Triathlon Packing List

Traveling to a triathlon means you're not packing light.  When we went to Boise a couple of weeks ago, we packed as lightly as possible... meaning the only luggage we had was our bike boxes.  Still a lot for basically 2.5 days - but remember those "suitcases" have bikes in them!

Our bikes, race gear and weekend stuff, all packed up.

As we are frequent travellers, I keep an Excel spreadsheet of my packing list so it merely has to be updated with the specifics for each trip (yes, I realize I may have just outed myself as a nerd...).  Because Boise was a quick trip and only a half-ironman distance (lots of gear still needed, but not quite as much as a full IM, mainly in terms of nutrition, etc.), we took the minimum amount of stuff with us.  Here's what I brought for that weekend.  We fit it all inside our bike boxes, which makes travel pretty easy.

Triathlon Gear:
- tri top
- tri shorts
- goggles (x2 - always bring an extra pair just in case)
- throwaway socks (an old pair to keep feet warm pre-race)
- wetsuit
- body glide
- Garmin and charging cable
- floor pump
- small towel for transition
- 4 bottles (one pre-race, two bike, one run)
- aero helmet
- sunglasses
- cycling shoes
- CO2 inflator, spare tube etc.
- running socks
- running shoes
- GOTRIbal visor
- number belt
- KT tape
- sunscreen
- vasline
- extra stuff like safety pins, zap straps, electrical tape
- nutrition: Gu, Carbopro, Vega, etc.

Other Gear needed for Pre- & Post-Race Workouts:
- bike shorts X2
- jerseys X2 (can do short pre-race run in my bike stuff)
- swimsuit
- swim cap
- road ID

Personal Items
- pants, t-shirt, light jacket to wear on the plane
- sundress
- flip flops
- toiletries
- pjs

Carry-on Stuff
- wallet
- phone
- sunglasses
- passport
- travel info/documents
- iPad
- earplugs

That's it!  Yeah, it does seem like a lot, but actually we packed really lightly for traveling to a race.  In a few weeks we are going on vacation with our bikes, and flying, so in addition to the bike boxes we'll each have a suitcase as the lists of other gear and personal items are A LOT longer.  Maybe we can condense into two bike boxes and one suitcase... we're bringing road bikes so there should be a bit more room in the bike cases.

Happy travels!


No runs for a week
My knee doesn’t hurt that much
Time to run again

Short Mountain Bike Ride

It was a nice night for a mountain bike ride.  

Casual observer as we were riding up.

Sometimes the hardest part is just getting to the trails.

Quiet evening with lots of trails to ourselves.

Boise 70.3 Race Report

I've been putting off writing this up, as I was trying to think of a catchy title that summarized the race.  So far I've come up with:

Blowing in the Wind
Thar She Blows
The Wind in my Hair

and then I thought the title really should be 

Blow Me.

One of the reasons we chose Boise was the noon start.  We thought it would be fantastic to not have to get up at "dark-thirty" and rush to a race start in a half-asleep state.  Indeed, it was a pretty relaxing morning, perhaps a bit too relaxing as I was almost napping in the sun before my wave start.  We had a regular breakfast, went downtown to check in our run gear, and waited around for our shuttle bus to the race start.  It was hot and getting hotter, and windy and getting windier.  By the time we got up to the race start area, it was pretty dang windy; one may say downright blustery.

We didn't have much set-up to do in transition, as all of your gear has to be in a bag hanging from your bike.  It took me about 2 seconds to set that up, and then began a lot of waiting around.  In the heat, with basically 1000 people crammed under 3 10x10 tents for a bit of shade.  It was already over 30 degrees C and the race hadn't started.  Let me tell you how excited I was to pull on my wetsuit in that heat.  One smart move I made was to bring a pair of socks to throw away at the start.  I do this normally because the damp grass in the early morning makes my feet cold (what a princess), but it saved me as we spent a long time standing on really hot blacktop with many people complaining of the bottom of their feet burning.  Yay, me!

My wave hit the water at 12:15 (Jason and our friend Joel would follow half an hour later).  The water was cold, but it felt good after sweating in the heat in my wetsuit.  I figured I'd have a good swim as I've really put the time and effort in the pool this year.  I started right on the start line, and when the horn sounded there were only 2 girls ahead of me.  I hung on to the feet of the second one for almost the whole swim.  We were getting bashed around by the chop and white water, pushed off course by the wind, having to swim our way through really slow swimmers in the waves ahead of us, and basically it felt like we were swimming forever.  My goal time was 32:something minutes, and I was kind of bummed when my Garmin said 35:something when I got out of the water.  And - weird that the timing mat was way up the boat ramp after the wetsuit strippers, so my official swim time was 36:20, but I was totally pumped that I was 3rd in my age group.  The best I'd done before that was 9th, so although my time didn't show an improvement, my placing did.

I also didn't feel too bad when Jason and Joel were also about 3 minutes slower in the swim.  Joel normally swims sub-25 in a half (yeah - he's that fast!) and was over 28... tough conditions slowed us all down.

Out onto the bike course, and I was looking forward to the first few kms as they are straight downhill.  But the winds were so strong that I had to death-grip the bars, and even still got the speed wobbles a few times from being pushed around by the gusts.  That basically set the stage for the bike... so windy and it was all I could do to hang on.  I tried to stay aero as much as possible, as the winds were either right in my face or to the side for probably three-quarters of the course.  It really sucked.  Or I guess it really blowed.  Ha ha.

Trying to stay relaxed and aero.

The winds just kept seeming to pick up.  It was hot, but I was managing the heat ok by pouring water on my back every time I went through an aid station.  I didn't really feel like the heat was getting to me, but the wind was.  It was almost impossible to drink or eat, as the winds were so gusty that there were rarely opportunities to take a hand off the bars.  I knew I was really thirsty and the wind was drying me out, not to mention the dry midwest air that this coastal girl is not used to!  I tried to drink a whole bottle each time I got the chance, but really had the feeling I wasn't drinking enough.  I also knew my effort was waaaaayy higher than it should have been on the course, but those were the conditions we had to deal with.

A long climb before halfway.

At around the half-way mark, Jason passed me and said "Tough conditions Alison, hang in there!"  Just knowing he felt it was tough made me feel better.  I continued wrestling my bike against the gusts, and just kept turning the pedals.  Joel passed me about a half hour later, and it seemed from that point on there was a headwind no matter which direction we were heading.  It took forever to get back to town... and I wondered if I had anything left.

I pulled into transition in 3:09 for my bike split.  I was really hoping to ride under 3 hours, and feel like in better conditions I could definitely ride in the low 2:50's on that course.  I didn't really care about the time anymore, I was so shelled from the wind.  But - I was in 8th place in my age group, which is the best ever I've done coming off the bike.

I sat on the grass in T2 for awhile, wondering if I actually had the energy to go out onto the run course.  However, my desire not to quit was stronger... so I told myself to walk through transition and completely finish the bottle of Vega in my gear bag and get going at that point.  The run was actually quite pretty, two loops through a park around a river.  There was a lot of support at the aid stations, so mentally I just told myself to get to the next aid station, stop, and drink and eat.

It was really hot by late afternoon, but I kept dumping ice in my top and I never felt like the heat was a huge factor for me.  I just burned way too many matches on the bike, and didn't have enough in the tank for any sort of decent run.  Plus, I have been having some trouble with a recurring knee problem lately, and my knee decided after about 15 km that it didn't want to run anymore.

Everyone was completely shelled on that run course.  The last 5 km were like an Ironman death march. Usually runners back in my area chat with each other, run together, encourage everyone... not that day. Not a word was being said to anyone, and we were all just trying to get to the finish.  It couldn't come soon enough.  And it didn't, I posted my slowest "run" time ever in a half, but I didn't care.  Somehow I ended up 20th in my age group which I was pretty surprised with.  There were a lot of pretty slow bike times, and I think people used up so much energy on the bike, that there weren't a lot of good run splits.  Even the pros ran a few minutes slower (hey, it's all relative) than usual.

Happy to be done is kind
of an understatement.

Of course, Jason absolutely dominated his age group.  He went hoping to qualify for the Vegas World Championships, and he did that by taking his age group win by 14 minutes.  And a bonus of having him be so fast is that he had my bike and gear checked out by the time I'd finished, so I didn't have to do any of that.  Which was good, as I was out of it!  My head felt like I'd just raced an Ironman (at least my body didn't feel that bad).

My overall thoughts on the race: I doubt we'll be back, despite the super-friendly people and a course I would really like under different conditions.  I thought I would love the noon start since I like to sleep in, but honestly I didn't at all.  There was too much waiting around, and too much time for the wind and heat to pick up.  By the time the race started, I wanted to have lunch and a nap.  Had the race started at 7 a.m. like most 70.3's, we would have been off the bike course before it was too bad.  Plus, once you finish, chill out for a while, get back to your hotel, and then go for dinner, it was after 10 by the time we'd eaten.  Way too late!  With so many races to choose from, I'm glad we tried this one but it will go down to one-and-done.  Boise 70.3, you can blow me.

It's Never Dull Around Here

We were scheduled to fly to Boise on Friday morning at 6am. Thursday evening I was at our school's annual athletic awards banquet and got a text message from Alaska Air saying our flight from Victoria to Seattle was cancelled because of a mechanical problem, so we had to reschedule the whole trip as we wouldn't be able to make our connection to Boise anymore. Nothing like a little drama to start the weekend - it's never dull around here!

I got Jason to call and rebook us, and the next best we could do was leave Victoria at 830, wait several hours in Seattle and finally get in to Boise at 3pm. Not exactly what I would call optimal when we're racing the next day, but it looked like the only option. Sometimes the drawback of living on an island is dealing with stuff like that. It's never dull around here!

Friday morning our flight got into Seattle a bit ahead of schedule and we got through customs pretty quickly. I thought we had a hope of making the 10am connection to Boise even though we had less than half an hour at that point. I convinced an agent at the customs area that we could make it and she agreed to rebook us (even though we still had to clear security again and get to the other side of the airport), and the customs baggage handler offered to speed our bike bags through the TSA check and get them over to the connecting flight. It took FOREVER to get through security as a big 747 from Japan was just getting through customs as well, and then we had to sprint from one end of seatac to the other and just made the flight. We wondered if our bikes had made it, and just as we were walking from the tarmac up the stairs onto the plane, the baggage handler from customs drove over and gave us the big thumbs up! We ended up getting into Boise just after noon, a couple hours after our original cancelled flight, but way better than 3 that afternoon. It's never dull around here!

Once in Boise, we headed to the convention centre to pick up our race packages, then down the street to the new Whole Foods to grab some food. We checked into our hotel and built the bikes up, and then drove up to Lucky Peak Reservoir for a short ride and check in our bikes for the next day. During our ride we stopped on the side of the road for Jason to do a quick adjustment to his derailleur, and it was so hot while we were standing there that the pavement was melting underneath us. We ended up with tar on our tires from the melted asphalt - a bit of foreshadowing for the next day's weather (more to come on race day later). We checked in our bikes, went for a short run, then back to the hotel, pack our gear bags for the next day and go for dinner. By the time we got everything done it was almost 10pm and we were exhausted! It's never dull around here!




I have a knee injury that's been pretty chronic over the years, and I have to stay on top of it with body work and other treatments.  If I don't treat it right, it doesn't treat me right.  It's definitely been cranky lately, so I've been trying to appease my knee with substituting some running workouts with water running, using KT Tape, making sure I'm using the foam roller, and upping the ART & Graston done by my chiropractor, massage, and IMS done by my physiotherapist.

My physiotherapist, Wendy Bowen (Startline Physiotherapy) is an amazing practitioner.  She's been able to cobble me back together over the years after some serious trauma, and always seems to be able to work me in to her packed schedule.  IMS (Intramuscular Stimulation) is a pretty interesting treatment.    It uses needles to stimulate individual muscle fibers that have become shortened due to trauma, overuse, or other underlying conditions.  The great thing with IMS is that relief is pretty instant.  Yeah, it's a needle, but it's not particularly painful (there is an acute sensation when the muscle releases though).  I am always amazed at the feeling when a particular muscle fiber releases - you can actually feel how specific the treatment is.  

Getting IMS in my hamstring.

My knee only has to make it another week until Boise 70.3, and then my running will take a bit of a supporting role as in July I have some big cycling events.  One last IMS session on Wednesday, and I'll be ready!