Weekly Mailbag–May 8th, 2010

WeeklyMailbagIconHere’s this week’s edition of the weekly mailbag.  This is a weekly series where I feature a handful of the e-mailed questions I received from the previous week or so.  I try and pick a wide variety of questions. Some are technical in nature, some sport related, and sometimes all sorts of other randomness – as you’ll see below.


This week’s mailbag covers the following topics:

1) Swimming Metronome Legality
2) Makeshift Swim Buoys
3) Coaching
4) GPS Survey
5) Garmin 310XT and Garmin 405 rebates

Question #1: Swimming Metronome
From Spokane Al

“I have a question. I recently began using a Wetronome for swimming in the pool, which puts out a steady beep in my ear to help me with swimming cadence. Could I use this in a race?”

(Side note: I LOVE Al’s blog, tons of entertaining stuff there, along with snippets of his relentless training)

Hey Al – Here’s a http://forum.slowtwitch.com/gforum.cgi?post=2474358’>Slowtwitch thread that will probably interest you, with exact snippets on the topic from Charlie Crawford – the USAT Head Ref.   From what I can tell, it’s a very similar device to what Charlie’s describing in his response, so it looks like based on that it’s probably not allowed based on the fact that it could be considered a headset device – like an iPod.  You can have it anywhere else on your body and it would be legal, but not on your head.

Note that many folks have found that Charlie is super responsive in e-mails and it never hurts to e-mail him directly on a specific product that you aren’t sure is legal.  Also note that in some cases USAT rules differ from WTC rules (which cover Ironman and Ironman 70.3 races), so always be aware of little quirks there.

Question #2: Makeshift Swim Buoys
From Brandon-

(Side note: Brandon runs a great triathlon non-profit program out in California for youth in some at-risk areas.  They focus on triathlon as a way to engage the kids.  You can read all about it at the link above…as well as help them out.)

But here’s his question:

“For the splash and dash next weekend I’m thinking of creative ways to make buoys in the water without spending much money.  I have a guy who has some anchors and chains i can use; my plan is to get some big beach balls and create an anchoring platform out of something buoyant to attach them too.  Any better idea?  We want to spend as little money as possible :-)”

I like you’re idea – thinking it through a bit…I’d start with 48” Giant Beach Balls, then combine it with some sort of netting over the top to basically make a way to attach rope to it.
Meaning, my thinking would be that typically swim buoy’s get the crap beat out of them in the turns, so by basically making a ‘wrapper’ for the buoy out of the net, you’re ensuring that the anchor system has something really solid to grip onto.  Create the wrapper using the netting and a few zip-ties on the bottom piece (or make it look really pretty with Nylon cord).
Then for the anchor I’d just use some more nylon cord attached to a big cinder block or two.  Tie the Nylon cord through the netting and down to the blocks….and throw the whole thing overboard.

So  – Anybody else have any creative solutions?

Question #3: Coaching
From AJ-

“I kicked off my season with a AG win this past weekend up [Local Race]…with a Hellova Dis Grace of a swim…my bike was on fire and my run held off everyone that beat my on a terrible terrible swim- I read on your blog about taking some advice from a coach. I want to find a coach in the area that I can actually go see, not just some online email/training peaks thing, any ideas/sources?”

I’m pretty lucky to have a coach (Coach Alan Melvin) who is not only awesome, but also local.  One of the things I really enjoy about having a local coach is that we can hop in the pool to work on technique issues (of which I have plenty), and just as easily head over to the track to sort out form issues.  Most of the in person work is more geared towards technique, or working through gear-related items – such as fixing position on my bike.

You can look through the USAT Coaching directory as a good starting point – but I highly recommend talking to folks in the area who have him or her as a coach.  For example, my Coach is purely via word of mouth (and the directory), and has no website.  He has a small group of athletes that he is incredibly dedicated to.  Back a bit ago I put together a whole lot of thoughts around triathlon coaching, you may want to check that out here.

Question #4: GPS Survey
From Laszlo

“Hi DC – I am Laszlo from Hungary, actually I am graduating from technical uni. I am making a wide range international research on GPS navigation practices and user preferences. I’ve already done the local, Hungarian phase, which actually ended in pretty fine results, 411 completed surveys in total. I couldn’t have got to this point without help of a lot of people, who posted a intro to the study and the survey link on their website.”

I’ve gone ahead and posted his Method Samples document, and a snippet of his research description here (actually some funny interesting data in these).

I’m always up for helping people – especially folks focusing on understanding GPS technology more, and even more college students.  So give Laszlo a hand and fill out his survey.  It only takes a moment.

Weekend Item #5: Garmin 310XT Rebate

Finally, one last item – as an FYI, Garmin has started a rebate program for the Garmin Forerunner 310XT ($50 off), and the Garmin Forerunner 405 ($50 off).  Personally, I LOVE the 310XT – and it’s without a doubt my favorite Garmin sports device, primarily due to it’s versatility.  You can check out my 70+ page in depth review on it here, if you’re interested. 

On a slightly related note, I got word that a Garmin Forerunner 110 media trial unit is in the mail set for arrival on Monday, from Garmin.  So you should be hearing my thoughts on that soon.  Though, if you’re triathlon focused – the 310XT is probably better choice there from a feature standpoint (compatibility with bike sensors, etc…).

You can get the 310XT rebate here, and the 405 rebate here.  Note it does have to be from a Garmin authorized retailer, such as Amazon or the like.

Recent Mailbags:

Weekly Mailbag – May 1st, 2010

– Open water swimming options in DC
– Why I will not ‘Share the Damn Road’…Part II
– Modifying the Garmin Auto-Pause Speed
– Training Peaks and the Mac Device agent

Weekly Mailbag – April 24th, 2010

– How to turn off that annoying automatic opening of Garmin Training Center
– How to trim/edit workouts that have accidental chunks of time/distance on them
– Choosing between the FR101 and FR305 for petite runners
– Questions on cooking hard boiled eggs using Sous Vide

All past mailbags here.

Have a good weekend all – and for those racing Rev3 this weekend – see ya out there on the course!


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  1. SSB

    For the buoys, check with other clubs, particularly yacht clubs. They might let you borrow them. The bigger the better, so maybe inflatable kiddie pools (I paid $5 for one the other day for my ice baths).