirt, finisher’s bottle opener/key chain and water bottle.
Run—The run was a shaded out-and-back in the park on a gravel/paved road. It was challenging course with lots of ups and downs.
Bike—The bike was also an out-an-back, two loop, on a low traffic road. As with the run it was very rolling---you were either going up or down….
Aid Stations: The run had one aid station with water and Heed, so you could hit it two times and there was a water bottle hand off at the end of the first loop.
Volunteers: Friendly, helpful volunteers.
Expo: At the race site—a couple of tents with the basics.
Timing: Chip timing—some times were missing in the final results…
Awards: Very timely ceremony, with great overall prizes to the top three finishers. Age group winners also received product as prizes. There were lots of door prizes given out before and after the ceremony.
Post Race Food: Drinks, pasta, pretzels, cookies, fruit….
Parking: Plenty of parking available at the park.
Porta Potties: Park facilities and porta potties at the transition area.
Transition Areas: There was a large paved transition area with good flow. The racks were numbered, but individual spots were not—it was first come, first served. The lack of individual marked spots lead to some crowding on some racks—too many people racking their bikes all on the same side….
Waves: The short course went first, followed by the Signature Duathlon and finally the long course PM event.
This was my first time racing at the new race site and I loved it. Team-Magic did a great job organizing and running the Powerman Multisport Weekend. It was a great show-case for duathlon, with junior, pro, age-group and off-road race options.

Rating: 4.0 CRANKS

1 CRANK = Don't even think about doing this race...
2 CRANKS = Hmmmmm, a last resort...
3 CRANKS = Not bad, you get what you pay for...
4 CRANKS = Solid event all around...
5 CRANKS = Can't miss, a must-do race...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

USAT's Art and Science of Triathlon Symposium

I recently attended USA Triathlon’s Art and Science of Triathlon Symposium in Colorado Springs, CO. It was held in conjunction with USAT’s Race Director’s Symposium and Hall of Fame induction at the Broadmoor Resort. It was a full 2 ½ days of keynote speakers and break-out sessions. USAT did a great job organizing the event and it was a wonderful opportunity to network with coaching professionals, race directors, visit with vendors, listen to terrific presenters and gain continuing education units. Here is a brief overview of the sessions that I attended:
Johan Bruyneel, key note speaker—
Wow, what fun listening to Lance Armstrong’s team manager tell stories about his road to 7 Tour de France victories. He did a great job weaving in “the ingredients for winning” throughout his presentation and following, signed copies of his book, We Might as Well Win.

Bill Burke and Ben Elder—“Linking coaches with events and race directors”
Bill and Ben discussed the importance of developing partnerships between races directors and coaches. It can become a win-win situation as the partnership can increase participation in the event and in coaching services. Athletes are better prepared, making for an overall safer event and both the director and coach expose themselves to greater marketing opportunities.

Ben Greenfield—“Maximizing you income as a triathlon coach”
Ben pointed out different options for coaches to add additional income streams to their existing coaching business and provided tips on how to market their business online and locally.

Vern Gambetta—“Following the functional path to building the complete triathlete”
Vern highlighted that movement revolves around and through the core and that the core is the transmission and relay center of the body. Once you can recognize its’ role in function, you can train it accordingly. His message is to integrate, not isolate movements. This presentation was just a teaser for his next session the following day….

Alicia Kendig—“Women specific nutrition”
Alicia discussed “The Female Athlete Triad” (disordered eating, amenorrhea, osteoporosis), its’ consequences and the importance of prevention of this common occurrence in endurance athletes. The key to success—energy availability…. Female athletes must adjust eating patterns to high training and competition loads.

Erik Weihenmayer—keynote speaker
This was an inspirational presentation given by the first blind man to ascend Mt. Everest. Erik captivated and entertained the audience with his story of reaching the highest peak on earth. He looks upon his blindness as a challenge not a disability and he feels that “each of us has a light, which feeds on adversity.” He feels that the most important part of leadership is “how we pass it on to others.” His talk was worth the price of the symposium!!!!!! He was also gracious enough to give out and sign copies of his book, Touch the Top of the World.

Vern Gambetta—‘Beyond the core—training for the ground up”
Vern highlighted the importance of strengthening the core (hips, abs, lower and upper back) before working on extremity strength. Endurance athletes operate in the saggital plane and it is important that they also work on rotation exercises that stabilize them in this plane. Functional training relies on body weight, bands, balls and free weights to provide resistance while performing “multi-dimensional movements that requires acceleration, deceleration and stabilization in all three planes.” I like to call these “bang-for-your-buck” exercises—walking lunges, body weight squats, step-ups, pull-ups etc.—perfect functional exercises for the time-strapped multi-sport athlete.

Stephen McGregor—“High Tech Running”
Stephen discussed the use of technology to optimize training—it should be used as a tool, not considered an obstacle. He highlighted the advantages and disadvantages of heart rate monitors and speed and distance devices (GPS). This presentation also explained using the training stress score (rTSS) to quantify training load in an individualized fashion for athletes. Lots of science here….

Joe Friel—“Stress based periodization”
Joe talked about the importance of making training more ‘race-like in intensity’ the closer one is to an A-priority event. Joe piggy-backed off of Stephen’s presentation further and discussed using TTS to effectively gauge effort in key workouts leading up to the A-priority event.

Sue Enquist—key note speaker
As a player and coach of UCLA’s NCAA championship softball team, Sue has 11 National Championships under her belt. She did a great job weaving her coaching philosophies and methods into the multi-sport coaching world. Her 33% rule was spot-on—there are 3 kinds of people:
Top 33% are the “doers” (anything is possible!)
Middle 33% are the “fair weather friends” (they are with you when all is well, but when things go bad…)
Bottom 33% are the “life suckers” (the glass is always half empty or just plain empty…)
Be a top 33% and surround yourself with them!!!!

Stephen McGregor—“Training Myths”
Stephen discussed current myths in training including the role of lactic acid (friend or foe?), pedaling efficiency (circles or squares?), base building (all aerobic or include intensity?). This was an interesting presentation on the science that debunks the myths.

Tim Crowley—“The triathlon swim—improving technique and training with power”
Tim presented an integrated and power-based approach to swim training. He echoed Vern Gambetta’s stance on the importance of core stabilization strength utilizing weight training, yoga, Pilates, stretch cords and swim benches (VASA trainer). Power production results in start speed, increased turn-over, fatigue resistance, and a decrease in injury. He is a big proponent of the use of swim benches—they provide instant feedback, specific training, power development, stroke technique, fatigue resistance, deliberate practice and are time efficient. I want one…..

There were other break-out sessions that I could not attend—I believe USAT’s weekly e-newsletter will highlight the symposium weekend…….

While all of the key note speakers were terrific, my favorite was Erik Weihenmayer. He was engaging, inspirational, funny, and moving and a great example of the power of the human spirit. If you ever get a chance to listen to him speak, jump at the chance. I was impressed with all of the speakers and gained knowledge from them all, but my favorite was Vern Gambetta. He had a great way about him, got right to the point and was not afraid to let you know where he stands (not a big fan of Cross Fit….). I have his books and follow his principles of functional training with my athletes and with my training and will incorporate more in the future.
All-in-all a very worthwhile trip and I look forward to more Art and Science Symposiums by USAT.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

IM Cozumel Race Review

On November 29th I competed in my final race of the season, the inaugural IM Cozumel.
Here is the race review:
Ironman Cozumel—2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run
November 29, 2009
Entry fee: $550
Hotels: Lots of choices and all are fairly close to the start (the Island is not that big). We stayed at the Residencias Reef Condos about 3 miles from the start and on the bike course. Go to
Travel: We flew into Cancun and then took the ferry to Cozumel. This worked out well and was less expensive than flying into Cozumel. Go to We also rented a car while we were there, which worked out great.
Restaurants: Just what you would expect in a resort town—no issues with eating out or from the food bought at the grocery store. Be sure to stick with bottled water…
Race Packet: Very nice fleece jacket.
Swim—Non-wetsuit, open water start in the ocean. One loop along the coast against the current and then turning back finishing with the current. There was a long carpeted run to the transition area.
Bike—The course was three flat, windy loops around the island. The wind picked up with each loop. There were spectators throughout the course and lots in town.
Run—The run was three loops that took you through town (lots of cheering spectators) and out toward the airport and back (a bit lonely out here). It was flat and hot—wind in your face on the way out and a vacuum on the way back.
Aid Stations: The bike had aid stations every 10 miles or so, fully stocked. The run aid stations were every ‘K’ with plenty of choices (water, Gatorade, coke, gels, bars, etc.)
Volunteers: Friendly, helpful volunteers.
Expo: Usual Ironman branded expo—pricey…
Finisher T-shirt: Very nice black dri-fit short sleeve t-shirt.
Timing: Chip timing
Awards: ? Did not attend the ceremony…
Award ceremony: Dinner the next day--did not attend.
Post Race Food: Drinks, pizza, fruit.
Parking: This was difficult as the course was closed to traffic. We were able to park at the swim start and then our support crew was able to drive close to town to set-up shop around the bike-to-run transition and finish area.
Porta Potties: Facilities at the swim start and porta potties at the transition area.
Transition Areas: There were two transition areas. At the bike check-in the day before, you were to leave your bike and both transition bags at the start (they transported bike-to-run bag to T2). T2 was located in the center of town. Then on race morning you just had to drop off your special needs bags at the start.
Waves: The pros went off about 15 minutes before the age-groupers.

What a beautiful venue for an Ironman!!! The course was really nice and very challenging with the wind and heat. We were pretty fortunate as the sun was not too hot on race day—the clouds were in and out all day and we had some drizzle on the run. It was great to have a closed bike course and the fan support in town was terrific. The Island did a great job hosting the race—everyone we came across was very welcoming and helpful. If you are looking for a “destination” IM race, this is it!!!!

Rating: 4.5 CRANKS

1 CRANK = Don't even think about doing this race...
2 CRANKS = Hmmmmm, a last resort...
3 CRANKS = Not bad, you get what you pay for...
4 CRANKS = Solid event all around...
5 CRANKS = Can't miss, a must-do race...