F4 IM MOO 08 Sherpa Application

16 01 2008

The following application was received at F4 World HQ this morning and will be reviewed as a potential candidate for joining the 16 FastForward Athletes who are preparing for one year to compete at Ironman Wisconsin on September, 7th, 2008…


Official F4 IM MOO Sherpa® Application

Name: Jennifer Lyn Szabo

Address: xx26 West 84th Circle #15

City/State/Zip: Arvada, CO 80003

Email: jens@fastforwardsports.net

Cell Phone: xxx- y60-8791 (Main means of communication during event)


In consideration of being permitted to become a Sherpa for FastForward Sports, LLC for the 2008 Triathlon Season, I hereby agree as follows: 1. I volunteer to wait hand and foot on needy nervous athletes and over demanding coaches accommodating their every need pre and post race. I understand that my assisting / volunteering will more than likely involve serious risk of physical injury to me or others, because of the Sherpa duty requirements. I understand that part of becoming a F4 IM MOO Sherpa® I will be required to leap tall buildings, stand in for an athlete if they cannot complete the race, turn water into wine and drive the official F4 vehicle cross country with all required equipment for the F4 IM MOO team. There may also be other risks not known or not reasonably foreseeable. I understand that I will be required to wake up before all athletes and coaches, plan and prepare all itineraries, be on course for up to twenty (20) hours race day, attain the ability to hold up to ten (10) water bottles six (6) coats, two (2) inhalers and four (4) bottles of sunscreen while cheering and ringing the official F4 IronMan cow bells. 2. On behalf of myself, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Read and Agreed to by:

Jennifer Lyn Szabo 01/15/2008 Jennifer Lyn Szabo

Print Name of Volunteer Date Signed Signature of Volunteer

List Summary of Qualifications:

  • 1982 Crossing Guard of the Year.
  • Carried 6th grader on body for years.
  • Obsessive Compulsiveness allowing for the ability to be over prepared.
  • Driving privileges in all mid-western states except Iowa where privileges are revoked from driving farm equipment until 2010.
  • Memorized the entire Madison, WI phone book including surrounding areas.
  • Pomona High School Marching Band 85-89, specializing in the triangle.
  • 1983 Girl Scouts of America Babysitter Certification.
  • Ability to wake up before 4:30 a.m. on a regular basis.
  • 10 years of cheering from diaphragm vocal training .

Important Meeting Dates and Training:

  • January 15, 2008 Application Deadline
  • January 15, 2008 Sherpa meeting -Wahoo’s
  • February 2, 2008 F4 IM MOO Sherpa® Tryouts
  • February 10, 2008 Sherpa meeting – Wahoo’s
  • February 18, 2008 Amino Vital Mixing Training
  • February 20, 2008 Sherpa meeting- Wahoo’s
  • March 2, 2008 Cliff Shot Gel squirting practice
  • March 8, 2008 Sherpa road trip meeting – Any margarita service restaurant in Moab!
  • March 23, 2008 Colorado Multi Sport Bike Schlepping Training
  • March 29, 2008 Sherpa meeting- Wahoo’s
  • April 10, 2008 F4 vehicle off road practice (bring your own helmet)
  • April 15, 2008 Sherpa meeting- Wahoo’s
  • April 23, 2008 Packing Special Needs Back Pack-REI, Boulder
  • May 1, 2008 Sherpa meeting- Wahoo’s
  • May 18, 2008 Sherpa Graduation
  • (Summer meeting dates TBD)

The above is (let’s hope) a light-hearted parody and not meant to be taken seriously. However, those of us who know Jen, probably know better and will likely see her at all of the above mentioned meetings as well as on course at IM MOO for 20+ on September 7th.


Zone 1 Swimming… Duh!

16 08 2007

Why do so many triathletes heed our coaches’ frequent advice to spend up to 60% of bike and run training time in Zone 1, but we hardly ever do so the same when we don the Speedo?

Many FastForward athletes rely on the camaraderie and coaching that comes along with official F4 workouts in order to train for the bike and run. The energy is high, there is just the right amount of accountability, and the ‘step by step’ instruction and support from the coach is really nice:).  I’m quite comfortable riding and running alone for hours, but for the same reasons stated above, have done 98% of my swimming over the past 6 years with a Masters swim class.

“Masters” refers more to us 19-and-over swimmers, rather than the presumed advanced ability level. A coach stands on the pool deck and provides assorted warm up/ main/ and cool down sets, while the swimmers seed themselves by ability, experience, and speed by lanes. The positives, as the aforementioned suggests, include some level of camaraderie (usually reserved for those few moments when resting on the wall), the scripted workout, and the occasional motivational or technique oriented words from the coach. The negatives include frequently poor lane etiquette (another post for another time), random workouts that likely are not in sync with your training/ racing schedule, and most importantly that nearly the entire workout is spent in Zone 2 or much higher.

For purposes of this triathlon- related post, Zone 4 represents swimming that is faster than Sprint distance (750m), Zone 3 comprises the range between Olympic (1500m) pace at the bottom and Sprint at the top, Zone 2 represents Ironman (2.4 mile) pace – Half Ironman (1.2 mile) pace, and Zone 1, ideally is anything slower than the pace at which you might “race” for 2.4 miles (a highly ‘conversational’ effort on the run or bike… a tad difficult in the water, but the idea is the same).

If Zone 1 is so important for developing muscle endurance, mitochondrial development, and aerobic/ fat-burning fitness, then why do most of us skip it in favor of 10 x 100 at LT, or 4 x 200 sets on a descending interval, or even the occasional 15 minute time trial?

Well here’s a starter list that you are welcome to add to:

  • Some of us are physically incapable of swimming more than 25 yards before reaching max heart rate. This is likely due to:
    • Body types
    • Poor technique
    • Poor breathing skills
    • Swimming too ‘fast’
    • Lack of flotation
  • Zone 1 is boring, while the above sets are exciting!
  • Competition with fellow swimmers
  • Lack of time per swim session/ per week
  • Masters- oriented sets that are designed primarily around LT/ Zone 3 swimming.

For 6 years I’d been caught in this vicious cycle of knowing I needed more ‘slow’ swimming, but relying on Masters for the motivation to even get in the pool in the first place. As fate would have it, after my DNF at IM CDA in June, I decided to commit to doing The 24 Hours of Triathlon– Solo on September 1st and 2nd, which will likely require swimming 15 x 800 meters in less than a 12 hour span (no swimming at night).

With this daunting task hanging over me in mid-July, only 6 weeks from the race, I decided to change my usual swim routine from 3 x week Masters, to 2 x Masters and 1 x long/ slow/ Zone 1 swim at the 50-meter pool. My first session was 3 x 20 minutes with 90-seconds rest when I could drink and get down a few calories as I’d need to do during the 24 Hour race.  As I fall into the category of “dense” body type and therefore have poor flotation, I use a ‘pull buoy’ that keeps my hips up and lessens the need to kick (similar to the effect of a wetsuit), resulting in a lower HR and breathing rate. I also alternate sets with/ without hand paddles, so that I build strength and technique but not so much that I risk shoulder injuries. I am going slow enough that I am able to breath in a 2-2-3 pattern that includes breathing to the left and right, minimizing impact on the neck and back muscles on my preferred side.

The 2nd week I increased to 4 x 20 minutes, then the third week to 5 x 800 meters to better replicate the demands of the race. I was adapting nicely to this long/ slow training stimulus, but the unexpected surprise came in a week # 4 when I joined my regular Masters class, and swam my fastest ever times for 100 and 50 yards, both coming late in the workout after 2500 yards of Zone 2+ swimming.

For many years now, I’ve been preaching to F4 runners and cyclists the need to build an aerobic “platform” before adding carefully measured doses of anaerobic work, and now finally the light bulb has gone off for me as well… but this time in the water… an environment in which I’d developed almost zero aerobic base over the past few years.

Further proof that I’d stumbled onto something so simple yet critical came this past Sunday at the 5430 Long Course Triathlon, where I swam a minute faster than last year, but with a heart rate 5-10 bpm lower, and I exited the water feeling fantastic then charged onto the bike fresher than ever!

Weekly Zone 1 swims will now be a staple on my training schedule going forward, and F4 TRI athletes may expect the same next season:)

Here are a few keys if you want to try to work them in yourself:

  • Swim alone– Any level of competition will get in the way.
  • Use a pull buoy if you need a little help with flotation.
    • Note- counter the likely dependency on this device by substituting a Masters class with a Drills day… again on your own.
  • Practice breathing to both sides When you can breath every third stroke and not get out of breath, then you know you are going slow enough.
  • Use the time to relax and enjoy some peace and quite.

Thanks for submitting a comment with your own thoughts, experiences, and further suggestions!


Why Wear TRI gear in a running race?

25 07 2007

Have you ever noticed that dude at your local 5K who insists on telling the world that he’s a triathlete by wearing his ultra-aerodynamic tri shorts, top, or worst-of-all his one-piece suit?  Experts tell us that there are little or no benefits to aero positioning on the bike until about 18 mph, therefore that tight fitting singlet may not be much help unless you are running sub 4 mile after sub 4 mile.

Enjoy the opportunity to wear some looser fitting running shorts, and top… still made of a breathable fabric of course, and let your closely shaven legs tell the crowd that you could run just as fast after a 1500 meter swim and 40K bike.

Am I missing anything?