I USE THIS 09: My 'Tutti Frutt' Shorts

>> Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lots of people have been asking me to talk about my experience with the "Tutti Frutti" shorts I like to wear. And I've gained a LOT of experience with them this year - I've worn them for EVERY multi-sport race in 2011!


2011 Duathlons: Apple, Gear West, Oakdale, and Cannon Falls


2011 Triathlons: Life Time Fitness, Waseca, and Lake Marion

Why do I wear them?

It's simple. It's easy to take this sport too seriously. And by wearing these shorts, it helps lighten the mood for others around me AND for myself. Remember people, we do this for FUN! (Well, MOST of us do anyway...)

I first wore them last August at the 2010 Waseca Sprint Triathlon, and I JUST wore them. My bottom got a little sore because they are just swim shorts. At every multi-sport race since then, I've worn a pair of Sugoi Tri Shorts under the Tutti Frutti jammer to get a little pad on the bike. (You can see the Sugoi Tri Shorts peaking out in that last photo above to the far right.) Other than the fact that they're just swim jammers, they are GREAT for racing in! The don't rub, they hold "things" in place, and they look good bright.

Pharmie came across these shorts about 14 months ago on SwimOutlet.com. She thought they were wild. I told her to order them for me. She thought I was kidding. Then she realized I wasn't kidding, but she thought I'd never wear them. Little did she know.... ;) Here's the link to the "Dolfin Winners ZAZA Jammer" on SwimOutlet, but as you can see if you click that link, they've been DISCONTINUED! I'll need to find another retailer to replace my pair when I wear them out!

And FYI, they have a female version that they are still selling! So go purchase the female version and race with me sometime!



Oh, and if you're wondering about my shorty yellow shorts that I sometimes wear, check out my review of my "Bowl Full of Sunshine" shorts from last year.



I LOVE these shorts too (for similar reasons), but I also feel quite FAST in those short running shorts. I haven't worn them at a race this year *GASP* but look for them at the TC 10 Mile in 5 weeks!

- CLICK HERE for more in the "I USE THIS" series, where I talked about things from food, to running strollers, to protein powder, to shoes, etc.

- CLICK HERE for everything in the "DOES IT WORK" series from last year when I reviewed things from clothing, to gels, to training logs, to compression tights, to sports bras, etc. (I mention this because this is where I reviewed the short yellow shorts for the first time.)

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I USE THIS 08: 'Non-Stop' Trails vs. City Sidewalks

>> Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This is kind of an odd "I use this" topic, but it's something worth noting.

This idea obvious for some people, but brand new to others. This only became slightly obvious (if that's not an oxymoron) to me around December of 2009. And over the course of the 2010, it became more and more obvious.

I stopped running all of my runs along Summit Ave in St. Paul (where there are stoplights every 1/2 mile) and started running my runs along the Mississippi river where I have an over 8 mile loop that only crosses 2 streets.

I started running along River Road in December of 2009 when I was training for my 3rd St. Paul Winter Carnival Half Marathon. It was hard to run on pedestrian sidewalks in the winter - some people shovel down to bare sidewalk, some get most of the snow off, and others don't touch the snow for days and it gets all packed down. It's really hard to have a "consistent" run in conditions like that.

I discovered that the River Road trail was plowed regularly. Here's a photo from December's "Snow-pocalypse" run that shows snow piling up, but there's less than an inch on the recently-plowed trail:



Here's a photo from my blog from later last winter, and it shows the pretty well-maintained trail with deeper snow on either side:



Here's where I run most of my long runs these days:



I sometimes do that loop. But more often then not, I run out to a mile-marker, then turn around and come back the way I came. (The photos above were taken around mile 1 and mile 1.5 on this map, FYI.)

So not only was it great to run on an "even" path over the winter, but I also learned my endurance benefitted from "CONSTANT" running where I didn't have to stop for stoplights now-and-then.


Here's what I like and don't like about these 2 kinds of runs:

I did my first 4 years of running on city streets (Summit Ave in St. Paul). Those stoplights every half mile may have hurt my endurance a little being I had to stop often for a few seconds at a time, but because I had perfect half-mile splits to take, I was REALLY able to hone my pace. I mean, REALLY. When I worked with Coach Jen a year ago, I was AMAZED that when she told me to go run 4 miles hard at something like 6:10, 6:00, 5:50, and sub 5:45 that I could nail those splits ON THE HEAD! I think those years of running while being able to check my half-mile splits really helped me recognize what pace I was running.

Now, for the past 20 months or so, I've been running long, steady, and constant runs along a trail where I don't have to stop. That has really helped my endurance, but I was happy to have been able to learn my pace running city streets earlier. So I REALLY believe that starting out with my half-mile stop lights helped me get my pacing down, and then moving on to "constant" runs helped me build up my endurance.

And for the record, I feel that I should state that I don't know HOW much it has helped my endurance to seek out non-stop runs. It might be more mental than physical (or at least more mental than I think). I did a 12 mile run mostly along the river on Sunday, and I only got stopped at 1 light during my warm-up as I was heading to the river, and then I stopped with 1 mile left before my cool-down at a drinking fountain. So I ran 10.5 miles STRAIGHT through without stopping, and that's a big mental boost for me. I think it is for a lot of people. So running non-stop helps train me physically, but I think it helps almost as much on the mental side too.

Back soon with an "I USE THIS" post about my Tutti Frutti shorts. Some of you have been asking me to write about using those!

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I USE THIS 07: Balance Ball (good for workouts AND parenting!)

>> Monday, August 29, 2011

Yes, yes, yes... we all know there are a lot of good "balance-based" exercises you can do with a balance ball or a stability ball. Sometime, I should have Pharmie take photos of all the different moves I do with our balance ball - I can get a decent workout with just that ball in our living room. And it engages lots of good (sometimes under-trained) stability muscles.

Just 2 days ago, I did some push-ups with knee-tucks on our balance ball, which made my pecs and core GO NUTS! It's the last exercise listed in this article about "workouts for swim power."

And here's an example of a butt / hammy exercise my last PT gave me:

ONLY she had me do this with my arms across my chest (so you can't balance yourself with your arms on the floor), and I had to do it SLOWLY and IN CONTROL with my knees moving only in straight lines forward and back. Try it. It's hard. And awkward. Like a baby's erection.

Anyway, I'll take a lot of photos of the different core / pec / leg / PT exercises sometime, and I'll share them with you all. I think many of you would like some of the moves I do.

IN THE MEANTIME, YOU ALL MUST KNOW ABOUT OUR NEWEST USE FOR OUR BALANCE BALL:

Pharmie was talking with someone as she was cheering for me and her Evotri teammates at the Life Time Fitness Triathlon. Henry was only 4 weeks old, but he was already showing plenty of signs of colic. (And since then, he's been officially labeled by his doctor as "colicky." He's often called "Cranky Hank" in our household.) Pharmie was at the race and rocking Hank back and forth in his stroller. This woman that Pharmie was talking to said "Oh, my daughter had a baby that needed to be bounced. She sat on one of those exercise balls and bounced all day long!"

Pharmie's mouth dropped and her eyes lit up. "Thats. A. Great. Idea." she thought. We started bouncing with Henry THAT NIGHT. It's SOOOO easy to bounce while sitting on a balance ball; it takes very little work from the "bouncer." And most colicky babies LOVE the motion!


Pharmie's sisters keeping Henry content on our balance ball.


My Dad bouncing Henry on our balance ball at our family vacation.


Me and Hank on our family vacation bouncing on the balance ball.
(Little-known Widely-known fact: Stenzel men hate wearing shirts!)


Bouncing with Henry a few weeks ago just after
getting home from the Waseca Triathlon.

We've also started "tummy time" on the balance ball! No, I just don't throw Henry on the ball - I put him on my chest as I "slide down" the ball:


Note that I'm wearing the old, beat-up shoes
I wrote about in the first "I USE THIS" post.

And in the last 2 weeks, I've done something where I start in the position seen in the photo above, and then I "roll down" the balance ball until I'm up on my toes and I'm sitting up at about a 45 degree angle (if that makes sense). Then I put Henry on my quads, and we flirt and bounce:



So whatever you do with your balance ball is fine with me - whether it's for exercising or for calming crabby babies. Just please, do NOT do this:


There are bad ideas, there are horrible ideas, and then there's this.
Sheesh.

Back with more in the "I USE THIS" series shortly. And CLICK HERE to see everything in the "I USE THIS" series of mini-reviews that I started a few weeks ago.

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My Study on Speed: Wetsuit vs. Non-Wetsuit

>> Saturday, August 27, 2011

Here's what we all hold to be true: you can swim faster in a wetsuit than without.

My issue is that it takes me a long time to get out of my wetsuit in T1 during a race. Just before a race 2 years ago, I actually hurt myself getting out of my wetsuit. Here's what I posted on my blog back then as I described the incident:

I was taking off my wet suit, and I had it around my ankles. I had my left foot in the air as I was trying to get the suit off my left leg. I started to lose my balance, so I thought I’d quick pull the suit off so I could catch my balance. Well, I DIDN’T get the suit off, but I DID manage to bend my thumb all the way backwards and sprain it pretty bad as I quickly tried to pull off my wetsuit. It HURT! Right after I did it, the ball of my hand under my thumb swelled up HUGE.

Within a week of having that little wetsuit mishap, my hand looked like this:



I posted those images along with this: "Pharmie can’t look at it because it makes her sick. Chicks dig scars; but apparently swelled, purple hands make them throw up a little in their mouth."

So, anyway, back to the "swimming faster in a wetsuit" thing....

I've always said that I (personally) should NOT wear a wetsuit in a sprint triathlon. Sure, I might have a faster swim split than without the wetsuit, but that time would be negated by having to struggle to get out of the wetsuit in T1. I'm always dizzy and fumbling in T1, so trying to work my way out of a wetsuit would take too long in a sprint.

But I never tested this theory.

Until last weekend.

At the Waseca Sprint Triathlon a few weeks ago, I raced against a BT buddy who goes by Scuff. Here's Scuff and I pre-race


Remember all the mosquito bites I talked about in my race report?
Well, you can see them all over the left side of my body. Nasty.


Scuff and I starting the swim together to the far left

Scuff and I both had an "OK" swim at Waseca - we both veered a little, made a few mistakes, but it wasn't a horrible swim for either of use. And we both raced WITHOUT a wetsuit as you can see from the photo above.

Then, a few weeks later (which was last weekend), we did the Lake Marion Sprint Triathlon. Scuff did it again WITHOUT a wetsuit (in the same tri-top as Waseca), but this time I did it WITH a wetsuit. We both did better at Lake Marion - we both felt like we sighted better and swam better.


Me, Matt, and Justin - note that I'm wearing a wetsuit
(I didn't get a photo with Scuff at this race)

I mention that we both felt we did "OK" at Waseca, and we both felt we did "better" at Lake Marion just to note that we think we had similar swims at both races, and that one of us didn't have the "swim of our life" while the other nearly drowned - we can actually compare the times because we had comparable "feeling" swims.

HERE'S WHAT I FOUND:

Waseca Tri:

ME:
Swim: 9:52 (592 seconds)
T1: 0:58 (58 seconds)

SCUFF:
Swim: 10:52 (652 seconds)
T1: 1:14 (74 seconds)


Lake Marion Tri:

ME:
Swim: 6:49 (409 seconds)
T1: 2:16 (136 seconds)

SCUFF:
Swim: 8:19 (499 seconds)
T1: 2:24 (144 seconds)


To calculate the percent change, I used this formula:

The percent change is given by "(A-B) / B x 100," where A is Scuff's time and B is my time.

Using that formula:

- I was 10.14% faster in the swim at Waseca
- I was 27.59% faster in T1 at Waseca

- I was 22.00% faster in the swim at Lake Marion
- I was 5.88% faster in T1 at Lake Marion


The percent difference in the times should be the same from race to race - it doesn't matter if one race is a "longer" or "shorter" 400 meters. If I was faster by XX% at one, then I should be faster by XX% at the other, and the difference between the 2 should be 0%. BUT, with the wetsuit at Lake Marion, my time was 11.86% faster than the difference between our times at Waseca.

At a speed of 1:40 / 100 yards (100 seconds / 100 yards), a difference of 11.86% is a difference of 11.9 seconds, dropping the time down to 1:28 / 100 yards. Over a 440 yard (400 meter) swim, that's a difference of 52.4 seconds overall.

However, being I had to take off a wetsuit in T1 at the Lake Marion Tri (where my swim time was better), my T1 time suffered. I was 21.71% slower than the difference between mine and Scuff's T1 time at Waseca. But, being that T1 is a shorter amount of time than the swim, that difference of 21.71% is only about 31 seconds.

CONCLUSION:
Even in a sprint triathlon with a short swim, the benefit of wearing a wetsuit during the swim is NOT erased by having to take extra time to get out of the wetsuit in T1. I gained 52.4 seconds in the swim, but lost 31 seconds in T1. Overall, this "study" showed a gain of roughly 21.4 seconds being taken off my finishing time.

(OK, I understand this is far from scientific. I did the math all correctly based on that formula, but I don't know that I did everything perfectly with regards to the percentages. STILL, I feel that it shows me that it WAS worth wearing a wetsuit in the sprint! And that I need to learn to get out of my wetsuit quicker....)

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Friday Funny 216: Made in China

>> Friday, August 26, 2011

Oh wait, I read that wrong...



I think I need to find one of these for Henry. ;)

Back with an interesting study on my swim times with and without a wetsuit tomorrow. Happy weekend!

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Friday Funny 215: Life After Kids

This is from the oatmeal, and it kinda hits home right now:



And on an unrelated topic, here's one more "funny 'cause it's true" comic from the oatmeal:



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Friday Funny 214: The Father of My 'Tutti Frutti' Shorts

Sorry if you're at "Tutti Frutti" overload. You've been seeing these shorts on my blog a lot lately. I wore them a few weeks ago at the Waseca Sprint Triathlon:


Heading out of T2


Nearing the end (getting an odd look from a
spectator as I pointed out in my last post)

And I wore them 5 days ago for the Lake Marion Sprint Triathlon:


Starting the run

A few days ago, a friend found the Father of my shorts! One of our local "Fox 9" meteorologists, Ian Leonard, was showing off his pants for a Special Olympics golf tournament called "The Bad Pants Open." Here's the photo he posted to his Facebook page:



I now have a new favorite meteorologist in the Twin Cities. ;)

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Official Photos from the Waseca Triathlon

>> Thursday, August 25, 2011

I got some "official" race photos and some photos from friends. Here are a few photos from the start from Scuff:


A split second after the start, between Scuff and Chris H


Running in


Still running

Sean was out on the bike course, and he got 2 photos of me as I turned along the lake with about 2 miles to go:





And here are some official photos:


Coming up to a corner on my bike


Nearing the end of the 4.4 mile run (with too much of a heel-strike)

Oh, and I HAVE to point this out - I teased Matt in my last post because there was a girl really half-heartedly cheering for him at the end of the Lake Marion Triathlon. Well, in these last 2 photos from the Waseca Triathlon, there's a girl totally giving me a "look." I think the look says "What?... You CHOSE to wear that?!?... Whatever...." See for yourself:





What's her face saying to you? :)

And finally, NOT TO BE MEAN AT ALL, but this photo from Waseca amuses me a bit......



Poor guy.......

SCHEDULE:
- a few "Friday Funnies" tomorrow
- my scientific findings regarding my swim times with and without a wetsuit on Saturday
- and then a few more posts in the "I USE THIS" series that I started 2 weeks ago

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Part 2 of the Lake Marion Triathlon Race Report

>> Wednesday, August 24, 2011

So in my Lake Marion Triathlon race report, I left off just after I finished. My brother-in-law Matt was just a bit behind me. We met each other while he was heading out and I was heading back towards the finish. He looked good, but he looked like he was working. Pharmie, Henry, all of Justin's family, and I were waiting near the finish to see Matt and Justin come running in.

Soon, Matt rounded the final corner and headed for the finish:


Flying!


Matt knows how to thrill the ladies. Just look at how thrilled she is. :)


She's still thrilled. Matt's still working hard!


Hitting the finish!

Not far behind Matt was Justin (Pharmie's college friend's hubby). He'd been wanting to do a tri for 10 years, and THIS WAS HIS FIRST ONE!! Pharmie's college friend got teary-eyed when she saw her hubby come running out of the water knowing that he was on his way to realizing a long-time dream. I took a lot of photos of Justin running past because it's always fun to re-live the fun and excitement of "the first time" - especially when it's with a friend!


Running up to the cheers of his family!


As Justin said on his blog: "Not #1 as my finger would suggest,
actually #68 but I don't have that many fingers."
Ha! Love it!


A labored smile for his wife and boys


Heading into the chute




Hitting the finish! Triathlon #1 is in the bag! Congrats Justin!

Matt ended up 40th out of 315 overall in his 4th triathlon, and 5th out of 14 Clydesdales. He had the 11th fastest bike split of the day, and that's why I knew he'd end up flying past me before too long when we were both in T1 together!

Justin, in his FIRST triathlon, finished 69th out of 315 overall, and 8th out of 20 in his age group! He posted the 39th fastest run (a 23:15 5K) which is killer for his first multi-sport race EVER!!

Shortly after those guys finished, I helped pack Pharmie and Henry into the car, because they were going to head to a quick breakfast with her Mom. I came back to cheer for the finishers and talk with some friends. Matt and I chatted with Angie, KY, and CY for a while, and then I hung out with Scuff and his family during the awards. Jerry MacNeil called me up for 3rd in my age group, and I was presented with a medal. Jerry always has kind / funny words for me, and I love it. Over the PA, when I came up to get my award (still in my "Tutti Frutti" shorts) he said: "Steve Stenzel is a funny writer....... and he wears funny pants." I smiled big and everyone laughed. Love it. :)

I got back to transition and grabbed my lonely stuff:




My 3rd place AG medal and my finisher's medal


Eating a massive cinnamon roll that Pharmie brought me
from breakfast with her Mom! YAY! CARBS!

When I got home and took off my shoes, walking on my bare heel HURT. No, not my achilles. My ACTUAL heel. I looked, and I had a BRUISE on the bottom of my heel! It still hurts to walk! Here's a photo of it:


OK, it's hard to see a slight bruise...


... so I "enhanced" it here to see it better.

Wait, let's back up and take a look at that UNCROPPED photo. It shows me with my heel up on the kitchen counter, wearing nothing but boxers, and Pharmie's breast pumping supplies are slightly visible to the far left sitting in their drying rack:


Yep, I'm classy like that. :)

A few quick links:

- Here's my full race report if you missed it on Monday.

- Check out Justin's Blog and read his first race report from Sunday! Congrats again, Justin!

- Pearl Izumi is giving away some sweet stuff each day this week. Check out their YouTube page for new videos each day. Leave a comment on the new video to be in the running for some sweet bike gear from Pearl Izumi!

- And to you locals, Chris McCormack (MACCA) is going to be in town TOMORROW for a free book signing! Get more info here.

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