Check and check again.

I headed out this past Saturday to one of my “A” races for the season. I was healthy (normally I go to a race with some mild or not so mild sickness) and didn’t have a nagging-want-to-become-injury issue. I was ready. The night before I went through my check list and had everything in my bag or in the car and ready to go.

On the early morning drive over to the race, I went through my race plan. I even accounted for what I would do if something didn’t go as planned. How would I cope? I was ready and relaxed.

I arrived with plenty of time to set up. I started carefully setting up my transition. Got my bike shoes and helmet in place and reached into my bag for my running shoes. I pull them out and realized  I had two left shoes (in retrospect, thank goodness I realized this at this moment and not during T2). My jaw dropped and it took a few moments for me to let this fact sink in. I looked up at a total stranger and said, “I have a big problem.” She suggested I go over to the Expo and see what was there. Good idea! I head over to the expo tents trying to stay calm. I had a plan for everything, but not for this.

I found a guy setting up his store and asked if he sold running shoes (trying to keep my voice strong). He said, “no,” and I lost it. Tears started spurting out my eyes, and I had to explain to this poor man what had happened. He said I could use his shoes, which were two sizes two big and went to go look for them. He couldn’t find his running shoes and was about to go to his car to look when he spotted a tent at the end of the Expo that was a running store. He sent me there telling me to come back if I still needed help.

I dried my face best I could and held myself together to try and ask again for shoes from the guys at the running store tent. Of course they had shoes, what size? The pull out the only style of shoe they have for sale that day. They were bright, florescent pink – SCREAMING pink. My mind, which should have been so relieved, stopped. Pink? I already felt like an idiot for having two left shoes but this would add insult to injury. The two guys selling shoes looked at me expectantly. Surely I should be so happy to have my problem solved. I quietly ask about what the men’s version looks like. It was much like the women’s version but it was mostly bright neon yellow and orange. I went with the latter, thanked them profusely and ran back to transition. I just paid money for shoes I wouldn’t have even worn in the 80′s.

I had been so thrown off mentally by the shoe debacle that as I walked to the start line I had given up having a good race. Slowly I tried to put it behind me and get back to my original race plan. By the time my wave lined up I had calmed down a lot and did end up having a good race. The best part of the race was that no fewer than 30 volunteers and other racers shouted to me on the run, “those are the greatest shoes!” 

As Chrissy Wellington often reminds racers, things will go wrong on race day and, as in life, its how we cope with them that matters. Not sure I coped with it as well as I could have, but it turned out all right in the end. One thing is for sure, when I raced again the next day and I wore my running shoes out of the house.

Check and double check your gear the night before the race!

The Age Grouper

While David Warden’s podcast gives tons of hard data and scientific information, Jeff Carrion and Eric Dewitt have created a great podcast that covers more everyday usable triathlon information. They interview triathletes both age groupers and pros alike. They talk about their experiences racing and give great tips to “newbies.” They also cover race reports and ideas about training. They are quite funny and don’t spend a lot of time just talking about their training logs. They also don’t record while training – well, maybe once or twice but, all in all, the sound quality and production is good and they get to the point and stay on topic.

They are from the Chicago area and have been doing podcasts for years. They each have been doing triathlon since the 90′s, so they have lots of experience racing. You can subscribe to their podcast through their website theagegrouper.com. They have all the podcast archived on their site, too.

Here is how they describe their podcast –

“The Age Grouper is a homegrown show that truly embraces the life of every-day age-groupers. We have full-time jobs, families and kids and manage to fit in some training and racing now and then just like you.”

Take a listen.

Triatlon on a Budget: bigger ticket items – Aero Bars

When most people start triathlon they don’t run out and buy a tri specific bike. Most people use the bike they have or even borrow one whether it be a mountain bike, commuter bike or a road bike. If money were not an issue I think in an a perfect world you would own a great road bike and a great tri bike.Tri bikes have aerobars on them and every inch is built to be as aerodynamic and, therefore, fast as possible. But for many, especially if you are new to triathlon, spending 2k-15k on a bike isn’t in the cards.

I was fortunate enough to be given a very nice road bike. Granted, it is 4 sizes too big for me, but it is what I’ve got. I could sell it and buy a bike that fits, but I would have to downgrade in quality. After my first race I noticed lots of people had aero bars on their road bikes. Looked like a good idea so I started my research — should I get some?

The main purpose of aero bars is to make you more aerodynamic by putting you in a more aerodynamic position. Going from normal upright position on a road bike to a very aerodynamic position can save  a cyclist up to 6 minutes over a 40k race. Here is one catch, according to my local bike guy, you have to be averaging more than 20 miles per hour to get any aero benefits from the aerobars. That put my aero purchase on hold right there. I certainly wasn’t averaging more than 20 mph in a 40k race. My best was 19 and change in a bit shorter race, so I thought I shouldn’t bother. Mulling it over more in the weeks to come, I thought that though more benefits are gained if you are moving over 20 mph, that shouldn’t mean that there aren’t any benefits if you are slower. Sure they aren’t as big but its something.

An agressive aero position is uncomfortable for some people, but as I spent more and more time on my bike peddling around the roads I kept thinking that a new position would be welcome. The idea of being able to take weight off of my wrists and stretch my back sounded appealing. So maybe I won’t get aerodynamic benefits from aero bars since I am so slow and the rest of my frame isn’t set up to be super aero dynamic, but it could be more comfortable and a change of pace from my upright position. I went back to my local bike guy to ask about aero bars again. He told me the 20 mph minimum theory again but then I said it would be more comfortable for me and my back. He agreed that was a good idea to think about them then.

Another catch – you can’t just grab any aero bars for your bike. My bike guy had a few used pair hanging around the shop but pointed out to me that the part of my handle bars where the aero bars clamp on can be different diameters. Years ago they were a standard diameter but now they are 26.0 mm or 31.8 mm thick. You have to buy bars that will fit one or the other or that come with shims to adjust to fit either. ALSO, if you have carbon fiber handle bars you don’t want to put aero bars on them because they can snap/crack with the weight of being in the aero bars.

As with most equipment, you can spend a lot of money, if you want to, on aero bars — anywhere from $70 to $700. Are they worth it? For me, yes. The position down in the aero bars is more comfortable. It is great to get off of my wrists and stretch my back forward. Not sure I am more aerodynamic, especially since I usually put on a winter suit in T1 after exiting the water – any aero benefits I might gain from the bars are negated by my billowing top. But I also feel that I can add a bit more power to the peddles from the aero position (I don’t have a power meter so this is just a feeling.)

I tried to find a pair that would fit my handle bars – I had the 31.8 mm thick ones – and find ones under $100.00. I found the Profile Design Airstryke ™ Aerobar. I found them from a bike store online for about $72.00. They were easy to install though many people recommend having a bike mechanic install them since if you do it improperly you could have a horrible accident mid-ride. Also, if you have a computer on your regular handle bars it might need to be rewired to accomodate your aerobars. Another piece of advice I received from my bike guy about buying used aero bars (though I ended up getting new ones) was worth noting – if you buy used bars that might have originally come with the shims to adjust for both diameter handle bars, make sure the seller has the ALL the original parts to make them adjustable. Most people lose the bits that allow the aerobars to fit the smaller diameter handle bars.

Though I wouldn’t put them on a must have list, I am certainly glad I bought aerobars. There are a lot of things I need to address if I am looking at true aerodynamic benefits – water bottles on my downtube and seat tube, my oversized layers to keep from freezing to death and my helmet etc – but for the comfort of having a different position I love to have the aero bars on my bike. They did take me a while to get used to. At first you feel very unstable and to find your balance in them you tend to swerve more than you would if upright so don’t practice on a small shoulder road with lots of traffic!

 

Running: Heel vs Mid-foot striking

Of all the sports of triathlon, running is the one that we have all done on some level. As kids we run around without thinking much about it. As we get older a lot people dread running and, while many still go out for a “run” now and again, they don’t enjoy it. Of triathlon’s 3 sports, running is the one that is most accesible – you can almost always head out for a run – no pool or bike required.

I have always be a runner at some level. Whether jogging around the neighborhood or warming up on a treadmill before doing weights, it is the only one of the 3 sports I have done all of my life, albiet at distances much shorter than I do now. I never hated running, but I never liked it either. In the last 3 years or so I have come to love it. Maybe because I get so frustrated by cycling and swimming that by comparison it is the discipline I look forward to.

Though we have all done it without thinking much, running has a lot of technique and form that needs to be practiced just like swimming in order to stay injury free and in turn enjoy it.

When I started upping my milage, I read about footfall –  landing on ones heel vs forefoot. I certainly had cushioned shoes and threw my heels out in front of me. “Why should it matter how I land,” I wondered? We all know how to run from the time we are kids — what’s so hard about it? I heard someone say that running with a heel strike was like putting on the breaks with each step. Since you are leading with the heel in front of your body weight it essentially, for a moment, stops forward momentum as it absorbs the impact/force of your body. Well, I was out on a run and experimented with my foot strike. I leaned forward from the ankles an thought about landing on my forefoot (not toes which was how it sometimes felt.) Looking at my watch that showed my running pace, I saw that it had increased significantly. I was actually going faster with no more effort (other than having to focus on form.) It really worked. I did this on and off for an 8 mile run – essentially testing it again and again. What I ignored (or was ignorant of) was that you want to change your running stride slowly, in small increments. Why? Because you will use tendons and muscles that have never been asked to do much of anything and you will possibly injure your calf or achilles. I learned this the hard way. My calfs screamed at me and I was lucy I didn’t tear anything.

Just after this experience of changing my running stride, I saw Chris McDougall speak about his book Born to Run. I was captivated by his story, and shortly after read his book. I am not much of a non-fiction reader, but I couldn’t put the book down. It was a great read and story. I say this whether or not you agree with his ideas. I know he has received some criticism but whatever you think about barefoot running, the story he tells is captivating and worth a read.

Anyhow, I hit my runs again while focusing on changing my foot strike – slowly. It has paid off a lot for me. Now, if you do your research you will find good arguments for why or why not forefoot running is worth doing. Both sides, heel strikers vs midsole strikers will claim that the other style leads to more injuries. So what do you do? Read all you can about both sides of the issue. Experiment with your own style and see where you feel best. Do, however, be careful of injuries. No matter which side of the debate is correct, if you change what your body is used to doing for years and recruit different muscles/tendons to work too hard too quickly, you will get injured, period. You don’t want an achilles injury for sure!

At the end of the day, if you find what makes running seem more effortless, fun and injury-free, you’ll be more apt to enjoy it; and that is the ultimate goal.

 

Triatlon on a Budget: bigger ticket items – the Wetsuit

After laces and race belts, which are inexpensive relative to other equipment, there is other important gear that is more expensive. My problem came when deciding what to purchase first. What should be the first key piece of “big ticket” equipment that would be most important to buy in order to help me train/race. (Of course the bike is the biggest investment but I am going to assume that you have borrowed one or have some sort of bike to ride – I’ll discuss my bike issues soon.) Since I was avoiding swim training because of the water and outside temp being too cold most of the time, a wetsuit seemed like an appealing choice. But how do I know which brand/ model to get? What if I invest $250 in one only to use it once and decide I hate it, it doesn’t keep me warm and doesn’t fit?

Do wetsuits really work?

I get cold easily and the idea of swimming in the Pacific ocean seemed impossible. Would a wetsuit really be able to keep me warm? My ski clothing has trouble keeping me warm so… I knew that wetsuits were designed to keep people war, but I was dubious.  I was pleasantly surprised! A good, well-fitted wetsuit (the fit is important) is amazing for keeping you warm in cold water. As the water first enters the suit it is cold but it warms up with your body temp and becomes a great barrier to the cold. In fact, after wearing mine the first time and getting out of the water I was amazed that I did freeze being out in the breeze. I decided I wanted to wear my wetsuit all the time and end my “always cold” state of being (my personal problems with being cold is a topic for another post that I won’t drone on about here.)

So, worth the investment for keeping warm?  Yes

The benefit that I didn’t expect but was always mentioned and, again, I was dubious about, was that it would make me faster. Well, in fact, it did. A lot faster. I call it my “super suit.” The buoyancy is amazing – it holds you up a lot and helps steam line you. I’m sure the better swimmers out there don’t  get as much a change in benefit as I found but it really makes you feel like you cut through the water better. The speed benefit from wearing it is great enough that I would use it in warm water, too. It may take longer to get off in T1, but, for me, it is well worth the time I take getting it off in terms of what I gain in the water.

Well worth the investment for swimming faster? Yes (unless you are an elite level swimmer)

One solution for how to try/buy one

So as I looked on line and in stores, I would see amazing looking wet suits with huge price tags. Again, if I had believed the claims of the benefits of using a wetsuit, I might have been more apt to just buy one, but I didn’t want to drop $250+ on a wetsuit and find out it didn’t fit right or it wasn’t comfortable and have to buy a second one. How about sleeves or sleeveless? Some people don’t like the constriction on the shoulders with sleeves and opt for the sleeveless style. Just before a race I was to compete in, I saw thatXterra Wetsuits was a sponsor for the event. If you clicked on a link you were taken to their wetsuit rental site where you could get a discount for renting a suit for the race. It comes a week before the race and you have a few days to return it after the race. With the discount the code for the rental  it cost me$35. Perfect. I could find out if wetsuits were all they were cracked up to be. Also, if I liked the suit they sent I could keep it for $90 or if I didn’t like it I could send it back. The website had a great sizing guide and the suit that arrived fit really well. As I mentioned, the fit of the suit is key. It has to be quite snug or it does the opposite of what it is supposed to do i.e. you’ll freeze while you sink. The suit I received was just like new, no dings or scratches. I quickly realized that I loved it and kept it. The suit they send is not their highest level suit, but it is very nice for the price and a great way to get your first suit.

Once you get your wetsuit taking care while putting it on not to tear it is important. Also, it shouldn’t be kept in hot places (the trunk of your car, in direct sun). No chlorine if you can help it and keep it rinsed off after swimming in it. Here is a good demo on how to put your wetsuit on correctly. You need to make sure you get it into place well or your shoulders will suffer!

Joe Friel – Godfather of Triathlon

Anyone who has been around the world of Triathlon for more than a few months is more than likely to have heard the name Joe Friel. Joe’s blog and books are the best resources out there for anyone who wants to learn the science and art of training for endurance sports. He is constantly refreshing information to stay current with the latest studies about training and nutrition. He is involved with his audience – he answers questions in forums both large and small, he runs camps and give a perspective that is scientific and personal. If you haven’t already you should be sure to buy The Triathlete’s Training Bible. If you want to train to your potential this book will show you the whys and hows to train. I don’t much like reading this type of book but I find this one very informative, well laid-out and easy to follow. He does have other books but this is the one to start with. If you don’t understand periodization, heart rate zones and physiology as well as you would like this book place to start. I admit that I don’t quite understand everything about periodization and training but I keep plugging away and have learned most of what I understand from this book.

Joe’s blog is the best out there for information about training topics that address the most recent research. He posts are informative, pertinent and he answers all sorts of questions that athletes have. I even emailed him with a newbie question and he got back to me in a few hours. He is truly passionate about his work and helping people learn about triathlon and endurance sports. He often addresses issues beyond my level but I enjoy reading them and gleaning more information.

My pipe dream is to someday train with him (I’m waiting to win the lottery.) If you are considering a trainer and money is not an issue, Joe also coaches. There is a long wait list, I believe, and he chooses his athletes based on certain criteria (though he works with pro’s and amateurs alike) so you have to apply to become one of his clients. But if you ever have the chance to try, go for it! If you want to train with a coach that works with Joe Friel and uses his methods, you can check out Training Bible Coaching. This is a more affordable way to get access to Joe’s methods of training. Certainly, there are lots of coaches out there that use Joe’s methods and theories, so this isn’t they only way to find a coach, but the coaches at this site work directly with Joe. Of course, the most affordable way is to self-coach. If this is the only option available to you then Joe’s book will help you plan your season. If you are self-coached and haven’t yet done so, get his book!

 

Listening to your body

Triathletes tend to follow strict plans and schedules for training, racing and eating. I know that if I have a long run on a given day I will do whatever it takes to go the entire distance at the highest effort I can manage. I would hear people suggest that listening to your body is more important than living strictly by a training schedule. I didn’t quite understand. If I listened to my body there is no way I would crawl out of bed at 5am. Wasn’t I supposed to toughen up and “just do it.”

Sleep

The more experience I get training and racing, I have started to understand the concept of listening to my body. And when I don’t listen, it lets me know. I think that I can now distinguish (sometimes anyway) between “don’t feel like it” and “probably shouldn’t.” I can also hear my body when it whispers and not wait until it has to shout at me to get my attention. There isn’t a 5am wake up day that I actually feel like getting up. However, once in a while, when I have either had a bit of a cold, a string of late nights or I have been pushing myself in many workouts in a row, at 5am I can now feel that  sometimes more sleep is far more important than working out. It is a distinct feeling that is different from the groggy feeling in my head and the call of my warm bed. It is a tired to the core feeling that indicates that sleep is more important, and I’ll have to live with the fact that I might only be able to get a short workout in later that day. Remember that sleep is much more important to overall heath than we tend to think. Here is a page on the importance of sleep - http://www.health.harvard.edu The key is to not feel guilty if you don’t get up to do your planned workout but also to know the difference between needing sleep and not wanting to get up.

Pushing hard

I tend to think that if I am working out then I should just go as hard as possible. Might as well, right? Wrong. I have had to start thinking of it this way – if I push hard intensity every day my body will never recover well enough to get to full intensity for key workouts. It will just be able to go at a medium intensity because it is still trying to recover from the day before. Progress in fitness comes from key workouts where a new higher than normal intensity is achieved and the body is allowed to recover fully from it. If I just go as hard as possible all the time I will just wear out and never progress. Easy, low intensity workouts allow us to be able to have breakthrough workouts later. It is still hard for me to plod along at an easy pace thinking I am reaping a benefit from it. When I finally started to tune into how I felt during my higher intensity workouts I noted a difference. If it was my 4th in a row, I realized my body felt heavy and slow and I wasn’t going faster at all – it just felt harder. If I eased up for a few days, my high intensity day felt sharp and focused and I saw progress in my pace. Don’t over ride you body’s messages that it needs to slow down. This is still sometimes hard for me to do, especially while running.

Addendum to the above
With that said, I do know that years ago I used to just go at a comfortably hard pace that was just enough to feel like I moved but I never saw progress in any kind of real fitness, weight loss. First off I got bored and secondly, I got frustrated I didn’t get anywhere in my ability to go faster. If you fit in this category think about upping your intensity with interval training. Do this with great care, however. You need to push yourself just enough but if you aren’t ready for it you can do more harm than good. Here is a good site that talks a bit about how to do intervals –intervaltraining.net Joe Friel also explains it brilliantly in his blog post here.

 

Sickness

Being sick or starting to feel sick is the hardest time for me to listen to my body. There are lots of opinions out there about when it is OK to workout when you don’t feel 100%. The two most common I have heard are – if your symptoms are from the neck up you are OK to workout or if you don’t have a fever, go ahead. Until my most recent bout with sickness, I was with the school of thought that as long as I didn’t have a fever I was good to go. I would ignore the runny nose, sore throat and cough. I often would feel better, too, after my run or bike (swimming while congested never feels good after.) Late in May, I ignored a cough. I didn’t feel sick at all, I just had a nasty cough that was a bit annoying. I was coughing up gunk but I ignored it. In June, I still had the cough but started to feel more like I had a cold with it – more congestion and a slight sore throat in the morning. The deepness of the cough was worse, too. I did visit a doctor who said it was a virus and not much I could do about it. July rolled around and I still had the cough and the feeling of being sick would ebb and flow but never felt awful. In all this time, I never stopped my training regimen or stopped racing (I scheduled a race a month through the summer.) After my race in Utah mid-July, I continued training and even upped my milage since I was in Jackson Hole and wanted to take advantage of my new surroundings. I had ignored my body for about two months now and it bit me in the butt. The mild congestion became an inner ear infection that sent sharp pain down my ear canal and a headache I couldn’t get rid of. I have been off any training for 7 days now and am supposed to race tomorrow. I sit here wondering if a few days off 3 weeks ago with more rest and easy days would have allowed me to heal. I’m sure of it.

Injury

I am much better at listening to my body when it comes to the nagging sensation of something that feels like it may become an injury. I am scared to death of having something pop or tear and keep me out of the game for six months or so. Running seems to cause the highest rate of injury for people but all 3 sports can cause parts of our bodies to fall apart. Listen to the slighest tightness, twinge or discomfort immediately. Don’t push yourself through a sensation that causes discomfort especially if you haven’t felt it before. I never had any knee issues before in my life and they were becoming sore on my run. I walked the rest of the run and tried again the next day. It was worse. With some advice from another runner, I stretched my calves more and rolled out on a foam roller and took some days off of running. This helped and my knees were back to new. Not sure if it was IT band syndrome or runners knee but I didn’t let it get worse. The slight nagging sensations we feel are the body’s way of telling us something is not working right. Whether  over use, improper mechanics, or poor technique is to blame, figure it out before you are in physical therapy rehabbing a more serious injury.

I guess the take away is this:

At first your body whispers. If we don’t listen it shouts. By then it is often too late and we’re sidelined.

Why we do it.

Triathlon seems to capture peoples imagination quite quickly. I have spoken to many people who were cajoled into trying a sprint distance tri and cross the finish line wanting to sign up for the next one right away. Some come as spectators and love the energy and atmosphere so much they want to try one themselves. I have heard many professional triathletes say that when they started racing at the Olympic distance they said they would never do the IronMan distance because that it is just insanity. They usually are saying this in their post-Kona race interview.

It also seems that people who get into triathlon really get into it.

I haven’t met many people who are on-again off-again putting training aside for a few weeks and then picking it up again just before a race. Triathlon requires sustained constant commitment on some level – especially for the longer distances. In fact, I would dare say for most it becomes a way of life, which is great. You eat well to improve your performance, sleep more to recover better, and diligently analyze results of races to see if our training is working and then adjust training plans as needed (I actually haven’t figured how to effectively do this but I know people do.) It can get so all consuming that every once in a while you should stop for a moment and remember why you do triathlon.

Personally, I have to answer that question every time I am standing (usually freezing my butt off) at the swim start listening to the starter count down from 10. I am usually telling myself at this moment that no sane person should be doing this and wondering what the hell I’ve been thinking? But something gets me to throw myself into the much too cold water amid the throng of kicking legs and flapping arms and when I cross the finish line I remember why I like it so much. It is a small adventure with various challenges along the way. Since I have been a kid I have lived for adventure, however small.

In a world where I think we mentally push ourselves (for good or bad) with work, deadlines, information overload, commitments, we rarely get to challenge our mental and physical selves together.

There is nothing mindless about racing (and training for that matter). While we race we have to overcome our fears, aches and pains, and doubts and think about strategy and efficiency. Physically we push ourselves in obvious ways. And although you are among competitors, ultimately your race is your own. You can’t control who shows up, and as much as we try to control the aspects we can such as pace, nutrition, or race strategy, things happen – cramps, flats, muscle stains. We have to cope and move on. It really is life lessons, challenges and adventure in a bubble.

I often say and hear others say that triathlon is fun.

It is and isn’t. I can’t think of anything else that I might describe as fun that can be at times so “un-fun.” For me it is the challenge and overcoming those challenges that keeps me training and racing. The various challenges aren’t always fun but they always seem to taunt me and dare me to try to face them down. The defeats and victories of the challenges of racing and training come big and small and at regular intervals. I think this is key because certainly raising a family is a adventure with many challenges that are much greater and more important to be sure, but they are often measured in years not seconds. I think we like more immediate feed back sometimes.

The community of triathlon that I have seen/experienced is also quite amazing. People are certainly racing against each other but they also are supportive of one anther. Much more so than other sports I have competed in. To get to the finish line everyone must face their own demons and there is respect for that. I am sure there are other stories out there of people who have seen another side that isn’t so nice but for the most part is seems better than most competitions.

There is a long list of why people do triathlon:

…to find camaraderie, to get in shape, to challenge oneself, to have fun, to spend time with friends, or to find adventure. Everyone has different reasons but remember to think about it often when you forget – as you slog through training miles that take precious time from your day and family, at the start of the swim, when the alarm goes off at an ungodly hour or when you get a bit crazed because you day worked out in such a way that your training plan has to get tossed out the window. The latter is my personal weakness. Being a bit of a control freak if my workout has to get truncated, altered or canceled in anyway (often for very good reasons) I think my entire season is done and I’ve failed. I have to calm down and put things in perspective. Anyway, all these things are, of course, part of the challenge.

Why do you do it?

Scofield Triathlon – BBSC Endurance Sports

Since I can’t really afford to travel to far away races just because I want to, I decided to see if there was a race anywhere along the way on our family trip that we were already taking. We were travelling to Jackson Hole, WY in July by car so I thought I would check out what was happening in Utah and Wyoming around the dates of travel. Sure enough there was a triathlon happening in Scofield UT. I signed up for the Escape from Scofield distance.

SInce I can’t really afford to travel to far away races I decided to see if there was a race anywhere along the way on our family trip that we were already taking. We were travelling to Jackson Hole, WY in July by car so I thought I would check out what was happening in Utah and Wyoming around the dates of travel. Sure enough there was a triathlon happening in Scofield UT. I signed up for the Escape from Scofield distance. They offered a sprint, olympic and “escape” distance.

The Escape distance was:

  • 1.75 mile swim
  • 37 mile bike
  • 10 mile run

We were shuttled out to a small island in the middle of the lake and swam back to transition.

I mistakenly thought that Utah would be low elevation without many hills.  Wow, was I wrong. I skied there when I was a kid so I’m not sure where this mistaken thinking came from. We started the race at the lake, which was 7,616 ft in elevation, but then went up to nearly 10,000 at the top of the bike route. The area was beautiful. The campground where the start was seemed like a great place to stay if you like camping. It was booked full when I signed up so we stayed at a hotel in a nearby town. The race was well organized and the support was amazing. Lots of aid stations and great volunteers.

If you can arrange competing out of your state it is definitely a great experience to race in different surroundings and climates. Of course, many people travel often to race in various spots but if it isn’t something you would normally do because of time, budget etc. try seeing what’s around if you are already planning a trip that isn’t about triathlon. Go to trifind.com and search by state and see what’s out there. Someday I hope to travel to races out of state and country just because I want too! Until then, I’ll take what I can get.

Here is a link the race director’s page bbsctri.com