Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Beauty: #WipeforWater Challenge

Wipes are not just for babies! As a mom and an athlete, wipes can be a life saver. In the case of Neutrogena Naturals, a water saver, too. In California we are in the middle of a serious drought. Every day the local, regional and state news seems to have an update about how Californians need to further reduce water consumption. We've stopped watering our lawns, washing our cars, running the water while brushing our teeth and now we are at the point where there are PSAs on the radio encouraging folks to shower no longer than one song on the radio. The time is right for the Neutrogena Naturals "WipeforWater Challenge!

I've been using the Neutrogena Naturals wipes for about 2-3 weeks now. These handy wipes are supposed to easily remove make-up. Admittedly, outside of the occasional application of mascara, I don't have time for make-up. The wipes did an OK job of removing the mascara, but I was wearing waterproof mascara and that is a little tough to remove regardless of what you use. The wipes did an excellent job of cleaning my face leaving it feeling fresh and without any residue. The wipes have a pleasant scent that isn't overpowering. With a baby due next month, I'll be sure to include a package of Neutrogena Naturals in my hospital bag to freshen up between huffing and puffing. :-)

I received these complimentary cleansing towelettes for testing purposes. #wipeforwater #contest #Influenster #NeutrogenaNaturals

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Tips for Smart Racing at Ironman Arizona

Ironman Arizona race day is on the horizon. You’ve put in the work, the sacrifice and now only your final preparations and 140.6 miles are what separate you, the starting and finishing lines. To help you make the most of your training and all the energy that you have put forth to prepare for your long course adventure, here are 12 tips to maximize your performance.

Swim - A single 2.4 mile loop in Tempe Town Lake. You’ll begin with a few thousand of your friends in a mass start. Expect waters temperatures to be in the low to mid-60 degree range.

1. Study the course.
Many triathletes harbor the most anxiety about the swim. Help calm your nerves by being as familiar with the venue and swim course as possible. Before you arrive in Tempe take advantage of the myriad of videos available online. Viewing the swim venue, start and finish from various perspectives can help with visualization and creating your strategy.

2. Preview & practice.
Take advantage of the pre-race swim. Getting into the water at Tempe Town Lake will give you an opportunity to experience water temperature and visibility. Take some time to view what the course looks like from water level and pre-plan you starting position. You need not swim long, but swimming a bit on the course will help stretch out your muscles and shake out those pre-race nerves.

3. Goggles. Have options.
The swim course will have you headed due east into the rays of the rising sun. Choosing mirrored or charcoal colored lenses may help take a bite out of the bright morning light. If possible check out the swim venue at the projected swim time prior to race day. This will help you get a sense of what choice may work best for you.

4. Time your water entry wisely.
The swim is a deep water start. This means you will be treading water before the starting cannon sends you on your way. While your wetsuit provides some buoyancy you’ll want to conserve as much energy as possible. Pre-plan when you will enter the water. Enter too early and you may waste energy or get chilled. Wait too late and you’ll be scrambling to get in position which may cause you added stress.

5. Prepare Mentally.
Spend the time to prepare your mind for some of the specific challenges of the swim; congested swimming replete with flying limbs and limited visibility due to murky water and morning sun-light. Know where you are on the swim by studying the course marking and using landmarks like bridges. For example, the turnaround is just beyond the Rural Road Bridge and once you’ve passed the Mill Ave Bridge you’ll soon be transitioning to the bike!

Bike – A three loop course over relatively flat terrain where wind is the greatest variable.

6. Preview the course. At ~37 miles per loop, driving or riding the course earlier in the week will give you first-hand knowledge of the terrain and variability of the winds without taking too much time.  Note that while much of the course is flat, there are gradual inclines and false flats. Be cautious not to burn too much energy fueled by your fitness and excitement in the early miles of your ride. Also, note the location of aid stations and special needs so you can plan accordingly.

7. Race your race. It is no secret, pacing is key to success in any race at any distance. However, the nature of the flattish Ironman Arizona bike course and potential for favorable winds early in your bike ride can be a recipe for going too hard, too fast. Stick with the plan generated by your training preparations. Whether you are riding according to heart rate, power or a combination of various metrics, stick to your plan. Keep your ego in check and let the early ‘fasties’ get their speed on during loop one. Race your race.  While you’ll want to capitalize on tailwinds, riding steady and sticking to your plan will set you up for stronger bike and run splits.

8. Stretch it out. You’ve spent the money on your aero-equipment and put in the time training your body to ride in the aero position.  To maximize your performance and cheat the wind to the ultimate you’ll want to stay in the aero position as much as possible. However, taking the opportunity to briefly stretch out your back and body on some inclines can help ensure you’ll keep cranking like a locomotive and be ready to fly on the run, too.

Run  - A three loop course circumventing Tempe Town Lake featuring some short hills in Papago Park.

9. Gear Up. The run course offers little in the way of shelter.  Keep your skin covered. Whether you choose a visor or hat, aim for a comfortable, yet snug fit to withstand any potential winds.

10. Note Course Features. The run traverses mostly concrete sidewalks and features twisty paths, some rolling hills, bridge crossings and some hills as you navigate Papago Park. One way to check out the course and save your legs is to take a spin on your bike and get the lay of the land. Locate the placement of aid stations and special needs, too. The more you know, the calmer your nerves and the more sound your race plan.

11. Keep your Head in the Game. While a 3 loop run offers a tremendous amount of spectator support as well as the ability to intelligently plan your pacing strategy, there are a few keys to staying positive over 26.2. Know that you will see mile signs for laps 2 and 3 while you are ‘only’ on lap 1. Stay focused and in the moment by preparing some mental cues and mantras before race day. Also, recognize that you will be passing the finish line area twice before it is your turn to hear your name announced as you make your glorious approach down the finishing stretch.

12. Adjust your nutrition. Unless you come from a climate similar to the desert air of Tempe, the dry air / low humidity may require that you up your intake of fluids. Keep this in mind when you arrive in Arizona and the days leading up to race morning. Be prepared to make adjustments start during the race as well.

You’ve done the work. Race day is your reward. Good Luck!

Rachel Sears Casanta is a retired professional triathlete, USA Triathlon Level II coach, freelance writer and co-founder of Hypercat Racing, a bike fit and retail coaching studio based in Ventura, Calif. She coaches runners, cyclists, duathletes and triathletes to their achieve their personal best.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Truth about Halloween Candy

Halloween can be a downright frightful time for the endurance athlete’s diet. Whether you are aiming to maintain your hard-earned race weight or working diligently to avoid off-season weight gain, Halloween and its ghoulish treats can truly sneak up on your waist line. If you scour the internet you’ll find no shortage of ‘eat this, not that’ or ‘which candy is better to eat’ stories. When the candy shows up at your office, screams at you from store shelves or finds its way into your child’s trick or treat bag, you probably aren’t going to spend time analyzing which snack size candy bar is more nutritious. Reality check. Candy isn’t nutritious. It is a treat!  Save some time counting protein and fat grams and navigate the Halloween holiday with these six sensible strategies.

·         If you are welcoming ghosts and goblins to your home on Halloween night consider offering non-candy alternatives. Hand out Halloween themed school supplies like mini-paper pads, pencils, erasers, rulers or stickers. You’ll save kids one less serving of sugar and provide them something useful and unique.  Plus this strategy will help keep left over candy from somehow finding its way into your tummy and spoiling your power-to-weight ratio.

·         Buy candy that won’t tempt your sweet tooth. Everyone knows that it is easy to bust open the candy packages before the first ‘trick or treat’ on October 31st. Why tempt yourself? If you love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Mr. Good Bars don’t buy a 5lb bag of those tasty temptations. Actually don’t buy them at all. Opt for a candy that you think is fun or nostalgic (think Tootsie Rolls or Smarties), but choices that won’t have you sneaking around like a ninja to snag a sugary fix.

·         Have a treat not the whole bag. Everything in moderation, so the saying goes. Enjoy a few of your favorite sweets. Savor them, soak up their non-nutritional wondrous-ness and call it a day. It is no secret that deprivation can cause intense desire and an absolute loss of will-power. Plan ahead, allow yourself a couple of treats and don’t look back. (You don’t want to see what’s chasing you anyway).

·         Portion Control. Over the years Halloween candy sizes have shrunk. Gone are the days of full-size candy bars or even half-sized versions. Today we have ‘bite-sized’ and ‘snack-sized’, perfect for enjoying a taste (not a ton) of yummies. You can probably satisfy your own inner sugar devil with a small sampling of a few candies; those bon bons that you cannot resist. Be mindful of what you eat. More than a few can quickly equal a pile of empty wrappers. Step away from the candy bowl!

·         Out of sight, out of mind. Candy displayed in a festive holiday bowl will tempt and taunt you. Avoid devouring candy before the first goblin shows up at your doorstep by keeping it concealed in the deep, dark recesses of your cabinets. Hide it behind yours canisters of recovery drink, protein bars and gummy this and thats. Bring out your treats when the doorbell rings. Cross your fingers for many ghosts and goblins to take the candy off your hands.

·         Go out on Halloween. If your will power is next to none, don’t risk holiday candy left-overs. Don’t buy it in the first place! Go for a run (if you dare), hit the gym or live a little and go to a Halloween party. Remember, candy eaten while in costume still has calories. Boo-hoo!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

6 Reasons - Racing Local Rules!

As we move closer to the end of the 2014 triathlon racing season, it is really easy to get caught up in the race entry frenzy for 2015.  Pushed by the pressure to enter before races sell-out for the biggest, most popular triathlons, it is easy to spend your race entry budget before can realize you don’t even have one! The lure of Ironman branded races or televised events like the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon is undeniable and for good reason, these events are fun and exciting. However, be sure to figure in and support your local multisport events, you’ll be glad you did.

      1. Local races support local causes. More often than not, triathlons in your community support organizations that do good work in your area. Put your race entry money to work. Enter events that give back to your community.

      2. Sleep in your own bed. Multisport racing demands that you be the kind or queen of logistics. From packing your gear, navigating to far off race locations and keeping tight timelines, racing out of your area means sleeping somewhere foreign. Maximize your training, get the best rest you can before race day by choosing some events close to home. You’ll get more restful sleep and likely race faster.


3. Learn to win. “Winning” means different things to different athletes. That said if you aim to be on the podium, you need to practice leading and winning. Local, grass-roots, community type races can give you the opportunity to practice skills, pacing and racing strategies. Winning doesn’t happen by accident. Use smaller races or events where you have first-hand course knowledge to hone your craft.



      4. Family friendly. Chances are you’ll be able to wheel the kids in the stroller unrestricted around the race venue and everyone can get up and close to see the fun of triathlon. You might even be able to carry or run with your tot down the finish chute…a no, no in certain ‘larger’ branded events.


          5. The Expo. Smaller independent races feature local businesses in the expo. Explore companies that support your multisport habit right in your own backyard. Sample their products and services.  Feel good about patronizing small businesses that want to support you and your triathlon habit.

      6. Schwag and awards. If you aren’t used to climbing atop the podium, you might be surprised to be a big fish in a small pond at your hometown triathlon. Even if you don’t find yourself in one of the top few places in your age group, you might snag some race schwag. Most local events have a raffle or schwag giveaway featuring products from local businesses. Just remember, if you win something, it is nice to thank the folks who provided your prize or goodies.

Rachel Sears Casanta is a retired professional triathlete, USA Triathlon Level II coach, freelance writer and co-founder of Hypercat Racing, a bike fit and retail coaching studio based in Ventura, Calif.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Product Review: SCOTTeVEST - Sterling Jacket for Women

This is a jacket that I wish I had years ago when I was globe trotting and racing triathlons near and far. Traveling light is paramount to a stress free experience as is keeping important items close by and away from the sticky hands of would-be thiefs. This jacket is your personal secret agent costume featuring a RFID blocking pocket to protect your sensitive possessions (ie credit cards & passport) from skimmers.

The Sterling Jacket for women, made by SCOTTeVest is available is six colors including black, beige, fog, navy, red and boysenberry. I choose the navy, since I wear so much blue, but I'm still thinking boysenberry would have been a great choice, too. Of course, might as well add black, beige and fog, too! The Sterling is machine washable so if you find yourself covered with trail dust, mud or peanut butter and jelly fingerprints from your kid, no worries.

I really love the cut of the Sterling jacket. It is tailored to the feminine shape without being tight. The jacket converts to a vest with a few quick unzips to remove the arms. I ordered a size medium and it fits nicely though at 5'10,  I wonder if a size large would have been even better. I suppose it depends on how much I pack into each of the 23 pockets. Yes, 23! The Sterling features artfully placed pockets with zippers and velcro to carry everything from your gadgets, writing implements, ID/cards, a water bottle and just about anything you can dream up. That brings me to the video below. As mother to an animal loving toddler, sometimes pockets are needed to carry a few 'extra' friends.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Recap: Bike to Work Week

I used to ride my bike for work. As a professional triathlete, riding a bike is pretty important to the job equation. I always felt a little silly when "Bike to Work Week" would roll around. If the bike is my work, how do I ride to it? How do I measure the miles of "Bike to Work Week"? Where do the work miles start? Where do they end? When I have I arrived at work?

Fast forward to today. I am now a retired professional triathlete. I still ride regularly, just not as far. Heck, I even participate in races now and again. However, "Bike to Work Week" rolls around and I still feel kind of goofy. I co-own Hypercat Racing with my husband, a legitimate brick and mortar place of business (and work), but I work from home 6 of 7 days a week so I can be with my toddler.

Darn it. How can I do "Bike to Work Week"?

This year, I decided it didn't matter where work was, or that I was working most of the week from home. That meant my "bike to work" started and finished at home. Heck, I'm still working. I'm riding my bike. That qualifies, right?

I rode Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In the spirit of my pre-baby life and old pro racing days, I rode my bike to the "Law Day 5k" in Ventura, Calif. Old habits die hard!

 I won my age group and set a season best time.

Rachel Sears Casanta is a former professional triathlete, coach and co-owner of Hypercat Racing, an endurance sport coaching and bike fit studio based in Ventura, California. Mom to an energetic toddler, when she is not chasing her son, Rachel is busy helping athletes achieve their goals while herself keeping fit in the water, on the bike and on the run. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bike Tech Support at XTERRA Renegade Triathlon & Duathlon

Hypercat Racing is proud to offer bike tech support again this year at the Xterra Renegade Off Road Triathlon and Duathlon at Bonelli Park in San Dimas, CA. 

Look for the Hypercat Racing tent on race morning and Philip Casanta for your last minute bike tech needs. If you left something behind at home don't stress, we've got you covered! Hypercat Racing will have multisport gear, racing supplies and products to help you be as prepared as possible for race day.

About the Xterra Renegade Triathlon and Duathlon
The calm lake and abundant trails make Bonelli Park the perfect setting for the #XTERRA #RenegadeOffRoad Tri. This 1/2 mile swim, 15 mile (2-loop) bike and 3 mile trail run is challenging enough for the seasoned triathlete yet short enough to entice novices. The mountain bike course has a beginner/intermediate rating. The bike course is a mixture of paved roads, fire roads and single track trails. The trail run is hilly with a mixture of paved paths, fire roads and single track trails. XTERRA Renegade participants are eligible for XTERRA Championship points!