Jason Bahamundi

Jason Bahamundi

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

  [caption id="attachment_9602" align="alignright" width="279"]the captain - derek jeter - new york yankees Truth.
Source: Addicted 2 Success[/caption] The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter was a book I was looking forward to reading from both a personal, professional and entertaining perspective.  In addition to the book being written about an athlete in today’s society that did not cover drugs, alcohol or steroids it was written by Ian O’Connor.  Ian O’Connor happens to be the sports journalist I enjoyed reading the most when I lived in New York.  This was the perfect combination and the only way it would have been better was if it was written about David Wright because he too won 5 World Series rings. If you are a fan of baseball or not, you have probably come across the names:  Yankees and Derek Jeter at some point in your life.  Being a native New Yorker I wanted badly to hate The Captain but it is virtually impossible.  The guy does everything right.  He wins.  He is a professional.  He cares about the kids.  He cares about winning. He cares about his teammates.  His public persona is as important to him as his private persona.  The only way to hate this guy is to hate the Yankees and even then you probably have a soft spot in your heart for him because he does everything so damn well. When I bought the book I wanted to learn how Derek Jeter became The Captain and what he did to get there.  What I realized as I turned page after page was that he set his goals and then chased them with laser like execution.  He also created goals that seemed out of reach for some but he knew he could get there based on his own ability and desire to succeed. As I take this information into my everyday life, including triathlon, I realize that The Captain has done it right.  He decided in high school he was going to play for the New York Yankees as well as date Mariah Carey.  Well, he accomplished both of those goals.  As I sit here typing this post out I am thinking about my goals for Ironman Chattanooga as well as my professional goals.  Do I have what it takes to not only prepare myself for those two tasks but will I execute when the time arises? I set a goal of 11:00 for Ironman Texas 2013 as well as Ironman Arizona 2012 after finishing in just under 12:00 at Ironman Texas 2012.  This goal was within grasp but for one reason or another I missed it.  Now that IMTN is just a few months away I want to begin to set my mind to a finishing time but this time accomplish it.  I have yet to define a goal as I am not sure what the course looks like but this much is certain:  I will be prepared.  I have crafted a training program that will test both my body and mind over the course of 13 soul crushing weeks.  The two weeks of taper and the race will be so welcomed after these 13 weeks that I will feel like I am on vacation as I tour Chattanooga from bike and foot. As you read through the book and begin to understand what makes Derek Jeter tick you realize that he is not superhuman but rather just human.  He has his ups (4 World Championships in his first 6 seasons) and downs (no World Series titles for YEARS!!!!) but through it all he stuck to what got him there and made tweaks along the way.  The lesson is that regardless of how good you are at your chosen hobby or profession you should always have the passion to learn.  By keeping that passion lit you can find small things that can make you better than you already are. His lessons are not unlike those you have read countless times, such as:
  • Do not think that you know it all.
  • Rely on others to help you weather the storm.
  • Give more than you receive
But the way that he applies these common lessons and makes them his own is what sets him apart as well as other successful people. I know that I wanted to dislike him when I first cracked the spine but as I turned each page I found out that I liked him more and more.  Deal with adversity and overcome it.  Teach those lessons to those coming up behind you.  Be a leader with conviction but not so much that you fail to continue to learn. Simple. Just like The Captain keeps his life.

This week's version of Triathlete Tales involves a different type of endurance, and how my life outside of the office helped me with my life in the office.  As many of you know I work for DMNmedia which is the marketing solutions provider for The Dallas Morning News.  My role is to work with companies, both local and national, with marketing to their target market.  We have over 80 different solutions ranging from hyper-local print publications all the way through to guaranteed hires for recruiting services.  I tell you this because last week I had to be on my A game and know how every one of these solutions could work for a company trying to brand, sell widgets or hire their VP of Finance. Last week was the DMNmedia Works Print and Online Expo.  This is a one week expo that we prepared a month for.  We spent the better part of that month calling current clients, past clients and possible clients to invite them to the expo.  At the expo we meet and greet the attendees and talk to them about their business and what environments would work best for them in terms of targeting their best customer, be that in print or digital.  Once that portion was over we watched a video that contained client testimonials and then we entered into negotiations.  All of this takes place in the matter of approximately one hour.  Endurance needs to be at a high level, not to mention being able to think on your feet.  Let's compare this to an Ironman.

Endurance Sports In The Real World

Training. The month leading up to the event I spent as much time learning about our real estate section as I did with our hyper-local publications.  Let us not forget the automotive section, sports, news, business, home and garden, travel, women's lifestyle and many more.  This is just like the months you spend swimming 2500 yards in the morning and then a 2 hour ride followed by a 30 minute run in the evening.  You wake up the next morning and you go strength training.  This time after learning about real estate and how it pertains to commercial realty I would then move over to businesses that operate in the food industry.  How does our Guide publication work and who is reading it?  SO MUCH INFORMATION!!!!!  It was tiring yet simultaneously invigorating as I was learning so much that I could go to current clients and talk about how we could help them sell more, brand more and be sure to not waste their marketing dollar.  Efficiency......sound familiar triathletes? Nutrition. Don't think that nutrition is important for a week-long event?  Guess again.  I knew that I needed to eat a proper breakfast before heading off to the conference center where there would be loads of cookies, cake, candy and whatever other simple sugars people could consume just to keep their energy level up so that the negotiations could be conducted with a coherent person.  Obviously, with triathlon training and racing you do not get from the start line to the finish line without proper fueling.  What I learned throughout my years of endurance sports I applied and not only did I have a big breakfast before I brought my own lunch as well.  Yes, I was made fun of and even the CRO of the entire company laughed at me as I was eating my PB&J but I knew what worked for me and how I would be able to maintain my stamina through 10-12 hour days. Pacing and Rest. This was beyond important.  Each day we had 6 sessions starting at 9:30a and had to be at the conference center by 8:30a.  Most days I would not leave until close to 6:00pm and some beyond that.  Long days were in the mix so I had to make sure that I did not come out of the gate on fire.  I had to control myself but still be able to plug away and give the attention that each client was owed as they graciously gave of their time to us.  Not only did I have to stay well hydrated but I needed to also ensure that when the day was over I got in a good dinner and went to bed at a decent hour.  Not being rested and having to be on your A game for 10 hours does not mesh well just like trying to get in back to back long days on the weekend and only sleeping for 4 hours.  That is a recipe for disaster. This expo was unlike the television upfront negotiations I was accustomed to performing in.  During those negotiations we would present plans to our client after having reviewed them with our management.  Negotiations would sometimes take a week and be done but it was never a constant stream of negotiations with clients from business varying from non-profits to $4.5M per annum plastic surgeons.  It was all an amazing experience and one that I will lean on when the idea of doing a 2 hour and 30 minute brick seems impossible.

How Have You Applied Endurance Sports To Real Life?

Triathlete tales was a segment I started last week and hope to continue to post about as my routine changes on my way to Ironman Chattanooga.  Why change?  My routine is changing because I wanted to explore the world beyond triathlon.  The endurance world has so much to offer and I want to explore these other sports to see which, if any, will allow me to become a better triathlete. I have discovered that the world of ultra running gives me not only endurance but my core gets stronger as well as developing the mental capacity to push on when I thought I was at the end of my rope.  As tough as Ironman racing is it is no comparison to running a 100 mile trail race and knowing how hard I worked to get to that finish line allows me to carry that mental strength over to the training and eventual racing of another Ironman. As my time away from triathlon training has proven to be beneficial in allowing my love of the sport to be rekindled it has also allowed me to realize that racing in the fall is really the only time I want to race.  I want to tackle a long distance trail race (100 or 50 miler) in winter and then take a break then get into a very condensed and difficult long-distance triathlon training program.  Time will tell if this works as the results of Ironman Chattanooga will provide me with data. This triathlon tales goes off the rails in terms of training and working out.  About two weeks ago I was nominated to be a participant in the Executive Fit Challenge here in Dallas.  This challenge is a combination of three courses that are to test your strength, agility and endurance.  Of course, while I am still recovering from Lake Martin 100 I have none of the above but putting my body to the test with other executives in the Dallas area was too much to pass up.  Getting out of my comfort zone even for just 1.5 hours will allow me to get out of my comfort zone when during the marathon my mind will tell my body to quit. [caption id="attachment_9586" align="alignright" width="225"]triathlete tales - comfort zone - crossfit What is this weighted thing and why am I swinging it?[/caption] Course 1: Inverted Rows, Weighted Step-Ups, Push-Ups, Kettlebell Swings, Sit-Ups, Burpees, Planks This course was the strength tests.  Each of these events had a 2 minute time limit on them and a :30 rest interval before moving onto the next one.  The goal was to do 30 inverted rows, 40 step-ups, 40 push-ups, 40 sit-ups, 20 burps and a 2 minute plank.  This was not going to be easy.  While I have been at the gym 2 days per week doing strength work this was going to be in rapid succession while also trying to complete the sets as quickly as possible. Right from the start I knew this was going to push my limits.  I got to 20 inverted rows rather easily and then the wheels started to come off.  Panting and taking a second or two before trying to complete the next one was happening.  My judge must have taken pity on me because I do not believe that I did the last 2 properly.  Onto the next exercises and while I was not moving at the speed of light I was getting through them.  That is until the kettlebell swings when by the end my shoulders were on fire and when I hit 40 I just let the kettlebell drop.  Thinking all was good I moved through the sit-ups rather easily and then the burps ate me up and spit me out. Thrilled to have gotten the 20 done in less than two minutes and move onto the plank where I figured a 2 minute rest would be welcomed.  I was dead wrong.  When the judge told me I was at :40 I almost passed out.  I surely had been there for 30 minutes.  The next count down was at 1:10.  Are you kidding me?  I have only been holding this for 1:10?  Everything was beginning to shake and when she finally called out 2:00 I fell to the ground and laid there thanking my lucky stars I had not passed out.  It was time for my 10 minute transition. Course 2: Agility Drills, Sandbag Toss and Shuttle Run, Sandbag Slam and Bear Crawl, Sandbag Pull-Up and Toss, Fireman's Carry The 10 minutes seemed to go by in 2:00. I was breathing heavily and my heart rate had climbed to nearly 170 bpm.  This was truly out of my comfort zone but surely tossing around a sandbag and doing some agility drills would not be a problem.  The hard part was over and I would finish with a 5k run, right?  Yeah, not so much. The agility drill started with 10 over/unders and I could feel my legs weakening and then to run through cones and quick step through a ladder followed by high knees and back.  Uh-oh!!!!!  This was not going to be easy AT ALL.  When I finished I was told I had 1 minute before the next event.  As I tossed that sandbag over an A-Frame I started to question my own sanity.  This was nuts.  So much so that I thought: I would much rather run a 100 miler right now. [caption id="attachment_9585" align="alignright" width="225"]triathlete tales - comfort zone - crossfit How is this going to help me at triathlon again?[/caption] The sandbags over the next three events got heavier and heavier.  My breathing became work.  I was trying to slow it down and let my HR get back down but it only did for the one minute in between exercises.  By the time I carried a 50 pound sandbag over the course of about 50 yards I could have sworn I was carrying a 250 pound tree.  I switched shoulders at the half-way mark thinking it would be better but all it did was make the other shoulder ask for relief from the pain. As I crossed the finish line and dropped the weight I could only hope that the people recording the time fell asleep and thus allowed me more than the 10 minutes I had as a transition before the 5k run.  Oh, by the way the temperatures were now in the mid-80s.  Good times!! Course 3: 5k OK boys and girls.  My event.  Time to shine.  As I stood in the tent waiting for the 10 minutes to expire I got antsy and wanted to run to get it over with.  I knew that this run was not going to break any sort of PR but I felt I had enough energy to get from the start to the finish.  I should have known it was not going to be that easy when Maddie, the young cross-country runner, told me I had to do 6 laps. 6 LAPS?  Are you kidding me?  Down and back 6 times?  In this heat and with 100 miles in my legs along with being out of my comfort zone for the past 40 minutes?  Here we go. I told Maddie let's get going and I started my run with more than 2 minutes to go on the 10 minute rest.  The first loop I felt good and felt as if I were truly running.  When the first mile ticked off and my pace was 8:44 I mentally high-fived myself.  OK, let's get the next two loops done and hope to maintain the same pace.  Temperatures were climbing and legs were not responding.  Bzzzz went the Garmin and the time reflected 8:44.  Holy Christmas? The next lap was damn near impossible but when I knew I only had one more to go I tried to run.  My breathing was labored but I could feel  my pace pick up.  I crossed the finish line in 25 minutes flat.  By no means a PR but certainly a great showing considering all that I had been through along with not being fully recovered.

Triathlete Tales: Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone

As I sit here typing this blog post I have come to realize that as sore as my body is today my mind is much stronger for having competed.  Knowing that I can step out of my comfort zone and compete against other athletes in events that are as foreign to me as Chinese gives me a lot of confidence that I can compete at Ironman Chattanooga, but not against other athletes, rather against my previous Ironman times.

What Are You Doing To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone?

Open water swimming has become the go to for my training lately.  In large part I am doing open water swimming as a way to recover from the Lake Martin 100, but at the same time I need to improve in this facet of triathlon otherwise Ironman Chattanooga is going to take longer than it should.  In the past training cycles for Ironman races I have swum every Friday with members of the FWTri Club.  This training was extremely helpful when it comes to not just getting into the open water but also in dealing with panic attacks, which I seem to suffer from at the start of these triathlon. Last week I was a part of two open water swimming meet-ups and had another one this morning.  While having my face buried into the cold water that is both Lake Grapevine and Lake Benbrook I found myself truly focusing on form.  I took stock of where my head was along with where I was pulling from.  I would also ensure that I was swimming with a high elbow.  All of this was being done so that I was getting the full benefit of open water swimming so early in the season. These last two weeks were the first times I was in the lakes of North Texas since September of last year.  This is exactly why I would make the obvious statement that open water swimming is not like riding a bike.  The cliché that it is like riding a bike is because one a skill is learned it is not forgotten.  I can attest to the fact that open water swimming is NOTHING LIKE RIDING A BIKE.  There are so many differences between swimming in a pool and swimming in the open water that not jumping into the lake can certainly lead one to forgetting that skill. During the different open water swimming sessions I noticed the following 3 items which I will have to work on during the lead up to IMTN:

  1. Counting Strokes: In the pool you can play 'golf' and try to lengthen your stroke and be more efficient.  Unfortunately, for me, in the open water there is no wall and so counting strokes becomes even more imperative to setting a rhythm.  Ensuring that I am swimming on a rhythm will help me know when to look up to sight.
  2. Bi-Lateral Breathing: In the pool while swimming I can breathe to both sides but the moment I get into the lake that skill goes out the window and I do not even attempt to breathe to both sides.  Not having this skill in the open water leads to a more difficult time sighting for me as well as making the loop we do always seem longer on the way out and shorter on the way in.  Balancing my breathing will allow me to balance out the feeling of 'WHERE AM I?' while in the water.
  3. Pool Endurance and Open Water Swimming Endurance: Not the same……Swimming in the pool you have the wall to break up the monotony but also to give you a break.  If you swim a 100 yard or meter set fast you typically take a break and then go again.  The endurance that you are working on is not exactly the same and so getting used to pacing in the lake is something that I am working on.  I always feel great the moment I hit start on my watch and then 400 to 500 meters in I am looking for the lifeguard.  Starting out a tad slower and allowing myself to build up the endurance needs to be a focus.

Yes, open water swimming is not like riding a bike at all.  It is also not like swimming in a pool and it in itself a skill that has to be developed then sharpened with repeated trips to the lake.  In order for me to get more efficient at swimming I have to make a concerted effort to get to the lake when the OWS Swim Club decides it is time to go.  As of right now we are planning every Friday morning at 6:30am and maybe if we get a wild hair going on other days as well, but time will tell there. Open Water Swimming - north texas - grapevine - benbrook Open Water Swimming - north texas - grapevine - benbrook Open Water Swimming - north texas - grapevine - benbrook   At the ver least the spots were my open water swimming training takes place are at least gorgeous.  

Mind Blown.
Source: Rocket Inbound[/caption] Triathlete tales is a series I have been thinking of writing since November but have not been able to put my thoughts to paper until now. The reason I can now start to write Triathlete Tales is that I have sort of started my training for Ironman Chattanooga. I say sort of started because my detailed plan does not start until June 25th and that is part of the title in regards to a 180* change in perception. For those of you that have been reading my blog since it was on Blogspot under the name Baha703Ironman.com you know that triathlon is the sport that I grew to love. I played sports my entire life but they were the tradition sports of baseball, football, basketball and hockey. I loved those sports and then adulthood hit and things changed. I gained weight and focused more on everything else but myself. Triathlons have given me back to ME. I dove head first and deep into the sport. I followed a plan of going from sprints to Olympics. Followed that up with half-Ironman and finally a year in which I completed 3 Ironman and 2 Half-Ironman races in 12 months. That is a lot of triathlon in a short period of time and I was burnt out. When I finally crossed the finish line of Ironman Texas 2013 I was elated from the run of a lifetime but also that there was no calendar of events to follow. Over the course of nearly 12 months my thoughts and feelings about triathlon have taken a 180* turn. I am still in love with the sport but it is not my only love. I truly enjoyed every step, and there were a lot, of the training for Lake Martin 100. I enjoyed it so much so that I have crafted a training plan that incorporates the theories I developed during the training. While running 6 days a week and over 1100 miles from November 25, 2014 I realized that, for myself, in order to become a better triathlete I have to develop the skills of a swimmer, a cyclist and a runner. When you speak to people about training for triathlon it is usually 3-4 workouts of each sport per week but there is really no true emphasis on one sport over the other two. I get it and I understand why but I am turning that on its head. The plan I crafted for IMTN is 14 weeks long with 2 weeks of taper for a total of 16 weeks of Ironman training versus the typical plans of 24 weeks. Each week is focused purely on one sport over the other two. I will ride for 250-300 miles one week with little swim and run. I will have a huge swim week after that of 20-25k yards with OWS 3 times that week and little bike and run. I have 70 mile run weeks planned with low volume of bike and swim plus a recovery week in there as well. I am also not going to race a half-Ironman as a training race. I see no need for the build to the race than taper and recover. Taking that month to do that is not worth it to me if I want to take the best me to Ironman Chattanooga. I am focused on that race and any 70.3 before hand is nothing more than a race to say I raced. As you can see in this first edition of Triathlete Tales I have taken the systematic approach to Ironman and thrown it out the window. All the focus on these training cycles has worn me out. Checking boxes off a calendar for weeks and weeks on end is not in my blood anymore. Condensing the schedule and working harder than I ever have before is far more appealing. Allowing my body to just do what it wants for the next 8 weeks will help me build the fire and desire to attack a plan that, on paper, looks harder than anything I have ever done before. If you have a coach and are following a training plan and it is truly working for you then stick to it. I believe in having a coach and had one for nearly four years. I would not trade my time under the guide of Coach Claudia or Maria and John for anything. I am taking the lessons they taught me along with LM100 training and creating a plan that I believe fits my personality and time I have to train. Everything I learned from them will be applied but in a much more condensed and intense manner. I perform better when my back is against the wall and this plan has pushed me and it has not even started yet. My final point of this inaugural entry for Triathlete Tales is to say: Listen to your body and do what is right for you. Do not follow a plan written for the masses or listen to conventional wisdom because that is what everybody else is doing. My A race for the second half of 2014 is IMTN and that is my focus. With all of that being said I will now end this first post and skip my swim workout because I do not have to cross it off the calendar as being done. I am too tired and the workout would be useless.

Triathlete Tales: 180* Change In Perception And Execution

Have Your Ideas And Thoughts About Triathlon Changed As You Spend More Time In The Sport?

The simple breakfast recipe idea came to me while I was working out this morning.  Well, that is not 100%  accurate.  About a week ago I saw a picture on Instagram that featured charred corn in a salsa for a taco.  Since that day I have been thinking about what I wanted to do with the two ears of corn I had.  I kept going back to a black bean and corn salsa to include in a wrap.  I tossed this around idea for a bit, but then realized that had been done and I was not in the right frame of mind for a taco/wrap.  I wanted something simple and I have an ever growing love of breakfast.  As I was grunting and sweating the simple breakfast recipe of corn cakes came to mind.

I could shave the corn and add it to a batter that included cornmeal.  Then the mind started to wander.  Do you want to add black beans?  What about herbs?  Maybe some hot sauce?  I fought back these thoughts as I wanted THE simple breakfast recipe and nothing could be simpler or tastier than a corn cake.

Of course, after making the corn cakes and then subsequently devouring them I received and email from Active with 10 of their simple breakfast recipe ideas.  I clicked on the next arrow as fast as I could to see if the corn cake was one, but somehow The Google didn’t tie my thinking to the authors of the article in time to get the simple breakfast recipe of my mind to them.  And they say The Google knows everything……I digress.

Lucky for you after posting the picture of the corn cakes to InstagramTwitter and Facebook (I was proud of having come up with the simple breakfast recipe……obviously) the engagement from the followers of those platforms was in the form of a request for the recipe.  Not being one to deny the people what they want I put together the recipe for you.  If you can come up with a breakfast recipe that is simpler than this I want to see it (and no toast does not count.)

I hope you enjoy this breakfast (or for lunch or for dinner) as much as I did.  If you decide to make the meal please click on the link above for Facebook and post your creation there.

Ultra running is defined as anything longer than 26.2 miles, or the marathon distance.  I recently joined the ranks of ultra running by participating in 4 different events over the months of February and March.  The distances covered were 50k (31.1 miles), 50 Miles and 100 Miles.  In the past these distances would have been daunting.  As a matter of fact the 100 mile distance is still daunting and will probably always give me pause before hitting the register button.  The 100 mile race has the opportunity to present so many obstacles, especially on the trails and in the middle of the night, that it is the race that I think I will always question my preparedness just before the start of it. The question of ultra running being 'good' for you physically came up earlier today when Regina posted a video and tagged Jeff and I in it.  I watched the video and found myself shaking my head at every comment the athlete made.  All of it made so much sense to me except for one comment:  "I have a lot of fun doing this but I don't think it is necessarily good for you."  It was this comment that started a conversation amongst us, including Kevin.

The consensus seemed to be that running this distance, in the video the athlete is running 135 miles, is not good for you physically.  At first I agreed but then I started thinking a bit more about it.  At what point is there diminishing returns on a race of this distance?  Athletes are not necessarily going into Zone 3 and Zone 4 in their heart rate, so what is the taxing portion?  Is the question more about being sleep deprived?  What about those in the armed forces that are up for longer periods of time? More questions than this popped up but the reality, for me, is that this is not a scenario in which you are looking to improve fitness.  Your fitness is achieved in the weeks and months leading up to the event.  Your body is then restored during the recovery phase, which for me is currently at the end of Week 2 from Lake Martin 100.  Did I gain any fitness over the course of 28 hours?  I highly doubt it but I did gain something much more valuable at this point and for the future. What I gained from ultra running was a mental advantage and that is priceless and will pay dividends going forward.  When I first took on this challenge I looked at the miles that I would be running on a daily and weekly basis during the training.  Weeks that included 85 miles and 90 miles.  Back to back days of 31 miles and 20 miles were staring me in the face.  They seemed so daunting but as the training continued these became commonplace and while not 'easy' they were no longer frightening.  My mental ability to comprehend the distance, break it down into manageable parts and then achieve the goals improved from Day 1 through the start of the race.  During the race I was able to rely on the fact that I had put in 18 weeks of training that involved 1,000 miles of running and I was prepared, both physically and mentally. Today I am looking at a race schedule for the start of 2015 that includes a 100k, 100 miler and 50 miler all in the course of a month.  3 months ago I would have laughed to keep from crying.  Today I smile and say:  Yes, I can do this.  Today I think to myself about how awesome it is going to be to go through the training and accomplishing the daily goals and race goals.  This mental edge will allow me to perform day in and day out and to achieve even better physical fitness.   This to me is far more of a benefit than any detriment that may or may not come from running 100 miles in a given day. A year ago there was an article on TriathleteMagazine.com regarding what happens to the human body during an Ironman.  This was an interesting look into the physiological process that takes place.  An Ironman is hard, but running a 100 miler is harder so this take can be changed in terms of the physical tolls.  All that being said the following line from the article is what makes me think that the mental gains far outweigh the physical toll that takes place during these endurance events, including ultra running: Fortunately, though, those years are restored to you within a few weeks. Then it’s time to start thinking about tickling the reaper again. I would sacrifice a few weeks of non-activity to recover in order to reap the benefits that the sense of accomplishment brings.

Do You Think Ultra Running, Or Endurance Events, Are Good For You?

  For reference here is an article from The New York Time that is also interesting reading. New York Times Blog: What Ultra Marathons Do To Our Body.

Ultra trail runner.  Ironman.  Both descriptions fit me.  Both descriptions also represent my passion for endurance sports.  Triathlete is another description but earlier today when John asked me via Twitter the following: ultra trail runner - ironman - endurance sports My response to this question was Yes and No but it was something that I had to think about for a few moments.  The reason I had to take pause before giving that non-committal answer is that I love the sport of triathlon.  The opportunity to compete at three different sports on one day to accomplish a task that seems larger than life is grand.  Add in the fact that the training is not boring because of the multi-sport discipline and you can understand how much triathlon appeals to me. I have also found a home at ultra running, specifically ultra trail running.  En route to being able to add the title ultra trail runner I found a re-kindled fire for the sport of running.  For nearly 18 months every run I did was on the heels of a bike ride.  There were long runs but they were not for the sake of running, but rather  to help build the Ironman machine.  For the past 18 weeks each run was done to help put me in a position to succeed as an ultra trail runner at the Lake Martin 100. When I set out on this endurance lifestyle I had no clue where it would take me.  All I knew is that I enjoyed it.  More than that I loved it.  The freedom to be out on the road while biking or  running.  The chance to spend an hour with friends swimming in the lake all under the guise of training.  While training for different events I would have different goals for each.  My first goal was to qualify for Boston but then I found triathlon.  As anybody in the sport of triathlon would attest to the goal was to reach Kona.  Today that goal has changed again.  I am now in pursuit of a Western States qualifier.  The 100 mile run is in my blood. The ultra trail run is in my blood. After Lake Martin was done and I managed to not hit the deck from passing out after the race Jeff and Dave said something to me that still resonates, even over a week later.  Their words (I am paraphrasing) were:  You may have found your niche.  Thinking about that they might just be right.  I found the whole idea of running 100 miles to be incredible.  The ups and downs (literally) of the entire 28 hours was somewhat enlivening.  There was something about being out there going through the woods that I loved, even when the dark moments settled in.  The battle of wills between my mind and body.  Between me and nature.  All of it was, for lack of a better term, awesome.  I wanted to keep going to prove to myself that I could do it. On the car ride back from Alabama I started to think about Rocky Raccoon 100 at the end of January 2015.  This race is a Western States qualifier, but fortunately for me it is not the only shot I will have at qualifying.  The Bandera 100k is also a qualifier and takes place 3 weeks prior to Rocky Raccoon 100.  Thinking about this, and typing the words, has me very excited.  The idea of these challenges is frightening and simultaneously awesome.  Conquering the distances and the terrain is the great unknown which makes ultra trail running more exciting than an Ironman. For me, I know that I am capable of going 2.4 miles, 112 miles and 26.2 miles but each 100 mile run will present a whole new set of obstacles.  No two races will ever be close to each other outside of distance.  This unknown is what makes being an ultra trail runner inviting.  Triathlon, and Ironman, is something that I will come back to for sure but I think once Ironman Chattanooga is complete that ultra trail running will take over even if just for the first few months of the year.

Ultra Trail Runner versus Ironman.

Today it is ultra trail runner.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring. [caption id="attachment_9558" align="aligncenter" width="225"]ultra trail runner - lake martin - endurance athlete Finished The Lake Martin 100[/caption]   ** Cover Photo from Braynston Bombers  

Analysis of races is one way I look to improve my performances.  Making sure to analyze the pacing of the race, my nutrition and finally I make sure to do an analysis about where I was mentally.  Since this was my first 100 mile race there has been a lot to review and think about.  This is not the typical run in terms of pacing, nutrition and mental ability and thus the analysis will not be typical.  I am not even sure I can take what I learned out on the course of Lake Martin 100 and apply it to anything else.  I am looking at the Rocky Raccoon 100 in February as my next foray into the 100 mile world and hopefully some of the analysis of Lake Martin can be applied.

Analysis Of Pacing

I have been go back and forth on this idea of pacing for quite some time.  The original pacing strategy had loops starting at 12:00/mi and adding 1:00 to that until the final loop at 15:00/mi.  Following that pacing strategy the finish time would have been 22:30.  Rocky Raccoon is going to be a race consisting of 5 mile loops and going sub-24 is certainly well within reason but only if I am capable of putting a pacing strategy together that learns from the Lake Martin 100 pace. The first 25 mile loop was completed in 5:39 with the second loop being completed in 6:20.  Finishing the first 50 in 12 hours meant that it took me nearly 16 hours to complete the last 50.  Clearly this is an indication of improper pacing on the first half.  For as difficult as this course was and how it got worse as the day went on having a 4 hour difference between the first 50 miles and the last 50 miles is quite a bit. I remember running with Anastasia and Crystal at one point during the 50-68 mile stretch and watching them run was a thing of beauty.  They knew where they could run and where they had to back off.  They knew how to circumvent the mud and yet keep a decent pace.  They did not stroll during the walking sections.  I stuck myself to them and then after a bit I took off and maybe going out a little hot in this section inevitably caught up to me during miles 69 through 100.

Analysis Of Nutrition

[caption id="attachment_9550" align="alignright" width="300"]analysis - nutrition - ultra running Maybe I would have eaten this if it looked this good but at that point in the race nothing would have been stomached.
Source:[/caption] As most of you know I am a liquid calories athlete and this fits me perfectly.  One of my assets is that I can drink the same flavor throughout and entire race, even one that takes 28 hours, without any issues.  My hydration vest was filled with Herbalife24 Prolong, Herbalife24 Prepare and EFS Drink orange flavor.  I also carried around with me a flask of EFS Liquid Shot in either vanilla or kona coffee flavor.  At the aid stations I would snack on the following:
  • M&Ms
  • Orange slices
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly or Peanut Butter and Nutella 1/2 Sandwiches
  • Egg Sandwich - 1/2 that I almost threw up about 5 steps into the run after swallowing.
Overall I think that this nutrition was spot on but there is one change I would make depending on the loops of the course.  For the first two loops I carried nearly 1400 calories in the bladder of the vest.  On the last two laps I carried 670 calories in the vest.  For reference, the night before the race I prepared 4 water bottles with 670 calories each and the bladder with the nearly 1400 calories.  When I came in from the first 25 I poured 2 bottles into the bladder and then 1 bottle and water on each of the following laps. During the first two loops I felt somewhat bloated and I think it is because of all the calories I was consuming.  On the second two laps the bloating was far less and I felt better while out on the course.  For any future races in which you come to your drop bag area twice I am going to change it up so that I am not consuming so many calories at one time.

Analysis Of Mental Strength/Ability

This particular course took more mental strength that I ever imagined it would.  Maybe I should have paid more attention to the elevation profile posted to the site and realized that 14,000 feet of climbing is a lot for a bike ride never mind a run.  The excitement to be racing a 100 miler took over and clouded what would otherwise have been a far more detailed read of the course map.  I couldn't wait to get out on the course and it just didn't matter what the elevation profile looked like in that regard. Once on the course and realizing that we were going to be crossing water so many times and running in the ankle-deep mud forced me to become more mentally focused.  The opportunity for injury was high and being able to have tunnel vision while also taking an inventory of your faculties both mentally and physically was important.  I ran the first 68 miles and felt very strong and that helped with the mental aspect of continuing on.  Once those 68 miles ended though and the hardest part of the course came up my focus shifted to an ugly place.  Trying to get to Mile 75  became more difficult than I thought it would. Going in I figured that the third loop (Miles 51-75) would be the hardest and they eventually proved that.  The first 50 were not going to phase me because I had already run a 50 miler.  The last 25 would be the victory lap where you knew you would finish but the third loop posed a huge question mark before the race.  I now know that this is all possible and when the next 100 shows up on my race calendar I will be able to tackle it from a mental standpoint.  Experience is the best teacher.

Do You Do An Analysis Of Your Performance?  How Soon After The Race?

 

Lake Martin 100 was the endurance race I signed up for thanks to the urging of Jeff and Dave.  Running a 100 mile race was never even a consideration.  I admired Emily from afar but in reality I thought she was missing a screw.  When Jeff and Dave finally broke my will and I registered for the event it was all systems go.  The training, eating properly, recovering and especially the mindset was all going to be done 100% with no short-cuts. On Wednesday evening I drove to Jeff's house so that we can get up early (4am) and pickup Caroline (our pacer) and Dave and head for Alabama around 5am.  When we arrived at our house for the week we were in awe.  This house was awesome.  Spirits were extremely high.  We were going to run 100 miles and each one of us was prepared.  Except we were not prepared for what would happen Friday into Saturday.  Rain and lots of it came down on Friday (all day) and Saturday (into the late part of the morning.)  I never once thought about how much this rain would change the course. Saturday morning we got up at 4:30am and had breakfast.  I ate two banana and peanut butter sandwiches with coffee.  Driving to the race I was a bit nervous about what was going to unfold.  Luckily for me these guys are a barrel of laughs and that helped take away the edge quite a bit.  We unloaded the car and setup our drop bag section in The Stables.  This race was conducted on a horse farm and The Stables would become the sight for sore eyes over the course of the next 28 hours. We lined up at the starting line and promptly at 6:30am the race was under way.  The first part of the race is straight uphill and right then and there we should have known that the ass kicking we were going to get all day was about to unfold.  You just keep running straight up the driveway and make a left onto as steep of a downhill as the uphill.  Within 5 minutes your quads and your hamstrings have been worked more than one can imagine.  We hit the trail and MUD.  I do not mean a little bit of mud.   I am talking ankle-deep mud.  The kind of mud you are afraid that you will pick your foot up and your shoe will be still in the mud.  This race officially entered crazy world with that. After about a mile into the race we befriended Martin.  A nice Irishman from St. Louis who chatted with us about racing 100 milers.  After a few minutes with him we came across the first of what seemed like 12 stream crossings.  The problem is that the stream was now a river from all the rain.  There was no tip-toeing over the water or looking for rocks.  You had no choice but to go right through it and so we did.  The water came up to our calf and was freezing cold.  Now soaked, cold and facing the idea of 98 more miles of this turned this race into the mental fight of a lifetime. We eventually left Martin and came up on a handful of other racers.  We chatted with them and took GoPro video with them.  It was all so much fun but that may have been the last of the fun as the course continued its soul crushing.  You were either going up the steepest inclines you can imagine, going down the steepest inclines or crossing water.  Very rarely were you able to actually run.  This was not just a physical endurance test but mental.  Nothing about the Lake Martin 100 was going to be easy. Just when you think you have done enough climbing you come to an area labeled Heaven Hill.  It is appropriately named because every step takes you closer to heaven.  You think to yourself:  this has to end soon.  The problem is it doesn't.  It keeps going up.  Of course when you finish you come across the valley and it is gorgeous.  You are above the tree line and can see for miles on end.  This is where the first aid station is.  There is so much food that you could easily spend 30 minutes there just eating. You leave Heaven Hill and run a 5 mile loop.  I say run because there are actual opportunities to let your legs loose.  It is in this section where you are capable of averaging 13:00/mi paces.  You read that right.  If you manage 13:00/mi here you are doing awesome.  At the end of the 5 mile loop you come back to Heaven Hill to check in and grab more food.  The next 5 mile loop is another area where you can run and we made friends here again.  Spoke to people and had the opportunity to laugh about the fact that the first 8 miles almost made us quit. At the end of this 18 mile loop you come back to The Stables.  Here you have access to your drop bag where you can change, eat, sit, etc.  After a few moments here it is back out for the final 7 miles of the first of 4 25 mile loops that creates the Lake Martin 100.  The 7 mile loop is just as crushing as the first 8 miles.  We were told that the 7 mile loop would be fairly easy.  The problem is that this information came from a billy-goat or somebody who likes to take pleasure in other's suffering.  Out of The Stables you walk for nearly 0.5 miles UPHILL.  You get onto the trail and it is a whip.  Again, more up and down with more mud.  More suffering and less laughing.  This race was going to test you every step of the way. When we finished the entire 25 mile loop in 5:39 I was surprised.  I could not believe that we managed to finish the 25 miles let alone in a time that I considered respectable.  I had plans of racing the first 25 miles at a 12:00/mi pace and we finished in 13:36.  The 22 hour and 30 minute goal was out the window.  There was no chance that was happening.  Time to head out for Loop 2.

Lake Martin 100 Loop 2 Highlights:

As we started running I noticed that Dave was not looking good.  We were chatting and he said to me that he was getting a bit light-headed.  This was not a good sign this early into the race.  I became worried and wanted to make sure that nothing happened to him along with keeping us moving forward. Near the same time I noticed that Jeff was going through the course very gingerly.  His legs just did not want to move it seemed. I kept my mouth shut because I did not want to add any stress to these guys considering how stressful this race already was. Probably 3 miles into the 2nd loop I left both Jeff and Dave.  My legs were feeling great and I was ready to keep moving.  I had told Dave that the last thing I wanted to do was spend all night out there.  The idea of racing and seeing the sun go down and then come back up was terrifying to me so I took off. When I reached the Heaven Hill aid station I ran into Gordon and it was a sight for sore eyes.  The moment I saw him my smile got huge and I gave him a big hug.  A familiar face was needed after getting my ass kicked for the previous 8 miles.  I hung with Gordon for about 10 minutes waiting for Jeff and Dave before taking off again.  It was at that moment that I knew they were not going to finish this race and I would be taking this on by myself.  As I came into The Stables I saw Caroline and we chatted.  She told me that the guys had texted her and were concerned about making the cut-off.  I left and set-out for the next 7 mile loop knowing I would see them when I got back.  I took my phone out and texted my wife to tell her that I loved her and that she was a main inspiration for me.  It was tough knowing that the guys were not going to be coming out with me.  My mind had to turn to steel and not allow me to give up. As I came into The Stables to end the 50 miles I looked at the time and I had been on the course for 12 hours.  For some comparison, Jeff and I did Rocky Raccoon 50 in under 9 hours.  This race was that hard.  To have a difference of 3 hours tells you how difficult the course was.  The crazy thing is I am in better shape today than in early February and could barely manage a 14:30/mi pace.  When I saw the guys in The Stables we chatted and they told me they were not going back out.  I felt defeated but knew that I had to finish this race for them.  I grabbed my headlamp and maglite because I knew it would turn dark while out on the course.

Lake Martin 100 Loop 3 Highlights:

About an hour into Loop 3 it got dark.  I stopped running and got my headlamp out along with the light.  I still felt really good and was able to run.  The biggest issue was the mental aspect of now being in the dark.  This got to me quite a bit.  I had to start thinking of things that would allow me to keep moving forward.

  • Susan Lacke and her MTFU mantra.
  • Emily and her SIUB mantra.
  • Knowing that at the end of the 68 miles I would pick up Caroline and have a partner to run with for 25 miles.

My body felt decent considering the lack of sleep and the physical toll I was taking.  It was during this section that I ran into Anastasia and Crystal.  They were awesome to chat with in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night.  They asked me if it were my first 100 and how I felt.  I told them I felt great and that I was going to finish this race.  They gave me the most positive encouragement and I held onto that for the rest of the race. During the night you have next to no visibility and the climbs that you knew you were coming upon during the light were no longer that obvious.  You were able to run when out of the woods but while inside the trees you could not really figure it out and had to walk when you felt your Achilles and hamstring get tight.  That was the clue to the idea that you were going uphill. As I took another step I kept telling myself that I just needed to finish the 18 miles to get to Caroline.  Just keep focusing on the goal for this loop was my mantra.  As I managed my way around the course hoping to not get hurt and just finishing.  At this point time to finish became irrelevant.  Finishing became the only goal. Upon entering The Stables I saw Caroline and then moved to the bag drop section where Jeff and Dave were.  These guys were so supportive.  They gave me so much encouragement and made me feel that I could easily do this.  Caroline and I left for the next 7 miles of the third loop.  Because of how hard this section is there was not a lot of running but having company was awesome. When we finished Loop 3 I took the time to change socks and put the Hoka One One Mafate back on my feet.  I used all three pair of Hoka I brought with me.  I started with the Mafate then switched to the Stinson and then the Bondi for the first three loops.  Every one of them was covered in mud and weighed far more than they should have because of all the water that they absorbed.

Lake Martin 100 Loop 4 Highlights:

The final loop of the Lake Martin 100 was not going to be a pretty sight.  I was exhausted beyond belief.  My body was sore and my mind was questioning my own sanity.  I had not gone into delirium but I was not all there.  This final loop became nothing but survival. Caroline kept pushing me and encouraging me to keep moving.  We came across Anastasia and Crystal throughout much of this loop.  We were moving between places 3 and 6 as there was another runner out there with us.  I kept thinking that finishing in the Top 3 in my first 100 mile would be a hell of an accomplishment. We reached a section that is road and as I was walking I could feel my eyes closing.  I would take 3-4 steps while sleeping on my feet.  Once I opened my eyes to catch where I was I would close them again.  The sleep walking was helping me as I moved through the easier part of the course. When Caroline and I reached The Stables it was fully light out.  Since the last 7 miles was going to be nothing but walking there was not a need for Caroline to join me.  I went out without a Garmin and just planned on walking.  My legs were stiff and sore.  My feet were a shredded mess and every step hurt.  This was not going to be pretty. I had a short conversation with Karen in my head about getting through this and focusing on getting in before the 28 hour mark.  As each step went by and I got closer to the finish line I was overcome with joy.  This 100 mile run was not as much physical as it was mental.  The first 8 and the last 7 miles were the toughest miles I have ever covered.  When you add up the distance that is 60 miles of soul crushing activity.  Regardless of sport or time in a race these 60 miles were bordering on the impossible. As I came down the final hill and saw the The Stables in the distance I pumped my fist and started to cry a bit at the enormity of the accomplishment.  I had goals before the gun went off.  Throughout the race the goals were a moving target.  I managed to hit each of those targets and after nearly 28 hours I can say: Lake Martin 100  ….. I Finished! [flagallery gid=27]

** If you want the R rated version just contact me.

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