Sponsor Highlight: ENVE WHEELS

This year’s official wheel of the Ironman World Championships 

STRONG, LIGHT, STIFF, AND AERO – THE ENVE PROCESS
These wheels FLY ..

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I have used various other brands of race wheels throughout racing as a pro triathlete thus far, and without a doubt the ENVE wheels are my top pick.

I use the 3.9 clinchers for training and the 8.9 tubulars for racing. And while I can attribute consistently faster bike times to improved ability, in non-drafting racing one cannot ignore the time savings from incredibly aerodynamic wheels. Case in point: ENVE wheels helped post the fastest bike split in Kona this year. When you use these wheels you can literally HEAR them humming aerodynamically through the bike course, more than any other wheels on which I have raced.

The main features that stand out in my mind:
– Quick and responsive when accelerating
– Light and great for climbing, as they do not ‘bend’ / rub the brakes at all
– Smooth braking
– Approx. the same depth as wheels I have used in the past, yet had more control in strong winds

Most notably, these wheels proven to be DURABLE. This season I had two, shall we say, ‘bike drama’ incidents and the ENVE wheels came out unscathed and spinning true. Incident one was a hard crash at the bike dismount line in New Orleans, where the wheels came out without even a scratch. Incident two – the really impressive feat – was riding on an unrepairable flat in Cozumel (disclaimer: I do NOT recommend doing this for both safety and equipment care reasons). Here again the wheels came out all but brand new.
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ENVE, thank you for supporting the Maverick Multisport Team!

Breaking Through Monotony

Endurance sports.
We all know what we signed up for, and we signed up for it for a reason: being active in this manner can make us the best version of ourselves, both mentally and physically.  We enjoy a challenge and setting goals.  We enjoy connecting with and contributing to a (generally) healthy, vivacious group of individuals.

But let’s be honest. Sometimes, no matter how mentally tough you can be, or how much you love endurance sports, the training can get a bit monotonous. Maybe there are people out there who have the freakish ability to completely zone out and never feel this way, but for most of us it helps to have some methods in the back pocket to combat lack-of-stimulation-while-training syndrome when it pops up.

The following are some random things that help me mentally when training. Some of them may be no brainers, but it cannot hurt to provide some reminders:

– Swim with a group so you have something else on which to focus other than counting, the clock and the black line. Also along these lines: find and open water swim group in your area to do once during the week.  Not only does this provide a change of scenery, but it also gives you a chance to practice straight swimming without breaks in the wetsuit.

– Put in the effort to find training partners. I know from experience it sometimes seems easier to just knock out workouts solo on one’s own timeline, but I rarely regret having company. (And remember, there is a reason that aerobic workouts are often referred to as “conversational pace” … you should be running or biking easy enough to have a conversation!) yoga

– Try Yoga.  Even if you are terrible at it, like me. I know it can be hard to make the time for this extra activity, but even if you do it 1-2 times per week, over time and with conscious effort, it can help you learn how to calm your mind. In other words, it can reduce thoughts such as:, “Wow I’m not feeling my best today and only 1 min has gone by…”

– Use music, but do so wisely. I find that if one uses it for every workout it does not have quite as much potency when you really need it to get pumped up. For interval workouts I find it helps to pick a playlist ahead of time and choose 1-2 songs per interval (depending on the length).  Then it feels as if the music is leading you through the workout.runJay

– In general, think of the phrase: switch it up! Rotate between trainer and roads, track and treadmill, hills and flats, solo and partner workouts, long course and short course pools … you can see where I am going here.

– Remember that unless, say, you fall and break your arm, you never regret a workout! The majority of the time you WILL feel better mentally and physically afterwards, even it does not go well. Visualize this outcome while you are in the midst of self-induced discomfort, and enjoy the moment when it arrives.

Thank you for reading, and cheers to happy training.

The Importance of Testing in Triathlon

If you attempt to train seriously for triathlon without doing the appropriate testing, you will make it through eventually, but there will be a lot of confusion and wasted time and effort.

I do not claim to be an formally educated expert in the science of physiology, but since starting to train consistently with triathlon I have had three coaches, and all of them have implemented testing at some point.  This is because setting training heart rate (and power on the bike if applicable) ‘zones’ is a crucial component to steady improvement. And testing at appropriate additional times throughout the year also allows you to objectively SEE your lactate threshold improve, and adjust your training accordingly.

Having scientifically set training zones is important important both mentally and physically.  This is because it takes the guesswork out of your training and racing.  For example, if you are training in hot weather you may feel like you are moving too slowly, but if your heart rate is within the correct range, you do not need to worry about the pace because the effort is correct relative to the conditions.

Testing with a BSX Inisight device is an over-the-long-run more affordable and efficient way to integrate lactate testing into your training.  It allows you to nix the standard finger pricks, and the bsxhassle and cost of setting up an appointment with a tester.  About 20 minutes is all that it takes to set accurate training zones!

Here are some tips that have worked well for me when it comes to testing (of course consult with and expert at BSX athletics, and/or your coach as well):
– Testing is best done during a recovery week, so that you are somewhat rested both before and after the testing.
– Be sure you do not do anything atypical.  For example, I have been told that if you usually drink one cup of coffee in the morning, do not do anything significantly different one way or the other the morning of your testing.

– Try to test in a non-extreme environment temperature wise.

Thank you for reading and happy training!

P.S. Be sure to use code MavLesley online when ordering for $40 off of the Multi-Sport device.

Races Recapped – Part 2

After Boulder 70.3 it was time for a couple down weeks of training and significant break from racing. At first this was because there were few feasible race options for me in July / August, but then I quickly realized this was a blessing because my energy levels were low for a lot longer than usual post race .. maybe it was the heat and altitude, maybe it was just time for a break!

Electing to do the Challenge Pentiction 70.3 distance race was an atypical decision. This is because I usually choose races the suit my strengths, or as Coach Phil puts it: “different courses for different horses.” A relatively technical (for me at least), cool and drizzly bike course + a flat-nice-weather run is not one of those.

After a strong, incredibly pleasant and beautiful swim I did the best I could with the skills and fitness I had, and ended the race with a PR run split and 3rd place overall (2:30 back from the winner – congrats Jen you rocked it! :)).

The fact that I was quite anxious in anticipation of this race/course, but was able to calm my nerves on race day and post a solid performance, equaled a satisfying day.

A side note: The Pentiction race has been around in some form, with different owners, since 1983! Their triathlon community takes so much pride in the race, and it was interesting to hear about its history.

The trip came with a nice bonus: road tripping from the Seattle area to Pentiction with my ol’ college roommate (and fellow Maverick Multisport team member) Jillian Petersen, as well as getting a chance to check out Gig Harbor, where she currently lives.  The below phIMG_5467oto pretty much sums up our time there together .. we think completing a 4+ exercise effort warrants some relaxation and gluttony the next day, and I was happy to have her company!

 

Races Recapped – Part 1

Wow, to be cliche, time is FLYING by extra quick this year … especially when it comes to the triathlon season. It is hard to believe the season is winding down for most people; and that I only have 2 (maybe 3) races left.

So as I head to Ironman Cozumel 70.3 this coming weekend, I figured it would be an appropriate time to reflect back on my past couple of races and see what take-aways I can bring to the next one.

Ironman Boulder 70.3 back in mid-June, in my current hometown at 5000ish feet, did not really feel like a ‘race’ until I actually got going. The absence of travel stressors, such as packing a bike, getting to DIA, etc. created and overly relaxed feeling leading up to the start.  I also anticipated a lack of inspiration and focus during the race due to the fact that I would be riding on hwy 36 and running at the res: both things Bouderdites do… shall I say, OFTEN.

Aside from noticing the lack of oxygen at the always frantic start of the swim, the swim course was very straight forward with easy conditions. Always my ideal setting for this leg of the race. I headed onto the bike course where my goal was to keep very even pacing to set myself up for the run. The temp climbed some as we rode, but overall, here again the familiarity of the roads kept stress levels low and I posted a PR bike split.

The run was the most challenging part of this race, both mentally and physically. And I would guess many others who did this race would say the same! The Boulder Reservoir trails can be an amazing place to train, but somehow the uneven ground on the exposed, toasty terrain made the 13.1 miles a tougher task than I had envisioned. I was cautious not to over do it the first half, and at some point started chanting to myself “just keep this same pace and FINISH.” In the end I ran up to 3rd place and reached my goal of getting a spot in the top 3.

This race was a good experience because I felt like I did not know what to expect at all heading into it, and if anything it was easy to ‘under-think’ the whole thing because it was all but in my backyard.Boulder

It showed me that racing does not always have to be some intense, inspiring, novel, transformative experience. Sometimes it is just about signing up and getting to the finish, merely to check another challenge off the list. I think it is important to still be able to tow the line once the gun goes off, no matter what emotional / mental state with which we head there.

My recovery? Enjoyed an ice bath dip in the boulder creek with a beer and Snarfs sandwich. Check and check!

A Belated Race Recap: Challenge Knoxville

After a slow start to the 2015 season, the win in at Challenge Knoxville and podium finish at Boulder 70.3 were most definitely needed for that kick in the butt to keep on keepin’ on with triathlon.

My how time flies. To say I am a bit behind on the blogging / race recaps is an understatement. Though, let’s spin this in a positive way: if you reflect on an experience significantly after the fact, the key tidbits from said experience will stand out in your mind.

So that being said, here is a recap of that Knoxville race in May + some insights from the experience:

After crashing at the New Orleans 70.3 in April I needed to get another one on the books to stay motivated. When I did the final click to buy the overly priced plane ticket to Knoxville + bike fee, I was left with that feeling of pit-in-the-stomach anxiousness that accompanies ‘investing’ money in such an uncertain pursuit. I reminded myself that this is what I signed up for and it’s part of the game. It does not always feel the most practical, but it is what I want to be doing.

This race ended up being way up there on the ‘best I have ever felt’ list thus far – across the board. The 28min./3ish min back, non-wetsuit swim in the Blue Seventy swimskin felt smooth from the gun. Many times I blow up and slightly hyperventilate the first 200 meters, but this time I barely felt out of breath.

The 56 mi. ride on the Argon was the most mentally challenging part of the race. It was raining off and on and my skills on a hilly / technical course are sub par at best. I spent most of the ride totally alone, and just tried to focus on the fact that the legs were recovering quickly after the hills. My average watts were not out of this world, but similar to the swim, the effort did not seem to take as much out of me as I would have expected.
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By the time we hit the run the air had gotten toasty and humid – typically conditions in which I excel if I race smart. Everything seemed to come together throughout this half marathon. I attribute the win not only to be ‘in shape,’ but also to keeping a calm focus. Instead of stressing out about where I was in the field and pondering all of the possible outcomes, I told myself my only goal was steady, smart pacing, sticking to my INFINIT nutrition plan, and picking it up the last 5k … be what may.

The main takeaway from this race that I would like to share: calming the mind can often be more potent than gritting the teeth and trying to force something too hard, too soon. The more you can eliminate anxious thoughts during a race, the more your mind is free to feel out your body’s capabilities in the moment.

I do not claim this to be true science, so as always, just my 2 cents.

Thank you for reading, and more blog posts coming soon!

knoxfinish3

Thank you to the Maverick Multisport Team sponsors! Click on the links below to check out the discounted products we are able to offer:

Blue Seventy – use code MavLesley and save 20% online

BSX Insight – use code MavLesley for $40 off the Multi-Sport Lactate Threshold device (test your lactate threshold at home for racing & training without finger pricks)

INFINIT Nutrition – use code: Maverick for 10% off all regular priced items(customizable sports nutrition products)

Primal Sport Mud – use code: mavlesley15 for 20% off online (a recovery ‘mud’ applied to skin … electrolytes and antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. )

Cobb Cycling Saddles – send me message at lesleyesmith@gmail.com if you are interested in a discount / discussing this product.

A New Orleans 70.3 Recap

My New Orleans 70.3 race report is pretty brief: felt fine swimming and biking, and then through no one’s fault but my own, I went down hard at the bike dismount. Both the lesson in physics and audible gasp from the crowd (a.k.a the embarassment) will not be forgotten. By the time I pulled myself together and started walking off the worst of the pain, I was too far back to do much + do not think I could have. Drunkenly trudged through a hot half-marathon, but hey, got my long run in still right?

Do not worry, I have already cc’d @TriExcuse .. one of my personal Twitter favorites.

Of course this was a huge disappointment – a triathlon is not the end of the world, there will be more of them, and I generally enjoy living an active lifestyle, but I do not knock out structured training day after day to have something like this happen. And I have learned road rash discomfort sticks around longer than my Mom visiting her grandchildren (that is LONG).

Post race: decided to make the best of the situation by do some exploring in a city I had never really experienced during the small amount of time left there. So, I ate some good food, tried a couple overly sugary Red 40-laden drinks, Frankenstein walked around Bourbon street for a while (it smells like vomit but the people watching is fun) .. and ended the night with a ‘breakfast cheeseburger’ at a 24 hour diner.

Onward through more training and racing.

I feel I should give some well-deserved shout outs to some Maverick Multisport Team sponsors / supporters, as this was the first race rockin’ everything. There is much I could say all around, but I will just note some main take-aways from the race:

1) The BlueSeventy Helix wetsuit is a thumbs up. The I’m-being-strangled-and-cannot-fully-rotate-my shoulders feeling was all but non existent.

2) The Argon / Enve / Rotor / Shimano / Cobb combo is a fast machine. Before said crash at the dismount line my Garmin was reading a 70.3 bike split PR. I’d hope this is also due to fitness + bike courses are all different, but I have no doubt having the highest level of equipment HELPS. (OH and thank god for the Catlike helmet… definitely slammed the head on the pavement and walked away unscathed in the ‘serious injury’ category.)

3) Infinit nutrition was easy to get down. I am used to gagging down gels the whole bike portion so this was a nice change of pace.

4) Sugoi kit = comfortable, high quality and looks SLEEEEK.

5) The Altra shoes (a personal sponsor) are light but cushion-y … I look forward to nailing a run split in them! It WILL happen.

That’s all for now, thank you for reading.

Because who doesn’t like a discount?!:

• Blue Seventy, use code “MavLesley” and SAVE 20% online
• Infinite Nutrition, use code Maverick for 10% off all regular priced items
Primal Sports Mud, use code “mavlesley15” for 20% off online
BSX Athletics, use code “MavLesley” for $40 off the Multi-Sport Lactate Threshold device

Clearing Out the Clutter

2014 consisted of some big changes – namely 1) signing on with a new coach (Dr. Phil Skiba of PhysFarm) and 2) moving to the small triathlon world of Boulder, CO.  Another more recent development has been signing on as part of the Maverick Multisport Elite Team.  I am looking forward partnering with some quality sponsors and experiencing the sense of camaraderie that comes along with being a part of a larger whole.

Racing in an increasingly competitive field had its ups and downs as one can expect – but capping off the year with a win at the Austin 70.3 (and feeling better than ever across the board the entire race) has been providing the momentum needed to persevere through the race-less winter training over the past couple months.

2015 has already started flying by, so as the training load goes up and the first race looms closer, I do my best to remember some key things I have learned from my triathlon experience thus far.

One of the most important things is to clear out the mental ‘clutter’ that can so easily creep in. Though this sport’s concept seems fairly simple: Swim, Bike, Run … there are way too many things that can be over-analyzed if you let your mind run wild. (Disclaimer: use of second person is merely for writer’s sake of simplicity!)

I have learned that for me – and this is important because as we are all well aware: what works for one does not always work for another – pining over TOO many details and spending inordinately massive amount of time searching out the answers is often a waste of time and energy, and can lead to unnecessary stress.  And who needs more of that.

Of course the ‘devil is in the details’ and the little things can make you better, but I find that making sure the BIG things are in place FIRST is what is truly important.  If these things are nailed, then explore the minutiae but only because you enjoy it and want to do it, not because you are desperately searching out the magical equation for perfection.

So all that being said, here are my BIG things – simplified, important things that I try to live by in my triathlon life in a nutshell:

Training – Get a coach, trust said person, do the workouts.  Ask questions when you are curious, but once a few are answered sufficiently, put your head down and do it.

Mental Toughness – When in a race or a hard workout clear the mind and accept “this too shall pass – and I’ll be better for it”.  Just those 2 things go a long way.  When I think back to my best races and try to recall my thoughts, I come up with … well…. not much.

Diet – You need calories and nutrients to train and perform well.  So get them.  Even through “splurging” at times, because guess what, food is an awesomely fun life pleasure we should all enjoy.

Sleep – Sleep when you are tired.  If one night goes to hell, it will average out at some point.

Attitude – Keep it positive in general, but accept that anything you work for can be trying at times, so if it helps to vent/complain a bit, don’t beat yourself up.  🙂les

Happy Winter Training All!