Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Zoot Zenith 2.0 Triathlon Wetsuit

Today I tested my new Zoot Zenith 2.0 wetsuit at the pool. I wore the suit for the main set of 3x1,000m and boy, was it sweet. As I've become accustomed to, the week prior to a wetsuit race, I'll break out the suit and get adapted to it. As was true with both of my last two suits (a Zoot Zenith 1.0 and a Blue Seventy), I had to modify my stroke a bit and had to get adjusted to the increased power needed to "muscle" the suit through the stroke. Totally and pleasantly surprised how great the new 2.0 is. I am of course glad that I am "pre-swimming" the suit, but I would have been fine come race day had I not....stroke was totally normal and no noticeable fatigue to speak of. Sweet!

Zoot made some noticeable changes with the 2.0 vs the 1.0. First, the used a much thinner and perforated neoprene on the tops of the shoulders that also wraps around the upper back. This significantly improves range of motion. Second, the collar has been made of a thinner material and is cut a bit lower thus making it much more comfortable and makes breathing easier. Third, the "catch" pads on the forearms are made of a similar perforated materials as on the shoulders. I can't say if my catch is any better 2.0 vs 1.0, but it seems to grab water. Fourth, the materials around both the wrists and ankles was thinned out similar to the neck material. In my prelim trials this made getting the suit off quickly much easier. Fifth, they've molded the pieces together differently and integrated the flotation pads differently. I can't quite nail down exactly what they did, but the suit fits better, moves better and feels less bulky. And....finally....it is fast. I love the feeling doing a set with a wetsuit on, then taking it off for some additional swimming....you really notice the benefit the wetsuit provided in both speed and buoyancy.

I will train in the suit a couple more times before Saturday's race.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Gearing Up for Xterra West Championships, Lake Las Vegas

This weekend is the first Xterra Cup Series race at Lake Las Vegas.  I'm pumped and ready to race.  I've been doing a whole mixed bag of different training this season and I feel the mix will produce a big smile.  We will be driving up to Vegas from Phoenix on Thursday to get in some pre-riding and to preview the venue.  The course looks to have plenty of climbing on the bike and the run.  That's what I've been training, so it will be fun.  I am not doing a full taper for this race, but am changing up the typical training plan a bit to ensure a solid performance.  I am making final prep to gear tonight which includes breaking out my new Zoot Zenith wetsuit and putting some new Specialized SWorks Fasttrack tires (which I'm finding extremely difficult to get onto my Stan's Notubes ZTR Race wheels).  See you in the desert.       

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Grasky Endurance Triathlon Camps - The Best

Grasky Endurance puts on the best triathlon training camps around.  I tagged along during one of their recent camps down in Tucson and it was great.  Excellent locations with epic swims/bikes/runs.  Of course the camp had plenty of strategically staged volume as most do, but the details are where this camp and other Grasky Endurance camps excel.  If you have never considered a camp or are out searching for a camp I recommend thinking through these things.  Personal attention - How much will you get from the top/headlining coach?  Will this personal attention include getting to know you personally, understanding your strengths and weaknesses, listening to your race ambitions and actually formulating a plan to immediately improve your success during the camp?  Added value sessions - In addition to just training, what additional events are part of the camp's itinerary?  It is common to have a nutrition talk and maybe a race strategy talk, but what about bike fits, stroke analysis, gait analysis, physiological testing and in-session, real-time discussion and commentary?  Support - Having a SAG vehicle might not seem like a big deal to you...until one day you need it.  You are never alone at a Grasky Endurance camp.  Through a committed and thoughtful staff and great product supplier partners your needs as an athlete are taken care of so you can focus on training.  Need a gel or tube?  Covered.  How about an entire tire or PowerTap loaner?  Yeah, covered too.  What about a ride back to the hotel when your legs give out on a ride after a 30hr training week.  Of course Grasky Endurance has your back!  Also, don't underestimate the value of camaraderie amongst campers.  Grasky Endurance camps builds social events into the camp schedule to foster an exceptional atmosphere and experience  You will not only meet great people, but you will make great friends.  
So, if you missed the Tucson camp don't worry.  You have a couple of Grasky Endurance camp options on the horizon that will be sure to be awesome.  First is the Grasky Endurance High Altitude camp in Flagstaff, Arizona.  Starting May 17 the 7,000ft elevation camp will boost your fitness to the next level.  Plus, the scenery is hard to beat...ever seen the Grand Canyon?  Well, you will get to ride there and check it out.  Get more details here:  http://graskyendurance.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=23&Itemid=14.  Another exciting camp to check out is the Grasky Endurance Wine Country camp in Santa Rosa, California.  This camp is the week after Vineman and starts July 20.  Start the second half of your season off right with an unbeatable mixture of training, resort accommodations and vineyard tours and wine tastings.  Learn more about this one here:  http://graskyendurance.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=24&Itemid=16

Monday, April 06, 2009

Prescott Punisher Result - NO DNF!

3rd time's a charm. I finally finished my first MTB race of the season. My goal was to be Cat 1 by this race, but that didn't quite work out. I did end up winning the Cat 2 race though. I'll take it.

The Prescott Punisher took about 1.5hrs and had, maybe, 2k worth of climbing. The temp was cool in the high-40s, but fresh at 6k ft elevation in the pines. I heard plenty of details about the course beforehand, but nothing beats a pre-ride. Fortunately, I did squeeze in one lap prior to the race. Great move! The course had a couple of medium-ish climbs and lots of little pops. I'd say it was an exercise in cadence and shifting. As in, high cadence and lots of proper shifting. The course was loose and dry.

I got to the trail head in 3rd position, waited for the first 3min, then surged to the lead. I got a pretty good gap going into the first downhill section...then took a crappy line and had a super subtle crash. Fortunately no injuries or bike issues! 2nd place passed me, but I was right on his wheel. Coming up to some traffic from other waves of racers, I took advantage and surged again. That was that. I road the second lap faster than the first, but had some mechanical issues on the third lap. Coming through the feed zone prior to the final lap, I noticed my front fork air was getting low. Typically if this happens it goes dead flat. I decided to go for it anyway. Charge the climbs and keep it upright on the descents. Fortunately, the shock held enough air & firmness to finish off the race. Phew. I would have been mucho pissed with another DNF.

I am really loving the bike right now. Road. Mountain. Whichever. Let's race. I want to move up to Cat 1 on the MTB to test my luck, but the next race is on the same weekend as the first big Xterra of the year. Vegas....which is what I am training for after all. So, yeehaw. Let's do some Vegas off road triathlon. I hear there is some serious climbing on the bike and the run. Uphill is my friend