Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ready ... Set ... Swim

I am not the strongest swimmer. In fact in my masters group I am almost always the slowest swimmer. Those kids are fast.

Ha. Kids. I don't swim with kids of course but you get the idea. Today's post is randomness swimming stuff from the past week or so.

I learned that there is a facebook group called Did you Swim today? Sounds good to me. Clearly there is a group for everything.
I'm in this photo. I call my swim time ... suntan swim. The fast swimmers are already finished and I'm getting ready to either do my 100 all out or my recovery ... I'm wearing a blue cap. My friend Myra is waving in the next lane.
 I signed up for an 8-mile swim
Yup. It's called the Alligator Lighthouse Swim. Luckily it's a relay but myself and 3 others will be doing an 8-mile swim. Mostly we're crazy. I'm actually looking forward to it. It's pretty obvious I've lost my mind.

I discovered the coolest swim suit company ever
I read a blog called Run This Amazing Day. She's funny. She posted a picture of the cutest superhero swim suit and I just loved it. Turns out it comes from a company called Splish and they have tons of super cute swim suits. I'm in love. I'll be ordering lots today for me and my kids.  

As for my own swimming progress
I am back in the pool on a regular schedule. Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday. It's working well. It's actually the most consistent part of my training at the moment. Today we were doing lots of pulling. During the first set of 300s I fell so far behind that I just sort of kept pulling and never really stopped. I had lost track of the number of laps (my counting limit is about 200 maybe 250) and I was watching for the person in the next lane to be stopped which really never happened so I just kept going and going and going.

Then we did something else that I forget and then it was another set of pulling. But before we started I asked the coach ... why am I so slow when pulling? I'm so slow over all compared to the others it's good he didn't chuckle. But then he went on to give us a tip for technique and then basically said, suck it up buttercup and don't slack off the whole way through the pull sets. Aaagh - caught slacking.  It was pretty funny. But I think it's true it comes down to some muscle strength and my muscles there just aren't all that strong (lats, triceps general arm and shoulder muscles). So I didn't slack off during the 200s and my arms were exhausted, exhausted I tell you... by the end. So more pulling ... maybe some push ups should be in my future.

On the good news side I swam a 100 all out and it was 1:35. Not super fast by most standards but I was actually really happy with it. 

And lastly, I watched a video about flip turns this week. What's great about this video is that i watched it and I was totally sure I didn't do this hand flounder thing when I flip but today in class I realized OMG I totally do this. So I was working on not doing it. I had mixed success.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


In March I'm heading to Rome to run the Maratona di Roma. I am really excited.

I had heard that this marathon was amazing from a runner friend name Joe. But little did I know that it's so awesome that they even made a movie about it.

Now I'm even more excited!

Does anybody know where and how I can see this full movie?

In other news today the weather for my 40 minute run was 82 with 86% humidity. Afterwards my snack was ice water, cold pickle and hot coffee. If I didn't know better I'd wonder if I was pregnant. I'm not just a little confused in my kitchen selections perhaps.

What's the craziest thing you've ever eaten as a snack after a hard workout?

More later - the blog is not getting a whole lotta love this week because it's my kids first week of school. Busy! Busy! Busy!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Amy's Rules for Selecting Races (because I know you are curious)

There are lots of races out there so as much as I want to I can't just go around picking races willy nilly. But I do love to race.

So these are my rules or guidelines for selecting races. I've come up with this eclectic list all on my own over the years. I will admit that while I follow them I also break these rules all the time. These are just races after all so I don't have to be too rigid about the guidelines.
  1. No inaugural races. I figure I'll let somebody else work out the first year operational kinks. I should say I break this rule most often out of all of my rules.
  2. Cannot conflict with family events (this should be number one). There was one year where it seemed like every race conflicted with a kid or family event. I wasted a lot of money on registration fees. Lesson learned.
  3. If my brother can race with me that's a plus. I love to race with my brother. He kicks my butt but it's fun and his family is the best cheering squad around.
  4. The race should be someplace I like to be. I love to race on the beach but I'm not going to sign up for a race in a crappy location (like when the KB half-marathon was moved to Dolphin Stadium ... thanks, I'll pass).
  5. There should not be too many participant inconveniences. I am not a fan of lots of separate trips to pick up packets and early check in and most of all having to get early busses to the start to stand around for hours and hours (like Disney and NYC). Give me simplicity to and from the race and I'm happy.  I break this rule all the time but I reserve the right to complain about it.
  6. The race should have good reviews. Participants talk and if somebody says a race is badly done I have no need to try it myself. I was going to do the Palm Beach Marathon but two people told me that they have run out of water in the past. No thanks. In fact running out of water anywhere at any time is almost a lifetime ban for me I think it's crazy that race directors let that happen when it seems so simple to avoid.
  7. I love challenging courses but I don't need a known temperature sufferfest. It's hot in Florida but racing long in super hot conditions can be a total drag which is why Florida 70.3 (the heat index was 100 on the run) is currently on my no-thanks list.
  8. I'm all about gimmicks. I love the Escape to Miami race long course because I just think it's great fun jumping off the boat and getting to Escape Island. 
  9. No mud or obstacles for me thanks. I know others love these races. It's just not my thing.
  10. Small is okay but not too small and big is fun but not too big ... it needs to be just right. I did Hits Ocala and that was too small for me because the small size on a long race sometimes means not enough volunteers and things. But a race can be too big like the NYMarathon which I loved but the sheer size of it makes it logistically a pain and less fun at the start and finish. So, I'm like Goldilocks not to small and not too big but just right.
  11. Always go long ... except when it's better to go short. For Marathons I don't like to run past the half finish line and keep going so I choose marathons where the only offering is a full. Same thing for half-irons and Full Irons. I didn't choose Vineman full in part because it's got a half happening on the same day. I want everyone suffering with me plus I'm in the back of the pack and it can get lonely. But in short course I'm the opposite. For both Nautica South Beach and Escape for Miami I sign up for the long course totally because I like to start first. I hate sitting around waiting.
  12. I like to know others racing. In fact, this is the reason I will sometimes ignore all the other rules.  For example the Miami Marathon (I only run the half) is a huge pain, getting to the start is a mess, the start is a disaster, the course is too crowded, the finish area is a nightmare. But I probably know 100 people out there running every year. So it's fun and I do it almost every year. And of course, I raced IM France and barely knew a soul out there so I break this rule all the time too.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Swim Lessons - Stroke Doctor Triathlon Swim Clinic Review

Tuesday morning I did something I hadn't done before. I went to a Stroke Doctor group class in Cutler Bay.

The Stroke Doctor is a semi-local swim coach affiliated with Total Immersion. I say semi-local because he is based in Davie which is a town about 40 minutes from me. He's also a sponsor of my tri club.

Stroke Doctor Clinics
He's doing 2 triathlete centered group sessions right now in the mornings. Neither is really super convenient to me but they are both in good places. Tuesday mornings its at Cutler Bay pool 10100 SW 200th Street (about 20 minutes South of me) and the other is Thursday morning at Jose Marti pool which is I think close to downtown (about 20 minutes North of me) although I've never been there. Each class is from 6:00-7:00 and costs $20 a class for a drop in fee. I think if you want to go every week for a month he gives you a better price deal but I don't remember.

In the past I have done a private lesson with the Stroke Doctor before and also group open water clinics all with good results.

Why this and why now?
I decided to do this on Tuesday for a few reasons.
  1. I was too lazy to get up for masters practice Monday morning and I was feeling very guilty.
  2. My masters coach has been telling me to change something in my stroke for months and I haven't had any success just willing my stroke to change.  I thought an hour with Gary might help me focus in and make some changes. He actually gets in the water and sort of tugs you into the right position so it's helpful to me. 
What is special about the Stroke Doctor classes is that it's almost 100% drill work with a lot of individual attention. If I swam 800 yards during the hour that might be a stretch. It's warm up (200 yds and I think I was the only one who made it all 200)  - then drill and then drill some more and then swim a little bit. But the reason is that he explains exactly why you're doing what he's asking you to do. I think this is really good for making changes to your stroke.

So he deconstructs the stroke into little peices and has you do each piece very slowly and then puts it all together bit by bit and at the end you are swimming again with a little bit of an improved stroke.

Did it work today - was it worth $20 and 2 hours of my life. Why yes I think it was.

One selfie with a new friend whose name I've forgotten at the Cutler Bay pool.
You just did an Ironman swim ... what's the problem?
Here's why. For months every few days my masters coach Andrew will point out one/some of the following things:
  • I start my pull too early especially on the left side and my arm is straight down in the water.
  • I should breathe a little earlier and then rotate when my arm is entering the water
  • I cross over the middle a little bit on the pull.
There may be other things he says I forget. It is amplified on my left side where my stroke is weakest. So here's the deal it's really all basically the same little quirk which shows up in different ways which is that first one which is that I start my pull too early.  I do this because I feel like I'm sinking and blahbitty blah. I had asked Andrew how to stop this and he said concentrate on the extension of my arm. Excellent advice but try as I might to work myself out of it I wasn't having much luck. I should say I think Andrew is a great coach and he's super gentle with feedback.

Second selfie with Claudia who is a fun Hammerhead. Nice sunrise flare, eh?

So why does it work to change it when the stroke doctor says it and not when Andrew told me. Well I think a few things. First this is all I worked on with the stroke doctor. No intervals, not even swimming the whole distance of the pool, not even breathing while I was working on this. He had us do about half the pool so 12 yards and going very slowly so I didn't need to breath. And twice he walked beside me and adjusted my position so I could feel where I was off which is very helpful to me.

What did you adjust and how?
What was the change? Well Gary observed that I was pulling my left arm too far over my body (ribcage) as I brought it out of the water. I was over rotating as a result or vice-versa who knows. This did cause me (and apparently everyone) to sink a bit. When I sink I instinctively start the pull to move forward or up or something to stop the sinking. When he moved my left arm away from that spot it felt weird but not bad. I felt flat in the water but he said I wasn't. Also, apparently I should be relaxing my shoulders (this is the impossible task he should talk to my massage therapist because she says the same thing). Then he told me to reach a little bit more when I felt that instinct to start the pull and he took me through 2-3 super slow strokes giving my wrists tiny tugs to feel the difference.  Then we put it all together. On the first practice I was going along and then all of a sudden I did it the old way and I felt the difference which was a huge point (I felt the sinking and I felt that my pull started too soon ... it was an a-ha moment). Then on the next two rounds I was able to concentrate on doing it the new way and it felt much better.

Did it work?
So the result is that on Thursday when I went back to Masters practice. The whole practice I was concentrating on that extra reach. Coach Andrew was going down the line telling folks make sure you reach, your x side you're doing a straight down arm on the pull, you're crossing over the middle on your x side ... these are all things he's said to me that I have been working on but unable to stop. Then Andrew said, "Amy your pull looks good." Woohoo! That felt good. So, yes ... I think it worked.

Will you go back?
I think that these are great clinics. Sadly I can't go very often. I mentioned before there isn't a ton of swimming time in them and most of the time I'm obsessed with yards swum. Also since each location is I think 20-30 minutes away from my house it takes extra planning during the school year for me to do this - simply put I need to be back in time to get the kiddos to school at 8:15. This is actually why it took me so long to get to one of these. So I won't be going every week or probably not immediately but I do think it's a great thing and I'm super happy that he's doing this in Miami.  

Last Thoughts 
My last thought is that I can't honestly believe I had this much to ramble on about a swimming lesson ... I am a total nerd. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Thank yous - The final Ironman France Post

There might not have been a final post for this except I actually got one more picture. Tee hee. So excited.

FYI - I had pre-paid for a full photo pack for the event. When I first got my pics from FinisherPix there was no picture of me coming out of the water after the swim. Instead were two pictures of two separate guys. I am totally not a guy.

Being the photo maven I am I astutely figured out that they did their sorting for galleries was based on the time stamp of the photo. Actually, the photos were named with the time of day in the file name. It was a pretty direct conclusion - sadly I'm not terribly brilliant. Also this is how back in the day we sorted large event photos (synch the cameras, sort by time and voila everything is in order).

Anywhoo I emailed FinisherPix customer service and asked could they please look forward or backward another minute or two and see if they found me coming out of the swim as I am clearly a lady and not a dude. I mentioned in the email that if it helped I was in a pink wetsuit. They said sure and quickly sent me a picture of a lady in a pink wetsuit! But not me. Two girls with pink wetsuits - Crazy right?!?

When I sadly said it wasn't me I actually gave up assuming that they just missed me. But they kept on and suggested could I please send a picture of my wetsuit to help them find it. I did that and voila - they found the picture.

I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. The swim portion of this race was the monkey on my back and so to have this picture brings me a lot of joy.

And so here it is and I'd like to say Thank you to the nice people at FinisherPix who helped me find this picture.
I'm so excited here. Raising the roof (woot-woot) I might have just looked over my shoulder and seen my time. I remember thinking I might just barely make the 2 hour cutoff and when I saw 1:29 I was thrilled!

Also, I'll share with you here the team that helped me get to France. I have in fact thanked all of these people in person this is just to spread the love of their greatness around the Internet. Feel free to give them some business and if you want to know how to reach somebody who isn't on the web just ask because I'm happy to share.

  • My overall coach - Frank Carino (CoachK / T3 Triathlon Training Team)
  • My swim coaches -  Gulliver Swim Club Masters (coaches Jamie and Andrew). I also use the Stroke Doctor on occasion.
  • My bike coach - I used Michael Sinkover at Bikes to Go. It was instrumental in my success but we don't really mesh as coach/trainee so I am no longer using him.
  • My chiropractor - Sunset Chiropractic Dr. Maurno Keeps my hips totally in line which keeps my itbs a distant nightmare.
  • My doctor -  Miami Medical Consultants. The best. Dr. Cava if you can get him otherwise Gloria is great. They keep me running, biking and swimming and only tell me to briefly stop if I do something like pass out in a restaurant.
  • My extra food source - Dream Dinners helped keep the fridge full.
  • My sponsor husband - 'nuf said he's the best. He's even going to let me do it again.
  • My support crew inlaws and kids - my kids and inlaws put up with a lot getting ready for this race.
  • My bike stores, Mack Cycle, Bikes To Go, Cycle World, EPB BikeMasters for Rafa the mechanic they are all good. I shop around because one store just doesn't fit every need. 
  • For running and other stuff I shop at Footworks, TriVillage, Swim Bike and Run and also occasionally TriJungle. I get around and each store sometimes has something that the others don't carry. 
  • My training friends are too numerous to list and there would be a zillion photos but friends and training partners are key. My tri club is Team Hammerheads. They are a great group and I used the club bike box to take my bike to and from France.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Two fun things that have nothing to do with sport or me

To fill your Monday with fun here are three fun things I've found lately.

First a youtube video about a kitten and bearded dragons. I cannot help myself but to laugh. Poor kitten.

Next, this guy makes some pretty funny cartoons here.

And lastly I found this blog where a pretty cool lady actually saw a cicada coming out of it's shell and got some great pictures of it. I've seen these shells on trees when I was a kid but never the bugs themselves. Very cool. It was the second post down when I looked yesterday.

So go kill some time.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Product Review - Lululemon Pace setter running skirt

This was my first Lululemon purchase - sort of. I did get a Lululemon jacket as a present from my hubby last year but I'd never bought anything myself and never been in the store.

I know that's incredible because I'm a girl and I'm into sport and all girls love Lululemon, right?

But here's the thing - whenever anything is just too hyped up I tend to avoid it. Whether that's a movie that just bombards the world with ads, a new fruity flavored light beer, or a new super hawt running fashion statement. Even if it's a race (hello - mud runs) if everyone is just bananas for it I approach it with caution because my personality is that I know that I might hate it.

But before Ironman France I was hunting for an outfit to wear on the run segment. I had actually thought I would have a new team suit but about 8 weeks before I knew that wasn't going to happen so I was shopping. I figured this was the one event where I could splurge for expensive shorts because I'd already spent a kings ransom on all the other parts of the race not to mention I'd pre-purchased the race pictures and wanted to look cute.

The Lululemon Athletics near me is actually right next to my favorite running store Footworks. I love Footworks but their apparel has been sort of sporadic lately in my opinion. This is perhaps in deference to the fact that a powerhouse apparel store moved in next to them (ya think?!).

So I spent about an hour in Lululemon and tried on a lot of things including an ill-fitting bright pink bike jersey that I really wanted to like but just couldn't force myself to believe that it would actually be comfortable on the bike. Also it's $178. Yes and it doesn't even have a race name on it. No matter I was there for shorts/skirt not actually a bike jersey so I moved on.

Who tries on running shorts?
Then I tried on about 15 running shorts and running skirts. This is totally unlike me. Seriously I usually pick up any brand of sport short that's on the sale rack (brooks, underarmour, moving comfort, even Nike) and do fine without even trying them on. But this would be my first $50+ running shorts so I felt the need to try them on.
These are under armour shorts that I picked up for $5 on sale at an outlet ... no issues. I'd never thought I was picky with run stuff.

I selected a running skirt. I was very excited and had to resist the temptation to do an extra run just to wear it.

It is really cute, right? The back is ruffles ... super cute. Sadly non-functional.
The next day I ran with it. I had an 8 mile run broken into two, four-mile loops by my house. I was hoping I'd see someone I knew who would see how cute I was. And then ... Ah the painful reality. I actually turned around at one mile came home changed my shorts and went back out on my run - they were honestly that uncomfortable. I seriously thought something might be wrong with me as a female because "everyone" loves these Lululemon clothes. I mean loves them, raves about them. What is my problem?

"Hi, my name is Amy and I hate my Lululemon running skirt."
Fearing that I was a substandard female I guessed that maybe it would be better after they were washed but sadly even after 3 wears and washes this running skirt is just not good for me. I mean I really tried because I wanted to love it. But ... In fact I hate it. There you have it my confession.
They have little shorts inside with grippers that keep the shorts in place. They are super snug ... a little too tight for my huge biking quads actually.

I suspect that there is no way any woman who actually runs designed this skirt and here's why I think this. There are several seams that rub up against your sensitive girl parts and hurt like crazy. It's just impossible to wear these shorts without underwear and not be miserable.

This is the inside of the shorts. Do you see all that stitching? Not comfy for me. Also it's not cotton here it's basic spandex which I think is not a great idea but I never wore them long enough to find out.
Aha ... underwear. Do you wear underwear under your running shorts? Because if you do ... well that's just silly - not to mention, uncomfortable, unflattering (as in unwanted pantylines) and also hot (as in overheating). That's why they have the built in breathable seamless liner.  Okay perhaps there are times where smart girl would want or need to wear underwear under her running shorts on purpose but not usually. But if you were not somebody who actually ran perhaps you wouldn't know this. Ergo the person who designed these shorts was perhaps either a man, or not a runner. 

Don't hate me the lululemon hater.
Anyway - it took me a long time to write this review because honestly I'm kind of afraid other girls will hate me for my non-lululemon position. Also I didn't want to just be a Lululemon basher - it didn't seem right.

So, I've remedied that. I'm going ahead with my unhappy review. But I've also emailed Lululemon about it. I've given them the link to the blog post. I'd love to know what they have to say about these shorts. I am not looking for a refund because I am clearly outside of their return policy which is very clear and not unreasonable. I have worn (without undies) and washed these shorts - they won't take them back. The policy is clear and I'm okay with that.
This is my email to the available address for Lulu. We'll see what they say.

But these are billed as running shorts. Its in the name Run Pace Setter skirt. And at least for me they are IMPOSSIBLE to wear for running.

So we'll see if Lululemon responds.  They probably won't - I'm not holding my breath. I won't be horribly crushed if they don't. I just felt wrong writing such a negative review without sharing it with them to give them a chance to say whatever they want. Maybe it's me, maybe I'm the only girl in the world who can't wear these. Oh wait ... actually I know that's not true. I did a quick google search and found others who were unhappy. Admittedly maybe it's just us. Could be - who knows.

So how about you? Do you wear Lululemon, do you love it or hate it?

Oh and Post script - I do still love the Lululemon crew that comes out and cheers at racers - they are great. They have the best and funniest signs, ever.

Update 8/14/2012
LuluLemon responded to my email very quickly. On a Sunday even. In fact I've received 4 emails so far as we work our way through this process. They have offered a return credit which they didn't need to do but it does make me happy. They also informed me that in fact their running apparel like these shorts are meant to be worn with underwear. So that's good to know. In my opinion it means these shorts aren't meant for me and that's okay too (not every product will work for every person - that's just life). But in the end they are standing by their product and offering a return which is good service in my opinion. Thank you Lululemon for doing that.