Product Review: Coeur Women’s Triathlon Suit with Sleeves
I was excited to try out and review the new Coeur Women’s Speedsuit this season because I love the mission and attitude that Coeur promotes as a business/team. Coeur’s Mission is to make the best looking, best fitting, most functional and most comfortable women’s endurance sports clothing in the marketplace.
Last season I started wearing a one piece race suit and had tried several before I found the one that not only fit me well, but I liked the way it looked. Since I am not a professional triathlete, triathlon is my hby and I want it to be fun. Part of being fun is having a fun race suit that brings out my personality. For me this means a lot of pink! Last season I found a sleeveless one I loved and raced all season in it.
This season I wanted to start racing in a short sleeved speedsuit, to have more coverage to protect my body from the sun and from the never ending chaffing I seem to attract onto my body anytime I train or race, so I was once again on the hunt for one that not only felt comfortable, but looked good and made me feel confident.
Early in the season I was asked to review this suit, but they didn’t have my size in stock, so I tried 4 other ones. The one that fit me the best was actually pretty boring (all black) and so I was on the lookout for something a little more exciting and fun!
I received this suit a week ago and have worn it four times.
1. 3 hour ride on the trainer on my road bike
2. 1 mile easy transition run
3. 4 hour ride on my tri bike
4. 75 minute track workout in the heat
I asked one of my women’s tri groups on facebook what they would want to know in the product review, so based on that, here is my review…
The number one thing people wanted to know was sizing. Is it true to the sizing chart? Well I looked at the sizing chart and my 4 different measurements would be 3 different sizes, so I’m not sure going by the sizing chart is the best plan. I would take what you typically wear and order that plus a size up and a size down. My measurements charted are: Bust 35 (M), Waist 28 (S), Hips 36 (S), and Thigh 20 (XS). I have a longer torso (18 inches from crotch to boob), and I am 5’7” 125 pounds. I originally ordered a SM because that’s typically what I wear, but it was too big so I ended up getting an XS. The arms, shoulders, and torso are a tiny bit loose, and the hips, butt, and thighs fit perfectly tight. The suit was very easy to get on and off, even over my hips and thighs where it was more fitted. There are also sizing videos on the website and the company offers free returns if you need another size.
The second thing people wanted to know was about comfort and chaffing, both which are HUGE for me. The material of this suit is 100% the best I have felt/found this year. It is soft and flexible and smooth and super super comfortable. The pad is fleece and small and so soft and comfortable. The seams were not an issue at all for my easily chaffed skin, even under my arms and in my crotch area.
And the final thing (important for me but no one seemed to mention it when I asked) is the way it looks. This was definitely one of the most flattering suits on me. The shorter leg length looks great on women and the pattern and colors are flattering. The suit I have is pink, which is my favorite color to race in, but they also have baby blue for those of you who aren’t into pink.
So how did it perform?
For me, overall it was very comfortable and I had no chaffing ANYWHERE during either of my rides or runs. The material is so light and soft, it felt amazing against my skin, and the pad was perfect for the road bike trainer ride and both runs. I hardly noticed it was there at all which is perfect for both running and shorter rides. Additionally during those three workouts, the legs stayed put on my thighs and weren’t too tight. The leg grippers are very soft, stayed in one place, and (very important to me) didn’t squeeze my thighs and make them look or feel like a sausage or muffin top!
In fact, for those three workouts, my ONLY 2 complaints are:
1. The zipper in the front doesn’t have a flap of material behind it so unless I am wearing a sports bra that goes up high enough on my chest to protect it, the back of the zipper digs into my chest. The sports bra I race with would not be in that spot, but the one I trained with was so that I wouldn’t get rubbed raw there
2. The back pockets for me personally are too shallow (my phone wouldn’t stay in) and too close to my spine (my spine is bony and my chapstick poked into it while biking and running).
And like I said, for running and shorter or road rides, this suit is pretty perfect.
When I did a 60 mile ride on my triathlon bike, the softer, thinner, fleece pad that made the run so comfortable, didn’t give me enough protection in my TT position in my crotch area and about 3 hours into the ride I was getting pretty uncomfortable. The only other negative I experienced during my longer ride on my tri bike was that the shorts would ride up my thighs after about 20-30 minutes of riding.
But everything else I talked about before that was positive holds true during the longer ride as well.
All in all I would rank this above average for comfort, performance, functionality, and for sure cuteness! And for the price tag ($180 compared to most which are $300-$400) it is a no-brainer when it comes to picking your race suit for this season!
Here is the website to check them out…
If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me at CoachSmith@usa.com.
About a year ago as I was out crewing at the Badwater 135 race, I was contacted by a friend of mine who wanted to race the inaugural Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon.
What’s an Extreme Triathlon? It’s a triathlon that is somewhere around the iron-distance (doesn’t have to be exact) and on conditions much more challenging than your typical triathlon. The Norseman in Norway is probably the most well-known. There is a growing demand for these kinds of races. Alaska has challenging conditions so why not give it a shot?! The 2017 Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon was to start in Resurrection Bay in Seward and finishing in Girdwood (just outside Anchorage) on Mt. Alyeska.
I agreed to be crew captain for Kris a year before the actual event. And on July 15, 2017, the first ever Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon took place.
Kris’ crew consisted of his good friend Sonya, an ironman athlete and friend Audrey, and myself. We all flew out from Denver to Anchorage on Wednesday, July 12th. On our flight was another friend of ours from Colorado Springs, Sean, and his two sons.
Day 1: Wednesday. Sonya, Kris, and I carpooled to DIA, took the light rail in (that was easy!), grabbed some breakfast and got on the flight. 5.5hrs later we were in Anchorage. First stop was food and the recommended hot spot was Moose’s Tooth for pizza and beer. It did not disappoint! Then we made the 2ish hour drive down to Seward, checked into the AirBnB, went for a walk, grabbed a drink at the Seward Alehouse, and just relaxed. We were staying downtown and near the race venue, so everything was in walking distance.
Cool thing: It is a little neat to be going to a bar at almost 10pm but it is still light outside!
Day 2: Thursday. We didn’t have a lot to do today except for basic prep like grocery shopping. Kris got his bike and gear from the Cycle Chauffeur service and went for an easy ride and run. Audrey and I each had our own runs to do, and we explored some of Seward and the historic Iditarod trail/bike path along the water and highway. The mountains along the bay make for phenomenal views!
In the afternoon Kris and the crew got checked in for the race, and walked around Seward a little more. Kris isn’t new to iron-distance racing so he had his routines and we just let him take care of what he needed to do, helping as needed. I also found out today that friends of mine I hadn’t seen in a few years were here so I found them to say hi as they were checking in. It’s a small world!
Kris had an evening massage so we had a home-cooked meal of his choosing (lasagna) for dinner afterwards, then just had another relaxing evening before bed.
Day 3: Friday. The race had a 5-6:30 am practice swim set up so the athletes could experience the cold water in a monitored environment. Audrey and I slept in to make sure we were rested for our support duties, and Kris and Sonya went down with Sean. The day was low-key and filled with event prep, making sure we had what we needed, knew the course, Kris’ needs, approximate time lines, and crew responsibilities. The athlete meeting was in the afternoon near the swim exit/T1 location. The weather had turned from sunny and in the 70s to a drizzly 50 (what we were sort of expecting the whole time). The race director, who lives in Texas, not Alaska, explained the race and the key rules. Because the athletes are allowed support in specific areas, it was important to know when this was allowed. Our team had been reading the race manual so we were prepared.
Cool thing about this race: Craig “Crowie” Alexander was in town to be support for one of his athletes, and Tim and Nicole DeBoom were also here as Tim was involved with some of the race planning.
The next day was going to be an early one so we had dinner, made the last minute preparations, and went to bed around 8:30pm. The alarm was set for 2:30am the next day for the crew, earlier for Kris.
Day 4. Saturday. Race day! Kris had his morning routine planned and was up, probably before 2am. We rolled out of bed around 2:30, got dressed and walked the 5 minutes with Kris to the transition. As crew captain, I was allowed in transition to help him get set up (which was easy – it was raining so he put his bike on the rack and left everything in his bag, and then put on his wetsuit.)
It was dark-ish out, temperatures were in the mid-50s and there was a light rain and the bay was encased in fog. A perfect start to an extreme race! The vibe was relatively calm, probably because a lot of these athletes are iron-distance veterans and also knew they were signing up for a challenging experience.
At 3:30am the busses took the athletes to the start at Miller’s Landing. They were to start at 4:30am with the 2.6 mile swim up the coast. After the athletes left, we walked back to the cottage. We had at least 2.5 hours before Kris would be exiting the water so we used the time to rest a little more, have breakfast and coffee, change into our event day clothes, and finish packing. We decided to head down a little earlier than planned to watch more of the athletes coming out of the water.
We saw the first swimmers coming in along the coast. It was crazy foggy and all they really had to sight on for most of the swim was a light on a fireboat ladder about 2 miles from the start. The water temps were in the mid-50s for most of it, but a solid stretch was cooled by a glacier melt waterfall and was around 48-49 degrees. All athletes were in neoprene caps, many full to cover the chin as well, most had neoprene booties, and many opted for gloves as well, though quite a few didn’t.
Each athlete could have support crew assist them out of the water into T1, but only one (designated with wrist band and event crew shirt) was allowed into T1. Audrey was in a wetsuit to help in the water if needed, and I was in the crew shirt. We were looking for him to swim in, but caught him just after he stood up on the ramp. We hustled over and went to assist him, not knowing what shape he’d be in.
Some athletes were so cold they could barely walk and were assisted into T1 by their crew. Others could walk and were just accompanied by their support. And a minority, Kris included, were able to run. Once we were on the solid (rocky ground) just past the ramp, he started running. Not a jog, a run! Audrey and I were behind him. Kris did have a good swim and came in as expected.
I helped him find his bike in transition and the first thing was to help him get out of the wetsuit, get relatively dry and then dressed for the bike. It was still overcast and misting a bit with temperatures still in that mid-50s. While I was there to help him change, he was pretty functional. (Athletes were allowed to change in transition. A few were not modest at all!) He started shivering a bit more the longer he’d been out of the water, so he wanted to get going, but we took the time to make sure he was all set with everything he needed. In just under 20 minutes, he was on his way, with our friend Sean right behind him.
Bike: 111 miles from Seward to Girdwood.
The support rules were that the athletes could start getting crew support at around mile 30, so we had a little time. We cheered on a few other participants and then headed back to the cottage to finish packing up and head north to the first stop where Kris wanted us to be, about mile 32.
Kris is a seasoned ironman triathlete and had a nutrition and hydration plan figured out. We were just planning on bottle and gear swaps. Along the highway there were designated pull-outs we could use, so we planned ahead of time which ones we would be at. The roads were pretty wet initially, but as we got further north they became drier. They dealt with some wind, but nothing like it could have been. Kris was able to maintain his typical ironman pace.
Kris was doing just fine at the designated stops. We’d get there about 20 minutes before he’d arrive, do the bottle swap, take a few pictures, and then he was on his way.
MM32: Pretty lake, and reminder that there are a ton of mosquitos here.
MM48: We learned Sonya didn’t like dogs, the people with the dogs were smoking pot, the sun was finally coming out and we could see blue skies. Kris had a flat between this stop and the next, but he got it fixed himself. We pulled into a side road shortly after we saw him to make sure he was getting along in a reasonable amount of time, where another athlete with a flat stopped. He obviously knew what he was doing, but was just moving so slow, I offered to give him a hand so he could get going sooner. As I did a quick examination of his tire by running my fingers along the inside, I found a small bit of wire that would have been a disaster for tube number two if it hadn’t been caught. We were able to remove it and get him on his way. While we were helping this athlete, Kris rode by and was good to go. We’d meet him at the planned stop ahead.
MM68: Kris stopped to stretch a little, but was otherwise doing well. The crew was enjoying the Alaskan landscapes.
MM80 (mile ~93): Final stop to see Kris before mile 14 of the run. The wind was picking up and he was feeling it, but as usual doing well.
After this point, we couldn’t provide and support until he hit mile 14.5 on the run. Kris finished his ride, made it through T2 and started the steady run. His tracking wasn’t working as he had phone coverage issues (the race was using RaceJoy for live tracking) so we used Sean’s tracking to estimate where Kris was (a little ahead). We stopped at a small strip mall to get some additional snacks and then made our way to the Alyeska Resort Day Lodge parking lot, which is next to mile 14.5 and 20 on the run. Athletes could get support at 14.5 and also have someone run with them. At mile 20, where the mountain run started, athletes were required to have at least one support person with them for the last 7.5 miles, which was all on the mountain.
In addition to supporting Kris through the bike, I was the support person for another athlete from Colorado Springs, Nic Ponsor, owner of Criterium Bicycles. Audrey would support Kris from mile 14.5 until the finish.
I saw Nic at mile 14.5 so had an idea of when to be ready for when he’d get to mile 20. He came in around 3:40pm, grabbed a few additional things to take with him and we made sure we had the mandatory gear for the mountain. We were then on our way up the mountain.
The Mountain. This lives up to the extreme billing. While nothing was extremely technical in nature as we were mostly on roads and trails, some more narrow than others, including downhill mountain bike trails. But it was ridiculously steep! Nic was feeling a bit beat up, so we took that first section slow, and I just tried to make sure he was OK with fluids and nutrition. The sun was strong and there wasn’t much shade. It took us almost 40 minutes to go the first mile.
We were just going to knock out one mile at a time, though half-mile increments seemed more appropriate as intermediate achievements. The second mile took us about 36 minutes. We did stop a few times. Every so often I’d ask Nic some questions. Partially because I didn’t know him that well, and also to make sure he was doing OK.
We made it up to the first summit and started the descent. The views were phenomenal! Around 3 miles in there was an aid station where we grabbed more water and a few snacks. The course also went right by the finish area on this descent. Of course they would do that! Nic and I hustled down the mountain (he found some new energy at this point) and had some better mile splits. Mile 4 & 5 were at 16 and 15 minute paces. The downhill was also steep and probably beat me up the most! But Nic was feeling better, we had been out of the sun for a while due to clouds and shady areas, and he had a little more to drink and eat. And I think he just wanted to get done! (Nic is an iron-distance veteran so I know he’d been in the hurt box before.) Somewhere around mile 5, Anthony Beeson, another Colorado athlete, blew past us with his support crew. He was running a nice clip!
Mile 6 was 21 minutes, Mile 7 just under 33, and the last half-mile took us about 13 minutes. Those last 2.5 miles were up the steep north face of the mountain. It was a very nice trail, with a little mix of everything such as meadows, streams, rocks, steps, and switchbacks. At this point Nic was in front setting the pace. The last 2 miles definitely went a lot better than the first 2! This was a grind up the steep side of the mountain, but it was absolutely stunning, mosquito swams aside.
With about a quarter-mile to go, the spectators at the top (the tram stop/restaurant/viewing deck) could see the athletes. Nic’s wife and son were cheering, and that gave Nic an extra bit of motivation. He motored in front to cross the finish line. Finishing a minute behind Nic was James Lawrence, the Iron Cowboy!
The mountain section was challenging on it’s own, so to tackle that AFTER a very cold 2.6 mile swim, 111 mile bike (about 4000 feet of gain) and a 20 mile run is incredible. It took all the finishers both physical and mental strength. This race is one to take seriously – train for the conditions and the extra tough finish. If you do, the incredible experience you will have will be unforgettable!
Kris and Sean both finished well. We got some food at the summit and then headed down on the tram to grab the boxed dinner from the resort, then head back to our AirBnBs to reflect on what these guys had just accomplished!
The Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon was a fantastic event, with clearly extreme conditions and absolutely gorgeous scenery. It is something all athletes who got to the starting line will never forget.
The 5th Annual Tri Boulder Sprint and Olympic Distance Triathlon is coming up and you don’t want to miss this race! This is a perfect tune-up race for the Boulder 70.3 which takes place in the same area 2 weeks later.
Compete in one of the fastest growing triathlons in Boulder. Swim in the beautiful Boulder Rez which is in the mid-70s right now, I swam in it with no wetsuit last weekend and it was perfect! Bike some of the smoothest (yay) and fastest (double yay) roads in Boulder. And run on the scenic dam trail which is a mostly flat and all packed dirt road. BBSC is a tri-friendly, professional race company that offers gender specific t-shirts, finisher medals, age group awards, Clydesdale and Athena categories, relays, race day child care, free entry into the reservoir, post-race food, and more.
This year I am doing the Olympic distance race and have already spent time on both courses and wanted to share with you what you are in for when you decide to do either of the races this year on July 23rd. I’m using the Olympic as a training race for USAT Age Group Nationals on August 12th. Either distance would be great for that or as mentioned above a tune-up race for Boulder 70.3 on August 6th.
SWIM: Currently the water in the reservoir is about 74 degrees. This is a great temperature that is warm enough for you to swim without a wetsuit if you don’t have one, but isn’t too warm to legally allow wetsuits if you are relying on that to help your swim time. The sprint course is a 750 meter clock-wise rectangle and the Olympic just doubles the distance out and back from the shore. There will be large buoys at each turn and small buoys for sighting. The swim is a wave start for safety and ease for beginner swimmers. Typically there are less than 100 people per wave.
BIKE: The bike course for the sprint is typically called the “Neva loop” and is basically a large loop around the NW part of Boulder. The sprint course is 17 miles, a little longer than the usual sprint distance, so if you are a cyclist, this race is for you! After leaving Reservoir Road, there is a very gradual climb for about 3 miles and then a fast rolling downhill for the next 10 miles. Once you are back on the Diagonal, it is another very slight incline for about 2 miles and then basically downhill (other than 2 short hills on the road back to the res) to the finish. The Olympic starts and ends the same way with a couple extra miles of slight incline rewarding us with several additional miles of declines! YAHOO!
RUN: The run for the sprint is primarily on dirt road and is a simple out and back around the res along the dam. There is a hill immediately when you leave transition, just remember it will be downhill on the way back when you need it the most. The Olympic is also an out and back, it just passes the sprint turn-around and goes an additional 1.55 miles slightly inclining to the 10K turn-around which will be fast for the return home to the finish line.
A great way to practice the swim and run is the Boulder Stroke & Stride which is a swim/run series held at the res every Thursday night. This will get you used to open water swimming, running up the beach, and that first hill on the run.
If you get to the Stroke & Stride, stop by and say “HI” to me at the “chip handout” table!!
Leadville, Colorado probably isn’t on your tourist destination list this summer. This one street town popular for mining and its lawless past lost its fizzle in the 50’s and ultimately pittered out in the early 80’s. That’s when Ken Chlouber came up with the now infamous Leadville Trail 100. Regardless of what sport you are in, even if you aren’t in running or can barely move at all, chances are you’ve heard of “THE Leadville”. They’ve created their own niche of events including mountain biking and ranging distances from a 10K to marathon to a 50 miler, you know, in case you weren’t feeling like signing up for a hundred. This past weekend, concluded the Silver Rush 50. A race the website claims “will leave your lungs burning, heart pounding and eyes completely amazed!” Well, I’m here to tell you it lived up to its description.
What I love most about Leadville besides the “Oh and Ah!” of the surrounding mountains, is the people. Nothing is more bone chilling than hearing Ken and Merilee, the original founders of the race, come say their epic spiel of how “you’re stronger than you think you are, and you can do more than you think!” At the end of it they scream at you to “dig deep!!!” and then gun goes off! I’ve heard this 3 times now and it still gets to me. Mind you, they come to every race and recite this motivating speech. That’s pretty amazing. There’s as many volunteers as they can dig up that are out there all day, all darn day! They’re feeding you, watering you, taking off your disgusting shoes to bandage your even more disgusting feet, they spray you with sunblock, and tell you everything is going to be ok! One aid station even had amazing eighties music blaring and men in neon tights! Serious dedication right there.
There’s more than that though. It’s the moment when you really do feel like your heart is about to beat through your chest over the last climb, and you come into a beautiful meadow of columbine flowers and your body relaxes and your heart calms down as you take in the view. Then you trip over your own feet and fall into a small stream and laugh your butt off about it cause it’s just so darn pretty out here nothing matters (sorry to the person behind me as this happened, I’m not crazy I was just giggle high!). It’s when you’ve hit the turn around and it dawns on you you’ve still got twenty five more miles to go, and someone comes up behind you tells you how strong you look! And you’re like “really?! I’m about to barf all over myself! But awesome, I’ll keep going!”
It’s that dreadful moment you don’t think you can really go any farther, and you remember a conversation you’ve had early on with a stranger. A conversation I will never forget. A young woman asked me if it was my first time doing this and I said it was, and it was hers as well. She was nervous as she had been pregnant and sick and hadn’t trained but only 5 weeks. I was slightly confused and asked about the baby. She had lost it unfortunately 5 weeks ago, that’s why she didn’t have time to train. “This can’t be as painful as burying my baby” she said to me. I immediately teared up and embraced her. If this doesn’t bring you to your knees and put things into perspective I don’t know what will. Her words echoed in my head all day. I saw her again around mile 40, she told me how fresh I looked and I yelled at her that I better see her at the finish. Which I did, as I was leaving, she probably had a dozen or so family with her to support her. One of the most amazing memories I will cherish forever. And that’s why we are all out here, to prove to ourselves we have the discipline, the determination and the desire to finish something like this, that we are able to dig deep.
At the end of the day we all are suffering. Whether you’re in the lead chasing that course record, or you’re struggling to put one foot in front of the other… it’s going to hurt. What makes ultra running, is the community. It’s that connection you share with someone even for a moment of mutual pain, a swap of your life story, a high five, an “Are you ok?!”. What makes Leadville special is coming in to that finish line and getting your medal and a huge embrace from Merliee, as if she’s your own mother, who’s also been there all day hugging 335 other finishers. And that’s the Leadville experience. What we all chase… a finish.
Fear of swimming in open water? Nope. Fear of falling off your bike? Not that either. Fear of serious injury? Not even. Let’s face it. Most of us are more afraid of embarrassing ourselves, of looking stupid or clueless, than anything else. Never fear. There are ways to avoid all that in your first triathlon.
There are some tricks to having a fun and fulfilling, and yes, smooth and even elegant first triathlon. How do I set up my transition area? What’s this bodymarking all about? What time should I get there? Where do I exit the transition area with my bike and where do I bring it back in before the run leg starts?
If you are a runner or cyclist or swimmer and have never done a race with all this other stuff in it, how do you figure out the flow of the day, what to bring, where to put it and how to manage all this? Fortunately, there are ways to learn how before your first race.
Volunteer at a couple of races before you race your first one. You can learn a lot by volunteering. Volunteer for bodymarking to see how athletes arrive and get set up. Volunteer also for the transition area. Study how athletes lay out their gear. Walk through transition to experience how the athletes come into transition from the swim, how they exit with the bike, return with the bike, and leave transition on their run. Notice how athletes find their location in the transition area when they come in from the swim and bike. This is a key skill. If you’re in the transition area during a race, you will see a few athletes lost and bewildered as they scan the area for their gear. Learn how not to be one of them. Notice also how much camaraderie there is in the race. Everybody is cheering for everybody. Spectators and volunteers are cheering the athletes. Athletes are cheering the volunteers. Athletes are cheering each other. Triathlon might be the most positive, encouraging and friendly sport on the planet.
Attend a local triathlon club meeting. Many triathlon clubs have occasional evening events, group rides and runs and swim workouts. Try one. Show up, introduce yourself, explain that you are thinking about or signed up for your first triathlon, and then receive the love. Lots of folks will get you connected by introducing you around, inviting you to join them for workouts and open right up to get you what you need. Everybody remembers when they were first starting out and has empathy and advice. USA Triathlon has a club listing that will help you find your tribe.
Practice your newfound skills. A few weeks before your first race, do some transition practice. Set up your bike on a trainer and practice riding, jumping off, removing your helmet (yes, wear your helmet and sunglasses on the stationary bike), getting out of your bike shoes and into your running shoes and running a quarter mile. Do five or six repetitions until you can get off the bike and into your run in less than 15 seconds. Also, set up a situation where you can exit the water (pool or open water) and get on to your bike, and do five or more repeats to get smooth and quick. This will help you get used to the feeling of running out of the water, as the sudden shift from wet and prone to upright and running is not something you experience in everyday life. Triathletes talk about brick workouts, when you go straight from the swim to the bike, or straight from the bike to the run, simulating race day. Do some. Imagine now trying to figure out all this for the first time in your life on race day. Give yourself a break and come to the race prepared to transition.
You have a lot to do in your first triathlon. Fortunately, you can gain valuable experience by finding some other local triathletes who can help and encourage you, by practicing transition skills and by volunteering for a couple of races. You will get a good feel for the sport, meet some wonderful and helpful people, have a good sense of what to do on race day, and get ready for one of the most wonderful events in your life.
It’s been awhile since I’ve raced the Boulder Peak Triathlon…
The last time I raced it was in 2013, but that year the course had to be modified due to flooding so there was no climb up Olde Stage. This meant it’d been six years (along with 2 hip surgeries for labral tears, an MS diagnosis, and a broken elbow) since I’d made that classic Boulder climb. But I was back! I was supposed to be back last year, but two things kept me from the starting line: a recently broken elbow and the fact the race had to be cancelled due to fires nearby. So there I was, finally, back in 2017 to race what was a well-executed event put on by the Without Limits Productions crew.
It was a beautiful Colorado summer morning: blue skies, a great sunrise over the reservoir, and hardly any wind. I arrived to the Boulder Reservoir around 5:15am with my sherpa. (Yeah! First time in a long time to have someone help me transport my gear!) My boyfriend was excited to be there to watch me race and help me with my stuff and this was his first time seeing me race.
My morning routine was nice and relaxed. I got set up in transition, went for a bit of a warm-up run, made one final check in transition and then headed out to the beach for the pre-race announcements and swim warm-up. The sun was already starting to feel strong.
Swim: I was in wave 14 out of 17 so my swim warm-up took place when the first waves were starting. I opted to just wear a swim skin instead of a wetsuit due to the warmer water temperature. I was glad with that call, as I felt great the whole time. It was going to get really warm (read: hot hot hot) so I didn’t want to overheat from the get go.
The waves were about 3 minutes apart, which gave good separation. I’m a back of the pack swimmer, so didn’t deal with too much congestion. It was a bit challenging to sight heading out looking into the sun, but clear as day coming back in. I swam nice and steady and was happy to be done with the swim and get on the bike.
T1: Being in a later wave and one of the slower swimmers, it’s always easy to find my bike! Transition also felt a little easier with the speedsuit instead of a wetsuit, and it was my first time racing in open water in the speedsuit.
Bike: My favorite of the three and the Olde Stage beast was waiting! While my goal is to relax a bit and keep things under control until the climb, my heart rate showed I was breathing the whole way. It was a grind, but I slogged it out, 45 rpm and 4mph at the slowest! The gearing on my TT bike isn’t ideal for climbing, and I had to muscle it out. But with some colorful language, I made it to the top! I even managed to smile for Bill of 303 who was taking photos.
I am sure most athletes felt the way I did – spent and really glad to see the top! It is such a nice feeling to start the descent! I’m always cautious coming down (rather be safe than save a few seconds) and once I made the turn onto Left Hand Canyon it was go time! Now I was really having fun again! Nelson Road was fast fast fast and then just a little bit more work to get back into the Reservoir. My legs were burning, and I wasn’t expecting to be speedy on the run.
T2: Not my fastest of T2s, as I took a little extra time here to grab an extra gel off the bike and some salt. It was quite toasty out!
Run: With the heat and probably a little under-fueled, I knocked out about a 10min/mi pace. Thought maybe I’d be able to negative split while starting a little slower than I’m capable, but held relatively steady splits. I ran a 1:02 where at the Colorado Tri I ran a 56 minute 10k. I walked all aid stations and was grateful for the cheerful volunteers with water and ice. I didn’t feel the need to get deep in the pain cave, but rather have a more enjoyable run. With the heat, it was still hard, but we were all out there getting it done!
Finish: I look forward to seeing the tree at the top of the downhill for the last quarter mile or so of the run. I opted to skip the slip-n-slide this time, but it’s sweet that the option is there! I finished, was handed a medal, cold towel, and bottle of water and got to give Rudy the Sherpa big salty and sweaty hug.
I see every race I finish as a solid accomplishment. I have been able to come out of some “unfavorable” circumstances and still race. I may not have the speed of 6 years ago, but the mental strength to finish is unwavering. Next up: Boulder 70.3!
2017 September/October races provide coveted entry slots for 2018 Escape from Alcatraz Tri
Each race on the 2017 Escape Series will award coveted race slots for the 2018 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.
Across all divisions, male and female, a total of 108 qualifying race slots will be available per race. The qualification process per division awards Three (3) race slots per Age Group** for both male and female competitors.
The first place finisher of each Age Group will receive a complimentary race entry into the 2018 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. This race entry is non-transferable and good for 2018 EFAT only.
Second & Third Place Finishers will immediately be granted the opportunity to participate in the 2018 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon and have the option to purchase their slot on-site at the Escape Series event.
Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon is an iconic race on the bucket list of triathletes worldwide. In 2016, the 2000 athletes represented all 50 states and 54 other countries. Escape consistently gets mentioned in top 10 lists of must-do triathlons. In 2016, there was a long line after the race at the tent offering to engrave your finisher medal with your name. Evidently, many athletes were not just going to dump their finisher medal in the big box with all the rest of their medals. It’s a classic race.
It’s a singular course, with a 1.5-mile swim, an 18-mile bike and an 8-mile run. The bike and run are both very hilly, and so can be the swim depending on winds and tidal currents. Be aware that from the swim exit back to transition is a half-mile run. Brief but very informative videos abound. If you view the videos now, you will have a good idea of what you are signing up for.
The swim is about 1.5 miles in temperatures ranging from 58 to 61 degrees. If race day brings favorable tidal currents, the swim can be blindingly fast or a little less so. The water can be calm and glassy, or give you craggy, three-foot waves with whitecaps hissing off the tops. This is one of the most weather-dependent swim courses anywhere.
If the morning weather gives you dense fog, you will probably have calm air and thus flat water. If the morning weather is clear, you will probably have wind. When the tide goes out and the wind comes in, moving in opposite directions, the waves will stack up.
There can be strong tidal currents during your swim. When the tide goes out (ebbs) in San Francisco Bay, five million gallons of water per second exit through the Golden Gate. In the 2016 race, the ebb tide produced a 1.2-knot current to the west (equivalent roughly to 2:20 minutes per 100 yards in swimmer’s lingo), sweeping the swimmers toward the Golden Gate. This means that you had to swim directly to the south, across the current, to end up at the swim exit at the St. Francis Yacht Harbor 1.5 miles to the southwest of the swim entrance.
Remember the short videos on the web site: they will tell you exactly how to race this race. Watch the videos. I’ll repeat this later. Also, during the athlete briefing and on the boat to the swim start, you will hear exactly what features on the San Francisco landscape to swim toward. Swim toward what they tell you to swim toward. Because of these currents, you cannot arrive at the St. Francis Yacht Harbor by swimming directly toward the St. Francis Yacht Harbor.
Swimmers who follow directions can have a faster swim. In 2016, a pack of the best swimmers from the pro field somehow selected the wrong line and ended up five to seven minutes off the swim pace.
The logistics of the swim are a bit complicated. On race morning, go to transition, set up your gear, then board a bus from Marina Green to Fisherman’s Wharf. Disembark the bus, walk 200 yards to the ship Hornblower with the other 2000 athletes. Bring only what you will swim with, as there is no bag drop on the boat. The good ship Hornblower, tastefully decorated like a New Orleans river boat, will have no furniture; only a massive, carpeted deck. Younger age groups get to sit, stand or lie on the first deck; older age groups climb one flight of stairs to the second deck. Bodies will be strewn everywhere.
The ship motors out to the southeast corner of Alcatraz Island. Athletes actually never set foot on the island (unless they take the National Park Service tour some other time, which is well worth doing and will make you never, ever want to be sentenced to a maximum security federal prison). During the ride the announcer will tell you dozens of times to “Swim across the river,” meaning swim to the south to get to the swim finish. The announcer will tell you dozens of times which prominent buildings to swim toward. Do what he says. I also will tell you this dozens of times.
At last, it’s time to swim. 2000 athletes abandon the ship in six minutes, with the pros jumping ship first. Jump the six free from the deck into the water and swim away right now, as there are a hundreds of athletes jumping in right behind you, just like the penguins pouring off the Antarctic ice floes in Animal Planet videos.
The ship leaves the pier at 7:00 AM. The ship arrives at the swim start at 7:20. The first athletes dive in at 7:30. By 7:36, everyone is in the water.
You are on your way.
Swim to the landmarks they tell you to.
The bike course features four miles of flats and 14 miles of hills. It’s a course that Charles Dickens would appreciate: the best of climbs and the worst of climbs. Because it is an out-and-back route, every short, sharp downhill you descend later becomes a short, sharp uphill. In 2016, female pro winner Holly Lawrence clocked a scorching 51:21 bike split, battling the wind on the outbound segment, riding the tailwind on the return and logging 2140 feet of elevation gain and loss in the process.
The bike course is stunningly scenic, if you can divert your eyes here and there between the technical descents and the sharp climbs, going along San Francisco Bay, past the Golden Gate Bridge, along Baker’s Beach on the mighty Pacific Ocean, then past the Cliff House and into (and out of) Golden Gate Park.
Given the hilly, technical bike course, should you use a tri bike or your road bike? About 80% of athletes used tri bikes, but some were heard to say on the climbs, “I should have brought my road bike.” Some of the climbs exceed 10%, but they are all short.
The last two miles of the bike course are flat, straight and downwind, giving athletes a chance to sort out the plans for T2 and get ready for the run.
The run course is déjà vu all over again: eight miles of back to Crissy Field along the Bay, then up a long set of stairs to the Golden Gate Bridge, and down the steep hill to Baker’s Beach, paralleling the way you just rode your bike. The trudge across the soft sand of Baker’s beach is anything but a Baywatch moment, except for the slow-motion effects. Once you get close to the water, where the sand is more solid, the pace picks up for the quarter mile down the beach to the turnaround, then back toward the greatly feared sand ladder. The sand ladder is a set of wooden beams laid across a track straight up a 200-foot-tall sand dune. Fortunately, there are stanchions with cables on both sides of the track, and almost all the athletes haul themselves up the sand ladder by pulling on the cables with their arms as well as chugging up the sand with their legs. Timing mats at the bottom and top of the sand ladder capture that part of the race. In 2016, sixth-place male pro Mauricio Mendez Cruz from Mexico (who still holds the course record for 14 and under from 2009) scorched the sand ladder competition with a 1:50 burst.
Once off the sand ladder and on to solid footing, athletes face another half-mile of climbing along the coastal trail, then a short series of stair steps through World War II artillery batteries, then back down the steep stairs to the flat, downwind two-mile finish. In 2016, second-place female pro Katie Zaferies clocked the best female run split at 49:27, finishing hand in hand with Tommy, her husband and 12th-place male pro.
To say that this is an iconic triathlon is a weak description. Escape from Alcatraz is a top-of-the-bucket-list race. In 2016, 22% of the athletes were female, up from 18% last year and 12% since 2008.
Slowtwitch offers a nice photo gallery giving you a good sense of the iconic parts of the course.
The swim can be cold, dark and rough. The bike course is hilly, technical and windy. The run course is plagued by stair steps and beach sand and long climbs and descents. In the end, you will have escaped. What are you waiting for?
Will Murray knows a few things about racing tough courses. He is the D3 expert on mental skills training for triathletes. He notes, ” I often hear triathletes saying that the sport is at least 50% mental and 50% physical, but I’ve come to notice that they spend very little (if any) time doing mental training. Fortunately, it’s easy and fast to train-up your mind to help you achieve your triathlon goals. I’ve been lucky enough to bring these mental conditioning techniques to first-time athletes and Olympians, kids and seniors, triathletes who want to finish the race and those who are gunning to win.”
The beautiful mountain town of Eagle, Colorado comes together annually to host the LG Tri. “This event is held in memory of our friend, Laura Genelin, who passed away in July of 2008 from colon cancer. Laura loved participating in triathlons. To keep her passion alive, we chose to hold one annually in her hometown of Eagle, Colorado. Proceeds from the race will benefit the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, helping locals like Laura in medical crisis since 1996. To learn more about our nonprofit, visit www.vvcf.org.” Race director Robye Nothnagel and coordinator Jeanne Stough.
The 9th annual LG Tri held July 8, 2017 was greeted by a crisp, blue sky Colorado morning with temperatures in the mid 50’s reaching to the 70’s. The heated pool steamed as the athletes gathered into groups of 3 to get the race underway. 85 athletes ages 14-73 participated in the 500 yard pool swim, a scenic 12 mile out and back bike along Brush Creek Road (don’t take the 500 ft elevation gain for granted!), and a 5K run through Eagle Ranch.
Also, seven teams participated – female, male and co-ed, and even a kid team made up of three female six-year-olds!
“I love this triathlon because it’s a family event. We all can go together and share the sport together, cheering each other on.” – Carolanne Williams – 1st Overall Woman Finisher
Sy Grothe, a first time event participant from Las Vegas, NV said that he likes the “country tri” feel. It is welcoming to newcomers and a great way to see new places.
Upon completion of the sprint tri, the 5th annual LG Kids Tri was underway. 63 children ages 6-13 showed their triathlon skills with big smiles and competitive hearts. From newbies to seasoned triathletes, everyone participating shared in the fun of the day.
Next year will be a big celebration since it will be the 10th anniversary!
For additional information about the LG Tri, visit the event website. Race results can be found here.
-Kim Welk is a two time sprint participant, parent to a three time kid participant and proud supporter of the event.
Age-group rolling wave swim start to spread athletes out and decrease bike course density at 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
TAMPA, Fla. (July 5, 2017) – IRONMAN, a Wanda Sports Holdings Company, announced today that the 2017 IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championship triathlon taking place in Chattanooga, Tennessee will move to a rolling wave start within each age group. The decision to change the swim-start aims to create a more fair World Championship experience for athletes by spreading athletes out and minimizing bike course density. Significant analytics research of past participant data went into the formatting decision for the swim start and was an important factor in deciding when each age group would start. Another objective of the adjusted swim start times is to deliver a safe event while providing a World Championship experience for all athletes.
“The execution of the swim start is critical in the management of bike course drafting. The adjusted swim starts will help to ensure as fair of a race as possible for age-group athletes,” said Andrew Messick, Chief Executive Officer of IRONMAN. “We know how important world championship events are for our athletes and this decision is a direct response to the feedback we have received. By spacing out the start times in the sequence that has been determined, the athlete field will be more evenly spread throughout the course and subsequently reduce the opportunity for drafting.”
The championship race will be a two-day event with the professional and age-group women racing on Saturday, Sept. 9 and the professional and age-group men racing on Sunday, Sept. 10. On Saturday, the professional women’s field will begin with a mass start at 7:30 a.m., with the first age group women wave beginning at 7:38 a.m. Likewise, on Sunday, the men’s pro race will begin with a mass start at 7:30 a.m. and the first men’s age-group wave will begin at 7:38 a.m.
While the new format will have the men and women’s fields competing on separate days, the new start times will not change the existing cut-off standards for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. All athletes will be required to finish the swim in one hour, the bike in five hours and 10 minutes after start, and complete the entire course in eight hours.
“We are proud to continue to find ways of enhancing the athlete experience at our world championship events. As the top triathletes in the world, these competitors deserve the highest quality race possible,” said Diana Bertsch, Vice President of World Championship Events for IRONMAN. The 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship swim waves will have altered time gaps between the age-group waves to support fairness and a more open course.
Below are the new start times for the 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship:
303 brings you the Olde Stage KOM/QOM award! Our own Bill Plock will be at the apex of the climb, capturing photographic documentation for the first male & female pros to reach the top of this massive effort. AND, Lance Panigutti/Without Limits has sweetened the pot with $150 cash to each King/Queen!