Triathlon Tuesday 9th Edition

 

As the triathlon race season comes to an end in the Northern Hemisphere here are some resources to assist you with your season in review. 

Review Your Last Season – As the season finishes up now is a great time to review your past season as a first step towards next season.  This article and free PDF from Triradar.com will help organize your thoughts.  Triathlon Tuesday

How to Learn From Your Triathlon Season -  Simple questions to get you thinking about your past season from Active.com

Now that Triathlon Season is Ending – Here are some great ideas on what to do as the triathlon season ends, and before you get right into next season, from Active.com.

Tips for the triathlon off-season – This video from Enduranceworks gives you 3 tips for the triathlon off-season. 

 

Triathlon Tuesday 8th Edition

 

Review your Season - Kevin over at TriSwimcoach provides a great structured outline for evaluating your season and planning for the next.  Although focused on swimming, this equally relevant for triathletes.

Quick Shoulder Exercise – The shoulders are typically neglected when it comes to strength training by triathletes.  This quick 1 minute video offers a great exercise.  There are many other one minute videos focused on training for triathletes.

Quick Set Friday: Pre-Race Tune-Up – Sara McLarety has a wonderful site with hundreds of triathlon workouts.  This one is a pre-race swim workout. 

Xlab Kompact Between the Arms "BTA" Hydration System – I switched over the weekend to this to BTA system.  This is a simple cage that firmly attaches to your aerobars and holds any water bottle.  Secure and much easier than the Speedfil I had with the straw.  I constantly found myself trying to find the straw with my mouth so this works much better.

 

 

Triathlon Tuesday 7th Edition

 

This week’s Triathlon Tuesday focuses on the Interwebs – websites I follow and enjoy.  These sites are in my RSS feed subscription and I enjoy this new content daily. 

The 5K Runner – Focuses content on triathlons, duathlons, training and tech. Good opinionated posts on gear. 

DC Rainmaker – This is the go-to site for detailed triathlon-related product reviews.  Ray Maker is the guy behind DC Rainmaker and does an excellent job of breaking down the gear and technology around triathlon - must visit site for gear reviews. 

Beginner Triathlete – Focuses on the new triathlete with training plans and information to get you up to speed quickly.  Great resource for the new age-group triathlete focused on training.

Triathlete Magazine – The mother ship of all things triathlon.  The web presence for Triathlete Magazine - Gear reviews, training and injury tips.  All around great resource for the sport. 

Endurance Nerd – Triathlon training and gear from a physical therapist’s view.  Good content on training. 

 Other sites are on your go-to list?  Add them below in the comments.


 

 

Triathlon Training while Traveling

This weekend I enjoyed a weekend away from home with the family.  This driving vacation offered a lot towards my training.  

I was able to ride a completely different course.  A fun loop around Stony Creek Metropark was enjoyable, challenging and a great change of pace.

I was able to get a strength training workout in with the equipment at the house we were staying at.  Different equipment allowed me to change up my strength routine and try something new.  I was able to challenge different muscle groups. 

I was also able to get in a nice leisure recovery ride with the family as we all brought our bikes.  It was fun to see a Tri-bike, a racing bike and a beach cruiser all sharing space on the hitch rack.  

I was able to practice packing for an out-of-town race (which I have coming up in a few weeks at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon).  This try run was a great way to see how I was going to transport my nutrition, what gear I really needed, and what tools I needed to bring.  Even down to the clothing I needed.  I forgot nothing and as always relied upon my checklists.

I would say that if you have a trip coming up don’t discount or suspend your training - take advantage of the opportunity to:

  •  Clear your mind
  • Ride, run or swim somewhere different
  • Energy your training with a change of scenery
  • Practice packing and preparing for an out of town event.

It was a great way to jumpstart my training and to enjoy a long weekend from home.  I hope you get to do the same during your training.

 

 

 

Triathlon Tuesday 6th Edition

 

How Running Power Meters Work –From the trainingpeaks.com blog explains one of the new developments in running – the power meter.  We are all familiar with the cycling power meter here is a great primer on the running version. 

Speedfil between the arms hydration system – I have been using the Speedfil Z4+ which has the cage, water bottle and hydration lid all included.  This system gives you the ability to use any standard specialized-type water bottles.  With the included velcro strap the bottle is help tight and the internal washer keeps the lid leak proof.

Garmin Quick Release for 920xt- I mentioned this in a previous Triathlon Tuesday post.  This attaches your Garmin 920XT to the Speedfil Z4+.  You remove your band from the watch and install the quick release bracket to your bands.  After that, the watch / computer head snaps on this attachment for your wrist and then on to the Speedily Z4.  Great way to get your computer on your bike.  The attachment is secure and there is a positive snap when it is properly secured. 

Run with Power by Jim Vance – I’m enjoying this book.  I need to improve the weakest part of my triathlon which is the run.  I like Jim’s view on metrics, especially power in Triathlon 2.0. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week’s post on why I think older triathlete’s contribute to the sport.  In case you missed it I make the case for why midlife triathletes contribute positively to the sport, check it out. 

Sports Motivation Podcast is a Must Listen

 

The Triswimcoach.com blog had a recent post “Five books and a podcast to help you this offseason” and the recommended The Sports Motivation Podcast by Olaniyi Sobomehin.  

I’ve been binging on this podcast over the weekend and should be on everyone’s listening list.  Olaniyi publishes two podcasts a week and his direct, practical style is captivating. 

An undrafted NFL player, Olaniyi knows what he's talking about.  His website is Imnotyou.com

If you are serious about success, you need to listen.  

6 Ways Older Triathletes Contribute to the Sport

As a 53-year-old triathlete I consider myself a great match for the sport of triathlon.  Here are six areas where senior triathletes contribute and enhance the sport.

 I Spend Money

At this point in my career and life, I have a nice home, cars, and most things that I need.  I have a higher percentage of disposable income that I dedicate towards my gear and training. 

I understand and recognize value and I’m willing to pay for value.  The adage “the cheap man pays twice” is something I believe in so I constantly look for quality and value first then price.  My experience is that you end up spending less in the end if you are will to invest in quality.  At my age I might be buying equipment that may last the rest of our triathlon career. 

The best way for me to be successful is to develop the necessary skills and technique, then work on speed and endurance.  This is why I am a firm believer in formal coaching.  The Masters Swim team I am a member of has been extremely valuable in my swim success and improvement. And cost of a Masters Swimming License and the Y membership have been well worth the cost.

I also like to make the triathlon race experience more than just the race.  I enjoy making a weekend out of it and am willing to travel for the experience.  This year my A race is the Nautica Malibu Triathlon out in California.   

Work to Bring Younger Athletes into the Sport

I have children that I have brought into the sport.  Making the training and racing a togetherness thing has allowed me to bring younger athletes into the sport that would probably not have gotten into the sport.  They are a lot younger than the 53-year Dad that just discovered the sport.

Partially funding their hobby hasn’t hurt; and I hope this gets them on the right path with quality gear and dedication.  I am working to bring the youngsters into the sport.

 Dedication and Focus

I am serious and focused on the sport.  My generation understands the benefit of hard sustained work and the benefit of focusing this energy.  I am goal-driven and display the traits that are necessary for goal achievement.  I plan, set big goals and set my sights on bucket list races and achievements.  I show people how to succeed.

I bring the goal attainment success I’ve experienced in other parts of my life into the sport.  Setting and achieving goals is not an overnight activity and I hope others pick this up by watching me.   

I am not easily distracted and understand the time commitment necessary for success.  I am not out jumping from thing to thing; I know what I want and am dedicated to mastering the sport.

With all this focus and dedication, I’m a great example of the 5:00 am training plan. My days are busy so I’m dedicated to getting my workouts out of the way early allowing the rest of my day to progress as planned.  I plan most everything.

Socially Support the Sport

I am a great ambassador for the sport.  The fact that I have this blog is evident.  I am active on Facebook and Twitter and really share what I learn and my enthusiasm for the sport.  I also use it to support the younger athletes as they chase and achieve their goals. 

I enjoy the camaraderie of the sport from my master’s swim team to the open water folks I swim with to the guys I race with.  I really enjoy making this individual sport a group event.

I enjoy learning about the sport through books, YouTube, podcasts and magazines.  I embrace the old and new media to get the knowledge I need. 

Display Efficiency

I am also busy with family and my career.  I don’t have time to waste on unproven training techniques and equipment.  I may be more conservative in this regard but I focus on high-quality proven equipment and training methodologies.  This helps drive efficiency in my training and approach to the sport.

This focus also requires that I am efficient with my training.  Each workout has a specific purpose and is planned out in every detail.  Maybe too much but I know when I have completed a training workout if I was on plan or not.  I don’t have a lot of junk miles.

 Patient with Development – long-term View

This may sound funny or ironic but I view triathlon as something I can do for the rest of my life.  Which is probably thirty plus years.  That gives me a great long-term view on continually improving.  I want to be efficient in developing my skills and technique but I am long-term as it relates to speed and endurance.  I’m not training for the next Olympics or a college scholarship.

I am working out and training for the sport and me not the mirror.  Over time that will take care of itself.  I’m not looking for a magic bullet but rather recognize expertise and am willing to listen to it, regardless of the provider’s age.  Most of them are younger than me anyways.

Summary

 I describe myself and other 50+year old triathletes I know as having child-like enthusiasm with adult checkbooks.  We’re good for the sport.

 

Triathlon Tuesday 5th Edition

Here is this week’s edition.

5 Ways For Beginner Triathletes to Get Faster – From the Trainingpeaks.com blog.  As a beginning triathlete I found these practical tips useful.  I will be reviewing these tips as I go through my year in review and plan for next year.

Nautica Malibu Triathlon - All of my races have been in Ohio.  I decided to pick an A race that was completely different.  This will allow me to race with my older boys and completely get out of my comfort zone.  Open water ocean swim sure isn’t the state park!  Are you getting out of your comfort zone?

Kinetic Cyclone Trainer -  Here in the Midwest it is tough to ride outside year-round.  I rely on this wind resistance trainer for early morning and poor weather rides.  I can quickly put my bike on and off and is extremely stable. It does not have a power meter or electronic resistance adjustment.

 

 

Stages Power Meter – I just installed this power meter on my Cervelo and I’m enjoying the data.  I will have a detailed review later on this power meter but for less than $600 this single side meter is working for me.  The power and cadence data has been helpful for me as I train for my last race of 2016.

Triathlon Tuesday 4th Edition

This week’s installment is all wet.  This is the gear I use both in the pool and open water.

Blueseventy Men's Reaction Sleeveless Wetsuit – In the Midwest most races through June are wetsuit legal.  I picked up the wetsuit from our team’s sponsoring store Up and Running.  At tip – look for a local wetsuit day.  This is a great opportunity to try it in the water before you buy it.

TYR Special OPS 2.0 transition goggles - These goggles have polarized lenses that adjust to the sunlight.  They work equally well in the pool and open water.  I have settled on these to have one pair that I can dial in the fit.  I do carry two other pair just in case.

 TYR SPORT EBP Burner Fin – Fins are a critical tool for our swim workouts.  A must-have training tool.  This fin fits extremely well and is just the right length for my swim development.

TYR 2.0 Ultralite Snorkel – A quality swim snorkel that fits well around the head and is just all enough to function in the pool.  Another tool used weekly. Also comes with two air restrictors; although I rarely use them.

Speedo Team Pull Buoy – This tool allows you to focus on your stroke, and body tautness.  We use the swim buoy a lot during warmups.  Typically used with swim paddles.

TYR Catalyst Contour Training Paddles I use these along with the pull buoy to focus on stroke form while stabilizing my lower body and eliminating the kick.

Finis Kick Board – Any kickboard will work.  This is the one I chose.  Workhorse for working on your kick and elevating your heart rate during warm-ups.

Equinox Nylon Mesh Stuff Sack 23 x 36 – This bag is big enough to carry all my gear to the gym or lake.  The mesh is critical to allow my gear to air dry.  Tip – buy bigger than you think you need. 

6 Factors I used to Select my Triathlon Bike

I am new to triathlon and getting into the sport past 50 has been interesting.  I started out this year in the sport with the road bike I used back in the ‘90’s a Miyata 914.  A sold bike with Shimano Ultegra 600.  I did my first two sprint distance races with the normal setup and then added Redshift aerobars for the last sprint race.  

I am really enjoyed triathlon so I set out to upgrade my bike. I noticed that this time of year (July) bikes started to go on sale.  I suspect the dealers are moving out inventory so that new models can come in.  Looks like middle to late summer (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) is the time to buy a new bike. 

Here is how I went from my Miyata 914 to a new Cervelo P2.

Set a budget and Timing

New bikes can quickly get up into the $5,000+ range.  I set my budget at $3,000.  I felt $3,000 would get me a bike I wouldn’t outgrow or outperform. I don’t make my living at triathlon, other than a few tee shirts I’ll earn $0 dollars off my racing.  However, at 53 I wanted this to be close to the last bike I needed.  I wanted to spend enough that I wouldn’t “run out of bike”. 

I am a firm believer in “the cheap man pays twice”.  If you try and go too cheap you end up having to buy again quickly and if you saved a little more money and combined that with what you spent on the cheap bike you would have a great bike and would probably have spent much less in the end.

Decision - $3,000 budget.

Road Bike vs. Triathlon Bike

I have a road bike that works and I can use on group rides and poor weather training. Essentially I already have a functioning road bike. I do not plan on doing any road racing so I have no need to upgrade my road bike at this time. Training on the old heavier road bike would help with my strength and endurance.

The big difference between a road and triathlon / Time trial bike is the frame geometry.  What does that mean?  With a triathlon bike you are positioned more forward over the bottom bracket than on a road bike.  This allows you to get in the aero position more comfortably.  A triathlon bike is designed to be ridden in the aero position while a road bike is designed to be ridden in various positions. 

My focus is on triathlons and I wanted the right tool for the right job. 

Decision - dedicated triathlon bike.

Frame vs. Components

As you would expect, as you move up within a Company’s component line the price of the bike goes up.  You typically can get the same frame built out with different component groups. A bike with Shimano 105 is less expensive than Ultegra…than Dura Ace.

When I purchased my road bike from International Bike Shop in Bellbrook Ohio, in 1990 (it is still a thriving store) I’ll never forget the advice the owner gave me. He said you should always buy the best frame you can afford because you can upgrade the components later. I upgraded the group set, the wheels, handlebars, pedals, basically everything on the Miyata. 

On my new bike I wanted something with Shimano components.  I didn’t need Dura Ace right off the bat, but wanted Shimano.  Also within the Shimano line essentially everything is compatible outside of the electronic shifting, so you can upgrade individual components through their line from 105 – Ultegra – Dura Ace.

What you get when you go up within a company’s component line is reduced weight and some improved quality.  I can lose pounds off the “engine” for free or loose ounces off the bike for $’s.  I’m on the free weight reduction plan right now.

From a frame perspective I wanted carbon fiber.  I believe all the major triathlon bikes are carbon these days.  The combination of being light and strong is key.

Decision – Buy the best quality frame I could afford with Shimano 105 components.

Research

First thing I did was see what bikes friends I trained with were using.  I found this extremely valuable as you generally get insight into their thought process for a typical age-grouper.  Just keep in mind to have a bit of skepticism as people will not want to admit they made a bad decision. This was extremely helpful. 

Then I did the typical searches:

  • Best triathlon / time trial bikes under $3,000, best triathlon frames, reviews each major brand.  Typically, I saw the Cervelo brand on the lists.
  • I looked at consumer rankings for brands.  I typically saw Cervelo towards the top. 
  • I also searched for what brands had the most complaints or issues.  Although I wanted to be careful with this as typically people are more apt to complain when they aren’t happy vs. Posting when they are happy.
  • I didn’t care too much about what the pros were riding.  They have sponsors I don’t. Which means they get free bikes I don’t.

At this point the typical names you recognize came to top of the list; Felt, Cervelo, Diamondback, Quintana Roo.

With those manufacturers I don’t think you can get a bad bike. The quality, workmanship and service behind these bikes is there. 

Local Dealers

You can buy a bike on-line.  However, I want a local dealer that knows the bike, has a relationship with the brand and can service and answer questions for me.  After talking with my training friends, researching on-line for quality and customer views / reviews I then researched what brands were available locally.   In the Middle Ohio that included Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus. 

This helped narrow down my selection a bit.  Cervelo was a brand well represented in the region.

One thing I also did was search my company’s discount website to see if there were any bike discounts.  This is something to not overlook as companies are always trying to find ways to improve their employees’ health (read- reduce health care costs) and cycling sure does that.  My company actually offered a Diamondback discount through an on-line portal.

Fit and Feel

The most important aspect for me was fit and feel.  I knew any current triathlon bike I got on was going to feel so much better than my twenty-six-year-old road bike.

Proper fit is critical on a triathlon bike.  On a road bike you have a variety of contact points with the bike; you can ride in the drops, on the brake hoods, on the upper bars.  All these positions change how you are positioned on the bike and affect how the bike is fitted to you.

On a triathlon bike you essentially have 2 contact points with the bike.  In the horns and in the aerobar position.  This makes fit critical as you need to be comfortable in the aerobar position.  This allows you to dial in fit as you know what position you will be riding in. 

With locally supported bikes identified, and the dealers I went into the shop for a test ride and to discuss the individual brands.  For me that was a trip up to Logik on their anniversary sale weekend.

I discussed the various bikes they carried including Felt, Cervelo.  I rode the Cervelo and Felt.  I really felt great on the Cervelo. 

In discussing the Cervelo with the guys there I understood that the P2 and P3 were the same frame.  The P3 has an upgraded fork and cockpit.  The rest was identical.  This came at a $1,000 price difference.

I discussed sizing and fit with the guys and settled on the 56 cm bike. 

Conclusion

I decided on a budget, did my research both in person and on-line and finally rode the bikes that fit my budget.  Key – Don’t ride a $5,000 bike when you have a $3,000 budget!!!

In the end I am happy with my black and white Cervelo P2 with Shimano 105 group on it.

 

Triathlon Tuesday 3rd Edition

This week’s triathlon gear and training and goodies.

Yoga for Triathletes by Jennifer Alexander CD - Great warm down yoga routine for after workouts.  Really focusses on the lower back and legs. Awesome way to cool down and stretch out.  She also has a full one-hour yoga routine on the CD.  Well worth the $25.  I use this regularly to try and keep my lower body flexible.

Trainingpeaks.com – This is the go-to triathlon and endurance sport training log.  I have my Garmin account automatically linked to my trainingpeaks.com account so that everything is synced up.  They offer syncing for numerous devices.

If you have a coach, you can log your coach in and they can review your workout data.  

StretchRite Stretching Strap -This strap sits in my home office and I use it daily.  A quick way to easily stretch your hamstrings.  As someone over 50 I am focused on, and spend a lot of time, stretching out and trying to stay flexible.  This is a key tool I use daily.

The One-Hour Bike and Run Race Preparation Workout from Triathlete and coach Mike Ricci, owner of D3 Multisport  -This workout is designed for the Sprint or Olympic distance triathlete that wants a focused time efficient workout.  Mike gets you through a great bike and run workout in an hour. 

Thule 9029XT Hitch Mounted Four-Bike Rack -This hitch mounted rack comes in a four and two bike option.  I have the four bike option.  This is a heavy, solid rack that includes sway straps, folding arms and the ability to fold the rack down to allow access to the back of your vehicle.  This rack also installs with one bolt which although extremely secure, allows for removal in less than a minute.  

 

Triathlon Tuesday 2nd Edition

Here are Four Triathlon books on my shelf that I find invaluable as I start out in my triathlon hobby:

1. The Well Built Triathlete by Matt Dixon

Matt’s book focusing on training.  He builds on his training philosophy of four equal pillars of Training, Recovery, Nutrition and Strength.  He has specific training plans and approaches for each pillar.

2. The Triathlete’s Training Bible 3rd Edition Joe Friel

This book is the bible of triathlon and should be on everyone’s bookshelf.  Joe’s book is a comprehensive reference guide on everything you need to know about triathlon including, gear, training approaches, execution form for the swim bike and run, and nutrition.  If you were going to only buy one book I would recommend this one.  Joe is also the founder of trainingpeaks.com

3. Triathlon Training Fundamentals: A Beginner's Guide To Essential Gear, Nutrition, And Training Schedules by Will Peveler, PhD

This book is for the true beginner.  It starts with all the basic information you need to get started successfully. Will breaks down the swim, run and bike along with all the gear and training philosophies.  

4. Triathlon 2.0 Data-Driven Performance Training by Jim Vance

Jim worked closely with Joe Friel during his competitive triathlon career and is now a coach.  Joe’s book focuses on gathering and interpreting all the data we capture during our training.  He distills all this data down to actionable information that allows you to personalize your training.T

Training Article  Strength Training Article The One Hour Workout for Speed and Power - I find that dedicated, focused time for strength training is hard when you are spending so much time training the run, cycle and swim.  Dedicated strength training is critical and here is a one-hour session I found that really pushes me.

The Garmin 920XT is the training watch I use.  This watch handles anything a triathlete can throw at it both in and out of the water.  Here is a post on some unique features of the 920XT you may not be aware of. The accessories I have:

  1. Heart Rate Monitor (included)
  2. Triathlon Heart Rate Monitor – gathers heart rate in the water and then transfers when out of the water.  It does not provide real time heart rate monitoring. 
  3. Quarter Turn Bike Mount Used to mount the computer without the strap onto a bike mount.  I sue this on top of my between the arms water bottle mount.  You don't need this for the bicycle mount kit below. 
  4. Quick Release Mounting Kit
  5. Bike Speed Sensor and Cadence Sensor  - This is needed if you want to use your bike on a trainer and want to track speed, distance and cadence.
  6. Garmin Forerunner Bicycle Mount Kit  Allows you to mount your watch, with strap, to your bike. 

Foam Roller Recovery Tools – I use two different foam rollers for recovery.  One is the smooth 36-inch roller and the other is the intense 12 inch rumble roller that really gives a deep message.  Foam rolling really help loosen my legs and back.  I foam roll regularly.  Here is a post I wrote on foam rolling.

Triathlon Tuesday 1st Edition

I am a beginner triathlete so I spend a lot of time researching, learning and training. I benefit from all work others have done sharing lessons learned, product reviews and resources.  There’s a lot out there.

I am putting together a weekly summary of things I have discovered, experienced myself, bought etc. Every Tuesday I will publish a brief post on what I discovered, bought, experienced in the hopes of helping on you this triathlon journey. 

Here’s the first edition

1.  A book I just finished and really enjoyed Triathlon 2.0: Data-Driven Performance Training by Jim Vance

This book distills down all the training and racing data you collect allowing you to efficiently train and race.  A great resource to help design and specify a training and racing plan geared towards your strengths, weaknesses and goals.

 2. Tower 26-Be Race Ready Podcast   

Coach Gerry Rodrigues and pro triathlete Jim Lubinski host this regular podcast dedicated to open water swimming.  With regular 30 minute podcasts Gerry and Jim condense the key information and workouts you need to be successful in open water.  They help bridge the critical differences between pool and open water swimming.  Great information from a proven coach and pro triathlete.

3.  Zen and the Art of Triathlon Podcast

Brent Blankner hosts this podcast and as the ITunes summary says “A triathlete's view on training, racing, and living the multisport life. Listen in for insider tips, methods, dealing with family, injury, traveling, and racing.”  This is a long podcast from the perspective of the working age grouper as he goes about balancing training, racing, work and family.  Good practical information in the regular podcast.  Each podcast cast last 2+ hours, and typically have an interview.

4.  Fueling Mistakes Triathletes Make Article 

In triathlons your success usually comes down to training and fueling. I found I was making a lot of fueling mistakes. This article describes four common fueling mistakes we have probably all made.  

 5. Beginning Running Tips Article

Running is the hardest of the three disciplines for me.  I raced road bikes right after college and did swim some in my youth.  As a beginner triathlete I am having the hardest time with the run.  Be it finding the time, avoiding injuries or enjoying it.  I found this article on beginner running tips interesting and helpful.

 

That's all for this week.  Enjoy

 

CIRCA Planner System Pilot

Background

I enjoy writing and adjusted my note taking to incorporate handwriting.  I seem to remember written material much better than typed items.  This is extremely important to me. 

The constraint of having to write, or even re-write in some cases, forces me to distill down and filter the critical from the nice to have items.  I have so much stuff in my life and wanted a way to reduce how much I took in and saved.  Handwritten capture of notes does that for me. 

Along with coffee cups, fountain pens are my other hobby, obsessions.  Hard to use my pens when I am typing everything.  I also enjoy great paper and wanted to figure out how to incorporate the written word into a digital process where necessary.  

Enter Circa

What Is It?

CIRCA is an entirely paper-based analog system from the Levenger Company.  The system uses disks to hold the cover, pages, and other inserts together.  These round disks allow the flexibility to add, remove, and move the pages and inserts around.  These disks are available in various sizes, colors and materials.  Numerous covers and accessories are also available.  The punches produce unique holes that work directly with the disks for retention.

What I like about the system is the ease with which you can add or move pages around.  With the hole punch accessories, you can add any paper or pages you want to your notebook.  

Using the disks instead of a traditional ring system (think Franklin Covey) is that the overall thickness of your planner is thinner.  This is relative to the size of the disks you use and the number of pages and inserts you have in your planner.

How I use it? 

I have essentially a 4 notebooks set up in the US Letter size: 

 

1.    A Work Capture Notebook with a few reference sheets permanently included

2.   A Work Archive Notebook

3.   A Home Capture Notebook

4.   A Home Archive Notebook

The Work and Home Capture Notebooks

 These are my everyday capture pads.  These capture notebooks are comprehensive, complete places I can go for anything that I’ve captured.  Every meeting, thought, note and to do item is captured in these notebooks.  They are always open on my desk and I can quickly jot a note, draw out a diagram or capture a random thought. 

When I am away from home or my office I capture notes on my Midori traveler’s notebook that fits nicely in my back pocket.  Towards the end of the day I transfer all my notes from my Midori into my CIRCA or if it is as do to item directly into Nozbe my task management system.

This I also use two types of pages in the notebook – the Circa Full-Page Ruled Refill Sheets that I purchased a 300 pack of and the Freeleaf Note Pads hole punched.  I have three dividers in the notebooks although I haven't used all of them yet. 

As I don’t really travel with these notebooks they are holding up well and function well.  

Being able to add pages I am able to keep the Home Capture Notebook think which really makes writing easy.  Using either my Rotring 600 Mechanical Pencil or a TWSBI Diamond 580 fountain pen I can capture with ease. 

With the disks I can have the notebook open to a blank page and the cover is nicely folded under the notebook thus taking up the amount of desk space as a notepad.  

My Work Capture is a nicer covered set-up 

I have the Circa Dimensions Notebook, Letter size cover with the same paper.  I also have a few key reference sheets that I like to have always with me in the office so I have these under a WORK divider.  I also have a HOME divider as well to keep my work notes separate from any Home notes or thoughts I want to capture during the work day.  This notebook travels with me both around the office complex but also on trips.  It has held up extremely well although the cover does show scratches. 

The disks hold the pages in extremely well and adding new pages is easy.  I am not inserting and removing pages frequently so I haven’t experienced any paper fatigue in terms of the paper punches not holding.  I typically insert daily sheets for meetings or reference materials for the day and then only remove them when I archive my notes every two weeks into the Archive Notebook. 

My Work and Home Archive Notebooks

My archive notebooks all consist of the basic starter plastic cover with the black ¾ inch disks.  During this trial phase I wanted to see how I was going to like it and didn’t want to sink too much money into the system. 

After two weeks I physically archive my old home and work notes into these archive notebooks by date.  If I ever need to go back to something I have it right, there. 

Hole Punches 

I have two hole punches one at work and one that sits on my desk at home.  I have the single sheet Circa 1-2-3 Portable Punch at work.  This is a plastic, compact punch that can sit in my desk drawer.  This punches a single sheet of paper.  The precision of the punches is remarkable with the paper lining up extremely well with the factory-punched paper. 

 

This punch works by having 3 separate punches along the length of the paper and you insert the page and then push the three levers in succession.  I have found that you need to be diligent about holding the paper in the punch as you move through the punch progression to make sure the punches are cleaner and completely through.   This punch does tend to get clogged which makes aligning the next sheet difficult.

 This punch is adjustable to the paper size you are suiting.  This is a great compact single sheet punch. 

The Circa Universal Desk sits at home.  This punch is a multi-page page that can handle six pages.  This is a metal punch with a single punch mechanism similar to the traditional 3-hole punch tool.  This is also adjustable to the paper size.  This is bulky and I would not recommend this as something that can travel or move about.  More of a stationary punch.  IF you were going to punch your own paper to use in the system I would recommend this punch.  You get the benefit of multi-page punching along with the price of a mid range puncher.  There is a 15 sheet higher volume puncher that I would only get if you are in a group / office user citation and needed a more durable / higher volume punch. 

Overall

 I have about $120 into my system at this point.  The system is working for me.  The ability to have a nicer notebook cover for work, the ability to interchange pages, and the ability is key.  I enjoy the benefit of having all my notes together (archived) but also having the flexibility to even scan in a page or put it in a file if I want without having to tear a page out of a notebook is key for me. 

 The Levenger paper I find to be extremely high quality (specifics of the paper) and works well with fountain pens along with pencils and roller balls.  I had been using Levenger pads before so that was not a big change.  Also the ability to add pages as necessary is key for me.  The disks don’t seem as clunky as a 3-ring binder and presentable in the workplace. 

 Overall I would recommend the system and I will be continuing to use the set up into the future.  I would recommend you start with one of the starter packs.  That way you can try out the different sizes and the overall system.  Once you are set on the system and size then I would invest in a nicer cover, and some of the accessories.  I would also recommend you get the smallest size discs you think you can get away with.  They are fairly inexpensive and the number of pages each disk size can hold is deceiving.  I have more than enough capacity with ¾ inch disks I am using. 

 Enjoy and share your thoughts below.

 

 

What I Learned Leading Up to My First Triathlon

I just finished my first sprint triathlon and here is what I learned and did leading up to the starting gun.

 
 

Pre-race

Checklists

Eliminate the stress of forgetting something for your race by using checklists.  I have two main checklists:

  1. Packing List - everything I needed for the race day including pre-race fuel and clothes to wear home from the race.  I included 5 categories - General, Swim, Bike, Run and Recovery.  
  2. Race Focus List - key items I want to remember and focus on for the race.  These included the length of my warm-up, that I wanted to go hard on the bike right before the run.  This list will change race to race.  I also jotted a couple of notes right after the race for things to remember for my next race. 

Gear Bag

You need a gear bag.  It doesn’t have to be a new, Ironman branded bag, anything that you can comfortably fit your gear into and preferably with various pockets.  I like everything in its place.  I used an old cycling bag I have had for 20 years.  It worked great and was able to handle by helmet; two sets of shoes and everything except my wetsuit. 

I literally had my checklist and gear bag together and checked off each item as I packed it in the bag.  When the checklist was completed I knew the bag was complete and it went right into the car. 

I packed my bag race day minus 2 (day-2).  That way I had time to pick up any missing items.  I recommend that you don’t wait until the day before.  In most cases that is too late.

Day-1

With my bag packed and wetsuit in the car (assuming the race is wetsuit eligible) I am off to the race.  

I headed to the race venue and picked up my packet as early as possible.  Going the day before was key for me.  You won’t be time crunched to have to get through getting your packet, getting marked, setting up your transition area and allowing enough time for a good through warm-up.

Pre-Race Briefing

Getting there Day-1 allowed me to attend the pre-race briefing; which was extremely valuable for this being my first race.  The host shared a couple of tips that I used.  I highlight those below.

Drive the bike and run courses

I was able to drive the bike and run courses.  I noted the hills during the ride and identified areas where there was gravel around turns and other potholes to avoid.  Really gave me confidence I knew what was coming on the run and bike.

I studied the transition area and knew exactly how the flow for each transition worked.  Once again this eliminated more uncertainty. 

Walk down and view the swim course 

Understand what buoys are to your right, left where you turn etcetera. Easier to get that down on land rather than in the middle of race.  Walk the transition from the swim up to the transition area.  Any uneven ground, things to avoid?  You have a change to see that. 

After your Day-1 course review you have reduced some of the uncertainty and stress of the unknown.  Now you are ready for Race Morning.

Race Morning

First thing I did was to get marked and get your timing chip.  For this HFP race they don’t pass out the timing chips until race morning, along with body marking. Remember to place the chip on your LEFT Ankle, as this will ensure it doesn’t get tangled with your bike sprocket. 

For my first race the transition area was first come first serve.  I selected a spot that was right by a large flag.  This was key for me being able to see when your transition area is.  Remember it is easy to spot your bike coming off the swim, but when you are coming back for T2 after your bike you won’t have your bike as an indicator.  Find a large easily viewable landmark to place your transition area. 

Here are a couple of items I used during my first race

Garbage bag – it rained right up until 15 before the race started so I was able to get my gear set up for the transition and have it laid out inside the large garbage bag.  My stuff was organized and dry.  When nit stopped raining I was able to quickly get it out the bag and kept it dry. 

Chalk – If you can’t get next to a landmark for your transition bring some sidewalk chalk or duct tape to put a big mark on the ground signifying your transition area.   Your transition area is set, now its time to get the wetsuit on and head to the swim.  You can also use duct tape.

Warm Up

Key - Warm up more than you think

I didn’t warm up enough and suffered a little on the swim.  I learned that I needed to swim enough to feel tired which was the adrenaline burning off.  You this by getting fully submerged and do 30 seconds of slow swimming with 15 second bursts.  Getting your heart rate up is key and gives you a great warm-up.  The colder the water the longer the warm-up.  Cold water on your body and face during a race is a recipe for disaster and open water panic.  

You are ready, oh one more thing - 

Remember to Have Fun!

Get Your Kayaks Properly Stored with a Hoist Storage System

With three kayaks I needed a storage solution that got the kayaks out of the way and allowed easy access to the kayaks during the season.  My family and I go out almost every weekend so a storage system that was easy to get them in and out of was key.  The Sontax Kayak hoist system fit the bill for me.

Storage Basics

There are a variety of ways to store your kayak; some good some bad.  You can stand them up in the corner; you can put them on horizontal racks against the way, you can hang them from the ceiling, and you can even lay them on the floor. 

Within the kayak storage solution space there are commercial options and DIY options.  Both are fine it’s just how much time and skill you have, along with the characteristics of your space.  If you have a dedicated space just for your kayaks than maybe a simple rack system or even on the floor will work.

The location that I have for storing my kayaks is our detached garage and the kayaks will share the space with a vehicle, garden tools and other sports equipment.  This space is definitely not a fully dedicated kayak storage spot.

From researching how to store a kayak, I wanted something that supports the kayak at multiple points and keeps it from getting banged and knocked around.  Supporting the kayak at one pressure point can lead to potential warping and deformation. 

I also wanted something that would keep the off the floor and above head height. 

Kayak storage items to consider:

  1. Do you have a space dedicated to kayaks storage or will the space be shared?
  2. How many kayaks do you need to store?
  3. How often are you going to use your kayaks?
  4. Characteristics of your space (high ceilings, long wall space, etc.)
  5. Budget for storage system
  6. Do you want to build it yourself or purchase

I live in the Midwest so I will be using my boats a lot during April – October and then they will be stored during the winter.  I have a detached garage with high ceilings (10.5 ft.) that services as a multi-purpose room with a car, and other outdoor stuff.  The space gets a lot of traffic.

 I decided on a pulley / hoist system to store my three kayaks close to the ceiling and out of the way.  I needed the boats to be high enough so you could both walk and park a vehicle underneath.

Sontax_Kayak_Hoist.jpg

 I considered building my own pulley system until I saw the Sontax Kayak Hoist system at Menards for under $25.  My time is worth something and between my time and the coast of the materials purchasing a system was a no brainer for me.

The system’s general specifications include:

  • Rack, pulley system, mounting system, hardware, rope
  • Heavy-duty steel construction with a black powder-coat finish
  • Pulley system easily hoists goods up to 100 pounds to ceiling
  • Ceiling mount design keeps the goods up and out of the way, allowing room for vehicles to park under
  • Safe locking mechanism prevents accidental release
  • Capacity 100 LBs

 Installation

The hoist was easy to install.  By the third hoist it took me about 30 minutes from box to ceiling.  The hoist included everything I needed except for the length of 2x4 that I used.  This wood is optional but I would suggest it.

Installation points to consider:

  • Need to determine which way you will install considering the length of the kayak and the size of your space.
  • Need to determine which way your ceiling joists are running.
  • For multiple kayaks you need to measure the width of each boat and ensure that you install the hoists far enough apart.
  • Need to install these on the ceiling joists or a piece of 2x4 attached to the joints.  As you can see from my installation, I installed the individual brackets on a 2x4 and then secured the 2x4 to the ceiling.
  • Using another piece of wood allowed more flexibility in terms of how close the individual pulleys were.  I wanted to make sure than the kayak supports were not too close together but at a good to properly distributed the weight.  Mine are about 48  inches apart.  I have 11.5 foot sit-on-top kayaks.

Summary

As an active family we needed a storage system that would keep the kayaks safe, while allowing access on the weekly basis during the summer.  As an active baby boomer I needed a system that was easy to get the kayaks in and out of.  With two people this system is easy and you can lower the pulleys and get the kayak out and transferred to your vehicle or trailer.  The system needed to allow for the garage to remain multiple uses. 

The Sontax Kayak Hoist Storage System did just that.  I would highly recommend it.

 

Summer in London

I am fortunate enough that I get to travel internationally for work.  And that includes some pretty wonderful places, Sydney, Paris, London, Dubai.  When I can, I try and go in a day before my meetings start to get acclimated and to enjoy the city. 

In London I typically stay up around St. Paul's and captured this image on a trip last summer.  Not bad for an IPhone 5 image.

 

Book Review – Living with a Seal by Jesse Itzler

 
 

I recently read Living with a Navy Seal by Jesse Itzler

 The author, Jesse Itzler is the founder of Marquis Jets and husband of Sara Blakely the founder of Spanx.  I picked up this book after hearing Jess on Jeff Sanders’ The 5 AM Miracle podcast. A great podcast that I strongly recommend.

Book Summary

Jesse hires a Navy seal to live with him and his family for thirty-one days to transform his physical fitness but actually produces a greater transformation. Seal, as he is referred to in the book, has only one rule – Jesse must do everything he says; no exceptions.  This 251-page book reads like a diary with each chapter a chronological discussion of the thirty-one days Seal spent with Jesse and his family.

 Jesse actually includes the workouts that Seal puts him through and you can clearly follow his progression, however this isn’t a how to workout like a navy seal book.  Rather this book is a description of a deeper transformation.  Jesse is able to subtly describe and take you through the transformation day by day.  Like watching your kids grow you don’t actually notice the transformation as you laugh and admire the daily activities.

 My Takeaways

Respect

Respect what you do, where you are, and the environment you are in.  Seal really instilled this in Jesse by continuous demonstration.   Seal never complains or uses anything as an excuse.  He shows you that you can respect something but also not being intimidated or daunted by something.  Acknowledge whatever it is and then get after whatever you are there to do.

 Minimalism

I also took away how powerful and useful minimalism can be.  Seal came into Jesse’s home with a small backpack for the month, which was enough and didn’t interfere with what needed to be done or completed.  Seal made what he had irrelevant. It was all about execution.

Total Commitment

Until you totally commit you have no idea about your true capabilities. 

Seal described something called the 40% Rule.  This is Navy premise that once your mind says you should quit you are really only at 40% of your true physical limit.

 “If you want to be pushed to your limits, you have to train to your limits.” Seal

You don’t know your limits until you push and push and push.  This was demonstrated on day one when the Seal had Jesse complete 100 pull-ups.  And they stayed on the gym until they were done. Seal’s approach is the ultimate Getting Things Done approach.

 Great read and highly recommended

Space Shuttle Endeavour Is Huge

Space Shuttle Endeavour
In 2013 I visited Los Angeles and one of the highlights was seeing the Space Shuttle Endeavour in its temporary home.  Endeavour was built as a replacement for the Challenger shuttle. 

 

As I joined all the other guests in the Hall I wanted to try and capture something unique about the shuttle while isolating the huge machine from the people and exhibit.  I thought this image of the exhaust did just that.  What do you think?