Thursday, June 30, 2011

70.3 Providence Plan - First Edition

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about this race, can you tell?  It's my A race this year and I'm a very competitive racer (on top of an OCD race person to begin with).

With less than two weeks to go, I'm into my "taper."  I will be out of town this weekend to visit the mother figure, so I thought I'd fill you guys in with what my race plans are and let you nit pick them apart (trust me, there will be plenty of nit picking to do, I'm sure).  

So here's the first edition of my race plan. 

  • The race is 6AM on Sunday July 10th.  
  • I'm going to drive to RI Saturday morning (~1.5 hour drive)
  • I have a hotel room both Saturday and Sunday nights
  • Saturday morning, I will check in, go to an athlete info session, check out the ironman village, and scope out the swim locale, the run course, and maybe part of the bike course (I'm really hoping they'll have an elevation map for that at the check in).
  • Hydrate ALL day!
  • Pack cycling jersey and racing belt with gels & nutrition
  • Go to bed early Saturday
  • Wake up early Sunday.
  • Eat light - yogurt, banana, raisins, maybe a power bar.
  • Cover my body with sun tan lotion.
  • Have a gel (GU or Clif) and two aleve just before the swim.
Swim Plans

  • Put goggles on under the cap (the last thing I want is to lose my goggles)
  • I'm a swimmer, so I want a strong swim!
  • Get out ahead off the bat.
  • If I can't get out ahead, find someone going your speed and draft (it's legal on the swim!)
  • Settle into a rhythm I can hold after the first 4-5 min.

Transition 1

  • I'm great at running after the swim, so capitalize!
  • Dry my feet!
  • Put on my socks & biking shoes (just my older pair of running shoes)
  • Put on my cycling jersey.
  • Nutrition will be in my jersey pockets (and possibly taped to the frame).
  • Start my watch timer - one beep every 15 minutes
  • Apply body glide to crotch (hey, it's needed for this long of a ride!)
  • Put on sunglasses and helmet. 
  • Spray forearms and legs with sun tan lotion


  • The plan is to go smooth and steady
  • Ease into the first 5 miles
  • From there, increase as I feel it (I can dig too deep if I push it early)
  • Stay in the aeros as much as possible
  • Don't hammer up the hills!
  • Take in water and nutrition early, drinking and snacking often (I know I'm horrible at nutrition on the run, so do as much to offset that as possible).  
  • I need ~2L (all three water bottles my bike holds) every hour.  That means three full refills.
  • Make sure to pee before transition (don't want to waste time).
  • Stretch the legs in the last few miles (prep for the run).

Transition 2

  • Simultaneously kick off my shoes and take off my jersey.
  • Possibly put on fresh socks (depends on how damp they are after the bike).
  • Slip on my running shoes
  • Possibly switch into running shorts (depends on amount of chafing)
  • More sun tan lotion if I already feel it from the bike.
  • Grab my race belt
  • Grab my running jersey
  • Grab my headband (whatever I end up deciding to use)


  • Get belt, jersey, and headband on
  • Ease into the first mile or so (get running legs under me)
  • Try to stick to a sub-threshold pace for 4-6 miles
  • After that, run by complete feel (aka, like a wild indian)
  • Eat a gel (or something) every ~3 miles (No exceptions prior to 10 miles)
  • Drink at EVERY aid station (I don't usually get a large volume from those aid station cups, so frequency is going to be the key)
  • I've proven to myself that I can rock a long run when I'm fatigued, so use that mental aspect to your advantage!


  • Eat / Refuel
  • Rest
  • Stare for long periods of time at the finisher's medal while analyzing each and every step of the race.
  • Most likely spend more money than I should at the Ironman Village booth
  • Ice Bath!

You guys are the experts.  What do you think? 

Is there anything obvious that I missed or something you think might be helpful in there? 

Is there anything in there that you think I might be good to do without?  

As always, I'm all ears!!

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    Got Any Words of Advice?

    ...any Words of Wisdom...

    First, an update from yesterday's Big Boy Toys...

    Concerning the aero bottle splash issue, I do have the yellow sponge.  While it does keep a large amount of the water inside the bottle, it still does not keep me from being showered.  I have seen the cap at my LBS, but it's in a package with bunch of other parts and is most likely a screen cap itself (which would allow water to come through as well).  I'd prefer a full cap.  I heard on one forum that a 55mm lens cap actual fits perfectly.  I'm almost at the point of going to a camera shop just to test it out.  Any more thoughts?

    Next order of business goes out to cyclists...

    I am a sweater!  No, I'm not made of wool and given to you by your great aunts.  I sweat profusely.  I was wondering what cyclists do to combat the sweat beading down your face.  Do you guys (and gals) just spray a water bottle on your head or is there any sort of cycling sweatband that you have found works really well??  I'd LOVE to know about it.

    Third order of business goes out to runners...

    I've worn bandanas, sweat bands, and head bands and they all get soaked after a time.  I know a lot of people swear by bondibands for moisture wicking headband use, but I was wondering if it really works.  If you are a heavy sweater and use these or any other similar product, I would LOVE to hear from you.  I'm also considering a moisture wicking hat.  Has anyone used those?, and how well do they work?

    Finally, the last order of business goes out to Half Ironman Triathletes...

    Do you have any words of advice for a triathlete heading into his first half iron?  I trust my training, though I know I could have done a lot more.  I know come race day I'm most likely going to go balls to the wall, I have a kit on the bike for any cycling issues, I have my aerobars, I've started making decisions for my run and bike bags.  But do you have any other bits of advice?  Are there things you were surprised about at your first HIM, or are there things you've heard about that I should know?

    Thank you Everyone!!

    As always, I appreciate the blogger support and help!

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    Big Boy Toys

    If you follow me on Twitter, you already know...

    But if you don't, now you do...

    I got me some big boy toys!

     I got a pair of Profile Design ZBS Stryke aerobars.  I decided on those instead of the T1+ because they were in stock essentially (still unsure which would be best).  In between the aerobars I put my Profile Design Aero Drink bottle that Austin @ Enjoy the Ride sent me - Thank you man!!  I also got a strap holder for the bike computer, which conveniently places my computer inbetween the aerobars.  I don't have to look DOWN anymore to see where I'm at; very helpful!!  And last, but not least, I got a head light (strapped to the left side of the handlebar).

    I've been riding with the aerobars, aero bottle, and new computer placement for awhile and I must say I enjoy it all.  I'm still adjusting the bars and elbow pads a bit to figure out the best position though.  Ideally, I think I'd prefer a new front fork or seat post to shorten the reach distance, but either way there is an improvement with the aerobars.  

    You're supposed to have the aerobar elbow pads set up 
    so that your elbow-to-shoulder is vertical, right?

    The aero drink bottle is extremely helpful and annoying at the same time.  I need a lot of liquid, so it's helpful to have more water on me when I ride, but with every bump in the road, I get a splash in the face.  I've been researching ways to make a cover for the bottle, but haven't found anything yet.  

    How do you deal with the aero bottle splashing?

    Lastly, i bought a headlight to allow myself to ride to work during the week when I work late.  Tonight will be my first use of it, so wish me luck.  If you don't see a post for awhile, I might be recovering from injuries.  I've got a few blinking lights, the headlight, bike mounted reflectors, and one blinking light on my helmet as well.  I figure I'm noticeable enough, but I'll find out around 10:15pm tonight.  


    1.  What is the ideal positioning of aerobars?  Any thoughts?

    2.  How do you deal with splashing from your aero drink bottle?  Are there caps for them?

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 

    Sunday, June 26, 2011

    Do You Train Alone?

    I've always read that one characteristic coaches look for in potential athletes is the ability to train alone.  Training alone, if you're able to push yourself while doing so, shows determination, mental toughness, and a potential to succeed

    Today I felt like the poster child of self training!

    After waking up late and rushing to get ready this morning, I rode 11.5 miles to work, worked 10.5 hours on my feet, and then rode 11.5 miles home.  Once home, I changed and headed out for a 9 mile run.  While I can honestly say it was an amazing run in hindsight, it was a torture test in the moment.

    I headed out with plans of a three loop course.  I started out easy because I knew I had a lot of distance to cover.  About half a loop in (1.5 - 2 miles), I started debating whether I should cut the run down to two or just one loop.  If I was going to cut it down to 1 loop, I certainly wasn't going fast enough.  I finished loop one and decided I was ok to loop back around.  Part way into that loop I convinced myself that I'd call it quits at two loops.  As I came to the end of loop three, I threw caution to the wind and made the turn towards loop #3 instead of taking the straight away home.  Part way into the final loop, I felt it.  I was dehydrated.  Damn my freakin' sweat rate!  I actually debated where along the loop I could stop and ask for a drink of water.  My best option was a parked police officer, but I held my own (good or bad, that's my independence taking over) and finished off the remaining miles.  Pace = 7:28.

    I hit the finish and walked straight for the lawn care crew's water hose.  If they didn't want it to be used by dehydrated runners, they should have hid it!  I took a few gulps of water and walked home.

    Damn if I haven't earned a solid 10 hours of sleep tonight!!

    ** Oooooowowwwwwww!!! **

    I literally JUST got the worst hamstring cramp!  Ok, I guess it's time to go hydrate, eat, and stretch (if I can do all three before I pass out).


    1.  Do you train alone, with a buddy/group, or a mix thereof?  Which do you find most beneficial?
    I find group workouts beneficial for figuring out a training schedule, but as for getting the most out of a workout, training alone is my bread and butter!

    2.  How to you keep hydrated while running?  I need ideas.
    I hate the idea of carrying a water bottle.  I've done the hdyration pack, but it chafes something awful around my neck.  I have a feeling a hydration belt would annoy me, but I haven't tried it.

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 

    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    Another Road ID, sold!

    You know how I've mentioned that my Road ID bracelet sparks conversations every so often?  

    I was at the post office today getting a couple items mailed and the lady behind me in line asked me what my bracelet was.  She saw that there was something written on it and assumed it was a bracelet in memory of a fallen soldier or something along those lines.  Then, she noticed the logo "Road ID" and questioned it, so she asked.  I spent the next 15 minutes while waiting in line telling her about how I was a triathlete and how much time I spend on the road running or biking.  I explained that I got the bracelet just in case - God forbid - anything happened to me out on a workout and I couldn't talk for myself.  I showed her the engraving with my name, medical information, and emergency contacts. 

    You wouldn't believe how interested she was in the whole idea.  She's a nurse who works in the ER so you can imagine all the accidents, incidents, and cases she's seen come through in her years.  She told me story after story of people she had treated that they simply couldn't identify for days due to injuries they had sustained.  If they had only had a bracelet telling us who to contact in an emergency, things would have gone so much more smoothly for their families.  She also couldn't believe she hadn't come up with the idea herself; it's such a simple idea that is so incredibly useful.  And as she stated herself  "Wow, for that price I could get one for everybody.  Just for the peace of mind alone it'd be worth it."

    I walked out of the post office having sold her on at least three wrist sport interactive ID's.  She's getting one for her "crazy" brother (who lives in Maine and does all kinds of "crazy" things in the backwoods), one for herself, and one for her daughter. 

    Yet another instance where the product advertises itself!!

    Congrats Road ID!


    1.  What items of your own (athletic or not) do people seem to ask you about out in public?
    I get at least 2-3 questions about my Road ID bracelet every week.

    2.  Has anyone else had the feeling that today is Sunday?
    I had yesterday and today off from work, so it's felt like Sunday all day today.

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    I'm an Enabler!

    Over the last couple of weeks, I've gotten to know a certain member at the gym who has been running since mid-winter.  She has been up to 8 miles a day (every day) and was getting frustrated with not seeing any more results.  I told her that I do a lot of running myself and suggested she try changing up her daily runs with a faster, shorter run once in awhile.  I explained that if she ran the same distance at the same speed all the time her muscles will get used to it and require less energy meaning less fat burned - change it up and your muscles will burn more energy.  I'll admit that at first she was quite hesitant about it.

    She had normally run on the mill at an average 6.3/6.4 mph speed and didn't think that she could go much faster.  Well, I kept telling her to try and push the speed and not worry about distance; even if you only run 0.5 miles, that's ok.  One week ago, I come into work and I have a note waiting for me that reads as follows...

    I ran 5.2 miles on 0.5 incline - but the last 1.2 miles I ran on 7.1!!  I'm so excited!!  Thanks for the motivation!  Have a great weekend.

    I'm sure you can imagine how much that made my day!!

    Since then, she's even ran a mile at 7.5 and has started noticing that her old "start up" speed of 6.0 seems slow.  Ha-HA!  That's getting your fast twitch muscles to work!

    Now I have to work on getting her to take a rest day!


    1.  What's one thing that has made your day lately?

    2.  What are you going to start your weekend off with today?
    I'm going to do a short run, eat, take a nap, then do my first outdoor swim of the season!  My free time is spent doing two-a-days.

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    NERelay Race Report - Part 3

    NER Race Report Part I is HERE
    NER Race Report Part II is HERE

    Sleepy, sleepy, sleepy...

    That's pretty much the theme of this third section.

    We all woke up around 3:30AM Sunday morning after having parked around 1:00AM.  Having slept for a max of 2.5 hours scrunched in an SUV, we got out and stretched a bit before making our way over to the start of our next leg.

    Once we got there, I got out and walked around for a good 20-30 minutes trying to keep my legs as loose as possible.  There were a lot of vans at this transition - all the other teams just waiting for their runner to come in.  It was pitch black out except for the occasional street lamp every 100 yards or so.  I walked around while a few of our runners nodded off again.  I chatted with the transition official who told me that the runners had been a lot more spaced out than he expected at this point in the race (transition 24 of 36).  There was a bend in the road just before the transition, so we couldn't see a runner coming until they were about 200 yards away.  As it got closer and closer to the cut off time, more and more people gathered at the road awaiting their runner.  After a few minutes, our other vehicle came up and said our runner would be here in about 5 minutes; time to get ready!

    Just before 4AM, our runner came in, handed off the "baton" and Van #1 was on it's way to finishing its last leg!!

    I will admit that I don't recall a lot about the first of our legs.  I was again nodding off in between cheering sessions.  Like I said, SLEEPY!!  I do recall that our first runner had to run through a bit of trails to make it to the transition area while we drove around.

    Once at transition, I hopped in a port-a-potty (which by this point had taken on the expected odor) and changed into my running shorts.  I also had a "meeting" with my teammates.  I told them that whenever I run past them, I am required to drink water.  I had gotten dehydrated in the last leg and I didn't want to let it happen again.  Then, since it was early morning and I was extremely tired, I figured I'd wear a shirt.  The reaction from my team was "I don't recognize you with a shirt on."  I guess I'm the topless runner!  I tossed on my long-sleeve tech and then spent 10 minutes searching for my racing belt.  Just as I found it, I hear...

    "Kuuuuuurrrt!!!  Kuuuuurrrtt!!"

    I guess our runner had made it into transition.  I close the door to the car, jog my way up to the road yelling "Our time in transition doesn't count against us, so hold your horses!!"  One guy from another team had a good laugh at that.  haha

    I get up to the road, grab the baton and lights/vest from our runner and then look at the road.  I look towards the cop standing in the road and ask "Ok, which way do I go?"  He points down to the right and says "Follow the yellow signs."  I laughed and headed off at what felt like a very slow pace.

    Two minutes later, I get a little surprise.  Rain!!

    Again, I laugh, throw my hands and head up like the escape in Shawshank Redemption and just keep trudging on.

    There's a runner a ways up ahead of me and I decided I wanted to keep him (or her) in my sights.  That lasted an entire two minutes until I rounded a bend and "Hey, where'd he go?!"  Oh-well.  Then there was a runner that came up behind me; I could hear her footsteps.  I figured that'd be just as good a push, so why not try to keep her behind me.  I gauged how far back she was and pushed on.

    About two miles in I see a blinking red light and figure maybe I had caught back up to this guy in front of me.  A minute later I find out it's just a light that got dropped.  I run up to it and pick it up.  I handed it off to my teammates and told them to drive ahead and give it back to the guy in front of me.  Turns out it wasn't his, so we hung onto it.  Whomever it belonged to, Thank you for the light that will now be used for my night riding!

    When my teammates did come by, they handed my water bottle out of the window.  I stopped, grabbed it, took a swig, handed it back, and ran on.  I asked for a Shot Blok next time around and they drove off.  While I had stopped to drink, the girl behind me passed.  I wasn't upset about it - I needed the water for sure - but it turned out that trying to stay ahead of someone was easier than trying to stick with them.  In time she pulled out ahead and lost sight of me by the end of the leg.

    Before that thought, I ended up being passed by another girl who not only passed me, but did so at quite the click.  She passed, said "Awesome job," and I couldn't even utter a response.  I came to a conclusion during this run that I have never used my arms so much during a run than I did during those 7.5 miles.  At times I felt like walking would have been quicker, but I kept trudging on.

    About a mile down the road after the second girl passed me, I hit a roundabout which I knew was only 0.2 miles from the finish.  I had never been so happy to know I was almost done!

    I took a glance at my watch - 59.  "Oh, you have to be joking me!!!"

    I pulled into transition, dripping wet and ready to fall asleep on my feet in yet another ONE HOUR FLAT.  I passed off the baton, kept the night gear (because it was just after 6AM and we no longer were required to wear it), and just laughed.  "This really was a crazy idea; thinking we could run this."

    A guy from another team handed me a water (thank you dude!!) and we were off.  I felt so much better at the end of this leg and I think my pace was the reason why.  I finished in 8:06 pace.

    From here, we followed our next runner through a small little down in NH.  At one point we stopped along the road to wait for her and she surprised us by running by on the right side of the road!  In our surprise, we turned the key for the car and... *click*click*click*     *click*click*click*   SHIT!!  Our battery was dead.

    We tore everything out of the back trying to find jumper cables while one of my teammates ran around to all of the cars parked around us.  No luck.  We made a call to our other vehicle - if we couldn't make it to transition, maybe they could.  But in the middle of that call, we tried the car again and it started!  PHEW!  We sped off and made it to transition before our runner did.

    The voicemail we left for the other team went something like this - "Hey.  We nearly had an emergency.  Just letting you know.  Bye."  I bet that raised some eyebrows!

    As one of my teammates said, "I don't need an energy drink, just a scare to wake me up!"  haha

    After that, it was rather smooth sailing.  We also came to realize what truly made our team; a cowbell.

    Throughout the race, we had used the cowbell for cheering our teammates and anyone else on.  But it wasn't until the final set of legs that we started arriving at the transition areas and ringing it non-stop once a runner was in sight.  Even the other teams began making comments about the cowbell.  Some runners were thankful for it.  Others (You know who you are... Red Beard) made fun of it.  We figured it was the final beacon telling them that they were almost home.

    For Red Beard, however, it was a taunt.  In one transition, he kept trying to determine whether the cowbell was actually making people faster or not.  He concluded "no."  So when we passed him on the road during his leg of the race, we slowed right down and rang it for a minute straight.  His response...  "Oh come on.  I have eleven miles.  You're not going to ring that thing the entire time are you?"  Unfortunately, a car came up behind us, so we couldn't.  However, when he finished that leg, his teammates specifically requested that we ring it just for him.

    Another guy who saw us at one point without the cowbell surprised us with "Woah!  I didn't even recognize you without the constant ringing of that bell!"  We were happy that it had made an impression. 

    Our team name next year might have to be COWBELL.

    The last leg for every runner in our vehicle was sweet!  It was a little celebration as you ran into transition knowing that you no longer had to worry about another run in 4-5 hours.  After our final runner pulled in, we cheered on our other vehicle for a bit and then decided to grab brunch!  My teammates all pulled out their fancy touch-screen, interent-access phones and began debating over where to go.  All I remember is pulling onto 101 East and then we parked.  I woke up and saw we decided on the Sunrise Grill.  The waitress was one of only a select group that knew what the New England Relay was.  She also was not surprised when we ordered an incredible amount of food.

    After eating, we headed off to do just that, eat AGAIN.  We made our way to the NER Finish Line where they were serving Lobster Rolls!!!

    Let me just say that they were delicious!  We unfortunately couldn't wait around for our second vehicle to finish because one of our teammates had to catch a plane home, but we did get a final Vehicle #1 team photo.

    And there was a little bit of playful team rivalry.

    That's Red Beard's team van, FYI.  ...Which now says "You've been cow-belled."  They were a great group of runners among many many other awesome teams!

    This concludes the Inaugural New England Relay Race Report.  But don't worry, more will be coming soon.  If I have my way, I'll be doing 1 or 2 more by the end of this year!

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    NERelay Race Report - Part 2

    NER Race Report Part 1 is HERE

    Leg #1 was an easy run for all involved.  We may have complained about changes in distance and the hills, but little did we know that even downhill runs after zero recovery would seem much worse.  haha

    After all six runners in Van #1 were finished, we hopped in the SUV, did some cheering for our teammates in the other vehicle while they ran, and then our hunger got the best of us.  We pulled up to what I believe was the town of Amherst and parked nearby the Farmer's Market.  We didn't hit up the market, but we found a nice local Italian restaurant called Pasta E Basta.

    We opened the door and what do we see?  Stairs.  Ugh!  "We can do this everyone!"  So we trudged up the stairs, asked for a table for six, and were shown to the upstairs dining area (yes, more stairs).  We sat down and looked at the menu while we all debated what we should eat.  Tomato based sauces seemed to be out for the acid content, so it was cream sauces.  We didn't want to eat too much either because we had to run again in what we thought was 2-3 hours.  After the debate, most of us went with a sub while a couple went with pasta/vegetables.  I got a prosciutto sub and a Caesar salad, but only ate half the sub.

    After lunch, we went back to the car and drove to our next vehicle switch transition.  There were a number of vans all awaiting their runners.  We double checked our cut off time and found we didn't have to start up again until 1.5 hours later than we expected.  BONUS!!  Sleepy time!

    We had spent 12 hours in the SUV at this point, so we were all getting tired and cramped.  I took the opportunity of extra time to get the only stretched out of the entire trip.  I spent some time foam rolling my quads and stretching my calves, took a bit of a rest, and then with an hour to go before send-off, I got up and walked/jogged around to wake myself back up. 

    The rules for the NERelay state that all runners who expect to be on the road between the hours of 7 PM and 6 AM must wear 1 reflective vest, 1 flashlight or headlamp, and 2 blinking lights (one in front, one in back).  Since we weren't sending off our vehicle's first runner until nearly 6 PM, that meant that I would be the first runner to wear the night gear.  So while Runner #1 got ready, I tried it all on.

    I found quickly that attaching the blinking lights to the vest was not going to work; they'd bounce everywhere and annoy the shit out of me.  So I attached them to the strap for the head band.  I was going to ask one of the transition officials if that was okay, but I figured I could get away with it if I didn't draw attention.

    5:48 PM - Runner #1 is off and running.  It's only 2.7 miles, so we quickly head off to the next transition.

    It was starting to feel cooler.  I'm not sure if it was my lack of sleep, fatigue, or simply the weather, but I debated wearing my sleeveless jersey while I waited to run but decided not to.  While I waited at the transition line, I chatted with another runner.  He had on full CEP Compression socks while I had put on my CEP Calf Sleeves.  We both weren't compression believers until after trying our first pair.  They really are amazing.  He wished me luck as his runner came in and said he'd see me soon when I zoom past him down the road; I guess I looked speedy with my short shorts and no shirt.  

    A minute later, our runner came around the corner and handed me the "baton."  I was off.  Another 8.1 miles.

    I ran down the road, around the school, took a right onto the road, and headed straight for the next 7 miles.  The shoulder was pretty small, so all the runners relied on the oncoming traffic to be generous and kind (it was obvious at this point in the race that no one in New England other than the race officials and runners knew what the heck so many runners were doing on the road). 

    At the start of this leg, I tried to hold back a bit.  I knew my first leg was faster than I wanted it to be, so this time I wanted to start slower and not drop off towards the end.  I felt great for the first half mile.  Then the fatigue set in and I knew it was going to be a struggle.  I passed the CEP socks guy about a 1.0-1.5 miles in and wished him luck.  I was holding a comfortable pace and doing well.

    As I mentioned before, as Runner #2, I got to cross two of five state borders.  Leave it to Team Comrades in Legs to be waiting for me at the border for my requested photo-op!!

    That was the last time they saw me doing "well."

    I crested the next hill and saw another runner off ahead of me, maybe half a mile down.  "Awesome" I thought.  "That gives me something to work towards and keep myself occupied with."  I checked my watch and figured out I was about 1 minute back.  I'd give myself 20-25 minutes to catch up to her (don't want to push it).  It only took me 15.  Hmmm... am I still going too fast?  Eh, it feels comfortable.

    I hit a small incline after passing the second runner and saw a long straight road; torture!  I hate straight roads. I focused on the scenery and tried not to look ahead, but I could start feeling the fatigue setting in even more now.  "How far had I gone?  Was I 5 or 6 miles in yet?  How far in was the third hill supposed to be?  I knew the "bear right" was 0.4 miles from the finish, but I wasn't sure how far that right turn was from me.

    I hit the end of the straight away and saw a bend to the left.  Maybe the bear right is just around this bend.  Nope.  "Damn, where is it?"

    "Ok, hold on Kurt.  What's your time?"  I checked my watch.  If I was going to hit 7 minute miles again, I'd be done in about 56-58 minutes.  I was only at 45.  "I've got some time.  But how much time?  If the bear right is at 0.4 miles from the finish, I should hit that with 3.5-4 minutes to go, which means around 52-54 minutes in."  I check my watch again - 50 minutes in.

    Another bend comes up in the road.  Again, it's not the turn I'm looking for.  My legs are tired and I know it, but I kept it up.  I knew I could hold out.

    54 minutes in.

    "Where the hell is this bend?!"

    "Wait.  Relax Kurt!  Are you running the same pace as your first leg?  No.  You're running slower.  Maybe you're closer to 8 minute miles.  What would that be for time?  8.1 miles at 8 minutes per mile.  64 minutes with an extra 0.1.  With 0.4 after the right turn, I would hit the turn around one hour flat.  Damnit!!"

    Another bend in the road.  A car comes up behind me and I see them hit their brakes at the edge of the bend.  I'm getting anxious!  Then I see it, a yellow NER sign pointing to the road on the right.  I check behind me for traffic and cross the road.  Only 0.4 miles to go and I'm 56 minutes in.

    Unfortunately, most of the last 0.4 miles are uphill, but I trudge up it and hit the transition at another one hour flat!  (Technically, it was 1:00:28, but who's picky).

    Time for Three Surprises!!

    Our next runner tells me to take off the baton and right then I start noticing it.  My fingers aren't as coordinated.  I pull off the baton and hand it to her.  She puts it on as I hand her the vest and headband with all the lights.  As she's getting geared up I ask for some water and my teammates look at me.  OMG, my speech is slurred!


    At this point in the race I have thoughts going back to my half marathon last October where I became dizzy at mile 11 and collapsed at the finish line.  I had been dehydrated and in need of fuel at that point.  I was there yet again!!

    At least I was able to walk this time, but my speech was slurred, I could feel my lips were acting funny, my fine motor skills were dulled, and I began being surprised at how well I had calculated all my possible finish times while out on the road.

    While our next runner took off, my teammates informed me that they were pretty sure my leg was actually 8.5, not 8.1, miles.  At the same time, another runner comes over and tells us that even his running GPS - which he wore on that leg - had told him the same, 8.5 miles.  So wait, that means I pretty damn near kept the same exact pace as my first leg.  Wow!  I would have bet my entire savings on that having been slower.


    I foam rolled my ITB because it had started bothering me part way into this leg (I ran probably 4 miles in the smack dab middle of the road to avoid the incredible slope at the edges).  Then I chugged a couple bottles of water, hopped in the car and said "Let's Go!"  My teammates reassured me that we could take more time if I needed it, but already knew that if I had already had trouble out on the road, that our next runner may very well be having issues too.  So I urged them to check in with her and from here on to check in more often with every runner.

    We stopped and cheered our other runners on, made sure everyone had water when they wanted it, and at least asked them about it at every stop we made.  At this point in the day, I was beginning to fall asleep in between cheering stops.  My body was crashing and everyone else was feeling quite the same.

    We stopped at a gas station to use the bathroom and I got my final surprise - my legs were so tight that I could barely walk.  And I mean, barely walk.  My calves were on fire and each step felt like I was in danger of tearing something.  I was not looking ahead to my next leg with much hope.  I didn't want to tell the team that I couldn't do it just yet (maybe I'd get better in a few hours), but I doubted I could do more than walk at 20 min/mile right now.


    After a few more legs of running, one of my teammates turned to me and said "Ok, get in the back of the car.  We've got to fix your legs."  Let me tell you right now that I owe my entire final leg and the fact that I can walk right now to one of my amazing teammates!!  THANK YOU!  It was a painful next twenty minutes, but she eased enough tension out of my legs with a massage and Biofreeze to let me walk well enough and after 20-30 minutes of walking around, even think running was a possibility. 

    Once our final runner was done (it being around 11:15pm now), we hit our vehicle transition, took a partial team photo...

    ... and were greeted by volunteers.  These were not just any volunteers.  They were volunteers making free Ramen!!!

    Ramen, bottled water, and Coke.  I know I'm not a carbonated or caffeine beverage person, but I knew I needed some sugar.  I downed a Coke and two helpings of Ramen.  Ramen has never tasted so good!!

    Mmmmm... Ramen!!

    After the Ramen, we headed straight for the next transition.  All I remember is waking up when we arrived, we cracked the windows, and then everyone went to sleep in the most comfortable position they could find for having six people and bags in an SUV.  It was the longest rest any of us had, about two hours.

    To be continued...

    NER Race Report Part III is HERE

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    NERelay Race Report - Part I

    As I've said before, the whole idea of doing the New England Relay (NERelay or NER), was hatched by two of my teammates early this year.  I doubt they even thought they'd find enough crazy people to do it, let alone thought it was sane enough to do themselves.

    After a few questioning emails sent out to a few friends of theirs, several forwardings of that email, and a text in my case, it seemed that they did in fact know enough crazy people to form a 12 person relay. 

    Finally, after plenty of emails sent around about "what should I bring?," "what is this going to be like?," "how do I train for this?," and "are we really doing this?," the week came where this would actually happen.  It wasn't even real in my own mind at that point.  It was still months of random emails about entry fees, required items, thoughts on food, car arrangements, etc.

    The Friday before the race, everyone met in Boston; everyone except me that is.  They met up at one person's apartment, met one another, and went over the items needed for each car, what everyone had, and divied up the items as needed.  A few hours later, everyone split up, went wherever they were crashing, and tried their best to get the last good amount of sleep for the next 48 hours.

    As they were leaving to get sleep, I had just left work in CT.  I got a call from one of my teammates while on the road to Boston letting me know that I could crash on her couch (yay, I didn't have to sleep in the car).  When I arrived around 11:30pm, I officially met the first of eleven teammates (I had only ever met two of these eleven people before), transferred my stuff to the team vehicle, set my watch for three hours, and crashed around midnight.  As I laid there, I kept thinking "This is actually happening.  When I wake up in three hours, I will be heading to Rhode Island to run 223.5 miles with nearly complete strangers.  This isn't just an idea anymore."  I got at least a good 2.5 hours of sleep and I was quite thankful for every second. 

    Around 3:45AM, we headed over to another teammate's apartment, picked up 4 or 5 of our teammates, and cruised over to Whole Foods to meet the other vehicle (PS, Whole Foods is DEAD at 4AM).  Finally!!  All twelve crazy ass runners connected only be previous associations and email were in one single location about to realize that they had signed up for a lot more than they realized.  haha!! We did a bit of transferring and were off at 4:15AM.

    I fell asleep in the car on the way up and hadn't actually caught everyone's name yet.  I figured "Eh, I'll figure it out soon enough."  We chatted a little, more about what everyone did for school/work, where you're from, who you knew in the group, etc. as we drove.  Eventually, we pulled up to the state park we were to start the whole shindig at.  Wouldn't you know it, there are no signs!  Where are we supposed to go?  You would have thought they'd have a sign - "Crazy people enter here" - or something.  Apparently they attempted the "secret club" feel for the inaugural race.  We drove through and found a couple pop up tent covers.  Hmmm... those must be it.  Our team captain jumped out and verified that we had actually found the right spot.  We got our tech tees, hit up one of the last actual bathrooms we'd see for the next 33 hours, took a team photo, and Runner #1 lined up for the start.

    Team #7, Comrades in Legs
    They only had four teams starting at 7AM, so it wasn't crowded at all, but we were in the very first group, so for at least the first few legs, we would be the race course virgins!  The first leg ran for a little less than a mile through the woods and then popped out on the road which is where 90% of the race was held.

    Our first runner lined up at 7:00AM and we were off!

    Our car, Van #1 thought it was technically an SUV, followed Runner #1 as the other vehicle, Van #2 (actually a van) drove ahead to meet us at the Leg #6 transition.  As per every following leg, we stopped along the route to cheer our runner on as well as anyone else who happened to come by (even non relay runners who just happened to be out at the same time).

    We got to our first transition and I suited up!  I had 8.5 miles and I felt ready.  After weeks of runner's knee, and tension in my foot, I was pumped to feel ready to run; it's a feeling I never thought I'd have but I live for it now.  Despite having not really trained for the upcoming distance, I was ready to throw caution to the wind and see what happened.

    Runner #1 came up over the crest of the hill and I got in place.  She had held first place until they hit the hills and was in 2nd place by about 50 yards, which signaled to me that I need to make up ground.  If only I had thought about that for a second (what's 50 yards over a 223.5 mile race?!).  She came in, passed off the "baton" (a red rubber "New England Relay" bracelet), and I was off.  We had a slight incline at the beginning of the leg and I had overtaken the leaders before I made it half way up; man, I felt good!!


    Mother nature's way of telling me to slow down?  Maybe.

    If you don't live in the Northeast, you should know that after a full week of a scorcher, the entire weekend was on and off rain.  Great racing weather!!

    I knew that the first of my three legs was going to be the hilliest, so I figured I'd push myself a little more.  I eased up on the inclines, but not as much as normal.  Every time I crested a hill, I pushed the pace to make sure I wasn't slacking in order to rest; I know my body can rest on the run.

    Before I knew it, I turned around and there was no one in sight.  Had I gone out too fast?  Were the other runners just the slower teammates of the other teams?  Who knows, but I wasn't going to slow down and waste precious time while I felt good.

    As Runner #2, I got the privelege of running over two of the five state borders and I wasn't going to go home without pictures of it!!

    About fifteen minutes in, my teammates drove past cheering and then stopped about 0.5 miles up the road.  I ran past and just from their expressions I knew I was holding a quick pace.  The next time I ran past them they asked "Do you know what pace you're at?"  I yelled out "Not sure.  Something under seven?"  "Yeah!!"  I guess I went out a bit faster than I had planned.  Eh, who needs race day plans anyways?!

    This is where I started feeling bad for another teammate.  The NERelay had to reroute some of the legs the week prior to the race because of tornado damage.  This meant that two runners would run this one leg of the relay and a later leg would be skipped.  After running past my teammates a couple of times, they didn't seem to be sticking around to wait for the other runner.  I really hoped that he was doing ok.

    I came within sight of the next transition and glanced at my watch; 59:45.  I broke out in what I had left of a sprint.  I crossed the transition cone and hit my watch; 1:00:03.  Darn!!  But still a respectable time!

    Once I caught my breath, I learned that my team had given our other runner his water bottle to hang onto, which worked out well for him.  Thankfully he didn't seem to require the additional cheering stops though I still feel bad he had to run without them; they're a big boost!

    The remainder of the first set of legs were a mix of a taste of what the NERelay was going to be and an introduction to everyone's personal running style.  Our third runner spent fifteen minutes figuring out which way to go at a crossroads because there was no sign.  Another runner started bleeding and later discovered the incredible benefits of bodyglide.  Another runner fell in a ditch and then got lost on a section of trail due to another confusing set of directions while the rest of us in the car got nearly accused of trespassing on a used car parts lot in the middle of the woods.  This was going to be a crazy day!

    It was an eventful Round #1 of the NERelay.  And it had only JUST begun!!

    NER Race Report Part II is HERE
    NER Race Report Part III is HERE

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe.  

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Running vs. Cycling

    It has come to my amazed attention how different running and cycling are from one another. 

    Of course, cycling involves a machine with wheels that you sit on while running requires nothing more than your own legs in a standing position.  You would agree I'm sure that each discipline makes use of it's own unique muscle groups.  However, I have been surprised in the last couple days at how separate these muscle groups work.

    After the NERelay, it has been difficult to walk stairs (I'm still walking down stairs backwards), my calves have been quite sore and tight, and the while I'm sure I could run if need be, it still causes me pain to do so. 

    In an attempt to loosen up my muscles, I hopped on a bike at work Monday.  I figured it would be the easiest on my sore legs.  I hopped on and began spinning my legs.  To my amazement, my calves didn't hurt.  My fatigued quads felt noticeably fresher.  I assumed it must be the cycling muscles taking over for the shared muscles with running.  Right?

    Then yesterday I hopped on my trainer and rode 20 miles with no soreness and another 22 miles today.  My legs are feeling better now, but I'm still walking backwards down stairs and won't consider running yet.  I did get a massage yesterday as well.  That felt amazing!  And I already scheduled another for the week of my Half Iron.  I figure it couldn't hurt to make sure I go into the race as fresh as possible. 

    It is amazing how separate the muscles for cycling and running are.  If you know anything anatomy or physiologically about this, I'd be more than happy to hear about it.  I'm intrigued. 


    1.  Do you do any cross-training?  If so, what kind?
    Triathlon training has been its own cross training for me, though I try to strength train and do yoga when I find the time.

    2.  What is your favorite way to relax sore muscles?

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 

    Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    How Did I Do?

    I'm sure you're all dying to know how I did running around New England for some 30 odd hours.

    Danny @ A Quest for Running Perfection posted quite a detailed prediction of how he thought I would perform on race dayS and I will leave it up to you to decide whether that influenced me or not.

    If you hadn't seen the elevation maps for my runs, you can check them out HERE (Yes, I put up leg #1's map as well now that I have it). 

    Leg #2 
    8.5 miles in 1:00:03
    7:03 pace

    This was pretty early in the race, so I was obviously the most rested and given that it was still early in the race and I knew the first leg was run at a pace slower than I knew I could keep up, I really wanted to put some distance between us and the other teams.  I would pay for that down the road though. 

    Danny, I'd say your 7:07 pace prediction was pretty spot on here.

    Leg #14
    8.1 (OR 8.5) miles in 1:00:28
    7:27 (OR 7:06) pace

    Coming into this leg, I could already feel the fatigue in my legs.  I questioned how well I could do and when I finished, I was convinced that I had run something around an 8:00+ pace.  The course was written out as 8.1 miles, however, both my vehicle's odometer and another runner's GPS clocked the run at 8.5 miles.  So despite feeling horrible on this run, I may have very well maintained my original pace; Awesome.  However, dehydration had me slurring my speech after I finished.  =\ 

    Danny, as long as I give you the clocked mileage, you were again spot on!  Impressive.

    Leg #26
    7.5 miles in 1:00:49
    8:06 pace

    Going into Leg #26, I was lucky to be able to walk (more to come on that).  The entire 7.5 miles felt like a shuffle and a complete lack of sleep both hurt (no recovery) and helped (hilarious tangent thoughts while running kept me entertained) me here.  I rounded a corner that I knew was only 0.2 miles from the finish, looked at my watch, and thought "No fucking way!  I'm going to hit one hour flat again."  Haha.  I was even MORE surprised at my pace this time around.  More importantly, I was just happy to be finished.  

    Danny, it looks like your predictions finally broke down.  But two out of three ain't bad at all. 

    It's always odd for me to come back to "real life" after this kind of activity.  30 hours in an SUV with five other people I had never met before running around New England at all hours of the day and night, depending on one another constantly...  It's a situation not many people would put themselves in, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat!  And without doubt, we are all very close friends now.  On top of that, events like this reinforce the idea that if I ever get good enough to have a shot at going pro, I would drop EVERYTHING to do it.  I never feel more alive than when I'm in a race and I am glad I had the opportunity to participate in a TEAM based race this time.  It was an experience that words will never live up to. 

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Serious Recover Mode

    I am alive!

    I survived the inaugural New England Relay.
    I will soon tell the tale. 

    However, in the mean time I am in serious recovery mode!  To make a long story short (that will become MUCH longer at a later point in time), I was not adequately trained for this, ditched my race strategy about two steps into my run, paid a price for that, but had an absolute BLAST doing it.

    I spent this morning aqua... stumbling/walking in the pool and heat packing legs just so I could make it through work today.  I have tomorrow off and I made an appointment for a massage, YAY!! 

    I hope everyone had half as awesome a weekend as I did because that would kick ass!


    1.  What did you do this weekend?
    Yes, I am VERY behind on blogs.  So fill me in so I know what to go back and read up on!

    2.  What has been your favorite race thus far?, and what made it so awesome?
    Was it just a day when things clicked, the location, the bling, post-race food, or the racers?

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe.

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    ...And I'm Off

    My apologies for no review today.  I've been a bit busy with prepping for the NERelay this weekend.  I'm sure you can find something else to occupy your time at work.  haha

    I'm off to work.  Then it's straight to Boston to meet the teammates.  We'll be meeting up at 4:15AM to do a final pack, check, and head to Rhode Island.  We start at 7AM and we'll finish some time Sunday afternoon.

    Good luck to everyone racing this weekend.  Stay safe and HAVE FUN!!

    I will see you all on Monday.  

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    So Fradicken Excited!!!!!

    Everyone knows the excitement of your first race of the season, right?

    The nervous excitement building up...  The butterflies you just can't wait to let loose when the gun, buzzer, or timer goes off...  The hours you plan on sleeping that never actually happen...  The visualization of the race...

    I'm so excited!!!

    I have my very first race of the season on Saturday.  Additionally, it is quite the special race in and of itself.  It's the New England Relay.

    For those of you who have ran similar relays like Hood to Coast, Ragnar Relay, or Rouge-Orleans, the New England Relay is the same deal.

    I get out of work at 9PM tomorrow (Friday), I'll drive straight up to Boston to meet my other 11 teammates, sleep for a couple of hours, and then we will all head down to Rhode Island.

    At 6AM, our team - Comrades in Legs - will start in Rhode Island.  Runner #1 will head off and the rest of us will follow in two vehicles.  From RI, we'll head into CT, turn up into MA, enter VT, cross over into NH, and finally finish in southern ME.  The total distance is 223.1 miles and we have 30 hours to finish.  Each runner will run three separate legs.  I am runner number two and I get to run a total of 24.1 miles.

    This is obviously not my A race - that comes next month - but this is a complete "have fun" type of race.  I'll get to test my endurance and recovery while having a ton of fun with other crazy runners!


    Now for some fun!

    I want to know what you predict as my running pace.  But in order to give you all a fair shot, here is the information.

    I run legs #2, 14, and 26...

    Leg #2 
    (8.5 miles)

    Leg #14
    (8.1 miles)

    Leg #26
    (7.5 miles)

    Feel free to take a guess at my overall pace, the pace of each individual leg, or a mix thereof.  I'd like to know what you guys think. 

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 

    Winner Winner!! Road ID


    Each and every entry
    (all 43 of them - it took some ingenuity, but I did it
    was written on one of those origami fortune things...

    Then I pulled a random child off the bus after school, 
    had them choose one color and two numbers
    and then sent them home to mommy.

    In the end, the winner was....

    Wells L @

    Congratulations!!  Wells, shoot me an email at becominganironman @ and I'll make sure you've get your Road ID...

    To everyone else, thank you for playing along at home.  And remember, you can get your own Road ID bracelet, anklet, dog tag, or shoe ID at....
    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    One More Day for the Road ID Giveaway

    ...Hey, that even rhymed!

    So here it is, the last 24 hours of my Road ID giveaway.  

    Entries will be cut off as of 12:00pm EST tomorrow (Wednesday, June 8th).

    If you want to be safe this summer 
    (and for many years to come
    as well as athletically fashionable 
    (no joke, I get asked about my purple bracelet all the time - it's a great conversation starter, *wink*wink*), 
    head on over to my giveaway HERE and enter TODAY!

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe. 

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    REVIEW: Blackburn Trakstand Mag 3 Bike Trainer

    Today I want to give you guys the review of my bike trainer. 

    Product: Blackburn Trakstand Mag 3 Bike Trainer 
    ** This is a previous model, not the current **

    - Magnetic Resistance with three settings
    - Redesigned boxed steel frame
    - Compact and lightweight
    - Dual Adjuster cones for compatibility with 700c and 26" wheels
    - Tapered cones fit cavity-style dropouts butter

    MSRP: $150-160 (depends on current or previous model)
    Retail: $100-120

    In all, I like the Blackburn Trakstand Mag 3 Trainer.  It's extremely easy to use, portable, and a great tool for having on either bad weather days or even for stretching out and relaxing my legs after a hard workout.  On the flip side, the magnet resistance chamber does heat up during use which makes me question the lifetime of the product as well as it's usefulness for extended rides, the available resistance combined with the 14 gears on my bike does not reach high enough for my range of ability, and the unit does make plenty of noise.  Given all of this, however, for the price I paid, I'm happy I purchased it.

    Now, in order to understand the perspective from which I make this review, 
    I need to let you know a bit about why and where I purchased the trainer.

    Why did I purchase the trainer?
    I purchased the Blackburn Trakstand Mag 3 Trainer a couple months ago because I felt my training lacked in cycling.  I was running quite often, swimming multiple times a week, but slacking on cycling which is most likely my weak point in triathlons at the moment.  It was too cold to go outdoors with my bike and the stationary bikes at the gym just weren't suiting me.  I began looking for a trainer because I figured having one in my own apartment would give me less of an excuse to avoid cycling.

    I had also read a few articles while researching various trainers concerning their overall benefit.  It seems that some of the greatest cyclists are on their trainers for 95% of their training.  Custom-designed workouts available in any room or area of your choosing; in the basement, your living room, at your kid's soccer game, etc.  With plenty of work to do on the bike, I thought a trainer would be extremely useful.

    Where did I purchase the trainer?
    Given that my finances are rather limited, I quickly ruled out purchasing a new retail trainer.  I purchased this one on craigslist for $30.  The trainer was originally purchased by consumer reports for a review, then purchased by one of their employees for his personal use, and finally I bought it from him.  The trainer also came with Blackburn's Track Block II which elevates and stabilizes the front wheel.

    Online, I've found the Blackburn Trakstand Mag 3 Trainer retailing for $99.99 and the Track Block II for $14.  Without including tax and shipping, I thought $30 was a great deal.

    So let's get to it.

    What do I think of the Trakstand Mag 3 Trainer?

    How have I used the trainer?
    I have used the trainer for anywhere from 10 minute warm up rides to 2 hour workout rides

    The Pros...

    1.  Ease of use.  Set the trainer on the floor.  Place the rear wheel of your bike inbetween the lock settings.  Screw one side in until the bike tire is lined up with the resistance bar.  Screw the other lock setting in to lock the rear wheel in place.  Set the safety locks.  Place the resistance bar in contact with the tire.  Set your desired resistance.  Hop on your bike and ride.  It's that simple; no quirky settings or adjustments.  As long as your bike has a 700c or 26" wheel, the trainer is ready to rock 'n roll.

    2.  Safety.  The frame of the trainer is quite steady.  The front ground bar is extended to keep the frame and you from tilting and it does a great job.  The holders for your back tire also come with safety locks (screw locks that you screw in to keep the holder from shifting and releasing your bike mid-ride).  However, I've ridden 1:40 minutes without the safety locks in place and never felt a budge.  So the holders are quite safe all on their own.  But lock them anyways to be sure. 

    3. Workout.  The trainer offers you a decent workout.  I haven't had a ride that I didn't get off the bike with some amount of sweat.

    4.  Fine Tune Your Riding.  While on the road, you are probably busy paying attention to traffic, avoiding pot holes (for those of us still exiting winter), and your own speed and workout intensity.  While on any trainer, you can avoid both traffic and road conditions and spend a lot more of your attention on your speed, your cadence, power, and your position on the bike.  I personally focus a lot on my position (tilting my hips forward) and my cadence.  I am positive that my trainer rides will help my road riding come race day!

    5. Convenience.  What happens when you're running late and you don't have time to get that bike ride in before dinner?  What if it's raining ALL WEEK?  Pull out the trainer and ride whenever you'd like - morning, day, or night.  Rain or shine.  Summer or winter.  Just like a treadmill for runners, the trainer is the convenient way to ride any time.

    6. Great Customer Service.  After I purchased the trainer I both emailed and called Blackburn to ask about the rear wheel skewer; I wasn't sure if there was a specific type that was required.  Turns out it's any generic quick release skewer (picked it up at my local bike shop for $10), but over the phone, they were more helpful and happy to answer my questions.  I also received a very pleasant email in response to my questions.  

    The Cons...

    1. Track Block Should Be Included.  The Trakstand Mag 3 trainer raises your rear wheel an inch or two off of the ground and is not height adjustable, so unless you prefer to be tilted forward, you need to purchase a track stand (or find items to prop your front wheel up on to ride level).  While my purchase came with the stand, I feel it would be annoying to purchase this trainer alone and THEN realize you need the stand.

    2. Resistance Levels.  The Trakstand Mag 3 has three settings; think of them as "low," "medium," and "high."  Given that this is the Blackburn base model, I fully expect this to be their entry level trainer, or in other words, a trainer geared towards beginner cyclists, recreational enthusiasts, or low intensity intermediate cyclists.  While I still consider myself a beginner cyclist, the only resistance level I use is "high."  My bike has two front gears (46 & 36 teeth) and a 7-speed rear cassette and it is always set to the high front gear and shifts between the top four rear gears.  Therefore of 42 combinations (14 speeds and 3 resistance levels), I only use 4; the top 10%. 

    A quick comparison of my recent outdoor rides to my trainer rides shows that I am able to go 17% faster on the trainer (I average 18mph outdoors compared to 21mph on the trainer).  In order to gauge my personal level of fitness, see the "My Races" page above and view my race times.  For myself, I would prefer a trainer that had a higher resistance in order to give me more options for possible speed work, intervals, and such.  However, you may very well be happy with the given resistance levels.  It is up to your own level of fitness and training intensity. 

    3. The Resistance Mechanism Heats Up.  I had read previous reviews of the Trakstand Mag 3 trainer and knew that others mentioned that the magnet casing and resistance mechanism heats up about an hour into use.  With no cooling system, that made sense.  In my own experience, I've noticed it being quite warm even 30 minutes into a workout.  I have not gotten off and checked it any earlier than that.  I've never seen a spark, so I seriously doubt there is any fire hazard, but the heat makes me curious as to the lifetime of the trainer.  Is it capable of running 1-2+ hour workouts on a consistent basis and holding up to the heat over time?  I can't be sure.  I have contacted Blackburn concerning this issue and have not heard back from them.  I will let you know as soon as I do. 

    Most fluid models that I have looked at come with cooling mechanisms to counteract the heat generated. 

    4. Noisy.  Another issue I was aware of before purchase was the noise.  I had heard that magnetic resistance trainers make a considerable amount of noise in comparison to fluid trainers.  After my very first ride, a simple warm up ride in order to make sure I had the unit set up right and that it all worked well, I asked my roommate whether the noise bothered him.  He thought the trainer's noise had been the grounds crew mowing the lawn.

    I also began a training ride one evening about 7:20pm.  At 8:00pm I finally got off to answer the door.  My downstairs neighbor told me "there is a lot of noise coming into one of our bedrooms" and asked if we could stop.  Apparently they get up at 3:00am for work.  Both stories exemplify the fact that this magnetic trainer does make a decent amount of noise.  However, I've never used a fluid trainer or seen one in use to be able to say how much quieter they are in comparison.

    What other trainers does Blackburn offer?
    The Trakstand Mag 3 is the base model trainer from Blackburn.  They offer two higher level models. 

    Tech Mag 6 (Price - $180)
    - Adjustable height (no track stand required)
    - Fast crank speed mounting
    - Fits wheels size 700c, 650c, and 26"
    - Six resistance settings (show comparison to mag 3)
    - Handle bar mounted remote for changing resistance - "...features that world class athletes demand"
    - "Ideal for enthusiasts looking to move their fitness to a higher level"

    This trainer is height adjustable making it more portable (no need for a front wheel stand), and also fits 650c tires making it more universal.  The fast crank mounting allows you to set your bike up faster once you calibrate the setting the first time through.  The extra three resistance settings makes this trainer much more desirable at first.  However, if you look at the profile resistance graph below, at my speeds of 22 mph and below, there is only a marginal if any difference in power generation.  So unless I'm shooting for speeds of 25+ mph (that's what the elites do), there's very little change from the Mag 3 to the Mag 6.  I already use the level 3 resistance on the Mag 3, so the Mag 6 remote would be of little use as well.  If you had a 650c wheel, then this would be your base model. 

    Tech Fluid
    - Fluid resistance (compare to Mag trainers)
    - Adjustable height (no track stand required)
    - Fits wheels size 700c, 650c, and 26"

     This model offers the same portability, but the resistance is set by fluid instead of a magnet.  The fluid resistance also provides an exponential resistance curve as opposed to the much more linear curves of the magnets since moving fluid gets increasingly difficult as you increase the speed.  From what I am told, the fluid models are also much quieter than magnetic models. 

    What other trainers are available?
    I have talked with a few other bloggers concerning the trainers that they use and have gotten a variety of responses.  Overall, I will say that it seems very much up to your own personal preferences and desires from a trainer.  You may like one that others steer clear of or vice versa, but as long as you are happy with it, that is what counts.

    Amanda @ 5 Miles Past Empty has a Cycle Ops Fluid II Trainer and absolutely loves it.  However, KC @ 140 Point 6 Miles... of Awesome tried the exact same trainer and did not like it at all.  She has a set of older, lower-end fluid trainers, one by Performance Bike and another by Nashbar, and swears by them both.

    Then there's Colleen @ IRONDIVA who uses an older version of the CycleOps magnetic trainer and loves it. 

    So for every cyclist or athlete out there, there are different trainer types and companies for us all.  My biggest piece of advice is to try a few out.  If you're strapped for cash, try out a few magnetic trainers.  See if you like the lower or higher number of resistances.  Maybe a remote resistance changer is important to you.  If you're not sure of fluid versus magnet versus wind, give each of them a try. 

    ** Please leave any questions or comments you have.
    I'd be MORE than happy to add more detail to the review and answer your questions.

    Make sure I have your email address so I can reply to you.

    Stay fit.  Stay healthy.  Stay safe.