Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Goggles Decoded

 Courtesy of
            Example: Speedo Swedish

            Description: Swedish goggles are different in that they have no suction and no soft comfortable barrier between the plastic and the eye. They have no gasket, sit right on the eye socket and therefore have less water drag than conventional goggles. With the Speedo Swedish goggles you use a “string” nosepiece to adjust the length between the eye pieces. Local triathlete, Melissa Bell, and swimming sensation, AquaGeek, both swear by these simple yet sophisticated pieces of plastic.
            Pros: Ridiculously cheap ($5-$12) and infinitely adjustable since you have to assemble them yourself. By adjusting the distance between the eye cups with the string given or with a small piece of the goggle strap, it’s possible to individualize the fit. Their low profile and snug fit mean less drag. They are very popular among competitive swimmers. As goggle technology (yes said technology exists) has improved I think they have been trending down a bit.

            Cons: If you are not used to wearing them, there is a slight adjustment period. When you first put them on they will feel like a tool of the devil. Over time and once the fit is dialed in they will feel as light on your face as they do in your hands. The main thing is I would not recommend them for open water mass start swimming. Hard plastic nestled in the eye socket and a kick to the face are not a good combination, never is really, but it really really isn’t with the swedes.

            Example: Speedo Vanquisher

            Description: These goggles were designed for speed. To the hard frame a slight silicone watertight seal is added for comfort. The lenses still sit low to the face maximizing speed by eliminating drag.

            Pros: Moderately priced and come in several color/lens options. These goggles come with an adjustable double strap and several different sized nose pieces so they will fit to most face/eye shapes. These goggles make the grade for badassness. Throw on a dark mirrored pair with a black strap and you will look like you are ready to play.

            Cons: The low profile design, while great for speed, is not great for open water visibility. Visibility is great looking forward but trying to catch something out of the corner of your eye, like a buoy or approaching competitor, pretty much isn’t going to happen. Speedo has been working hard to increase the Vanquisher’s peripheral vision by developing the sister goggle the Speedo Speed Socket which has 25% more peripheral vision. This is the goggle worn by Michael Phelps and Pro triathlete Moose Warren.
            Example: Aqua Sphere Vista

            Description: Think about a snorkel mask without the nose piece. These goggles have large lenses surrounded by an even larger silicon skirt that is held to your face with suction more than by the large adjustable strap.

            Pros: For most people, and especially most nonswimmers, the mask style goggle can be the most comfortable. Their wide and curved lenses offer 180° of distortion-free visibility.

            Cons: Most of the mask type goggles rely on suction to maintain a leak-free eye environment so things like face shape and facial hair may prevent this type of goggle from ever securing a good fit. Also the nose bridge is fixed so if you have a wide or narrow nose-bridge you are out of luck. Due to the large surface area they cover on the face they have a higher drag coefficient. You won’t see these bad boys at a swim meet! In my opinion, and I really have no basis for this, I think they are so large they are more likely to get kicked off or grabbed.

Competition/Mask Hybrid
           Example: Blueseventy Element

             Description: Conforms to the face with a soft gasket but maintains a low profile similar to competitive lens. One size fits all but comes in a wide variety of color combinations so you can be prepared to swim under any lighting conditions.

The number 1 priority in choosing a goggle is obviously the fit. You want to make sure your goggles are snug and not prone to leaking while not being so tight they give you headaches. But once you find a fit that 1) works 2) you like 3) makes you look ridiculously fast then buy a couple a couple of pairs in different lens colors. The color of the lens has a purpose other than to match your tri suit.
Red, clear, yellow, and amber lenses are great for low light level conditions such as dawn, dusk, and overcast. Best not to wear a lens the same color of the buoys you are trying to spot.

Smoke lenses are great for bright conditions as long as there is no glare on the water and you won’t be spotting and looking directly towards the sun. These are really your best all around goggle. When in doubt smoke ‘em out!

Mirrored lens are best for super bright conditions, when there is a high glare, or when you will be looking directly towards the sun to spot buoys. Great for races but if you do a lot of open water ocean swims these are perfect for taking the edge of the ocean’s glare and blocking some of those UV rays.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Swim Set 3/20/2012

So I was doing some slow twitching today and came across a thread titled "Hardest Swim Workouts Ever." Naturally I opened the discussion because I like my workouts to be hard. This is a modification one of the many workouts I came across, an oasis in a pile of ST crap. I am excited to give it a go tomorrow morning at MCAC.

400 warm up

Rest :10 after each:
4x50 drill
2x50 kick
4x50 drill

500 free swim 6:30 (or rest :30)
5x100 descend 1-5 1:30 (or rest :10)

400 free pull 6:00 (or rest :20)
4x100 pull hold pace 1:30 (or rest :10)

300 free swim 4:30 (or rest :10)
3x100 free swim 300 pace -4 on 1:35 (or rest :10)

200 IM 3:30 (or :30 rest)
2x100 nonstroke 2:00 9or :10 rest)
(feel free to drill as needed) 

1x100 free build 1:40 (or :20 rest)
1x100 free fast, super fast!

100 warm down

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

You draft, you drafted, you will draft . . .

Obeying the USAT rules for drafting takes some finesse. Sometimes it is hard to do, sometimes you have to slow down to avoid a drafting penalty, and sometimes the best way to avoid a drafting penalty is to educate yourself on all the aspects of drafting, blocking, and overtaking. I recently watched this video on You Tube and I think it does a great job of clarifying all the dimensions of drafting:

Unfortunately, it also misrepresents the drafting rules as they are laid out in the USAT rule book. You would think someone putting a video together would get the rules right . . . that just goes to show you the rules governing drafting are a lot more complicated than you think! I think it is fairly clear where the drafting zone is. 5.10.b defines the drafting zone as:

The term "drafting zone" shall refer to a rectangular area seven (7) meters long and two (2) meters wide surrounding each bicycle. The longer sides of the zone begin at the leading edge of the front wheel and run backward parallel to the bicycle.

Which we have all seen visualized like so:
It gets tricky when you want to pass someone. Passing someone going significantly slower than you is both easy and a no brainer, you speed by on the left. The problem really arises when you come across someone going about your speed and ability. When you come across a competitor, you have 15 secs to enter the draft zone and break the plane of the other competitor's front wheel, as explained in the video. If you remain to the right of the other competitor you could be issued either a drafting or a blocking penalty. This is true even if the other competitor speeds up in an effort to deny you the pass, as shown :50 into the video. The video is incorrect in when it says you can legally drop back if you can't pass. I guess technically you can drop back but you are, by this definition, drafting and you are at risk of receiving a drafting penalty. Once you enter the drafting zone you HAVE to pass so you better be prepared to throw down the hammer just in case there is a challenge. A lot of people think this is unfair but it is incredibly uncool for the competitor to speed up, not to mention it is highly unsportsmanlike behavior!  Keep in mind, however, if the passing rider breaks the plane of the front wheel of the competitor, the competitor has officially been overtaken and MUST drop back 7 meters before he/she can pass again.  So back the video, at :54 the passing rider breaks the plane of the wheel of the competitor, by USAT rules the competitor was required to drop back as spelled out  in section 5.10.g:

When the leading edge of the front wheel of one cyclist passes beyond the front wheel of another cyclist, the second cyclist has been "overtaken" within the meaning of these Rules. A cyclist who has been overtaken bears primary responsibility for avoiding a position foul and must immediately move to the rear and out of the drafting zone of the passing cyclist. The overtaken cyclist shall first move completely out of the drafting zone of the other cyclist before attempting to re-pass the other cyclist.

The folks being overtaken think THIS is unfair. I can't tell you how many times someone has said to me, "well I am not slowing down - this is a race!" Well that person will get a penalty. Rules are rules and it will benefit you to know them. At 1:30, the video demonstrates what you should and should not do when you are overtaken. You are supposed to drop back all the way OUT of the drafting zone prior to launching your counterattack. At some point in your career as a triathlete you will pass and be passed by the same athlete multiple times, to the point you get so frustrated you overextend yourself using your energy to pass out of frustration instead of for the sake of racing. AND it can be especially frustrating to the female athletes out there. I may be biased but I think girls struggle with the overtaken issue more frequently than men. Dudes can be real tools on a race course and they especially hate to be overtaken by a female. As a Pro once said to me on the issue of being overtaken:

i think it only really happens to chicks
b/c no guy wants a chick to pass them

Which I don't get, I hear the view is great!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Swim Set 3/12/2012

So I have a couple of miles coming up. One at my first triathlon and one at short course nationals. My bread and butter is long course swimming so I am not exactly stoked to swim the 1650 at short course nationals. There is nothing like being mocked by a counter waving the odd numbers of 1-65 in your face as you endure 20 minutes of when-is-this-going-to-end pain. So for tomorrow I have put together a workout to focus on the mile (also know as 1650 for short course, 1500 for long course, and 1.5K for olympic triathlon).

400 loosen
200 IM drill/kick by 50 to loosen

1st 1500:
5 X 100 @ 1:25
500 cruise @ 8:00
5 X 100 @ 1:25

Set II - recovery:
3 X 200 pull @ 3:15 or :30rest

2nd 1500:
600 @ 9:00
3x100 start at 600 pace and descend 1-3 @ 1:35
300 @ 4:30 (goal is to hold pace of the last 100 previous)
6x50 @ odds: moderate/ez  even: fast! @ :50

Cool down / loosen / hot tub as needed

Monday, March 5, 2012

Swim Set 3/5/12

Last Thursday I swam my last swim set with Patty Waldron at MAC Masters. Retiring after 30 years of coaching, she will remain in my mind the best Masters swim coach of all time. What random luck to run into her at the Morrow Mountain Massacre when I first moved here. She will be missed and the person taking her place has some big shoes to fill! The following set is a long course triathlete-friendly version of my last practice with Patty.

400 loosen

9 x 100 :10 sec rest
1- 50 kick/50 swim
2- 50 drill/ 50 swim
3- pull with buoy only
*repeat above 3 times*

On 1:35 base:
100 - last 25 fast
200 - last 50 fast
300 - last 75 fast
400 - last 100 fast

1 min rest

2x300 negative split on 4:30

1 min rest

On 1:35 base:

100 - last 25 fast
200 - last 50 fast
300 - last 75 fast
400 - last 100 fast

100 cool down at least

Friday, March 2, 2012


I am not a big movie watcher but I have been feeling left out so I have been slowly trying to up my movies-I-have-seen-cache. Anyway, I watched Zombieland recently and I was blown away by how many rules can be applied to triathlon. 
  • Cardio - This one is obvious, you are never going to make it as a triathlete without it
  • The Double Tap - just when you think you got 'em, surge again. 
  • Beware of Bathrooms - Awww man there is nothing worse than the potty potties on race day - a bunch of jacked triathletes race morning all trying to empty their load. #3
  • Wear Seat Belts - In this case your race belt - handy to avoid getting a penalty and for hiding the goods.
  • No Attachments - Triathletes don't need friends, just a nice bike.
  • The “Skillet” - big and cast iron
  • Travel Light - Refer to Rule 3
  • Get a Kick Ass Partner - You need a good trainer partner you can count on for your long rides. Sooner or later they will make it a point to kick your butt at the next race for which you will prepare for by "secret training." 
  • With your Bare Hands - I don't care what people say, it is the best way to put on a wetsuit
  • Don’t Swing Low - don't be a low arm swinger when running. I am not naming names. 
  • Use Your Foot - to trip people in the finisher's shoot. It is a lot less obvious than an elbow to the gut. 
  • Bounty Paper Towels - Refer to Rule 3
  • Shake it off - kicks to the face suck during the swim but there is nothing you can do about them other than shake 'em off
  • Always carry a change of underwear - If you are still in your trishorts an hour after the race . . . well let's just say you better have a lot to show for it. #14
  • Bowling Balls - about the size you need when someone tells you to "grow a pair"
  • Opportunity Knocks - f*ckin take it!
  • Don’t be a hero (later crossed out to be a hero)
  • Limber Up
  • Break it Up
  • It’s a marathon, not a sprint, unless it’s a sprint, then sprint
  • Avoid Strip Clubs - the dancers aren't nearly as good looking as triathletes
  • When in doubt know your way out - you are the only one to blame if you get lost on a race course. 
  • Ziplock - the best place for Rule #14
  • Use your thumbs - Thumbs up!
  • Shoot First - Make lofty goals encouraging you to either excel or crash and burn
  • A little sunscreen never hurt anybody - avoid the triathlete tramp stamp 
  • Incoming! - Prepare to dismount at the dismount line otherwise you will scare the piss out of a lot of volunteers.
  • Double-Knot your Shoes - If you haven't made the switch to EZ laces the you certainly do not want to have to stop twice to tie your ultra fast running flats. 
  • The Buddy System - best way to "legally" draft as they call it
  • Pack your stain stick - or salt stick, or body glide stick, or just THE stick
  • Check the back seat - Probably where you left the race numbers you picked up earlier
  • Enjoy the little things - like winning 
  • Swiss army Knife - so you can trim anything on the fly to become more aero