Tickets may be purchased on arrival. LOCATION: Laemmle’s Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA at 4:30 p.m. --- ABOUT: In 2005-2006 four men and two women were followed by film-crews as they trained for Ironman. They were all LATCers: Tim Bomba... Luis Canales... Matt Dixon... Josh Crosby... Laurie Devine-Berger & Liz Oakes. One of the projects producers is LATCer: Oscar Dominguez. The narriator is actor and triathlete: Tate Donovan. The project was called PUSHING THE LIMITS. CLICK HERE to view the teaser on youTube.

From the footage, a pilot was created and pitched to various networks. The plan was to create a mini-documentary series to air in prime time. Unfortunatly, as is the way in our town with many excellent projects, the pilot was not picked up... and thus, the project never finished.

Fast forward to today... 2009, there is a bit of new life!
The pilot will be shown at the ITV Festival on FRIDAY, JULY 31 at 4:30 PM and TUESDAY, AUG. 4th at 4:30 PM.

Come on out and check it out!

If nothing else, it has become a bit of LA Tri Club History. You’ll see familiar workouts such as the Ocean Speed Circuit and Ocean 101, as well as Malibu Triathlon, circa ’05-’06.


Get them in advance for best result and to assure your seat. $10

Laemmle’s Sunset 5
8000 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA


Go to to view a comparison of various computers and gadgets to use while training. I was having a difficult time deciding what to use and this helped a lot. If you have any suggestions please met know!


In September 2008 I solicited members to email me their suggestions for the best tri car on the market with the following criteria:
1) Capacity 2) Sportiness 3) Fuel economy
Here are member's recommendations:
i went from the Honda CRV ( where i took my front wheel off ) to a Mazda CX7 fun...loads of room .. have bike on one side and child seat on the other .. it all fits ...
Honda element. Good on gas and spacious. I purchased mine back in March. As we speak I'm driving cross country with my car packed with 3 boxes, two 12" subwoofers, 3 carry on size luggage bags and my full assembled bike. The seats fold sideways for extra space. I was going for a CRV but wet with an element because of the seats and the tail gate Only downside is you going from a speed demon to a 4 cylinder.
Hmmm. Tough criteria. I've always been scared of the idea of putting a bike on top of a car. So I have thought of the idea of getting a pick up truck and putting the bike in the "bed" (with some kind of attachment mechanism). It's just something to consider.
The prius is shockingly roomie, and has fold down seats to make the rear a fabulous transition area.
get a minivan, greatest road trip car you can have for triathlons fit all the gear and all the people you need along iwth a cooler as a footrest to drink a ton of beers on the way to the race.
as for sportiness? none of those cars you mentioned are remotely sporty at all.. maybe aslightly more than a minivan but not as useful. so toss that sportiness criteria, unless you go with something like the audi s4 wagon or the volvo v70r that is a few years old or just a volvo xc you will still have to take off the front weel the least but at least you aren't driving a crv, rav-4 or outback. basically look at stationwagons if you don't want an suv or minivan that is what you are getting, and station wagons are not sexy or sporty unless you get that volvo v70r with a standard but they are no longer making that.
I drive a Lexus RX330 and it's perfect. Rear seats fold down to lay bike flat with everything intact. I also have a hitch for a rack that will hold 4 bikes so you can bring some buddies. Plenty of room for luggage and stuff. Gets 20 mpg drives and looks great. And when you are not doing tri stuff it's a classy car. I have been using it for 2 seasons now from sprints to Ironman Arizona.
I have a toyota prius that I love and it fits my tri bike by putting the back seats down no problem. Also gas milage is fantastic. Almost 40 mile per gallon. I highly recommend it.
I drive a BMW 325 xi sport is all and more a triathlete could ask for...and worth every penny!
Honda Element!! Have you checked it out? I can throw my bike in there no problem (the back seats can be easily moved out of the way or removed entirely depending on your needs. The inside of the car can be hosed out... excellent for wet wetsuits, getting sand out, and good for dog and kid owners. The car seats are waterproof, thus making the car even more attractive to sport enthusiasts.... the suicide doors provide some shelter/privacy when changing... oh yeah, the back seats can also completely recline in case you need a nap while you gaze out your moon roof. I love mine :)
The ONE downside to this car, only seats 4, but all 4 seats are incredibly comfortable (no cramped back seat...)
We had a RAV-4 as a rental recently and we fit a REFRIGERATOR in it! We were blown away .. But also, people do love their subarus. Good luck!
Get yourself a Prius, Max. I can put gear and bikes for two in the back, and you can't beat the mileage. Yeah, you'll have the take off the front wheels, but what the hell. They've got plenty of zip and maneuverability, and they're more of a unofficial Tri Club vehicle than any SUV.
Being from a family that sells Fords, I would say I may be a bit partial to American cars, and certainly Fords. I drive an Explorer which I love, but lately, I am jealous as hell for the Ford Edge which is smaller (and faster), and the front passenger lays down too, which means you have huge capacity to pack up gear! (I think I could sleep in the Flex for WF). Now the Ford Flex came out and I was BAGGING on it, since it seemed way too big, then I took a drive in my brother's and I quickly was silenced. The flex is the same exact length as the Ford Taurus (yeah, geek me lined it up), but it's HUGE inside, and KILLER. Three seating banks (front passenger seat lays down, DAMN the explorer!), killer navigation w/ Sync, a FRIDGE, ie, cool recovery drinks and water immediately, real power outlets as well as 12v outlets (charge the Garmin!) Sunroofs...etc. And gas mileage is 24mpg which isn't a hybrid but pretty damn good for a large capacity vehicle. It's actually pretty cool. Anyway, take a spin in one and see what you think. Worth a drive at least... Note, it's NOT an off road vehicle in my book, but it does have AWD. Good luck in the hunt.
I drive a Honda Element. Ugly, yes. Fast, No. Usefull, hell yeah. I can put bike(s) inside the car with both wheels on.
No carpet to ruin. Water proof seats. Etc......
Not a cool as my old Audi TT convertible. But far more practical.
...loves her Honda Elment - lots of room, fits two bikes, easy on gas, cheap but not exactly sporty
i drive a MB CLK which is a 2 door coupe - coupes are actually great for bikes because the seats go down and the opening is large enough for my road or mountain bikes. AND it is sporty !!!
Welp, my car fulfills all your requirements except the zippity/speed factor. But what it lacks in fun, tho, it makes up for with the coolness/green factor: Prius.
I can fit my whole bike in the back of my prius, my trainer, and all my gear(crap)!
I own a 2007 RAV-4 and love it! My bike fits in without taking the wheel off--AND I can still leave one of the back seats up! Alternatively I can take the wheel off, put it in sideways in the back and have both backseats up. Or, I can put my inside rack mount over the two backseats (when down) and transport two bikes, plus all the triathlon gear and luggage to go with them.
Fast? Yes...I got the Sport model...V6 (don't get the V4) -- very fast! I'm always racing BMWs and Porches off the line. ;-) (No tickets for me yet...!) Typically comes with JBL stereo set up and bluetooth, of course. The only thing I wish it had which it doesn't is leather seats...don't care for the cloth but I decided I didn't want to pay the after-market cost to upgrade...I'd wait until the cloth seats looked bad and replace them then.
Typically get somewhere around 21-23 MPH...more like 26 if I drive 55 (I don't very often) on the highway.
Best dealership for a Toyota is Longo in El Monte -- got that tip from an inside-Toyota purchasing manager and I would definitely agree...good prices and a class act. -------------
i have an audi A3 with a roof rack (yakima, double trays, with fork mount/locking system). i find this system to be the most efficient method of transporting your bike. very safe and easy. no theft issues with the locking system. unless you're going to buy something that enables you to fork mount inside the cabin, it's a major pain in the ass trying to squeeze the bike in and out of the car (my opinion). the A3 hatchback is small but easily holds all my swim/bike/run/yoga gear in the back. this is my second audi (A4 wagon before) and is by far the most reliable/best handling car i have ever owned. well, you have one so you know. good luck in your car search, but i'm telling you, locking roof rack is the way to go.
I have a 2002 MB C320, that takes care of most of your requirements. However, if you are not to particular about keeping your care German, then perhaps you might also want to consider Honda Element, or some German station wagons. Audi A4 Station, VW station wag. etc.
I am responding because I have owned a 2004 Saab 9-5 Aero wagon and a 2003 Audi Allroad. I am also a leadfoot (working on traffic school for my 13th lifetime speeding ticket). I love the concept of a sport wagon as the best of all worlds. SUV's are too top heavy and not for spirited driving. Minivans are pretty uncool (I have a baby and still won't consider a minivan until I have 2 more). Price no object, my ideal conveyances would be either the Cayenne (although the space might be limited), S6 wagon or 545/550 wagon (the last two are as hard to find as unicorns). Price being an object, I would definitely consider the Outback or a used Saab Sport Combi or 9-5. Saab's resale values suck, so you can pick up a used one very cheap.
My thoughts on my two wagons:
9-5: huge room all around. great for hauling gear and long road trips. with rear seats folded, you can stack 2-3 bikes with both wheels on (with blankets between). peppy but some torque steer and turbo lag (if you raise your foot off gas and hit the pedal again, there is a disconcerting delay in spooling up - elimated with the manual tranny). decent handling but softer feel then German sport suspensions. gas mileage around mid 20's. do not buy new. Allroad: pretty good size but not as big as the Saab. I think capacity is b/w the A4 and A6 wagons. great low end torque and engine feels quicker than Saab. heavy and not as quick in twisties - air suspension. mileage atrocious (around 17-18).
I think you will be hard pressed to find something with gas mileage and you can leave the front wheel on without going on the roof....unless you are on a 50 cm or smaller frame, in which case the Rav4 would work! You are definitely going to have to go to a wagon to get the best of all worlds. Even in a Tahoe, which my friend had, the front wheel has to come off unless you put down both seats in the rear...and let's not even talk about the mileage!
Here's my take on a few:
I've owned a Volvo V70, which was perfect for bike & surfboard in back with only half the rear seat down and the front wheel off the bike. Also had roof racks which are very easy to use on a low car like this.
I now have an Outback (not as much interior room, horrid gas mileage due to AWD, for which it also tears through tires and brakes, but otherwise, is a good choice as bike easily fits inside with the rear wheel off.) We have roof racks for multiple bikes in which case there is a ton of room.
I currently have a Mazda 3 5dr which has great mileage, is super sporty (for better, see the MazdaSpeed version) and while you have to put down both rear seats and take off the front wheel, is a great best-of-all-worlds. I'm thinking about the Subaru Legacy to replace the Mazda in April. The A3 ain't worth it as the legacy beats it hands down in all categories, including performance. Don't know much about the 3 series except that it is spendy and not the best mileage.
I love cars and pretty much everything about them. This is the most informative site I've found when reseaching and comparing cars:
Also, check out this site for more daily-driving style test and impressions:
That link is posted for the Rav4 because that's one of the models you mentioned, but they have reviews and stats for pretty much every car you would want.
I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but the most important thing for you to do is to go and test drive the cars at the top of your list, and bring your bike to make sure they are conducive to carrying it. Good luck and have fun!
I have the A6 wagon and love it: just got a Prius and can still fit a fully assembled TT bike in it.
If you can live without screeching tires or offroad fantasies, the Prius would actually be a great car. Rear seats fold down in two seconds and the bike fits in with *no disassembly.* Certainly very high marks on the gas mileage and if you haven't been in one, especially the back seat when the front seet is all*the*way*back I think you'd be amazed at how roomy it is. I don't work for toyota, but the Prius replaced an expedition and I was really skeptical. It's also a great "techy" car if you're into that with all "drive by wire," I think and cool in dash computer and nav. At least test drive and get in the back seat before you laugh it off. I did and now I'm hooked.
CR-V: I have one, love it. Fun, and you can slide the bike in with no disassembly. Other stuff tends to fit in pretty well around it.
i bought my CRV just for that reason - didn;t want to deal with taking aprat my bike! i actually got it right b/f the current model came out which i think is way cooler. i have to admit don't get the basic model if you wnt power - need at least the v6 sports addition. i'm sure they'll you at the dealership, but it is built on the same frame (chasis?) as the civic so it drives adn handles like a car - amazing turning radius! vey easy to get seats up and down so not a problem to re-arrange car for loads i thought it was much more comfortable and easier to drive than the Rav4 i think it'sfairly fuel efficient - but i don't have much to compare it to. I do know it's better than other HUGE SUVs definitely get your windows tinted with whatever you decide to get. i feel so much better about leaving my bike in parking lots etc. knowing it's not so easy to see in. good luck and have fun test driving!
My Nissan Mirano meets your criteria to a T. My tri bike fits into the backseat without removing the front tire. Depending on how neat you keep the hatch. It'll fit even easier there.
If you can live without screeching tires or offroad fantasies, the Prius would actually be a great car. Rear seats fold down in two seconds and the bike fits in with *no disassembly.* Certainly very high marks on the gas mileage and if you haven't been in one, especially the back seat when the front seet is all*the*way*back I think you'd be amazed at how roomy it is. I don't work for toyota, but the Prius replaced an expedition and I was really skeptical. It's also a great "techy" car if you're into that with all "drive by wire," I think and cool in dash computer and nav. At least test drive and get in the back seat before you laugh it off. I did and now I'm hooked.
CR-V: I have one, love it. Fun, and you can slide the bike in with no disassembly. Other stuff tends to fit in pretty well around it.
looks dorky for a super sleek triathlete, but my toyota sienna works great. great fuel economy (mine's an '04 and it rolls around with 22-25mpg on usual driving). it's a van. great to use for transition areas. with the fold down flat back row and the tumble mid-row, it fits your full bike and more easily. the most i've fit in there has been 5 people, 5 bikes, and camping gear for Wildflower this past year.
sportiness? well it's a van. it won't do 0-60 in under 4 seconds, but it has a lower center of gravity than a truck and it can hold its own up til 110/115. any more, i've found that handling gets shaky.
aside from looking like the guy "living in a van, down by the river", it works great. plenty of room for bike, gear, groceries, and more. it really helps out in the long run if you're ever hauling stuff (building materials, etc.) and you don't have to worry about rain/weather/stealing issues for the most part. -------------
I have an Infinity FX45. I can fit my tri bike in without taking off the front wheel. Excellent on the "Sportiness Meter"
I ride a motorcycle full time but bought a jeep just to haul my tri bike around.. It fits inside without taking anything off of it.. Also great to toss the wetsuit in after a swim and not worry about it messing anything up.. gas mileage low :( fun :) reliable :) and only paid 2000 used.... 1/4 the cost of my bike :)
Lexus RX series Not REALLY an SUV... I got my RX300 new in 2002, works well for, I've kept it and drive it primarily. Other cars are a sedan (kids take it) and my wife drives the mini-van (which can fit 4 bikes but is even more out of style than an SUV!) Capacity/Cargo: Bike inserts easily with hatch on back hinged on top so that it is out of the way, bike rolls easily and fits well into the rear cargo area with smaller left half of rear seat folded down--no dissassembly of bike needed (for reference, I am 5'10", bike of course has aerobars--which are not removable). There is a pull-out (like a horizontal version of venetian blinds) that covers smaller stuff in the cargo area so not visible. Sportiness: won't be confused for a Corvette or a Ferrari, but as nimble as many sedans (maybe not the A4), and would likely compare favorably with the others on your list... Efficiency/fuel economy: 6 cylinder automatic, 20 mpg in town, better on highway in a 55 (except, perhaps, at 110). Check out the RX400H which is a hybrid and is very nice, I've taken one out as a loaner, seems to have a similar layout. I'll probably get one when I'm ready to trade in!
MazdaSpeed 3--Bike fits perfectly. Awesome fast. Not a Highway Patrol magnet. 26MPG
I have a honda element that is quite ugly but is pretty smart if you're a triathlete. I fold up one of the back seats, and still have room to put 2 bikes with the other seat down and all of my triathlon stuff, and I think it's pretty gas efficient, can't remember the exact mpg. I suggest test driving it first before you discount it, it's much bigger than it looks! Good luck my sis has an A4 it's a pretty sweet ride.
I love my Subaru Outback which I have had for over four years. You might need to look at the 6 cylinder to really get sportiness. My 4 cylinder is just fine and has good pick-up, but it was a noticeable transition from my BMW 3 series sedan which is equivalent in power to your A4 I think. I think the other cars you mentioned would have the same issue though. My dream tri car is the BMW 5 series station wagon (don't see them much. are they still around?) but you know the mileage would be terrible.
Great things about my Subie?
Very comfortable, even without the bunch of extras that are available.
Fits my bike in the back in two seconds if I am holding it right.
The back seat splits, meaning you can take more people or stuff along with your bike, though I manage to fit in sports bags and my Saturday grocery shopping with my bike in the car even without splitting.
Nice platform at a good level to sit on when the big back door is open. Big staging area -when your bike is out.
I also installed two bike racks with locks on the roof for travelling to races. You could also get the option of a luggage container on the roof if you wanted to put the bikes in the back (enough room to stack them with some packing blankets between them)
I have friends with the CRV and Rav-4 and they are nice but I decided to buy my Subaru instead because it just worked better for me. These friends ride a lot, but are not triathletes.
Made in the USA!
Possible negative: service is further if you live on the West side. If you are in the valley or anywhere else no worries as there are dealers. The Santa Monica one closed in the last year so you might have to travel a bit.
I drive an outback (2006 model, 4 cyl) and find it very good for tri lifestyle and equipment. Putting my bike in the back was a major consideration before buying (i had a ford explorer). I can sit on the back bumper easily. Very easy to fold the seats down and put the bike in with front wheel on. I drove my friend and I to a tri with both our bikes and all our gear in the back no problem. The cargo area has a rubberized mat that keeps all the sand, water, gatorade, bike grease, gross clothes, etc. from messing up the car. I've heard great things about the faster models (4 cyl turbo and 6 cyl) but i like the performance of my basic 4 cyl just fine. It has enough horses and the all wheel drive makes handling very fun for any car and especially for a wagon. I assume the audi a6/avant is too pricey? i was looking to upgrade to that this year but the economy kind of wiped that plan out. I think the CRV and RAV-4 are for girls (at least that's what my wife tells me) and don't handle nearly as well as an all-wheel wagon that has more actual ground clearance that any crossover (and most SUV's actually). It's a great balance of sedan handling and SUV bonuses (clearance, awd, storage). Just my opinion. hope that helps.
Just got a honda Element. EX
the back seats fold up to the sides so you can easily put 2 bikes in it.
The inside is rubber so it's easy to keep clean
Gas mileage is about the same as my beetle.
BONUS: the element has an interior bike mount, so you can pop off the front tire and mount the bike inside the car and not have to worry about it falling all over the place.
I got 2 bike mounts - if you go that route get one and have them put it on the passengers side. they stagger the mounts and the one on the passengers side is further toward the front of the vehicle. The one on the drivers side is mounted closer to the rear and the handlebars on a road bike are too far forward to close the hatch. Good for a mountain bike though.
I love this car.
We own a Honda Element SC. It has been perfect for triathlon training. The two rear seats can be completely removed for added cargo space. I removed one of them and the other folds flat against the side. I left one seat in just in case I have a third person in my car. Two bikes fit with no disassembly required and gear for two people with room to spare.
The front seats and ride are comfortable and roomy. If you are in a jam, you can remove the headrest from the front seat and lay it and the rear seat flat and have an instant bed. It isn't sluggish on acceleration though it is no Audi A4 but neither is the price tag.
We also looked at the Honda CR4. It is a nice vehicle but the rear seats did not fold flat.
I find the Subaru seats quite comfortable. I got the heated seats which is a nice option especially after a hard workout. My interior has the not horrible looking fake wood. Basic finishing, but not bad.
You can get a more luxe interior, but that would make the lease more than $250 and I really don't see anything wrong with what I have. I think it has been updated in the last four years anyway.
I agree about the Element. A friend has one and it is very functional but..... Also, the floor is a little lower I think. I find the Subaru height good for sitting on the back bumper.

I just had my wetsuit repaired by JMJ Manufacturing in Torrance. They did a good job and it only cost $20 but it all depends on how much damage they are repairing. Since they make custom wetsuits for divers as their primary business, wetsuit repairs are a side business so you may need to part with your wetsuit for up to two weeks depending on how busy they are with custom jobs as well as other repair work. They also seem to be the only option in So. Cal for this kind of work. Even our friends at Xterra send them wetsuits to be reparied for end users.

JMJ's contact info is below:

Robert Lent

JMJ Manufacturing, Inc.

2331 Abalone Avenue #106

Torrance, CA 90501

(310) 212-3040

- David Ma

Boise is a beautiful city, and one that completely embraced the Ironman 70.3 community. I was lucky to have friends living there who shopped for my organic groceries at local farms before I arrived (my race food plan is all home-made and requires a day of prep). Our farmer's markets here in L.A. are good, but I couldn't shove enough locally grown spinach in my mouth the whole trip - it just tasted like the Platonic ideal of spinach. Boise feels like Flagstaff, AZ in about 50 years with more diversified business. They're constitutionally forced to maintain a balanced budget so they don't service debt, and they get much of their power from the Lucky Peak Reservoir via hydroelectric. This means Boise itself feels clean, lush, and economically stable. The three days leading up to the race were spent really appreciating Boise and its resources, even though I was a complete stress monkey. This was my first half ironman distance and only my second triathlon ever (the LA Tri sprint distance last year was my first).

I set three alarms to wake at 4:30 am: wristwatch, hotel alarm, and hotel wake-up call. Even though I slept better before this race than any marathon preceding it, my eyes popped open at 4:20 am and in seconds I was brushing my teeth, waxing the mustache, brewing the coffee, and giddy to tackle the distance. This would be the only time in the day no one was passing me, so it was good that I enjoyed it. By 5:15 I was in the tri suit, had my plastic transition bags, and was out the door to catch the 5:30 am shuttle to Lucky Peak Reservoir.

People in line were gregarious and chatty. A wide mix of people from over 47 states, men and women of all shapes and sizes. Lots of discussion about which men had shaved their legs, how many Cervelo bikes we had seen in T1, and who was going to ride a beach cruiser with a flower basket on the front into T2. The couple sitting in front of me and the fellow next to me on the shuttle were exceptionally friendly and happy to share their personal stories of how they came to triathlon. My experience with triathletes is that because of the individual nature of the competition, and the sheer difficulty of the event, that people are very enthusiastic and friendly. We’re all out there on the same course, on the same day, against the same elements. Be nice! What other sport has the world’s elite doing the same tasks as the weekend warrior? Sure, the pros go first and have really nice toys. But they earned it, and any one on that starting line has the opportunity to blow the doors off the pros and earn a podium position. Not everyone can play in the NBA, or the Major League, or even ride the Tour de France. But I can throw down $200 and catch a sight of Desiree Ficker hauling serious ass on the very same course that’s about to destroy my own.

We arrived just past dawn at Lucky Peak, a snow melt reservoir about a 20 minute drive from downtown. The wind was blowing harder than the days prior. At the practice swim the day before the surface was smooth as glass, and now it was looking like a meringue. I overheard someone say, “welcome to Idaho” in response to the wind. Coming over the rise to the T1 setup was a big rush - it looked just like photos of all the other Ironman events; a monster game of chutes and ladders. I passed through the athlete checkpoint, got my body written on by exceptionally friendly volunteers (made difficult by having black tattoos everywhere) and made my way to my bike rack to begin setup.

I loaded my 4 bottles to the bike and strapped the fuel belt to the top tube. It wouldn’t sit straight on the top tube but I was running out of time to mess with it. Suddenly I had to pee, so I trotted over to the 5 porta-potties that already had a line of 20 people. The shuttle dropped off at 6, we had until 6:45 to get out of T1 and into our wave starts and time was running out. Mr. Announcer indicated I had 10 minutes to get into my wetsuit and get to the start line. Argh! (We were under strict orders from the day before not to whizz on the agribusiness, but they were seriously short of porta potties.) Remembering there was a park toilet outside the T1 area I jogged around and found it, with only two women waiting in front of me. Nothing like cold weather weenie shrinkage on race morning. Ran back to my slot and got into my wetsuit. With only a few minutes to spare I got my neck and shoulders body glided, the wetsuit on, a rack neighbor zipped me up, and I was able to grab my swim cap, goggles, and wax earplugs. Wife and Boise buddy made it to T1 and I waved to them as I made my way towards the swim start thinking for sure I was missing something.

There’s few things as silly looking as clutches of athletes in wetsuits milling around in their groupings. It’s March of the Penguins with Stadium Rock blasting over a PA system to get all the penguins pumped up and race ready. Unless AC/DC, Sabbath, The Rolling Stones, and other has-been jock rock bands aren’t your thing, in which case the swim start will be a sonic assault and the dive into the water a blissful release from musical agony. I’d love starting to Ride of the Valkyries or the 1812 Overture.

My wave was age group 30-34, the absolute prime for men in endurance sports (or ex-fat guys like me who are late bloomers). Most of these were guys who could eat me for an appetizer before eating a Buick for dinner. I was in fifth wave so I was able to watch the staging process and get comfy with how the race would start. A wet start, athletes entered the water from the boat dock and made their way to the first buoy to await the race gun. There was plenty of room to move around in the water and find swim space. The first gun went off and a few dozen pro men were on their way. Fast. Then smoothly and quickly, each wave went off and we moved down the chute. Within a few minutes I was entering the water myself for a 7:20 start, right on schedule. Yes, it was cold, but it didn’t seem so bad. To me, it felt about the same as the day before and it certainly wasn't the Pacific in April (thank you, Konrad, for that first bracing speed circuit). The wind was blowing some chop on the surface, but it seemed totally navigable. Better than having to dive through surf towards uneven ocean floor with possible stingrays or jellyfish face welcoming committees.

Floating in the water with 50 or so of my age groupers my heart rate was low, I felt great about my energy level, and I reminded myself that the day before my slow practice swim got me to the first orange buoy turn in just under seven and a half minutes. I had an hour forty to complete the swim before they closed the course. I could totally do this. Everyone seemed really happy, no thousand yard stares or mean mugging in the bunch. Even the big guys were bopping their heads to Eminem over the PA.

BANG! The gun sounded and we were off. I went right into my freestyle stroke and the first thought was “mmmm - CLEAN!” The reservoir was like swimming in a cool glass of water, a far cry from the heavily chlorinated pool or worse, the RSV-causing Pacific ocean where I have to check web sites to find out what sewage has been accidentally dumped into the water that week. I settled into my stroke and got into my groove. I saw some people having trouble, zig zagging, and avoided a few kicks to the face, but otherwise things seemed fine. I hit the first orange buoy (the short leg of the rectangle) at 7 min 24 seconds, my first clue that the pace you train is the pace you race. The second orange buoy was considerably further down the reservoir, but I focused on my stroke and didn’t veer too far left or right with wasted distance. Unlike my Wednesday ocean swim, these buoys didn’t drop out of sight for minutes at a time behind giant waves. They were easy to sight and stay on target. I hit the second orange buoy at 24 minutes in. I noticed I was no longer surrounded by my fellow red swim caps but was in a mix of grey, green, and a few red. I figured I was being swum over by the wave before me - it would turn out I had caught the 50 age groups in the waves ahead of me. I kept on going, a short leg to the next buoy which I turned at 38 minutes. The SWIM OUT sign was clear and easy to sight as I made my way back in to the end of stage. I checked my watch one last time as I was coming out of the water and to my absolute surprise I was out in 52 minutes! I still had almost an hour before the course closure. Sweet! I focused on getting the wax earplugs out of my ears, cap and goggles off, and began stripping the top of the suit off while jogging out of the swim area. I felt fantastic. As I rounded the corner someone directed me to what is now my absolute favorite thing on earth: wetsuit strippers. “Get down!” she yelled to me, so I dropped to my back and two women (there were easily 20 volunteers) grabbed the suit and yanked it off in one smooth pull. In less than 5 seconds I was out of the suit! I spent two minutes getting out of my suit last year and this made a huge difference in energy and frustration. I jumped back up and ducked into the porta potty, knowing this was my only chance before long miles on the road with a lot of admonitions not to pee on the agriculture. I have no idea what the cold does to women, but when a fellow’s junk is compressed by a tri suit, wetsuit, and it’s friggin’ cold, it can be like wrestling an Otter pop. That done, I trotted barefoot on pavement to my bike and began transition. Later I would find out they had to pull over 24 people out of the water because they were having trouble. I can only assume they were unprepared for the cold, maybe used to pool conditions for swim training. I'm a newbie, but I have been swimming in the ocean speed circuit weekly for almost three months. Training makes a difference!

I was under strict wife orders to apply sunscreen (triathletes are a leathery bunch), so I slathered on the LA Tri Club-approved Hawaiian Creations SPF 50 white paste as best I could (thus resulting in looking like a Bhuto dancer the rest of the race - be warned), grabbed a loose food baggie and tucked it under my right leg elastic, then did the same on my left leg with a tube of mustache wax. Yes. Mustache wax. For two days the comment I received the most was not about my many tattoos, it was “how are you gonna keep the ‘stache after the swim?” I had 56 miles to address that question. I threw down my towel, sat down and yanked on socks and bike shoes on my still wet feet. Turns out I still had an extra food baggie in the bag (I forgot to eat prior to the swim). I stuffed all the swim gear and wet towel into the bag, popped on the gloves (tearing one in the process - panic fire), helmet, and sunglasses, unracked The Butcher and started trotting. I bit and spit the extra food baggie, chugged a mouthful of yams and peanut butter and tossed it in the trash as I headed towards the T1 exit chute and BIKE MOUNT placards. As I crossed the mat I tapped the lap marker on the watch - under 8 minutes. Way better than LA. Not great, and a far cry from the pro’s 1 minute, but a Personal Best is still good time in my book.

The bike started with a quick and easy climb out of the reservoir and The Butcher’s gearing was unaffected by staying in the elements overnight (mandatory bike check-in was 12p-6p the day before in possible rain). Then a long, fast downhill away from the dam (yay gravity-fed power) passing a few people as I hit about 40 mph for a full minute. Two cars were on the road, which was not supposed to happen, but we rode to their left and just kept on rolling. The day before at the athlete briefing the USAT head ref made the drafting rules absolutely clear (and terrifying). A rider’s draft zone was 4 bike lengths behind their rear wheel. Any rider entering the front rider’s draft zone had 20 seconds to pass the front tire of the rider, at which point the person being passed had to drop back 4 bike lengths. Moreover, once you committed to passing a rider you must pass or be hit with a 4 minute penalty to be served on the course at a penalty tent. This was prime in my head every time I approached another rider, especially because if you were evil you could use that penalty as strategy to bury your opponents. If you wanted to sucker someone into passing, and then pour on the speed once they committed to the pass, you just had to stay ahead of them for 20 seconds in front of a ref and they’d get hit with the violation. Race officials were constantly visible and present on motorcycles. I didn’t actually see any of that strategy go on, but it was clear that a pro could use that to crush their enemies. I was able to pass a few people and then began a long ascent out of the valley towards the airport and the residential areas beyond.

Scott at Triathlete Zombies told me simply, the 70.3 is “all about energy conservation”. I kept this in mind every time I felt the urge to stand up in the pedals and bound my way up those gorgeous agricultural hills. I needed my legs for the run and didn’t want to blow out my energy stores early. I kept my pedaling cadence fast and steady and used a lot of shifting to lower gears to tackle the inclines. Normally I train with an iPod and listen to podcasts to keep my mind engaged. There is a strict prohibition against listening devices (which can also be used as audio pacing cues, also illegal) which means you’ve got to condition your mind to be quiet and strong for many hours. For me, this meant watching my bike computer and monitoring my average speed. I wanted to keep above 18 mph as much as possible, which for the first half was quite do-able. I was doing a lot of time calculations for food and water, making myself drink from the bottles every five minutes and eat a yam baggie every 45 minutes whether I wanted to or not. Even with all the hills I raced exactly my training pace, which means on uphills I went 8-11 mph, downhills at 25-45 mph depending on incline, and flats averaged 15-18 mph. Exactly my training pace. Proof that if you want to race faster, train harder.

The bike course was beautiful, the weather cool and moist with a light rain at the end of my ride. While the first half of the bike course went through residential and suburban tracks, including a nice uphill to the Birds of Prey Sanctuary (and then a roaring downhill out again), the course was stellar. A low of 2500 feet and a high of 3200, with some brief periods of intense climbing but nothing lasting more than a half mile. Most of the climbing was in the first half, and the second half long stretches of open road with cows criticizing cadence.

I got passed, a lot. I knew I’d get passed by stronger athletes, but I also got passed by some chunkers. I had to struggle to fight the demotivation being passed brings and I would find out later that many people had trouble on the swim and were making up time on the bike. Still, it was a good reminder that I need to pedal harder and lower my bike split time considerably. Later I would find out that a tri bike doesn’t reward the rider with aerodynamic speed gains until speeds over 23-25 mph. Therefore I need to get my speed up first, then I can reward myself with a tri bike. The Butcher and I have some serious saddle time in the very near future.

At mile 40 I hit my first race problem. I discovered my tri suit was really designed for Sprint and Olympic distance. My ‘taint was getting very, very sore. All my 50-60 mile rides had been done in the luxury of fine Italian bibs by Capo Forma. The thin chamois of the Orca suit was insufficient past the 40 mile mark and I started having some pain in the ass. For real. This meant I had to stand in the pedals to get blood flowing back to my pelvis, and this meant less spinning. It also meant that when I was spinning I was putting out much less wattage from discomfort and mental disconnect. I pushed through to the end and the long downhill into downtown Boise, but as I came into T2 I was pretty unhappy.

Thankfully my uncle Rich had reminded me to train train train my bike to run transition. He’s absolutely right. Switching from bike to run last year I was crab walking out of T2, but this time I had almost no groin pain having practiced the transition for the last month solid. I saw my wife and friends on the sidelines, blew them kisses as I duffed the bike gear, grabbed my hat, race belt loaded with 5 Gu packs (which I thankfully did not have to eat), bent down and applied a band-aid to my left heel (damn Sauconys are blistering my heel to death) and jammed on the shoes. I ran to the exit chute of T2 and grabbed yet another desperately needed whizz before starting the run. (Again, with the admonition of not peeing on the agriculture there wasn't enough porta potties in The Big Nothing to help out. Farmers are friendly until you pee on their great tasting spinach.) You can find your own metaphor for the condition of my junk after being compressed on a three and a half hour bike ride in spandex with low blood flow in the last hour. T2 time was just over five minutes for that reason. (I was admonished for all the discussion of bodily function in my race report. But I maintain that all of us have to do it and it has a direct impact on time and performance, so it's germane. Especially the woman who wrote about discovering why sliding her bento box to the back, affixed to the seat post and top tube, was a bad idea when she peed on her lunch.)

As I rounded the chute into downtown Boise the Ironman announcer called out my name, age, and city which gave me a hearty wake-up call that I was still doing this. I had made it to all three events, was well under the course closures, and my energy levels were still good. My photographer friend almost missed me coming in on the bike because I was beating my own projected times, and when he saw me he remarked that I looked pretty tired on that first loop, but internally I was very happy. I was beating my own estimates, I had made it to all three events, and all that was left was a run which if I was completely shot could walk. Turns out I didn’t have to!

The first loop was spent clocking mileage and telling myself, “it’s just 13 miles, you can do this. It’s a long run. You’ve run marathons and lots of halves. You know this distance. Just crank it out.” My first loop of the lovely downtown Greenbelt was done in just over an hour, with much of the course populated by cheering locals of all ages, families taking picnics, and even some LDS folks in neck to ankle gingham. Boise people were simply incredible hosts, volunteers, and spectators. Because our names were printed on our numbers we had our names shouted throughout the course, which was a huge boost. The Greenbelt is 25 miles of bike and pedestrian path that runs alongside the river and all the way out to the reservoir. It's one of the best features of Boise, with parks strung along the path like pearls. Boise is a gem of a city and well worth visiting. Bring the bike because it's awesome training ground.

As I came around for the second loop, a woman named Danelle asked if she could take my hip because I was doing her pace. I had trepidation because I didn’t know if I could hold that pace for lap 2, but agreed figuring she could dust me if she wanted. She was amazing. A single mom from Washington, she had done multiple Ironman distance and half Iron distances before, including a monster 20 hour run of the Grand Canyon. We had loads to talk about (she's learning physical therapy, had started coaching in her spare time) and we just clicked. In no time I stopped looking at miles and the time disappeared. It was a great throwback to the long runs I did with a friend where we’d crank out ten to eighteen miles and keep each other entertained and motivated. We started running with some other friends, and that social aspect made it even more fun. A lot of the training guides I’ve read say that you want to run at a fast pace while still able to talk, which means limiting your heart rate spikes. Running the second loop with Danelle was amazing, and it was wonderful to find a new friend so quickly. In 1982 when she was a kid she and her dad watched Julie Moss drag herself across the Ironman finish line. She asked her triathlete dad if girls could really do that, and he said girls could do whatever they wanted. She has maintained a lifelong passion for sport, and her own nine year old just did his first triathlon. Triathletes are incredible people.

Danelle’s hip was bothering her and she asked if I would mind walking a minute interval. Honestly, just her asking was great because it gave me permission to take a small break. I probably would have run myself into the ground, but I was glad to take a little respite which marathon experience told me wouldn’t dramatically hurt my overall time (and could prevent injury since my right meniscus was hurting). Coming to the end of the course I asked if she felt good enough to sprint the end. She likes to take her time and bask in the glory of the crowd, which sounded good, but I also felt recharged and thought I could do something big. As we came up to the two block stretch leading to the finish she said “go for it”. I floored it.

The Boise folks had crammed the downtown areas and cheered through the light rain that started at noon. They were still there at the finish line, extending two full city blocks down with signs, clappers, and raw enthusiasm. I’m not a sprinter by any means. But the legs were willing, the tank had the gas, and the will surged inside me like a colossal swell from the Pacific. I saw a dude in front of me wearing a silly hat and I thought, “I can take him” and blew by just as I started entering the cheering lines of the finish. The crowds noticed what I was doing and they suddenly increased their volume and enthusiasm. So I went faster. I blew past a second runner and hit the home stretch of the chute in a full-on locomotive sprint with huge strides and heart rate pounding. People were screaming, really going nuts, and I took it all in and used it for fuel. I saw the mat like a clear runaway and launched myself into the air. I took a huge leap across the finish line, throwing my fist in the air in a gigantic victory strike.

Of course, building up that much speed and then launching yourself into the air is one of the less friendly things you can do to volunteers and photographers camped at the finish line. While hanging in the air for several minutes I had time to think of the folly of my Jesse Owens move. “Where am I going to land?” I thought to myself. “That person looks nice. I hope they won’t mind.” Thankfully, two volunteers caught me and helped me land safely, ensuring I stayed in a locked and upright position and all rubber hit the road. My wife and friends were there, clapping, crying, cheering, waving signs and holding balloons. I shrugged off the aluminum foil that turns every athlete into a TV dinner and was handed a finisher’s hat and medal. Still in an ecstatic haze I was gently maneuvered into a photo op position, photographed, and returned to my loved ones like a tagged animal. Danelle came in to the finish line and we hugged one another in joy and gratitude. I’ll say it again - tri people are the nicest people on earth. It turns out that sprint was good for my time. I finished four seconds under 7 hrs.

Crossing that finish line forged a single thought in my new athlete’s mind: this is my perfect distance in my favorite sport. 70.3 is long enough to be a challenge, hard enough depending on the course specifics, and right for my body. I know that a full Ironman is in my future, but for now I will be quite content racing at half that atomic weight. Because now,


As a sometimes rider of the Palos Verdes Loop I am trying here to provide directions, commentary and options. This is a work in progress so I invite suggested additions and corrections. Experts on the route will notice I am missing options for Via Colinita, Crownview (the chain breaker), and the hill climbs (Via Coronel, Via Zumaya, Via Valmonte, Hawthorne (both sides) and Crenshaw. I invite help with all of these and promise more details to follow.

You may elect to do this loop clockwise or counterclockwise. The club rides most commonly go counterclockwise as follows:

First get to the start at Malaga Cove: Southbound on the beach path. Go all the way to the end of the path at Torrance Beach. Go up the ramps from the beach through the parking lot to the first street. Go up the hill, street curves left and dead ends at Palos Verdes Boulevard. Turn right. Soon you will be going downhill, road will fork, bear right and go up hill past Malaga Cove Plaza.

Option 1: Wait at the plaza to join a ride. There are rides here at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 7 a.m. on Saturday. These rides are roadies and not triathletes. The club ride is 7:30 on Saturday.

After Malaga Cove Plaza, go straight by the plaza continuing south and you are on Palos Verdes Drive West. Follow that road.

Option 2: Take Paseo Del Mar to ride along the bluffs. About 2 miles out of Malaga Cove Plaza you will see a small parking lot on the right and a turn onto a roas (Paseo Del Mar) taking you downhill toward the ocean. Follow that road until it rejoins Palos Verdes Drive West or add a few more hills and a little distance by turning right on side streets after the road makes a sharp turn to the left.

Rejoin Palos Verdes Drive West. It becomes Palos Verdes Drive South. Keep going. About 12 miles in or so you will see switchbacks up a hill on the left side near the Trump golf course. Carefully get into the left turn lane and go up the switchbacks. Continue on that same road until you go up to the top of the hill by Marymount College.

Option 3: Turn left at the traffic light by Marymount College at the top of the hill and ride uphill (a little less than 2 miles) to the radar domes. It is very steep at first but not as bad later. If you don't throw up on the way back down you didn't work hard enough. Come back down to Marymount, turn left, and rejoin the road.

Continue north up and over the hill and get to a traffic light at the bottom. Best to complete this part of the loop early to avoid traffic. You will need to descend in the middle of the road at or near the speed limit. Be careful and try to go with a group. Once at Palos Verdes Drive North, turn left and continue to the fork in the road and bear right to end up back on Palos Verdes Boulevard to head North or bear left to go back up to Malaga Cove.

With Options 1 and 2 it's about 22 miles. Option 3 adds another 3 miles.

Western Option (not a TRUE Palos Verdes Loop). Another option is to go out to Western. For that do not turn left on the switchbacks but continue east on PV Drive South which becomes 25th Street until you get to Western, turn left and take Western up to PV Drive North and turn left again. Again a lot of traffic but perhaps less dangerous.

1) You need to decide what your training goals are at the moment. The roller needs more room to operate (in case you come off the bike)but trains your riding skills better than a stationary. They do make attachments for the roller system to convert it to a stationary as well as a resistance unit for the rear roller. The stationary is great for a mindless training session, all you need to do is maintain your goal heart rate depending what phase of trainig you are in. The fluid stationary trainer is recommended over the mag but the mag will do a nice job if funds are an issue. Hope this helps, good luck.

Dan Lehnberg, DC, CSCS, CCSP, QME WestSide HealthCare SPORTS MEDICINE tel 310.944.9763 fax 310.944.9764

2) David: I have been using a "roller type" indoor trainer-really on my back porch-for about a year. Its made by Cycle Ops that I purchased at Helens' MDR for about $225. I ride it about once a week with my Polar heart rate monitor and watch functioning so I can increase and decrease my HR as I follow a training plan. I have the 610 Polar with a cadence counter attached so I can keep my cadence between 85-95 rpm while using the shifter to change the sprockets to increase or decrease my HR. I works good for me.

-Tom Grant

3) I believe the fluid is the way to go. I ended up buying the CycleOPs Fluid 2 trainer. It is used by US Postal so I thought it must be decent. I bought mine from The best price by far. They got it to me very quickly. It sets up very easily. You should order the riser with it for another $15.

I haven't trained much with this trainer yet because I'm doing spinning classes during the week and one long ride on my bike. I think even if you don't train a lot with a trainer they are a nice thing to have around to put the bike on to tweek your bike fit etc.

Good Luck, Steve Chaisson

4) I have an AireonMAG (bluecolor) trainer that I have ridden on 2-3 times. I still have the box for it. In fact the MAG is In the box. It has a 3-speed adjuster. I'm selling it because I'm not a big fan of riding indoors. And, The gym I joined has really good spin Classes. If your interested I'll sell it for 30.00. I'm here in Brentwood If you want to come by and look at it.

Travis Burrell

5) A good trainer is one that you will use.

Having said that, the Computrainer is haeds and shoulders above anything I've found.

I ride against a co-worker at least once a week, talk trash and generally have a great time.

Cost-$$$$ over $1,000. We've been using them over 4 years - and NO traffic accidents.

Train On! John White -805 844 4665

6) You've asked a classic question, here's my answer....

Fluid trainer - great, quiet, expensive, look to ebay Mag trainer - great, quiet, a hair expensive, again - look to ebay.

Rollers - super good for balance (read - hard to ride), but not as good in terms of resistance (it's only got one speed). I would only advise this for an advanced rider or a roadie who was looking to gain better control for crits. They are not so necessary for triathlon.

Hope that helps, Ian

Ian Murray 1411 Palisades Dr. Pacific Palisades, CA. 90272 hm/off 310-573-9060 fax 310-573-9827 Cell 310-924-7362

7) I ride both (admittedly, very little given SoCal weather), but they each serve different purposes. The trainer is best for getting a workout- resistance is adjustable. Rollers are really a good training tool to develop smoothness. Some may have adjustable fan units, but the objective on rollers really is not to "grind", it's to develop leg speed and balance.

As an FYI, all trainers (but particularly resistance trainers) wear out tires prematurely, so I usually slap on spare wheels with older tires to save tread life on my newer/better tires.

I'm in the Inglewood area, so let me know if you'd like to either or both before a purchase.

-Kevin Powells

Thank you club for the outpouring of Podiatrist recommendations. It appears that the favorite doc on the Westside (and the only doc recommended by more than one person is Dr. Dan who was suggested by about a bazillion people (actually it was more like 5 ). Here is the list.

Dr. Daniel Altchuler- 310-451-8045 “He said he comes across as a hippy type, but is a great doctor.”

Here is his info: 1245 16th Street, Suite 202, SM 90404 310-319-4824 Dr. Robert K Lee, D,P.M “He's super cool, that podiatrist of ours!”

Dr. Mark Weiss in Century City, Dr's Babak BAravarian in Santa Monica, Dr Briskin in Santa Monica and Manhattan Bch.

I recommend my husband Dr Jaivin who specializes in foot and ankle (orthopedics). 818-901-6600. His office is in Van Nuys.

Santa Monica Podiatry Group, they did the job for me.

John W. Pagliano, D.P.M 2840 Long Beach Blvd. Suite 130 Long Beach, CA 90806 (562) 426-0376 “He is very good and is a marathoner and longtime runner himself (in his day, he was like a sub 2:30 marathoner).”

Arnold Ross, he is excellent.

Dr. Dan Berry in the Valley at (818) 986-8773. Pat Connely (that coach from LA Roadrunners And LA marathon referred me to him, so he comes highly referred.)

Dr. Franklin Kase in Burbank

Patrick Corrigan 310-829-4164

I would recommend Alan Singer DPM, he is located in the medical building directly in front of UCLA Medical Center...he did Shaq's foot surgery...good friend and excellent doctor.....

We have Dr. Kelman out here in the San Fernando Valley (I think he has an office in Westalke too). (818) 701-6900

Dr. Pagliano in Long Beach. “He has been a sub 3 hour marathoner for Many years.“

Robert N. Mohr DPM University Podiatry Group (310) 443-8999 100 UCLA Medical Plaza, Suite 460 Los Angeles, CA 90095-6909

Sorry you need a podiatrist, but I love my guy: Dr. Tim Liddy DPM 8797 Beverly Bl., #350 West Hollywood, CA 90048 Tel.: 310/652-1163 Fax: 310/652-2713

Dr. Keith Gurnick 310-553-7691 2080 Century Park East Suite 204 Los Angeles, 90067 “He's a runner himself & an all around nice-guy.“

Foot and Ankle Insitute in Santa Monica. I am seeing Dr. Franson.

Tim Bomba wrote: “Wanna go to Northridge?” Alan thought: “No, I want to go to a foot doc. Why would I want to go to a mall? Too much walking with a bad foot.”

Print from your browser or download a printable version by clicking here.


  • Swim suit / or race outfit
  • Goggles
  • Wetsuit
  • Body Glide
  • Swim cap
  • Transition towel


  • Bike
  • Helmet
  • Biking shoes/ shoe covers for cold
  • Socks
  • Cycling shorts
  • Cycling top
  • Arm / leg warmers
  • Floor pump
  • Water bottles
  • Bento box
  • Glasses
  • Electrical tape (for gels)
  • Tools / patch kit
  • Tubes / Hand pump / CO2 / Tire Levers, etc.
  • Grease / chain lube
  • Bike lock for campsite
  • Valve Extenders (for race wheels)
  • Skewers (for race wheels)


  • Race type outfit
  • Running hat / visor
  • Sunglasses
  • Running shoes / socks
  • Orthotics
  • Water bottle / fuel belt

Race Specific (varies by race)

  • USAT Card / identification
  • Race instructions
  • Swim cap from race packet
  • Timing chip
  • Race number / race belt (or safety pins)
  • Bike / helmet numbers

Race Food

  • DRINK POWDER / extra bike bottles
  • GELS / Gel flask if you use
  • Salt / electrolyte tablets
  • Post-race protein drink


  • Tent / tarp / stakes
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad / air mattress / pillow
  • Lantern / flashlight / batteries / headlamp
  • Friday snacks, dinner
  • Sat breakfast / snacks / dinner
  • Sunday breakfast / snacks
  • Coffee, tea, hot chocolate
  • Pot for boiling water
  • Cooler / lots of ice
  • Cookware / utensils if needed
  • Bottle opener, can opener, corkscrew
  • Beer, wine, plastic cups
  • Plate/bowl/mug/sharp knife/ cutting board
  • BBQ tools
  • Foil, plastic wrap/bags, matches / butane lighter, plastic containers, garbage bags
  • Firewood
  • Sponge / soap / towel for clean up
  • Plastic bags for dirty / wet clothes
  • Blanket / chair for sitting around campfire

Personal Kit

  • Use plastic zip bags to keep things dry
  • Comb / brush / hair band / hair ties
  • Toothbrush / paste / dental floss
  • Deodorant
  • Soap / Small shampoo / conditioner
  • Shower shoes
  • Razor
  • Towels
  • Sunscreen
  • After sun lotion / Aloe Vera
  • Lip balm w/sunscreen
  • Aleve / Advil
  • Any current prescriptions/ vitamins
  • Toilet paper - regular or Densepak
  • Nail clippers
  • First aid supplies
  • Bug repellent / citronella candles
  • Ice bag (for soreness, injuries)


  • Watch / Heart rate monitor
  • Triathlon Bag
  • Warm up pants
  • Sunscreen
  • More water Bottles
  • Rain jacket
  • Alarm clock
  • Walkman / iPod / books / magazines, chill stuff!
  • Extra shoes (not running/cycling)
  • Hotel / Camp information
  • Directions to race start
  • Extra car keys for your carpool buddy!!

Due to cutting and pasting the info from a word doc, the format is not as nice (indentations, pretty colors, fancy fonts etc..have been eliminated,) and will likely be less efficient (it fit exactly to 2 pages) to print than from word, but, here it is.

If anyone would like this sent as an attachment feel free to contact me with your email an I will be happy to forward it.

A basic guide to get you running and rolling w/ your S625x!

How do I just set the time and date?!
• Push upper right button twice to get to “Options”
• Push Red Button once
• Push upper right button 6 times to get to “Watch Set”
• Push Red Button once to enter and use upper and lower right buttons to scroll

How do I just get started and go for a run or ride?!

How do I see my heartrate? – 1
How do I use the stopwatch? – 2
How do I display (& record) running info? – 3
How do I display (& record) bike info? – 4

1. Heartrate Display
• Push red button once to get to “Basic Mode” (& place strap on chest of course!)
• Push lower left button to stop

2. Stopwatch (SW)
• Push red button twice to get to “Recording Mode”
• You can depress the upper right button to “scroll” through what is displayed in the upper display (time, sw, lap…)
• Push Red Button to enter a lap (stopwatch will not stop)
• Push lower left button once to pause
• Push lower left button twice to stop recording and exit

3. Running Mode (pace, distance, speed etc…)
• Push red button once to start Basic Mode
• Push and hold lower right button until the runner icon is displayed*
• Push and hold red button on Foot Pod (green light will be solid then go off, and start blinking intermitantly…push and hold to turn off too.)
• Push red button twice to start Recording Mode
• Push upper right button to scroll through the following options:
Time, current lap time, pace, “Trip” distance (run odometer), speed, avg speed, max speed, distance (of current record, the run you are on!)
• Push lower right button to scroll through lower display row of heart rate, % of max heart rate and average heart rate
• Push and hold lower right button to change display of main (middle row) screen from stop watch (the default), lap time, pace, speed, distance, time (the stopwatch will be displayed in the upper row)
• Push Red Button to enter a lap (stopwatch will not stop)
• Push lower left button once to pause
• Push lower left button twice to stop recording and exit

4. Bike Mode (if you have polar speed sensor: speed, max speed, distance etc..)
• Push red button once to start Basic Mode
• Push and hold lower right button until the bike icon is displayed**
• All functions work the same as the running mode above once you are in Recording Mode

* Polar suggests “calibrating” the pod…I just used it and it was accurate within a tenth of a mile…so try it first to make it easier (plus, the calibration isn’t a true calibration, but it just adds a multiplier to adjust the benchmarks)

** There is Bike1 and Bike2. You enter the information for up to two bikes (say you have different wheel sizes: road and mountain or 700c and 650c etc…) under the “Options” menu (see “Setup”)

NOTE: You can get on the road or trail quickly with the steps above. However, the info will not be specific until you enter you personal information (weight, age….) and bike info. See “User Setup” below. How do I view the Recorded workouts and info?
• Push upper right button once – “File” is displayed
• Push Red Button once to enter the File Menu – the most recent file is displayed by date (and the screen alternates to the time it began) the lower row shows the file # (ex: F3)
• Use the upper and lower right buttons to scroll through the recorded files
• Push Red Button once to select a file
• Use the upper and lower right buttons to scroll through the data
• Push lower left button to escape/exit that menu level
How do I delete all the files or just one file?
• To delete one file:
o Push upper right button once – “File” is displayed
o Push Red Button once to enter the File Menu – the most recent file is displayed by date (and the screen alternates to the time it began) the lower row shows the file # (ex: F3)
o Use the upper and lower right buttons to scroll through the recorded files
o Push and hold the upper left button to delete (follow on screen prompts and confirm with Red Button or escape with lower left button.)
• To delete all files:
o Push upper right button once – “File” is displayed
o Push and hold upper left button. “Delete all Files” is displayed. Confirm with Red Button, escape with lower left button.
How do I set my “personal information?”
• Push upper right button twice to get to “Options”
• Push Red Button once
• Push upper right button 4 times to get to “User Set”
• Push Red Button once and follow screens, confirming with Red Button
• Exit with lower left button
Created by: Andrew Hannan

Angeles Crest Ride Frequently Asked Questions By Mark Lytle

The preferred way to learn the answers to each of these questions is to come out and ride with us a few times.

1. What is the Angeles Crest Highway?

The Angeles Crest Highway is a road that connects the southern face of the 10,064-foot San Gabriel Range and the Angeles National Forest with the High Deserts to the North and East. It is a road designed not for a fast commute but for a scenic drive. It rises from approximately 1000 ft above sea level to 5000 feet in 15 short miles, then takes on some rollers before ascending again to over 7000 feet at mile 35 at Cloudburst summit. There are two more major dips and then peaks including Dawson’s summit at 8000 feet before this eastbound road dumps you out near the ski town of Wrightwood. This is all within an hour or so of Los Angeles proper, and I defy anyone to name another city in the lower 48 boasting such a truly local alpine climb from sea level to tree level (unless you count Big Bear in San Berdu or Idyllwild near Palm Springs, both Southern California attractions). Even 14,000-foot Mt. Rainier is a bit of drive from Seattle. Albuquerque and Denver start out above a mile above sea level, so don‘t even compare those. Come on, Angelinos! Represent!

2. What is the Angeles Crest Ride?

The Angeles Crest ride is a LA TRI club long weekend ride based out of Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley. Most of us live in the Glendale or Pasadena area or close to downtown LA. The ride is currently on Sundays but has gone on both Sundays and Saturdays in the Past. We ride on the Angeles Crest Highway whenever possible, but also on the San Gabriel River Trail to acquire flat mileage and Glendora Mountain Road for a nice change of pace and lower elevation climbing. We also ride from Malibu to Ventura when weather does not permit riding in the San Gabriel Mountains, or when we need a change of pace. The ride regulars know the area well and consistently ride every week on one or more of the routes listed.

3. How do I get to the Angeles Crest Ride?

We have two starting points for the ride. The first is near the base of Angeles Crest Highway, at Starbuck’s La Canada, corner of Foothill and Gould. From Los Angeles take the Glendale 2 Fwy North; go east (right) on the 210 freeway. Exit at Gould (the first exit past Angeles Crest). Turn right and it’s immediately there on your left. Park on the street or in the mini-mall parking lot. From the East exit at Foothill Blvd in La Canada. Turn left, pass under the Fwy, and turn right into the mini-mall at the intersection of Gould. Starbuck’s is there on your right.

The second starting point is Starbuck’s in San Marino. Take the 210 fwy west from the East San Gabriel Valley and East from the 134 fwy at the Rose Bowl. Exit at Sierra Madre Blvd. Take this road south for two miles to Huntington Drive in San Marino. On the left hand, northeast corner, there is a Starbucks. Park on the street.

4. How dangerous/safe is the ride?

Riding a bicycle is an inherently dangerous activity. So is driving a car and getting out of a soapy bathtub. Given the frequency and length of time with which we have ridden there, and the fact that we have never had a rider go down, I do not believe that the Angeles Crest is a more dangerous place to ride a bicycle than other places on or off the highway.

It is an alpine ride. But, no, it is not “crazy” to ride there. You need to be cautious on corners and descents. You need to wear your helmet and keep your head up at all times, even while climbing. Do not join this fad of doffing your helmet for a climb. There are recreational motorcyclists up there, especially in the summer months. Look out for them, as they tend to treat the road as a racetrack. You need to firmly ride on the right in a straight line. However, there are long stretches of time, sometimes even hours, when you do not see a car. Wear bright colors and keep your tail light on at all times, even during broad daylight and even when others tell you to turn it off. The roads are mostly in good condition, especially on the lower level climbs, and are swept frequently.

If you ride safe up there, then it is a safe ride. That does not mean that you will not have an accident, but it certainly lessens the chances. Of course, you assume one hundred percent of the risk for any all injury to you or others, and we/I expressly disclaim any and all responsibility. This is not a “ride“ in that sense. We‘re leaving at the same time, we’ll probably ride together if we can, but you are on your own.

5. Describe the rides?

a. Angeles Crest Hwy to Red Box and Mount Wilson: Ascend from Starbuck’s La Canada up Angeles Crest Highway fifteen miles to Red Box Junction (4500 feet). Descend or climb another five miles to Mount Wilson. Return. A beginner version of this ride turns around at Clear Creek, the first junction/station at mile 10. Thirty miles to Red Box /return; forty to Wilson/return. All levels.

b. Angeles Crest Hwy to Newcomb’s Ranch/Cloudburst Summit: Ascend past Red Box, descend for a mile or two and do some “uphill rollers” to Newcomb’s ranch (4500 feet, at mile 15) Stop briefly at Newcomb’s (a biker roadhouse at mile 27) and do a 7 mile “Alp-de Huez” 7-8 percent climb up to 7000 feet at Cloudburst Summit (mile 35). Fifty-five to Newcomb’s/return and Seventy to Cloudburst/return (But those miles take longer than other 70 mile rides). Intermediate to advanced, with beginner options for early turn around.

c. Upper Big Tujunga Loop/Mill Creek: This is a favorite that can be done even with snow down to 4500 feet. Angeles Crest Highway to Angeles Forest Highway left (go eight miles). Stop at Fire station for refuel/break. Turn right on Upper Big Tujunga, go nine miles back to Angeles Crest, turn right and return to La Canada on AC Highway. Options for making this longer include passing that right turn on UBT, climbing 6 miles to Mill Creek Summit, returning and then going left on UBT. If you have time, you can also do this as a precursor to a ride to Cloudburst summit, making the ride very close to a century. 45 mile loop. Fifty-seven with Mill Creek out and back. Very hilly, intermediate to advanced.

d. Glendora Mountain Road: Leave Starbuck’s San Marino. Take Huntington Drive Left (east) to Encanto Parkway (north), right after 1/2 mile on footbridge, left on bike path. Right on the Highway at the end of the path. Left on Sierra Madre Blvd (1 mile), and left on Glendora Mountain Road (about 6 miles). Ten miles to Stone Wall Summit and turn around. Watch out for bikes descending fast as you climb up. The road is under construction , closed to vehicular traffic, and bikes are allowed only on Sundays according to a posted Caltrans neon sign. Fifty-six miles. Good hilly ride for all levels with a little climbing/descending experience.

e. San Gabriel River Trail. Leave Starbuck’s San Marino. Take Huntington Drive Left (east) to Encanto Parkway (north), right after 1/2 mile on footbridge, right on Bike Path to Seal Beach and Return. Yell “incoming” as you enter tunnel and “outgoing” as you exit tunnels. Ninety-two miles with more elevation than you’d think. Flat, all levels.

6. What time do the rides leave?

Clip-in is at 6:15 in La Canada and 6:30 in San Marino unless otherwise specified in weekly club emails. Clip-in means clip-in and riding off and we’re not kidding. Call us if you’re late and we’ll try to meet you down the road.

7. Why do you leave so early in the morning?

To beat the traffic; triathlons start early; tradition.

8. How experienced do I have to be to ride with the Angeles Crest Ride?

All levels are welcome, but it should not be your first ride. You need a month or two of bike handling, descending and climbing before going on the short ride to Clear Creek (Angeles Crest Hwy) or Glendora Mountain Road. You certainly will not find any ride too easy, even if you have a lot of experience.

9. How fast do you ride?

Generally slower during the winter, but 17-21 mph on long varied terrain and 8-11 on climbs. Must faster on descents, of course. All levels welcome.

10. How long is the ride?

The idea is that it will be that week’s “long ride”. So, generally, three to six hours. If your training program calls for a shorter or longer ride than planned, all routes will accommodate such a ride.

11. How much elevation gain is on the rides?

There is considerable elevation gain on all rides, even the “flat rides” to the beach and back. The ride to Cloudburst summit has 8000 feet of gain.

12. What should I wear on the mountain rides?

Winter rides are cold but very fun. If in the 30’s or 40’s: Bring long bike pants; under shirt/vest; bike jersey; over shirt/vest; warm, fuzzy arm warmers; wind jacket; long-fingered gloves, bandanna/head warmer. This will do for most of the year. In the summer, you can wear just bike shorts and jersey with short-fingered gloves, but I always carry arm warmers and a wind jacket. It’s the wilderness.

13. What gear should I bring for the ride?

You must have: three energy bars (or equivalent amount of food), energy drink powder for two refills plus a bottle of mixed energy drink, electrolytes/salt, money, identification (preferably Road ID and a driver‘s license) no fewer than two tubes (which you have double checked) and two cartridges for a C02 pump, two tire levers, a patch kit, and an Allen tool. Check the batteries in your taillight and keep it on during the ride. If another rider reaches over and switches it off for you, smile and switch it back on. If we leave in darkness (November through-February), a headlight is also required.

A camelback is recommended for longer rides, especially on days above 75 degrees. A cell phone is recommended but will not work on Angeles Crest Highway. It may work on GMR and SG River Trail. I turn mine off during the ride to save battery power.

14. What sort of wheels should I bring?

Training wheels or climbing wheels are optimal. For example, Mavic Open Pro’s or Ksyrium’s or Easton/Velomax Circuits are perfect. 23-mm tires are preferred. Leave your race wheels for your race, unless they’re all you have. It can get windy in those mountains, so I do not recommend a deep dish or disc (go for it on a beach ride, though).

15. What gearing should I use for the ride?

Use a 12-25 or 12-27 cassette if you have one. You will not be chided for bringing a triple, but all rides are quite doable with a double. Some of us have even made it to the top with a “corn cob” cassette (11-23).

16. If I have a tri-specific configuration bike, can I ride that in the hills?

Yes. A road configuration is ideal, but a tri bike is ok if you have good descending skills on that bike (i.e., stay out of the aerobars on descents). You will generate more power on the climbs with a more relaxed seat position, and tri-bikes can be skittish on windy descents. Nothing climbs and descends like a road bike.

17. What percent incline are the climbs?

Most climbs are sustained climbs of 6-8 percent.

18. What is the weather like on Angeles Crest?

Usually, a few degrees cooler than down below. Temp’s can be accurately checked by using “,” “” or any similar web service and plugging-in the forecast and current temperature for Mount Wilson, California.

There are general predictions, based on time of year. In the summer, it’s usually just like Los Angeles or a few degrees cooler. (60-90 degrees). In the Spring or Fall, it’s usually cool with up’s and down’s so dress to quickly strip and bundle. In the Winter, It’s can be so cold or snowy that riding elsewhere is more reasonable, especially if the snow line is below 4000 feet. Be on guard for black ice and ice patches in Winter, Spring and fall. In the fall, if a high-pressure system sets up inland, beware of Santa Ana winds that can make it very dangerous to ride into the canyons due to the fire risk. Despite these occasional weather obstacles, one can safely ride a bicycle on Angeles Crest Highway nearly every week of every year and some of our best rides have been in winter.

19. What is Glendora Mountain Road?

A 20-mile mountain road that connects the suburb of Glendora with Mount Baldy Village ski resort. As of this writing it is closed to cars due to repairs and previous fires but open to bikes and other recreational vehicles on Sundays. That means it is really a bike-only road. It is a nice, meandering, 6-8 percent grade, 10-mile climb to a summit with a twisty descent. If one takes the road the full 20 miles, one is literally dropped into the Baldy Village after 10 miles of “sucker slides” (you think you’re descending but you’re only getting ready to climb again). It is a gorgeous road and a Southern California cycling must.

20. What is the San Gabriel River Trail?

A 35-mile bike path with only one road crossing that traverses the Valley. It starts out at the mouth of the East Fork of the Angeles National Forest, right up against the San Gabriel's in the city of Duarte. It meanders to the Santa Fe Dam, crosses a road and then does an uninterrupted (except for some twists at Whittier Dam/Driving Range) 30 miles to Seal Beach, following the 605 Freeway for most of the way. It is usually in good condition, but can have debris and is very unpredictable and even dangerous after heavy rains. It is usually a good place for flat miles during Spring/Summer or dry winter months.

Resuts of an informal survey of club members, with about 30 respondents:

Everyone said the Road ID was comfortable to wear and provided much peace of mind.

Ownership was about equally split between chain, ankle and wrist styles. Fewer had the shoe style. People who have shoe style like it because you don’t have to remember to put it on. The wrist style was also recommended and can be used a watch band. Some people didn’t want two bands on their wrist so recommended the ankle style, which is also fully reflective — but said if you get the ankle style, remember to check and make sure you’re not turning in your Road ID instead of your timing chip at the end of a race! Others liked the chain style because it’s ‘stylin,’ especially with the LA Tri logo. One person replaced the metal chain with a soft cord for silence and comfort. Some people had more than one. (Which seems a less expensive form of indulging our common propensity for multiple equipment acquisition than having more than one bike, but still impressive....)

It was recommended to use all six lines and to include your name, any drug allergies, emergency names and contact #s, your doctor’s name and phone # and blood type. I’m also going to include the name of my medical insurance carrier and their #.

In case this has prompted your desire to buy one ( as it has mine) but you’ve trashed Brian Morel’s email on the subject (heaven forfend), here’s his instructions:

“To purchase, click on the Road ID link on the LATC Discounts page: ...and enter the coupon code PCAC245 when prompted.”

½ Ironman Race Advice

Big Kahuna or Barb’s Race

Here is the advice given by club members to help me make up my mind between Big Kahuna and Barb’s Race. Do I know which one I am going to do? No. I am leaning toward Big Kahuna, but the river swim makes Barb’s Race sound interesting. Plus after watching Kona, I am intrigued by racing on an Ironman course.

Thanks so much for all the advice. You gave me race specific information so I hope my decision will be an informed one…but hey last year I made snap decisions regarding racing—like choosing Wildflower to be my first Olympic Distance—and I enjoyed every race.

Thanks again everyone!


Jason Berkowitz

I've done half-vineman twice (my only half-Ironman experiences) and I'm pretty sure it's the same course as Barb's race. My recommendation would be to do the Big Kahuna instead - from what I've heard it's an easier course. The thing about the Vineman course is that, while there is only one "climb" on the bike (about 45 miles in) the vast majority of the rest of the course is fairly challenging rolling hills which makes it really hard to get into a rhythm on the bike. The hills are too long and steep to power over, and if you jump out of the saddle at each hill, you'll be toast before you even get on the run. I'm not a terribly strong biker, and I found the bike course really taxing. Then, once you get on the run, it's HOT and can be very challenging. On the plus side, the bike course is GORGEOUS as you are biking mostly by vineyards the whole time.

Don't get me wrong - Vineman is NOTHING like Wildflower - the hills are shorter and flatter, but much more numerous. Also, the Vineman run is mostly flat (maybe a little rolling) with only 2 or 3 hills to go over. It's a doable race, but if you commit to it - make sure you train strength and power on the bike. I moved up from Olympic and found I actually prefer the longer distance as it is more focused on endurance and less on anaerobic speed (of which I have little).

If you are going to move up to this distance, I'd recommend getting a coach

Gareth Thomas

Big K is a great race and so is 1/2 vineman. 1/2 vineman has an easy river swim though.

Julie Guthrie

I have done both 1/2 Vineman followed by Big Kahuna the last 2 years. I hear the atmosphere for Barb's Race is fun, and it's the same vineman course. In comparison, I would say the bike rides are simply different - Vineman has more up/down quick hills, and Kahuna is more rolling. The wind at Kahuna is quite challenging on the 1st half, but the way back into Santa Cruz is quite fun. I find the run at Kahuna a little easier, and part of it is on trail. Maybe I've just "raced myself into shape" by doing both, I don't know. The waves in Santa Cruz have not been a problem, it's a little cold, but not below 61 or 62. Hope this helps, if you have any other questions, feel free to ask!

Mary Reid

You'll get lots of responses I'm sure but just a few thoughts based on my own ruminations about these races - never having done either but having done 3 HIM and 1 IM...

I DID do the Half Vineman which is, I believe, the same course as Barb's so I do know the course. If I'm right about this, then there's only one real hill to worry about and frankly, it wasn't much of a worry after all the hype. Wildflower was MUCH worse - hilly, massive hill, much rougher roads. Word in the transition area was that Barb's is great. The women-only thing is good but it doesn't feel too sleepy because of all the IM competitors. So you get the festive endorphin atmosphere AND a supportive crowd to race with. But you're right about the heat - it's just a roll of the dice on that one.

Big Kahuna: I know the area well. I don't think the bike course is particularly flat, just a good set of rollers and beautiful. I've thought about doing this since it's been offered for precisely that reason. My hesitation (besides travel)? What will the surf be like? Santa Cruz is known for its waves so it's a bit like the T's at Barb's - what will the dice send your way?

I'm may be at one or both of the races next year so I'd be interested in learning about feedback you get.

Carlyn Challgren Hinds

Good for you for wanting to do a 1/2 IM- I have never done Barb's but I can recommend the Big Kahuna! It is so well run, the pottery-type big kahuna finishing medals are cool and the run start ands ends in the sand! For your first- I would recommend this one- I also recommend it to anyone who wants to get a PR in a 1/2 IM. The bike has some rolling hills like on PCH north of Zuma- nothing too big but they are rollers! The run is flat and can be hot depending on the weather but is is along the bluffs in Santa Cruz- absolutely gorgeous!

Gina D

I have done Barbs race before and recommend it highly. I have never done the kahuna race.

Barbs race course is hot -but it starts out foggy in the morning. The bike course is hilly, but not nearly as bad as wildflower. The route is a little confusing, so I recommend driving it before hand. The hills start at about mile 45 (like wildflower), but are not nearly as bad. (it is still an effort though). It is somewhat a pain to have 2 transition areas.

The best part about the race -I think is that it runs at same time as the full ironman which means the aid stations are FULLY stocked - due to the ironman race. Since the chicks do the half, there is NO chance that they will be out of anything. No half ironman I've ever done stocks the aid stations like a full ironman-there is no comparison.

Testosterone was never a problem. The swim start was very easy-due to all women.

Travis Burrell

I did the Full Vineman in 2002. Which that year turned into the "Ironman" Vineman(officially) because of the Idaho death/ Ironman turned Duathlon. This was my first Ironman, And I did a 11:13 on that course. It was Overcast all morning until I got off the bike and THEN it got warm. But, it wasn't Brutal. We ran WITH the Barb ladies. It's pretty low key, but a good experience overall. There is only one Real Hill on the bike(Chalk Hill) and it's not that long. It's nothing like WildFlower. It's mostly easy rolling hills.

I can't say much for Kuhuna because I have never done it. Although, My buddy(Ben Cornell) did it and posted a 4:39. So, I may be doing that race next year. It's pretty darn flat. Although, I heard the water is cold(57).


Big Kahuna was my first half-ironman this past season. I finished about 20 minutes faster than my expected time. Santa Cruz has the best weather for racing when it takes place. I thought it was well-organized and although the bike course was a little tougher than expected because of the head winds going north, it was a beautiful bike ride. The run was quite easy and scenic. The swim entry is easy since there are practically no waves--the water was warmer than advertised. I had a good time in Santa Cruz--and would do it again except for that it takes place on the same day as LA.

Michael Archer

I did Kahuna last year. It is much hillier, big rollers, than they say, and plan for a head or crosswind for almost the entire bike. Santa Cruz was great and the course was very nice

Ian Murray

I'd suggest Big Kahuna. Also suggests getting a coach for this distance

Any advice for a novice/second-season triathlete for HRM and cycle computers? Doing my own research, it seems like there are many variations to this question and it might be a matter of pure personal preference. However, there does not seem to be a one-unit-fits-all device to measure cadence, heart rate, distance, speed, is waterproof, cost under the gross national product of a small nation, et cetera, for triathlon purposes (run/bike.) So, maybe a cycle computer plus HRM is best?

My cheap Supergo wireless cycle computer flew off my bike during a race this spring and I really missed it (especially going downhill - woohoo!) I am looking to possibly upgrade to something with cadence. Is it necessary? Or should I stay with the wireless $20 model?

Next, after 2.5 years, my Polar A5 battery died, replaced battery by a local watch store, did not listen when told "not guaranteed waterproof" by same store, and now reads a very slow time, frozen forevermore. Very simple and functional, was. Remember to replace thru the company. So, I want to upgrade to something with more bells and whistles, maybe with distance. Again, is this totally necessary, not sure? I have heard pros and cons about the both foot thingy versus GPS, like Nike Triax/Polar versus Timex. I don't care that much about having my stats beemed to the computer - a pen and my paper training log still work great.

I am looking for good value and good performance, not hottest feature.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated,

Derek from Sunset Beach

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I know it will seem pricey to most, but you really have to love the new Polar 625X. I too had been wanting a unit that had many options and this is the one for now. It comes with a foot pod included and the connection works perfect. Plus, you can add any current Polar cycling functions/sensors that were used by other S models previously on the market except the Power Monitor (why, I don't understand) but at least that will get you cadence and a speed monitor. You have the ability to run two different sized bikes (I use mountain and road, but you could use a Road 700 and 650). The only thing that detracts is the fact that it does not continuously allow for a change between different exercise settings, so during a race you do have to do a couple of button pushes to switch to the running mode if you are using the foot pod, but you can opt not to use it since the pod really is for the distance and you have that already from the course.

No Name/Email

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Just to help a little with your HRM bike computer issue - you are right that there are so many versions of different gadgets on the market and if you have bottomless pockets (i.e., mucho $$) you can get yourself something very fancy.

However, many of the people I work with have asked for the same simple solution as you do and I think it's 2 reliable tools

1. Polar S120 HRM - simple HRM with big screen, heart rate zone limits, average HR function and $100 + get the handle bar mount for $10 extra (- Polar has always been the best in my opinion - I still use a Polar watch in the lab I've had since 1996 as it does everything it needs to perfectly)

2. Cateye Astrale bike computer - speed, cadence, distance, etc - reliable if you take the time to install it tidily with cable ties and don't throw your bike around - speed and cadence all based on cranks and back wheel so you even get speed on your indoor trainer - yes, cadence is VITAL - $40/50

This way for $150 you have everything you need - large enough displays to see all readings when riding/ running without having to get out your magnifying glass (as is the case with some "dual" models) minus the downloading capability - but as you say pen and paper or Microsoft excel do the job for a training diary very adequately.

If you do have access to the bank deposit funds of a small country you can buy the SRM power meter elite for $5500 and the Polar S625X for $500 - download away all day, get very pretty graphs plus power output, running speed and something that makes you a cup of tea in the morning and tells you when your toast is ready!

Hope that helps - feel free to call/ email me for other solutions/questions
Gareth Thomas
858 361 4733

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I bought a Polar 510 off of Ebay (new) for under $300, and that included wireless speed and wireless cadence. It was a lot of money, but I really love it. The cadence feature has been of good benefit

I also still have my old Cateye computer on my bike as well, but only because I haven't found the motivation to take it off. On a training ride I can look down and see my time, HR, cadence, speed, and distance. Some think it's geeky, but then again I am pretty geeky.

Good luck in your search for the perfect computer, though I'm not yet convinced it has been produced.

Jeff Alexander

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Hi Derek,

I just go the Polar S625X (which has the running pod and the option to also connect to a bike computer). I really like it - as far as the heart rate monitor/running stats go, in addition, I bought it because if I wanted to I could add the bike computer on it as well (although I am not sure if it can track cadence - which my bike computer can do).

I have used the Nike Triax - in fact had 2 because they broke both times and would not recommend this product at all, the watches are very poorly made and in both cases broke. I've also tried the Gamin GPS system for running and found it very unreliable as my distance always seemed to be off because I hit spots that I couldn't get a signal.

Good luck!

* * *

Can't really help you out on the whole bike computer thing; but as far as heart rate monitors go, I use the Nike Triax CV10 and I love it. I used to have the Timex but it broke several times and would sometimes give me very inaccurate readings. The HR transmitter and the SDM pod on the Nike Triax have unique digital ids so they are good if you are running/spinning at the gym or training with someone who also is using a HR monitor- it will only pick up a signal from your strap. The SDM pod that attaches to your shoe is fairly light and extremely accurate - I’ve taken it to the track several times and both pace and distance has been bang on. Plus it’s really easy to use.

Good luck with finding what you need!

* * *

Dear All & Justin

Justin's question about "lactate in the legs at night and tired bloated leg" highlights a topic that confuses many people so I thought it made sense to reply directly to the club on this one.

Firstly, let's clarify that the soreness in your legs the next days or hours after exercise is nothing to do with lactate. This is a common but misguided assumption, as even after a 60 second full on sprint with lactate levels rising to over 10-15 mmol you will find lactate is back down to approx. 50% of this (5-7 mmol) after 30 mins total rest without active recovery and back to near resting levels (= sub 2 mmol) within 1-2 hours. I think your night time issue might be quite simple Justin in that you need to focus more on the cooldown at low intensity after workouts and that means 10 minutes plus of easy jog walking after runs, easy spinning after rides and gentle drills and breaststroke at the end of your swim workouts. Then to focus on complete stretching.

Further recovery is aided using ice and even the dreaded but immensely useful ice bath to reduce what is actually inflammation caused by damage to the muscle fibers created when you trained. Remember it is training that actually breaks down your body and then the rest that allows you to recover and get fitter - so "training + rest = performance".

Lastly, many athletes train too hard all the time, even beginners. This is a whole book itself, but in summary, if you don't have a very strong aerobic system that produces very little lactate during exercise then you need to be training at low intensities for 75%+ of your weekly volume. Many athletes produce lactate very quickly and testing reveals that even their typical easy training days are actually metabolically "too hard" for the individual.

So to summarize this for you.......

Train easier more frequently to build a strong aerobic engine

Include adequate active and passive recovery in to your training week

Warm-up and cool-down properly

Ice is your friend

Hope that helps Gareth Thomas

Recently I posted an e-mail to the club about getting a pair of race wheels. Here is a summary of the responses. Thank you to all of those who responed, and if you have any further input please let me know!

>>> I'm certainly not an expert, but I'd say that the 3 or 4 spoke wheels are less versatile than say a zipp 404. I've got 404s and couldn't be happier.

The 3 and 4-spoke wheels, and of course disc wheels, are not useful in crosswinds. The spoked-wheels are ideal in those conditions. side winds are not an unusual occurrence...I'd hate to have a wheel that wasn't ideal for those conditions. I'd did quite a bit of research when I shopped for my zipps....i don't recall all of the info, but I know that the net result was that I felt that the zipps were the best all around value.

>>> HED is a great company and always on the aerodynamic cutting edge. I also love my Rolf Vector Pros-light and amazing hubs-because my big race is Hawaii, I like a lower profile rim.

>>> I invested in a pair of 650 Hed 3's 2 years ago and I swear by them. I only use them for racing so I notice a huge difference when I go from "cast iron" training wheels to the carbon fiber H3's. They also climb really well.I've used them in Half Iron distances on a Quintana Roo and the ride was no problem. The 2 drawbacks I've seen are (1) if you whack a pothole and ding carbon fiber, the wheel is permanently damaged, and (2) I noticed that a crosswind will ***really*** push you so be prepared.

>>>> -Testing is unheard of - I've never known a shop to do this.
-The ultimate set up - for the limitations you suggested - would be a Hed 3 rear and a Hed Alp front. AND I'd do a clincher and not a sewup - I can explain why if you are interested.
-I wouldn't do a tri spoke front as it's too difficult to manage in cross winds.
-I wouldn't do Corima as I've seen too many problems with them
-I've never like the way the Xlab looks with the funky curves but who knows
- I don't see many out there.


This is long, so be patient. Thank you to all who helped create this entry.


From what I’ve gleaned from texts, journals, professional coaches, doctors, and triathletes, there is little consensus on the cause and prevention of side stitches. What follow is the collective wisdom of those people who contributed. All of the submissions here should be taken with that in mind – most of these are submissions based on personal experience, while some come from professional expertise. Where there is a submission by a doctor or professional coach, I’ve made note of it.



“side stitches are the result of ischemia which is defined as a deficiency in blood supply to a body part. When you run, you frequently use parts of your body that demand a higher blood circulation, meaning that this supply is sent to a location, other than your abdomen. The resultant decrease in perfusion causes pain because the tissue at the cellular level is hungry for oxygen rich blood.” (M.D. and triathlete)

“A side stitch is caused by stretching the ligaments that attach your liver to your diaphragm. Humans breathe out once for every two steps. More than 70 percent of humans breath out when their left foot hits the ground, while 30 percent breathe out when their right foot hits the ground. Those who breathe out when their right foot hits the ground are the ones most likely to suffer side stitches because the force of the right foot strike causes the liver to go down when their diaphragm goes up during breathing out. So the ligaments are stretched and hurt.” (local M.D.) “…researchers believe that the side stitch is caused by stretching the ligaments that extend from the diaphragm to the internal organs, particularly the liver. The jarring motion of running while breathing in and out stretches these ligaments. Exhaling when the right foot hits the ground causes greater forces on the liver (which is on the right side just below the rib cage). So just as the liver is dropping down the diaphragm raises for the exhalation. It is believed this repeated stretching leads to spasms in the diaphragm..” (periodical)

“Side stitches occur when the connective tissue that suspends our internal organs cramp. They are more likely to act up on the run because of the vertical bouncing but can also occur on the bike simply from the diaphragm’s activity. That connective tissue holds the liver, stomach and sections of the large and small intestine.” (professional coach) “I have heard that side stitches occur from a spasm of the diaphragm muscle (yes it is a muscle) and usually when we start out too fast at something and in oxygen debt. There are many debates on this.” TO PREVENT SIDE STITCHES: “First of all, make sure that you are hydrated, in advance. If you become dehydrated, your blood is more concentrated, thicker, making efficient flow more difficult and increasing the liklihood of poor flow to your abdominal vasculature. Secondly, make sure that you are practicing appropriate breathing as oxygen depletion at the cellular level is the root cause of the pain. As a consequence of the normal aging process, alveolar closing capacity begins to approach the same volume as normal tidal volume. You need to practice doing things while you run that keep your lungs inflated and all the little alveoli open as much as possible. A good example of this is singing or doing another maneuver that causes you to exhale against resistance such as pursed lips. Deep breathe periodically and cough as well. Lastly, there is some indication for the use of agents that help to keep your blood flowing smoothy, such as aspirin, ginko biloba or even ibuprofen. These, however should be your last resort after you have tried the other two suggestions (especially the hydration).” (M.D. and triathlete)

“Time your eating. Having food in your stomach during a race may contribute to cramping by creating more force on the ligaments. Try to avoid eating one to two hours before a race.” “This year I did a half and full Ironman for the first time and I took MANY thermolytes on the bike and run (2 every hour in the half and 2 every half hour in the full). I had NO cramping issues anywhere on my body. So, at Malibu this year (where I often get a side cramp), I took 4 thermolytes on the bike and had NO stitches. It was such a relief. Nobody ever talks about taking salt pills or anything in a sprint or even an olympic but they might have helped. I have no idea if they were the answer, but it can't hurt. It makes sense to me that a cramp would come from an eclectrolyte imbalance. If you aren't familiar with them, thermolytes are electrolyte pills that you can get at Triathlete Zombies. Endurolytes are similar but have 1/3 the amount of electrolytes in them, so you have to take 3 times more.”

“Stretch more. Stretching is a good additional way to prevent or relieve a cramp. To target this often overlooked muscle, raise your right arm straight up and bend your trunk toward the left. Hold for 30 seconds, release, then stretch the other side.” “not to eat or drink during the last few miles of the bike/t2/first mile or so of the run.” “Eat earlier and give the intestines longer to empty before racing.” “One thing I noticed I was doing, was while on the bike, sometimes when I went to "suck" on my water bottle I noticed just that, that I was sucking on it. So I figured I was taking in air, I have been much, much more careful drinking on the bike. Squeezing instead of sucking, and it has helped considerably. Hope this helps.”

“Often side stitches develop when you don't exhale deeply enough. Try to always exhale deeper and longer than you inhale when running, for example, 3 steps out and 2 in.”

“the best way is through brick workouts, conditioning your body to get used to bike to run stress”

“Do core exercises, especially focusing on your obliques.”

“Run with your hips and torso still and level. a)Don't bounce. b)Shorten your strides and increase your cadence (this usually helps decrease the hip tilting). c)keep your torso upright and still. d)Don't allow you hands to cross over in front of your torso. e)Feel like you have a plate on your head and a ceiling right above the plate. This doesn't mean you go slower.”

“Breathe rhythmically, on your steps, in-in-out-in-in-out, etc.”

“the key to avoiding side stitches (for me, anyway) is decreasing my fluid intake. I have found that the more I drink, the more likely I will develop a side stitch. In fact, I have had such problems over the years that I drink very little at all. Of course, I wouldn't recommend this for longer races in very hot conditions, but for sprint distance triathlons it seems to work for me. I can get away with drinking very little if I stay cool during the run. To ensure this, I pour water over myself at the start and have the water station people splash me along the way (they seem to enjoy this). You stay cool, sweat less, don't have to drink along the way and ultimately eliminate the dreaded side stitch.”

“My husband swears that doing sit ups before a run helps him.”



“David Brennan, MEd, an exercise physiologist at Baylor College of Medicine recommends specific breathing techniques to relieve the pain and keep you running. The prescribed technique is to exhale with force with each stride. According to Brennan, "If the stitch is on the right side of the abdomen, push your breath out when your left foot hits the ground, and use the opposite approach if the pain is on the left side." He also suggests that runners develop the habit of using the abdominal muscles for breathing, contracting and extending them in and out with each breath. Brennan suggests building workout intensity gradually. Increasing abdominal strength, especially the obliques and the transverse abdominis, can also help stave off side stitches.”

“Pete Pfitzinger, of American Running's Editorial Board recommends the following technique to relieve side stitches: Push your fingers into the diaphragm just below the ribs and bend forward, exhaling forcefully against the pressure of the fingers. The maneuver releases the spasm and the runner can continue with a jog. Keep intensity low after the stitch since there is a tendency for it to return.”

“To stop a side stitch when running, stop running and place your hand into the right side of your belly and push up, lifting the liver slightly. Inhale and exhale evenly as you push up.”

“When you get a side stitch, stop running immediately, reach your fingers into the right side of your belly and push your liver up. And breathe out with you lips pursed at the same time. Then you can resume running without feeling any pain.”

“…suggested I grab the skin right where the stitch was and pull it hard. I did this and it about 90% went away and I was able to finish the race. I have also used another method in running races - slow down a bit and hold your arms up over your head until it goes away. I have heard it comes from drinking too much water at once. I try to just take small swigs as I go.”

“Hold your breath and press the area near the side stitch. Also, slightly bending your side of body (stretching it) can help. i.e., a basic yoga stretch that can be done in 20 seconds.”

“whenever they occur I start inhaling and exhaling very slowly & deeply, focusing on my breathing...takes awhile, but usually helps.”

“suggested breathing out all the way when the cramp happens and holding my breath out for a few seconds.”

“I would also raise my arm up in the air to try and stretch out the side. I think that it has something to do with the diaphragm, which is why a breathing technique should work.”

“Concentrate on deep, smooth breathing even before they start. I'm convinced they are breathing related. I found that I often get a stitch on a downhill -- and an ultra-runner friend said we have a tendency to hold our breath on downhills, so I'm extra cautious then. If I feel the slightest twinge of a stitch, I start a pattern or deep exhales (pushing the air out of the lungs). A good exhales, forces a good inhale. I also try to tighten my stomach muscles - almost as if doing a crunch without the movement (this has been my best trick yet). Lastly, my coach said to purse your lips together. This seems to trigger a tightening of the stomach.”

“…take even, deep breaths while running. Shallow breathing tends to increase the risk of cramping because the diaphragm is always slightly raised and never lowers far enough to allow the ligaments to relax. When this happens the diaphragm becomes stressed and a spasm or "stitch" is more likely.”

“Rub it away. Massage or press on the area where you feel pain. You may also want to bend forward slightly. This seems to stretch the diaphragm and ease the pain.”

“Breathe in sharply and quickly through your nose, then exhale hard and long through your mouth. This helps to eliminate the gas buildup that you're experiencing. In recent runs with two fellow triathletes -- two separate runs -- they were experiencing a stitch and I suggested the quick inhale, deep hard (loud) exhale, and it relieved the stitch for both of them within a few minutes.”

“If you are breathing with your mouth, it could be because you have too much air traveling into your system too quickly. When this happens, try to breath with your nose, deep steady breath. I know when you are racing it's kind of hard to breath with your nose, I know I never do, even when I'm just training.”

“Here is a trick I learned when I was in the track team. Breath with your tougue against the roof of your mouth, this acts like a filter for the air that travels into your mouth. It works for me every time. But try to do this before it start to hurt, to prevent it from happening.”

“My way of dealing with them was through breathing. A good coach and friend in South Africa once told me to think about my breathing when they appeared and breath into your diagphram instead of into your top part of the lung. When breathing like this it should feel and look like you are breathing into your stomach. This is a good way to relieve the cramping feeling as it stretches the side muscles that cause it.”

“reduce the amount of fluid you drink on the ride”

“Once you have side stitches, you can try to completely exhale and hold it for 10 steps (I know it sounds like torture) before you inhale several times. Or if that still does not help, exhale, stop running, bend over forwards, exhale more, wait until the stitches go away.”

“I find if you raise both your arms above your shoulders and take slow deep breaths it slowly goes away. You can also try raising the opposite arm of the side that you have cramps.”

“I used to run with an amazingly fast woman (she was kind enough to wait for me). I learned alot from her including where to find the best trails and how to get rid of side stitches. I haven't had a problem since. Anytime you get them, she says you are supposed to breathe out as much air as you can, while running, contracting your diaphragm really hard, then inhale and do it again. You repeat this process each time you exhale, contracting the diaphragm by pressing down and closing the space in your rib cage. Works for me. She learned it from Pat Cunningham, I think.”

In regards to my email post concerning sore nipples (on men) during long runs I was blessed with the following information which I pass on to those who requested it.

The top ten ways for men to keep their nipples from becoming sore spots on a long run.

10. Go topless. There will be no friction and if you look good and are training with Linda she will appreciate it.

9. Cut them off. Thanks for the input Tim (how hard did you hit your head?).

8. Dr Scholls Moleskin with a little hole cut out. Sexy.

7. A tight shirt under the more stylish loose shirt.

6. Aquaphor, like a water based vasaline.

5. Johnson and Johnson waterproof tape or some other medical tape or electrical tape

4. Try a new shirt (Adidas shirts worked well for the replier).

3. Use the damn body glide and stain your shirt you fashionista! (Actually, I was informed that BodyGlide will not stain.)

2. Band-Aids, either the small circular ones or two in an X pattern like a super hero.

1. Nip-Gaurds which can be found in your local neighborhood running store.

Huge thanks to everyone with great responses to my sciatica drama. In my case, the psoas, periformus, and a hip tilt are the culprit. Lots of great advice has me on the road to recovery. Suggestions are noted below (in no particular order).

Symmetry Program-http:/ It's about restoring posture so body can function as meant. Program begins with an alignment evaluation and from that a custom tailored program is designed. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Orthotics- for both running and biking. Consider the way they are cast. Some are cast standing up in the plaster, some are cast standing on a pad where the image and pressure points are fed into a computer to calculate the correction. Orthodics casted while the feet were in neutral position makes most sense. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Orthotics- Dr. Altschuler in Santa Monica. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hellerworks-works on aligning the muscles back to where they should be, similar to Rolfing. Helpful with a few things: - getting the muscles into proper alignment - understanding why muscles get out of alignment - working on things to prevent it from re-occurring

Tom Marshall in Westlake Village (near Thousand Oaks) 805-495-8620. May be able to suggest someone in your area. and look at the client handbook. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Physical Therapy- rub downs or massages on affected areas which include periformus, glutes, IT band, lower back and psoas muscle and tendon (impossible to get at without help). Use an ice cup right on the skin for 5 min. at a time every hour as much as possible. Use a foam roller as much as you can stand on periformus and glutes, and IT band. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rober Forster Physical Therapy ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Billauer Chirpractic 2901 Washington Blvd Marina del Rey 90292 310-306-1983 He has a coupon for a discount on your first visit on his site -- ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dan Lehnberg, DC, CCSP, CSCS WESTSIDE HEALTHCARE & SPORTS MEDICINE Tel 310-944-9763 Fax 310-944-9764 LA TRI members a complimentary consultation. Work mostly with athletes. Active Myofascial release in conjunction with correcting muscle imbalances and training modifications can usually take care of this condition. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Greg Beaton at Malibu Rehab ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John B. MacLaren Elite Fitness Training Systems 12401 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angles, CA 90025 Tel:310-309-3757 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alison at Cypress Center PT Pacific Palisades (above the Block Buster video store) 573-9553. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lynn Paul Taylor - 323-938-0478. Get rid of the scar tissue adhesions. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Orthopedist-to make sure it wasn't a fracture or pathology. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Book by Gordo Byrnes called Going Long . Hip flexibility exercises. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Shim the cleat on the shorter leg to help with the leg length discrepancy on the bike. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alison at Cypress Center PT Pacific Palisades (above the Block Buster video store) 573-9553. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Books and teachings of Pete Egoscue. He would probably say, that unless you have had some type of trauma, (car crash etc); leg length discrepancy is due to a rotation or tilting of your pelvis/hips. And therein lies the problem. His books: THE EGOSCUE METHOD OF HEALTH THROUGH MOTION and PAIN FREE make real sense and the exercises are simple to follow. Or email him with this message detailing your injury. He works mainly with athletes and his partner has completed the hawaii ironman many times. As athletes themselves, they will be a great starting point, at least. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cortisone injections ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sports massage therapist Anthony Manniello (310) 266-2114 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Acupuncture expert (California State Board Certified) Don Buck (323) 934-3588. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve been receiving an abnormally high amount of questions about training and racing at altitude lately. It may be due to the fact that the debut of Ironman Utah is drawing near or perhaps that more sea level athletes are thinking a competitive edge might be found at a higher elevation. There is some science behind altitude training but some facts may surprise you. When I was a student at Colorado University in Boulder I lucked into a debate on the pros and cons to altitude training for the endurance athlete. It was hosted by CU’s resident altitude expert Dr. Gamoff, inventor a device called the Gamoff Bag. It’s a chamber, about seven feet long and thirty six inches wide that can be used to manipulate the atmosphere around one person. The debate only had maybe 30 people in the audience but many were world class athletes. Magda King, the first woman to ever ascend all 8,000 meter peaks was in the audience and she spoke of using the Gamoff bag to help speed her preparation for her Everest summit. There were also two Kenyon’s in the audience both of whom had held the world record in 10K at one point and time, and their reason for living in Boulder was based entirely on the elevation of the city. The upshot of the debate is now pretty common knowledge: time at elevation will force your body to develop a greater number of red blood cells and therefore make your body better at delivering oxygen to muscle tissues that need it on race day. But wait! There’s a down side. Training at elevation is less beneficial than training at sea level (or even below sea level). The reasons are simple; recovery time is longer at elevation, therefore less training volume can be met, and your body doesn’t react as fast as it might during the actual workouts. If you want to race a 40K time trial on your bike at sea level and you want to average 29 mph, then your training needs to include intervals that are at and above that speed. If you’ve committed to training at 9,000 feet you may not be able to push your bike to that speed at that elevation so you will never really train the leg speed or power needed for race day. The conclusion of the debate was that the ultimate situation would be to sleep at altitude (approximately 8,000 feet above sea level) and train at sea level. This “sleep high, train low” theory has been and is currently used by many athletes. The elites who train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs (elev 6,184) often sneak up near Woodland Park to sleep at 8,500 feet. Those elites will take the theory even further by periodically running speed sessions on a treadmill while attached to a respirator that simulates the air quality at sea level. That kind of device or commitment to travel isn’t always available to people who have jobs or family has them keeping them to one specific elevation for daily life. Scott Tinley always used Steamboat Springs, Colorado as his altitude getaway and I see that recently retired Mike Pigg is selling his chamber for a mere $8,500 (retail $12,800). So the question remains: how does a mortal such as us, one who refuses to cheat with epo or any form of blood doping, one who cannot afford a hyperbaric chamber, one who can’t be driving up to elevation every night for sleep – what can we do to help ourselves? Here are some suggestions: A) There are two schools of thought about living at sea level and having to go up to race at elevation: 1) go up 10-14 days before and acclimate or 2) go up the night before the race and pretend it’s no different. These both work pretty well but it’s the middle ground that will kill your energy. Spending 3-7 days at elevation seems to exhaust the body as it’s working overtime to adjust, leaving you feeling beat. At the same time 3-7 days isn’t enough time to make the biological changes needed for improved performance on race day. B) Hydration becomes even more critical when trying to acclimate – drink water. C) There’s been talk about “hypoxic training” where you sort of breath less or hold your breath during efforts in order to dupe your body into believing that it’s at altitude. I’ve never read a study that got me past how absurd this sounds. D) If you are going to go up early try what many national cycling teams do: two days high, two days low, two days high. This seesaw effect is rumored to produce good changes without as much fatigue E) Eat a bit more carbs a bit less protein and bit less fat. You’re body is at work trying to make big changes inside so give it the energy it needs to succeed. I’ve saved the best news for last. There are a ton of LA Tri Club members headed to IMUT after months of training and years of living here at sea level. The elevation at Provo is only 4, 500 feet above sea level. In biological terms that’s not that high. Altitude affects each individual differently but for most it takes the thin air over 6,000 feet to really start to negatively affect your average joe. So for Provo go up when you like, get to know the course, sleep well and treat yourself like a god for the days prior to the race. You’ll be fine.

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." Goethe, -1820

I sincerely hope that you, as an athlete, rested a bit this winter. Off season recovery is imperative, but as the calendar flips to February it is time to light up once again with the lifestyle of triathlon. I want to touch on a few critical elements of preseason triathlon activities and training: race planning, goal setting and phases of training.

Plan Early:
You'd think Hendrix was back from the dead and playing one night only in British Columbia the way Ironman Canada sells out the very day they begin accepting applications. Wildflower has been compared to Grateful Dead shows and it, too, sells out every year. Triathlon is gathering no moss and, if you want to get into a race this year, you need to plan early. Elite and Pro level athletes with packed schedules will sometimes race 12-18 races per year, but they know they can only peak for, at the most, three races. Like elite athletes, you need to choose what event(s) means the most to you. Then grab a calendar and plan your season from that point, backwards to today. You will need to include weeks of active recovery (AKA rest) and weeks of focused intensity. Then you need to commit to those weeks and their purposes to plan for your peak. The most challenging part is choosing wisely. Too many races or races too close together will result in lackluster performances, burnout and injury.

Set Goals:
Triathlete Zombies has nearly 50 members bound for Ironman California. Some of those have set for themselves the goal of finishing, others hope to qualify for Kona, and a few may even wish to win. (whether you have a race planned this season or not, you can still improve technique and gain fitness by setting some goals) Your goals should be clear and specific, challenging but realistic. Focus your training goals on learning and improvement and make them self-referenced (moving up a lane at masters and holding all the sets, running your favorite course faster, or a time trial on the bike that can be duplicated and improved upon). Create a few goals to reach for during a race as well - these performance oriented targets might include self talk such as "cue" words that help you work through tough moments ("keep it smooth" "technique" "glide" , etc.) or simple plans such as "if someone comes along side of me, I will hang with them". Goals will become a source of stress by which success and failure are defined, but they must be created in a positive manner so that they can act as a motivational strategy to enhance performance.

General Phases of Training:
An endurance athlete's season consists of several phases of training. USA Triathlon coaches use two broad terms: Preparatory Phase (General Preparation, Specific Preparation) and Competitive Phase (Pre-competitive and Main Competitions). The preparatory time is the time to build a base. Many look upon this 8-16 week time period as the "LSD" or Long Slow Distance period when training volume is high but intensity is low. As the race season approaches (8-10 weeks from competition) the intensity increases a bit to include lactate threshold and speed work and volume decreases slightly. Strength is a key element to racing triathlons. During the base phase you should schedule three strength workouts per week to build strength, as the race season nears, reduce those to two workouts per week. Then, during the race season, only one strength workout per week for maintenance. Strength doesn't always mean a trip to the gym: well planned hill repeats on the bike or run can be a huge benefit as well. •

"Studying the truth speculatively is useful as a way of collecting preaching material. But remember that unless you meditate constantly our light of truth may go out." Ancient Zen yarn

It has always seemed to me that out of the three activities we attempt to master as triathletes, running holds the most dubious position. It's the safest of the three disciplines; if you stop swimming you may sink, if you stop pedaling you'll fall over but if you stop running - it just becomes a walk. It's also the discipline we have been practicing the longest; most of us have been running since we were three years old and have developed deeply ingrained habits and a certain style of running. There is a chance that you may have never been in the water or on a bike but, no matter what, we have all run at some point in time. Because of all of this, running may be the simplest of our three sports, but it is by no means the easiest. The impact of running brings more frequent injuries, heart rates are generally highest on the run, and often times - because of familiarity of running - it is the most challenging to change technically. I bring this up because I believe that the run is the most important part of a triathlon.

Almost every triathlon in the world concludes with a run. The run can also be the most time critical event of a race. If a swim specialist who is also very strong on the bike enters an Ironman he may gain 15 minutes on the swim, and maybe even 45 minutes on the bike over a strong runner. But that hour lead can quickly melt away if that swim specialist is running 8:30 miles. To compound the importance, the end of the race usually brings the hottest temperatures of the day, when the body is at its greatest risk of fatigue, when it is usually suffering from dehydration and malnourishment. This is the time when a comfortable, efficient run is critical. To make your run the best consider including the following in your training program:

Frequency over duration: Run often without letting your body have too many days away from the motion. You are better off conditioning your body with four 3 mile runs per week than one 12 miler.

180 steps per minute: Small stride length can result in faster times and fewer injuries. The easiest way to measure this is to note your watch and count every foot strike for 30 seconds. Try to get the result around 90 steps for that 30 second period. Check back periodically throughout the run and especially on descents. Try to remember what if "feels" like to run at that pace and hold it for the entire run. Foot strike under the hip: This goes hand in hand with 180 steps per minute. If your stride is long that generally means that the foot is connecting with the ground in front of the hip. This will result in braking that will slow your run times and create more strain than necessary on all of the lower joints, muscles and connective tissues.

Run at different speeds: Too many triathletes and runners have one run speed. Play with speed while you run - you may surprise yourself by running faster than you thought you could, or by finding a "go all day" comfort zone that is only a hair slower than your normal pace. These gears can come in handy during a race. Slower speeds can be used at aid stations and feed zones or to get you through a tough time. Faster speeds can allow you to gain some ground in the last miles of a race.

Get on the track once a week: The track is a controlled environment where focus can be taken off traffic, lights, and surfaces and be put straight into pace and technique. Start with a 6-10 minute warm up either off the track or in the opposite direction. For a simple track workout, start longer with "mile repeats" (4 laps) and note your time. Then reduce the distance to a 1/2 mile (2 laps) and take the mile average and cut it in half and subtract 5 or 10 seconds to get your goal for the 1/4 mile segments. Conclude with some "quarters" (1 lap) where again the time goal is half of the half-mile time, less 5 seconds. Between every effort include a one lap jog for recovery. If you have never run on the track before, START SLOWLY and create a workout that, in the early stages, is a total of 3 to 4 miles long.

Include a "long run" in your weekly program: Once a week you should have an aerobic run that is long. If your racing Sprint, Olympic or even Half Ironman distance races, let the long run build slowly over several weeks until they are "over distance" - longer than the race run by a few miles. If you are racing an Ironman distance race then the long runs can peak out at around 18 -20- 22 miles.

Odds and ends: Replace your running shoes often. Practice eating and drinking while you run. Brick workouts are essential to get you familiar with the feeling of running right off the bike. If you're injury prone, invest in a flotation belt (around $40) and run in the pool once a week to keep up the motion without the impact. Lay out some run courses that emulate the terrain of your next race. Read John Douillard’s “Body, Mind and Sport” and learn, among other things, how to get "the runners high".

The run leg of a triathlon is where most races are won or lost, so place some extra focus on your run training to really make the most of your racing. ?

"The time is always right to do what is right" Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It appears to me that everyone can agree that training with a heart rate monitor is a good idea. And they seem to agree that the majority of pre season training should be aerobic to build a strong aerobic base with a smaller percentage time spent training at or above threshold. But what too few can agree upon is how you locate that crossover point. So here I wade into the dark realm of "determining threshold", a discussion as congenial as a cancer society/tobacco industry debate circa 1970.

Let's start with something that almost everyone can agree upon: your maximum heart rate is a genetically set number that cannot be changed but your anaerobic threshold (AKA aerobic threshold, or lactate threshold) is something that can be improved upon. I want to keep this simple, so let's define some terms: max heart rate (max HR) is pretty straightforward. It's your ceiling - it's as hard as you can go. Your threshold (AT), on the other hand, is a point at which the body switches from the aerobic energy system to the anaerobic energy system. It may help to think of these as two different engines in the body. The aerobic engine is an efficient, environmentally friendly machine that can run all day. The aerobic engine runs pretty much on oxygen and fat (of which the body has plenty) and produces waste that is pretty easy to deal with like sweat, urine, carbon dioxide and a small amount of lactic acid. The anaerobic engine is another story. It's more like the engine you would take to the quarter mile drag strip - lots of power, but it won't last long. It runs pretty much on stored glycogen (glucose) alone and produces some ugly amounts of lactic acid as waste. So much lactic acid, in fact, that the body can't flush itself of the toxin fast enough and performance begins to decrease.

A triathlete needs an efficient energy system that can last a long time. Even a sprint distance race that lasts as little as an hour is a race that predominantly uses the aerobic energy system. By training the aerobic system to be the best that it can be the athlete will push the threshold boundary farther away. The results are simple; you get faster. To train the aerobic engine you need to know where your AT is and you need to stay under it. A heart rate monitor can tell you what your pulse rate is but you need to first determine what number represents your threshold. This is where the arguments can really get heated. There are several methods to finding your AT and they seem to be dependent on these factors: Time, Expense, Accuracy - choose any two. The most accurate results come from a lab, and after you get an appointment you're going to pay anywhere from $120 to $600 for the test. The quick and easy methods are cheap but the results can differ greatly. I submit my own personal info as an example:

My AT was determined by a lab last year to be at 161 beats per min (bpm).

One of the oldest methods to determine max heart rate is to take 220 and subtract your age. For me that would be 220-31=189 which is nice but as stated earlier, everybody agrees that max heart rate is a pretty useless number since its genetically set and I can't do thing to improve it. I've got a half a dozen books in my office that claim lactate threshold is approximately 65 to 90 percent of max. That broad spectrum tells me that my AT is some where between 122 bpm and 170 bpm. The difference in effort between those numbers is huge and would not result in very specific training.

A more complicated equation is the Karvonen Formula. Here again we start with 220 less my age (31) and get 189, then we subtract my resting heart rate (42) and get 147. Then I take that number and multiply by the desired intensity level. If AT lies between 65 and 90 percent then we will use those intensity levels; 65% of 147 is 96 and 90% of 147 is 132. Then to complete the formula we add the resting heart rate back on and determine that my AT is somewhere between 138 and 174. Better, but still too much gap.

When Mark Allen spoke to the TZ crew last month he said that to determine your AT all you needed to do was subtract your age from 180 and then tweak it by subtracting 10 if you're a couch potato, subtracting 5 if you're a weekend warrior, leaving the result unchanged if you workout 3 to 4 times per week for the last several months or add 5 if you have been training consistently for the last 2 years. That would put my AT at 154. How could anyone argue with Mark, he's a super nice guy and judging from his resume, this clearly works for him.

There is agreement that most athletes can maintain a heart rate that is at (or slightly above) their AT for a 30 to 45 minute workout. A great way to judge your AT would be to run a 10K or ride a one hour time trial and take your average heart rate for that effort. What is nice about this method is that you can revisit the test and change your training as you improve your AT. This method also settles another argument, the discussion over weather or not your AT remains the same for all three sports. This test will give you results specific for you on your bike or your run. Wearing a monitor during swim training isn't very functional but if you are really set on knowing your swim threshold then swim a 3000 yard or meter time trail and get your 100 yd/m average - that will be your threshold pace for a "hundred" and can be put to use for training.

Regardless of the number you get or how you got it, making an effort can help your training. On those days when you’re alone and motivation is needed, the heart rate monitor and an assumed number can be a real driving force. And on the other side of the coin, if you're on a group ride or run and you feel like your killing yourself to keep up with the hammer heads - that monitor and estimated AT can be the thing that helps make the decision to slow down to a more logical zone. Heart rate can be influenced by heat, hydration, fatigue, overreaching, over-training, and other factors. Its just a tool designed to assist your training, try not to become a slave to the device and remember to listen to how you are feeling first. ?

"He realized that The Precious Present was just that: The Present. Not the past; and not the future, but The precious Present." Spencer Johnson author of The Precious Present Let's be honest, any long term activity can lead to burn out. As triathletes in Southern California, we're in an extremely high risk category. Endurance sports like triathlon provide us with great joy and elation after most workouts and races, but a long season can wear down the body, the mind and the spirit. Add to that the fact that we live here in the land of endless summer, so if we're not careful we can look back and see months and months building up to link season after season without a decent break. I want to speak directly to the mental side of the problem: Triathletes often talk of over-training or over-reaching, but this is more about attitude than exertion. Many Team members started this season's training extremely early in order to find good form for both Wildflower and Ironman California. Now, with several important races coming this September to Los Angeles, some athletes are looking at 9 to 10 months of seemingly endless sessions in the pool, circles on the bike and strides on the run. That kind of monotony can take all the fun right out triathlon, arguably the greatest sport in the world in one of its greatest years. To keep things fresh, here are some suggestions: Give it a rest: Five days off can make you find the hunger for a workout. Take that training time and go for a hike, go to the beach, or sleep late and read. In comparison to five days of mediocre forced training, five days of rest will yield no loss of fitness and can boost morale. Find Inspiration: July is tough month for triathlon in LA. We've been at it for several months, but there are still more to go. It's hot, the beach routes are crowded. TV is loaded with reruns, but thank heaven for the Tour de France! If you can't find inspiration in the effort put out by those guys, then you may need therapy beyond what Bob Forster offers. Especially now, an American team with the US Postal name, the style of Lance, and the whole cancer thing - just thinking about it makes me want to jump up from the keyboard and go for a spin. If the Tour doesn't do it for you, then check out the Track and Field Olympic qualifier or view some Ironmans of old on tape. Buddy up: If you're not making it out as often as you like and you're missing a few too many workouts that you told yourself you were gonna make, then find a partner. There are athletes out there that are dying to find a workout partner. And don't concern yourself with different ability levels. Arrange a time to meet and start together, if you split up after warm up, that's fine - at least it got you going. Just keep the communication lines open so that everyone is free to work out at their appropriate level. Show up self sufficient so that no one need worry. Let the club work for you: LA Tri Club offers several group workouts - just call the 877 TRI GEEK line to find them. Don't Take It For Granted: If you're reading this, consider yourself lucky. Chances are you're employed, you've got a pair of swim goggles, a bike (any bike) and pair of running shoes. You are also living in a first world country that's got a strong economy, its roads are smooth and even, its fairly safe outside, it's air and water are relatively clean. I read on page one of the Sunday, July 16th LA Times about Sirivahn Ketavog. She is Laos' best female distance runner, she's bound for Sydney, she competed in the '96 Atlanta Games, and she trained in the same pair of shoes for nearly four years until somebody bought her a new pair for $30 and gave her a running magazine that had some training tips in it. In the same article there's a bit about a 22 year old Peruvian wrestler named Sidney Guzman who, like many of his country's athletes, subsists on bread and tea after workouts. The sports officials in Peru discovered that many of their amateur athletes were malnourished and started handing out pasta, but some end up selling it to pay rent on cardboard-roofed slums. Health seems to be a thing we also take for granted. Whenever I start boohooing over a strain, I try to think of Rudy Garcia. If you don't know of this kid, keep your eyes open at Zuma on September 17th for a 12 year old, above the knee - double amputee who breezes through a tri with a huge smile on his face. Break it up: Scatter races throughout the season. If you have one important race in the spring and one in September then you are setting yourself up for trouble. Even if the dates look questionable, go to a race three weeks before a key event and just phone it in. Or show up for a sprint right after a long distance tri and do it for fun. Another great way to test yourself and keep things interesting is to break up the disciplines. I see a ton of triathletes compete in 5K, 10K and other foot races, but too few triathletes go to a mountain and/or road bike races. Give some thought to removing your aerobars and getting a hard lesson in tactics from the group, or leave your aeros on and race a time trail. Swim meets also happen frequently. Ask your coach about local meets or masters nationals - preparing for one of those will definitely bump you up a level.

"And once I had a job cleaning toilets for a living - on the night shift, for chrissakes. Got that? I didn't even rate cleaning toilets during the day. My bosses actually thought to themselves, "Yeah, Miller's good, he's real good. He's just not ready for The Show yet." Dennis Miller Planning the perfect race is next to impossible. There are so many variables: the heat, the humidity, the race directors organization, the water, the wind, your mood, the mood of the guy next to you at the first buoy who's swinging his arms like hatchets, the driver of the Acme Tack and Nail truck who's trying to keep his load from bouncing all over the bike course on his way to the Quackenbush account in Oxnard. You can't cover all the bases, but you can set yourself up for a good race by making smart choices. I write this with the team championships at Zuma in mind, but these hints can be applied to most races. Think "Rest" 5 days out Even the coolest triathlon veteran will sleep poorly the night before the race. If you're headed to your first event, you may find yourself glued to the ceiling at midnight trying to talk yourself down from spastic visualizations of the swim and from triple checking your gear. If you're sleeping at a hotel, or as a guest in someone's house, you can experience any number of pitfalls - pillows that are too thick, or oddly distracting (but intriguing) nearby noises. Plan for and get solid nights of sleep for the five nights prior to race. If you only get a few hours sleep the night before the race, you still have stored rest from which to draw. If you don't know a race taper from the Mark Taper, don't sweat it: the basic elements to shoot for are shorter workouts with only brief moments of intensity. If your plan is a week on the couch before the race, you may find your body going into shock on race day. On the other hand, if you're killing yourself a few days prior to the race with ten one-hundreds on a minute in the pool, and a track workout, you may find yourself too tired on race day to make the finish (or the start). Find a balance that keeps you fresh and active. Hydration is also critical as early as four days prior to the race. Too much water can actually wash away critical electrolytes so consume 8 ounces of Powerbar Perform or a similar beverage between every 1.5 liters of water that you drink. Eat Smart The dinner on the night before the race should be something you know and like. Twelve hours from the race start is not the time to be experimenting with Uncle Leon's new double barrel Cajun recipe, or testing to see if that childhood peanut allergy has faded with age. Eat a simple, balanced dinner. Try to avoid foods that may congest you, like red meat and dairy. Carbo-loading is important for events lasting several hours, but for shorter races get a good lean mix of carbs and protein and don't overstuff yourself. The Morning of One of the most successful short-course triathletes in the LA Tri Club is Jamie Silber. One of Jamie's best secrets for a successful race is maintaining warmth before the race. From the moment you wake, get warm and stay warm until the gun goes off. Go with layers that you can peel off to get down to your race wear - sweats, a jacket and even a winter hat will help your body prepare for the effort to come. Use the facilities at home. I cannot stress this enough: get up early, have your race breakfast, and use the toilet at home rather than at the race site. There are always lines at the site, the restrooms are rarely as clean or as comfortable as the one in your own home, and you can spend that time at the site double-checking everything. Know the Course Use the internet, ask your friends, and check the maps until you know where the course goes. Find time to cover most of the course (especially the bike and run) in the days before the race. If you have never participated in this event before you must go to the "course talk". If you have done the race before you probably should go to the "course talk" because there may be changes or new hazards. After you set up your transition, walk to the "swim entrance" of the transition area - sight your space and make a note on how to find it when you come out of the swim. Then walk to the "bike entrance" of the transition area - sight your space and make a note so you can find your shoes when you come off the bike. Finally, check out the swim start. Walk the line from the start towards the first mark of the swim - look for rocks, holes, sand bars, etc. You will be running this route later so get to know it. Also, get out into the water and check for currents, learning the currents can save you several minutes in the swim. Know the Rules I've tried to read the USAT rulebook - correction: I did read the USAT rulebook as a part of my certification. The book is pretty thick, it has many chapters, and is written in fairly fine print, but I came away remembering three "big" rules: one about the helmet, one abut drafting and one about blocking. The helmet is easy; it must be on and be fastened while with the bike. There are notes about "fastened until dismounted", but why test the officials - just leave it on until you rack the bike. Drafting always interests me because it is the most divisive and religious element of our sport. Here's the gist of it: there is a "drafting zone" around each bicycle - it's in the shape of a box. The box measures 2 meters in width (1 meter on either side of the rider) and 10 meters in length, and they measure that from the front wheel. When you pass, you need to move through that zone in 15 seconds. Blocking basically means if you pull out to pass, you need to check back to make sure you don't pull out in front of a faster rider who is passing you. Humans who have different perspectives judge all these rules. For example, it seemed that the drafting zone during my ride at Wildflower in'99 was the size of a shoebox and measured off of the rear hub. The bottom line is: don't draft unless you're in a draft legal race, keep your helmet on and fastened, and look back before you make a move. By keeping just some basics in mind you can reduce the number of unpleasant surprises that can come up in a race. For many of us in this sport, racing is recreation. So keep it fun and enjoy the experience.

"God is in the details." Mies Van De Rohe, 1930.

Most of the athletes that I coach come to me for one specific reason: They want to get faster. Faster finishing times are the result of more specific and more accurate training but I have a secret that will shave an average of 2 minutes off of your race time -- without getting your heart rate over 100 bpm. The secret is to organize, simplify and practice your transitions. I have heard Mark Allen refer to the transition as the "no pain, free gain zone," a tough rhyme scheme but a fairly accurate assessment. A fast transition will not only improve your time but it can also dramatically change your results: a quick change over can break the spirit of a competitor who has been hanging with you, and it can launch you up in front of others that you have been killing yourself to pass. All you need to do is to organize, simplify and practice. T1 (the swim-to-bike transition) is usually the hardest. The blood has inflated the shoulders, chest and triceps to Popeye-esque proportions. Oftentimes not only will your legs not work like they should, but your brain isn't functioning that well either. Many triathletes suffer from dizziness during the swim exit, and it can last well into the first few miles of the bike ride. Organize T1: Figure out a way to hang the bike by the seat so it is "backed in" to the space and ready to roll out, rather than hanging it by the brake levers. Place your helmet on the aero bars upside down, with straps laid smooth and open. Have the arms of sunglasses open and ready to slip on -- or better yet tuck 'em on the bike somewhere -- they can be put in place once you're up to speed. Have shoe straps wide and tongue up ready to receive your foot. Simplify T1: Attach everything else you will need to the bike (warm Powerbars bend nicely over the top tube of the frame. Tape only the tear-away-tab of Powergels to your frame so that when you pull them off you open them in the same motion. Or better yet, get a flask). Look over the gear you will be using: do you really need socks on the bike? Do you really need bike shorts? Wouldn't one of those nifty QR padded slip-on seat covers be even better? Practice T1: Take some time when no one is around and do it. Lean the bike up against a chair in the back yard and put on your wet suit. Pick a place to start your watch and run to the bike as you unzip and pull the suit off your arms and down to your waist. When you get to the bike, get it off. Then choose the best order of donning shoes and helmet for you, and run the bike over the trail finish line. Stop your watch. Do it 3 more times faster each time, until it's lightning. And if you forget to fasten the helmet DQ yourself and start over because the race officials certainly will.

T1 Helpful Hints: After you set up find the swim exit and transition entrance. Walk that route and find some tangible and fool proof way to find your bike. Cut a couple of inches off each leg of your wet suit and it will come off over your feet much faster. Add a lubricant like Sportslick to outside of the legs of the suit below the knee, and to the outside of the arms past the elbow. This will allow the suit to slide over your feet and hands faster when you peel it off. FISOB (Feet In Shoes On Bike) is the act of bringing the bike up to speed before you put on your shoes. Unless the course is bumpy, technical or uphill out of transition try the FISOB, it is the fastest way to gain extra time on your competitors.

T2 (the bike-to-run transition) is usually the fastest. This can also be the most traumatic transition. Every time I get back to my transition area it looks as if a tornado has come through. Then, when I find my rack, my shoes and things are not exactly like I left them. Organize T2: Place your run stuff on a small and simple towel, this will denote the space more clearly and it may be less trampled by other racers. It will also be easier to find without the other bikes around. Simplify T2: You may not need more than shoes, a number belt and hat but if you do need more (salt tabs, inhaler, etc.) then choose a tiny fanny pack that can double as a number belt. Ultimate makes a great mini fanny pack with a gel flask holster that works great for longer races or special needs. Practice T2: Move your practice area from the back yard to the street or driveway. Again, pick a point at which to start your watch and ride to the chair. Even if you don't like to do the FISOB definitely leave your shoes on the pedals coming into T2. As you ride in, reach down and undo one shoe strap, remove the foot from the shoe and place it atop the shoe. Do the same with the other foot, adding a few pedal strokes for more speed if needed. As you roll up to the rack or dismount line, swing one foot around the back of the saddle and between the bike frame and the leg still on the pedal. This dismount will allow you to step off the bike at running speed. Rack the bike this time by hanging it by the brake handles. Remove helmet, slip on run shoes, and go. The hat, glasses and run belt can be donned as you run out the transition area.

T2 Helpful Hints: Socks are slow, but for really long runs they may be necessary. Slathering some lubricant on the seams inside the shoe may allow for a barefoot run. Barrel locks or elastic laces are a must.

The shorter the race, the less you need. If you are racing a sprint distance triathlon it's going to be over pretty quickly, so go bare bones. If you are racing iron distance then comfort will be more of a key. Regardless of the distance, remember the golden rule for triathlon: Nothing New On Race Day. If you have not tried and tested something in training, then don't bring it into the transition area on race day. ?

"When he laughed his belly shook like a bowl full of jelly", my nearest recollection of an old Christmas song. The holidays are a tough time on triathletes. Limited daylight hinders training time, weeks of parties and huge meals disrupt diets, and travel dashes hopes for weekly mileage. I have a few suggestions that may help to keep you on track, because travel any time of the year can really alter training plans. Finding a way to keep on target during these times takes only a bit of initiative, will sustain fitness, and may also add great value to the trip. Eating well on the road and eating wisely during the holidays is a huge challenge. A poorly executed plan can result in discomfort after meals, low quality workouts the next day, expanded waistlines, and three weeks of workouts that are directed more towards weight loss than technique or aerobic advancement. Here are some suggestions to avoid the peril: Regarding Travel, Plan Ahead - For swimming: Check the web for pools in the area of destination. If you're staying in a hotel, start there - quiz the manager on the length of the pool and its temperature. Most hotels don't have pools for lap swimming, so if they are uncertain of the length it's probably a kidney shaped, kiddy pool with a hot tub like temperature. It's pretty inexpensive to visit a pool for lap swimming, and you might even get lucky with a masters program to fit your needs. Before you travel, look to the web for assistance: has a great list of pools, just click on "places to swim" and "search" and you can direct it to the city and state in your future. For Biking: Traveling with your bike is a bit of a hassle. It can be expensive ($50 to $100 for the flight depending on what agent you get, and a decent box can be pricey), a bit of set up and breakdown, risk of damage, unknown routes, etc. etc. Before you go, find a heath club or gym that has either a stationary bike - or better yet, a spin class. TAKE YOUR CYCLING SHOES. I ride Time shoes and pedals, and I travel with my own shoes, pedals and two wrenches for a quick changeover just before class starts. If you are going to take a spin class, don't waste it with running shoes and toe clips! Do all the necessary legwork beforehand - location of club, spin class schedule, guest fee cost and type of pedals on the bikes. For Running: There is no better way to see a new place than on foot. Several good runs can result in a new perspective and greater exposure to the area. Before I go, I like to visit California Map and Travel Center (on the South side of Pico, a couple blocks west of Centinela). A few minutes with a map can result in some great discoveries (parks, nature conservancies, water front routes, etc). When you reach the new area, a call to a local running shoe store can really help to discover great areas and maximize safety. Use running time to judge distance and reduce the pace enough so that you can take in the surroundings - out and back runs are usually the best bet in new areas. For The Basics: If a travel schedule is such a nightmare that a swim/spin/run is out of the question - then I suggest two things: 1) take 20 minutes on any floor to stretch really well and do a little ab work and 2) make drastic changes in whatever is stealing your life away. Regarding Diet - Realize the Truths - I just use the term "diet," and that right there is a risk. Our nation is obsessed with this term. It conjures up all sorts of horrific reactions. If we can get beyond the fallacies of the "grapefruit diet," the 40-30-30 plan, the juice fasts, and (my personal favorite) Nikki Haskel's Star Caps - then we can talk reality. The reality is simple - if you eat more calories than you burn you will gain mass, if you burn more calories than you eat then you lose mass. I like to eat and if I really let it go (especially during the holidays), I can easily wolf down 4000 to 5000 calories in a day. I would need to swim for an hour, ride for about 3 hours and run for 2 hours to burn off the excess calories. Yikes! So here are some suggestions for those of us out there who want to keep a handle on Festive Feasting: Drink less - a gram of alcohol has 7 calories, fat has 9 calories and protein and carbs both have 4. If you're going to reduce some caloric intake, booze is a great place to start. Warning: Eggnog contains everything you want to avoid (yolks, sugar, fat, alcohol, cholesterol, calories, etc. - it's basically death in a Christmas mug). Dedicate one day to go hog wild - pick one day of the week where nothing matters. Avoid deserts, spreads (butter, mayo, etc.), dressings, dairy, etc. for 6 days of the week and then on whatever day you choose - splurge. Eat less bread - pretty much every slice of bread has 100 calories (give or take a few). If you make sandwiches open-faced and avoid bread before and during a meal then you may save yourself 300+ calories at the end of the day. Keep just a touch of fat involved-The body needs a bit of fat to feel satisfied. If you avoid fat completely, you will need to eat more often so keep a bit of fat in your diet. Up the quality and value of the calories you do eat - pick the veggies off the party tray and pass on the mini quiches. Pull the yolks out of deviled eggs and eat the whites. Try to decide beforehand to what limits you will hold. Don't stuff yourself - eat smaller meals more frequently and you will feel better and more than likely consume fewer calories at the end of the day. There are always leftovers to have later. Have a great holiday and I'll see you out there.

He waits by the water's edge
knowing that the shimmering salty sea
will soon erupt and surge from the invasion.
Dashing madness.
He's swallowed by the swells
emerging as a dolphin
then he disappears from sight.

In precise and methodical evolution, he mounts his steady steed
with captivating confidence and youthful fearlessness.
Throwing flames through lungs afire
Heart bounding from his chest
He barrels down upon his prey
He leaves them limp and lifeless

In glimpses of golden sunlight rays
leading his way towards the end of eternity
His feet lightly touching down
moving him forward in silent solitude
Though in the midst of fierce and fury battle
he masters a calm and tranquil trance
allowing him to fly
as if he wore the wings of an angel.

There are many types of nice wheels on the market. This article is not going to touch on those types. Instead, I am only going to cover a few of the great & more popular models. So if I just happen to leave your particular favorite out, Don't worry, this is not intended to be a review. I simply picked a few of the top manufacturers and I will discuss some the fundamental basics of aerodynamics in each. Every model wheel here is appropriate for triathlon. So if your in the market for an upgrade..... then check these out! First, let's cover some of the technical basics. Aerodynamics is the study of how a solid body moves through the air which surrounds it. So when I compare this definition to the sport of cycling, it's about how a rider and bike together overcome the air resistance created by forward motion. In rotational motion, the moment of inertia is directly affected by the amount of mass or weight. Inertia is the natural tendancy of an object to remain at rest or in motion at a constant speed in a straight line or axis. Lowering the moment of inertia and the wheels rotational weight means less resistance to forward motion. This translates to faster acceleration and better performance. Next, The speed you can achieve on your bike is determined by two factors. The first is how much power you are able to produce, measured in watts. The second is the wind resistance this creates, commonly referred to as "drag" in wind tunnel testing. The faster you go, the more of this drag there is to overcome. This is why a rider with a technical advantage is often able to defeat one with a greater power output. So that said, Take advantage of every second you can get because they all add up. Here are a few more technical facts about you and your machine. Approximately 80% of an average rider's output is used to overcome the effects of frame & rider drag when cycling on flat terrain. Any reduction in this percentage will therefore result in either an increase in speed or a decrease in the effort required to maintain it. Wheel drag can account for over 10% of your energy on the bike split alone. A front aero wheel can save over one minute in a 40k bike leg. Steve Hed of HED Cycle Wheels said: "It's a relatively simple matter to correctly design an aero wheel capable of producing a low drag factor against a direct headwind. However, we understand that a true headwind is virtually unknown in nature as it relates to cycling aerodynamics. All it takes is a 5mm lateral shift by the rider and the headwind becomes a side wind in relation to the front wheel. Designing a wheel that performs correctly in such a situation is therefore paramount. This is why all of our wheels are designed and tested using wind angles from 5 to 20 degrees. By carefully regulating the size and shape of the side section of our wheels, we can achieve optimum wheel performance no matter what the wind conditions happen to be. So when we go faster in the wind tunnel, you go faster out on the road." The Wheels.......... 1) Corima wheels are hand fabricated with the same attention to detail as their frames. One of Corima's technical breakthroughs is the use of a structural foam to reinforce their structures. This allows the opposite carbon walls to work together, improving the distribution of stresses and obtaining a more rigid product at a lower weight than their competitors. Corima wheels also use large diameter ball bearings with water repellant grease and non-friction seals for very low rolling resistance. -12 spoke tubular carbon front or rear with aero bladed stainless steel spokes and hidden nipples for improved aerodynamics. 650c Tubular front 635g, 700c Tubular front 675g. 24 spoke rear is extremely stiff with excellent power transfer and same bladed spokes and hidden nipples. 650c Tubular rear 816g, 700c Tubular rear 856g. Rim depth 40mm on 650, and 45mm on 700. (Tubular 650c pair 1451g, Tubular 700c pair 1531g.) Offered in both clincher and tubular versions. Front clincher: $563.00, front tubular: $475.00, rear clincher: $626.00, rear tubular: $549.00 -4 spoke tubular carbon front or rear with 4 aerodynamically shaped carbon fiber blades. Incredible lateral rigidity. Carbon Rim itself only weighs 240g. So well balanced that it will spin independantly in the front/side eliminating the "egg beater" effect found in other wheels. Rim depth 36mm on 650 and 700c. I recommend using the 12 spoke front and 4 spoke carbon rear combiation more all ideal race day conditions. 650c front 822g , rear 968g (pair=1790g), 700c front 762g, rear 908g (pair=1670g). Note: Use Corima special ceramic brake pads for increased stopping power. Front clincher: $719.00, front tubular: $599.00, rear clincher: $819.00, rear tubular: $699.00, Rear clincher disc: $819.00, rear tubular disc: $719.00 2) HED wheels. I really like their range of choices, you get variety and the ability to mix and match. Common technical design features in all HED wheels, include radially laced aero bladed spokes on front wheels, and non-drive side rear wheels to improve aerodynamics and reduce weight. All wheels have aluminum braking surfaces (clincher & tubular). The hub used in all our HED wheels, is the aerodynamic Sonic hub designed by Hed. -HED 3 spoke carbon has similar aerodynamic efficiency the Deep, but the advantage is that its handling properties are closer to the CX. Suitable for a wide variety of uses including road race, time trial, and triathlon. Three airfoil carbon blades and 55 mm deep rim. Aluminum rim for braking. I recommend this for the rear wheel with a Jet 2000 frontset up, or can be used front and rear on 650c triathlon bikes. Front clincher & tubular: $370.00, rear clincher & tubular: $430.00 -Jet 2000 DEEP features aerodynamic Sonic hubs and a super deep 90mm carbon rim. Almost as efficient as a disc wheel in head winds. (Note: Legal for Hawaii Ironman.) 650c has 18 front spokes, 24 rear. 700c has 24 front spokes, 28 rear. Front clincher & tubular: $318.00, rear clincher: $410.00, rear tubular: $388.00 -Jet 2000 CX with structural carbon fiber, offers great value but now has a 20% lighter aluminum rim. Custom full length spokes have hidden nipples. Aero Sonic hubs. Smooth carbon fairing increases hoop strength by up to 300%. I recommend this used for the front with a Jet 2000 Deep at the rear, or front and rear for both 650c & 700c triathlon bikes. Front clincher & tubular: $300.00, rear clincher & tubular: $360.00 3) Spinergy wheels have long been a popular choice for triathletes due to their style, affordability and durability. Its tri tension design reduces vibration and shock, thus, reducing your fatigue and permitting you to ride longer and faster. Is'nt that what we all want. -Spinergy SPOX R1 wheel uses lightweight, vectran carbon fiber spokes that have 5 times the tensile strength of steel with more vibration damping, less weight and a longer fatigue life. Also, this wheelset has an incredible low moment of inertia design, with the weight centered at the oversized carbon hub. Rember the tech stuff from above? This translates into a wheel with a very low rotating weight giving faster accelerations and help in those tough climbs. The SPOX are available with black or blue rims, and black and yellow spokes. R1: $675.00/pair, R2: $459.00/pair -Spinergy REV-X features 8 flat bladed carbon fiber spokes with an aluminum braking surface and an intergral aluminum hub featuring pressed in sealed bearing cartridges. 700c front tubular 860g, 700c rear tubular 1040g. Rim depth 47mm (700c pair 1900g). $649.00/pair 4) Zipp carbon fiber aerospace technology is legendary. The end result are wheels perfect for both short coarse and long coarse triathlons. Their assortment of different wheels equally dampen harsh road shock and exhibit great strength, climbing and acceleration characteristics. -Zipp 404's deep carbon fiber rim features a new lay up design to increase the wheels lateral stiffness with newly styled straight pull hubs and ovalized stainless steel or titanium spokes to handle very high tension. With a 58mm cross section and gentle convex wall curvature the aerodynamic performance and ride quality is unsurpasssed. $999.00/pair -Zipp 909's are even deeper with the same features as the 404's above make these wheels a very light and aerodynamically efficient combination. The front 650c wheels are 16 spoke, while the 700c wheels are 18 spoke, with deep 68mm carbon rims. Use these as a perfect matching set or pair up the deep section front 909 with a Zipp full carbon Disc on the rear for a super fast combonation. (Note: I don't recommend this setup in high cross wind race conditions.) $1249.99/pair. Rear disc: $ See Dealer... So there you have it....Choose your aerodynamic weapons carefully. If your going to buy just one one wheel, Purchase the front wheel first! It offers the most time savings because it contacts undisturbed clean air. ê

Take me back to those dark dawn rides
Tiptoeing away from my temple of dreams and
My partner in peaceful slumber
To meet the chill in fearless battle
To conquer each hill alone
Take me back to that frigid plunge
A world away from most
Solitary silence
Only broken by tempoed breaths
A symphony for my mind
Take me back to the run on the sun
Single silhouette of cat and mouse
My shadow chases me down
And take me back to the endless journey
Even after crossing the line
Take me back in silent meditation
Take me back to being my best
Even when no one is looking

"Nothing is more terrible than activity without insight"

I didn't learn how to swim until 1997. I was 29 years old. Since then I've become a pretty darn good swimmer and I mentioned this recently to a group at an ocean swim clinic. The response was more than I expected and it was suggested to me that I share the tale. Let me first explain how bad it really was!

My Grandmother, Gertrude, was so afraid of the water that she took only baths. She refused to shower because she was scared to have water in her face. That kind of fear can really affect a child, I took her lead and developed some deeply rooted water terror early on. My older brother, who often tired of my inadequacies, took it upon himself to teach me to swim by throwing me into the deep end of our home town pool. The panicked doggie paddle that I used to survive that incident at age 6 wasn't to different from the stroke I used nearly 20 years later in the 1996 Santa Monica sprint race - my first triathlon. It all had to change and in January of 1997 I decided I wanted to take command of the water. I probably should have called a family therapist but instead I called the YMCA in the Pacific Palisades.

My first day at masters was brutal. I was placed in lane one (their slowest) along with a septuagenarian and woman deep in her third trimester. I had a hard time keeping up with their pace. It didn't matter if we were to swim a 50 or a 100 or set of consecutive laps - I had to stop after every length and wait for my heart rate to drop below 205 before I could go on. It took some time for me to understand what it takes to swim well, but that comprehension is what leads to good technique and good technique is what makes one fast.

In every good athlete's past are certain names, specific times or big milestones that mark development. Some of those that haunt my brief swimming history include

Paul Henne. Paul's is a swim coach who, early on, told me "Ian, you have to learn to be able to swim from one end of the pool to the other as slowly as you could walk". That really struck a cord with me. I was so busy trying to swim "hard" that I hadn't considered the alternative: swimming easy. Swimming easy is the key to good swimming - learn what it takes to swim slowly and calmly and you will develop what it takes to swim fast.

Another is Will Douglas, Will is a swim coach who was fanatical about "stretching it out". He was the first to wake me up to getting the body as long as possible. I sailed a bit as a teen and I knew that the fastest boat had the longest hull - so his words rang true, speed comes from reaching, rolling and do everything one can to get long.

Scott Tinley added to that element when he wrote on my schedule one week "DPS". It took me a days and days of phone calls to get him to elaborate and explain that DPS meant Distance Per Stroke. That was the first time I counted my strokes per 25 yards. The logical goal is to be able to swim a decent time (ie. not too far off your normal pace) and swim it with fewer strokes. That yields greater efficiency.

Terry Laughlin made a huge impact when I attended his Total Immersion camp. Never had so much attention be put to me about swimming on ones side. For hours at that camp I floated on my side without swimming a stroke. I kicked hundreds of yards that weekend and not one of them was flat on my stomach. Terry taught me about the power stored in my hips and how to access speed by timing the movement of the hips from one side to the other. It changed everything I was doing and I haven't kicked with a board since.

Escape From Alcatraz June '97 was a breakthrough. I had moved up to lane 3 or 4 in my masters group by swimming three days a week and demanding the attention of the coach everyday. I felt like I could make the swim from "The Rock" to Crissy Field. I exited the water with other athletes that I knew to be fast than I. That swim gave me such confidence that when I returned to masters I dropped into lane 6 (their fastest) and worked my ass off to hold on to the time standards that they swam.

Mike & Rob's August '97 was a race that had me shaking in my boots. The race was on a Sunday and during the week prior a huge swell was hammering the shores of Southern California. My swimming had improved but the surf still terrified me. I went to see Will Douglas while he was guarding on State Beach in Santa Monica. He took his phone off the hook in his tower and we approached the shore break that was well over head and powerful. Will showed me how to dive to the bottom, grab sand and pull myself out the back of the wave. After a couple of ins and outs I had gain confidence because I had survived and felt good about that. I still had trepidation as we arrived at the race site. I parked and ran across the beach to check the surf. It was dead flat - Lake Pacific. It made me think of what Mark Twain said about worrying: "Most of my biggest troubles in life never even happened".

Ironman '97 I'd never swan 2.4 miles non stop and thought it would take forever - 1:09 Every Olympic Dist Race seemed to have me held at 25 minutes until I decided I could handle the rough housing that went on up front then I went 22 minutes.

There are breakthroughs out there in swimming but you have to be dedicated to find them. Take a clinic once a year, get put on tape and watch yourself swim, observe the best swimmers in your pool underwater and emulate, and above all get coaching. I'll see you in the water.

"'Begin with the end in Mind' is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There's a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation to all things." Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Time is a huge factor in the life of a triathlete. There are three major areas of time management: weeks of preparation, hours within those weeks and what can come down to minutes on race day. The time given to preparation is inextricably attached to your overall time on race day.

There is so much chatter amongst us about how much time is needed to prepare for a race. A recent industry magazine boasted an article entitled "13 weeks to a 13 hour Ironman". Julie Moss and Mark Allen dedicated a whole chapter of their book "Workouts For Working People", they called it "The Energy Pie - creating the time". I get calls periodically asking if I can help an athlete get ready for a race that's happening just one month from the call. A worst case scenario is something like: "Well, I've been bed ridden for 18 months but feeling better now and I want to do this half Ironman next month in under 5 hours but I can only train a few hours a week" Absurd! The fantasy scenario sounds like: "I'm healthy, active and rested and there's an Olympic distance race in 6 months and I'm looking to be in the top ten of my age group. Do you think I can make it by giving 10 hours a week?" Nice!

I once saw a slogan on the wall of what must have been an independently owned diner, it read: "Service, Quality, Price - choose any two". Here are the hard and fast factors that determine how much time you need to prepare as a triathlete: Current Fitness, Race Goal, Time Availability. They seem to flow together in pairs as well; if your race goal is to simply finish then you needn't be all that fit or have tons of free time to give. If your fitness is just sitting there waiting to be applied then you may be able to set a high goal with less time than others.

I like that old alliterated adage "Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance". Somebody smart said that long before triathlon was a sport but it suits our sport better than any other. The first step is setting a goal and setting it early. The longer the race or loftier the goal the more time you'll need. If an Ironman or a Championship is of interest to you then give yourself a well planned year. If the half at Wildflower each May is tickling your fancy then make a plan by October. If you just want to get through your first tri ever and it's a sprint then you may only need 12 weeks. The year or 8 months before a big race should include some critical phases: Transition (down time or recovery), Preparation (getting ready to train), Base (building the endurance needed), Build (pushing our the edges of the envelope), Peak (honing the details), Race. If we are talking about 12 weeks to a sprint then you should still include most of these phases but you will spend much less time in each and likely have to eliminate one or two.

As a point of reference this article should appear before your eyes mid May, 2001. Let's take the Los Angeles Triathlon or the Malibu as an example. May 28th , 2001 falls on a Monday and that day represents 15 weeks prior to the LA Triathlon (16 weeks out from Malibu). If you're fit, experienced and have a solid base built then you might divide those 15 weeks into 4 final weeks of base, 8 weeks of building, 2 weeks of peak activity and 1 week of taper. If that race stands before you as your first or longest race ever then you may slice up the pie a little differently: 8-10 weeks of base, 4-6 weeks of building, 1 week to taper. At (coming soon to a computer screen near you), triathlon coach Jamie Silber and I have established programs that are based on these exact principles of preparation. But they are definitely not ours alone. Most of this periodized training philosophy stems from years of research done by an Eastern Bloc athletic coach of yore (1960's) named Tudor Bompa. This information can be found regurgitated in many locations, my favorite has to be The Triathlete's Training Bible by Joe Friel.

Training time is hard to come by for all of us. It's best to stay organized and prioritize the key workouts. Try to strive for quality before quantity and make certain to include frequent, high quality rest.

"I observed in my own life that my ability to do handstands and somersaults didn't help much when I went out on a date."
Dan Millman, Body Mind Mastery

Mark Allen likes to call the transitions in triathlon the "no pain free gain" zone. I liked it but there was always this hint of a tongue twister in there that kept me from running with that expression. Then I see recently that Jimmy Riccitello uses the term "free speed". Now, that I like. Jimmy defines free speed as "anything non-physical that makes you go faster".

There is a list of goodies that fall under this Free Speed heading. Some are common sense, some are preventative and some seem kinda sneaky. But in the end your finishing time can reflect whether or not you take advantage of free speed.

Simmer: Anyone who goes into a race without some kind of warm up is just plain nutty. Look at any workout that you do in training and all of them should contain some sort of warm up. When most athletes swim an hour workout, their fastest times come around the 37th minute. If an athlete racing an Olympic distance triathlon doesn't warm up, they may never reach that point or, if they do, it might be just as they exit the water.

Location, Location, Location: Knowing how to find your bike rack seems so silly, yet at every race a good half dozen people can be found wandering the transition, totally glazed, looking like a little lost lithium lamb at Bellevue. When you set up your transition, go to the swim entrance and look back to your bike. Find a land mark, count rows, do what ever it takes to mark you spot. Do the same from the bike entrance. Some folks go to elaborate measures here, but, if you must choose a handicap method, pick the sidewalk chalk over the helium balloon. Thanks.

Ignorance is No Excuse for the Law: Some rules get can get you bounced in a hurry and others can save time. Ask an official if you can ride to and from your bike rack and, if not, find the walk lines. Read the USAT rules on drafting and blocking (, click on rules, and then on bike position fouls 5.10A). It says that each bike has a large rectangle surrounding it. The rectangle is 2 meters wide and 7 meters long. The longer sides of the zone begin at the leading edge of the front wheel and run backward parallel to the bicycle; the front wheel divides the short side of the zone into two equal parts. If your sitting anywhere in this rectangle you deserve to get busted. But, there maybe some free speed hiding within these rules: you can enter that drafting zone as long as you overtake the leading rider within 15 seconds. As crowded as races are today, if you're a fast rider you could theoretically move from draft zone to draft zone all the way through the course and remain legal - but you'd be pushing your luck with most marshals. And, just as a courtesy, ride right and pass on the left.

All of these moments of free speed are really nickel and dime ideas. In total you might be able to save yourself 3 or 4 minutes in a race with the "non-physical" elements. But, just on a lark I checked the 30-34 males at Malibu last year - 4 minutes was the difference between 1st and 7th. Go get 'em.

"When you build a thing you cannot merely build that thing in isolation, but must also repair the world about it, and within it"
Christopher Alexander

The biggest challenge in triathlon for most of us is time management. The average day is pretty full with family, loved ones, work, chores, volunteering, and separating the recycling among other things - and now we are going to find time to train? Sure we are. That constricted schedule makes every workout all the more critical, and forces us to make each and every workout count.

Many struggle to get quality out of back-to-back workouts. This is magnified on the weekends when we often have to dedicate one weekend day to a long run and the other weekend day to a long ride. Whichever workout comes on Sunday will be of lesser value, due to the intensity or duration of prior workout.


Here are some key pieces to keeping the quality in your schedule:

> Designate only one "key workout" for each discipline each week. Separate those key days so they are not on top of one another. For example, if Saturday is the key ride day because that day provides you with the most available time, then don't put the key run on Sunday. Make Sunday a recovery run or swim, and place the key run on Tuesday morning. To that end, place the key swim separate from the key run and key ride, so that a priority workout is not followed by a priority workout.

> Mix up the weekend. This is true especially for folks going long (half or Iron distance). If one Saturday contains a long ride, then the next weekend's Saturday should be a long run. Alternate the focus so freshness is awarded to a different activity each week.

> Take an antioxidant. Stress (emotional, physical, any kind) causes free radicals that can jeopardize the strength of cells in the body. Antioxidants can help reduce free radicals, thereby speeding recovery and bolstering the immune system.

> MOST IMPORTANTLY: Eat in the window. I have read at least a dozen articles on this subject, and I have experimented with their varying suggestions. My recommendations are thus: Within 20-30 minutes after a workout, eat some foods with a high glycemic value (if you wait past forty minutes, you've missed the recovery window). These are foods that enter the blood stream quickly as "sugar", and cause a surge in insulin. In contrast to what your mother may have told you, as an athlete, this is a good thing. Insulin is responsible for replacing glycogen in the muscle cells and helping them to repair. Foods that are high on the glycemic index are: Corn flakes, carrots, parsnips, honey, Rice Chex, white rice, Grapenuts flakes, molasses, French bread, baked potatoes, and more. Then, sometime between 45 and 60 minutes after this workout, have a snack consisting of two things: Lower glycemic foods (lentils, barley, beans {kidney, soy, black, lima, pinto, baked}, tomato soup, pasta, apples, apple sauce, kiwi, and more) and complete protein. Only animal based proteins are complete (complete means containing all of the essential amino acids). Some complete proteins are loaded with unwanted items like cholesterol and fats, so choose a clean and complete protein like skinless chicken breasts, nonfat cottage cheese, mahi mahi and egg whites. If you are a vegetarian (and good for you if you are) then supplement those vegetable proteins with essential amino acids.

"It's an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes." - Henry David Thoreau

I've been writing this column for over a year (I can even say that I started way back when they used to print the newsletter out on paper), and in that time period I have been holding back a few observations of our sport. That holding back ends now. Here are some very random wonderings that haunt me still today:

· What's with carbon cranks? There are carbon cranks out there that cost upwards of $400 (and that's without chain rings), while some aluminum cranks (with rings) are in the neighborhood of $120. The carbon pushers say, "They reduce flex by 30%", but how does that really matter if the whole bottom bracket of most bikes flexes away from the chain-stays and the down-tube anyway? They say, "They're 40% stiffer torsionally [is that a word?] than aluminum cranks". Paaalease, show me anyone who can twist a 7 inch block of aluminum with their feet. Then there's my favorite issue - weight - carbon at 375 grams vs. ~465 grams from the aluminum jobbies. 465-375=90grams. 90! My guess is that carbon crank connoisseurs could save more weight by passing on the bread one night at dinner and getting a hair cut.

· Training by time and training by distance. I see some athletes and coaches who judge training by time, and some who judge by distance. I vacillate between the two; early in the season (and during off season), I go by time (40 min run, 60 min run, 2 hour ride, 1 hour swim, etc.). When preparing for a race, there is a point where it's important to go by distance. We trust that the race director is building the race based on distance, so training based on distance is a plan that matches well with the effort. (Maybe someday a bizarre race will offer a 30 minute swim, 2 hour bike and 1 hour run - whoever goes the farthest wins)

· 650 vs. 700 (we're talking wheel size here). This one is hotly contested in the tri community and I don't really see why. There are advantages and disadvantages for both: 650's climb faster, accelerate better and create less drag but they are less stable on the down hills. 700's descend well, offer a smoother ride and great rolling momentum but are a bit slower on the climb and catch a bit more wind. It's a classic 6 of one, half dozen of the other situation. Most bikes with 650 wheels have triathlon geometry - that is to say that the seat tube is at a steeper angle than road bike geometry (most 700's). This positions the hips over the bottom bracket more and, therefore, makes it easier to run right off the bike. Some big guys (I think of Jurgen Zack immediately) look like they are riding a circus bike when they are on little 650's. But, some of the fastest cyclists in triathlon (I think of Jurgen Zack immediately) are riding 650's.

· Fins. I frequently swim in a masters program at Pepperdine University in Malibu. Everybody up there, save for one guy whom I really respect, wears fins during the whole workout. There are a few, logical reasons to wear fins while swimming (to lift the body out of the water during a specific drill so to match the feeling of actual swim speed, to develop leg strength and kick, to assist with ankle flexibility and more), but, aside from those legitimate reasons, I think swimming with fins for the entire workout is foolishness. Becoming dependent on any aid can be detrimental to both technique and confidence. All training should be specific to the race. Bike prep should be different for Wildflower then for the LA Triathlon, overall mileage would vary for a sprint as opposed to an Ironman. Until a race offers a "fin swim", train as much as you can without them. And be proud that you can hold most of the set with your own natural appendages.

· Taking Drugs. The difference between an athlete that takes drugs and an athlete that doesn't is simple - it's about morals, it's about character. There are those that cheat and those that don't. We are all human and humans love to justify simple cheating - "well, I had my goggles kicked off at the start so it was ok to cut that first buoy". Wrong, it's not okay to cut the buoy no matter what happened to you at the start. It seems that taking a performance enhancing drug is something that would be harder to justify, but in a decade, when genetic engineering will be the new cheater's ploy, the pill poppers and needle plungers may see "geneing" as their justification. There are people in our society who are missing that little voice in their head that says "don't do that, it's wrong", these people are missing a conscience, they are subtle sociopaths. These are the people who find themselves inching closer to cheating by buying a hypobaric chamber, taking epinefrine, etc. Part of the pride of being a triathlete comes from the fact that we could bike and run from Burbank to Westwood faster than the anybody else could go the distance in a car. As we slither closer to "the dark side" with unnatural enhancements we lose that natural, self propelled element. Take this sport seriously enough to care how and where you finish in a race, but don't take it so seriously that you have to manipulate those results.

I am responding to a previous question regarding IT band injuries, and the use of Speedplay pedal systems vs all other pedal systems....Yes! Any chiropracter knows that the body is very particular about proper alignment. Pain, muscle and joint strain and even potentially permanent damage can result from prolonged cleat misalignment. There are a couple of pedal systems that I would highly recommend, But first lets touch on a few things regarding why it is so important to choose the correct pedal system, and why it is also neccessary to make sure it is adjusted correctly.

There are many different types of pedals on the market. Not all of them will be Bio-mechanically advantages to triathletes in particular. The more popular systems that will require more adjustments are Look, Time, Ritchey Logic, Wellgo Road and Shimano SPD. These are traditionaly one-sided entry engagment clipless type and have a more tricky entry procedure that will require you to flip and hook the cleat tip mechanism before actually stepping down and engaging the pedal itself. They also require proper cleat alignment and a manual spring adjustment. Because they push your foot back to the manufacturer's idea of your neutral position, pedals like the Time road pedal are a problem if your natural neutral position is not manufacturer's neutral position. Easier said than done. Most folks will require a somewhat longer learning curve process before becoming efficient users. Nontheless, these are much more efficient than NO clipless pedals at all and are much better than the old style 'Cage and Strap' type pedal. Which you can still find on some new bikes as original OEM equipment? Other poor qualities in these types of pedals are a Fixed Cleat Position, Limited Side to Side Float (6-degrees), Poor Cornering Clearance, Heavier Weight and Difficult Engagement & Release. The most important of all the characteristics in these being "Cleat Positioning and Float".

Now, Two great pedal systems come to mind: SpeedPlay and Bebop pedal sytems. Most triathletes for years have found these systems to be clearly more desireable than any other. Both sytems offer between 15 & 19-degrees of side to side variable-float with "NO Fixed-Center" cleat positioning. Free float allows your knees and ankles to decide what position is best. They have dual sided entry w/ built-in internal spring mechanisms that don't require any adjustments-so stepping down without looking and engaging the pedals is made easy. I like the shorter cleat stack height on the Bebops. This is the distance between the bottom of the cleat and your shoe, which makes it considerably easier to run through a transition area w/ your bike in a triathlon. Both systems have the lowest centerline height(11mm), which is the distance between the pedal spindle and the ball of your foot. This feature translates to increased power transmission and less wasted energy between your foot, pedals, cranks and less bottom bracket torgue. Other differences to note are: SpeedPlay cleat will need replacing after about 6 months, depending on how much you may walk around on them (ie: LOOK cleats- 2-3/ year). I would recommend SpeedPlays "Coffee shop Caps" for an additional $ 9.95 to protect the bottom of the cleat for extended wear and life of your cleat. Replacement cleats retail for $ 39.95, Spring rebuild kits are $ 9.95, Speedy Luber Injection Kits $ 24.95. I do like the fact that these are completely rebuildable and have optional cleat mounting kits for a variety of shoe types. However, Bebops cleats contain no plastic and therefor last 4 times as long. The weight differences are minimal. If your looking for the lightest, then Speedplays Titanium X1's are about 150g +(50g or 96g for 4 or 3 hole adapter)cleats=$ 249.00, X2's have a Stainless steel spindle and are 198g +cleats=$ 165.00, X3's have a cromoly spindle and are 225g +cleats. (Note: All models supports 3 & 4 cleat mounting patterns.) Bebop's 8x pedals w/ an "Airomet" Hollow Stainless steel spindle weighing in at 195g +60g for cleats=$ 150.00-170.00, They offer a Cromo spindle model at 205g +60g cleats for $ 100.00-120.00 (Note: Most shoe types, ie: Carnac & SIDI offer optional SPD cleat mounting adaptor's.)

Other upgrades to your shoe system you might want to consider are "SuperFeet" Trim to fit Cycling Orthotic shoe inserts $ 29.95 (No prescription neccesary!) These will offer added fit, support and comfort for increased balance and stability. My Editor's Choice for "BEST UPGRADE" for dollar to performance value$$$. Another custom fit possibility would be "Big Meat" canted wedges to also help custom align your foot, ankle and knee problems. Manufactured by "A Gear Higher", This race proven spacer system can be used equally fitted under both left & right cleats between shoe to help align your foot for the most effective power delivery or built-up more on one side to compensat for any "Bio-Mechanical Leg length differences". Pro's that use the system: World Class-Time Trail Pro-Steve Hegg, Gold Medalist of the N.Y. GoodWill Games-Paul Swift plus many, many more!(Important: You must see your Doctor or Chiropracter before attempting the latter of the two!)

(Technical Note: All pedal sytems should be installed by a trained person. Pedal and or shoe types, use of orthotics, canted shim wedges & spacers and any cleat fore an aft adjustments will require the seat height positioning to change aswell (Seat clamp-height, angle and fore and aft adjustment can also vary.) Which will ultimately effect optimal alignment, balance and positioning on the bike overall.) So don't try to make adjustments to your own cleats unless you are absolutely sure you know what you are doing. Ask a fitting specialist at your local bike shop (Helen's?) for more details (ie: Individual rider size & weight, rider level & experience, training & racing needs, frame types & wheel sizes (650c vs 700c)will further determine proper frame size; aerobar type & size; stem type & size; fork-type, rake & clamp size & crank length and optimum front chainring...[38T & 39T/52/53/54/55/56] and rear cassette ratio's...[11/21, 11/23, 12/23, 12/25, 12/27]).

So that said, I always recommend carefully analyzing your individual needs first and then dicide what upgrade's will best suit you. Keep the rubber side down!

Don't leave your tires or tubes to chance on race-day! When in doubt, replace in advance and test if necessary. Your time and money spent getting to the finish line is an important investment.

A) Types of tires: Sew-ups vs. clincher?
B) Types of tubes: Butyl vs. Latex?
C) Valve Extender preparation
D) Repairing punctures
E) Installation of tubes and tires

A) Types of tires: -Standard with steel wire bead, not foldable, heavy, affordable, can be used as primarily training tires. -Kevlar-foldable, lighter, more expensive and good as training or racing tire. -Poly cotton kevlar-faster, lightest, most expensive, normally racing only. Wears out faster. Width: 20mm vs. 23mm? 20mm is normally a little faster due to less surface area friction, less in weight and wind resistance, usually a stiffer riding feelÅ ..23mm is normally a preferred size to use when training. It also has a smoother feeling ride and requires less air pressure to run. Dual compound-tires offer better performance. They provide a harder center compound for less rolling resistance and a softer/sticky side compound for increased traction while cornering for maximum speed and efficiency. Size-650c1s are generally used for time trial/triathlon type bikes, they accelerate faster, but don1t roll as smoothly at a faster top-out speed like 700c1s. Sometimes size indeed matters, given there is a more efficient size for every type of bike and its rider. Distances will vary, as will race conditions that better determine your optimal wheel size and or geometry for particular types and lengths of various triathlons. Here are some brief explanations-to help decide which type of tire that is best for you. Sew ups- are ideal for race-day. They are the most expensive combination to use. But offer the least amount of rolling resistance and are effectively the most comfortable riding tire for speed. However, these are not the most durable and more costly to repair professionally: about $20.00/tire not including S&H. (Average cost per tire is approx. $50.00-70.00) Cinchers-are somewhat more affordable. Replacement tubes for these can also inexpensive. If you will only be using this type of tire combination, try using a better quality set of tires. Perhaps using a lighter Latex tube for your preferred racing set-up; reserving the standard set with heavier butyl tubes for your training needs only.

B) Butyl tubes vs. latex tubes: Most people use butyl tubes because they are more affordable to replace and easier to repair. However, besides being a lot lighter, Latex tubes offer significant less rolling friction inside your tires; which means a faster, smoother ride. And over a 112.5-mile race that can make a big difference. Don1t choose Latex if you will be riding on cross-country training rides or races with less than desirable street surface conditions. Choose your proper valve type: Presta or Schraeder?

C) Valve extenders-Choose by length and type required. Your rim and or wheel choice will determine this for you. Shallow aluminum rims, carbon or deep section carbon wheels will require longer types. -Standard length valve extender sizes are: 30mm, 50mm, 60mm or 80mm -Extender with removable inner valve core. -Extender with adjustable inner barrel. Usually made of brass. Does not Oxidize due to salt air exposure. Note: Always use Teflon tape when using valve extenders of any type. Tape should be *2 wide and 1-1/22 in length and cover the threads of the tubes valve. Secure valve ext. with pliers if possible and check for inflation leaks. Let the air back out, fold and store properly. Never store tubes using only velcro straps behind seat. Instead, secure with electrical tape and place inside plastic bag and put inside saddle bag or jersey pocket to prevent premature punctures. Always use caution when securing spare folding clincher or sew-up tire using velcro straps. Fasten under seat or to a rear hydration system. (i.e.: Xlab System!)

D) Repairing punctures-Begin with carefully removing tube using tire lever. Inspect tube for holes or cuts by putting a little more air in tube. If location of puncture is not obvious, then carefully use your fingers to inspect the inside area of your tire for any remaining glass, thorns or nails. If you just hit a bump and the tire has gone instantly flat, the tube probably has been pinched by the wheel rim. If time permits, save money by repairing the puncture instead of just replacing the tube. Dip the valve and entire tube in a sink or bucket full of water and check for bubbles. Repair the hole using a standard repair kit. Tube repair-First; clean the surface around the puncture using the provided sandpaper or scraper. Then apply an even layer of glue, allow drying about 3-5 min. Apply the second layer and allow to air dry until tacky. Then remove the foil side of the patch and press face down firmly. Smoothing it out to remove any trapped air. Use tire lever to feather the edges of the patch into the tube. Note: the patches vulcanizing side is usually orange in color. Do not remove clear tape on back of patch until patch is dry and firmly in place. Apply chalk or baby powder if desired, it provides needed lubrication between the sticky surfaces to remove rolling friction and innerwear. (Note: Careful not to damage tube when using tire lever and make sure tire beads drop evenly into the well of the rim before inflating the tire fully again.)

E) Installing sew-up tires: If it is at all possible these should be installed by a professional at you local bike shop! Proper installation normally requires about 2 days for the glue to adequately dry and the tire seat itself safely. Most new sew-up tires should be pre-stretched before mounting, including the spare tire whether or not it is being stored at home or on the bike itself. Ideally the spare tire should have about 25 miles or a few days of riding on it before use. Therefore by allowing time to stretch, this will make it extremely easier to remount in the unfortunate event your get a flat on race day. First step, remove the complete wheel. You will definitely need to use your tire lever and or allen key wrench (lengthwise) to begin the removal of your sew-up tire. (Keep in mind your tire was mounted using 2 layers of glue, so this won1t be an easy task.) In most cases, find the area opposite of the valve. (For leverage, positioning wheel between your legs and lower abdomen) Insert lever and begin peeling back tire off as much as possible; then by hand, firmly grip the tire with one hand while using the other hand to hold the rim in place and push down to further separate, then with both hands finish ripping off the tire by firmly pushing and pulling the tire away from the rim. Remember, leverage is key here! -The next step is to reinstall your pre-stretched tire making certain the valve already has the correct length and prepped extender in place. Place the wheel upright on the ground or on the top of your foot and start by inserting valve first, pulling and pushing the rest of the tire on using both hands again while firmly pressing down along the wheels edges. Once it is on, use your pump or Co2 cartridge adapter to inflate the new tire. Preferably select an adapter with an airflow regulator. This will allow you to start out slowly while at the same time checking for any leaks and a proper fit. (Note: Make sure the adapter is firmly secured to the tire valve before engaging the Co2 cartridge!) Using tire mounting glue is not recommended during this procedure as it will not have the proper amount of time to dry and will therefore only be pushed out to each side of the rim as you begin refill with air pressure. Very Messy! Use paint thinner or Acetate to remove any access from tires, rim and hands. Finish by pressing down on tire checking to see for enough air pressure. Remount the wheel to the bike facing in the right direction and properly tightening the quick release. (Note: For the remainder of your race, proceed with caution when approaching high speed turns and when braking at all times.) Good Luck!