Base Line Testing

Last week my triathlon coach, Nina, asked me to do some base line testing.  I had read about base line testing but never actually did any last season, nor did I know how to work it into my program, to follow up on my progress.  So, when she told me about doing some base line testing, I got really excited.  I love going as hard as I can, and getting the stats on where I am at in my training.  Now since I’m in the off-season, training in general is going to be low intensity, as well as minimal hours.  It will be more focused on strength training and fun, random outdoor activities, but of course it also is a good time to see where my weaknesses are, and to get results in each discipline to have something to compare my progress to later.

So, on Wednesday night I headed to my swim class to take the T-pace test.  In this test, I warmed up for 300yds, and then I had to do 300yds three times, and to go as fast as I can on each set.  I was to record my time for each of the three 300yd swims.  I did my first 300yd swim in 4:53 (1:37/100), the second 300yd in 5:03 (1:40/100), and the third 300yd in 5:07 (1:42/100).   I was surprised by these results because my half ironman results, do not show that I can swim at these speeds, but I think I need to learn how to race during the swim portion of triathlon.  I still feel like I’m just trying to get through it.  I really liked getting these numbers, because I’m going to love seeing them go down as I improve!

On Thursday, I did the bike test.  I did a 10min warm up, and then I was to cycle as hard as I could, yet maintain for 30min.  The idea was to see my heart rate during the test.  I maxed out at 177bpm, but I held most of the ride at 170, although we aren’t completely sure because my HR monitor slipped a little bit and we got some bad numbers for a few minutes.  Also, my heart rate monitor doesn’t always read accurately, I’m sure a lot of people find this, but I’m sure there are some inconsistencies with the my heart rate as well, not just my Garmin.  But again, I loved getting some actual facts.  I did this test on my trainer, so the distance wasn’t very accurate, but that doesn’t matter just as long as the inaccuracies stay the same for the next time I do the test.  Since, I don’t have a computrainer, I use the Garmin speed/cadence meter and it works alright, but it doesn’t give my actual speed, it’s always a lot less than how fast I would really be going outside.  Either way, I got the facts I needed.

Friday, I let my legs rest, and then I did my run test on Saturday morning.  I headed down to the Lake Shore park track for the first time ever for my very first baseline run test.  I was pretty excited for this test because I LOVE to run.  I warmed up, did my dynamic and neuromuscular warm up, did some stride runs, and then took off for my 30min test.  Again, I was supposed to run as hard as I could but maintain a pace that I could keep for 30min, which really makes it a submax test.  In this test, my heart rate maxed out at 241 bpm.  This probably sounds high, but it’s really normal for me.  I remember using high tech heart rate monitor testing when I was in college, and my heart rate did the same thing, and it also jumped around a lot then too, it would be at 241 and then somehow the machine would read that I was at 150, which didn’t make sense, but it misreads or my heart skips or something, but it’s the overall number and picture that matters.  My heart rate pretty much stayed in the 200-240 range for most of the 30min.  I trained with a heart rate monitor all of this triathlon season, and almost every time I ran my heart rate would be above 180, this felt normal.  I covered 15 1/2 laps on a 400m (regular size) track, which ends up being 3.88 miles in 30 min, which is an average of a 7:44/mile pace.  Now, I wasn’t too thrilled about the pace, but I hadn’t run at all in 3 weeks, and I didn’t exercise at all for 2 weeks, so I guess it wasn’t so bad, but that is the pace that I had trained to run the entire Boston Marathon at, so it was slightly disappointing, but I know I will get that pace up again during next season, and it is obvious in my heart rate that I was working hard which matters the most in this testing.  Again, it was exciting to get these results so that I can work on being faster without my heart rate getting higher.

I’m really excited to see my progress, if only I had done the baseline tests when I first started triathlon training so that I could see how far I’ve come already!

Have you done base line testing before?  Has it helped you track your progress?  If you haven’t done base line testing, are you thinking of trying it before your season starts next year?

Big Boobs v. Small Boobs in Triathlon

I was reading through the Lava Magazine that I just received last week, and was looking at all the top pro competitors, both male and female, but I couldn’t help but notice that all of the women in the pro field had small chests.  Now, a lot of times girls with small chests feel self conscious or they bond together and make fun of themselves, or they wish they had bigger chests, yada yada yada, but honestly, I would be in the minority.  You know a lot of girls might brag about having big chests, and this is not one of those times.  In fact, my boobs have always gotten in the way!

When I was a gymnast, you were not supposed to have big boobs.  I remember because I started to get a butt and boobs, my gymnastics coach, started to call me fat, and tell me I needed to lose weight, I was 14.  Well I pretty much quit gymnastics the next day, and I was crying for weeks.  I couldn’t believe it.  I never really told my mom about it because I didn’t want to cause a huge spectacle at the gym, and have my mom yell at the coach, so I kind of just moved on and made up some lame excuse why I wanted to focus on soccer.  Although, I did want to focus on soccer because it was more social and less demanding of my time.  There were no 3 or 4 hours practices, and when we went away on tournaments it was all about the team and hanging out.  I loved it.  Now, with soccer I didn’t have as big of a problem, but I will never forget again at about the age of 16 one of my coaches saying “you are getting a little top heavy.”  I mean seriously?  Who says that to a 16 year old, by the way both of these coaches in gymnastics and soccer were men.  Well, I again cried but I didn’t quit because I loved my team, and I told my friends on the team and they were there to support me.  There was nothing I could do about having boobs, that’s what happens when you go from a girl to a woman.  I ended up playing college soccer, and as the years went on there were plenty of really talented girls with boobs, although some of us ended up wearing two sports bras, haha, so there would be less bouncing!

Anyway, it got me to thinking are flat chested girls better triathletes than bigger chested girls?  Why are there no big chested pro triathletes?  Yes, it could have a bit to do with body fat, and if I lost a little bit of body fat I might have smaller boobs, but I still would not lose my boobs, believe me even at my skinniest, I had boobs.

Oh yea, one thing, I’m so glad none of these things led to an eating disorder, those coaches were lucky that I had a good support network and that I was strong enough, because those types of comments can destroy people, especially when you are a teenager and no one is comfortable in their own skin.

So, I looked at the list of pro triathletes competing in Kona, there are 53 competing this year, and I’m not kidding I googled each one of them and looked at their images, and I could only find 1, she maybe was a size B or C, the rest A’s for sure.  1 out of 53, then I started to look through the ITU rankings, and again I couldn’t find anybody with big boobs.  So, is this just a current trend?  I can’t help but hope that there are other big boobed girls like me, who make it to pro and we start our own trend, because I want to prove that in a sport where it is uncommon, that it doesn’t prevent someone from being a great triathlete!  Just like it shouldn’t in gymnastics or soccer, or any other sport for that matter!

Ironman Wisconsin Volunteering/Spectating Tips

I was thinking more about my experience as a volunteer at Ironman Wisconsin this year, and I wanted to share some tips for spectators and or volunteers, and or volunteer coordinators.

1.) Share with your volunteers parking that is available near their aid station. I was told of two places, and both ended up being 3-4 miles away from where I was actually volunteering.  It did make for a nice walk around Madison, but is volunteer location should have a specific parking area.  There is tons of street parking, but if you’re not from Madison you wouldn’t know it.

2.) Bring a bike! Due to parking so far away, and not knowing that that was going to be the case, I didn’t bring a bike.  Madison is an amazing bike friendly city.  You can bike everywhere along the course, and there are bike lanes and paths everywhere.  If only someone would have told me.  Fortunately, my mom was coming later to join me in Madison to watch the Ironman athletes, and brought two bikes with her after I called her and asked her to do so.  It made for a more enjoyable day.

3.) Bring healthy snacks. I assumed since I was going to be volunteering at an athletic event that there would be healthy snacks, when the volunteer coordinator sent out an email saying there would be food, snacks, and beverages.  Always assume the worst.  There was TONS of soda, but no water, except for the athletes, but I felt bad drinking their water and powerade.  There were brownies, and cookies, and pizza, and my list could go on.  No veggie platters, no fruit platters, no bananas, or apples, or oranges.  Now, I didn’t mind the pizza, but I do like having some healthy options, that’s all I’m saying.  No wonder volunteers tend to be heavier than the racers;)

4.)  Bring a Ipod Stereo for your aid station, or wherever you are. Music is motivating for the athletes, and it’s fun for the volunteers and spectators too, they can dance, and it pumps everyone up.

My tips if you plan on signing up for Ironman Wisconsin 2012 the day after the race.

1.) Don’t park in a meter spot. I had no idea where to park, again there was no information for people who were going to be signing up Monday morning.  And I was planning on parking at Monona Terrace, but they weren’t allowing people to park there, apparently it was “full” even though, when I actually was standing in line, I saw tons of spots.  Anyway, although I didn’t get a ticket, I had to keep running out to fill the meter, even though it was a 2hr meter.  Yea, the first time I only put an hour in, silly me.  But there are plenty of restaurants or coffee shops that have free parking close by.  Park there.

2.) Registration opens at 8am not 9am! I asked at the volunteer information booth on Sunday where and when IMWI 2011 registration was, and I was told 9am at Monona Terrace.  Well they got one thing right, but showing up at 8:45, made my wait just a tad bit longer than I had expected.  2hrs and 15min.  I pretty much stood at the back of the line the whole time, because there weren’t too many other people who came after me, maybe 30.

Hopefully this will help you all have a better experience next year!

Overall it was amazing to cheer on all the athletes, hand water and powerade out on the run course, and to ride bikes all around Madison watching these Ironmen and women!