Tuesday, 25 September 2012 15:09

Glycogen Depletion Training

Glycogen depletion training is a phrase that I heard from the Great MissZ about a month or so ago.  At the time I thought to myself:  Why would you do this?  Why would you purposely not use carbs to help fuel your workouts and races.  It wasn't much prior to that message from MissZ that Jeff Irvin said he was going into carbohydrate control so that when he took in the carbs on race day his performance would peak because of the extra energy. Both of these sounded somewhat absurd to me.  I am of the belief that if we take in carbohydrates on a routine basis that our bodies will be fueled for our workouts.  And by routine I mean eating a diet that consists of 60%-65% carbohydrates and not going for that midnight Snickers bar.  Routine meaning that you are getting your carbs on a consistent basis throughout the day so that you are burning what you need when you need it. [caption id="attachment_6518" align="alignright" width="300"]glycogendepletion_triathlon_ironman_training Proper Recovery Will Allow Me To Continue Getting Out For My Workouts.
Source: EAS[/caption] After reading MissZ's report about glycogen depletion training I decided to give it a go.  Last week was my first full week of doing it and I have to say that there was not a loss of performance during the training and maybe even a slight pickup.  The rules I laid out for myself were to have nothing prior to working out and only consume water during the workout.  The key rule though was nothing longer than 2 hours.  If I was going to go longer than two hours than I was going to take in my Prolong/Prepare mix during the workout.  The other rule was on a day with 2 sessions (1 in the morning and 1 at lunch) that I was going to eat lunch 1 hour prior to the workout.  Also, recovery was going to be key to this test.  Without the proper recovery all of this would be for nothing. After the second day of being on this newly discovered training plan I had lost 4 pounds and could feel myself getting stronger.  Now the change is not the only difference in my training, we also have to take into account the fact that I am getting stronger and faster because of the volume of training I'm doing.  The weight loss coupled with my body learning to use fat as fuel was a spark for me.  It has led me to be able to focus on my efficiency and not worry about the timing of the clock for when to take in a sip. Here is where the rubber met the road for me.  I decided to take this weekend as a race weekend.  This means that on Thursday night I am doing my big carbohydrate meal followed by a huge breakfast on Friday (1,000 calories of waffles, pancakes and toast) with tapered eating the rest of the day.  Saturday morning consisted of a typical race day breakfast (toast with homemade nut butter, sliced banana and honey along with granola and coconut milk) and then off to ride for 5.5 hours and run for 30 minutes. The results of the ride were great.  For 5.5 hours I felt terrific and never felt like I was struggling.  This was a training ride so we weren't going at race pace but I held an easy 18 mph ride in comparison to the week prior where I was around 17 mph.  In the end I rode 90 miles and in 15 minutes faster than the previous week (wind, terrain all play a factor of course) but I felt better.  The 30 minute run afterwards was 'easy' as I held 8:30/mi paces for the entire time whereas the week prior I came out at 8:30 but soon slowed down to close to 9:00/mile. On Sunday I had a 15 mile run with the first mile as a warm-up and the remaining 14 miles at tempo pace.  I ran the first mile in 9:30 and then held 8:15s until the last two miles which ended up closer to 8:30.  I ran the entire 2 hours and 5 minutes with nothing but water and two sticks of Hydrate, which is an electrolyte mix with only 4g of carbs.  I felt good the entire time and never had that feeling of this is just horrible I want it to be over. This type of glycogen depletion workout has worked for one week and I am doing it again this week to see how my body adapts to using fat as fuel and to make sure that I am recovering properly to enjoy my workouts.
Have You Ever Done This Type Of Training?  What Were Your Results?
Published in Train
Monday, 24 September 2012 13:41

Why Ironman Arizona?

[caption id="attachment_6512" align="alignright" width="300"]ironmanarizona_triathlon_inspiration Source: Guardian[/caption] If you have not been reading this blog for a while you may not know why Ironman Arizona is as important to me as it is.  I figured that with 7 weeks left until race day I would let you in on why this race has more meaning than any other race I have ever done. Back in 1995 during graduation week from SUNY-Oswego I was given the news that would alter my life forever, yet at the time I didn't realize it.  I was more interested in grilling, drinking beer and playing beach volleyball at our frat house than I was in allowing the news to sink in.  Crazy thing is I remember this day very vividly but I probably could not recount it for you a couple of years ago and I think that is because I mentally blocked it out. On this day I was told by my parents that my father had cancer.  My father grew up poor in a poor neighborhood in Puerto Rico before moving to New York and growing up under not the greatest of circumstances.  So he picked up cigarette smoking, and if I remember correctly that started at 9 years of age.  When I got to high school I practically begged my parents to quit smoking and they actually did.  They both went cold turkey and it was great and I was so happy for them. When I got the news and found out that it was throat cancer from smoking I found it so ironic.  Here my Dad was telling me he had cancer from smoking and yet he hadn't smoked in years.  The questions swirled through my head as to how, why, when, where.....you name the question it went through my head but again it was with the thought that he would beat it. My father would go through chemo and be in and out of the hospital more times than I could count and then he finally succumbed to the disease.  In a way it was the most peaceful thing that could happen to our family.  We struggled to watch him suffer as my father was very tough and this weakened state was not him.  My mother spent years sleeping on a pull up bed in his hospital room and I was in charge of taking care of my younger sister. My father passed away one week prior to his 50th birthday.  Imagine not making it to your 50th birthday.  It is impossible for me to fathom, and yet it happened. When I got into endurance sports I had never run a race in honor of my father.  It wasn't until a 15k that I chose to dedicate to him that I started to lean on him during the hardest of times during races.  When the pain in my legs would get to unbearable points I would think about my father and what he endured and realized that I could go further. As I began training for long course triathlon I pointed to Ironman Arizona in 2013 as the race I had to do.  I knew the difficulty in getting into the event because it sells out so quickly but I was going to go to this race no matter what.  Along the road I noticed my training was going well and chose to race Ironman Texas as my first 140.6 race and I am glad that I did. Ironman Arizona is in 7 weeks and with this being the second one I am less nervous about the training and the race and more focused on hitting the sessions and being prepared for race day.  Race day is November 18 or in my world.....my father's birthday. I had to get into this race this year because it would have been another 7 years before I could race Ironman Arizona on my father's birthday.  When registration opened up the blood surged through my body as I answered every question and clicked through it all until I got the notification that I was in.  The adrenaline left my body almost immediately and I went and took a nap.  When I woke up I smiled and thought that I would be racing on November 18th. When this day rolls around I hope to keep the tears from filling my goggles and I hope that when mile 24 of the marathon comes around I can think about the strength my father had and hope that it transfers to me. This is going to be an emotional day but I will be doing it not for myself but for my father.  I am going to give him a birthday present he never would have asked for. Thank you for everything Dad.  I will make you proud.
Published in Race
Tuesday, 18 September 2012 14:49

Are You An Ironman?

[caption id="attachment_6503" align="alignright" width="275"]ironman_revolution3_triathlon Source: Train2Race[/caption] Are you an Ironman? That seems to be a rather simple question right? You either went 140.6 miles or you didn't, but it really isn't that simple. Recently I was asked if you can get the M-Dot tattoo only if you have done a WTC race. My first inclination was that the distance was the distance but the more I think about this the more I am certain that you should only get an M-Dot tattoo if you do a WTC event. Where did this revelation come from? It started with my race at Rev3 Maine at the end of August. I absolutely loved the venue as it was the 2nd best place I have raced the 70.3 distance. Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico is still #1 in that realm followed by Maine and then Ironman 70.3 California and finally 70.3 Austin. So we can say that the place was terrific but let's dig deeper than that. How about the race itself? The race was a gorgeous course, but shouldn't that be expected? I mean they are not going to schedule a 70.3 race through a run down downtown city that has abandoned buildings and the dregs of society on every street corner. So let's not go over board here in that the course was just unbeatable and unlike any other. It was very pretty but I wouldn't say it was better or worse than the other 70.3 races I have done. The on course support. Here is where it is much different. At the 3 WTC events I did I saw SAG vehicles everywhere as well as plenty of referees on the course to do what they can to keep the race clean. Of course not every act of drafting is going to get caught so please hold your argument that you see tons of drafting at WTC events. I saw plenty of it at Maine and there were only 444 athletes in the 70.3 race. And this brings me to the next point about Rev3 and why I think that if you do a 140.6 race that is not WTC sanctioned that getting the M-Dot tattoo or calling yourself an Ironman makes no sense. 444 athletes or what the WTC typically has in the M35-39 Age Group. There are claims that there were 1200 athletes at Maine, and while that may be true 2/3 of them raced the Olympic. Now my point about the 140.6 distance is this. The Ironman race starts with 2000-2500 athletes all going at the same time. There is something about having to battle your way through that many athletes in the swim then get through transition where there are hundreds of people in the changing tent, then fight them on the bike and blow past them on the run that makes the Ironman event an Ironman event. When there are only 450 participants there is no battle for space. You have all the space you need. The claims that Ironman races are so tight and there is no space are true and that is because there are 2500 people there, not 450. I don't know how many participate in the HITS series but I know for sure that it isn't 2500 and there in lies the difference between Ironman and the others. People love the bash WTC and the mistakes they have made with some of their races. It happens. It is a business run by human beings and last I checked human beings still make mistakes. Don't believe me? How about Rev3 not having a single thing to eat after the Maine race for a vegetarian? Mistake? I would think so. How about the fact that the gentleman at the lobster cookout told me I could buy water? Probably a mistake as well since Rev3 should have had water for the participants away from the finish line so that there weren't athletes walking back and forth into the finish area. There is also this, from the Rev3 Facebook page:

We apologize for the embarrassing mix up on your hard earned finisher medals :(. we are working on the solution now and we will email all of the Full athletes with details about the solution very soon. We just have to pack up these trucks first!

Had this been the WTC there would have been a barrage of social media posts as to what a crass organization the WTC is and how they don't care about their athletes. Listen, a mistake was made and Rev3 is fixing it and that is great. On the other hand let's not pretend like the WTC wouldn't do the same, but then again we don't know that because the WTC has not had this type of error since I have been racing. See everybody screws up at some point, and then that brings me to the next point.

With the news that WTC cancelled IMNYC the barrage of tweets and Facebook posts was crazy. WTC noticed the error in their ways, whether it was for profit sake or not, they noticed it and pulled the event. Smart move in my opinion and much better than trying to half-ass the event. If people think that the WTC is so rotten how come races sell out in minutes and new races are popping up all over the place? Just this year they announced a 70.3 Raleigh and I for one am ready to head to North Carolina and race.

Ironman Wisconsin sold out in minutes and Ironman Lake Placid just recently sold out as well. This is the pre-eminent racing circuit for long course racing and that much cannot be argues. Yeah there is Challenge and there are new series like Rev3 and HITS that are just getting started but if it weren't for WTC and its popularity there probably would not be another race series out there. This is what Ironman brings to the sport. When people think of triathlon they think Hawaii/Kona and not Cedar Point or Hunter Mountain. They don't ask about whether or not you are going to be on TV at the Challenge Roth or Redman. They ask when they will see you on TV in. Hawaii, whether they know you have to be the best in the world or not. Ironman is synonymous with triathlon. There are people out there that love Rev3, HITS, Challenge, etc and that is all fine and dandy. Support them and be behind them 100% for whatever reason but please just stop telling me how great the organization is and how poor of an organization WTC is, because it isn't. It is the only organization that you can qualify for the Ironman World Championships at and is the only organization, in my mind, in which you can call yourselves an Ironman.
Published in Race
Thursday, 13 September 2012 14:48

Ironman Arizona Update

[caption id="attachment_6488" align="alignright" width="300"]ironmanarizona_triathlon_training Source: Ironman Arizona
If the roads are that paved I will be one happy person[/caption] Ironman Arizona is a tad over 9 weeks away and the training is entering its peak phase for sure.  Coach doesn't provide me the schedule in advance so I only know what I am doing for the week on Sunday afternoon/evenings.  I like it this way, and she plans it this way, because I can't look ahead as to what might be hard and so I lose the focus and purpose of the current days training.  For me every training session must have a purpose otherwise I feel as if I am wasting my time and I hate wasting time. My overall impressions of this training cycle, in comparison to Ironman Texas, are that it is going better.  I feel stronger at this point of my training cycle than I ever did for IMTX.  The workouts that have been prescribed are harder because there is a lot more interval and hill work but it has certainly been paying off.  When I raced Rev3 Maine a few weeks ago I felt strong in the water (the wetsuit didn't hurt) and very strong on the run.  I had the fastest run split at the 70.3 distance at that race and this is coming off of 8 months that included 70.3 Puerto Rico and Ironman Texas racing and training. I received some great news from Rebecca when she rode the course last week.  Her feedback was that it can be a course that I spend the entire time in the big ring on.  She said I MAY have to go to the small ring when I get out toward the turn-around of Loop 3 but otherwise should be more than OK in the big ring.  After the sh*t show that was last weekend's ride into the 15-20mph headwinds my biggest concern is not the course itself but more mother nature and the winds.  I know that there is nothing I can do about it and that we all will be dealing with it, but that wind can play havoc on your mind. In addition to Rebecca's first hand scouting I asked Aimee about the course since she raced IMAZ last year and she gave her impressions.  Again the bike wasn't the biggest deal in terms of the course but more a concern when it came to the wind.  If it's there it's there but that is nothing I can concern myself with as I keep pushing forward and adding miles and miles to my tires and legs. My runs have been outstanding and my hope is that I am not peaking too soon with that discipline.  I ran 17 miles on Tuesday at a 9:37/mi pace and kept my HR way down.  The cooler weather is helping out tremendously with this, but so is the fact that I was running smart in the 100* days here.  I took it slow then and now the pay-off is here with faster run splits.  Yesterday I was scheduled to run 50 minutes at LT pace and when I first saw the schedule I was thinking how painful it was going to be.  Running with an HR of 155-165bpm coming off a 17+ mile run was not going to be pleasant, or so I though.  I got in the pool first and swam a hard but enjoyable 3800 yard set and then set out on my run.  Surprise, Surprise!  I held an 8:00/mi pace while keeping my HR at 151bpm. [caption id="attachment_6489" align="alignright" width="300"]ironmanarizona_triathlon_training Source: Ironman Arizona
I'll be sure to point out who I am when they take the pic this year.[/caption] My goal is to run a sub-4 hour marathon and if I am able to hold an 8:00/mi pace at 151bpm then holding a sub-9:00/mi pace at a 140-145bpm level is certainly feasible.  Aimee mentioned that the course was flat outside of the ramps going up from the lake.  If they are short then there is plenty of time to recover on the flat sections and run fast to make up for lost time on the uphills. I have also changed up my nutrition plan and have been using it in training and raced with it at Rev3.  For Ironman Arizona I am getting rid of the water cages on the back of my saddle and using only a torpedo and a down tube cage (read that as no speedfil.)  In the torpedo mounted bottle I will have 400 calories of EFS Liquid Shot watered down (Kona-Mocha of course.)  In the down tube I will have 400 calories of Herbalife24 Prolong and Prepare mixed (Mango flavor for that brunch feel when combined with the Kona-Mocha.)  In the side pockets of my jersey I will have two HoneyStingers (1 vanilla, 1 chocolate) and I will start the bike with a lemon flavored honeystinger.  When you add up all the calories you are looking at 1280.  For a 6 hour ride that comes out to 213 calories per hour.  If I need to I will supplement with perform on the course (used it on a training ride and it didn't bother my stomach so we should be good to go.)  I will also take a water bottle and drink and toss at the aid stations every 10 miles. Out on the run I will have a tiny handheld in my shorts pockets.  The racing kit I have has shorts that have a pocket that is perfect for holding the mini-handheld and you don't even realize it is there.  I will have them filled with 400 calories of EFS Liquid Shot (vanilla to change-up the flavor) and I will have 2 HoneyStingers (vanilla) in my jersey for at the 1 and 3  hour mark.  This will give me 720 calories for a total of 180 calories per hour. My plan is to take 10 second walk breaks every two miles at the aid stations to get water in me.  If I am on target I should be hitting the aid stations approximately every 18 minutes which is perfect timing for a swig of EFS and a swig of water to wash it down, then keep on going.  I have been having success with this practice on my long run and hope that it continues on race day. So all that being said the training for IMAZ is going well.  I feel strong and mentally ready.  I know that I am only going to keep getting stronger in the next 4 weeks and I have to be smart to stay on top of my eating and sleeping habits.

If You Have Raced IMAZ What Are Your Tips/Tricks To A Successful Day?

Published in Train
Monday, 10 September 2012 14:40

It Finally Happened!!!!

[caption id="attachment_6471" align="alignright" width="186"]mentalstrength_ironmantraining_traithlon Source: Runner's High - Paul[/caption] I finally had a day where I wanted to get off my bike, pick it up and throw it in the lake as I was riding over the bridge.  This happened to me on Saturday late morning and had I not had a great run after the bike and another on Sunday I am pretty sure I would be a grumpy muppet right now.  Here is how it came to be that me and El Diablo almost got divorced. Saturday morning Karen does her long runs and so I start my rides later in the morning and typically ride through the afternoon and tend to take it easy because during the summers here in Texas the temperatures can reach 105* and the heat index easily up to 110*.  On Saturday though we had a cold front come through and the temps were in the high 70s when I started.  Here is the kicker......just before I left the house I checked Weather.com for the winds and where were they coming from.  I do this so that I can get a jump-start on the mental aspect of the ride.  If they are coming out of the South then the ride at the end will be hard since I head straight South toward the end.  If they are coming out of the North then the start of the ride is going to be brutal. For this ride the wind decided to come out of the North and so I knew it would be tough sledding to start but that meant that I would finish with a tailwind and oh happy days.  What stood out like a sore thumb was the number 17.  Yup, 17 MPH winds to start the ride.  AWESOME I thought with a hint of sarcasm.  As I was leaving I mentioned this to Karen and she said that it was just gusts going that high on the run and the ride should be fine.  What we both failed to realize is that where Karen ran and where I ride are two different areas of the Metroplex.  She runs where there are buildings and trees.  I ride where there are farms and the only structures out in the pastures are the occasional oil derrick. As I started out heading North I immediately noticed that I was basically pedaling in place.  I can beat this I kept telling myself and then the chain slipped.  I changed gears and it slipped again.  I put it into the big ring and no slipping.  I finally reached the 8 mile point of the ride and this normally takes me anywhere from 24 to 27 minutes.  The longest being 28.  On this ride......just over 30.  I fiddled with the rear wheel and that is when I noticed that the chain was extra loose.  I then thought back to Maine and how the same thing kept happening.  This must be because of the travel that the chain got so loose because I had just had a thorough tune-up before the race. I chose to push on and would just ride in the big chain ring the entire time.  So now I am out on Route 377 and headed due North.  This is normally a good time to open up the bike and push.  This day just was not going to be that day.  I reached a marker on the route that would be around 1 hour and I got there at 1 hour 30 minutes.  It was right before that as I was crossing the bridge that I looked at the lake and had the following thoughts:
  • Get off the bike and call Karen to come get you.  You can walk to the gas station and get some water and gum and wait for her to get here.
  • Get off the bike, pick it up, throw it in the lake and then run home.
  • Keep moving your legs dude because the return home is going to be a blast.
I kept on pushing and pushing and cursing and cursing.  I finally made it to the next marker where I typically text Karen from.  Normally at this spot at 2 hours and on this day I was there in 2 hours and 15 minutes.  I had a decision to make.  Go the extra 12 miles that could take me 45 minutes based on the winds or head south and finish in less than 4 hours of a 4 hour ride.  Physically I felt fine, but mentally I had been beaten so I decided that coming in under 4 hours was going to serve me better than coming in over 4 hours with another 30-45 minutes of brutal headwinds.  As soon as I turned South I knew I made the right choice.  The speeds immediately went up to 27-30 mph.....oh tailwind how I love thee! I got closer to the car and made a bet that if I were under 3h30m that I would do a side road for a few extra miles/minutes.  As I made the turn to add the extra on I was headed right back into a headwind and I knew I made the right decision because this was only going to last 10 minutes while had I done it earlier it would have lasted 45.  After the ride was done I went out on a 30 minute lactate threshold run.  I got my HR up to 155 within seconds and held it between 155 and 160 bpm and the run felt great.  I was coasting at just under 8:00/mile and immediately felt awesome. As anybody who has ever trained for anything will tell you:  there comes a time where you want to quit.  There comes a time when none of it makes sense.  This did not happen to me during Ironman Texas training and that is probably because it was all so new.  Now that I am going through my second cycle and in the same year it finally happened.  I have never wanted to quit a ride or run before the way I did on Saturday.  The best part was that I didn't quit.  I did not give in to the mental barriers my mind was putting up.  I forged on and when that tailwind hit I was like a kid in a candy store.  Smiling from ear to ear.  I was having a blast again.  The next day I went for a 1h30m run and it was so effortless and fun.  It was as if that bike ride never happened.  It did not linger and just left my conscience. There are going to be ups and downs during training.  How you deal with them will dictate how you race with them.  If you give up during training you can guarantee that you will check out during the race.  I for one am not a quitter and when these tough mental days hit me, I choose to hit them back.  I will not be a punching bag for anybody, but especially my own mind.  I will put my nose to the grindstone and push ahead so that come race day when the going gets tough and others decide it is too hard I will keep going.  I am competitive and this is one way I will win.  I may not be the fastest or the strongest but I sure as hell will be one of the most determined.

Have You Ever Wanted To Throw Your Bike In The Lake?

What Did You Do About It?

Published in Train
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 12:57

Embrace The Suck

I reviewed Chris McCormack's book I'm Here To Win previously and on the way home from Rev3 Maine I read an article by him in the September issue of Triathlete magazine titled It's All In your Head. Having just come off of racing a 70.3 where I had mechanical issues and two other worldly blisters this article spoke volumes to me. If you can recall, it was just about a month ago that I gave you a recap of the triathlon training camp with Jeff Irvin.  During that weekend we discussed how neither of us has really pushed ourselves to the point of breaking.  There was always the thought that after the swim was a bike ride, then after the bike ride came a run.  We talked about how we needed to compartmentalized the events to race that event without worrying what was next.  How this was how the line of demarcation was drawn between the elite age groupers and us.  While Jeff and I are no slouches there is a lot of time difference between us and the top 10% of our age groups.  If you read Kevin and Jon's posts about Ironman Mont-Tremblant you can see that it is there as well.  Mind you that both of these guys are fast.  MattyO raced Maine as well and finished in 5:21 which is fast and still came up short of the podium.  Could he have pushed himself harder to get there?  I bet you he says yes. All of this is to say that if I want to get to that next level which at this point is a Top 20% finish in my age-group at Ironman Arizona then I have to 'Embrace The Suck'. I can no longer think to myself that this Ironman is about pacing myself because it is not.  It is about pushing past the pain when it shows up time and time again. Believe me the pain will be there at every corner if I allow it.  Keep in mind that the pain is not always physical, but can be mental.  For example, saying things to yourself like: this bike ride is soooo long and I can't wait to get off the bike.  You are hurting yourself because you are ready to give into the pain of your butt in the saddle, or pain in your quads, or boredom of being out on the course.  You are not special in thinking that, but maybe you can be special in pushing past it while other athletes are giving into it. When I was faced with a broken spoke I could have given up and nobody would have blamed me.  It was a mechanical failure and not much that you can do about that.  Had this been an injury I would have pulled out because this particular race was not the A race of the 2nd half of the season.  Instead I lifted my bike over my head and walked up the hill talking to myself.  I gathered my thoughts and told myself that it was all about the run if I could get there.  I tinkered with the bike and was able to ride, knowing full well that I was not going to have the ride of my life.  Instead of giving into that I yelled at myself that the race started at the dismount line.  I gave it my all and got there and flipped the switch.  I was ready to embrace the suck. I started running with determination.  I knew that it was going to hurt but I had a goal and I was not going to question myself at the finish line.  I thought back to swim like a swimmer, bike like a cyclist and run like a runner from that training camp.  I ran and when the blisters decided to show up I decided to ignore them.  When the quads were yelling at me to slow down, I yelled back to them to MAN THE FUCK UP! When my Achilles chose that it was his turn to aggravate me, my only response was you get to rest when I do. There was no secret sauce being poured over me to push me this far.  It was my desire and will to be the best triathlete I could be on that given day.  I was fueled by anger of the bike, but also a passion to prove that when the going gets tough quitting is not an option.  Taking the road less traveled is not easy, but it is rewarding. Crossing the finish line with a run split of 1:45 has me excited because my goal for Ironman Arizona is to run a sub-4 hour marathon.  Thought 13.1 miles I felt strong and can say I could have embraced that suck for another 13.1 miles.  I would have continued picking competitors off the course and hunting them down and not felt satisfied until I got there and then made the pass with authority.  This is something Matt and I discussed aft the race.  When you pass, no matter how much it hurts you do it with authority and don't give that competitor a chance to stay with you.  You want to hear the air come out of their lungs, their legs wither, and know that their brain just said to them: we can't keep up with that so slow down. I am a competitor.  I am fueled by my successes and failures.  I am learning to embrace the suck more and more.  The edge of the table to which I push my envelope has no end. I will push myself to reach my dreams and goals.

Can you say the same thing?

Published in Train
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 11:44

Rev3 Maine Race Report

Rev3 OOB Maine was this past weekend and I can say it was a very wonderful experience outside of one item, which I will touch on at the end.  Going into this race I felt very strong.  I had dialed in my nutrition and hydration and training was going well.  The one item that did not happen was a proper taper but that is because the goal race of the second half of the season is Ironman Arizona and not this race.  That being said I was feeling good. I flew into Maine on Thursday evening and was picked up by Jen Small of Miles, Muscles and Mommyhood and her friend Mark.  We headed to her parent's house and got all settled in.  The next day we went for a morning swim to get used to the wetsuit, and for me, the water temperatures.  I was afraid that I would be freezing and that lent a large hand to some anxiety heading into the race. Saturday morning we went to a breakfast place and a surprise was given to me.  I was able to meet Jen Roe of From Fat To Finish Line.  This was a great surprise as I have been reading Jen's blog for quite some time.  After that surprise we headed to the expo to check in all our gear and then take a tour of the bike course.  Seeing all the turns and routes was going to be helpful for the race, or so I thought. When race morning came I was ready to go, but still had some anxiety over the swim.  This was my first time swimming in the ocean and so the start plus the ocean gave me some pause.  My wave was the first of the day and the horn was going off at an early time of 6:20am.  We got to transition and after checking out all my gear, including spinning through the gears on my bike (foreshadowing), we all headed to the swim start.  I jumped in the water and swam about 200 meters to get accustomed to the water and wetsuit.  All felt good and before I knew it the time to stand in the starter's chute was there. Standing in the starter's chute I felt the butterflies show up.  When the horn went off I hit my watch and ran into the ocean with the other M30-34 and M35-39 athletes.  I dove under a wave and started swimming.  I felt really good right from the get go.  I was sighting every 5 strokes and was able to spot the buoys, until the waves came and I splashed down into the ocean.  It was an odd feeling to start this way but got very comfortable right away.  Before I knew it I found the first buoy and the second buoy, which is the turn buoy and I knew I would be going with the current so I got settled in.  As I was going I quickly found one buoy after the other but by the time I hit the 4th buoy to turn I felt like I was swimming forever.  After making the turn I found the next buoy and was quickly getting pushed by the current to the right.  I swam toward the left as much as possible and felt like I was always getting pushed toward the pier.  When I finally hit sand with my arm I stood up and was given the advice to take my wetsuit off in the water.  I tried as much as possible and fought with the arms and then the legs were a battle.  After a while I finally got it off and started the 1500 foot run to the transition area. In the transition area I quickly got my bike gear on and headed out to the mount line.  The beginning of the bike course is up a hill and this should have been a hint that this course was not flat as I had been told.  I was told that there was ONLY 900 foot of climbing on the bike route and so I felt that the race was going to be fast.  It was around Mile 5 that I finally felt my legs responding or so I thought.  I kept thinking that this was odd that my quads were so sore but thought it was due to swimming in a wetsuit and in the ocean and that they would finally loosen up.  At that point my pace picked up and I felt like a strong ride was coming along until it wasn't.  The ride felt slow like molasses and then I had the be-jeezus scared out of me at MattyO passed me yelling.  After my HR got back to normal I picked up my pace and felt as if Matt's screaming was a shot in the legs.  Then the failure happened.  I stood up at the base of the first big climb as my legs were just not responding and I heard a loud metal ping followed by a few metal pings.  I quickly pulled over got off the bike and spun my front tire to no noise.  I then started to spin the back tire and that is when I noticed the broken spoke.  I tried bending the spoke to wrap it around the other spoke to no avail. I then picked up the bike over my head and walked up the hill.  I needed time to cool off and get my mind straight and walking up the hill I figured would do both.  When I got to the top of the hill I started messing with the spoke again.  I tried flexing it to get it to snap but it never did.  As I was trying to bend the spoke it would slide a bit.  I finally slid it to the point that I was able to remove it from the wheel and able to start pedaling again.  I immediately heard the noise of an aero tire not having all its spokes.  Instead of the sound of a swarm of bees I heard a wind howling through the tire.  I was caught off guard and pulled back the reins of the ride until I started getting passed by more and more athletes.  I was even passed by a guy on a bike with toe cages and newtons.  That's right this guy did not even have clips and I got pissed at the situation and started riding harder and yelling at myself. What was I yelling?  I was yelling to myself:  You are a f'n runner.  You will run hard.  You will run strong.  You will run with anger and pass all the m'fers that just passed you.  Just get to the mount line and start the hunt.  Before I knew it I was heading down toward the dismount line.  I removed my feet from my shoes, dismounted and ran into transition.  Being so fired up I ran right past my transition area and had to back track.  I put my bike in its spot tossed on my running shoes and visor and took off.  I ran with purpose from the beginning. My pace felt fast and strong and sure enough at Mile 1 the watch beeped and I looked down to see 7:47.  My first thought was to pull back, followed by the second and most powerful thought of keep running and if you blow up then you blow up.  I kept my plan to grab water at each aid station and take a swig of EFS from my flask every 2 miles.  My goal for the race changed to running a 1:48 which would get me to the finish line in 5:40.  I started hammering out the miles and fortunately I did not wear my HR monitor so I had no clue what zone I was in and didn't care.  I was running ANGRY. I was hoping to see Matt further out on the course as I wanted to try to make up as much time on him as I could.  I knew he had a huge lead on me and if I could close that gap at all I knew I would have a strong run since Matt is a strong runner.  I never looked at my watch unless I heard the mile beep.  I calculated in my head that I could not have a mile that was slower than 8:20.  As the miles ticked off and the paces showed up I knew I was having a very strong run. I finally saw Matt around Mile 6 for me and Mile 7 for him.  I yelled that if I caught him that he had to become a vegetarian for a month.  I wanted to help try and push him but he quickly responded with:  You have to eat a bacon cheeseburger if I beat you.  Well his words powered me and I started running harder.  I finally passed Jen at the 6.5 mile mark and gave her some encouragement and then started the hunt.  I was passing people and they were all encouraging me and telling me that I looked strong.  At Mile 10 I felt the rub of my pinkie toe against my shoe.  I decided to run sans socks and when that rub happened I knew I was facing a huge blister.  Ignoring the pain in my quads, Achilles and toes I kept on pushing the pace and turned the corner toward the finish line.  Knowing I only had so far to run I pushed even harder and crossed the finish line with a time of 5:36. All in all I had a great race even with the issues of the rear wheel.  After the race as I was walking my bike back to the car I noticed that the back tire was rubbing against the brake pad and I figured that this started from the beginning and caused the issues of my legs feeling so heavy from the outset.  I finished the bike in 3:04 and while not too bad it was about 20 minutes slower than my past two 70.3 bike results.  This course also had 1500 feet of climbing and not 900 feet like I was led to believe. The biggest disappointment of this race was the finish.  Not the finish line but the after race eats.  NOTHING for a vegetarian.  There were sandwiches of Ham & Cheese or Turkey & Cheese.  Your other choice was a lobster plate that you had previously paid for.  Again not for a vegetarian.  When I asked for water I was told that it was only at the finish line or I could pay for more.  I could pay for more?  Really?  I just paid $275 or whatever for this and there are no bananas, no oranges, no pretzels and I could PAY for water?  Yeah, not so much. The venue was terrific.  The crowd support at the beach was excellent.  The bike course was terrific and the run course was phenomenal.  This had a lot of positives for an inaugural race and one I would recommend doing if you are looking for a terrific place to race. In terms of my goals they stacked up pretty well: Swim Goal: 37:00 - 39:00 Actual: 39:43 (my watch measured 1.4 miles on the swim and I swam on the buoys very closely) Bike Goal: 2:50-3:00 Actual: 3:04:52 (I think that I lost about 20 minutes with the rear tire issues including the time spent to remove the broken spoke) Run Goal: 1:50 - 1:53 Actual: 1:45:22 (run Angry my friends, run Angry) Finish Goal: 5:23 - 5:38.  Actual: 5:36:18 Thank you for reading!

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Published in Race Reports
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 15:32

Rev3 Old Orchard Beach Maine Goals

[caption id="attachment_6392" align="alignright" width="290"]rev3_maine_triathlon_halfrev Source: Lava Magazine[/caption] Rev3 Old Orchard Beach Maine is this weekend and I am both excited and nervous.  I am typically not nervous before races but for some reason this race has me on edge.  That is a good thing because it means that I am ready but it is also an indication of me just now knowing what I am heading into and I think that is the worst part of this entire situation. This is my first race with Rev3 and there is excitement about that but also nerves because I don't know what to expect.  At an Ironman race I know what to expect as I have done 3 70.3 races and 1 140.6, so it is sort of old hat at this point.  That being said I really don't know what to expect out of myself for this weekend other than I am going to have a freaking blast doing it.  Why?  Well because I will be hanging it out with this couple (here and here) and this awesome chick (here) and white water rafting with smiley (here) after the race on Monday. Yup, the race is going to happen and I'm going to give it my best but in the end my focus is on Ironman Arizona but in the end I will get to hang out with a ton of great people and experience Rev3. Swim: Today I swam in my full sleeve wetsuit and on Monday I swam in my sleeveless.  The sleeveless was far more comfortable but the sleeveless proved to be faster so I am going to be swimming in my full sleeve.  Today's swim saw me swim 1.1 miles in 34:50 and I never felt like I was pushing it.  If I can maintain that pace and not feel as if I am winded getting out of the water (other than struggling with getting the wetsuit off that is) I think that I can be done with the swim in the 38 minute range. Oh wait, this is an ocean swim and this is another factor in me being nervous.  We don't have oceans in the middle of North Dallas so the lakes are typically calm.  Either way I cannot control the water and just have to remember Coach's words:  The race starts on the bike. Goal: 37:00 - 39:00 Bike: [caption id="attachment_6393" align="alignright" width="290"]rev3_maine_triathlon_halfrev Source: Competitor Magazine[/caption] My bike fitness is better than it has ever been.  I have been feeling very strong on the bike and that has been with my stock wheels and not with my race wheels. The unknown here is whether or not the climbing will have an impact on me.  There are not a lot of 'hills' here in Dallas but Coach has been putting me through the ringer in terms of intervals and hill climbing this training cycle so I feel as if I can be efficient and conserve enough energy going up them to be able to push on the flats and the downhills.  The biggest goal here is to be ready to run off the bike so maintaining a HR of 140 bpm is going to be imperative. Goal: 2:50 - 3:00 Run: Here is where I think my fitness has taken off.  I have been running fast paces at a comparatively low heart rate, and this has been in the heat of Texas.  The cooler weather of Maine should treat me very well and that is exciting for me.  If I can remember to not shoot out of T2 like a bat out of hell and control myself for the first two miles then this run could turn into one of my best.  I have been doing a lot of interval work and posting sub-7:00 mile paces on sets that have been up to 10x800.  My tempo run last week was right around 7:00/mi and was held steady for 20 minutes.  The hill work has also helped and so I feel like this could be a run that competes with my time at 70.3 California. Goal: 1:50 - 1:53 Overall: My nerves will have to be converted into energy by race day.  I think that once I get off the plane in Maine and settle in my nerves will calm down and I will be ready to race.  Having the humor of Matt, Heather and Jen around me will certainly help as well. When you add up all these times and add in 6 minutes for transitions we are looking at goal times of: 5:23 to 5:38   Thank you for reading!
Published in Race
Tuesday, 21 August 2012 14:15

Pass The Salt

[caption id="attachment_6387" align="alignright" width="300"]sodium_electrolytes_enduranceathletes Source: Pigeon Racing Pigeon[/caption] Pass the salt is a phrase I have not said in years.  A few years ago I weighed 35 pounds more than I do today and when I decided to get healthy and begin to rid myself of processed foods I threw salt, or really, sodium into that garbage can as well.  I knew that there was so much sodium in the packaged foods and the fast food 'burgers' I was eating and so my initial reaction was I did not need sodium at all and began to cook without salt.  I was having a blast in that I was tasting the ingredients and not the sodium as I was cooking.  I felt the weight coming off and the energy going up so I never thought about adding salt to my food and it has just not been a part of my diet. That is until Wednesday August 8th came.  That morning I went out and ran for 2 hour and 15 minutes.  I covered 14.5 miles that morning at a pace of 9:17/mile.  It was an aerobic run where I was not pushing the pace at all and ran comfortably as seen by my average Heart Rate of 151 bpm.  This was a great morning run but it was very humid.  I had taken a handheld with me that I could drink from every 15 minutes and provide my body what had been typical for me.  Approximately 250 calories with nearly 1400mg of electrolytes.  Perfect blend and never before any issues, that is until I went swimming that afternoon. My swim set that afternoon was to be 3900 yards with a 1000y set at threshold pace followed by 10x100 descending.  It was during the 1000 yard set that my legs started to feel a bit tight.  Then in the middle of the 10x100 the cramps hit and they hit hard.  I have swam through cramps before and they typically go away, but this time  they persisted.  At first so did I as I was not giving into the cramps.  I figured that if I was in the middle of Tempe Town Lake and needed to swim through cramps I would need to know how to do it.  I kept on going and then the calf cramps found their way into my toes and that is when I had to call it quits.  The cramps hurt so bad that I could barely stand and was thankful to be in the pool and not the lake. Yesterday I was at my chiropractor getting ART and other painful work done and we started chatting about my training.  I told him about this situation and he said immediately to me:  You need to put salt on your food since you are not eating processed or fast food.  He followed that up with the fact that I need to add calcium and magnesium supplements to my diet. I did a bit of research on leg cramps while swimming and the first item that popped up was dehydration.  With dehydration comes a shortage of electrolytes and being as I had run 2h15m earlier that day it began to make sense.  The other item that caused cramps during swimming is plantar flexing.  The more I thought about it the more it made sense that it was purely dehydration.  I typically drink 1.5 gallons of liquids per day and on this day I just did not replace all the calories and electrolytes that I lost during that run. With all this being said I am now going to add a bit of salt to my meals as I am cooking, and especially this week since this is taper week with a 70.3 coming up on Sunday.  The lesson here is to not just know your body but to know what you are putting your body through.  Every day and every run is not the same.  There are days that are hotter and more humid that others.  As I have said before recovery is the key to building up your speed because you get the proper recovery.  I did not recover well enough between the run and the swim and I paid for it. You can also read this post that I did back on March 22, 2011.
Published in Train
Monday, 20 August 2012 16:19

A Chance To Compare

[caption id="attachment_6379" align="alignright" width="300"]ironman_triathlon_wtc Source: Ironman.com[/caption] The chance to compare one race organization to another comes this weekend.  I am heading to Maine to race in the inaugural Rev3 OOB Maine.  This is a Half-Ironman and will provide me with a first hand taste of how things are done by Rev3.  I have seen the acknowledgement of how well run the Rev3 races are and how family friendly they are when they are compared to the Ironman brand and WTC. I am a very big fan of WTC and the Ironman brand.  Whenever I am asked what race a person should do I immediately go to an Ironman branded event.  Why?  It is because they have been doing it longer and have been able to iron out issues that will show up.  Don't get me wrong issues will still show up, as that is inevitable with 2000-3000 people racing a triathlon.  The fact of the matter is that they put on dozens of races per year and are still adding more to their lineup so they will have had the opportunity to work out the logistics. The second reason is the crowds.  When I volunteered at Ironman Texas two years ago I could not help but get swept up in the atmosphere.  I got so into the race that I wound up registering for the event in 2012 even though I had only wanted to race Ironman Arizona.  It got to the point that while standing at the finish line all I could think of was crossing the finish line of an Ironman. The third reason is that they have the full 140.6 distance race in just about any part of the country, or world for that matter that you can think of.  Want to race in Canada you have two choices.  How about the Northeast?  Well there is Lake Placid to go to.  In the south you can race IM Florida or IM Texas.  Southwest?  IM Arizona.  You get the picture.  If you want to go to a race you can. Now don't get me wrong about the WTC business.  I understand that they make decisions that can be controversial to the athlete and public as a whole.  The thing about this is that they ARE a business and let's not forget that for a second.  Their whole reason for being is to be profitable, just like any other company.  And like any other company there will be missteps and we can only hope they fix those missteps along the way. I have heard a lot or reasons for why Rev3 is better from the family atmosphere to the price.  Now I can say this.  When I finished Ironman Texas my wife was right at the finish line along with all my friends that came down to be a part of this race.  I did not cross the finish line with her but you know something.....I didn't have to.  It was not a situation that I felt incomplete because I did not cross the finish line with my wife.  If my step-son had been there would I have felt differently?  No.  I can say that with certainty because had he been there he would have been with Karen who was a total of 15 feet away from the finish line. So that being said the fact that you can cross the finish line holding the hand of your child at a Rev3 event does not hold that much of an advantage over WTC for me. [caption id="attachment_6378" align="alignright" width="300"]rev3_triathlon_maine Source: Rev3 Tri[/caption] Price point also becomes the other argument.  I paid $675 to race Ironman Texas in 2013.  The Rev3 Cedar Point 140.6 race (which by the way is their only 140.6 race) costs $575 if you register after July 24, $525 if you register between October and July and $425 if you register within a month of the race.  Not a huge disparity unless you know you are going to head back to the race.  For the HITS Triathlon series they have introduced a new pricing structure which will undoubtedly have an impact on the triathlon world. Their pricing is as follows: $600 1 month prior to race day; $450 with 1-3 months to go prior to race day; $300 with 3-4 months to go and $150 is over 4 months left prior to the event. Again, their pricing is a bit cheaper but what are you getting?  This was my first thought when I saw the new pricing structure.  Are they just trying to lure people in so they know that they can host a race the next year and have it be profitable.  Remember this is a business and they are not a charity, so they are doing this to make money.  Are they doing this because it really only costs $150 to put on a 140.6 race per athlete?  I highly doubt it is that cheap per athlete. Then lets talk about the crowds and the participants.  The most that have participated in the 140.6 distance for the HITS Triathlon series has been 24.  Let's assume that each participant bring 4 people with them then you have less than 100 spectators at the finish line.  Rev3 Cedar Point last year had 304 participants (from what I can gather.) Again, lets us 4 people per athlete and that is a total of 1216 spectators.  Ironman branded events generate anywhere between 2000 and 3000 participants and tens of thousands of spectators. [caption id="attachment_6380" align="alignright" width="300"]hits_triathlon_series Source: HITS[/caption] This is not to say that Ironman and WTC is that much better than HITS or Rev3, but just serves as a point of reference for where I am coming from before I head to Maine this weekend.  This is an inaugural event for Rev3 and should have all the bells and whistles and I am very excited about that.  I am excited to be back on the Northeast and to get to meet MattyO, Heather, Jen, Laura, Donna and a whole host of other athletes.  That is what is going to make the race.

What are your thoughts on WTC versus Rev3 versus HITS versus and independently run race?

Before you answer that question read this quote from Kevin of Ironman By Thirty after he finished IM Mont-Tremblant yesterday:

Jason. You HAVE to do this race. Fucking amazing. THIS is what sets Ironman apart. Knock it all you want but they have their shit together and put on a ridiculous event.

Published in Race
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