Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My GOTRIbal Weekend

I spent last weekend in San Diego. I went there for the Conference that I was supposed to attend last year but got canceled. Last time I took my daughter and we stayed with family, but she didn't want to go this time because she didn't want to miss school. I ended up staying with friends who were also attending the conference and racing the next day and that was a a lots of fun.

GOTRIbal, for those not familiar with it, is an organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in endurance sports, for the goal of empowering wome. When I first got into triathlon, I was quite surprised at how the men outnumbered the women. I figured it was a sport where women can compete on the same playing field so the numbers would be more even, at least here in the US, where Title IX has encouraged so many more women to be active in sports.

I also think that women have a unique advantage in endurance sports because we tend to be mentally tough, yet not stupid tough-guy macho. Of course, this a complete generalization, but I still don't see any reason why women can't do as well as men in endurance sports and athletes like Chrissie Wellington -- who will probably outright win an Ironman some day -- are showing what women are capable of.

To get back to the conference though...

I got in pretty early on Friday because I started driving late Thurs. night and stayed in Coalinga on the way down. I'm not sure I'll do that again because I was able to make the drive in eight hours including stops and that's reasonable to do in one day. After unpacking, visiting and such, it was time to go on an Open Water Swim with another friend, but they ended up stuck at work, so we went right to the Happy Hour instead.

I actually had a glass of wine, mainly because there wasn't anything else. It was Barefoot wine and I kind of liked it. I'm not a big wine drinker but this one was good -- not too dry, but no sickly sweet either.

We were all hungry so we ate our bars from our goodie bags (there were a lot, more than you usually get) and I got to collect a ton of wrappers for the Vineman 70.3 contest. There was also chocolate. It had cayenne pepper in it and reaction to it was mixed. Some loved it; I hated it. I gave my second piece away.

The goodie bag also had a cool IronGirl carabiner key chain and the most awesome multi-tool from Trek. It was much nicer than ones I have paid for. I plan to make it my main multi-tool from now on.

The best part of the happy hour was meeting the other women though. I ended up in a cabana with a bunch of older women -- all at least 50 -- I was one of the youngest. That's unusual and was lots of fun.

The next day we got up at the crack of dawn and attended a Boot Camp. I've never done on before, but it had a lot in common with a typical Crossfit workout -- running from station to station doing things that worked multiple muscle groups. I don't think it's something I'll be seeking out, but I can see why people enjoy that style of workout as it has a lot of the things I like about Crossfit.

Boot camp was followed by a tasty breakfast with a Welcome speech. Then we had a bit of time to visit the Expo before the various talks and clinics started. Tanya, the owner of GOTRIbal, had asked the presenters to make their presentations as interactive as possible and a lot of the presenters were quite successful at doing that.

I had planned to attend a talk about hormones but ended up at the talk on finding your racing weight. I'm not trying to lose weight, as many of the gals in the room were, but I figured you can never learn too much about nutrition. The first thing we learned is that it's not about the weight on the scale but about body fat and that, for my age, optimal racing weight is having a body fat percentage between 14 and 22%. That was very vindicating for me as these recommendations were based on research done by the author of Racing Weight. Now when non-athletes give me a hard time about my body fat percentage, I can point out that it's smack dab in the middle of the optimal range for an endurance athlete my age!

For the next class, I went to a Run clinic. I found most of the tips to be pretty basic, stuff we'd already covered at Track through my club, but it was fun to do the drills.

My final session before lunch was on Active Release Therapy (ART), a type of massage/physical therapy. I had heard of it but never experienced it before. The presenter demoed on people in the audience. I got to demonstrate leaning forward and received a t-shirt for my participation. Afterward, I asked if he was going to do any work on people in his booth. So he grabbed the table and I explained my woes and he did some stuff to me and also had me run a few times in between stretches. I felt pretty good after but I didn't realize exactly how helpful ART would be until my race the next day. As I said in my race report / Countdown to IMAZ, I not only ran the entire 5K but I PRed the distance!

Lunch was tasty. There was a panel of women who got asked questions. There was a youngster, someone who'd been racing a long time, etc. One of them was this gorgeous woman who was definitely taller and not as lean as your typical endurance athlete. But, I repeat, she was gorgeous. And athletic looking, just not in the stick thin way you typically see from endurance athletes.

Anyway, she talked about people giving her a hard time about her weight. She actually had some random dude tell her she was too big to be cycling during a charity cycling event. Seriously? I don't know who he was, but his comment was ridiculous. She's also being told all the time to lose some weight to get faster. Then she goes out and wins her age group and qualifies for Kona.

Now, I can certainly see people under-estimating her because she hasn't got "the look" they are expecting. I've experienced that in reverse where people assume I'm going to be tough competition because I look the part. But to be hassled about your weight when you aren't even fat?! I'm kind of glad I'm in triathlon up here in the Bay Area where people are generally more accepting of various body types in the sport. Or, if they think the things that get said to Whitney, they at least keep their mouths shut about it.

After lunch, I attended a talk by professional athlete Lesley Patterson. She talked about modifying generic training plans to fit you. There was

Then I did a strength Training at home talk that was more clinic than talk. (I wouldn't normally do two strength training sessions in one day, but it was a good talk.) This was followed by a swim clinic. I figured it would be geared to beginners but I wanted to swim as I hadn't managed to do it that week at all. So I attended. And learned stuff and crap like that. Heh.

Seriously, I learned to dolphin dive. But what is more important is that I got to experience how helpful it is to dolphin dive! I will now add this technique to my arsenal for future "run from the beach" triathlons. I am hopeful it will take at least a couple of seconds off my swim times, maybe more.

In between all this, I visited a lot of booths at the expo and spent a lot of dough. I got some tri shorts because I'd left mine at home and some tri slide because I was near to being out and had lost a can at home and a few other goodies.

After the conference was over, we all went home, had some BCAAs (Branch chain amino acids, aka Chicken) and went to bed earlier than I've ever gone to bed in my life so we could get up at the crack of before the crack of dawn so we could get to transition early for the race.

All in all, it was a good day. Informative, fun and I'll definitely attend again next year.
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