When is draft-legal coming to a #triathlon or #duathlon near you?

running-advice-bugLots of my age-group duathlon buddies have expressed surprise and a bit of consternation about draft-legal racing on the bike coming to our part of the sport. I’ve talked to a number of people that have said they don’t feel that draft-legal racing will be safe and they want to avoid those races that head that way, but here’s the thing: draft-legal is coming. We all need to start thinking about it.

Draft-legal is coming, are you ready?

Draft-legal is coming, are you ready?

Draft-legal racing has been the norm at the elite ITU level for some time now. Many people may not realize that it has also been the norm for juniors and Under 23 (U23) as well, essentially training a whole new generation of athletes as youngsters to learn how to race draft-legal. Outside of the United States, draft-legal is not frowned upon as it seems to be here. In the US, we seem to have been trained to “hate” drafting on the bike as that’s been the rule since the beginning of the sport for most races here.

The International Triathlon Union (ITU), which is the governing body of the sport, has started moving individual age-group events to draft-legal racing. Starting in 2016, the ITU Sprint Triathlon and Duathlon World Championships will both be draft-legal. This means that drafting will be legal in ITU races for elite, junior, U23, and age-groupers — that is for all but paratriathlon/paraduathlon. It’s already legal for all distances of winter-triathlon and cross-triathlon. This just leaves the standard (or “Olympic”) distance and longer distances races.

Clearly this feels like a test to see how age-groupers do with draft-legal racing at the shorter distance. But the writing feels like it is on the wall that the standard distance won’t be far behind.

Now, the ITU doesn’t govern all triathlons and duathlons. Many are sanctioned by national bodies like USA Triathlon or organizations like Ironman or local organizers. But again, it feels like national bodies will begin to follow suit to get their athletes ready for the overall change in the sport, so we should see national bodies start re-framing these rules sooner rather than later.
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Review: Pearl Izumi Tri Fly Octane Triathlon Cycling Shoe #triathlon #pearlizumi

running-advice-bugIt’s not very often that I actually ask a manufacturer to send me a product to test. I pick out the best gear for myself and my athletes, but taking time to write about it all doesn’t rank that highly on my to-do list. But when it came to the Pearl Izumi Tri Fly Octane Triathlon Cycling shoe, I had to make an exception. I needed to try out these shoes and they didn’t disappoint me.

Pearl Izumi's fantastic Tri Fly Octane cycling shoe

Pearl Izumi’s fantastic Tri Fly Octane cycling shoe

I first saw the Tri Fly Octane while on a visit to triathlon gear e-tailer Trisports.com down in Tucson. What will strike you upon picking up the shoe — after the bright orange color — is the weight of the shoe. This shoe is quite literally half the weight of any other shoe around it on the triathlon shelf. At 185 grams, they are ridiculously light. For comparison, my previous shoe weighed 295 grams. And while I’m not usually obsessed with weight, these shoes are so much lighter than anything else I have seen that it really stands-out.

The lightness of the shoe comes from a combination of things. One of them is the mostly-mesh upper on the shoe. This reduces the amount of bulky material, but it also lets a lot more air through the shoe and lets water drain out quickly. This is a bonus when you have wet feet getting into the shoes in T1. The flip-side is that riding in this shoe on a cold-rainy day is not that much fun. My booties needed to make an appearance early this Fall.

The shoe sports a carbon-fiber base that makes it very strong. Even for a powerful cyclist that likes to push the pedals hard like me, it provides an un-flinching platform to push against.
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USAT Duathlon Nationals 2014 Held in St Paul #USATDU14 #triathlon

running-advice-bugST. PAUL, Minn. — Matthew Payne and Kirsten Sass captured overall standard-distance titles while Nathan Hoffman and Patty Peoples-Resh raced their way to overall sprint titles at the 2014 Life Time USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships, held Saturday at Harriet Island Regional Park.

Nathan Hoffman wins 2014 overall Sprint Duathlon title

Nathan Hoffman wins 2014 overall Sprint Duathlon title

Nathan Hoffman (South Haven, Minn.) posted the fastest time of the day in the sprint race at Duathlon Nationals. (Photo: Mario Cantu/CIMAGES)

Payne (Columbia Heights, Minn.) clocked in at 1 hour, 16 minutes, 25 seconds on the 4.6-kilometer run, 31.2-kilometer bike, 4.4-kilometer run to claim the overall victory as well as the male 35-39 age group title. Dave Slavinski (Point Pleasant, N.J.) posted a time of 1:16:46 for second overall and first in the male 40-44 age group and masters division. Thomas Woods (Lincoln, Neb.), also in the 40-44 age group, was third overall in 1:17:35.

“Really, I would say we have the most competitive duathlon scene anywhere right here,” Payne said. “I knew if I had a good race, I had a shot. Any time you get something like this in your backyard, you have to do it.”

Sass (McKenzie, Tenn.) was the top finisher for the women, picking up the women’s overall title along with the win in the female 35-39 age group, finishing in 1:25:10. Dani Fischer (Wausau, Wis.) was second overall after a penalty set her finish time back to 1:26:06, which was still solid enough for the female 25-29 age group championship, and Brenda Williams (Cornville, Ariz.) sealed her female masters and 40-44 wins in 1:27:46, finishing third overall.

“I was hoping for a good day out there and just gave it what I had,” Sass said. “It’s a very supportive environment and that’s what drew me to triathlon in the first place, and that goes for duathlon as well. Everybody is out there encouraging everybody else, and I just think that’s incredible.”
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XTERRA Mountain Champs 2014 Crowned in Colorado #triathlon #Xterra

running-advice-bugJuly 19, 2014 (Avon, CO) – Josiah Middaugh, 35, of Eagle-Vail, Colorado and Chantell Widney, 34, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, captured the 2014 XTERRA Mountain Championship at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon, CO today.

Josiah Middaugh wins Xterra Mtn Champs 2014

Josiah Middaugh wins Xterra Mtn Champs 2014

It’s the third time in four years Middaugh has won the race, while it’s the first major XTERRA victory for Widney.

Middaugh was more than a minute behind the leaders out of the one-mile swim in Nottingham Lake but quickly biked his way to the front of the pack. He posted the fastest bike and run times of the day and won going away in 2:07:22, more than five minutes ahead of runner-up Ben Hoffman from Boulder.

“It was a special day for me, everything kind of clicked,” said Middaugh. “You’d think that would happen more often on my home course but I’ve had a lot of dismal races here so it was good to put it all together and have one of those days where everything felt really good. It’s a really hard course but I was happy to suffer through it.”

His bike split, 1:09:32, was almost three minutes faster than the next best of Ryan Petry, and his run was 30-seconds better than the lightning quick 18-year-old Mauricio Mendez. Making that all the more impressive, Middaugh suffered three broken ribs in a bike crash just three weeks ago.
“Just one of those things,” said Middaugh. “It hurts a lot, and it’s not very easy to breath. I actually thought it was going to be a so-so day but it turned out to be a great day. Mauricio was the last one I passed on the bike (before mile three) and I really thought there would be more guys out front longer.”
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US Duathlon National Championships Head to St. Paul #USATDU14 #triathlon

running-advice-bugNearly 650 athletes from 44 states and Washington, D.C., are on the start list for this Saturday’s 2014 Life Time USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships, held in St. Paul, Minnesota, at Harriett Island Regional Park. The race will be held on July 19, 2014.

Joe English will attempt to repeat in the Sprint Distance Championship in 2014

Joe English will attempt to repeat in the Sprint Distance Championship in 2014

After a three-year stint in Tucson/Oro Valley, Arizona, St. Paul will host the best duathletes in the country this weekend and again in 2015. Age-group duathletes and paraduathletes will race their way to national titles in both standard-distance (4.6-kilometer run, 31.2-kilometer bike, 4.4-kilometer run) and sprint-distance (2.9k run, 20.8k bike, 2.7k run) events. Races will begin at 7:30 a.m. CT on July 19 with the standard-distance race, followed by the sprint race at 11:45 a.m. CT. Visit usatriathlon.org/du14 for complete event details, and follow the race live at usatriathlon.org/du14coverage.

Twenty-three returning national champions highlight the field in Saturday’s races:

Sprint Defending Champions
Michael Ashworth (M30-34, Jersey City, N.J.)
Margaret Bomberg (F75-79, Chico, Calif.)
Celia Dubey (F40-44, Tarpon Springs, Fla.)
Joe English (M40-44, Hillsboro, Ore.)
Terry Habecker (M65-69, Ithaca, N.Y.)**
Janet Jarvits (F45-59, Pasadena, Calif.)
Heysoon Lee (F70-74, Morristown, N.J.)**
David Morrow (M60-64, Tarpon Springs, Fla.)
Patty Peoples-Resh (F55-59, Redlands, Calif.)
Kristin Villopoto (F50-54, Chapel Hill, N.C.)
Timothy Winslow (M19U, Elk Grove, Calif.)**
Standard-Distance Defending Champions
Andy Ames (M50-54, Boulder, Colo.)
Donald Ardell (M75-79, St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Jason Atkinson (M30-34, Alamogordo, N.M.)
David Burkhart (M60-64, Brighton, Mich.)
Kirsten Chapman (F50-54, Edmond, Okla.)
Kerry Mayer (M65-69, Brookfield, Wis.)
Robert Powers (M90+, White Bear Lake, Minn.)
Erica Ruge (F40-44, Rhinebeck, N.Y.)
Jennifer Scudiero (F30-34 and female overall winner, Eagan, Minn.)
Dave Slavinski (M40-44, Point Pleasant, N.J.)
Chelsea VanCott (F20-24, Oceanside, Calif.)*
Keith Woodward (M60-64, Stowe, Vt.)

*Indicates athlete is racing in the sprint event
**Indicates athlete is racing in the standard-distance event

Duathlon Nationals is the sole qualifying event for the age-group 2015 Standard- and Sprint-Distance ITU Duathlon World Championships in Adelaide, South Australia, on Oct. 14-18, 2015. The top 18 finishers in each age group, rolling down to 25th place, will qualify for Team USA.

Team USA is comprised of the nation’s top multisport athletes who represent the U.S. at each ITU World Championships event. Visit usatriathlon.org for more on Team USA.

In addition to the weekend’s races, USA Triathlon and local St. Paul shop TrüBerry Frozen Yogurt have partnered to collect unwanted sneakers this week through July 19. Donated shoes will be given to Listening House of St. Paul, a day/evening shelter and community resource center that provides hospitality, practical assistance and counsel to people who are homeless, disadvantaged or lonely. Shoes may be dropped at 949 Grand Avenue in St. Paul, and those donating shoes will receive a buy one, get one free item from TrüBerry.

Source: USA Triathlon
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Triathlon — Are Those Aero Wheels Worth the Money?

running-advice-bugI was talking to some athletes the other day after a race and the questioning from one of them went down a familiar road: are those expensive aero wheels worth the money? Today I wanted address this, but not from a scientific “do they work” context, but rather from the perspective of whether you as an athlete might actually benefit from them.

Coach Joe at Ironman Australia in 2013

Coach Joe at Ironman Australia in 2013

First things first, by aero wheels, what we’re discussing here are deep section rimmed wheels, disc wheels or even disc wheel covers: equipment for your bike to cut down on the wind resistance of your bike as it passes through the air. Many people have already written about this subject and if you were to survey the literature out there, you’d probably find that the recommendation is that you start with a aero bars and bike fit first, then go next with an aero helmet and save the aero wheels for last. The reason for this is two fold: first, the largest amount of aerodynamic drag comes from your body pushing through the wind, so getting yourself low and out of the wind makes the largest impact and second, this formula will generally give you the most bang for your buck.

Second, be sure to carefully understand what you’re getting yourself into when you start thinking about buying new wheels. You may be moving from Clinchers to Tubulars, for instance, meaning a whole new set of spare parts and equipment. I also found out the hard way that my new carbon wheels require carbon brake pads (which is not a big deal) but that they need to be swapped out when I move between my training and racing wheels. These kinds of issues should be sorted through before investing thousands into your new wheels.

When it comes to making a recommendation of whether to invest in aero wheels, I start by dividing people into three groups and then going from there. My groups would be: 1) beginner athletes, 2) intermediate to advanced athletes and 3) advanced and elite athletes looking for the greatest possible racing advantage.
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Triathlon — Overcoming the “I’m Scared to Death” Syndrome

running-advice-bugLast weekend I was walking into a transition at a local race and I overheard a common exchange. One athlete asked the other how she was feeling and the other answered her back, “I’m scared to death!” So many times I have heard this expressed — and often in exactly those words. I can almost feel the pounding heart and the sweaty skin.

courage-is-being-scared-to-deathThese words “I’m scared to death” have real power. Of course, when we say them we’re not actually scared “to death.” It’s not as if Jaws is about to surface beneath us and bite our legs off or Jason is going to jump out from behind a tree with an ax and end our races with a mortal blow. (Although these days with the Zombie runs and other themed races, it could happen!) But the power of these words tells a lot about what’s going on in the mind.

“Scared to death” is an expression of fear. If you look it up in the dictionary the definition is “extremely scared.” The word “scared” itself means, “thrown into or being in a state of fear, fright, or panic.” The question is not whether we are actually scared before a race — as many people actually are — but rather do we really want to be in a “state of panic or fright” before a race? The answer, of course, is no.

What we want to be is control of our emotions, thinking clearly, and ready to do what we have trained to do. Achieving a clear head is not so easy when we’re seeing spots with fright.
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Triathlon — Three Things I Remembered at Ironman Australia

running-advice-bugI’ve done more triathlons and duathlons than I can recall, but seven years ago I did my first Ironman and vowed never to do another. Ironman Australia was my second (and surely the last?). I came away feeling the need to share three things that I remembered during the race. These were sensations that I don’t think are boiled down into any text that I wish I had in my head before setting off on this latest long-distance adventure.

Coach Joe on the bike @ IM Australia

Coach Joe on the bike @ IM Australia

Lesson 1 — Swimming with thousands of people is unpleasant. Every book and coach will remind you to get out there and swim in open water, because open water swimming is different than swimming in the pool. That it is. You can’t follow that convenient black line on the bottom of the pool and there are no breaks every 25 meters to interrupt your stroke. These things are true. But to me the revelation (again) was that swimming alongside that many people is a really JARRING experience. You have legs and feet in your face, people throwing what feels like punches in your noggin, and the water is churning around like a damn washing machine. Forget the fact that you don’t have the wall every 25 meters. That wall has instead been replaced by a living creature that whacks you in the head, causing you to pull your head back, gasp for breath and throw a punch of your own.

My sensation about two minutes into the swim was this: “I can’t do this for the next hour. I will drown if I don’t slow down, catch my breath and stop being kicked in the head.”

But the learning from this race was the same as in my last one. The craziness does eventually subside. The field spreads out and you do find some calm water. It’s never like swimming in a pool and suddenly out of the blue someone will swim into you and pound you in the head in the middle of the race, but it does get better. If you can try to find clear water, get there. If not, then just bear down and hang in there. It gets better.
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2013 Long-Course Duathlon Nationals (Mt. Rainier Duathlon) Course Preview

running-advice-bugWith the 2013 Long Course Duathlon Nationals (AKA Mt. Rainier Duathlon) coming up next weekend, I spent some time riding and running the courses yesterday to give you a sneak preview and some advice on how to approach the course.

UP7512_2013 NtnlChampLogo_LongCourseDU_DateI’ll start by saying that there is a lot about this course that I like and I think that everyone should find something that they like about it. The course offers a great deal of variety, but is not highly technical. The hill climbing on the bike will favor strong riders, but there is enough other terrain to help even that out a bit as well. In short, I think this is a fair race course and should be good for well rounded athletes.

Run Course 1: At just over five miles (5.12), this course isn’t quite a 10K but is long enough that it should slow down the sprinters a bit. Looking at this on the map, I thought that it would be totally flat, but the race organizers managed to find the one hill in this part of town to incorporate into the course. The hill starts after a hard left turn right at the 3 mile mark and climbs quickly up a rolling set of inclines. The hill is short but steep and I think this is going to separate the girls from the women so to speak. If anyone has gone out too fast, they will pay for it here. There is a nice recovery coming back down the other side of the hill and then the course flattens back out in the last mile.

My advice as always is to pace yourself wisely in the first run. Your running pace should be a pace (effort level) that you can keep up for the entire duathlon — not just for that first run. Most people go out way to fast in the first run. Remember that you have a lot of riding to do after you transition, so take it easy. Work your way up the hill and then use the down hill to recover and get yourself set for the transition as you come back to the start/finish area.

Bike Course: The meat of this race is going to be on the bike. At 28.88 miles this feels quite short for a “long course” race, however, the hilly terrain makes it challenging and it will feel longer. I think the way to mentally approach this course is to divide the laps into three segments: 1) the first portion of the race until you hit the bottom of the climb (0-6 miles), 2) the climb (miles 6-8), and 3) the recovery and descent (miles 8-14). You’ll do two laps of the course.
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Duathlon — Parish and Kattouf Take 2012 National Duathlon Titles

running-advice-bugORO VALLEY, Ariz. – Patrick Parish and Gail Kattouf clinched overall national titles in the standard-distance event, while Greg McNeil and Patty Peoples won the sprint-distance race Saturday at USA Triathlon’s 2012 Duathlon National Championship, presented by TriSports.com.

Patty Peoples wins 2012 Sprint Duathlon Championship (Dave Sanders, USAT)

Parish (Bloomington, Minn.) was the top U.S. finisher on the 5-kilometer run, 35-kilometer bike, 5-kilometer run course with a time of 1:23:06. He finished 12 seconds behind overall winner Lionel Sanders of Ontario, Canada, who clocked in at 1:22:54. Matthew Payne (Columbia Heights, Minn.) was third in 1:25:42, and last year’s overall champion Dave Slavinski logged a time of 1:25:50 to finish fourth overall and round out the national championship podium.

“I knew a few people would take it out hard,” said Parish, who ran at Duke University in college. “I just wanted to relax through the first run, and catch everybody on the bike and see if I could close.” Parish also claimed the 25-29 age group title and posted a 49:03 bike split, which was the fastest bike split of the day in the standard-distance event.

Defending champion Kattouf (Greenville, S.C.) bested the women’s field by nearly three minutes, taking the tape with a time of 1:37:00. She led the women’s field after the first run, with a 5k split of 19:02.

“Today I left it all out on the course,” Kattouf said. “I was really pleased with how the race went down. I knew going into transition I had a couple minutes lead, and then I cruised on the run.” In addition to her 2011 national title, Kattouf won a world title and plans to defend later this year in Nancy, France.
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