Monday, April 28, 2014

Caturnalia: Busy weekends

My weekends are often busier than my weekdays which doesn't make sense at all. What does make sense is my excuse making for not posting a Caturnalia collage this past Saturday. But needless to say, when I finally come home after a long weekend of festivities, I come home to a pack of very needy kitties. . . 

Pet us right MEOW!!
Dominating the sweet spot

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What I am into right now . . .

Goats. Baby goats. Not only are they cute but it is perfectly acceptable to feed them bamboo. Win-win.




I am really into this version of Rumor Has It by The Promise Ring. I think it is the clapping at 2:35 that gets me. I used to want to be a professional clapper until I realized I do not have rhythm or hand-eye coordination.



I am also into this version of No Diggity by Chet Faker. Honestly, it might just be the beard. Or the fact that I danced to this song at a number of middle school dances (or maybe just one). Or maybe it is because in this video Chet Faker looks a little bit like Simon Escher from Burn Notice, which I am also obsessed with. 



And I think I have finally turned a new leaf with goggles. I have been a fan of Speedo Vanquishers for as long as I can remember. Last year I purchased a pair of Blueseventy Nero Race goggles and they have been fantastic. Even now, a year later, the anti-fog is still in effect. I really like the way the Vanquishers fit but over the years the anti-fog has become next to useless. In new pairs it only seems to last a week. No bueno. The Nero Race goggles are the same low profile design with an adjustable nose piece but overall quality is much better, including the anti-fog. 

Ask for them at Inside Out Sports!
Oh and if you haven't seen it, check out this sweet video about triathlon pool swims James Haycraft made for ICE Racing and Jones Racing Company starring yours truly and Tim "shoe game" Ferguson. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Caturnalia

So it is a rainy Saturday. I am sure rainy days are just like every other day for cats . . . lots of sleeping.

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I am headed off to find a treadmill. Blah.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Why you should get to know Jeremy Gregory

So I was fortunate to meet Jeremy Gregory through the MCAC (Mecklenburg County Aquatic Club) this past year. I had no idea at the time he used to compete nationally in open water competitions. I just knew him as a super fast swimmer. Prior to meeting Jeremy I had been asking around open water techniques and strategies. I know there is a lot of open water swimming info out there but I was looking for more than information on swimming in open water, I wanted to know about competing. For example, the guys and gals competing nationally aren't just trying to surviving swimming in the open water, they are closing gaps, rounding turns, making breaks, and using strategy to get in and out of drafting pods . . . Who coaches these people? Where do they learn to compete at this level? So when Jeremy starts talking open water swimming and tells me about swimming in these open water national events, I realize I have found the gold mine I have been looking for. Jeremy is incredibly knowledgeable, technique driven, and has a ton of experience. Let me just give you a little snap shot of his long list of accolades:

· Open Water Nationals 5k
· Open Water Nationals 5k
· Open Water Nationals 25k
· 2010-2011 Captain Queens University of Charlotte
· 3rd Place 200IM NCAA Championships
· 3rd Place 200Fly NCAA Championships
· 7th Place 100fly NCAA Championships

Amazing butterflier
I have been working with him recently to help me up my game in the open water. He has also been helping me to update my very outdated swim technique and sprint skills. He coaches the Tuesday and Thursday morning Masters' workouts at the MCAC and just recently started coaching private lessons for all levels of swimmers. I decided to interview Jeremy for my blog because I think he is a great resource for the triathletes in Charlotte. So here we go . . .

Tell us a little about your swim background.
-Well, in a nutshell...I grew up on the coast in Washington State. My mother made me take swim lessons before I was allowed to play in the ocean and go past my knees lol. Lessons brought me to a swim team, one team to another and I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by a lot of talent and hard workers. Earned a swim scholarship at Auburn University as well as competed for USA at Open Water World Championships.

What got you into open water swimming in the first place and why are you transitioning back to it?
-My coach made a living as a professional open water swimmer, way back in the day. And back in 2001 we flew out to Fort Lauderdale, FL at the Swimming Pool Hall of Fame for Summer Nationals. It was a pleasure to watch such fast swimmers. After the pool competition, I entered the open water event and placed 9th. It was the absolute most fun I had ever had up to that point swimming, swimming in the ocean makes me such a happy camper. I am transitioning back into, because I love it. I am not even sure if I can put it into words, it is just a sensation that I don't get in the pool. Swimming back and forth, same line, same walls, it's....ok. I have never had a bad day swimming in a lake/ocean.

Can you train for open water events in the pool?
-Of course. Being creative is half of the fun. Hard work is...just that, hard work. It is nice to get out of the chlorine and enjoy some Vitamin D though.

Do you wear jammers or briefs?
-HA neither I suppose. In workouts I prefer a square leg drag suit. In swim meets I prefer the fastest material I can use which is usually cut into a jammer.


What are your current goals with competitive swimming?
-Get into a shape that isn't round. HA I have become a lot more consistent with my swims, and am slowly transitioning my work schedule to better accommodate the training necessary to compete at the highest level for Open Water. This time next year ( I know a long way away) I would like to be back and fully ready to compete at Open Water Nationals.

What is your specialty as a coach?
-That is hard to say, I would hope most of my athletes would say something along the lines of being very personable. I believe that the road to success, while very similar, can be different for each athlete. Just because athlete 1 needs to do this, doesn't mean athlete 2 does, etc. etc.

Have any favorite open water tips and tricks?
-I do indeed, those are classified information though :-D

Triathletes love drills. What is your favorite drill and why?
-Absolutely love sculling drills. Makes your body completely aware of the positioning in the water. The better you 'feel' the water, the easier it will be for you.

Are there ways outside of the pool to increase ankle flexibility?
-Stretching is the easy answer. It would depend on what the athlete is looking for though. A swimmers ankle is going to be very different from a Triathletes ankle. I am a fan of writing the alphabet with your toes to stretch and strengthen necessary muscles.

Is more really more? Even in the swimming world there is a constant debate regarding quantity (volume) vs quality (less volume higher intensity). What is your opinion on this this and should triathletes incorporate both?
-Love this question, it opens some interesting conversations. To be brief, and granted it is only my opinion, quality is better then quantity. Each person has a different scenario, but studies show that quality over quantity yields great results in 1. Aerobic fitness 2. Anaerobic fitness 3. Fat Loss.... etc. etc. If it is a situation where one really does need 'more', then increasing the quality will yield better results in less time.

A snapshot of what open water 10K training looks like
If you were to layout a workout for a triathlete training to be competitive in the 1.2 or 2.4 miles swim segment what would it look like?
-To be vague, a loosen up. A pre-set to get the heart rate elevated. A main set with repeats of shorter distances, and a cool down.

What are some swim specific recovery techniques?
-Swimming with equipment, makes life easier while allowing you to hold a solid body position, hence still working the stroke to improve yourself.

In your opinion discuss a major misconception triathletes have about their swim training.
-That they only need to do it sparsely. I am no Pro triathlete coach, never claimed to be one. But swimming is a skill that you can only practice, in the water. Walking around the house, to work, getting groceries and all that, it's not training to run, but it is specific movements that correlate. (Same gravitational pull ect.) We studied this at school in the physiology lab and discovered it easier to swim, and learn to run. Then run, and learn to swim.
 
People come to you from all levels of fitness and swim backgrounds, what kinds of things can a beginner do to gain confidence in the water?
-Be in the water. Time in the water is one of the most undervalued resources. People always want instant gratification. You don't get that with swimming. If you want to gain confidence, get in a pool. You don't necessarily need to swim your heart out every time, just get in and get moving.

What is a drag suit? Is this something people should incorporate in their training?
-A drag suit is a glorified speedo/brief. Usually just a bit bigger, saggier, causing more resistance in the pool. In general I believe there is a certain place and time for everything, and drag suits can be used very effectively.

I have noticed swimmers love to wear earrings, including you. Don't they slow you down?

-Ha I suppose they do. I don't believe it is a make or break deal, unless you are competing at the absolute highest level, where .001 of a second makes the difference. I train with mine in, but when it is show time, I usually take them out.


You are available to teach one-on-one lessons at the MCAC. What is the best way for an athlete to get in touch with you? Snapchat?
I respond to emails, texts, and calls.
Cell (253) 590-6636
Email gregoja2@gmail.com


Do you enjoy using "emoticons" when you text?
Yes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Out and about in Charlotte

With the arrival of the warm weather I have been spending my lunches walking around the Queen City. My coworkers take their lunch inside the lab every day, not a working lunch either. I do not know how they do it when it is just so nice out.

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I finally felt cool enough to get a coffee from Not Just Coffee which is located in the 6th Street Market. I was wearing a necklace with a bird on it and had my Timbuk2 with me so I fit right in with all the beards, plaid shirts buttoned to the neck, tattoos, and skinny jeans.

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I also picked up some honey truffles from the BarCocoa kiosk to compliment my delicious iced pour over ultra hip coffee. Treats like these make the rest of my work day palatable.

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I love the summer and spring is just a pleasant appetizer. Despite the fact that the City of Charlotte is cutting down trees right and left (see the once tree lined Trade St), the trees that are still standing are blooming in full force. I dig it. I dig getting out of the lab to feel the sun shining, see the city colored by the season, and smell all the blooming flowers.

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And finally, once a year there is a big pro bike race uptown. It is a lot of fun to spectate but this year an ICE Racing teammate of mine qualified to race in the amateur shootout prior to the pro races. It was so much fun to watch him and the other racers careen through the town. I already can't wait for next year!

Rossome

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Caturnalia: Protesting

Sometimes I think the cats protest my lifestyle. I am never home to give them all the lovin' they deserve.


They most definitely protest me getting out of bed, well unless they think they need to be fed. 



And they absolutely hate it when I get on the computer. 



Thursday, April 10, 2014

Traveling to New Orleans and back

I was really excited about taking a trip to New Orleans. I visited the city once when I was a kid but I remember nothing. Well that's not exactly true. I remember my brothers standing outside a bar type of establishment. Being the youngest and a big brother groupie I went over to see what they were staring at with the world's goofiest grins. When I arrived all smiles and giggles a scantily clad female started screaming and slammed the big wooden door in my sweet innocent face. And that, folks, sums up my only experience with New Orleans prior to this trip.

We packed up the car Friday morning and delayed leaving so we would miss traffic in Atlanta. News flash . . . you don't miss traffic in Atlanta. 10 hours is a lot of time to entertain yourself when you are stuck in a car. So what did I do? I took a lot of naps. Lots of little naps.



I ate of lot of snacks. I read some of my book. I watched James sing and try to dance. And I took pictures. Check out the video I made for a complete summary of the drive.

We arrived to New Orleans somewhat sane and that kind of tired only driving all day can make you. We only had one down day before the race and while James wrote in his blog "We did the usual pre-race stuff that isn't worth writing about" , I would argue the re-race activities completely made the trip.

First off, James made me a waffle.


My day could have ended right there but it didn't. We drove over to Audubon park and went for a short run before testing out the bikes. We returned to the Haycraft homestead where I got a chance to stretch out my wetsuit and take a little dip and swim in the endless pool. Swimming in an endless pool is a blast. Since you have to focus on staying in the one position and catching the flowing water (especially when the speed settings are with someone outside the pool), I really felt engaged while I was swimming. Most of the time I just tune out.



After we finished our pre-race workouts we took a little aerial and driving tour of the city.





Finally we headed over to the mandatory pro meeting. It. Was. Intense.

Crickets
After the race I made James give me the grand tour. Beads still littered the trees, buildings, and power lines. While there were a lot of tourists in town it was hard to imagine the mayhem that took place just a few weeks before during Mardi Gras.


We walked through Bourbon Street and the French Quarter through a mass of street performers and fortune tellers. I wanted to get my fortune read until I noticed a fortune teller with a bad case of meth mouth. Hmmmmm moving on . . . I skipped getting my fortune read and grabbed a plate full of beignets and a large chickory coffee in the traditional "Au Lait" style. Delicious.


And that little meal there completed my weekend. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New Orleans Race Report

Hi.
Grassy knoll selfie
The first race of the season is always the toughest and I did not do a ton of racing last year so I was feeling especially anxious and rusty heading down to Louisiana for the New Orleans 5150 Triathlon. I spend a lot of time thinking about the training I need to do and the little things I need to practice, things like my transitions, putting on my helmet, taking off my wetsuit, putting on my shoes, downhill turns, left hand turns, right hand turns . . . you get the picture. But when I head out for my workouts I end up just wanting to get 'em done so I can return home to pet the cats. There, I said it. I know it's what you were thinking.

Anywayyyyyy, I was looking forward to getting out of town for a bit and finally taking a road trip. I went on quite a few last year and had a blast each time. This trip was no different. I wrote up a short blog post about the trip. I am still deciding if it is worth sharing.

Now without further delay, let's break down my race:

Swim:
Since it was cold and windy, none of the ladies wanted to get in the water. As a result, none of us got in to warm up. After the gun went off for the men we had about 3 minutes to paddle around before starting. I probably warmed up for a whopping :30 of that 3 minutes. I lined up to start the race and quickly realized I was right next to Sara McLarty. Oh haaaaaay . . . . nbd. At the last minute she moved over to the left and acquired a few groupies. When the gun went off I gave my seldom used sprinting gear a chance to shine. I easily ditched my groupies (there weren't any) and found myself stroke for stroke with a small pod to my left. I settled into a less frenzied pace and followed the lead kayaker just ahead of me. I could see the women to my left continue to move further left. I had the kayaker dead in my sights but I started to doubt that I was on the right course. We were swimming against wind so sighting was pretty difficult. Every time I pulled my head up I was smacked in the face with water. I put my head down and cut left but when I pulled up to sight again the pod had cut back over right leaving me alone and headed in the wrong direction.  Ugh, if I had just stayed put they would have pulled right over to me. Suddenly sighting got a lot more difficult as I met nothing nothing but wind and water resistance every time I tried to catch sight of a buoy. Feeling overwhelmed I decided to slow down and wait for a few of the other ladies. After the first turn I had a nice pod of girls to swim with and I tucked into the pack for protection even though now we were swimming with the wind. The pace was a little on the easy side and I was starting to get so mad at myself; not only was I just cruising but I was approaching the turn buoy from the inside. Somehow I managed to make the turn smoothly and make a break. The swim course was in the shape of a "N" so once again we were swimming against the wind and I found myself leading the rest of the ladies into the swim finish. Well  played, Jenny, well  played.

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Now I have groupies
T1:
I thought wetsuits would even the playing field but fast runners are fast runners wetsuit or not. Lauren Goss gaped me by at least :15 just running to the rack. Awesome.  But that was just the beginning. All the girls but 1 or 2 eventually passed me in T1. More awesome.

Bike:
I got on my bike feeling pretty good despite getting absolutely crushed in T1. The ride started out innocent enough. I had high hopes but them I climbed the first bridge and realized just how windy and challenging the ride was going to be.  The bike course was 2 loops or 6.2 miles per length and in that 6.2 miles you met head wind, several bridge climbs, matching bridge descents, 2-3 tight 180 exit turns and a one mile straightaway along the water completely unprotected from the cross wind. I knew fairly quickly this course was going to be a struggle both physically and mentally. As I struggling to "hold my line" against the wind, my anxiety continued to sky rocket and I was having a difficult time staying calm. I spent a lot of time out of the aerobars, gripping my handle bars with white knuckles. By the end of the first loop I was beginning to think calling it a day was the only way I would survive. I rounded out the first loop and decided I needed to HTFU a bit as I watched age groupers hit the course with big smiles. I had over fed my fears and paid the price in doubt but seeing so many other people get out on the course (and having fun) helped me to take back some control. The second loop was just as dicey as the first but I was able to carry the bike through to the end.

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T2:

And this is how you transition like a boss

Run:
Getting off the bike was a huge relief. I have never been so happy to run! I left transition and entered the run course full of spectators, sprint racers, pros, and age groupers. I wasn't really sure where I would be for this run so I rolled on. I caught my first mile split and felt happy with where I was running. The other girls looked to be running soooooooooo fast and soooooooo hard. I am not sure I have seen running quite like that before. The course itself was uneventfully flat and fast but since it was also 2 loops like the bike I got to watch the race play out for McLarty and Goss. Meanwhile, when I was not spectating, my mind and body were at odds with each other. I needed to pick up the pace and cadence but I was running relaxed and somewhat comfortable. I was on point to run a PR for this distance and I felt good. The girls who specialize at this distance are amazing runners and run with a sense of urgency. I needed some of that. I am so used to pacing myself I found it difficult to kick it up another gear.

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So ok, I have some work to do

The only thing I love more than a good spreadsheet is a good infograph. These infographs tell more of the story than my splits ever will.  I have a lot of work to do, yeah consistent training never hurt but I also need to work on the little things . . . the little things I often neglect. For me this was not a race to remember but one to learn from.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Caturnalia: Distance makes the heart . . .

When I come home from work my cats celebrate. They wait at the back door for me. They follow me from room to room begging for a little pet on the head and meowing to be fed. They act extra cute forcing me to drop everything so they can finally get all the attention they deserve.

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When I come home randomly in the middle of the day my cats are no where to be seen. Getting up from their naps is laborious.  It takes at least 15 minutes to greet me.

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When I go out of town for several days the cats convene and decide to blacklist me. When I finally come home they are torn between “ooooooooo you’re home!” and “I am so, like, not talking to you right now.”

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New Orleans Race Report coming Tuesday morning! Ok, or maybe Wednesday.