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Of Celebrities + Triathlon
July 14, 2008

A while back we mentioned that musician and actor Jennifer Lopez was planing on competing in a triathlon. Well, she's apparently still in training. Lopez Hubby Marc Anthony told the TV show Extra recently that she was on track to participate in an October event. Perhaps JLo will pay a visit to our town for the SOMA Triathlon on Oct. 26.

Speaking of SOMA, one famous owner of the outfit that produces the event, Red Rock Company, is taking on a new challenge that doesn't involve swimming or biking. Two-time Ironman World Champion Tim DeBoom is registered for the 2008 Leadville 100 in August in Colorado. Earlier this month, Deboom was the first man to cross the finish line at the Leadville Marathon, completing the event in 3:59:03.

"Competing in the Leadville 100 will push and challenge me in new ways both mentally and physically, and I am looking forward to rediscovering how it feels to run without pressure," DeBoom said after announcing in April his entry in the classic ultramarathon. "Competing in triathlons is still my passion and winning another Hawaii Ironman is a top goal of mine, but I've conquered it twice before and am excited to try something that I'm not 100 percent sure I can even finish."

Another celebrity athlete shifting gears is Formula One race car driver Jenson Button. Button, a member of the Honda Racing F1 Team, is an avid triathlete when not tearing up the tarmac at 200 mph. He knocked off the Nokia Royal Windsor Triathlon in June and is expected to compete in the City of Bath Triathlon on July 27 ... all this while continuing to race in the F1 season. That's quite a different approach than professionals in other sports, who pretty much forbidden from even riding a bike while in season. So, what does one of the fastest drivers on Earth ride? A Scott Plasma.

Not to be left behind, tennis great Anna Kournikova also has completed a triathlon. She took on the Nautica South Beach Triathlon back in April. Well, she took on the run leg as part of a relay, finishing the 4-mile section in just under 29 minutes. Kournikova was part of Dream Team, which included triathlon bike specialist Katya Meyers and swim ace Dara Torres. Dream Team indeed.

Three Weeks in July
July 7, 2008

It, of course, is July. That means the Tour De France is off and rolling. But should you care? The short answer is yes. Remember? This stuff is exciting. Sure, it's frustrating to learn year after year the names of the riders on the pipe. But there are no more villains - at least none known. In fact, only four Americans - George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, William Frischkorn and Danny Pate - are in this 95th running of the Le Tour. France can't bring back Bernard Hinault, but the lack of a real American general classification contender must feel about as good as if they could. So, what's different about this tour?

One thing that is different is the lack of a prologue. Saturday's 197.5 kilometer march from Brest to Plumelec marked the first time in 40 years that a time trial did not head the event. That means Tuesday's 29.5k time trial in Cholet will be the first chance to get a peek at the official speed machines and equipment evolutions that will some day trickle down to us commoners. Another noticeable difference from years past is the talk of doping.

There is no doubt that doping has always been a topic of conversation at the Tour. But this year seems different in that everyone is tripping all over themselves to talk about it. Slipstream's Garmin Chipotle has its 100% Clean campaign and has been beating the testing and clean racing drum since its inception in 2005. High Road Sports is trumpeting its minimum 26 annual rider blood tests in hopes of laying down a foundation that will keep its name and the name of its title sponsor - Columbia Sportswear - out of the ditch. Versus, formally OLN, which broadcasts the tour in the U.S., has done feature stories about testing programs and the problem of doping in cycling. Perhaps it really is, as commentator Phil Liggett put it, "a new breed of cyclist." "Hopefully," Liggett said during a recent broadcast, "the drugs are getting slowly but surely behind us." Hopefully, in deed.

Speedo's Swimskin Strife
July 2, 2008

... Speaking of swimming, world records are falling fast at the U.S. Olympic Trials for swimming in Omaha. With just three days down, six world records have been broken, all by swimmers wearing Speedo's LZR swimskin. Have you heard about this thing? Probably. It is the source of endless amazement by general media journalists looking for stories related to the ever-popular Olympic swimming events. Nevertheless, Speedo has managed to make waves (sorry) in worldwide swimming circles with their super fast, super tight outfit. But, naturally, the swim-industry giant also is stirring up plenty of controversy. And where there's controversy, there's lawsuits.

Yes, Steve Furniss and his company Tyr have filed an antitrust lawsuit against Speedo, et. al., saying essentially that Speedo is using unfair business practices to promote their head-spinning product. To be sure, Speedo has aggressively marketed their suit. They have made the LZR available to any athlete wanting to wear one. That's important because the thing isn't available to the general public and retails for about $500. The suit has manufactured such hysteria that Nike, a company not above borderline marketing itself, has given the OK for its sponsored athletes to wear the thing. Furniss is most worked up about Speedo's cozy relationship with USA Swimming and national team officials, not the least of whom is head coach Mark Schubert.

Now, perhaps Tyr, which has its own swimskin, the Tracer, has a point here. Schubert also is a paid spokesman for Speedo - a role which may not be surprising given the company's huge sponsorship of USA Swimming. So, was he being a spokesman or a coach when he urged all swimmers - including to use sponsored by other companies - to use the LZR? "Do you go for the money or for the gold?" he said. That's what Furniss and Tyr's lawyers want to know. But it appears that will not happen until after Beijing. A judge recently put the case on hold until September.

Beijing 2008: Team USA Update
June 30, 2008

The Olympic games are fast approaching and final spots on various teams are dropping about as fast as swimming world records. On Sunday, Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff set world records in the 400m individual medley on the first day of the U.S Olympic Team Trials for swimming in Omaha, Neb. Last week, Hunter Kemper and Sarah Haskins shored up the final spots for Team USA's triathlon squad. They will join Jarrod Shoemaker, Matt Reed, Laura Bennett and Julie Swail Ertel, who previously qualified. Professional triathlete Sheila Taormina, who competed in 2000 and 2004 as a member of Team USA Triathlon, was not in the running this year. Instead, Taromina will compete for gold in pentathlon.

Pentathlon, a throwback to the Ancient Grecian games, involves swimming, running, fencing, shooting and equestrian show jumping. Yeah, we had no idea either. And to think, some folks were wondering why triathlon was being added as an Olympic sport. In any event, Taromina, who at 39 is one of the oldest members of Team USA, told USA Swimming that she had never even taken on fencing, shooting and equestrian show jumping until after she set out to compete in pentathlon.

"It's been up and down and by far the most challenging thing I've ever done in my life," Taormina said. "There are times when I think I'm getting it, but then the next training session, I'll be a complete fool."

Open water swimming will make its debut at the Olympics this year with men's and women's 10K swims. Yes, that's 6.2 miles, folks. It should be fitting that the Americans athletes in this inaugural event are from California. Chloe Sutton, who is just 16 years old, hails from Mission Viejo and Mark Warkentin, 28, lives in Santa Barbara. This is an exciting addition and highlights the growing sport of open water swimming.

When it comes to open water swimming, there is no substitute for training in, well, open water. Anne Wilson from Camelback Coaching will lead a couple of open water clinics in July in California. The first on July 26 will be Carlsbad and the second on July 26 is slated for Solana Beach. The cost is $75. For more information, call Anne at 480-998-3028 or shoot her an email at anne@camelbackcoaching.com.

Calling Out Cole Trickle
June 28, 2008

In the newspaper the other day there was this story about Lance Armstrong. You remember him, right? You've probably heard that he retired from professional cycling and has been doing all sorts of things - opening a bike shop in Austin, working on his Livestrong stuff, being a playboy. Turns out he's dated a number of women since his break up with his wife and then his one-time fiancee Sheryl Crow. It was all the rage in the tabs, baby. Marvelous, fabulous, delish, right? Whatever. Cycling, it would seem, has a fair share of these big personalities looking for trouble. Think about the German rider Jan Ulrich, who once was dinged for drunken driving and later popping ecstasy in the cool clubs and dives of Deutschland. In any event, it got us thinking that we need an Ulrich or, better yet, an Armstrong in the triathlon world.

OK, now don't get started with all this stuff about how Armstrong began his career as a triathlete, junior champion this and that. We know all this. We're talking about the need for some kind of sports glitterati, a man or woman about town who can consult until the wee hours with cool kids at Axis or whatever and then tear it up at the local triathlon a day later. We need a young buck, like a Cole Trickle from Days of Thunder - fighting mad, reckless and, with any luck, totally out of control. We need an ace who can roll up to the red carpet on a Saxon with a saucy blond and a bunch of photographers in tow, someone who can hold court at after parties. Maybe this is getting out of hand.

Not a lot of us were around for the days of yore when Ironman was just starting out. Even before that there were those nuts from the running clubs in San Diego who started tossing swimming and cycling into their training and racing regimen. They seemed adventurous and free spirited, folks looking for something different and exciting. They were looking for action by day and night. In all that, triathlon came to be. Yes, the birth of of all this came after a few beers - not fat free lattes and egg white omelettes. It all is understandable, to be sure.

Triathlon has become a way to make a living for a lucky few. Competition is incredibly fierce. No one wants to jeopardize their potential winnings, no matter how meager, by yucking it up all night with young hipsters. And for the rest of us, it's safe adventure. For the most part, this isn't going to kill us. Yet we can brag about our triathlon exploits at the office come Monday morning. But that means we're getting a lot of Steady Eddies, 30-somethings with wives or husbands and new babies. (Sounds like a midlife crisis in the making, eh?) Sure, there was that dust-up with Chris McCormack and Normann Stadler after the World Championships. But didn't they end up hugging when it was all said and done? Chuckie V, with his towering 'hawk has the look. But we need someone with the 'tude to match. We need someone who we all can shun in conversation only to watch in quiet amazement as he passes through transition with groupies and enforcers at his side. Maybe, in the end, it's just not the right sport for such things. Perhaps we should start watching wrestling.

Results: Ironman Coeur d'Alene
June 23, 2008

Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2008 went off with little trouble on sunday, with Tom Evans and Heather Wurtele, both of Canada, claiming top honors. The first Arizonan to break the tape was Scottsdale professional triathlete and model Lewis Elliot. The 28-year-old finished ninth with a time of 9:22:43. Unlike last year, weather didn't appear to create too much trouble for the athletes.

Lake Coeur d'Alene water temperature was 60 degrees at the start, making for a brisk beginning to the days festivities. Officials were concerned enough about the cold water that a warming tent, reminiscent of the warming huts near the local ice rink, was constructed near the swim exit. That didn't seem to bother the field from Arizona. Of the 83 Arizonans registered, 79 started and 73 finished. Congratulations.

Top Men
    1. 8:34:22 Tom Evans; Penticton, BC
    2. 8:43:56 Victor Zyemtsev; Dade City, FL
    3. 8:48:22 Michaek Lovato; Boulder, CO
    4. 8:53:09 Mike Neill; Victoria, BC
    5. 8:56:53 Steve Larsen; Bend, OR
    6. 9:15:39 Olly Piggin; Penticton, BC
    7. 9:17:47 Jim Vance; San Diego, CA
    8. 9:18:50 Scott Curry; Calgary, AB
    9. 9:22:43 Lewis Elliot; Scottsdale
    10. 9:26:30 Blake Becker; Madison, WI
Top Women
    1. 9:38:58 Heather Wurtele; Victoria, BC
    2. 9:50:34 Heather Gollnick; Bradenton, FL
    3. 9:55:28 Tiina Boman; Kankaanpaa, FIN
    4. 10:03:45 Sara Gross, Penticton, BC
    5. 10:08:04 Haley Cooper; Spokane, WA
    6. 10:12:22 Gabriela Loskotova; Prague, CZE
    7. 10:18:14 Miranda Alldritt; North Vancouver, BC
    8. 10:32:27 Christine Fletcher; Vancouver, BC
    9. 10:34:52 Susan Langley; Highlands Ranch, CO
    10. 10:35:13 Charisa Wernick; Carlsbad, CA
Top Arizona Men
    1. 9:22:43 Lewis Elliot; Scottsdale
    2. 10:09:13 Russ Brandt; Phoenix
    3. 10:27:50 John Poisson; Goodyear
Top Arizona Women
    1. 11:58:24 Jennifer Rischard; Tucson
    2. 12:17:28 Jennifer Graves, Phoenix
    3. 12:36:34 Valerie Rottman; Phoenix

Sign of the Times
June 21, 2008

Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene: Wear A Wetsuit
June 19, 2008

With water temperatures hovering in the upper 50s to low 60s, this weekend's swim in Lake Coeur d'Alene will be a chilly one. Some of the 83 Arizonans (all but 25 from the Valley) who will participate at this year's Ironman Coeur d'Alene already have scooped up most of our supply of neoprene swim caps and socks to help ward off some of that cold. In fact, the water is expected to be so cold - thanks to heavy snow pack that has extended snow melt time - that race officials decided to forgo the rules by allowing the use of aqua socks and potentially mandating wetsuit use. Race director Andy Emberton also told a local newspaper that the swim course could be cut short if the water is too cold. Now that's saying something. But what does it all matter anyway? According to research, it depends.

Consider the following:

Wetsuits help triathletes: Triathletes who used a wetsuit during a 400 meter swim decreased their time by 19 seconds, or 6.2 percent, a 1995 French study showed. Swimmers, that is those who had largely mastered swim technique, showed no statistical difference in time with the use of a wetsuit. What that means is that inefficient, slower swimmers (i.e. typical triathletes) receive significant benefits from the buoyancy of a wetsuit.

Wetsuits improve cycling: A study released in the June 2003 issue of the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology showed that a 750 meter swim with a wetsuit yielded lower cadence, heart rate and lactate levels while a subsequent 10 minute bicycle effort was 12.1 percent more efficient than those conducted after non-wetsuit swims.

However, the picture was not completely rosy. A 1992 study by researchers with Kosin Medical College showed that people wearing wetsuits, gloves and boots actually experienced greater bodily heat loss than those who did not wear neoprene gloves and boots.

Triple Sports: Celebrating 3 Years
June 17, 2008

It's really shocking looking back. There really doesn't seem to be anything in there. The photos of our store shortly after we opened on June 17, 2005 are amazing to look at for the same reason most photos are amazing to look at - they provide perspective. Photos of the past show how far you have come and what you have accomplished. Photos from today reveal the stepping stones of what you will accomplish tomorrow and the next day or the week, month or year after that. But in that perspective also is a healthy dose of the notion that What we know now we could never have known then. Take customers, for example.

Customers, of course, are an inherent part of the retail business. We all are customers of someone. So, customer service is king. But what does that mean? We have learned over the last three years that retail ultimately means that we rely on others. We rely on people to bring together a collection of items that (hopefully) make our lives more comfortable or pleasing. We rely on retailers to have answers to questions about products or, as is the case in the endurance sports retail business, questions about training, racing and recovery as well as personal perspective about events. We want our retailers to be able to make a living, but we also want fair pricing and group discounts. As customers, we don't need to be bowed to like kings or queens, but rather we enjoy knowing that we and the sales we bring are appreciated. Yet the door swings both ways.

We, as retailers, depend on customers. Sure, your sales keep our doors open and food on the table. But they also mean so much more. More sales mean we can bring in more products, creating better selection. And more sales mean we can buy in larger amounts to receive better discounts from manufacturers. While that doesn't necessarily bring down prices it does, in fact, allow us to avoid price increases every time manufacturers raise their prices (which these days seems to be every couple of months). Your sales also allow us to make a living doing something we love. And they help us bring in great employees who allow us to be open for business every day of the week. Customers - in deed all the individuals out there - bring us knowledge and questions, enjoyment and challenge. They (i.e. YOU) are a collective of information that help us form a library, of sorts, from which we all can learn a thing or two. And the process continues every day.

To help facilitate all of this, we have put together a survey and are asking for your unvarnished opinions - a bit of a frightening venture in an e-world of anonymous flaming. But we'll take the chance because we want to know what you like and do not like about Triple Sports. We want to continue creating and offering value-added retail through tri 101 clinics and website features such as Ask Triple Sports and in the pages oftri 101. We want to continue supporting the races you enjoy to help event directors pay ever increasing city fees. And while we don't expect or demand that Triple Sports be the only place you shop, we do want to be the best place for you to shop for all the specialty sporting goods you need.

So, on this day, three years after Day One, we thank you for your support and friendship. We offer our gratitude for help in building Triple Sports. And we ask that you continue to help us build and shape the place you want to visit. Cheers!

Sleep + Performance
June 8, 2008

In the mid-1990s, there was a "Seinfeld" episode in which Jean Paul, an elite runner from Trinidad and Tobago, overslept the morning of the New York City Marathon. Jean Paul had been up all night as Jerry moved him from place to place to ensure they would not oversleep and be late for the start of the race. A fuse was blown, the power went out as did the alarm clock radio, creating a comedy of errors that led to the late start. Through it all, Jean Paul did reasonably well. This was a humorous recollection at 3 this morning while caring for a newborn. But it also led to some wondering about the importance of sleep on athletic performance.

It seems obvious that sleep is important in order to function as humans. But it is in many ways a mysterious process about which even the best and the brightest who study such things have significant questions. What we do know, however, is that with appropriate levels of sleep we are more immune to illness and think more clearly. Even the slightest deficit in sleep can produce greater mistakes and lower performance levels during everyday tasks. So when it comes to athletics, it seems apparent that sleep deprivation could negatively impact performance.

Eve Van Cauter, a researcher at the University of Chicago Medical School, determined that sleep deprivation led to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, decreased activity of the tissue-repairing human growth hormone and decreased glycogen synthesis. That could lead to limited recovery after heavy workouts and lower overall performance levels. Further evidence of this was found in BJ Martin's work, which revealed that exercise-induced fatigue came on about 11 percent faster after 36 hours without sleep. The same research showed that the perceived exertion of the sleep deprived was significantly greater without a change in heart or metabolic rates. While a later study indicated those perceived exertion levels were debatable, it confirmed that exercise done after as full night's rest occurred at lower overall heart rate levels than exercise done with less sleep.

While competing studies about sleep and athletic performance exist, a safe bet is to ensure the body gets enough rest during training. Strong evidence exists that muscle tissue recovery best occurs during sleep. And at the very least, enough sleep might just mean making it to the start of every event on time.

Team Triple Sports Adds One
June 3, 2008

There are a lot of benefits that go along with being an athlete. Looking and feeling good is one of them. Having fun at events is another. But a quick delivery of Lily Anderson, Kara's and Brian's first daughter hadn't really been considered. That's just what occurred, though, at a little after 1 a.m. Friday.

Weighing in at 7 pounds and measuring 19 inches, Lily joined our family to the obvious enjoyment of mom and dad. While she is very strong, it was too early to tell if Lily will some day stand atop the podium in Kona. Thanks to the well-wishers out there for your kind thoughts. We very much look forward to recovering and getting back to work.

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