Monday, 25 February 2013 13:05

Body Fat - My Story Of Losing It

Body Fat Percentage has been on the tips of other blog writers finger tips for a couple of weeks now and I wanted to take some time to tell my story about body fat percentage.  I could take you back to when I weighed 175 pounds and was not in any shape other than round but for the purpose of this post my body fat percentage story will start on November 19, 2012. [caption id="attachment_6749" align="alignright" width="300"]about me - ironman arizona - triathlon - recovery meal - body fat percentage Recovery Breakfast The Day After Ironman Arizona 2012 Not pictured: hard-boiled eggs.[/caption] Why did I chose November 19, 2012 to start the story of my body fat percentage?  That was the day after Ironman Arizona and I had just spent my morning with Susan Lacke eating anything and everything.  After all I had just completed racing and I was heading into the off-season so why not.  That morning while scarfing down waffles, pancakes with Reese's pieces, hard-boiled eggs, coffee and toast I didn't realize that my 'fit' body was really not 'fit'. When I got home and I started seeing pictures of me I noticed one thing.  What was that one thing?  Well, that would be my skinny fat stomach.  As you can see from the picture below I looked like I was in shape and an 11:53 finishing time at IMAZ would say that I was, but in reality I wasn't.  I stepped on the scale and my weight was 155 pounds and my body fat percentage was 12%.  For most people, that would be ok but I had a gut and I was devastated by the pictures.  How could I talk about living a healthy lifestyle when I was running around with this pouch? [caption id="attachment_7438" align="aligncenter" width="300"]body fat percentage - ironman arizona - losing weight This picture set off a fire alarm in my head that it was time to get in the best shape of my life for Ironman Texas[/caption] I began exchanging text messages and emails with Jeff Irvin who pointed me to the book Wheat Belly.  I would say that this book was the kick-start to not only dropping weight but also body fat percentage.  Along the road I discovered that just by dropping wheat that the weight was dropping off and my body fat percentage was going in that same direction.  Simultaneously I joined Instagram and my food inspiration and time in the kitchen went in the other direction. I was making dishes that were fantastic tasting but I was keeping track of my calories, carbs, fat and protein intake.  What I noticed was not so much the calories but the carbs.  If I exceeded 300 carbs in a day I would notice little to no difference or a gain in body fat percentage regardless of the amount of training I was doing.  At that point I had a conversation with Maria about nutrient timing. Nutrient timing was the second leg of the stool that had to be installed in order to have my weight and body fat percentage drop in a healthy manner.  Since I do all of my training in the morning it was imperative that I get the majority of my daily carbohydrates in before, during and after these workouts.  I began by having a 90 or 180 calorie Endurance Sport 24 shake 1 hour prior to the training.  Depending on the intensity of the workout I would have either water or an electrolyte based drink and then that would be followed up with waffles for breakfast as recovery (side bar:  I am on Day 14 of #wafflestreak.)  The rest of the day would be filled with healthy fats (avocado, coconut) and lean protein (vegetables, eggs.) Now that my stool had two legs I needed a third to keep it balanced otherwise this 'diet' would not work.  What was that third stool?  The goal of racing Ironman Texas at 11:15 or less.  Having this goal has me keeping my diet very clean and the corresponding weight and body fat percentage reflect this.  I have had this goal for sometime but now that all three pieces of my body fat percentage stool have come together this goal is now becoming more of a reality.  My performance in the water, on the bike and on the road have shown that this formula is working and I am not about to throw a monkey wrench into it.  We are less than 90 days away and I will be disciplined to make sure that this train keeps moving forward.

Weight And Body Fat Percentage Progress:

  • Nov 29, 2012: Weight: 149.2 lbs; Body Fat Percentage: 10.1%; Water%: 60.4%; Muscle Mass: 128.4 lbs
  • Dec 30, 2012: Weight: 148.0 lbs; Body Fat Percentage: 9.3%; Water%: 60.9%; Muscle Mass: 127.6 lbs
  • Jan 30, 2012: Weight: 143.4 lbs; Body Fat Percentage: 8.7%; Water%: 61.2%; Muscle Mass: 125.0 lbs
  • Feb 24, 2012: Weight: 140.4 lbs; Body Fat Percentage: 6.0%; Water%: 63.8%; Muscle Mass: 125.2 lbs
Nearly 9 lbs lost in 3 months with a body fat percentage drop of 4.1% and maintaining a muscle mass that is fairly constant. If you think I am doing this by starving myself just take a look at my Instagram account as I have been documenting the meals that I create and eat on a daily basis.  You will notice that there is a wide variety in the meals and also in the colors of the meals which means that I am not only getting all of my macro-nutrient needs met but also my micro-nutrient needs are being met. This process is just that, a learning process.  I have seen what works and doesn't work for my body but I am also focused on my hunger queues which means I eat when hungry and not what the hands on the clock say.  This is not magic but instead science and hard work.

Have You Ever Focused On Body Fat Percentage?

Published in Train
Tuesday, 12 February 2013 13:44

Ironman Texas - The Monthly Progress Report

Ironman Texas Is In 95 Days......what?

Ironman Texas is now officially less than 100 days away and I am not sure where the time went or what that means in regards to my training.  The day snuck up on me and shocked me when there was a post in the Ironman Texas 2013 Group on Facebook last week that it was 100 days away.  Does my lack of knowledge as to when the race is mean that I am so focused on my training and outside life that I failed to pay attention?  Does it mean that I am being cavalier toward the race seeing as it will be my third full Ironman in a calendar year? I thought long and hard about what my lack of focus about the day that Ironman Texas will take place and have come to a single conclusion.  I am having a blast in this training cycle that the race does not faze me.  In the lead up to Ironman Texas and Ironman Arizona in 2012 I was so focused on my performance in the race that I lost sight of the fun that training brings.  This cycle has been quite the opposite and there are a few reasons:
  • Coaching change.  Just after Ironman Arizona was over I switched over from Claudia to Maria and John of No Limits Endurance coaching.  The switch brought with it an excitement and renewed passion for training.
  • I have been doing all of my long weekend rides with two different groups.  Both groups bring a great sense of camaraderie at different speeds.  There is the Dallas Athletes Racing group which is very fast and forces me to chase them all over North Texas thus elevating my heart rate beyond Z3 sometimes.  The other group is a bunch of friends I swam with last summer that is at a little bit (not much) more casual in terms of the banter back and forth and allows me to pull every now and again.  Both groups have been beneficial to my cycling.
  • Diet change.  I have been fueling my workouts and then tapering off throughout the day.  I haven noticed an uptick in energy and my workouts are not at all sluggish.  That, and Instagram provides a lot of inspiration and motivation for creating good-looking, great tasting dishes.
Here is how I would evaluate my Ironman Texas 2013 Month of January 10-February 10: [caption id="attachment_7302" align="alignright" width="283"]Ironman Texas - Monthly Progress Report - Planned - Triathlon Lots of different activities keeps the mind and body fresh for training[/caption]


I couldn't be happier with the progress that has been made.  If you recall from last month's post Maria, John and I have a goal for the Ironman Texas swim of 1:15.  Fearful at first of what that meant I can now say that it is more than feasible. Yesterday I had a swim set that was supposed to be in the steady range based on the last 800 yard TT I had done.  That time was anywhere from 1:55-2:00/100y.  The main set finished with an average of ~ 1:45/100y and I wound up negative splitting the set and to my wonder I was not fatigued in the slightest during the swim.  There will have to be a new 800 yard TT to re-evaluate my zones since my EZ and cool down swims are now bordering on what was once steady to mod-hard.


It is hard for me to gauge my progress here because more than anything else I had an epiphany during a 4 hour ride that the long rides should be treated like long runs.  On your weekend long run you don't run them as if they are at race pace.  Maybe an interval here and there but not the entire run.  Last year for both Ironman Texas and Arizona nearly all the rides were trying to mimic race pace.  In hindsight that was foolish and didn't help my chances of having great rides for the races. This go around I am pulling back more on the heart rate and following Maria's plan to a T (except for 1 ride where she gave me a talking too!) and I feel good about it.  Instead of getting off the bike and feeling wiped out to the point that a 30 minute transition run seemed like it would take forever I now have a good idea of what my legs are going to feel like for the first two miles of the run and those times are in sync with where my easy runs have been in terms of pace and heart rate.


As mentioned previously I am not running as much in this cycle as I have in the past but there is still progress being made.  My plan has moved my long runs to Wednesday and I have noticed that my HR is staying the same and there are some increases in speed.  This could be because of the variation or the improved efficiency of my body from cycling as much as I am meaning less wear and tear from running.  Either way I will take it. There is a goal to run a sub-4 hour marathon at Ironman Texas and I know I have it in me but this training cycle is giving me heightened confidence that it can be done. [caption id="attachment_7301" align="alignright" width="281"]Ironman Texas - Monthly Progress - Completed - Triathlon Completed Duration Looks A Lot Like Planned Duration. Hitting the schedule is more than a check box routine.[/caption]


As of yesterday morning I am down 13 pounds and 3.5% body fat from my return home from Ironman Arizona.  In the past month I have lost nearly 7 pounds and approximately 0.5% body fat.  With about 5 weeks to go before 70.3 San Juan I am near what I had previously perceived to be my ideal race weight.  I say perceived because in reading Matt Fitzgerald's Racing Weight book (if I did the math correctly) I would be at my optimal race weight at 139 pounds. This process of getting leaner has been 'easy' because of the fact that I am eating very, very, very clean.  I thank Instagram for that in part but also have been living by my three tips for a healthy lifestyle: consistency, change and cheat.

Life Outside Of Triathlon:

I am happy with where I am at outside of triathlon.  I have been going out to meet friends for dinner, riding with new friends has created some great memories and the fact that Karen and I are about to put our house up for sale does not have me a nervous wreck like in the past. I am a creature of habit and Karen and I have found our footing when it comes to training for Ironman (me) and ultra-marathons (her).  Our routine consists of me early morning training and home in time to take the little one to school with Karen picking him up.  On the weekends when the little guy is with us Karen runs on Saturday and I watch him and will take him to the gym while I swim and then I ride long on Sunday and Karen has time with him.  On weekend's we don't have him we both train long on Saturday morning and have the evening to spend time with each other.  We have finally figured this whole thing out. In the past month training has intensified but it has been gradual and not to the point of breaking me and I like that.  I have been able to find time to focus on growing my web design and digital marketing agency while also building a bigger and better Cook Train Eat Race brand.  In addition to that I have been able to take on a monthly blog writing opportunity with TriDigest as well as adding another monthly writing for Fitblogger.  I have been asked to do a couple of other articles for which I am grateful. Ironman Texas is less than 100 days away and I am comfortable with that.

How Far Away Is Your A Race And How Is Your Progress Coming Along?

Published in Train
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 13:44

Strong Core = Strong Performance

Core. Core. Core.  We all hear it and we all know we need to strengthen it but do we?  I know that for the first two-year in this sport my core work consisted of some crunches here and there and would ignore it other than that.  I knew it was important but who has time for core work when you are riding for 3 hours and then running for 30 minutes.  Core work was ignored when I got in the pool to swim 4000 yards.  I didn't know it but I was sabotaging (unlike Bill Callahan) my performance in the sport of triathlon.  I felt fit and looked fit and had some decent races but maybe I could have been faster, and looking back at it there is no doubt about it.  The worst part is that all it takes is 15 minutes per day to get a stronger core.  Of course, abs/core are also made in the kitchen and cleaning up your diet will aid in the strengthening of your core, which by the way are the muscles from your shoulders to your thigh and not just the abs. When I started with Maria and John getting a stronger core was something they had planned for me and I was fully on-board.  In one of our first meetings I asked Maria to put together specific core exercises and input them into Training Peaks.  The reason I asked her to do that was because if it was in Training Peaks and from my coach I would do it.  I am very good at taking instruction and if it's there it gets done.  So with that being said the core work started showing up and so did the results.  Results not only in a slimmed down waist but in my performance.  I was swimming faster with much less effort than ever before.  The riding felt better too and then to be able to run fast without carrying extra weight was a real boost.  This whole core work thing was starting to make sense and before you know it we were posting about it on Facebook. The start of a conversation morphed into a group called the 30 Day Ab Challenge-Core Work on Facebook that now has 42 members.  The goal is to do 30 days straight core work for ONLY 15 minutes per day.  That is nothing but the benefits are tremendous.  Getting the motivation from the group to get the work in is terrific plus there are 41 other accountability partners and posting your done for the day is a huge confidence boost.  As we all know confidence breeds confidence.  Join the group and get on that path to a stronger core. Now we all know it from a look and feel stand point but here are some of my athletic reasons as to why your core should not be ignored:


[caption id="attachment_7206" align="alignright" width="300"]core - swiss-ball-hip-raise - exercise - triathlon Source: Allyssa Eleven[/caption] This is hard enough as it is, if you are not a born swimmer, but it doesn't have to be.  The one sport where I found that efficiency means the most is swimming and a strong core means a more efficient swimmer.  I have noticed that when I swim now my hips are elevated and my feet rise toward the top of the water and I believe it is because my abdomen is closer to my spine thus creating a push down on my chest.  This puts me in a position to be a more efficient swimmer and my times are reflecting this theory, but it is more than my times.  When I am done swimming a long set in Z2 (for example 1500 yards) I don't finished nearly out of breath with a burning sensation in my shoulders.  I finish in a more relaxed state ready for the next set and feeling strong. Looking for swim specific core work then try working on rotational power (Russian Twists) and strengthening your back and legs (Swiss Ball Straight Leg Bridges.)


[caption id="attachment_7204" align="alignright" width="300"]core - alternating superman - exercise - triathlon Source: Baylor And Brody[/caption] As triathletes we spend the most of our training time on the bike but sometimes we aren't always comfortable in that position for long periods of time.  It can be a fit issue, but if the problem persists it is probably because your core is not as strong as it should be.  In addition to that you are probably not as flexible as is necessary and that is causing a tug and pull on your muscles.  I have gone on 3 and 4 hour rides in the past few weeks with a group called Dallas Athletes Racing, and they might as well be racing.  These guys are fast on the bike and the first time I went out with them I basically held them back (there were only 4 of us.)  The next time I joined them (there were about 15 people) I was literally chasing them all over North Dallas but the beauty was that when the ride was over the run felt good.  I left my prescribed HR Zones a few times (sorry Maria) but I never felt out of breathe or winded and the best part was my hip flexors felt great as did my neck muscles from being in aero.  I know that at this time last year that was not the case and again I point to the fact that I am actually working my core muscles these days. If you want some cycling specific core work try doing a Superman (alternating) which attacks the lateral motion as your body moves side to side on the bike  or a more comprehensive movement like the Fifer Scissors which targets key cycling muscles.


This has always been the sport that I did the best at and so we are not focusing as much on it but that doesn't mean it is being ignored.  My runs are typically 15-30 minutes as a transition run off the bike with a long run in the area of 1-1.5 hours.  I have seen my speed pick up while my heart rate has stayed the same and I don't feel as if I am pulling extra weight.  When I start my run I immediately bring my belly button toward my spine and now it is no longer a chore to hold it there.  When I feel my self slowing down I notice that my core is not as engaged which leads to a small spike in my HR.  Once I realize what is going on I bring my core back in and there is a stabilizing effect to my speed and heart rate.  Now I may not be running as much but my running is not being ignored because of the core work that is being done. [caption id="attachment_7203" align="alignright" width="300"]core strength - exercise - triathlon Source: Mind And Body Yoga[/caption] Some running specific core work includes Kicking Plans and Side Planks which strengthen the transverse abdominis (a muscle that prevents excessive movement of the pelvis and lumbar spine) When you are working your core you don't have to do it for hours on end.  As I said I do 15 minutes (sometimes 18-21) per day and I get a full range of exercises in that help me with my swim, bike and run.  Here is a very easy way to take the 6 workouts above and get 18 minutes of core work in.  Start with the 1st swimming exercise and do it for 1:00 (really only about :55 as you transition to the next exercise) and do the 1st cycling for 1 minute and then the 1st running then start again.  If you do that for 3 sets you will have gotten in 18 minutes of core work while always moving and changing the muscles you are working.  Not only that but you will be working on your flexibility which is another key to core strength.

What Is Your Favorite Core Exercise?

Published in Train
Monday, 21 January 2013 16:31

Triathlete: My Definition

Triathlete: My Definition

[caption id="attachment_7126" align="alignright" width="226"]triathlete - ironman - triathlon - definition I am a triathlete and that is who I am.[/caption] On Sunday I had a revelation that led me to think that being a triathlete was much different from I had imagined.  Some of you may call me a triathlete based on the completion of two Ironman races (Texas, Arizona) last year along with 4 Half-Iron distance races in the past two years.  I would have agreed with you but during my 3 hours of training I realized that was wrong.  Triathlete is not an adjective for a person who completes a triathlon like the dictionary says it is.  Triathlete to me is a lifestyle, a way to view the training for swim, bike, run but also nutrition and recovery. In the past I would have said I am a runner who competes at triathlon, but that mindset has to change if I want to be the triathlete I need to be.  If I want to accomplish my goals for 2013 and beyond my definition of triathlete must be just that:  triathlete.  Going out and swimming, cycling and running with purpose and then recovering properly from those training sessions and watching what I eat on a daily basis. In the year prior to bringing Maria and John on as my coaches I read a post about how John had a D-Day in his nutrition.  That day was the day that he began the process of eating ultra clean and preparing his mind and body for a run at Kona.  Guess what......he accomplished that dream by qualifying for the 2012 World Championships at Ironman Lake Placid.  He did not go into Kona on his laurels but instead worked hard to make sure that when he got to Kona he was ready to do everything he could to have a great race.  That to me is how to become a triathlete. I have taken a lot of queues from them and began my process to achieving the term triathlete by my definition on December 10.  That day was the day that we started working together and it has been a great ride since then.  I have my goals written on the notes section of my laptop which connects to my iPad so I cannot miss them each and every time I read Training Peaks for my workout. When I enter my ingredients for a recipe into My Fitness Pal it is with the idea of becoming a triathlete by my definition.  The foods are high in carbs in the morning and tapering down throughout the day but also making sure that I hit my macro-nutrient needs as well as recovering properly.  All of this so that when I get in the water at Ironman Texas 2013 I am prepared to have the race of my life because I committed to becoming a triathlete by my definition. This may sound like I am forgoing everything else in my life but the opposite is true.  I am more focused so now there is no wasted time or movement.  I am more efficient with my work and my family life and able to do more because of this.  Triathlete by my definition is no longer about the race starting on the bike or chasing down other athletes ahead of me because I am a better runner.  I want to be a triathlete which means the race starts when the canon goes off and with the proper training, recovery and nutrition I will be maximizing my potential from that point until the finish line. My view has changed and that is a good thing as I am learning to take past failures and successes and apply them to 2013.  When 2014 rolls around I will have another year under my belt and a better opportunity to define triathlete by my definition.  I am having a blast discovering who I am and what I am capable of and that is important in writing out this definition.  Come Ironman Texas I should have a clearer view of who I am and what I am capable of.  In the meantime my goals are written down everywhere and will not allow me to go one day without seeing them or reciting them as I train.

How Do You Define The Word Triathlete?

Published in Race
Friday, 14 December 2012 14:00

Experience.....It Helps

[caption id="attachment_6895" align="alignright" width="275"]experience_ironman_triathlon Source: Ventiq[/caption] Yesterday a handful of items came across my laptop that got me to thinking about experience in this sport and how it helps.  The first item I saw was in a LinkedIn group discussing the Ironman swim, the second came from Beth's blog about picking out a 70.3 and the last was in a conversation with Maria regarding Ironman Texas and racing. In life we go through our daily activities and once we get accustomed to doing them a certain way it becomes easier to do them, but the first time it is somewhat frightening.  Think about the first time you took the training wheels off of your bike.  You were beyond scared, and so were your parents, that you would fall and hurt yourself.  With experience in riding the bike and figuring out the balancing, braking and turning you got pretty good at riding a bike and now some of you are racing 56 or 112 miles. It's that first time that really freaks us out and then we grow and mature.  We become experienced.  The LinkedIn Group topic referred to the swim and how Ian Thorpe was quoted as saying he felt like he was going to die just before a race.  When we jump into the water at the start of the Ironman that same feeling overcomes a lot of us.  I remember being in the water at The Woodlands thinking:  HOLY SHIT I AM ABOUT TO SWIM 2.4 MILES IN AN IRONMAN.  I was beyond nervous and the only thing that calmed me down was the guy next to me who shouted exactly what I was thinking.  It made me at peace with the swim because I wasn't the only one feeling that way. When Ironman Arizona came around I didn't have any nerves about the swim and was more focused on getting into a rhythm and achieving my goal time.  Michelle said to me that I must have seen the panic on her face and told her to stay with me until the cannon went off.  I don't recall Michelle looking nervous but it must have been there and because of my experience at Texas I was not as nervous as she.  Experience paid off as I just swam and I know when I get into Lake Woodlands in May I will edge closer to the front than I was in my two previous Ironman races. It is the previous experience at Texas that I am banking on helping me get as close to 11 hours as I possibly can and it is also what got me to thinking about Beth's response to my email.  She had posted about doing a 70.3 in 2013 but wasn't sure which one.  I posted that if it made a difference I was going to most likely be racing 70.3 Augusta in September.  She replied to me and said she didn't want to have done the same course twice prior to going all in on the 140.6 distance.  I can respect that as getting experience at a different course will help plenty but for me racing Texas again is about having already been on the course.  When I get to the Woodlands I will know exactly where the hills rise and descend.  I will know where the turns are and how to either push my limits or take it slow.  All of this experience will allow me to race this course as opposed to wanting to finish. When I spoke to Maria yesterday about this topic she whole-heartedly agreed.  Her experience at Lake Placid two years ago is going to benefit her tremendously as she vies for a Kona slot at that same venue in 2013.  Not only will Maria have the experience of having raced there before she trains there a lot and knows the roads inside and out.  This is going to be a tremendous advantage to her in comparison to the other ladies in her age group who have never been there before.  I am going to take this same approach and head down to the Irvin's a few times in the new year so that I can ride the course repeatedly.  Gaining that experience and knowledge is going to be a feather in my cap when that cannon goes off in May. The saying is something about getting wiser as we get older.  In this case getting wiser means gaining more experience.  Getting more experience means going from wanting to finish to racing.  The view I have of the sport is changing in this regard and it is because of the number of Half-Ironman and Ironman distance races I have done.  With each cannon more and more knowledge of my body and of my ability is being gained.  Putting all of this to good use is one way I have learned to avoid the pitfalls of the early morning butterflies and as each races occurs those butterflies will diminish more and more.  

Do You Race The Same Venues Repeatedly?  How Does This Help You?

Published in Train
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 11:14


[caption id="attachment_6883" align="alignright" width="272"]change_coaching_triathlon_ironman Source: Get Plant Fit[/caption] Changes are already taking place over here at the blog and in my life.  I am not waiting for New Year's to write resolutions.  Instead I am just plowing forward and seeing what happens on the back-end.  If something doesn't work then I will change it. As many of you know I have chosen to go the route of wheat-free.  This has been harder than I thought as there is wheat in EVERYTHING.  Seriously the only thing that you can be sure (maybe?) that doesn't contain wheat is air.  That being said I am making a concerted effort to keep this 'diet' going and am enjoying it.  The hardest part was making bread and in the time since the change occurred I have tried and failed using brown rice flour.  Instead I am now making nut butter and jelly open-faced 'sandwiches' on slices of pears and apples. Another change I have decided to undertake is with the blog.  I am going to do more video in 2013 as a way to make this more interactive and hopefully helpful to you.  Yesterday I posted about a talent search / casting call and have gotten some good feedback.  So much so that I have contacted some people about scheduling our first show on December 20th.  If that is a date that works for all we will be streaming live on the CTER YouTube channel and then I will post it here as well with some editing if need be.  If all goes well I may pursue sponsors for the show.  This show is going to be fun and I will also do one on one interviews like I did with Mandy, which you can view [HERE] and [HERE]. Now here comes the news of the biggest change I have done.  As I was progressing through my Ironman Arizona training I found myself getting resentful of the training.  I would look at my training schedule and see the same thing I had seen for three years and was getting bored with it.  It was during this period of time that I talked to Karen about making a change in coaching.  We talked a lot about this and decided that it was probably the best idea because of how I was feeling. For the remainder of the training I thought about it a ton.  It was on my mind with every training session and it was a difficult decision.  I looked at the Pros of staying with Claudia as well as the Cons.  As I laid out the list I kept coming back to my feeling of boredom with the schedule.  I felt I needed a change to spark my love of the sport of triathlon and the pursuit of Ironman races. Claudia had done so much for me and I had spent so much time with her that it was tearing me apart.  When I started with her I had done a sprint triathlon with an open water swim of 500m that took me 14:40 and 98% of the swim was on my back.  Today I am a 2x Ironman with finishingl times in the sub-12 hour range.  I have come a long way since we started.  In addition to that we had been together longer than only two other relationships in my life.  My first marriage lasted 7 years and my current relationship with Karen has been nearly 5, so being with Claudia with three years was a long time for me. The decision did not come lightly but it finally came and it was time to interview new coaches.  I spoke with friends in the sport about who they were coached by and who they would recommend for somebody of my ability with goals of qualifying for Vegas and/or Kona.  This was going to be a decision that launched the next part of my triathlon life and I was not going to take it lightly.  I spoke with a handful of coaches and each one felt like the right fit so I went to my voice of reason, Karen.  Again we laid out the good, bad and ugly.  We laid out my goals.  We laid out my dreams.  We laid out what we were able to gather of each of these coaches and finally settled on one.  When the decision was made I sent out an email with the subject:  Decision Made. I can only imagine what they must have thought when the email was received.  If they wanted to coach me they probably thought about the possibility of me wanting them as well, but at the same time thinking that I was going to tell them that I was going in a different direction.  The response email was so positive that I could feel the smile coming through.  It seemed like a match made in heaven, or at least through social media. Now that I have kept you waiting for this long I am happy to announce that I am now being coached by Maria and John of No Limits Endurance.  That may mean nothing to you but check out their Facebook page and Maria's blog.  You may recall that Maria penned the blog post Being The Athlete I Have To Be and its profound effect on me from a motivational and inspirational point of view.  After reading that post Maria and I became friends and then we found out that we were born exactly one day apart and from there our friendship blossomed. I have a deep respect for Maria and John and am very happy that they were willing to take me on as an athlete.  I believe that they will be able to push me and pull me and hold me back on our way to reaching the goals I laid out for them.  I am no longer nervous about this change and have embraced it in full and look forward to doing different workouts in different ways than I have for the past three years.  The fire for triathlon has been relit and I am looking forward to the next 6 months before Ironman Texas takes place. Thank you to Claudia for taking this neophyte and molding me into a triathlete.  Thank you to Maria and John for taking me on and being able to create a 'finished' product.  


Published in Train
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 15:52

Streaming Live TONIGHT (December 19th)

[caption id="attachment_6917" align="alignright" width="290"]cooktraineatrace_youtubechannel_televisionshow_triathlon_ironman I Wonder If I'll Need One Of These
Source: The Guardian[/caption] Streaming live tonight (7pm EST, 4pm PST) will be our first show on the Cook Train Eat Race YouTube Channel.  Today's show will feature Katie Ingram of Run This Amazing Day, Maria Simone of No Limits Endurance Coaching and Ryan Chapman of B.A.S.E. Training and we will be discussing their role as endurance coaches as well as being athletes still competing. I have yet to come up with a name for the show so I'll take suggestions from you.  So far I have thought of the following:
  • VO To The Max
  • High Cadence
  • Today In Endurance Sports
That was all I could come up with as I have hit the wall in terms of show names.  I appreciate all the help I can get in this category. Speaking of help I will also gladly accept any questions that you would like me to answer.  I have a list of 6 questions that I would like to get to in this show but that will be dependent on how the show flows.  Right now the plan for the show is to ask one of our panelists a question and provide them with 2 minutes to answer and then each of the other panelists will get 1 minute to respond.  This will allow me to ask each panelist 2 questions and giving them the full two minutes to respond but it will all depend on how well the topic gets discussed. As I put out in an earlier post I am looking for people to participate in the show as well.  I am looking for dietitians & sports nutritionists for a panel as well as first time 140.6 finisher, first time at attempting the 140.6 distance in 2013, Kona, Vegas and Boston Qualifiers.  I would also like to talk to families who participate together in the endurance world.  If you have any interest please let me know in the comments box below. Please submit your questions for Katie, Maria and Ryan in the comments section below and I will try to get to it on the air. Here is a bit about our guests: Katie Ingram blogs at the site Run This Amazing Day.  She is an endurance coach who has recently begun a career with Training Peaks.  Katie completed her first Ironman at Coeur D'Alene in 2012 and is going to be racing at Ironman Lake Placid in 2013. Maria Simone is a Level 1 USAT Triathlon Coach and runs the business No Limits Endurance Coaching with her husband John Jenkins.  Maria is a 2x Ironman (Lake Placed 2011, Mont-Tremblant 2012) who is getting ready to make a run at a Kona slot at Lake Placed in 2013. Ryan Chapman is a Level 1 USAT Triathlon coach and certified Total Immersion Teach Professional whose business is B.A.S.E. Training and recently competed at Ironman Arizona.
Published in CTER TV
Friday, 21 December 2012 17:03

Your Season Starts Today

[caption id="attachment_6931" align="alignright" width="225"]dreams_goals_motivation_inspiration Source: Imprint Training Center[/caption] Your season starts today is what has been going through my mind all morning.  It started when I went to the pool for a brisk 2200 yards and during the swim the number 4,5,6 and in that order hit me.  That is what I need to be at in order to have a chance for qualifying for Las Vegas when I race in Puerto Rico.  They kept rolling over in my mind.  With every stroke I thought 4,5,6.  With every breath I thought 4,5,6.  With every yard passing by I thought 4,5,6. During the 400 yard set I was to be in Zone 2 which should have been around 2:01 but going over those numbers in my head I wound up swimming those 400 yards in 7:40 or 1:55.  Not a big difference in terms of time but it meant I was beginning the 4,5,6 chase.    I finished that set and went to my car with visions of 4,5,6 in my head.  When I get in my car ready to head to Bikram yoga I heard an interview with Tony Gonzalez on ESPN. Tony Gonzalez was talking to Mike & Mike about retiring after this year and the words that he said echoed inside my car for what seemed like an eternity.  Mr Gonzalez said that he could physically play for another 2-3 years but going to practice and getting ready in February was what has caused him to think of retirement. He said that if he were to win a championship it all started in February.  The off-season is where he made his season and not September through January. Going to yoga I thought about this and said today is the day that my season starts.  If I want that slot to Vegas I have to make sure that the workouts I do today are what is going to get me there.  4,5,6 starts today it doesn't start in March at the cannon.  The yoga class was great and every time the instructor asked us to stretch further I interpreted that as taking another inch toward 4,5,6.  It was not an easy class but as every pose passed by I kept reflecting on 4,5,6.  With every breath of the hot air I thought 4,5,6.  As I got dressed and went for a recovery shake I thought this recovery is helping me get to 4,5,6. Pushing past my comfort zone started when I asked Maria and John to work with me this season.  Pushing past my comfort zone started when I did my swim time trial and gave it all I had.  Pushing past my comfort zone started when I was doing my bike time trial this week and I could feel the bile building up in my throat on the second session.  Pushing past my comfort zone today so that I can race in Las Vegas in September is what I have to do. This is not a question of maybe I will do this, but more of a statement of me doing it.  I wrote a note on my laptop two weeks after Ironman Arizona with the time 5:10.  Two weeks later I found myself researching what it took at 70.3 Puerto Rico to get to Vegas for the World Championships.  I found out that just at 5:00 in the M40-44 Age Group got you there and so the numbers 4,5,6 are now on my note with the 5:10 crossed out.  It is no longer good enough to give myself some room.  I have to chase my dreams and that starts today. I am not waiting for Christmas to pass so that I have an excuse to eat everything in sight.  I am not waiting for January 1st so that I can make a resolution.  I am acting today and my resolution come January 1st will be:  KEEP GOING!  4,5,6 is what I need to achieve my dreams but my dreams start today with action.

What Your Goals For 2013?

Published in Race
Monday, 03 December 2012 15:50

Ironman Lessons Learned: The Cliche' Version

[caption id="attachment_6821" align="alignright" width="268"]ironman_triathlon_discipline_training_finishline Source: Power Creative[/caption] Ironman isn't just a race, it's a lifestyle.  So much goes into that one day that to think you can just wake up and do it is insane.  Along the journey you are going to find out A LOT about yourself and your friends, family, co-workers and the sport.  It is amazing the things that I learned going down this path.  There were so many lessons that I could write post after post after post about the lessons learned but I won't.  I know you are all a busy group with all the swimming, biking, running, stretching, strength training, core work, eating, sleeping, work, meeting friends, reading to your kids, etc that you do so I boiled it down to 5 simple clichés. Your road to Ironman will be bumpy, just accept it.  Not everything will go as planned, just accept it.  One day you will be able to swim 1:30/100y and the next day be struggling just to finish the set, just accept it.  One Monday you will be on top of the world, but by Friday you will feel like death.....just accept it.  This is how it goes, but if the following five lessons I learned can help you then it was worth every moment of putting my body and mind through it. 1- Don't Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

I learned this because I will have raced a total of 12 races this year.  I started with a 15k in January, then a 1/2 mary, 1/2 IM and it kept going.  All the while training has to be fit in along with trying to be a husband, step-dad, partner in my business, etc.  It was more than I should have done.  When the peak training for Ironman Arizona hit I was frustrated, crabby, mad and HUNGRY.  It had all come to a crescendo during those 4 weeks and as much as I love racing I don't think this schedule is smart.  Our bodies and minds need rest, so take it.  Step back from the game.  For the past two weeks I have done what I want and when I want.  This has been the best recovery ever and I am loving it.  Sleeping in, making breakfast, talking to my wife past is all awesome and very much welcomed.  Be mindful of what you are going to put your body through and don't bite off more than you can chew.

2- Treat Others As You Would Want To Be Treated

The paragraph above talks about my frustrations and my crankiness and that spilled over into my home life.  I was not the best husband I could be because I was tired.  Just plain tired.  I wanted to sleep, I wanted to eat, I wanted to train and all on my time.  I tried my best to not put myself at the top of the heap but there were times when I did even when I didn't have to.  I like to get my workouts over with early in the morning so I can spend time with my family.  The problem with that is there were days where I was just too tired to do anything and yet I pushed forward to do them.  Sometimes it worked out but other times I was just a crabby asshole.  Your family and friends deserve to be treated better and so if you are tired then bow out of the event and let them have fun rather than being the thorn in the side.  If your training calls for a 4 hour bike ride but you want to be with your family then do a 3 hour bike ride and be fresh for them.  Treat them the way you want to be treated.

3- Just Say No

Did you read that last paragraph where I say to just bow out?  It is so important to know and understand your limitations.  There are only 24 hours in the day so you need to respect that.  You are training for 3 hours, you need to work for 10 hours, you need to sleep for 8 hours and that totals out to 21 hours.  You have three hours remaining so make sure you take advantage of them and don't try to do too much.  If somebody asks you to help them out think about it long and hard before you commit to it.  They may be upset that you say no but it could help save the friendship in the long run because you end up being a no-show since you fell asleep on the couch.  I know that as IMAZ training continued on I started to post less on the blog.  I stopped posting on the weekends unless there was something very compelling I wanted to say.  I have also cut back on the number of blogs that I read as I just didn't have the time and more importantly I wanted to read it and understand it.  If my eyes are glazed over then I am not really comprehending what I am looking at and this is a disservice to the writer.

4- Listen To Your Body

I cannot tell you how important this is to having a successful training cycle.  I know when I went through the first cycle for Texas that if the schedule said 4 hour bike ride well damn it I am riding for four hours no matter how tired I was.  In the cycle for Arizona if the schedule said 4 hour bike ride and I finished the loop in 3 hours and 39 minutes I got off my bike and did my run.  I got home 20 minutes faster than I expected and that was a good thing.  I didn't push it because nothing was going to be gained in that 20 minutes of riding.  When I needed a nap I took it.  If I needed to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich I did.  Your body will give you the answer to all your questions so listen to it.

5- Eat All Your Veggies

This is not a ploy to convert everybody to vegetarianism but more of a reminder to treat your body like a temple.  You cannot possibly go out and ride your bike for 4 hours and do a 30 minute run and then stuff your face with Oreo's right after.  Make sure that you are recovering properly with the proper nutrients.  Get all the macronutrients that you need into your system (carbs, protein, fats) as well as your micro-nutrients.  Be smart about what you eat and when you eat it.  It is important to get that recovery shake or meal into your body within 30 minutes but after that listen for your hunger queues.  Your body will tell you when it is hungry so pay attention and then make sure you are eating something that is going to help you recover and get out the door the next day for training.  That is not to say that you shouldn't have pizza if you want it.  Go for it and enjoy the hell out of it.  You earned it and it is what your body is craving at the time but remember that you need fuel for that next workout and making wise food choices will help make that workout a bit easier.

My journey to Ironman Texas 2013 begins one week from today and I am excited.  This week is my last unstructured week and I am taking advantage of it.  I am swimming a little, riding the trainer a bit and running for however long (not how far) I want to.  I added in Bikram Yoga as well as using the rowing machine (that machine is now affectionately known as the Machine Of Death.)  I have gone to a wheat-free (not gluten-free) diet and it all feels right.  My body is telling me that it feels good and I like to hear that.  When the clock strikes on the 10th I will be rested and ready to get into the workouts again, but I also know that if something doesn't feel right I am going to back down. I have 6 months until this next Ironman and I want to get there in one piece and that starts by following the lessons I have learned in 2012.

What Lessons Have You Learned From 2012?

Published in Train
Thursday, 29 November 2012 15:55

Where Is The Love?

[caption id="attachment_6803" align="alignright" width="264"]endurancesports_media_news_triathlon Source: Powerbar[/caption] Where is the love from the mainstream?  Where is just a simple article or mention of the sport of triathlon from the big guys?  For some reason last night I was going through ESPN and clicking on different links when I thought to myself:  Does ESPN have anything about triathlon?  How about coverage of Kona or the fact that Challenge Family is announcing a new race every other day? Here is what I found out when I went through,, and ESPN:
  • Clickable links to the following sports: recruiting (that's a sport?), poker, cricket, rugby, bowling.
    • Call me crazy but none of these sports is really that much bigger and certainly not better than triathlon or endurance sports in general.  If we were in Australia or New Zealand then yes Rugby but it is certainly not a bigger sport than triathlon here in the United States.
  • ESPN does have a twitter account for their Endurance section.  The twitter account is: @ESPN_Endurance and has only been around since May of this year.  A following of 1,145 and a total of 103 Tweets.
  • No writers for their endurance section or blog.  All of the posts on this section appear to be syndicated from, and
  • Clickable links to Bowling.  I guess this sport is bigger in the US than I originally thought.  I know I watched it on ABC's Wide World Of Sports as a kid.  I was a county doubles champion when I was 12 and joined a league last year for a few months but I find it hard to believe this would generate more interest than an endurance section.
  • Cricket.  Really?  Cricket is so popular in the United States that it gets a link over endurance sports?  I am sure there are stories about cricket players over-coming pain and agony but endurance sports is built on them.  Talk to anybody in the transition area of a triathlon and they have a story to tell.  One of over-coming alcohol or drug dependence.  Others looking to lose weight and still others wanting to challenge their bodies and minds.
  • Air Racing.  I have not clue what this could be and did not even bother clicking on the link because my patience had been fully tested at this point.
I guess kudos should go to ESPN for having the most coverage of the sport of triathlon and endurance sports in general but it is a fairly weak section.  All of the information there is just re-hashed and nothing new or poignant.  I bring up the poignant part because this morning while watching SportsCenter there was a story about a boy with autism who is on his high school football team kicking field goals.  Maybe its the offseason and my body is all out of whack or maybe it was just a touching story but I got choked up watching this boy and his parents talk about playing football and what it means.  Yesterday, ESPN carried a story about Justin Tuck wearing a bracelet in honor of a kid he met who died from cancer.  It was touching and I thought what about all the stories of people racing for others. If you read Susan Lacke at all you will know that she has a friend (Carlos Nunez) who is battling cancer.  He is the one that led Susan into the sport of triathlon and clearly he knew what he was talking about because she is an Ironman and a tremendous author in helping us Age Groupers stay grounded in the sport.  Recently, Susan was training for a Boston Marathon qualifying time but has now scrapped that so that she can race with Carlos at Ironman Arizona in 2013.  Carlos is a 13-time Ironman and is an inspiration to me even though I have never met the man.  His ability to fight the good fight and live his life his way is incredible. Read a few articles from Susan about Carlos:
ESPN, CBS, FOX, CNN please stop skipping over triathlon and endurance sports and find somebody (even me) to focus on writing the inspirational stories that exist.  In a world full of obesity, alcohol and drug abuse, depression, etc we need to have those feel good stories that lead us to do things that we once thought were impossible.  Endurance sports gives people a shot in the arm, and not just the athletes.  Go to an Ironman race and watch the spectators and volunteers.  They are just as excited as the athletes.
Published in Race
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