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3M Marathon: an Itemized List

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3M Marathon: an Itemized List

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This is by far the most epic swag bag imaginable. I haven't even raced yet and already ready to sign up for 2015, just so I can get my yearly allowance of crafting and DIY supplies. Maybe it plays to my appreciation for the practical but it doesn't get better than this: photo (1)

Itemized List of the 2014 3M Half-Marathon Swag Bag:

  1. One race bib, guaranteed entry into the 3M half-marathon. (I'm #1628 but don't waste your time tracking what's essentially going to be a training progress check-in run).
  2. One "Run Fast" tech tee, medium, navy blue. Women's specific sizing so looks like it will fit a 12-year-old child. My "get to race weight" assault continues...
  3.  One roll of "game play"-themed duct tape, with hangman, tic-tac-toe and other fun doodles.
  4. Two rolls of Super 88 Vinyl Electrical Tape, heavy-duty grade.
  5. One roll of Scotch gloss-finish MultiTask Tape.
  6. One Futuro Wrist Sleep Support Wrist Brace.
  7. One tube of General Purpose Scotch Super Glue
  8. One package of 60-count Nexcare Active Extra Cushion bandages.
  9. One Scotch Pop-Up Refillable Tape Dispenser
  10. One mini paper desk calendar
  11. One package of neon-colored Post It Notes, Super Sticky
  12. Five sheets of Wet or Dry Sandpaper
  13. One roll of 2 Layer Compression System padding (whatever that is)
  14. One pair of Virtua AP Anti-fog Lens protective eyewear
  15. One container of Avagard Instant Hand Anti-septic
  16. Two packages of Nexcare Bandaids
  17. One set of TaperFit2 earplugs
  18. One ScotchBrite Lint Roller
  19. One 3M Marathon coaster of some sort
  20. One Texas-Shaped, 3M Half Marathon-branded Post-it Pad
  21. One Mini Towel that will get great use as a bike rag
  22. One Save the Date Magnet for next year's race... that I will definitely be keeping so I can sign up for this race next year.

*Should note: no affiliation with 3M or the race, other than a long-time love for colorful Post-It notes and DuctTape.

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Dear Santa... 2013 Triathlete Gift Guide

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Dear Santa... 2013 Triathlete Gift Guide

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Confession: with only about a week to go, I've yet to finish my Christmas shopping. Sigh, not enough hours in the day... For all you procrastinators like me, here are some of my favorite gift ideas for your little triathlete or runner. Basically it includes all the great stuff I had to distract myself from when trying to find gifts for all my non-triathlete family. Take a look, hopefully you find something for that special someone on your list! (of, if you're like me when it comes to Christmas shopping: "one present for mom, one for me!, one present for dad, one for me!" hahaha - just kidding, sort of.)

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For your Pool Rat (or aspiring Pool Rat): BlueSeventy Swimsuits

available at BlueSeventy.com

I know a lot of us are already set with gear (if not, the Helix and PZ3TX are good make-em-love-you-forever options—long-term investments there), but every triathlete could always use a new swimsuit. I've worn my favorites to death this season and, I mean, if they're good enough for two world champs AND 50% off with the code "trainfast50" through the end of the year... I went ahead and ordered the energy stripe suit (shown below on Leanda) in purple for myself.

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For your City Rider or Commuter: Zackees Turn Signal Gloves

pre-order available on Kickstarter

I know nothing about these other than they look pretty cool and I wish I was better at being seen while riding. I don't commute much but when I did while living in DC and in Philly, I would have loved these to be clearer to drivers about my next moves. As I know all too well, better safe than sorry!

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For your Diva: SmashFest Queen

available at SmashFestQueen.com

I picked up the all-pink Kona Berry in Hawaii back in October but secretly wishing I had held out for the Carbon Flyer kit. Love love love the pink accents on the down-to-business gray and black. I love how my Kona Berry fits and am currently eying the cycling top to go with my tri-kit. Also some great arm- and knee-warmers that go great with the overall look.

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For your Race Addict: Rev3 All Access Pass

Available at Rev3Tri.com or Active

...or if you have friends all over the country - split those races up! This is especially great if you're a long-distance triathlete who lives in the NorthEast. Do the math: you can pay $1,200 for two measly Ironman races or $1,200 to race as many Rev3s as you want. The crazy part is that Rev3 not only allows you to go in on this deal with a friend—they actually encourage it!

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For your Butter Fingers: Life Proof

Available at Lifeproof.com

It's water-resistant and great to protect your phone when slipping into a sweaty jersey back-pocket—just be warned it muffles calls... like, a lot. I loved it for training, whether on the bike or on the pool deck, but my mom complained that she couldn't hear me every time I called. I ended up using it only when I was training... which meant on the way out the door to race Kona that morning, of course I dropped my phone, sans case, while trying to lock the condo door and totally shattered my screen. Whoops!

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If you want the daughter/wife/hubbie of the year award: Normatec!

available online at Normatec

Last year my brother and I joined forces to give my mom a pair of Normatec boots. She had tried on mine and fell in love with them—she has some leg problems that keep her from going back to complete her second half-marathon. She seriously raves to me about them every time we talk on the phone and in Kona she bought the compression for the hips... which I have not yet tried but am excited to over Christmas! There's also free shipping through the end of the year so get on it!

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For your Workout Partner who likes to hit the town: SmashFest Meredith Dress

available at SmashFestQueen.com

Yes, yes - another SmashFest Queen design.... another little number I picked up in Kona from Hillary and Michele's Booth (and Anabel looks pretty fine modeling it here, if I do say so myself!) It's been cold here in Austin the past few months so I've only worn it around the apartment but I have a feeling it's going to be my go-to summer dress in 2014, whether just hitting the town in Austin or doing a deck-change post-swim or post-race. No need for anything else in your bag, the straps are supportive and the material is nice and lightweight (no wrinkles!) that you don't have to look like a bum after hitting it hard. I'm predicting right now that this is going to be the podium dress of 2014.

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For Your Practical Health Nut

available at Vitamix.com

My parents gave me this for Christmas last year... and I am HOOKED. I now make almost-daily smoothies, the occasional soup and have started to make my own nut butters. Oh, and during the off-season, you can make a mean all-fruit margarita in it :)

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If you loathe the word "Saddle Sore": Pearl Izumi shorts

Available at PI.com

I wouldn't know but I could imagine the worst word a triathlete could say to their non-triathlon significant other is "saddle sore". Once I went PI, I never went back. I love their shoes, their tri-tops, but most of all I love their shorts. In fact, I'm kind of biased where the only shorts I'll actually let myself wear are Pearl Izumi, SmashFest and Soas.... all others generally just mean trouble. In particular, I love my long cycle pants for the chillier days in Austin—though rare, they feel exceptionally warm and luxurious—a great investment for your cycling partner (.... or for yourself)!

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If you are on a team, in a sorority, or love the thought of being matchy-match: SPLISH!

Custom-designed suits at Splish

I didn't know this existed a few months prior but am now OBSESSED. You can literally design any suit you want using their custom color- and text-builder and it takes no longer than any standard suit from a retailer. Julie built these for TeamHPB at Kona, we all ordered one and I love love love my suit. Already I'm thinking about what I want to custom-design next :)

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Just a little something special—shades (tri-specific) - Rudy Project

Available online at Rudy Project

I LOVE these! I previously had some Oakleys that were solid but blown away with the new Rudy Projects that I now rock on all of my rides and runs. Compared to most athletic shades for the ladies, I don't feel like a cyclops and don't notice them at all when working out—which is exactly how I like it!

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Just a little something special—shades (everyday) - Oakley

Available at Oakley

I lost my new favorite pair of "around-town" shades in San Francisco last month and promptly ordered a replacement—I love them that much. Definitely an '80s throwback but the lenses are semi-reflective meaning you can't see through them and light-weight and easy breesy for a super casual look. Here I'm wearing them after my release from a two-day stint in the ICU... they help hide the lack of make-up and giant bags and swollen eyes from 30-hours of IVs and post-Ironman water retention...

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For your Data Nerd: Basis Watch

Available online at My Basis

If your Christmas someone is at all into the Quantified Self movement, this is the perfect gift for them! After my Kona collapse, I figured I needed to be smarter about monitoring my heart rate, sweat and body temp so bought myself the Basis. It is amazing when it comes to tracking steps, HR and sleep times but falls short when it comes to live sweat and temp data. Basically, you can only see it after you connect your watch bluetooth to your smartphone. That being said, it is really cool and good to keep track of and motivating to see what you are doing outside of your normal swim/bike/run times. Basically it told me I sit on my rear all day when training—which is why I now make special trips to the break room to keep myself moving even during the day.

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That 10% of your time when you're not SBR-ing: "Mighty Clutch"

Available at Waiting on Martha

The clutch that charges your phone. I repeat, the clutch that charges your phone. How cool! An a-mah-zing invention if you ever make it out of your Normatecs and onto the town.

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For an easy stocking stuffer: Ombre Bobby Pins

Available at Sephora

Yeah... not really triathlon related but certainly cute and would do the trick at pinning those layers back on race day!

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If you're a Cheapskate: cut-up left-overs from a flat tire

The best thing money can't buy is a faster swim split. The best gift I ever received was from my coach: a small cut-up piece of rubber bike tub cut and tied into a circle. Lots of band-only work and I've gone from a 35-minute half swimmer to 30-minutes. One of the best things that's ever happened to me...

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That's about it! The only other things I would recommend would be a Netflix subscription for your triathlete who spends a lot of time stuck inside on the trainer or a Spotify subscription for your runner who absolutely needs their music on their iPod while running around town.

Hope this helps, let me know if I missed any must-haves heading into 2014!

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Nabbing My Craiglist Bike Thief

As I was sitting here thinking that 2013 has been a weird pendulum of pretty awesome things and pretty sucky things, I realized I never told the story about how I got my stolen bike back. Back in June, I had finally gotten around to bringing my bike to local shop Jack and Adams to take my Quarq off my old wrecked Felt B14 frame to swap it onto my new Quintana Roo. I was post-workout sweaty when I picked up both bikes so I pulled my nice bike into my apartment (which overlooks where my car is parked) and locked my old wrecked bike to the bike rack on the back of my car to take a quick shower.

When I came back out... there was nothing left but a cut lock. Shoot. Should have used a U-Lock... that was totally my fault but didn't expect to have a bike nabbed in a decent neighborhood from right under my window at dusk.

After a minor freak out, I immediately contacted the Austin Police Department with description of my bike, the location it was stolen from and my serial number. Right now, before you read further, go find your bike and write the serial number down somewhere safe... this is key!! They will not even file the stolen goods alert for a bike unless you provide it. I set up alerts on Craiglist and eBay for bikes that potentially matched mine. I seriously spent hours scouring the sites and side-eying anyone who came past on a bike. About two weeks later, the bike popped up.

The description:

Great Condition! $2000 OBO

The reality:

Recently hit by a car. Cracks all over the frame. No crank. No pedals. Front fork so bent in that the wheels could not roll.

I started to send in feelers to the seller. I set up a fake account, fake identity, everything, to try to lure the seller to reach out to me. When I didn't hear from him to that email account, I set up four more and sent reasonably-spaced emails to the guy, including one with a super low ball offer and one saying that she was willing to pay the full $2000. After what seemed like WEEKS, he finally got back to me to set up a time to meet. Turns out patience is key.

All this time, I had been emailing the generally-uncooperative Austin Police Department. Heck, I don't blame them... it's just a bike. But I was out for vengeance. I finally convinced the cops that I would do all the legwork and they would just have to show up on the day of to check the serial number and claim the bike. After a bit of back and forth and disagreements on location logistics, I finally got the perp to agree to a meet-and-greet.

The day of the sting operation itself, the cops said I didn't have to be present (and potentially didn't want me to be present because my car is very recognizable and he stole it off of it). However, being the micromanager that I am, I parked on a secluded side street several blocks away, arrived at the exchange point (a local Whataburger) a half-hour early for my stake-out and to scope out the situation. The cops showed up about five minutes before the perp's planned ETA and were not sneaky at all - they even told the woman at the cash register what they were there for! Thankfully my bike thief was pretty stupid because he pulls up, my guys walk out, and they ask to see the bike. From my window seat in the Whataburger, it looks like they cross-check the serial numbers and ask a lot of questions but not a lot more. They take down some info, before driving away.

Let me tell you, it was really anticlimactic. The whole exchange took less than fifteen minutes and there were no cuffs involved. Granted, I don't want to ruin someone's life, but he did steal a potentially-expensive bike.

The next day, when I went to pick up the bike, the detective said that they were going to bring him in for questioning, though he was claiming that his mom's boyfriend (apparently some "big time Austin thug") stole the bike and was making him sell it. I haven't heard anything since, though I have been parking my car in a different location to avoid any retribution and a little more careful about coming home alone at night. I'm also planning on moving when my year's lease is up.

The bottom line is that I'm not sure if he actually ever got charged with anything-hey, they can't prove that he stole it, only that he was in possession of stolen property -- but overall I was very surprised with how laissez faire the entire transaction was... definitely not what I was expecting. Thanks to all my Rev3 Peeps who urged me to be smart and safe about the whole exchange and the Slowtwitch posters who also helped spot my bike and provide guidance during the whole process!

My method, while the red-tape was pretty headache-inducing, was probably still wiser and safer than this girl, who simply took a "test ride" on the stolen bike and never turned back.

Best tips for retrieving a stolen item or bike? 

  1. Save that Serial! I can't stress this enough - keep that # somewhere safe!
  2. Patience Patience Patience!
  3. Multiple "aliases" > just be sure to create unique gmail accounts for each
  4. Smart contact. Space it out. Less info in your request seems to help (less suspicious?)
  5. Get the police involved early but expect to do the legwork yourself.
  6. Dealing with Crooks is not a DIY. Don't take justice into your own hands.
  7. Don't expect much out of it.
  8. Overall.... STAY SAFE!

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Special Needs

At Ironman Mont Tremblant, I was a bit perplexed by special needs. To be honest, I kind of forgot it existed until getting all of my plastic drop bags during race check-in. Then on race day I didn’t want to deal with the stops and didn’t really need anything so flew past both on the bike and the run. I guess if you drink a liquid mix other than the on-course Perform I could see the need but I love me some Powerbar so I was all set. As I started to think about what I would do differently this time around, I asked folks for some suggestions on twitter. I was also just curious how many people actually stopped to stock up and what they used. Here are some of my faves:

Probably the top tip I'll be testing:

 

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Snacks & caffeine to look forward to:

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Homemade cookies...

recommendation from a former volleyball teammie and sorority little... somehow I don't think Coach Kerry would approve, Emily ;)

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And then someone who likes to packs a little heat with their snacks... just kidding Alisa confirmed the autocorrect... GUM! ;)

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We had lubricants:

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I had never thought about this popular one, gum:

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I also really liked Lauren's tip - throw a whole tire in there - hey, you never can be too prepared!

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On the flip side, keeping it simple:

 

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Or do as the legends do:

 

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What did the collective twitter survey miss? What do you pack?

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Treat Yo Self: Tri Bike Transport

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Treat Yo Self: Tri Bike Transport

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One of the best decisions I made for Mont Tremblant was using Tri Bike Transport. I had heard great things about the company and service but for some reason was always somewhat hesitant to sign up and try it. The number one reason I decided to try them this race was that I just finished getting my bike fit re-dialed and didn't want to risk messing it up. Second reason was the pure convenience of it all.

In addition to not having to break down my bike for travel, I didn't have to lug it to and from the airport—which is always a big pain when you're dealing with 6am flights and 4am cabs to the airport. Plus, when your checked bag looks like a small body bag, the last thing you want to do is check yet another bag...

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Am I the only one who refuses to flat out claim that it's a bike unless they ask point blank? "Ummmmm... it's gear and some wetsuits...." usually works for me but then I feel so guilty about circumventing the system and potentially racking up bad karma, no matter how annoying the excessive bike charges.

And when you think about it, if you are flying anyone other than Frontier or Virgin, you're bound to rack up obscene bike fees while flying that might cost you just as much, if not more, as the relatively reasonable $300 charge that Tri Bike has for their service.

As for logistics, about a week before the event, I dropped my bike off at the local bike shop and all I had to do for prep-work was remove the pedals. In fact, I could have let Jack and Adams remove them but I had a pedal wrench so went ahead and did it myself. From there, I got an email notification when the bike had been picked up and was en route.

My bike also happened to be on the same pick-up as another athlete's ride, "Wilson", who was tweeting funny back and forths with TBT about the journey up to Canada. On that note, I absolutely love TBT's sense of humor:

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On the Friday before the race, same day I arrived in Mont Tremblant, I was able to pick up my bike from the little corrals they had set up close to transition. Technically you could pick up the same day as bike drop-off and roll it over to transition and never have to deal with your bike but I picked mine up a day early  to ensure I had enough free time for my pre-race spin and making sure all the parts were tightened and at 100%.

IMG_4623 In addition to showing your ID to pick-up your bike, they also put a sticker on each ride with info about the owner and pick-up shop. Normally I'm hesitant to put my new bike in someone else's hands (especially after the stolen bike drama from earlier this year) but this was never a concern. The entire process was entirely seamless and I couldn't (and still can't) stop raving about how awesome of an experience it was using TBT instead of flying with my bike for a change.

No really... could not stop raving. I probably told the poor folks working TBT twenty times that this was the best. experience. ever. when traveling to a race. Could not be happier from start to finish.

When I went to drop off my bike for the return trip, a few hours after finishing, after I had showered and was going back to spectate at the finish line, I made the decision that I was 100% going to use TBT for my next race in Kona! One less thing to worry about and they will even get the bike there by the time I arrive on October 5th, a whole week early!

They also had hat and visor freebies so I loaded up on my new post-swim hat, which I tested out over wet hair tonight after my swim:

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The only drawback to TBT is that they don't support the Rev3 races!! Since I moved further away from most of my favorite races and can't drive as often, I'm still stuck flying with my bike to most venues. Maybe as they grow in popularity (which is bound to happen once more people test them out...), we'll see the schedule open up as well. The only other thing is that there is a week-and-a-half window on either side of race day to transport the bikes. Before I bought my roadie, this might have been a teeny bit of an issue but since I have my back-up bike, I'm completely fine in the days leading up to and after race day. Plus, getting away from my powermeter in these key recovery days also makes coach happy : )

I would highly recommend Tri Bike Transport for your next A race or if you really just want an easy and seamless race travel experience.

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