Triathlon is my chosen endurance sport.  Ever since I decided to do a sprint triathlon in Grapevine, Texas I fell in love.  The sport meant the world to me and not just from a physical standpoint.  There were the mental hurdles that had to get cleared.  There was the science behind nutrition and sleep.  The thoughts of proper recovery.  Everything about triathlon worked for me because while you measured yourself against yourself you could also measure yourself against the competition.  Then, just like the marathon of years ago it seemed that every Tom, Dick, Harry, Susie, Joan and Tina was doing Ironman.  It didn't seem to be special anymore. There were races popping up in every corner of the country.  WTC was launching new races almost daily.  Rev3 was adding their races.  HITS joined the party and Challenge Family came to the USA.  I started to question the motives of those getting into the sport.  Were they here to embrace triathlon the way I had and make it a lifestyle or were they here so they could plaster another sticker on their car right next to the 5k, 10k, 15k, 13.1mi, and 26.2mi stickers they already had.  Just a conquest to get a sticker and nothing more.  I resented these folks for trampling on the sport that I loved.  I mentioned this on a ride to a buddy of mine a year or so ago and he said:  Take your blinders off it is already happening.  I chose not to believe him at the time but as the days on the calendar were torn off the reality was setting in. Last night while sitting on the couch dreaming of what is to come from Lake Martin 100 (ok, I was watching Grey's Anatomy and Elementary) I got a text message from Jeff.  It was sent to Kevin and I so I did not read it right away as those conversations usually end up in nothing but roaring laughter and I was enjoying my removal from reality at the moment.  I finally picked up my phone and it was a link to this article titled Stakeholders on Slowtwitch about the rapid expansion and now contraction of triathlon.  I read it with a mix of emotions. Part of me was upset by the fact that the numbers were not continuing their upward climb.  Of course, the trajectory that the expansion was on could not be sustained long-term because this is a hard and also quite expensive sport but the arrow pointing upward and to the right was what I wanted to always see.  The other part of me sort of fist-pumped that those that were not serious about the lifestyle were not jumping in to 'show-off' to the world that they did an Ironman.  I think of triathlon as a lifestyle and less of a sport because of what it does for you outside of the swim, bike and run and those that were not embracing that thought were just 'in my way' when it came to the sport I love. After thinking about this though I thought:  Are ultra-runners thinking the same of me?  Are they thinking to themselves that this dude is not a true ultra-runner.  He is just jumping into our sport because triathlon was pushing him out?  They have a valid point in their thinking and I'm not sure where you draw the line.  Does the fact that I will have raced 4 ultra distance events by the end of March qualify me for being an ultra runner?  Does the fact that I am already planning on doing a 50k just one month post Ironman Chattanooga make me an ultra-runner since I am going to keep it up? Or do I need to grow an awesome beard and be more laid back as is the stereotype of the ultra runner. Obviously, mindset comes into play when we are giving titles out.  Maybe instead of calling myself a triathlete or an ultra-runner I should just call myself an endurance athlete.  After all I do not limit myself to the events I participate in and next year I am most likely going to be crossing the Gobi Desert with a 30lb backpack with Jeff and thinking:  What would those that crossed this desert before us be thinking? In the end it would seem that the sport of triathlon is bonking, but like any triathlete it may just need a shot of flat coke to reinvigorate itself.  The sport could go back to its roots and re-invent itself again to show greater growth down the line.  Or maybe this is where the sport is going to go and more people will become ultra-runners or better yet extreme endurance athletes.  I for one can see myself headed in that direction as I continue to push the boundaries of my perceived abilities.

Where Do You Think Triathlon Is Headed?

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[caption id="attachment_8794" align="alignright" width="300"]triathlon - road map - no meat athlete No Meat Athlete Triathlon Roadmap is available today by clicking this link and making a purchase NMA Tri Roadmap[/caption] Triathlon can be an intimidating sport with all of these fit people walking around the expo and transition as if they have been swimming, biking and running since they were in the womb.  Lucky for me I never noticed these people, nor did I have a clue about what I was really getting myself into.  Fortunately for me, being naive about the sport of triathlon played into my favor as I had no expectations and immersed myself into the sport I have grown to love. I consider myself lucky to have been able to get into the sport the way I did but maybe you have been reading my blog for a while and wondering if this sport is for you.  I mean stories of riding my bike for 6 hours and then running for 2 hours doesn't sound like a lot of fun to most.  Maybe that person is you, but I have something for you.  Yesterday, Susan Lacke released her first book and the title alone should set your mind at ease.  Susan's book is called No Meat Athlete Triathlon Road Map.  That is correct this is a book that will take you from sitting on your couch to racing in your first sprint triathlon and showing you all the fun along the way in your training and racing. Yours truly had the honor to be contacted by Susan about helping out with the book.  I don't know if I ever responded to an email faster but if Susan asks you if you want to help you don't care what it is you just say yes.  Reality is that it is going to involve only a few things and none of them are bad.  The topics are going to be triathlon/endurance sports, cupcakes or embarrassing stories about yourself.  You can see how easy it was for me to say yes because I am up for all three of those topics. Before I tell you a little about the book, let me tell you about how I came across Susan and Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete. It was when I first started my original blog and was reading a blog post from Mandy Farrar of Caratunk Girl that had a link to an interview that Susan was involved in.  I clicked on it and at first I couldn't really tell what I was watching but I was intrigued. Here was a person talking about triathlon and endurance sports.  She didn't look like the athletes you see everywhere at a race.  She discussed her foray into IMWI and how it went and I was hooked.  This sport was no longer intimidating but instead it was fun. I was hooked and started reading everything that she wrote because there was a lot of humor and reality to the sport. We all have great days but we all have horrible days too.  Every swim, ride and run isn't going to get 5 gold starts and more often than not it is going to suck. It is going to be hard and you are going to question what you are doing and why you are doing it.  Reading an article from Susan and the feelings you were experiencing were not unique to you.  There was an entire world going through what you were going through.  This made the whole concept of training and racing triathlon a bit easier to do. It was at that point that I decided to run the Cupcake Marathon.  The idea behind this was nothing big.  Just a simple challenge to run a half or full marathon distance over a number of days.  As I was putting this together I got correspondence from Susan regarding a logo and t-shirts and all the sudden this was a real thing.  Susan even said that she would see if Matt would offer up a prize, in the form of two free e-books, for winners.  This was my first introduction to Matt and No Meat Athlete. From that day forward I have relied on Matt and his blog posts to help guide me through the decision to become a plant-based athlete.  To this day I rely on Matt and his insight into being a plant-based endurance athlete.  He has written two blog posts recently that have really stuck out to me.  The most recent one was titled Why Vegans And Paleos Should Stop Hating Each Other and the other was That's WHAT's in my rice? How To Kick Arsenic's Ass.  These two stood out to me for different reasons but they still left a mark.  In the Vegans and Paleos blog post Matt takes a realistic view to eating in these lifestyles and how they are more similar than different but when you read through the comments some people just don't agree with him.  The article about arsenic was a real eye opener and to this day when I think about buying rice I think twice.  Do I really want to buy the rice and do the work that is required to lessen the amount of arsenic in it.  Read this articles and all the others on the No Meat Athlete site and get a world of lessons to being a plant-based athlete.

No Meat Athlete Triathlon Road Map

As I said earlier I am honored to be a contributor to this book and when Susan sent me an advanced copy I was ready to fall asleep as I had a later stint in the pool and swimming just wipes you out. I clicked on the PDF (no shipping involved so when you buy it you get it. How awesome is that?) I could not stop reading.  From the introduction to the training plan to the recipes to the meal plan.  It is all here for you to be successful and have fun doing it.  You can tell immediately that Susan wrote it as there is a respect for the sport in terms of safety and preparation but simultaneously a humorous crack along the way as well. I cannot guarantee that you will be qualifying for Kona after reading this book but what I can tell you is that the sport of triathlon and the idea of a plant-based lifestyle will no longer be intimidating. If you are interested in the sport I highly encourage you to purchase the roadmap now (pssst.....they are offering $10 off between August 12th and August 16th so don't wait) and get yourself started down the road to crossing the finish line of your first triathlon. Thank you Susan and Matt for allowing me to contribute. I truly appreciate it.
Published in Train
Ironman 2014 is now being discussed in full between myself and I, myself and Karen, myself and Maria and now with you.  When I finished Ironman Texas 2013 I was fully convinced that going back to the The Woodlands was going to be in the cards.  I absolutely love the course in terms of racing as well as being spectator friendly.  The course also plays to my strengths and weaknesses.  I can climb on the bike but because I weight as much as a paper towel going down the hills doesn't give me much momentum thus a hilly bike course has typically been shunned.  The run course at IMTX is flat and fast.  The biggest problem is the heat but for whatever reason (and if you can scientifically tell me why) I am not bothered by it as much as others as evidenced by my marathon and 15th place finish in my age group. Now that I am 4 months removed from that race my mind has wandered and I have considered 5 races for 2014 and making a decision has become somewhat impossible for me pick and why I am turning to you, the blog reader, for some advice.  I am going to treat this vote the way Major League Baseball treats their All-Star votes.  Certain percentage to each one and I can come up with a final answer that way.  I will get 25% of the vote, blog readers 10%, Maria 10% and Karen 55% because without her blessing it doesn't matter what I want to do it isn't happening.

Here are my Ironman 2014 Choices:

[caption id="attachment_8819" align="alignright" width="230"]ironman 2014 - triathlon - IMTX - Texas Ironman Texas[/caption] Ironman Texas: Pros:
  • Race takes place in May meaning I will be racing again and soon.  Good for the mind.
  • Experience with the race and thus no surprises.
  • Cost effective.  Can stay with friends and it is a car ride away.
  • Been there, done that.
  • Hotter than the sun.
  • Extremely tough swim from start to end.
[caption id="attachment_8817" align="alignright" width="230"]ironman 2014 - triathlon - IMLou - Louisville Ironman Louisville[/caption] Ironman Louisville: Pros:
  • Race is in August giving me some more time doing what I want when I want in 2013 and early 2014.
  • New race which can lead to new experiences.
  • Hot and humid which doesn't bother me and is something I can actually look forward to.
  • Nearly 3,000 feet in climbing with a 2 lo0p course.
  • Run is only 2 loops which some would prefer I enjoy the 3 loop course as it gives me a mental edge to know where I am at in shorter time intervals.
[caption id="attachment_8818" align="alignright" width="230"]ironman 2014 - triathlon - IMFL - Florida Ironman Florida[/caption] Ironman Florida: Pros:
  • Race is in November which gives me a lot of time to do as I please before jumping into an Ironman training plan.
  • Flat, flat and oh its flat. Less than 1,000 feet of elevation gain on the bike and less than 200 feet of gain on the run.
  • 1 loop bike course.
  • Getting in is getting to be nearly impossible and the anxiety of getting in.
  • Flat, flat and flat means lots of aero position and pushing your legs to the their breaking point with no real rest.
[caption id="attachment_8820" align="alignright" width="230"]ironman 2014 - triathlon - IMTEN - Chattanooga Ironman Chattanooga[/caption] Ironman Chattanooga: Pros:
  • Brand new race so while there can be issues the idea of racing an inaugural race appeals to me.
  • Bike course has 2,100 feet of climbing where Texas is 1,600 feet and Arizona is 1,700 feet so not a big difference.
  • Run is through downtown Chattanooga.
  • I get to say Chattanooga a lot.
  • Inaugural race so no idea about recon and asking past participants about the race course.
  • Just far enough away to fly, yet close enough to drive.
  • No known hashtag for it:  #IMChooChoo, #IMChat, #IMRockyTop, #IMManning, #IMNooga
The price point for all is the same at $650 except for Louisville which is $625 so there are no savings in the registration fee and thus the cost difference will come down to travel and accommodations (anybody in any of these areas willing to offer a home-stay?)

Which Ironman 2014 Do You Vote For?

[listly id="6uK" layout="full"]  
Published in Race
[caption id="attachment_8756" align="alignright" width="211"]triathlon diet - lifestyle - training - ironman These 4 Items Belong In Each Endurance Athletes Lifestyle But Not All Are Going To Be The Same.
Source: Nutrition Translator[/caption] Triathlon diet and/or lifestyle there are those that are seeking the magic bullet and turning to sites and blogs, like mine, for answers.  I get questions and comments on all of the social media platforms that I am on seeking advice.  The problem with this advice seeking is that sometimes you can read the emotion and what they are really seeking is the one size fits all answer.  Unfortunately that does not exist because we are all different and as a matter of fact each day for each individual is going to be different. Let me provide you with an example.  That example would be me and here is how the last week of my triathlon, diet and lifestyle unfolded.
  • Monday: Tired from the weekend of training I pushed my run to the evening to go with Karen.  The moment we started running I could feel my legs weight 1,000 pounds each.  That morning I had a 3 egg omelette with mushrooms for breakfast, toast with salsa verde and poached eggs for lunch and post run I had chocolate waffles with banana and almond ice cream.  I pushed my carbs to the evening because that is when I was going to be running.
  • Tuesday: Decided to not workout in the morning as I was tired and would do a recovery spin and some strength/core at lunch.  The ride and lifting went well and I felt good throughout the workout.  So good that I asked a Facebook group I belong to if anybody wanted to swim and run on Wednesday morning.  That day I ate for breakfast: toast with almonds, raisins, banana and honey.  Lunch consisted of an Asian slaw salad and dinner was a falafel waffle with a greek salad.  All was going well to date.
  • Wednesday: Nervous about the feeling in my legs I was contemplating skipping the run.  I jumped in the water and swam 1.2 miles in 44 minutes. It was slow and sluggish but felt good enough to run.  I put in 6.3 miles at a pace of 9:30/mi.  Just about right and my legs didn't hurt too bad.  I ate a well-balanced diet that day that was based on carbs early in the morning to take care of my workouts.
  • Thursday: Wanted this to be a recovery day so I planned on riding for an hour and running for 15 minutes off the bike.  I felt better than I thought and put in a 20 mph bike ride and then ran an 8:21/mi pace off the bike.  Where did this speed come from?  I was on top of the world that in the afternoon I went and did 40 minutes of core/strength.  Look out world.  I also started tracking my meals via My Fitness Pal again and that really helped.  That day I had my carbs in the morning to again help in the recovery from the workout as well as burning off those carbs throughout the day.
  • Friday(today): I woke up with muscle soreness in my back.  The reason was that this was the first time I had done a focused core/strength workout since prior to Ironman Texas......a long time!  The always scheduled 6:30am OWS was happening and I had decided I would run 6 miles out of the water with Drum.  As I drove to the lake I could feel my back and I thought that I would wait until I got out of the water to decide on the run.  Jumped in the lake and lo and behold I was (my version of) Michael Phelps.  That 44 minutes swim was now finished in 39:10.  A 5 minute improvement which is otherworldly in my book.  I decided not to run because tomorrow I am riding for 5 hours and on Sunday running for two hours.  My breakfast this morning was French Toast and my plan for the rest of the day is to focus on protein and less on carbs.
If the people who asked me what I eat, how, why, or when were to follow this routine they may either find it too easy or too hard and the reason is that they are at a different spot in their endurance lifestyle than I.  More than that though they have different stresses in their life that can also affect their decisions on what to eat and how to get their triathlon and diet lifestyle to coincide. So when I get these types of questions I do my best to provide a response that includes some sort of disclaimer that this is how I do it or that I am not a registered dietian or a sports nutritionist.  That the answers I am providing are from my own research as well as trial and error.  Yes, there are certain 'rules of thumb' when it comes to eating for the endurance lifestyle but how one person's body reacts to a specific diet is not indicative of how another's will react.  The way I provide examples for this triathlon diet lifestyle is as follows:

How The Triathlon Diet Lifestyle Can Be Interpreted In 'Real' Life:

  • My results are not indicative of the results that you will have.  Similar to past performance does not predict future performance in the stock market.
  • There are guidelines that apply to everybody but not everybody will do it the same way.  This is similar to a golf stroke. There are certain mechanics but look at Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods and try to tell me that one is right and one is wrong and I will tell you both have won Major championships.
As you can see there is no one size fits all when it comes to training or nutrition for endurance sports especially an Ironman. I don't eat solids in an Ironman race but you may need to or have to.  I don't eat meat, but that may be something that you enjoy.  I choose not to race 5Ks and would rather train for and race for a 140.6 mile race.  Neither is right or wrong or better than the other except in that this is what works for me.  Figure out what you like and enjoy and instead of keeping up with the Joneses set the path for yourself.

Triathlon Diet Lifestyle Guidelines That I Believe Apply To All:

  • Cut out processed foods and eat real foods as much as possible.
  • Surround your workouts with carb based meals.
  • Listen to your body and if it needs to rest then rest and don't push it.
  • Recovering from your workouts is just as important as your workouts so get the proper nutrition into your system post workout.

Do You Believe There Are Universal Rules For Triathlon or Diet?

Published in Train
  [caption id="attachment_8789" align="alignright" width="225"]hard knocks - triathlon - lessons - lifestyle Enjoying The Sport Means Sharing Those Moments With Family And Friends[/caption] Hard Knocks is a show on HBO that covers the training camp of a National Football League (NFL) team every year.  I haven't had HBO in a very long time but with the new house and lowered bills we were able to fit it into our budget (partly because we chose Verizon over DirecTV and thus no NFL package.)  The show Hard Knocks started last week and I had set the DVR to record it.  While eating my lunch I decided to put it on and I watched it for the hour that it was on and I noticed a handful of instances in which the show paralleled the triathlon, and really endurance sport, lifestyle. When you decide to open your eyes it is amazing what you can see.  Yesterday I wrote about the sounds of triathlon and the harmonious music it makes.  I may be in my off-season and that may be why I am noticing all these things around me as opposed to falling asleep on the couch at 7:30pm after a long brick workout.  Either way these examples of life that I am noticing are helping to recharge my batteries for the 2014 season.  I spent an hour yesterday in a Google+ Hangout with Maria discussing which Ironman race I would be registering for and while a decision has yet to be made it has been narrowed down from four to three. So let's get back to how Hard Knocks made its way into my triathlon lifestyle:

Hard Knocks: Lesson #1

This year the program is covering the Cincinnati Bengals.  If you follow the NFL you know that this has been an organization that has been run poorly and when you expect them to be good they disappoint their fans and their owners.  When I thought about how this related to my endurance lifestyle I thought about the work that I put in during training cycles to set myself up for success.  Through training I expect a certain result and when it doesn't happen there is a piece of me that is disappointed.  Yes, you cannot compare yourself to others and I don't but I do compare myself to myself.  I look at my training and previous results and expect to get better with each race.  The problem is in defining better.  We live and die by numbers in triathlon.  140.6, 70.3, 1.2, 2.4, 56, 112, 13,1, 26.2 are all numbers you recognize.  You will also be able to spit out your personal bests at any distance without thinking so the definition of better is typically going faster.  It is also something that I look at from race to race instead of season to season and building on the previous efforts.  This mindset is changing though. I am looking at Ironman races for next year for a few different reasons.  Do I want a new experience or do I want to go back to a race I've already done and challenge myself to go faster than before?  The Cincinnati Bengals can do the same thing and think about building a team that wins year in and year out and not one that wins today and has no clue about tomorrow.

Hard Knocks: Lesson #2

The Bengals signed James Harrison who had formerly played for their rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers.  What did I learn while watching the segment regarding Mr Harrison?  Here is how I paralleled that story to my triathlon lifestyle.  James Harrison is an intense player who practices like he plays in the game.  When it comes to training I put in the effort but when I look back at my efforts in the race they weren't as strong as the training efforts.  At Ironman Texas I had a horrible swim, which I have discussed previously, and what I am doing to get better at it so that isn't where I am focusing.  What I am looking at is the bike.  I rode the 112 miles in just under 6 hours but I know that I can get down to 5:45 just by pushing a little bit harder.  As with anybody the idea that the run is still to comes causes us to potentially take it a bit easer than we had been training and so this coming training cycle I will focus on riding hard (when training calls for it) and repeating a mantra to myself that I can then repeat when the race comes.  Getting my cycling to be faster means that I will have to look to James Harrison and focus and train like I plan on playing on game day.

Hard Knocks: Lesson #3

[caption id="attachment_8792" align="alignright" width="225"]hard knocks - friends - ironman - triathlon Friends You Can Laugh With While Racing And Training For Ironman Are Invaluable[/caption] In the episode that I watched there was the intense life of football and even a drill called the Oklahoma drill where the intensity is sky-high and fights are bound to break out.  How does this play into triathlon for me?  With that intensity came good-hearted laughter.  Guys making fun of each other and laughing with each other. They put in the work but when the work was over they did not carry that with them to the dining room or to their hotel room and family life.  When I saw that I thought about how the previous 18 months unfolded for me and how I would tend to take one bad workout into the next instead of letting it go and laughing.  We all have bad workouts but not allowing them to ruin the next one is key to getting better.  Focusing on that workout and then letting it go and having fun with your family and friends.  Laughing about how horrible the session went instead of pouting about it.  This off-season I have been doing what I want when I want but still getting in 3-4 workouts of each sport and having a great time. I have laughed with friends via text, while riding, while swimming and while running.  I have goofed off with Karen and this is something that I am going to carry forward.  Not being so rigid in my chosen lifestyle that I forget to laugh and enjoy everything else around me. As you can see we can learn a lot from the things and people around us but we have to be open to them.  We cannot be so closed-minded and thinking that only we know best that we ignore the lessons that are around us.  Find inspiration and motivation in everything around you.
Published in Race
[caption id="attachment_8718" align="alignright" width="259"]competitor - triathlon - ironman Competitor: One Word To Describe Me[/caption] Competitor has been used to describe me in the past and to this day I think it is still an adjective that can be used to not only describe me but define me.  It doesn't matter what it is either.  I compete with my step-son in board games and I don't believe in the letting him win theory because nobody in life let's you win.  You win when you work hard enough.  I compete with my business partner to see who can bring in the most revenue.  I compete with myself to see if I can get better and better at all things. Today I was reading an article by Peter King on about Bill Parcells and at the end I just stared and stared and stared.  Bill Parcells was the coach of my favorite football team, The New York Giants, and I hold him party responsible for my competitiveness.  He coached the Giants the way my high school football coach coached us and that is with a no-nonsense type of approach.  You did something wrong you were corrected and told about it.  You kept doing it wrong you got replaced.  It happened to me my senior year in a game against Mount Vernon. I went for an interception and the ball slipped through my hands and the opponent caught it.  I was taken out of the game because during that week of practice I had butter fingers.  I didn't get back into the starting lineup until our championship game but the lesson was taught and learned.  Do it right or we will find somebody who can. That thought process has led me to where I am today with triathlon.  I am going to keep doing it and doing it and doing it until I get it right.  I foresee that getting it right is never going to happen because there is always something that can be done to get better.  I have no races on my schedule but I am itching to race and have started to ramp up my training.  I am doing a double today with a 1mi swim/6mi run at 630a and a 1mi swim/20mi bike at 4pm.  Why?  That is where this article from Peter King comes in.  Here is the quote that made me stare and realize that this is 100% true when it comes to my performance and Ironman:

The end

 “Winning the Super Bowl represents a great sense of satisfaction. Team satisfaction, personal satisfaction. You can’t deny that. But you know what? Bobby Knight told me two days after the first Super Bowl we won, ‘You’re gonna want to win the second one more than you wanted to win the first one.’ He was right.”

Now Parcells is talked out. He’s sat on the Saratoga patio on this postcard afternoon for three hours, and he’s getting more clipped with his answers. This game’s over.

“You ought to end the article with that, from Knight. You win one, you want to win the second one worse. Because that’s the trap. You can very seldom satisfy yourself. I was with a guy this morning. His name is Wayne Lukas. You know him? This guy won more horse races, more Breeders Cups—he’s won 14 or 15 major Triple Crown races and Breeders Cups. For the last six or seven years he’s been down. Well, this year, he comes back and he has a horse finish second in the Belmont Stakes and win the Preakness. Okay? So he’s back on top. Now this sumbitch is 77 years old, and he’s up on this horse every morning at 4:30. Every day. He’s out there this morning, this Hall of Fame trainer, at 4:30 riding a horse. He can’t stop. He can’t get enough. It’s like, you can’t win enough to make yourself happy. You win, and it’s just momentary.

“You can’t win enough. That’s the trap.”

Racing the first one was great.  It was a sense of accomplishment but I had already registered for my second.  Crossing the finish line in the dark at Arizona was even more satisfying, coming of a bike wreck during the race, but it still wasn't enough.  I raced a third this past May and while it was the slowest it was the most rewarding because of the heat and how many people DNF'd that day.  It isn't enough to have finished that race and finished it the way I did as I know that I have more in me and the last sentence above applies:  "You can't win enough. That's the trap."

I have other races that I will do but the lure of Ironman will always be there.  The thrill of pushing my body one more mile on my bike and then getting off and running will challenge me.  It will be in my face telling me I can't and I will shout back, not with words but actions, that I can and I will.  I will not back down from the race.  The miles don't scare me.  The effort doesn't scare me. The training doesn't scare me.  What scares me is the idea that I have done all that I can because when I look back at it I don't know that I can ever say that. I will always think there was more that I could do.  That's my trap.

What One Word Describes You?

Published in Race
[caption id="attachment_8563" align="alignright" width="322"]talent - tools - triathlon - training - performance Talent Comes From Other Items And Improves Your Tools Efficiency
Source: Amidzic Consulting[/caption] Talent is something that you cannot buy.  Talent is something that you work at.  Talent can never be taken away.  Talent shows up when stuff fails and stuff will fail.  In the past twenty-four hours I have had two Twitter conversations and one talk with my step-son about stuff being less than talent.  The conversations started with a contest I posted on the CTER Facebook page about Triathlete Magazine giving away a Trek Speed Concept. The idea that the world's fastest bike is what is needed to take you to the next level struck me in a way that prompted this post.  I have seen and passed a number of athletes on the course that have disc wheels, aero helmets, even Trek Speed Concepts or Specialized Shivs.  You see they had all the tools but they didn't have the talent to use those tools in the most efficient manner.  As a matter of fact at Rev3 Maine I was passed on the bike by a guy wearing flip-flops.  Yes, flip-flops.  He had clips bolted onto the bottoms of them but you know that flip-flops are not as aero as the shoes I spent hundreds on.  My point is that he had the talent and didn't need to wear all the fancy gizmos and gadgets. That day was an awakening of sorts.  I have a tri bike, an aero helmet, race wheels and all of that didn't help me to avoid being passed by flip-flop guy.  I knew then that I had to work harder than I had to that point to get faster.  When I started working with Maria and John we focused on the swim and bike.  These disciplines were my weak link and getting stronger at those would lead me to be better at the run.  As each day in the training cycle went by I noticed that my talent to swim and bike faster and more efficient started showing up.  It was no longer a need for swim buoys and paddles to swim 100y in less than 1:40.  My talent was getting me there. Riding a bike at speeds of 20 mph for a long time was starting to show up.  My talent was pushing those pedals and no aero helmet or race wheels were involved.  I was going faster at a more efficient way.  The light bulb started going off about my talent at the sport of triathlon was getting better and better.  This translated to better and more efficient runs.  I stopped worrying about buying this or that to help improve my performance.  I focused on talent and nutrition.  Getting in the calories, carbs and protein would further improve my talent and so the focus was less on things and more on talent. In the past two months I have not done any organized training.  I have been going out for swims, bikes and runs as time dictates.  With no races on the schedule the freedom to do what I want has been a blessing, but also a curse.  I need the organization of a training schedule to help me keep my days organized but along the way what I have noticed is that I am getting faster even though the weather is getting hotter.  Last year in the summer I would run a 9:30-10:00/mi pace and ride at a 16-17mph pace.  Those paces transferred to 8:30-9:00/mi and 17-18mph in the cooler weather.  Today I am running sub 9:00/mi paces and riding at nearly 19mph and none of these involve any special tools but instead pure talent.  Oh, and for swimming?  I have been going on open water swims with friends on Friday mornings and the paces per 100 yards compare to those that are in the pool.  The confidence in my talent is starting to sky-rocket and making me itch to get back to structured training for a race. I am not saying that you shouldn't get certain tools like a tri bike or an aero helmet or race wheels as I have those items and those were some of the first I purchased. They do provide you with a level of confidence that can take you places.  At the same time don't be jealous because the athlete in transition next to you is racking a Slice, P5, Shiv or Speed Concept because a pretty bike does not mean faster it just means they spent more money.  When talking with new triathletes I always profess to them that they need to fall in love with the sport and find their talent before spending thousands of dollars on the latest bike, sneakers or wetsuit.

Do You Spend More Time Working On Your Talent Or Spending On Tools?

Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_8492" align="alignright" width="211"]performance enhancing - baseball - triathlon Is He The First To Break Maris' Record Of 62 Home Runs Or Do You Discount It Due To Performance Enhancing Drugs?[/caption] Performance enhancing drugs are all over the news of my favorite sport when I was growing up.  I use the caveat of when I was growing up because I'm not sure that baseball is my favorite sport anymore and part of that is due to the performance enhancing drugs.  A few years ago, after the players strike, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire wowed the world of baseball by hitting balls farther and more often than anybody else in the history of the sport.  I was right there with everybody else being glued to my TV and wondering if either of them would reach the record of Roger Maris' 62 home runs in a season. I will remember the day that Mark McGwire hit the record tying home run.  It was during the broadcast by Fox with Tim McCarver and Joe Buck.  McGwire's home run was a line drive over the left field wall.  He was so excited that he forgot to touch first base.  He ran the bases and his opponent on the day Sammy Sosa gave him a hug and greeted him like a long-lost cousin.  It was all so surreal.  The Maris family was there and McGwire embraced them and the chants were loud.  I remember thinking about who the pitcher was and that I better remember his name because I love baseball trivia and that will be handy one day.  By the way, the pitcher was Steve Trachsel and as life would have it he ended pitching for my favorite team the Mets. I bring this up because during the 2013 Major League Baseball season Chris Davis has hit 32 home runs prior to July 4th.  Only three other people in the history of the game have done this.  This morning on my way to an open water swim I heard an interview with him and he blatantly said that the HR record belonged to Roger Maris and not Sosa, McGwire or Barry Bonds.  These three all hit more than 62 home runs in a season with Bonds hitting 70 but it is widely accepted that they did these things while using performance enhancing drugs. At the same time that Chris Davis is hitting these home runs there is an investigation into players being connected to Biogenesis which claims to have provided performance enhancing drugs to players in today's game including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun.  I shouldn't be surprised but I am that this discussion is still taking place.  I guess people will always turn to the path of least resistance when it comes to fame and fortune.  Unfortunately, I don't think that my new favorite sport of triathlon is immune to this epidemic. In this sport we are looking for ways to improve performance at all angles.  We are buying aero helmets and wheels.  The lightest bike and the most aerodynamic water bottle setup.  The easiest shoes to slide on.  Wetsuits that can cost thousands.  Swimskins with carbon material.  Sports drinks and the mixes.  Nitric Oxide, creatine, whey protein and the list can go on and on.  If there is a study that says it improves performance you can be that triathletes will be all over it.  It is like we treat our bodies like science experiments while looking for that 'free' speed. [caption id="attachment_8494" align="alignright" width="276"]performance enhancing - baseball - triathlon - lance armstrong - oprah winfrey Lance Armstrong Didn't Use Performance Enhancing Drugs Until He Did.[/caption] I would love to bury my head in the sand and say it doesn't exist but I am cynical these days thanks to stories about age groupers taking medication for low testosterone even though they do not suffer from this.  I hear about these weekend warrior going from 12 hour Ironman finishing times to qualifying for Kona in a year.  Can that be done?  Probably, but I would also think that performance enhancing drugs are involved.  I am skeptical that such a big leap is possible and that leads me to the pros. In baseball it is nearly impossible to make the majors even if you are taking performance enhancing drugs.  There just aren't enough roster spots compared to the number of people who play baseball.  Triathlon is a different story.  This sport brings the pros and the amateurs and puts them on the same playing field and says go to work.  Today's elite age grouper can be tomorrow's pro.  When they hit that pro field is when they decide they are good enough to compete and qualify for their card.  This isn't baseball or football where there are only so many roster spots available so the opportunity to cheat by taking performance enhancing drugs exists and this possibility can be real for more athletes in this sport. Do I believe that today's pros are taking PEDs, HGH or anything else?  I have no idea.  Yes there is a testing protocol but how tough is the test?  How hard would it be to circumvent the process?  We are seeing times drop quite dramatically and unfortunately I question how these things are happening but I do err on the side of natural ability and hard work.  Maybe I'm naive or I just want to pretend like it doesn't exist at the pro level of triathlon but I also would not be surprised if an elite pro was found guilty of taking any of these performance enhancing drugs. This is the world in which we live and I hope that whatever tests are being administered today are the toughest they can be and if not that the organizations running the sport of triathlon are putting testing in place to combat any cheating that may or may not be taking place.  Cheating in any form, including drafting on the bike is not acceptable and should be stopped as quickly as it can be.  

Do You Think Performance Enhancing Drugs Are Prevalant In Triathlon?

Do You Care?

Published in Train
Saturday, 13 July 2013 01:41

Moving And An Ironman - The Similarities

[caption id="attachment_8541" align="alignright" width="267"]moving and an ironman - triathlon - endurance Moving and an Ironman have more than one common feature amongst them.[/caption] Moving and an Ironman would seem to have nothing in common but you would be very wrong.  Moving and an Ironman have so much in common that right now I am figuring out how to create a company similar to the World Triathlon Corporation or Challenge Family to create moving events around the world and showcase just how similar moving and an Ironman really are. Let's break down the stages of an Ironman and the stages of moving and when we are done here you can tell me if I am right, wrong or just stressed out and tired from all of these items that I should be sleeping instead of typing a blog post coming up with the ridiculous notion that moving and an Ironman are similar. The Beginning:
  • Moving: You decide one day after much conversation with your significant other that you should sell your house or move out of your apartment, find a new place to live and move.  There is excitement and joy of the new digs that you don't even think about packing boxes and unpacking boxes./
  • Ironman: You decide one day after much conversation with your significant other that you are ready to tackle the 140.6 miles and the training that goes with it.  There is excitement and joy of getting to press the register button that you don't even think about the months of training.
  • Moving: You hire a real estate agent and fill out mounds of paperwork and give them an idea of where you would like to price the house and your budget for where you would like to move to along with the location of the new place to live.  The idea of a budget for closing costs, movers, boxes, tape hasn't set in yet.
  • Ironman: You go to and begin to look for a race to enter all the while contemplating the budget you have which includes race fees along with travel expenses.  The idea of a budget for gear and nutrition and other items hasn't set in yet.
The Middle:
  • Moving: You have gone out and visited 50 homes but each one has something a little wrong with it until you come across the one that leads you to believe you finally have done it and selected a house to live in.
  • Ironman: You have gone out and swam, rode and ran for hours, days, weeks, months on end and each workout seems as if it wasn't perfect and you'll never become an Ironman until that one day when everything goes right and you know you are going to be an Ironman.
  • Moving: Closing day on your properties (sale and purchase) have come and you spend hours on end worrying about money and signing papers to the point that your eyes are glazed over and yet you still have packing to do. How will you get it all done?
  • Ironman: Pre-race day comes and you go to the expo and fill out paperwork that you don't read because you don't care because you are going to be an Ironman. You are feeling overwhelmed and it dawns on you that these 5 bags need to be packed and brought back. How will you get it all done?
  [caption id="attachment_8542" align="alignright" width="275"]moving and an ironman - triathlon - endurance Moving Or Ironman Which Is Harder[/caption] The End:
  • Moving: The day is finally here and you have pushed and pushed to get as much packed as possible and well at this point you are just going to have to do the best you can because something unexpected will come up.
  • Ironman: The day is finally here and you have pushed and pushed to get your training in, nail down race strategy and nutrition plan and well at this point you are just going to have to do the best you can because something unexpected will come up.
  • Moving: All of your stuff gets from one place to the other and you feel this unbelievable sense of accomplishment that what seemed so impossible one day earlier has now been accomplished. You don't know how you did it but you did it!
  • Ironman: All of those miles are covered in less than 17 hours and you feel this unbelievable sense of accomplishment that what seemed so impossible one day earlier has now been accomplished. You don't know how you did it but you did it!
  • Moving: With all your furniture in the house the last thing you want to do is cook and clean. You are tired and sweaty. Everything hurts and you are starving but what to eat. Who cares? You are going to eat everything diet be damned.
  • Ironman: With all your gear at the bike rack the last thing you want to do is walk there and get all that smelly stuff. You are tired and sweaty. Everything hurts and you are starving but what to eat.  Who cares? You are going to eat everything diet be damned.
The Aftermath:
  • Moving: After a few days of living in your new place you want to move some items around because you don't like where they wound up after the move so you do that and everything feels right. You are cooking and eating at your new house when you see on HGTV a new bathroom being installed and you think!!!
  • Ironman: After a few days of wearing your medal and writing your race report to your blog you think back to yourself and say: That was an epic journey. You go for your recovery rides and swims and you see others on their training schedule and think!!!
As you can see moving and an Ironman have a lot in common.  I am 2 months post Ironman Texas and am in the midst of moving to a new house and I can tell you that Ironman prepared me for this move as much as possible but there are still things that are coming up that cause stress and make me think.  Having moved multiple times one would think that moving again would be easier but it's not.  That is another item that moving and an Ironman have in common.....just because you have done one doesn't mean the next one is going to be easier.

What Other Similarities Do Moving And An Ironman Have In Common?

Published in Train
Triathlon tips is a segment that I am going to implement on a quarterly basis.  Now that I am not training 18-20 hours per week I am able to do quite a bit of reflection of what my training has consisted of, what it will include and topics of discussion between Maria and John of No Limits Endurance Coaching and I. Triathlon is a sport consisting of 3 disciplines and each one plays into the next.  With having to 'master' all three of these events there is a lot of opportunity to leave time on the course and whether you are a World Champion, an Age-Group Elite or just getting ready for your first Sprint Triathlon then these simple steps will help you get faster.  Keep in mind that these triathlon tips do not involve gadgets such as disc wheels, aero helmets or power meters.  These triathlon tips are ones that anybody can employ to get faster and these are all tips that I have either been practicing or have implemented in training and races and have seen the benefits.

5 Simple Triathlon Tips To A Faster Finish

1- Recover / Taper Properly.

This may seem like the most obvious of triathlon tips but it is one that I realize I failed to execute properly over the past 18 months.  Since I started my journey to Ironman I have been training and or racing for 18 months straight.  This schedule included 2 Ironman, 4 Half-Ironman, and 2 Olympic  distance races amongst other events mixed into hours and hours of training.  How much recovery could I be doing from these events when there was another one coming up.  As much as I believed I was recovering I wasn't truly recovering as I had another block of training just waiting for me. In the past 5 weeks I have done a lot of whatever I want in terms of training.  I would get on my bike for 30 minutes and call it a day. I might plan a 40 minute run and stop after 15.  This past week I had my first 'structured' block of training but no workout exceeded 2 hours straight.  These were all done in Zone 1 or Zone 2 with nothing being in a steady Zone 3.  You know what has happened?  I have gotten faster at the same exertion level. The bike route I have been doing for the past 6 months I know like the back of my hand.  It takes me 28-30 minutes to reach checkpoint #1, that is until it took me 23 minutes.  The second checkpoint took me 42 minutes one week ago and this past weekend I was there in 38 minutes.  My heart rate has stayed at the same level and is proof that I am more efficient than I used to be.  As for running I am putting down sub-9:00 miles and barely touching Zone 2 when that time used to be Zone 3.  I have fully recovered and the data is showing so.

2- Train In Race Conditions.

At Ironman Texas I ran the 15th fastest marathon of M40-44 and I didn't have any special secret. I did not have a fan cooling me off as I ran.  I did not have an electrolyte IV running through my system.  What I had was experience.  Ironman Texas takes place in mid-May and for a large part of the country, including Texas, the peak training volume is in January and February and the weather is not always conducive to heat acclimation training, but there is a simple solution for that. Get into your garage or an enclosed room and wear plenty of layers.  I would wear anywhere from 5-6 shirts plus a sweatshirt and peddle and peddle and peddle.  I would be a sweaty mess when all was said and done but it helped me get ready for the 90*+ day that we would face at Ironman Texas.  When others were faltering I kept a strong and steady pace that allowed me to execute the race strategy that was laid out before me.

3- Know Your Race Strategy Inside And Out.

I cannot stress this enough.  Your race strategy is your go to spot when all hell is breaking loose and trust me all hell will break loose.  You will forget something or you may drop your nutrition on the run.  Something is going to happen but having your race strategy either memorized or written down on your hands will help center you. When I raced 70.3 Puerto Rico I wrote down the zones that I was to race in for the bike on my left hand and for the run on my right hand.  When the skies opened up and the rains started coming down the anxiety of the race changing went up.  I simply looked at my left hand, while in aero, to see where I was supposed to be and where I was by looking at my watch.  An adjustment and I was back in the race mentally and the rain did not affect me. At each point of the run (there are 4 since it is a 2 loop out and back) I would look down and see where I was supposed to be in terms of running zones and where I actually was.  At one point as I passed my wife I yelled to her to text Maria that I was executing the sh*t out of the race.  I was hitting every zone that was laid out before me and holding true to my race strategy.  As the heat/humidity climbed I was undeterred because I knew where I was supposed to be and when. This might be my favorite of all the triathlon tips I have seen or written because it takes away the guessing and allows you to focus.  There is no where should I be and what should I be doing.  You have put in hours and hours of training so you know what you are capable of and this simple reinforcement of that will let you enjoy the race knowing that you are going to execute a race strategy that you trained for.

4- Shut Out The Outside And Focus On Yourself.

Racing triathlon is certainly one time where you are going to be selfish and it is ok and acceptable.  In this world of the constant connection we may have our minds wander to what Twitter or Facebook may think if I am not executing and racing as fast as I had projected.  What are my coach's thinking of my performance?  All of these things add anxiety and anxiety will cause your ability to race to your potential to change.  You will lose focus of what you are supposed to be doing at that moment of the race.  The moment you lose focus, you lose form and when you lose form you lose speed. Next time you go to the pool instead of thinking about your form think about what you are making for dinner and keep that thought process for 100 meters or yards.  Was it as fast as the 100 meters you swam when you thought about high elbow, proper catch, breathing?    Try the same test on the bike or the run.  What happened? Did your loss of focus force you to push harder once you realized where you were?  That extra expenditure of energy will cost you.  Triathlon can be a long day if your focus wanders for just a bit so staying in the moment (one of the 22 Tips I Wrote For No Meat Athlete) will allow you to reach that finish line faster. [caption id="attachment_8382" align="alignright" width="275"]triathlon tips - racing - ironman Knowing How To Legally Draft Can Save You Precious Time And Energy[/caption]

5- Legal Drafting

Nobody likes seeing the pack of riders go by or that one rider who just sucks the wheel of the person in front of them for miles on end.  You see them and hope that there is a referee near by to flag them down and hand out a penalty.  That doesn't mean that you cannot legally draft though and legally drafting can be the difference between setting a PR and missing by a few seconds. What is legal drafting?  How about getting on the feet of a faster swimmer and swimming in their wake?  You can get in right behind them or have your head placed near their hip and enjoy the benefits of them setting the tone for you and allowing you to swim faster than you normally would on your own.  Legal drafting in the water is a tricky scenario to play as you don't want to be drafting off of a slower swimmer than you nor off the feet of a person that is exponentially faster than you.  If you find yourself not holding a steady pace but instead an easy one chances are that person you are drafting off of is slower than you. If you are really pushing it and don't think that you can hold the pace for 2.4 miles or whatever distance you are racing then let those feet go and find another pair.  Going anaerobic to hold feet isn't going to help you. On the bike you can legally draft as well.  Each race will have a different rule regarding passing but each race allows you a certain amount of time to do so and you should take advantage of that.  You may not think that 10-15 seconds of drafting is going to help but if you do it enough your legs and your PR will thank you.  Executing the proper legal draft pass takes some experience but once you have it you will be thrilled with those precious seconds.  If you have 20 seconds to pass and it takes you 5 seconds to get to the wheel in front of you once you enter the passing zone then spend 10 seconds drafting and getting pulled. After 10 seconds go around them using the slingshot effect that is created and pass them within that 20 second passing zone. Easy peasy but know the rules of your race before attempting. The same can be said for the run.  Now you may not gain speed the way you would with the bike or the swim but you can certainly aid yourself in terms of blocking from the wind as well as gaining confidence that you can hold a pace.  At Ironman Texas there was no wind on the run but I drafted off of Chelsea Tiner who is an elite age group triathlete in the Dallas area.  I stuck with Chelsea for a mile or two and I found myself comfortable and knowing that I could handle that pace for the remainder of the race. None of these triathlon tips require you to have a Black American Express card but they do take time to get comfortable with.  Knowing how to train and recover properly, knowing how to legally draft takes time and experience but once you have understood how to execute them you will see the times of your races come down.  Then you can invest in a great set of race wheels, an aero helmet and the most expensive power meter you can find.

Do You Have Any Triathlon Tips You Want To Share?

Published in Train
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