Friday, May 25, 2007

Brain-Body Connect à la the Flip Turn

So yeah, I know we're triathletes... but learning how to do a good flip turn will make us better swimmers AND triathletes, even if all we ever do is swim in open water, with no walls.

It'll make us better because in learning it (especially via this progression of drills) we'll become better at understanding where our body is in the water and how subtle movements effect our stroke and body position. It's a little like dancing. Learning where you are in space and what your body is ACTUALLY doing when you THINK you're telling it to do something else... well, it's helpful with lots of other skills in triathlon.

Like, is your foot striking the pavement in the most efficient way? Can you make an efficient foot strike automatic or do you still have to think about it?

Do you have a bad habit? Can you relearn whatever it is so it's no longer a bad habit?

Is there a dead spot in your pedal stroke? Can you make your brain tell your body how to fix that or is there a disconnect?

Are you wasting any of your energy because the placement of your hand at the start of your catch isn't where it should be? Can you FEEL how it should be and can you then MAKE it happen? Your brain has to give your body that information. And if you don't practice that mind-body game, you won't be as good as you could be.

I can say first hand, because Coach has used me in these drills to demonstrate what to do and what NOT to do, that practicing things like a flip turn, even if it's not directly used in a triathlon, gives you a huge leg up in understanding your brain-body connections, and practicing those connections ultimately helps to sharpen ALL of your skills. Body awareness, just like balance, is crucial. TRY IT. I'm telling you, it can make a big difference...

You can learn body awareness by doing all kinds of things - yoga, pilates, dance, martial arts... right now I'm really enjoying practicing my brain-body connections by perfecting my flip turns. I'm getting better and better at them and my swim times are improving as I'm starting to be able to shave a second or more off of each turn... so it's making me a faster masters competitor too. And seeing what I'm doing on film is fantastically helpful.

If you've been struggling with your turns or are just starting out, these drills are a great way to start at square one and learn the correct way... but, for no other reason, see if you can do them, just as an exercise in practicing body awareness... can you make your body do the things your brain wants? Being upside down under water is a great time to find out!!!

Check out the fun here:
Drill Progression #1
Drill Progression #2
Drill Progression #3 (I'm the swimmer who drops her hands and ends up too deep in the water for the pushoff... and no, I wasn't TRYING to mess it up... but I was able to fix it later...)

Train hard and get your swim on!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Question and Answer

OK, so my first Tri of the season is next Saturday and it'll be my first experience with my new wetsuit. I'm quite excited to race with it - have plans to plunge into the 60˚F lake this weekend to get a feel for it.

However. There are wetsuit strippers for this race. And I'm feeling all kinds of weird about it. Not sure why...

So the question: Can't I just take my own suit off?? Can ya'll calm my nerves about the just seems like it'd be such an exercise in abject humiliation... any words of wisdom?

And the answer to the little math puzzle below:

Congrats to Momo and Isis for figuring it out!!!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Bits and Bobs

Well, I have a race report to share with you all but have not had time to write it yet. So I'll just tell you that last Saturday (5/12) I ran the Big Lake Half Marathon and finished with a new PR, 3 minutes faster, at 2:23:10. I was shooting for 2:20 but got sidetracked earlier in the month with some snow-induced motivational issues. It was a fantastic race and a beautiful course... and I was excited to run it faster. Report is forthcoming...

If you get a chance, head on over to TEAM IRON TOM and check out 5 really great age group triathletes who also happen to be buddies from my swim team. These guys are all rock solid athletes AND people, and you'll really learn a lot from their adventures. Look for them in their rockin' red uniforms at a race near you!!! And don't be shy - introduce yourselves... and feel free to shower them with lotsa comment love!!

And I know we're heading into open water swimming season but if you've been putting off learning how to do a flip turn, my coach has been working on a series of drills that will help with the learning progression, starring yours truly and a few of my teammates. Head on over to GoSwim and take a look at all the cool stuff! I like to call this new fangled approach The Noodle Method... mostly because it cracks me up. But it really seems to nail down the basics of the flip turn to be sure that you learn your flips correctly, without bad habits. So far we've filmed Drill #1 and Drill #2. Check 'em out!!!

And lastly in this Friday edition, my most excellent 10 year old friend posed this riddle to me last evening as we were hanging out making grilled cheese for her 12 and 7 year old sisters. See if you can figure it out... it's quite clever!! (I didn't get it until she showed me... ) I'll send a fun song for your iTunes collection to anyone who can demonstrate the solution...

Hope ya'll have a GREAT weekend!!! Train and race hard!!!

Monday, May 14, 2007


Yup, I am. With these:


AMAZING. Let me just start by telling you a bit about me and my history with sunglasses.

First, I'm convinced I have ears at different heights so any glasses I've ever had sit crooked on my face. Not these. These fit PERFECTLY. So perfectly that I think I actually might look hawt in them... always important.

Next, I tend to sweat. A lot. And my glasses either fog up and I just plain can't see, or the sweat pools along the bottom edge of the lens and that's just irritating. Not at all an issue with these.

Finally, I'm totally cheap. So paying $150 for a pair of sunglasses isn't going to happen. Not now, not ever. Murphy's Law dictates that the day after I buy them, I'll sit on 'em, or they'll fall off my face when I lean over to do something and then I'll step on 'em... or... you know the drill. Anything nice gets pretty wrecked... so having nice stuff... yeah, not so much. But these, these are totally affordable at $59.95/pair. I might even need to get a second pair...

Here are the technical specs, taken from here:

Frame features
* Grilamid TR-90 Open Frame Design (ummmmm, not really sure I know what that means but I like that they have no frame on the bottom because I can actually SEE what's on the ground or what ring my rear cassette is on rather than having that vision blocked by the bottom edge of the frame.)
* Hydrophilic Rubber Adjustable Temples & Nose Piece (this is key and keeps them on your face like nobody's business...I'm telling you, these glasses are not going ANYWHERE.)
* Improved Fit for 2006
* Lifetime Warranty (also an added bonus)

Lens Features:
* Enhanced Visual System [EVS] Polycarbonate Decentered Lens for Optical Clarity (the clarity is quite amazing... I have something like 20/10 vision and get really frustrated when anything messes with it... I totally forget that I have these on they're so clear...)
* Glare Guard™ Glare Reducer to Decrease Eye Fatigue (zero glare. zip, zilch, zero, nada.)
* 100% UVA & UVB Protection
* Ventilated Lens for Increased Airflow & Anti-fog (this is my favorite feature so far)
* Three Lenses Included for Various Light Conditions

A little more about the ventilated lens feature... it's SO COOL.

I rode on a hot, humid day with these and didn't have a single drop of condensation on the inside of my lens. Even more impressive was that I RAN with them on another hot, humid day and even had a ball cap on and they didn't fog up. I don't run with sunglasses at all, ever, because they just get too foggy. The air vents in these aren't just a gimmick...they really work. Super cool.

The other thing I wanted to rave about is the interchangeable lens dealy. My last pair of Smith Sliders, although CLOSE to the optimal fit for me, have a super annoying habit of loosening up to the point that the interchangeable lens will just fall out. This would stress me out so much in T2 that I'd given up on wearing glasses on the bike because I was afraid I'd end up riding with only one lens. Not ideal for eye protection (in either the one lens or NO lens options). The Tifoso Envy frame actuallly has a slot that the edge of the lens clicks into so there's no way it'll fall out or even get jarred loose. Primo.

If you've spent much of your tri life to date looking for the ultimate sunglasses that're also affordable, look no further. These rock. Actually, Tifosi has an entire line of really great options available so take a look!!! Oh, and they're all UNDER $90 US Dollars.

I got my new shades from Jerry at ONETRI.COM. The service was super friendly and quite timely and Jerry went the extra mile to get me hooked up. Head on over there for all your triathlon needs!!!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

26th Annual Prouty Century Bike Ride

In 1982, four nurses rode 100 miles through the White Mountains of New Hampshire to honor the courage and strength of their patient, Audrey Prouty, in her fight against cancer. This year, more than 3,000 people are expected to take part in the 26th Annual Prouty Century Bike Ride & Challenge Walk to celebrate and support the courage of cancer patients and survivors everywhere and to raise money for crucial cancer research at Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

Over the 25 years of this event, more than $4.5 million dollars has been raised. This money funds world-class research, state-of-the-art equipment, critical education programs and innovative clinical trials that help save lives of cancer patients all over the world.

Last year, The Prouty raised a record-breaking $1,250,000. This year our goal is $1,500,000. Please join us in raising money to help find a cure for cancer.

The Prouty is the signature event of the Friends of Norris Cotton Cancer Center, a group of people dedicated to supporting cancer research, patient services and community outreach at Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth.

This ride usually takes place on the same weekend as the Annual Fairlee Great Triathlon and I'm not quite up to riding 100 miles Saturday and then finishing an olympic distance race on Sunday (one with pretty respectable hills). Not YET anyway. Well, Fairlee isn't happening this year - the race director is doing some other event - and actually the Prouty is happening a weekend later than usual, so THIS is my year to ride. I've always wanted to do this event - it's THE event in the Upper Valley - people simply refer to it as "The Prouty." As in, "Hey are you doing the Prouty?" Or, "Yo, what team are you riding with for the Prouty?" And, "Are you doing the 50 or the 100 in the Prouty this year?" Everyone does it. I've always felt studly saying, "No, I'm racing the Fairlee Triathlon the same weekend," but to be honest, I've always kinda wished I was riding too...

And I have good cause to want to help raise money for cancer research. My mom, dad and brother have each waged their own battles against this insidious disease. And here I am, the lucky one of four in my family who has yet to face cancer. Will I remain lucky? No one knows. I hope so. But for now, while I can, I'm going to do my part to contribute to cutting edge research that will hopefully someday lead to a cure. If not for all the research that's happened already, I might be the only one of my family left right now. It's important.

I know lots of us have taken up causes like this and there are so many worthy ones to contribute to. If you can add some to the pot, great. If not, I'm sure you'll be contributing in other ways. Thanks to everyone who is out there making a difference.


Train hard!!! Because you can...