Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Q&A with Xterra Wetsuits

Several weeks ago I was asked to be part of the Xterra Wetsuits photo shoot with famed photographer Tim Tadder. It was a really fun experience and my first time doing a studio shoot. After the fact, I had a quick Q&A with Xterra Wetsuits about the shoot and about all things triathlons. Check it out below. Thanks for reading! -HH

What was it like being a part of the Tim Tadder/XTERRA Wetsuits photo shoot?

This was my second photo shoot with Tim and Xterra Wetsuits and Tim produces some incredible shots! It comes as no surprise though because he asks a lot from his subjects. In action shots, he’ll have us repeat the motions over and over again. One thing’s for certain though, when he says he got his shot, he knows it! That’s how good he is! Great fun. 

What did you like/dislike about shooting in the studio opposed to in the field?

Obviously there’s a big difference in shooting on location versus in a studio. On location is fun because you can use the natural elements to your advantage. Shooting early in the morning as the sun is rising calls for a great back drop. This time around, there were a ton of athletes at the outdoor shoot so there was definitely some down time in between shots.

In the studio, there were fewer athletes so the turnover of being in front of the camera was much quicker. That was my first experience shooting in studio so the lights and constant touch-ups were a bit new. Working one-on-one with Tim however was very cool. Never a dull moment with him!

What was the hardest part about the photo shoot experience?

Nothing was too difficult honestly, but if I had to pick, I would say making sure Tim was satisfied with what he got. Sometimes he’d get pretty animated, especially at the outdoor shoot and he’d want you to reproduce over and over again with more and more intensity. Nonetheless, I saw how hard he worked so I wanted to reciprocate.

What are your favorite open water swim and wetsuit tips?

Getting a big warm-up in on-course if possible is helpful. Swim out to the first turn buoy, stop, turn-around and try to gauge in which direction you float relative to the buoy in order to read which way the current is flowing. This will help you decide where on the start line you should position yourself and what kind of line you should take to the first buoy, come race time.
As for wetsuit tips, I like trimming the bottoms of the suit legs to allow for quicker T1 times​. Also, shoulder flexibility is a big thing when wearing wetsuits so hiking it up a bit helps, but I have to say, Xterra's wetsuits are the most flexible around so most of the time its much ado about nothing!

What are the pros and cons of being a pro triathlete?

Great question! Sometimes the training can get a bit repetitive and tedious but living in LA, I have access to myriad roads for riding and trails for running. Con-- I do a ton of traveling to random and interesting places but I have zero time before or after a race to "visit" those places. All work and no play. Pros-- always wanted to be a pro-athlete my entire life. Mission accomplished. I love avoiding the 9-5 cubicle job, at least for now. And I love testing my body to the limit. We only live once, so why not?​!

What are your top 3 motivators when you train and prepare for an upcoming race?

Apart from pegging certain competitors, it's a matter of improving upon my last result or even the last time I raced that race. It's all relative though, because conditions could be vastly different, competition different, my physical shape could be different. For me, it comes down to complete and utter laser focus when the gun goes off.

Currently my top motivators are to qualify for the 5150 series finale in September and for the 70.3 World Championships in October.​

Do you have a motto or mantra that helps push you through triathlons or training?

Recently, my stolen motto has been "Let's get into it", something Bear Grylls from Man v. Wild used to say every time he was about to embark on a crazy adventure.​ I guess before that and still today, my motto is "to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift". Pre's quote.

During a race though, if say I had a not-so-great swim or a not-so-great bike, instead of throwing in the towel and giving up like a wimp, I say to myself, “what can I do right now, to turn this race around?” You’d be surprised what you can do with a quick attitude adjustment. I’ve turned numerous crappy days into top-10 and even top-5 finishes.

What advice would you give to the competing age grouper who wants to join the pro ranks?

Jumping up a level is definitely a big transition and its important to embrace the humbling experience of getting your a$$ handed to you in your first couple of races! At the same time though, it’s motivating in and of itself and before you know it you'll be dishing out the beat downs! Stay hungry and enjoy it all because it’s a unique experience!​  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ran My Way to 7th at 5150 Giant Eagle

A quick report while in transit. This point to point race in Columbus, OH called for an excruciatingly early wake-up time, 3:40am, and mind you I was on West coast time!

The swim spread out pretty quickly and I was able to stay on the feet of a couple of swimmers. I made a push in the last 200m and exited 7th about 45 seconds back from the leader, Ben Collins. He would end up winning this race wire to wire.

I couldn’t find the power output on the bike to stay with the riders with whom I came out of the water. Alone again…getting pretty tired of this! I tried to stay as positive as possible knowing I’d get my chance for redemption on the run. 

Finally making it to T2 in downtown Columbus, I blew out of there and actually posted the fastest T2 split by 4 seconds. The only turn-around on the course was at about 2 miles and I could see I had moved into 9th and was bearing down on 2 more runners. Being fresh off a 70.3 in Wisconsin and this being my 3rd race in three weekends, I wasn’t sure how my legs would respond but they seemed to do just fine! I secured 8th within a mile and a half and caught 7th by mile 5. This was where I would eventually end up in 1:48:42 but for my run split I wasn’t finished! I knew there were a handful of very good runners in the field and I wanted to see where I stacked up on fatigued legs. I pressed on and was able to grab the 3rd fastest run split, missing 2nd by 3 seconds!

I have aspirations to race Boulder 70.3 this coming weekend for a fourth race in a row, but my body is hammered and my neck looks like I’m shedding a layer of skin I have so much chaffage. As you’re wondering, yes, I’m chasing points for HyVee. Boulder is the last opportunity and yet again, I’m on the cusp. The field is ridiculous so it would take the race of my life to make it happen, but I’m always up for a good challenge!

Thank you to my amazing sponsors for allowing this run of races to happen.  Support me by supporting my sponsors. It’s all cyclical, I promise! Skechers PerformanceShoes, Xterra Wetsuits, Rudy Project helmets and eyeware, DT Swiss wheels andhubs, Champion System custom apparel, Cobb Cycling saddles.

Thanks for reading, talk soon. -HH

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Gen 2 Cobb Seat Review

Last season I switched bike saddles from ISM to CobbCycling. Working directly with John Cobb, he showed me that the ISM Adamo saddle was too wide for my hip size and it hindered my power output from my pedal stroke because my legs were pushed too far out wide. He outfitted my ride initially with the Cobb Plus saddle because it would provide pressure relief while at the same time remaining firm. When I race, I have a tendency to position myself on the nose of the saddle and it’s essential that I have adequate enough support up front to be able to maximize output.

Cobb Plus saddle
 That was a great Cobb starter saddle for me. When I saw their new Gen2 saddle come out, I had a feeling that was the right seat for me. It has a bit of a bowed front to it, that allows me to lock in the seat at a more level position while still maintaining the ability to ride off the front of it, because of the downward shape to the nose. 

The Gen2 saddle still allows for great pressure relief, in addition to a narrower elongated front that provides relief to the upper hamstrings. This new saddle also boasts a state-of-the-art convertible rear water system mount. In a nutshell it reduces the number of brackets, screws and clamps one would need for an ordinary mount system. It has also been wind-tunnel tested and proven to be the most aerodynamic mount system on the market.

Gen 2 saddle
If you haven’t tried out a Cobb saddle, there’s a major void in your cycling life. Get your hands on a saddle so you can understand first-hand why I’m writing this review. Cobb does more than simply manufacture a cool, supportive saddle.  They understand what cyclists need out of their saddles and are constantly reworking their technology to maximize our comfort and ability.

You can check out their saddles here. And for a quick review on the new Gen2 saddle from John Cobb, check that out here.

Thanks for reading, talk soon.