Monthly Archives

June 2015

Breath of Life 2015

By | Fitness, Fuel, Race Reports, Triathlon | No Comments

The Ventura Breath of Life Triathlon and I go way back.

We met in 2008, went a second round in 2009, took a break, got back together in 2013, and once again in 2015.

BOL Start c. 2009

Can you spy me in one of my first BOL events (2008 or 2009)?


In previous years we were Olympic Distance buddies, but I decided to go for the Sprint this year.

My favorite things about BOL Sprint 2015:

1. I got to ride my bike 4 miles to the start (great warm up) and 4 miles back home after the race was over (great recovery).  This is a great way to ensure that I warm up on the bike.  Otherwise, I tend to skip that.

2. My support crew (hubs, mom, & dad) all made it, and didn’t have to wake up at too ungodly an hour to be there.  Hubs got up at 6 a.m., which is “sleeping in” for him.  Dad got up at 3 a.m., but that’s normal for him.

3. So many friends racing, supporting, and lifeguarding!  Swim for Triathlon (S4T) peeps, Rincon Tri Club members, LA area triathletes, and other Ventura friends (+ their families)–It felt like my triathlon and non-triathlon communities were colliding right there in my own neighborhood.  That “collision” of worlds  is one of my favorite experiences.

4. Feeling strong throughout the race.  I like to train my body and mind so that when the race comes I can just “let it happen” and not think too much.  I am grateful to have a wonderful support crew and coach to help me get to that point.   I felt that this was one of those races where everything went smoothly.   Of course, there are always some things that aren’t ideal (are things ever completely ideal in a triathlon?).  That’s one thing what makes this sport unique–the uncontrollable aspect.  You can’t control the ocean, the wind, the rules of the game, the choices that other competitors make, the road conditions, or sometimes even your own bowels.  But, learning to prepare for the “anything” that may happen–and find a way to fight through that “anything” during the race–is a big, wonderful, life lesson for me.  My “anythings” this race were: foggy goggles, feeling stuck behind a group in a 1-mile “no passing” zone, and a side cramp that made me want to make a face like this.  I got off pretty easy this time.

5. Free food–for everyone!  It was nice to not have to sneak food to my family since they were allowed to eat the post-race grub for free.  Less-hangry spectators = Big plus.  The “VooDoo” flavored chips and cinnamon-y pretzel sticks were also worth some points.

6. The wonderful cause.  This race is held in memory of Dina LaVigna, and is put on by her family to raise funds for Primary Immunodeficiency.  Read about the history and mission of the event here.


Pre-race brunch. Brice and I shared these pancakes from The Griddle in Los Angeles. We probably finished about 1/8th of the stack.


[PC: Shelli B.] Post-race with friends David and Eric. This photo accurately depicts Brice Oliver, in the background.

Triathloning on a Budget

By | Coaching, Triathlon, Uncategorized | No Comments

After growing up swimming, running cross country in High School, swimming a bit more, and running my first marathon in 2007, a friend suggested I try triathlon.  While hesitant at first, I slowly began attending UCLA Triathlon Club swim and run practices, eventually bought my first road bike, and gradually acclimatized into the tri culture.  I have been triathloning pretty much ever since, and I have concluded that triathlon is an inexpensive hobby.

Just kidding.  It is a huge investment–especially at first.  There are a lot of “big” items needed in triathlon training and racing.  Then, there are even more “not so big” items that are equally necessary.  Then, there are heaps of big and small items/services that aren’t required, but are highly encouraged.  Finally, if you are still not scared off, and you are really into it, you can invest in even more optional things to (hopefully) enhance your aerodynamics and/or performance.

This can be a bit overwhelming.  For example, I recently had a friend come to me for a little advice.  She had just signed up for her first triathlon.  Naturally, I bombarded her with lists upon lists of the items she should start buying and things she should start doing in preparation.  Note to triathletes: Never do this if you ever want your friends to do triathlons too!  If I ever have a friend ask me for help in this area again, I will probably send them some slightly-less-intimidating lists somewhat like the ones below…

Splurge on things that are worth investing in:

[Quality Equipment]
  • Road bike: If you are just “checking out” triathlon, I recommend borrowing or buying a used road bike vs. paying for a super fancy one.
  • Helmet, new and CPSC approved (if you ever race ITU, the CPSC approval sticker is required)
  • Run shoes: Get a qualified run shoe expert to watch you run in them before you buy–most specialty run stores do this.
  • Bike shoes, cleats & clipless pedals, if you are comfortable with that…otherwise, just use run shoes and a platform pedal.
  • Cycling gloves, to protect your hands
  • Swim cap, preferably silicone (they can last for years)
  • Goggles that fit your face (try before you buy).  I love these.
  • Watch with desired functions (heart rate, GPS, etc)
[Quality (and comfortable, well-fitting) Clothing]
  • Swimsuit, one piece or two piece that won’t fall off while training! Check out Swim Outlet for deals.
  • Cycling Jersey with pockets
  • Cycling Shorts with padding
  • Run Shorts–preferably with a small pocket to stash your key and maybe even a mid-run snack
  • Run/Cycling Socks that don’t give you blisters
  • Triathlon race kit (optional)–or just race in your swimsuit with shorts on top
[Quality Services]
  • Custom, frequently adjusted, training program to avoid over-training (Can be private or group-style coaching)
  • Technical instruction in private or group environment (again, highly recommended, especially for those who are new to running, biking, and/or swimming)

Save on the rest:

  • Run Top–you can use plain old t-shirts for now.  After you’ve done a few races, you’ll end up with more race tech shirts than you can count!
  • Simple strength training tools (surgical tubing, Theraband, hills)
  • Super snazzy race tattoo remover tool (aka. duct tape)
  • Super duper snazzy race belt (aka. shoe string with safety pins)
  • Homemade Sports Drink: 1/4 c. boiling water + 1/4 c. sugar + 1 t. salt + 1/2 c. orange juice + juice of 1/2 lemon + 2.5 c. cold water to fill 1/4 gallon jug
  • Homemade Pre-workout snacks: banana, oatmeal, crackers, dates, cereal, toast, bagel, juice, etc.
  • Homemade During-workout Fuel: banana, pb&j, cookies, crackers, gummy candy, licorice, cooked sweet potato, etc.
  • Homemade Post-workout Fuel: chocolate milk, cereal, pasta with meat sauce, turkey sandwich, etc.
  • Borrow or rent a triathlon wetsuit, if one is needed, for your event.  Just make sure it fits, first.  If you plan to be in the sport for a while, buy one that fits comfortably.
  • Use Vaseline, Blistex, or Carmex on your spots that tend to chafe (e.g. neck, underarms, inner thighs) instead of buying the anti-chafe sticks/sprays.
  • Cheap Sunglasses for eye protection on the bike (like these), if you prefer not to invest $50-$200 in cycling shades.
  • Self/Spousal massage: Avoid overuse injury with regular massage of your legs, back, and shoulders.  Self-massage equipment–foam rollers, lacrosse ball, etc–works great.  That being said, an occasional professional massage is a special treat!
  • Local races: Stay nearby as much as possible to avoid large travel/hotel/food expenses.
  • Single sport races, e.g. cyling TT, 5k run race, Masters swim meet: Add some extra races to your season without the heightened cost of a triathlon race.
  • Outdoor/living room gym: SO much strength can be gained with just your body weight and a couple of simple pieces of equipment, if desired.
  • YouTube or blog tutorials for a plethora of triathlon-related skills, tips, and tricks.

Okay, so maybe these lists are still frighteningly long.  I am not sure this insanity can be avoided, since triathlon is a combination of three sports, plus transitions and nutrition and recovery–so kinda like 6 sports.  Anyways, I hope this helps your future triathlete friends.  I’m sure that I’ve left out some things, so please let me know of any other ways to be a frugal triathlete that I haven’t listed.

On another note, I cannot mention the relative expensiveness of triathlon without being oh so grateful to all who have helped me along the way.  I have been incredibly blessed with phenomenal gifts of training/racing equipment, coaching, advising, massage, chiropractic, and other services–not to mention ridiculous amounts of support from my family and training buddies throughout the years.  Thank you (you know who you are)!