Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Quick and Dirty Suit Review

Life has been busy, so I'll keep this post consistent with how most of my runs have been- quick and dirty. I spend a lot of time in the pool, so this means going through a lot of swimsuits, Aussie 3-minute Miracle Deep Conditioner bottles, swimcaps, defogger, and goggles.  It amazes me at times how much work it takes in the pool to improve and shave a mere 5 seconds off of a base 100, but in the end, well, everyone knows that it's worth it.

So, the suit review.  I normally buy all my swimsuits at swimoutlet.com, which always carries the name brands at cheap prices.  I've consistently worn TYR and Speedo, just because of the butterfly backstraps.  You know, a girl's got to keep her tan lines consistent, right?  Each of these suits range normally around $75, so imagine my surprise when I saw a similar design (Sporti) for $25.  Score!  I ordered a Sporti suit and a Speedo Endurance suit in my usual size.  

Speedo Endurance suit on the left, waste-of-money Sporti suit on right

I first tested out the Speedo Endurance suit.  They advertise this as lasting longer, and I think they mean it will last longer because it takes at least 5 swims to stretch it out to a normal size so you are always reluctant to wear it in the pool.  The straps were so tight on my arms it felt like I was swimming with a wetsuit on because my shoulders felt so restricted.  Mind you, these were ordered in my normal size...so if you go with this suit, know that it runs small but is made with good material and hopefully will last you for a few months.

My second test run was with the Sporti swimsuit.  I was excited because of the cute hot pink color...like, "Hey! Look at me swim fast in my hot pink suit!"  It fit a lot more comfortably on land, but once you hit that water, my first thought was, "This would make a great drag suit!"  Except, this isn't high school anymore where you wear two suits (the suit on top is a 'drag' suit, normally a worn-out, stretched out number that acts as a parachute while you swim).  It was so thin, painfully thin, and already felt stretchy.  No bueno.

During my debut of this Sporti suit, I happened to be swimming next to a Chris Lieto look-alike.  No joke.  He was serious swimming business.  We both were even dorky and had our workouts typed up in little Ziploc bags with our water bottles next to each other on deck.  In between sets, he joked around and made conversation with me, but this Sporti suit made me feel so self-conscious, like I was naked!  So I blame my lack of conversation skills on the Sporti suit.  So, horrible reviews all around for this suit.  I'd rather spend $50 more on a better suit, and in turn, a better impression with Chris Lieto-look-alike.

On a more positive note, these are my tried-and-true goggles.  I've been swimming and racing in these goggles for almost 15 years and have never found a better pair.  5 stars all around...

Speedo Women's Vanquisher Goggles
So there you have it, folks.  My version of "What Not to Wear," swimming-style.  Spend those precious pennies on quality Speedo suits and goggles, not cheapo Sporti swimwear suits, unless you plan on sunbathing on the pool deck, watching Chris Lieto look-alikes tear it up in the water where you really want to be.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Remember the Wonder

Enjoying the gorgeous view of Skyline after climbing Pinehurst
    Last Sunday afternoon, I was cresting the top of Redwood Road on my bike when I spotted 2 bikes laying on the side of the road.  I could see one figure sitting down and one hovering over him.
    Immediately, my heart began to race.  My legs were thoroughly trashed from the mileage I had already ridden that day, and I had only 2 Clif Shotblocks left and was running low on water.  I calculated how long it would take me to descend into an area with decent cellphone reception to call 911.
    From a distance, I heard a voice-
    "Um, excuse me, Miss?"
    "Yes! How can I help?  Are you guys ok?  What do you need?" I shouted as I climbed towards them.  I quickly crossed over to the other side of the road, only to be met with young faces, dressed in cotton t-shirts and shorts, perfectly unharmed.
    "Oh yeah.  We're fine.  I was wondering if you could please take a picture of me and my friend." 
    Phew! Everyone was ok.
    "How old are you guys?" I inquired once my heartrate returned to normal.
    "We're 14 years old.  We rode all the way from Orinda.  So far, we've ridden 25 miles!"  The boy couldn't have shown me a prouder grin.  "We're heading to a bike shop in Castro Valley.  It's our longest ride yet!  Oh, and can you make sure you get the lake in the background when you take the picture?  Thanks."

    After I had snapped their picture, we chatted for a bit.  I applauded them on their mileage and they shared how they were interested in road biking and cyclocross. 
    "How much does your bike weigh?  What size tires are those?" they asked inquisitively.  I laughed to myself, as I could only imagine them later on in life, like the stereotypical cyclists who starred in those YouTube videos of "Sh*t Cyclists Say."

    It was endearing, to say the least, to see these two young boys adventurously making their way to new places via bicycles, and capturing it all on camera.  I recognized in them the initial excitement and wonder I once had felt the first time I experienced the world from a bicycle.  

    How many times had I ridden past that same exact place and instead been focused on my leg turnover and cadence, making sure that I was in the correct heartrate zone, or trying my best not to get dropped by the other riders?  I wanted to take a picture of these two adorable boys, but felt that could be considered somewhat stalker-ish, so instead I savored the important lessons these young 14 year-olds taught me in our brief conversation....

  • Once in awhile, take a break and enjoy the beauty of your surroundings.
  • Stay inspired.
  • Recognize how far you've come already while still courageously moving forward to the places you want to go.
  • Enjoying the sunshine on your bike sure beats playing Xbox inside.
  • Even if you've been riding your bike for years and have logged thousands of miles, always remember the wonder.