Thursday, 19 June 2014 12:24

3:56 versus 4:06. What Is The Difference?

[caption id="attachment_9613" align="alignright" width="225"]3:56 marathon - ironman - goal - running Finishing the marathon at IMTX 2013.[/caption] 3:56.  This is an arbitrary number but it made so much sense to me during my run in Myrtle Beach while on vacation.  I kept repeating this number over and over.  I was essentially cheering myself on to a 3:56 and all the while I was comparing it to 4:06.  The chant in my head eventually became 3:56 versus 4:06, 3:56 versus 4:06.  Every time I felt like I could not take another step in the pea soup humidity I heard those words and was able to keep moving until the run was finally over and I doubled over in a pool of sweat and exhaustion.  Deep down I knew I could do it but it took a simple and somewhat silly mantra to push me to that level. Now, what does 3:56 mean?  As I mentioned previously, this number is arbitrary but at the same time it is also a number that is below 4 hours.  A sub-4 hour marathon is my goal, and has been, for the Ironman marathon.  For some reason this is the holy grail for me.  I could take 2:20 in the water and ride for 7 hours but if I broke 4 hours in the marathon I would be smiling from ear to ear.  Why? No clue, but it is what it is. When you break down the 4:06 pace versus the 3:56 pace you get a difference of :23/mile.  That may or may not seem like much but to me it looks like they are worlds apart.  Why? The reason is that in the three Ironman races I have competed in my times have looked like this:  4:09, 4:06, 4:06.  Yes the last two are identical and both have their own stories.  The first 4:06 happened at IMAZ 2012 after a bike wreck where my hip was throbbing and making a running motion with my right arm was difficult.  The second 4:06 happened at IMTX 2013 where we were racing on the surface of the sun with lava running over the ground.  I believe the heat index that day was 110*.  Honestly, it felt like 1,010* but I managed a 4:06 and the 15th fastest marathon for M40-44. When I look back at those two races I could come up with the excuse that had this not happened or that not happened I would have run that sub-4, but ifs do not help you accomplish your goals.  Training hard and focusing will help me accomplish my goals.  Do I have a 3:56 in me?  Sure I do.  When you look at my stand-alone marathon PR time of 3:31 and add 10%-12% for it being an Ironman marathon you get times of 3:52-3:56.  Maybe I am cheating myself by looking at 3:56 and should be targeting 3:52, but that mantra does not roll of the tongue the way 3:56 versus 4:06 does. [caption id="attachment_9614" align="alignright" width="276"]3:56 marathon - ironman - goal - running The bike wreck at IMAZ most likely wrecked my chances at a sub-4 hour marathon that day.[/caption] The numbers tell me that I am capable.  The fact that I am fairly well recovered from Lake Martin 100 and have not been training for 3 Ironman races in 12 months is an indication that I should be going into IMTN as fresh as I can possibly be.  When I review my per mile paces for the 3 loops at IMTX they look like this:  9:09/mile, 9:27/mile, 9:40/mile.  The slowing down is expected but what does that translate into when the goal is 3:56 or a 9:00/mile pace. If my math is correct then the first 8.9 miles have to be run at a pace of 8:47/mi and then the degeneration to 9:07/mi for the next 8.9 miles and finally down to 9:28/mi.  These are not impossible paces but it also fails to take into account that this bike ride, weather, time of year and a million other variables are going to be different in Chattanooga in comparison to The Woodlands. These sorts of things are out of my control but what is in my control is my mental approach to breaking 4 hours.  Training hard and smart, recovering well and preparing my body for the rigors of the race will be done, but in those moments when it is me versus my mind I have to be able to continue to repeat the mantra 3:56 versus 4:06.

Will Ironman Chattanooga Be The Race I Break 4 Hours?

Published in Race
Friday, 10 January 2014 10:44

This Is Not A #Rage Free Zone

Rage was welling up inside of me yesterday and then like Mount Vesuvius (I am not sure if this is a 'working' volcano but the metaphor works) I erupted.  On Wednesday night I got into an Instagram conversation about the whole theory of carb-loading.  It was late and I went to bed thinking that Thursday was going to be a great day.  I woke up and sure enough it started out well and then quickly began to fill with rage.  Rage to the point that I am going to have to boycott Competitor Magazine and their Rock and Roll series of races.  Let's get into the three Rage Filled Rants on this gloomy and rainy Friday here in Dallas.

Rage #1: BBWAA and the HOF

I am a big baseball fan that to the point I refer to myself as a baseball nerd.  The game is long and can be quite boring at times but I am enthralled with all the numbers that baseball brings to my life.  Calculating OPS, BA, WAR, WHIP, ERA and all the other stats fills me with joy.  Ever since I was a young pup running around baseball diamonds in New York I was enamored with baseball and its numbers. Baseball's numbers were an easy way to compare today's players to yesteryear's players.  The numbers that Babe Ruth put up in his career are still compared to the numbers being put up by Miguel Cabrera.  That is EXCEPT for what is being called the steroids era.  If you can clearly define that era I would be happy to talk to you, but that is beyond this rage conversation. One of the voters for the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) and has a vote for the Hall of Fame decided to hand his vote over to the website Deadspin.com and allow them to vote for the players and he would submit the ballot.  I am not sure what the BBWAA has a problem with but they have stripped this writer (Dan Le Batard) of his voting ability for life.  They believe that he did not take this voting seriously and I counter that with he took it so seriously that he chose not to participate because it is a total joke.  In order to be considered a BBWAA voter (and there are nearly 600 of them, yet only 3o teams or an average of 20 writers per team......and therein lies the first problem) you must have written about baseball for 10 years but do not have to currently be doing that writing.  You can have been shipped to the Food and Wine section and yet you still have a vote even though you do not cover the sport. Guess who does not have a vote.  Vin Scully. Bob Costas. Karl Revich.  That is right.  Three of the most notable faces and names in baseball today do not have a vote.  You figure that out.  BBWAA has gone about this the wrong way and when Dan Le Batard decided to stand up and say that the process is flawed they decided to take away his voice.  Makes sense...... RAGE!

Rage #2: Carb-Loading

The concept of carb-loading has driven me up a wall.  I hear and see people talking about eating pounds and pounds of pasta the night before a race with the idea that they are preparing themselves for the race the next day and nothing could be further from the truth.  Do not get me wrong, as I was a part of the movement when I first got into these endurance sports but the more I raced and trained the more I read and learned.  That led to quickly changing from the carb-loading concept to the carb, protein and fat pyramid.  This is not an actual pyramid but a way in which I monitor my calories and macro-nutrient intake the days leading up to a race. A few years ago I read Maria's blog post about how John (her husband) fueled and I took that same process and it worked. I did it again and it worked again. No GI issues.  No bloating.  No uncomfortness at mile 20 of the run.  What was this magical formula?  Eat a larger carb based meal TWO nights before the race.  Eat a larger carber based breakfast the morning before the race and then taper your meals that day with a focus on healthy fats and lean proteins then eat like a pig AFTER the race with a 3-4:1 Carb:Protein ratio to ensure proper recovery. The rage that is being built is from reading about people running 5ks and piling food on their plate as if they are going to prison the next day.  Even at a 15:00/mi pace you will be done with a 5k in about 45 minutes.  No reason to carb-load at all but if you feel the necessity to eat more then do after the race.  Surely you can wait 30-45 minutes before eating a stack of pancakes 2 feet high.  Why put in all those hours, days, weeks, months of training to find yourself in the porto at each 10 mile segment?  Doesn't make sense for long races and makes even less sense for 5ks......... Speaking of 5ks

Rage #3: A 5k is a 5k.  It is not a mini-marathon

[caption id="attachment_9324" align="alignright" width="300"]rage - anger - mini marathon A 5k is a 5k. It is nothing else but a 5k. Stop making names up.[/caption] Yesterday while trolling though the interwebs I came across a site for a Mini-Marathon.  Thinking WTF is that I clicked and the blood boiled.  The mini-marathon is a 5k.  It is not a 13.1 which is commonly referred to as a half-marathon.  No, this mini-marathon being promoted by the Rock and Roll brand is a 5k.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Why are they promoting this race as anything but a 5k?  I refer this to the wussification of America where people need to have the feel to have run a marathon without actually running a marathon.  I am sure somebody will point out that it is a way to get people active.  Maybe, but is there proof that says those that run a 5k eventually run a marathon?  Is there proof that says that somebody running a 5k being marketed as a mini-marathon eventually runs a marathon?  Or is this some marketing survey that says: Would you run a mini-marathon if the distance were 5,000 meters or commonly referred to as a 5k? I posted this to Facebook on a friend's page and another friend posted a link to another mini-marathon.  This version is a 1.31 or 2.62 mile run and comes with age awards, finishers t-shirts and medals.  REALLY?  Do we need to be rewarded for running 1.31 miles?  Shouldn't a high-five and way to go be enough?  Why do we feel the need to reward this?  Running has clear distances.  5k, 10, 15k. 13.1.  26.2. 50k. 50mile. 100 mile.  Why can we not stick to these?  I am at a loss. On my 9.31 mile run today, also known as a 15k, I thought about how this would translate at the triathlon level.  Would we register for a 14.06 mile race that included 240 meter swim, 11.2 mile bike and 2.62 mi run and call it a Mini-Ironman?  I do not get it and it drives me nuts that we feel the need to even have these things.  Run 1.31 or 2.62 on your way to a bigger and more difficult goal like a half or full marathon. As a matter of fact do not ever refer to anything less than 13.1 or 26.2 as anything but what it is.  You ran 12.4 miles today.....then you ran a 20k and not something close to a half-marathon.

What Is On Your Rage Friday List?

   
Published in Uncategorized
The fact that the Ironman Chattanooga challenge is 8 weeks old is astounding.  It reminds me that while I am not specifically working on Ironman training the base that has been built-in the past 8 weeks and will continue to be built is all heading toward the A race of 2014 which is IMTN. As I have mentioned in this series before the training that KC and I are doing today is for a race prior to Ironman Chattanooga (a marathon for KC and a 50 mile ultra trail run for me) but the Ironman is still there in the back of our heads.  We have goals for that race, but we also have other accomplishments we want to tackle.  In addition to other races we have family, friends, work and other responsibilities.  While we would both love to throw our jobs out the window and focus solely on Ironman training that just isn't happening.  We are going to show you what 11 months of living a life while training for an Ironman is like.  The ups, downs and in betweens.  There will be glorious days and weeks, maybe even an entire month of glory.  There will also be downs and pain and hurt and agony and wonder about why we are doing what we do. This series is to show you that there is no one size fits all when it comes to training for an Ironman.

KC's Ironman Chattanooga Training - Week 8

ironman chattanooga - rocky raccoon - trail runningToday I was singing running in the rain. Ok, I was singing too and I didn't care who heard me. Actually, the all day threat of rain must have scared everyone away because it was like a ghost town at Flatwoods park, the park near my house that I run and ride at almost everyday. I got a late start today and that always throws me out of sorts. I'm such a morning person but for some reason, probably because weather.com had me totally convinced it was going to be a total washout, I held off on heading out early. Still, I did get up pretty early, like5am early, I checked the radar and yep, it showed lots and lots of rain coming through soon, so I drank some coffee and went back to bed around 7. I woke up around 9:30 and it had maybe drizzled for like 5 minutes. Of course, now I'm a little irritated. I check the stupid, inaccurate radar again and the hour by hour and sure enough, that big blob of rain storms is coming and will be getting here soon, so again I wait. Around 11 am, I had enough of that crap. Barely a drop of rain at this point, so I said, rain or no rain, I'm getting this last long run in for Disney. I wasn't waiting around any longer. The run was not easy and I know why. I'm not used to running mid-day. I run probably 95% of my miles before the sun has even risen. I prefer to run as early as possible. It's when I feel my best, so to say today's run was run outside of my comfort zone would be an accurate statement. I'm glad I did it and I'm glad I can check it off the schedule. The best part of this run, beside the fact that it's done, it that it finally did rain while I was out there and it felt sooooo good! Today's photos were taken out and about on the trail. I ran a nice mix of pavement and trail. [caption id="attachment_9293" align="alignright" width="192"]ironman chattanooga - rocky raccoon - trail running KC On The Trails[/caption] [caption id="attachment_9291" align="aligncenter" width="192"]ironman chattanooga - rocky raccoon - trail running KC On The Trails[/caption] In other news, I sat down this week and looked at the 2014 calendar to see when I officially start training for Ironman Tennessee. Looks like the last week of April will be go time and I'm looking forward to it. Next week, probably on new year's day, I will sit down again and plan out my training plan for the 70.3 I have in mid to late March. I'm ready to jump back into the tri training but I still have to get past the little 26.2 mile run i have coming up in 2 weeks. Bleh! Someone remind me why I signed up for the Disney marathon. I hope everyone has a nice week coming up. 2013 was a good year and I'm hoping 2014 will continue to build on that same note. Upward and Onward!

Jason's Ironman Chattanooga Challenge Week 8 Recap

Holy run week Batman.  This entire week was  filled with running, running and more running.  In the end I wound up posting nearly 65 miles of running which is the most I have run in.....well probably ever.  Even during marathon training back in 2010 and 2011 I did not run this much.  While that number seems like a lot it is going to be dwarfed by the mileage I have planned for the overload weeks that are still to come.  Those weeks will range between 65 and 72.  Lots of miles on these legs but sure enough I have felt my body getting stronger and breaking through plateaus and better yet my mental stamina is getting stronger. [caption id="attachment_9287" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman chattanooga - rocky raccoon - trail running Hunstville State Park Rocky Raccoon Trail Training[/caption] This weekend I ran 23 miles at Hunstville State Park which is where the Rocky Raccoon 50 will be held.  I did the run with my buddies Jeff and Dave as they are training for a 100 miler in Alabama after RR50.  I felt great this entire run and toward the end we put down tracks and ran miles that were sub-10:00.  That feeling of gliding over the trails and not having my HR escalate in Z3 told me that the 285+ miles I have run in the past 5 weeks in Z1/Z2 are paying off.  In addition to that wearing the Hoka Mafate (review of these and the Stinson here) being able to recover so that the miles can pile on has been truly helpful. As you can see from my training  for the week there was NO swimming at all.  As motivated as I was to swim the problem is that the Y pool was closed and the day it wasn't closed there were not two lifeguards so you could not swim.  That hurt the swim training, but this week is a pull back week for running so I will be spending more time on the trainer getting my legs recovered and swimming to help get the yards in the drink in. [caption id="attachment_9288" align="aligncenter" width="300"]ironman chattanooga - rocky raccoon - trail running IMTN Week 8 Training[/caption]
Published in Train
Wednesday, 10 July 2013 17:50

A Race Is Over And Done With. Now What?

[caption id="attachment_8530" align="alignright" width="276"]a race - triathlon - training - ironman The Now What Face?!?!
Source: The Frigault Team[/caption] 'A' race is what we train days and weeks and months for.  We sweat and bleed for this A race.  We pour over data from our power meter and Garmin watch.  We watch every last calorie until that late night head in the pantry binge that you discount because you rode the trainer for 2 hours that morning and have a 1 hour run the next day so those calories don't count.  Our whole sense of being is focused on that A race and once we toe the line (do you really toe a line in triathlon?) and the cannon goes off we swim, bike and run as hard as we can.  All of those hours of training are being put to good use right at that moment.  After you cross the finish line you race to the food tent and eat everything in sight.  Three chocolate chip cookies, 2 slices of pizza, a gallon of water, maybe some beer and then you sit around going over war stories with your buddies. You may race to your blog to type your blog post about the race.  You don't want to leave out any detail, like your pinkie toe rubbing against a rock in the 17th mile of the race and having to stop to remove that pesky little rock.  People need to know this stuff don't they?  Your race recap covers a week's worth of posts because you keep thinking of things and keep adding to it.  Finally Race Recap: The War And Peace version is done and the high-fives no longer are coming your way.  You longingly stare at your medal and you can't wait for the race photos to show up.  When they do you pour over them and remember every last moment of the race.  You decide to not spend money on the race pics because none of them makes you look like Chrissie Wellington or Pete Jacobs.  Fortunately for you there will be PLENTY of more opportunities to purchase these photos because you will be reminded monthly for the next two years that it is the last chance you have to buy said photos. When the pomp and circumstance dies down and your training becomes nothing what do you do then?  This is the situation I find myself in right now.  It has been nearly 2 months since I finished my 3rd Ironman and while I have been getting in regular swims, bikes and runs in there is something missing.  That competitive drive to be better today than I was yesterday isn't there because what am I training for?  For example, this week I jumped in the pool with the idea of swimming 1,500 yards with a structured set that included 2x400 negative split swims.  I barely got through the warm-up when I cut the 1,500 to 1,000 and instead of 2x400 it became 300 and 200 negative splits with a 100 yard cool down. I know that there is another Ironman in my future and most likely will be Ironman Texas 2014 but because that is close to a year away the fire that burns is more of a smolder than it is an inferno.  In order to keep that spark going I am literally inventing competitions with myself.  I am talking about stupid things.  Things that nobody in their right mind would think of and all because my A race took place in May and that leaves me the entire Spring, Summer and Fall to think about training in the winter for an early spring race.  Heaven forbid I decide not to race Ironman Texas and instead want to travel to Boulder in August or Florida in November.  My goodness may the world have mercy on Karen if that happens. Anyway, back to these ridiculous contests that I have created over the past month or so.  They are to the point that I am making them up on the fly and creating rules along the way.  Want to see what some of them are?  Here you go:

A Race Substitutions

  1. Run for 30 minutes with heart rate between 127 and 140.  Anytime out of that zone gets added onto the end in the form of walking. GASP! Walking.
  2. Riding my normal route on the weekend and having to get to the typically 30 minute mark in less than 30 minutes or have to plank for the amount of time difference when the ride is done.
  3. This week because we are moving has formed an almost necessary contest:  Breakfast for every meal for the week.  Really?  WTF?
  4. Seeing how many straight hours HGTV can be on the television with the sound on before I lose my mind. I call this mental strength training.
As you can see it is only going to be a matter of time before Karen loses her mind with me and these ridiculous contests but this is what happens when the A race comes and goes and there is an open void on your schedule.  I have plans to race 70.3 Redman and 70.3 Oilman later in the year but I haven't registered for either.  I do have the Hotter N' Hell 100 in late August that I will be riding with Jeff and Bob.  That right now is the fuel for my fire but truth be told it is a 100 mile supported ride that if I get tired or bored I can just stop and refuel with all the chocolate and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I can stuff in my face.  Now, there is a contest I should start!

Have You Had Your A Race Early In The Season? What Are You Doing To Combat The Open Void Left Behind?

Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_7939" align="alignright" width="273"]boston marathon - bombings - running Source: Lehigh Valley Live[/caption] The Boston Marathon bombings took place over a week ago and I have had this blog post on a continuous writing feed as each day passed and more news came out about what happened that tragic day.  I wasn't sure I wanted to post this because I don't want this to become a political blog and want to keep it focused on endurance sports and fueling that lifestyle.  Unfortunately, I cannot control what people comment and so I decided to push the publish button this blog post and hope that you can regulate yourselves and your comments. Monday, April 15th I had just returned from the post office having paid my taxes.  When I say paid that is what I mean as it was not just filing.  I was not in a great mood when I sat down at my laptop and decided a few good laughs would help ease the pain of the check I just wrote.  The first thing I turned to was Twitter as there is always good banter and I was hoping that FatFluential would be going on a blogger rant.  What came across my feed was all the shock and horror of the Boston Marathon bombings.  I didn't know what to think or do.  How does one react to such a tragedy? I texted Karen to see if she had seen the news and when she said she hadn't I filled her in and the rage inside me grew.  I tried to keep my calm and also my fingers away from my keyboard.  I saw a lot of rants about the bombings and I didn't want to jump into the frenzy.  My first reaction was that people are jumping to conclusions since the bombs seemed to go off just outside of a restaurant.  How do they know there wasn't a gas leak?  I was trying to take a calm approach to this situation without going over the top. Over the course of the next week Karen was 'infatuated' with the Boston Marathon bombings and I was moving away from it.  I was not interested in hearing any more about the bombings or the suspects.  I had become numb to the whole situation.  I wanted to crawl into a hole/cave and not have to hear about it anymore because it had (as I am now figuring out) turned my world upside down and took away my lifestyle.  A lifestyle that I have grown to love to the point that I will defend it against anybody who dare to demean it.  How can anybody decide that taking the lives of strangers who are enjoying a patriotic day that culminates in the Boston Marathon finish line?  I couldn't understand it and in all honesty didn't want to. The anger then started to come out of me.  As Karen started reading posts from friends/family on Facebook about guarding a marathon and increasing security I was getting angrier and angrier.  You tell me how you guard a marathon that stretches out 26.2 miles or an Ironman that covers 140.6 miles?  Did you want people to run a marathon around a track?  Maybe the bike legs of Ironman races in a spin studio?  The swim in a pool?  Tell me how you would plan to secure a race that covered this much area? Then Friday came and the Boston Marathon bombing suspects were on the run.  Everybody I know was glued to the TV as it became a matter of national importance and not just a Boston Marathon situation.  When they reported that one suspect was killed I had some relief come over me that this could all be over in a matter of days as opposed to months or even years.  After the news reported that the second Boston Marathon bomber was caught I let out a huge sigh and felt good that this tragedy ended this way.  I wasn't happy that this happened at all but to see America come together was terrific for me considering all the gun/anti-gun, gay marriage/anti-gay marriage and whatever else you want to politicize seemed to dominate every thing I read. Then on Sunday while watching 60 Minutes (yes, I am old and watch 60 Minutes) there was a feature on the 9/11 museum and the tears came flooding down.  I am a New Yorker, no matter where I live now.  I will always be a New Yorker regardless of where I end up calling home.  On that fateful day I took my cat to the vet because my ex-wife asked me to.  Like anybody else I was not happy about not going to work.  Then as I sat in the vet's office and watched not one but two planes take out the Twin Towers I knew that I had no place in Manhattan that day.  I lost friends that day the same way that people at the Boston Marathon lost friends and family.  Tragedy struck, we banded together and formed a UNITED STATES OF AMERICA once again.  The Boston Marathon was not as devastating as the 9/11 incident but that doesn't make it any less important. The Boston Marathon bombings took me through shock, anger, defiance and self-reflection.  The bombings made me understand that it wasn't just endurance athletes affected by this but everybody.  We were all a victim of this tragedy in one way or another, but one thing we must all do is continue to live our lives.  I will go to the start line of Ironman Texas on May 18 and say a quick prayer for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings but then I will turn my attention to the task at hand and that is to race as hard, fast and safe as I can possibly go that day.  I will not concern myself with potential bombs at mile 67 of the bike or mile 22 of the run.  I can't do that.  I cannot allow two individuals to dictate how I live my life and I hope you won't either.

Boston Marathon 2013 Will Never Be Forgotten

Published in Race
Wednesday, 06 June 2012 13:38

Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series Thoughts

[caption id="attachment_6021" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Quite Possibly My Swan Song In The RnR Series"]rockandrollmarathon_sandiego_running[/caption] Rock And Roll Marathon Series - well, yes I did it again. I ran another Rock and Roll Event.. and I truly believe it will be my last. I am thankful for these large events as they motivate people to get out and run – but in my honest opinion they have gotten way too crowded and chaotic and here are my pet peeves:
  • Lining up at the front of the race in the lower numbered corrals and then running slow.
  • Abruptly stopping during a race. Move to the side first – I crashed into 2 people who stopped..
  • Photo ops. I saw several people taking self-portraits while running, or taking pictures of others. Please refer to above and move to side – OFF the course.  This is a running event, right?
  • If you must spit or blow your nose please check around you – I dodged a few snot rockets. EWWWW
  • Rest stops – at least try to throw your cup off the road or in the bin and not on the runners behind you, and yes this might be a good time to get rid of your gu rather than discarding where ever you feel like it -  do you actually think someone drives the whole course after to pick up all the little packets you discard?
  • Being aware of your surroundings. Yes – there are others running this race, and they might pass you so pay attention and be courteous and don’t bottleneck the course.
  • Stopping IMMEDIATELY after the finish line. In Vegas I could barely cross the finish line.  I was able to cross in San Diego but came to a stop right after…  Keep moving people or seek medical attention if you cant.
  • Don’t cheat races. When I was waiting for my family to finish the race – I saw more than one person with TWO timing chips on. Really?  Also saw another take a short cut prior to the 11 mile mark – can you really live with yourself knowing you PR’ed by cheating?
  • Thank the volunteers. We get to do the fun stuff – they are the ones that make it happen.
Ok – enough griping. The race weather was perfect and I PR’ed (barely) at 1.51.09  putting me in the top ten percent out of over 17,000 people – so overall it was a great day spent with my family in San Diego.

How Do You Feel About Rock and Roll Events?

Are You A Fan Or Larger Or Smaller Events?

Published in Race
Friday, 23 December 2011 11:44

Planning and Executing The Ironman

ironman_texas_triathlonIronman Texas is a total of 21 weeks away and being a planner I am starting to think about how to race that day.  It may seem early to be thinking about that but the reason I am thinking about it is because I train the way that I race.  If I can eliminate as many surprises for that day as I can the more successful I will be.  This is why I will be practicing my nutrition and hydration now so there are no GI issues later.  Planning is what I do and then going out and executing that plan to the best of my ability lets me know if it was a successful day or not. I have asked a few questions of myself like:
  • Where do you position yourself for a swim you've never done before?
  • How fast do you go on the bike?
  • Do you eat in the first 3 hours and then all liquid in the last 3 hours of the bike assuming you maintain ~18mph?
  • What type of strategy do you implore for the run portion of the marathon?
I have also emailed a handful of friends who have completed the distance recently to gain some insight from them, kinda like rubbing a babies head to get younger.  I want to learn all that I can from this group of people so I will keep asking questions until I feel comfortable with my strategy for that day which will most likely be finalized sometime between today and 7am on Saturday, May 19th.  Of course I will consult with my coach about her thoughts on how to attack this race.
I also have the fortune of having friends like Jen of From Fat To Finish and KC of 140 point 6 miles of Awesome.  Both recently sent me articles from Endurance Nation about how to attack the swim and the run.  Both are great pieces but the swim made 100% sense to me and maybe because it is the first portion of the race and my biggest concern is with blowing up on the run.  I know that all Ironman are created different, just like a finger print but there are certain rules of thumb that one should follow.  I emailed that group of 140.6 finishers to get their thoughts on the article and they were all helpful.
I am now going to open up the conversation to all of you.  What are your thoughts on the swimming and running portions of an Ironman as pointed out in these tips.
Swimming:
Where to Line Up We’ve learned that a lot of fast people position themselves right on the buoy line. Many more people position themselves as far as possible away from these people, as far from the buoy line as they can get. As a consequence, the middle of the start line is often less crowded than you would expect.
Only Swim as Fast as Your Ability to Maintain Form The net difference between you swimming “hard” and swimming “easy” is usually only about 2-4 minutes in an 11-17 hour day. It’s just not worth it to try to make something happen. Instead, focus on swimming as smoothly and efficiently as you know how. Swim with your best possible form and only swim fast enough as your ability to maintain your form. Keep Your Head Inside the Box Maintain your focus by keeping your head inside The Box of what you can control:
  • In the Box: Head position, breathing, body rotation, catch, pull, etc. All of your form cues. These are things you CAN control, focus on these.
  • Out of the Box: Any contact you experience, the pacing of other athletes, etc. Basically anything that takes your focus away your form.
Keep Head-Lift to a Minimum We typically lift our heads to keep feet in sight as we draft (a little), or to sight on navigation buoys (a lot!). Every time you lift your head…you drop your feet/hips…and you compromise your form a bit. Here’s what to do. Running: It's Not About Pace, It's About Not Slowing Down Instead, a great Ironman marathon is simply about not slowing down. If you look at the detailed results of any Ironman event, you'll see that the splits for the majority of the field over the second half of the race are significantly slower than the first half. Usually a minute or more slower per mile. Your goal when racing isn't to find new speed, but to find a sustainable speed that you can hold across your entire day while the competition takes off too fast…and then blows up as you run steadily by. Incorporate Walking as a Strategy, Not as Failure If anyone tells you that they aren't going to walk a single step in an Ironman they are either Criag Alexander (so fit!) or a total newbie (so unaware!). Based on our experience coaching thousands of Ironman finishers through Endurance Nation, we have learned that walking is actually an important part of your overall strategy. We encourage our athletes to walk 30-45 steps at every single aid station, which is roughly once a mile. Six Miles of Conservative Pacing Is the Key to a Strong Finish In other words, if you want to have a great race, your job is to focus on slowing down over the first six miles. We recommend you aim for a target pace of approximately 30″ slower per mile for these first six miles. After that point, you can bump it up to your target run pace and go from there. Since 2008 thousands of Endurance Nation athletes have applied this 30 second per mile strategy to dozens of Ironman PR marathons. It works! Just give us three minutes (30 seconds x 6 miles) and we'll make your day. Your last 10k will thank us for sure! Have Three Physical Running Cues for Your Day Instead of following a pace into a brick wall, identify three running form cues that will allow you to maintain good form and proper pace. My personal favorites are Chin Up to promote good posture; Elbows Back to keep my stride open and Loose Fingers to reduce tension in hands, arms, shoulders and the neck area. Build A Repeatable Nutrition Schedule by Mile Marker Having a food plan is better than not having one. Just because there's a ton of free food on the course doesn't mean that your body will be able to process it all. Instead of relying on a plan based on time (i.e., a gel every 30 minutes) build these into the existing support structure on the course. Since aid stations on the run are located about every mile, use your calculator to do some fancy math. If you plan on running 8:00/miles and you need a gel around 30 minutes, then you are eating at miles 4, 8, 12, and so on. You can then fill in the other miles with water and sports drink. Be Equal Parts Mentally and Physically Ready While many Ironman competitors have hit the "wall" when running a stand alone marathon, that struggle pales in comparison to what happens at the end of the Ironman. With your body pushed beyond its limits, running on fumes of gels and sports drink, you have to find a way to will yourself to the finish line despite the pain and/or discomfort you are experiencing.

What Are Your Experiences With The Swim and Bike at the 140.6 Mile Race?

==================== And KC is not just about sending me articles to get prepared for the race, she was also my secret santa.  In addition to that she is one of the angels on my shoulder I have come to rely on during my racing.  Check out the gift that she got me and just know that I have not wiped the smile from my face yet. [caption id="attachment_4893" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thank You KC. I am more excited about the race because of these great gifts."]secret_santa_ironman_gift[/caption]
Published in Train
Monday, 28 November 2011 15:02

Las Vegas Strip At Night Marathon Tapering

las_vegas_marathon_strip_at_nightThe Rock and Roll Las Vegas Strip At Night Marathon is in less than one week from today.  This means that I have already started tapering.  My last long run was on Saturday which was 13.1 miles and that I ran in 1:41 and felt great despite the 20-30 mph winds.  Sunday was a short 3 mile run with paces of 8:20, 8:00 and 7:52 per mile.  Today I had 2000 yards of swimming and the rest of the week are short workouts. When I say short do not interpret that for lack of intensity.  I will be going hard but for a shorter duration of time.  Most of my workouts are anywhere from 30-45 minutes which means lots of rest and recovery for my legs and body. This tapering also means that my diet has to change because I will be training for a total of about 4-5 hours this week as opposed to the 15 hours during triathlon training or even 10-12 hours during marathon training.  I know that I want to board the airplane on Friday morning at 138 pounds with the full knowledge that I will gain a pound or two or three while in Vegas before the race on Sunday.  Today I am at 145 pounds and have given myself a goal of losing 1-2 pounds per day.  I have been very successful since Sunday in accomplishing this goal and it has not been that difficult even though I am not working out as hard or as long as I used to. I have eliminated snacking and have added more calories to my meals and thus allowing my body to carry that full feeling for more hours than I am accustomed to.  For example, this morning before my swim session I drank a cup of coffee and that was all.  I knew that the session would be less than one hour so I did not have a need to fuel before hand.  Afterwards I had two eggs on Ezekiel bread with vegan cheese.  My total calories consumed this morning was 370 calories.  My lunch will be a taco salad without the meat, sour cream, cheese or shell.  Then dinner will be a smoothie with two rice cakes topped with nut butter, honey and a banana. That is the key to me losing this weight and that knowing what my menu will consist of on a daily  basis.  Tomorrow I will be doing a 45 minute run in the morning so there will be nothing to eat before hand, then afterwards will be oatmeal with a piece of fruit.  Lunch will consist of a smoothie with two rice cakes topped with nut butter, honey and a banana.  Dinner will consist of a Naan pizza with a kale pesto, sautéed vegetables and vegan cheese. While considering what I needed to do for my nutrition this week I did some research and found a post that reinforced my thought process and it is a huge help in proving the structure for this week.  You can find the complete post [HERE] and it comes from Marathon Training: State Of The Art. Nutritional Issues Be sure to pack healthy snack foods you may wish to eat the weekend of the marathon.The Week Prior to Your Marathon
  • As you reduce your mileage during the last week, realize that you will not be burning as many calories. Thus, you may gain one or two pounds if you don't cut back a bit on the quantity of your servings early in the week.
  • Use care in selecting foods to eat during this time period, aiming for nutritious and healthy items rather than snack/high fat products.
  • Hydrate well the week before the marathon and in particular, during the carbohydrate loading period (three days prior to the marathon). Research indicates that carbohydrates convert to glycogen more effectively when accompanied with the consumption of water. This is the time when you may gain a couple of pounds, but don't worry about it. This will be your energy fuel during the marathon!
  • If you are traveling out town, be sure to pack healthy snack foods you may wish to eat the weekend of the marathon. Eliminate the need to search for a grocery store that stocks your favorite foods. See Packing List for more information.
  • If traveling by plane to your marathon destination, carry bottled water with you. Flying at high altitudes causes dehydration.
  • As mentioned above, carbohydrate loading begins three days before the marathon. Choose foods for lunch and dinner that are high in carbohydrates (e.g., pasta, potatoes, rice, etc.). Don't neglect fruits, vegetables, and some protein sources however. Try to really scale back on fats during this time.
The Evening Prior to Your Marathon
  • Be sure to eat carbohydrate products that have been "tried and proven" during your training period. Keep pasta sauces simple, avoiding high fat varieties (e.g., alfredo, pesto, etc.). Avoid eating lots of salad items and vegetables (roughage) as these may prove to be troublesome on race day and can cause digestive problems.
  • Stick to water during the evening meal. Because coffee and tea contains caffeine, these products may make it difficult for you to fall asleep easily. Keep in mind that caffeine (as well as alcoholic beverages) are diuretics, which contributes to dehydration.
Experimentation
  • Don't try anything new the week prior to, or during the marathon.
  • Also see Areas of Experimentation for more information.

What Do You Adjust During Your Taper Week?

Do You Layout A Menu For The Full Week Leading Up To Your Race?

 
Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_4698" align="alignright" width="272" caption="Las Vegas Marathon"]las_vegas_marathon_strip_at_night1[/caption] On December 4th I will toe the line with Emily of Run EMZ fame in an attempt to qualify for Boston.  My wife Karen, Beth of SUAR, Trish, SkibbaDoo, Jess, Beal and a whole host of others will be there as well.  This is not like any other marathon in that it starts in the evening.  The marathon starts at 4pm and if I run a Boston Qualifying time I will be done by 7:10pm.  As you can tell from this the race will start with the sun up and finish with the sun down, although I'm hoping the bright lights of the strip will make it somewhat easier on the body to think that it is still light out. Yesterday, I ran 20 miles and treated the day like race day.  I wanted to simulate what it would be like to wait all day and then run later in the evening.  I also wanted to test nutrition plans that I had read on the internet.  I wondered what would happen to me from the standpoint of the mental aspect as well as the physical aspect.  Would I be too hungry to run?  Would I be starving midway through the run?  How about when I might need to use the restroom?  So many questions to answer and I couldn't wait to get after it. In this post I am going to give you what I normally do on a long run day that takes place in the morning, what I did yesterday and what I plan on doing in my next training run for Vegas.
For my normal early morning runs I typically do the following:
1- At 8pm the night before I will eat a nut butter and jelly sandwich.
2- Wake up at 3am and have a Herbalife smoothie (~120 calories) and a cup of coffee with 20 oz of water.
3- Start running at 5am and on the run I will carry with me a 20oz water bottle that has liquified EFS liquid shot that equates to 200 calories per hour.  I drink a sip every 2 miles and it works very well for me.
4- Drink a recovery Herbalife smoothie (~240 calories) and eat a fried egg on toast ~190 calories)
 
For today's evening run I did the following:
1- Ate two nut butter and jelly sandwiches at 8pm the night before.
2- Woke up at 5am and had a Herbalife smoothies (~210 calories) and two cups of coffee with 20 oz of water.
3- Ate a meal at 11:15am of 2 pancakes, 1 egg, 2 slices of toast with nut butter and honey (~900 calories) with a Herbalife smoothie (~120 calories)
4- Drank about 40 oz of water through out the day.
5- Took a nap at 130p for about 45 minutes.
6- At 2:30 I drank another Herbalife smoothie (~120 calories)
7- On the ride to the run I ate a HoneyStinger waffle (160 calories) and took 3 First Endurance PreRace capsules.
8- On the run I drank my liquified EFS Liquid Shot every 2 miles.
9- Drink a recovery Herbalife smoothie (~240 calories) and eat a fried egg on toast ~190 calories)
 
I never felt hungry on the run but I did fell somewhat sluggish so this is what I plan to do for my next evening run:
1- Eat ONE nut butter and jelly sandwiches at 8pm the night before.
2- Wake up at 5am and had a Herbalife smoothies (~210 calories) and two cups of coffee with 20 oz of water.
3- Eat a meal at 10:00am of 2 pancakes, 1 egg, 2 slices of toast (~750 calories) with a Herbalife smoothie (~120 calories)
4- Drink about 60 oz of water through out the day.
5- Take a nap at 130p for about 45 minutes.
6- At 2:30 drink another Herbalife smoothie (~120 calories)
7- On the ride to the run I at a HoneyStinger waffle (160 calories) and took 3 First Endurance PreRace capsules.
8- On the run drink liquified EFS Liquid Shot every 2 miles.
9- Drink a recovery Herbalife smoothie (~240 calories) and eat a fried egg on toast ~190 calories)


As you can see I plan on eating an hour earlier so that my body has time to process the food before I go out on the run.  It was at the 2 hour mark that I had to use the porto-potty but up until that 2 hour mark I kept thinking about when I might have to go.  I was a battle of wills between my mind and my body on when this would occur and I think that pulled some energy from me.


In addition to making adjustments for my nutrition plan there was the situation with the time of day and the tricks on the mind.  The sun goes down much faster than it rises so that took me by surprise and played mind tricks on me.  As soon as the sun went down my pace slowed by nearly 30 seconds per mile.  It was as if the darkness pulled the energy right out of me but my legs felt great and my body was fine but mentally it zapped me and I was not prepared for that.


I would suggest that you bring a light with you or a neon bracelet or something to keep the light going so that your mind doesn't play tricks on you.  I also wore arm sleeves and they were necessary as the temps dropped about 5-6 degrees once the sun went down and the wind picked up a bit.


So I will try my new plan next weekend or maybe during the week to see what changes need to be made after that and keep going until 12/4 rolls around.

Have You Ever Run An Evening Race?  What Did You Do To Make It Successful?

Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_4735" align="alignright" width="275" caption="Crossing the finish line is a an accomplishment"]marathon_finish_chute[/caption] Today I will be heading out at 3pm to start a 22 mile training run.  I have a goal of running the 22 miles at around 8:00/mile.  Two weeks ago I ran 18 in 7:51/mi and last week I ran 20 in 8:40/mi.  The difference I believe can be answered by the fact that last week was my first attempt to go out in the late afternoon / early evening to do a long run.  The Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon starts at 4pm and thus why I am running later in the day. My entire training world has flipped upside down with this late start and I am having a difficult time getting used to it.  On mid-week runs I have gone out later in the day, to once again simulate the late start and my runs have not been great.  Yes, the weather here in Texas has been a little like Cybill in not wanting to figure out which season it wants to be.  For the past two days we have had Fall weather with temps in the 60s and today when I start my run the temperature will be near 75*.  It is hard to gauge my ability right now since the weather in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks will most likely be colder and less humid. As I research the topic of later evening race starts I find articles about nutrition and sleep.  Things to do during the day that keep you off your feet so as not to tire your legs.  There is quite a bit of information out there but one article that I found interesting was about the 5 biggest mistakes people make while training for a marathon.  It got me thinking about the past two weeks and what the next two weeks holds for me and I wanted to share the article with you. The article appears in Competitor.com and was written by Sabrina Grotewold.  You can read the entire article [HERE] but I am going to provide you with the bullet points and provide my thoughts on my training for this marathon:

1. Overtraining & Undertraining

I believe that I am neither over-trained or under-trained.  Since Coach has switched the plan to marathon specific training my run mileage has increased, but my bike training has decreased significantly.  During triathlon season I would have mid-week rides of 2 hours plus 1 or 2 recovery rides of an hour added to a 3 to 5 hour ride on the weekend.  Now I have a 1 hour recovery ride on the weekend and maybe a 2 hour low heart-rate ride during the week.  What has not changed is the amount of swimming and for me that is great.  I need to continue to work on my stroke but swimming provides great recovery for the legs since they are not pounding he pavement.

2. Completing Long Runs Too Fast

I have seen the research and read all the coach's stories about how training at a slower pace than race pace is what is needed to race fast.  I started my endurance career following this theory and it led me to a 4:29 marathon the first time I ran one.  The second time I ran a marathon I ran it in 3:39.  That second marathon included running long runs faster than I had previously.  Recently I ran a training half-marathon 'race' at a pace of 7:31/mi and this was only two weeks after racing 70.3 Austin.  Today I want to run at 8:00/mi which is 45 seconds slower than marathon race pace compared to the 2:00/mi slower pace most recommend.  For me it is about finding out what I can tolerate so that when I run 7:15/mi on race day my body knows what it has to do.

3. Experimenting On Race Day

We all know this and yet I read race reports about how the person tested this out or tried something new.  For me the race should be boring for you in terms of what you are going to do.  You have a race plan, you have eaten the same thing, you have worn the same gear and everything else is the same on race day as it is on your long run training days.  Today I am executing a nutrition plan to bring with me to Vegas and I plan on having December 4th be exactly the same as November 19th in terms of food.  Why would you throw all those hours of training out the window by putting on a new hat that all of a sudden itches?  Why ignore your training to test out that new flavor of GU or Gel at Mile 22?  Makes no sense to me so stick to what you know and don't change a thing. [caption id="attachment_4736" align="alignright" width="256" caption="Creating A Plan and Sticking To It Will Get You To The FInish Line"]marathon_running_pace_finish[/caption]

4. Going Out Too Fast

Just like #3 we all know #4 and yet again I read race report after race report that the person went out to fast.  Some can hang on but for the most part the race falls apart for them at the end.  For me this falls to planning.  Create a plan and stick to it.  For the Dallas Running Club Half-Marathon I ran I had a plan to run 7:45s for 5 miles, 7:30s for 5 miles and then hopefully sub-7s for the final 5k.  The first 6 miles I was around 7:35/mi then was able to drop down to 7:30/mi and when I want to run those sub-7s I was only able to get down to 7:20/mi.  Had I stuck to 7:45/mi I might have been able to get down to sub-7s, but in the end I had a plan and I stuck to it.  I did not say to myself in the first 5 miles that those 7:35/mi paces were easy and I should drop at Mile 3 down.  Instead I stayed steady and was able to lower my paces along the way.

5. Placing Too Much Emphasis On Time

I am torn on this being considered a mistake.  I have a goal of qualifying for Boston and for that I need to run a 3:10 marathon.  So am I placing too much emphasis on this goal?  I don't think so because if I don't make it I'm just one of a gazillion (yes that is a real number go google it) that didn't make the time needed and thus will fuel my fire to accomplish that goal. That being said I also understand that when people don't reach that time they consider the day a failure and unfortunately that is just not true.  Finishing a marathon is an accomplishment in itself.  There are so many variables that go into these events that are out of our control and we just have to accept what the day gives us.  Being prepared to overcome those obstacles is just as important as your finishing time.  You can take the lessons learned from that particular race and apply it to the next race because there will be one.

What Are Some Mistakes You Have Made During Training For A Marathon?

 
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