Kona is the pinnacle race for anybody who dares enter the starting chute of an Ironman event.  You may 'just' want to finish but deep down inside you know that you are dreaming of being in the waters of Hawaii ready to race the ultimate in Ironman events.  I have this goal, which was once a dream, of qualifying for Kona and racing with the best in the world.  I am pushing my body and my mind on an almost daily basis envisioning this and doing whatever it is I need to do to get there.  I may not get there in 2014 or 2015 or not until I am 75 but I will get there and I will be in Kona because I qualified and not because I was given an exemption by World Triathlon Corporation. Why am I saying this?  I am saying this because this weekend during my travels through the interwebs I saw a few things that really bothered me about WTC and Kona and I wanted to get it off my chest as well as hear from you and get your thoughts.  We all know that it is very difficult to qualify for Kona as you have to be your best on that day to beat the best and nab a highly coveted slot.  Qualifying for Kona is not like qualifying for the Boston Marathon where you have a time you must beat and then have the opportunity to get into the race.  To qualify for Kona you not only have to be fast but you have to be faster than the fastest competitors.  Let's say you race an Ironman and finish in 10:22 which is a 1 hour PR for you but there are only 6 slots in your AG and that finish puts you at 50th.  Unless 38 other athletes ahead of you pass you are not going to Kona.  It is difficult and it should be. [caption id="attachment_8351" align="alignright" width="300"]kona - hines ward - kansas Hines Ward Finishes 70.3 Kansas[/caption] What WTC is doing, and has been doing more of recently, seems to be just giving Kona slots away.  I applaud them for the Legacy clause where a person who races 12 Ironman events gets an opportunity to go to Kona as you are rewarding your most loyal customers.  On the other hand I am disgusted by the fact that celebrities are getting in without having raced an Ironman at all.  This year it is Hines Ward and while I truly enjoyed his spunk on the football field I am not happy with the idea that he is going to Kona and racing without having to qualify.  Would he qualify?  Not this year as evidenced by his time at 70.3 Kansas and thus he would have to work like the rest of us to get stronger and faster in order to beat the best to get there. Then there is Gordon Ramsay.  Did you know he is racing Ironman?  Don't know who Gordon Ramsay is?  He is the guy whose shows Hell's Kitchen and Master Chef will make you think twice about becoming a restaurant chef.  Chef Ramsay was going to race Ironman New Zealand but had to pull out due to an injury and is now going to be racing in Kona.  How did this happen?  If I got hurt prior to Ironman Texas would I have been sent an invite to Kona or would they have just said sorry buddy but we are also keeping your entry fee.  Shouldn't Chef Ramsay be governed by the same rules that govern the Age Groupers, whom without Ironman doesn't exist? Lastly, the whole Refuel With Chocolate Milk concept has entered the annoying phase for me.  Athletes competing to go to Kona not through qualifying but through votes.  Have people vote for you and boom you are off to Hawaii to race in the most coveted Ironman race in the world.  Qualifications for this:

If you’re a passionate athlete who refuels with lowfat chocolate milk after a tough training session, race or competition, APPLY now to become a sponsored athlete of Team REFUEL by submitting a 60 second video that explains your post-workout routine and how chocolate milk plays a part. If you’re chosen, you score $500 in sponsorship money and top notch training gear, along with the potential for free race entries to our program partners Rock ‘n’ Roll and IRONMAN, and team support throughout your 2013 training and competition.

Nothing there about having had to have raced an Ironman before.  Just sign up shoot a video, talk about chocolate milk and get votes.  Not really a lot of endurance needed for that now is there.

I have nothing against those that are entering their names into the Chocolate Milk sweepstakes but instead my issue is with WTC and the slots that are being handed out instead of being earned.  Are these handouts devaluing the Kona qualifying?  Where do the corporate exemptions stop?  I can recall seeing a clip of a woman from the Biggest Loser racing in Kona along with Joe Bastianich (who is also on Master Chef) racing at Kona.  I don't know what they did to qualify or how they get there but I can almost guarantee you that they were not beating out the best of the best to earn that slot.

I don't know if WTC is taking away slots but if they are that is an injustice and a slap in the face of the athletes who pour their heart and souls into the sport on a daily basis to make an attempt at qualifying for Kona.  I have a goal of getting there and I am putting in the work and when I see slots being handed out to people just because they drink chocolate milk, scored a TD in a Super Bowl or are a celebrity chef it drives me insane.  Triathlon is one sport where the average Joe has a chance to compete with the best in the world and put their abilities up against each other but having these slots be handed out to people who do not qualify is putting a wet towel around that accomplishment.

Kona Ironman World Championships: Still Hold The Same Aura?

Published in Race
[caption id="attachment_8295" align="alignright" width="225"]mind games - control - triathlon - ironman Control The Mind.....Not The Other Way Around[/caption] Mind games are going to happen when you race an Ironman and is, what I believe, to be the difference between people of similar ability.  Your thought process is going to swing all over the place during an Ironman but playing mind games and controlling what you are thinking of will help you tremendously in accomplishing this monstrous feat.  If you think about how many thoughts you have on a typical day at work then add in the pain and struggle of exercising for 10-17 hours straight and you can begin to see where an Ironman race is won or lost.  When I refer to won or lost I am referring to your personal goals and not necessarily an age grouper who can finish in 12 hours coming across one day and beating Craig Alexander.  The race is between you and yourself and always will be.  If you beat yourself you'll beat others. Often, I am asked the question: Do you think anybody can do an Ironman?  My answer is a resounding yes.  I believe anybody can swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles consecutively but whether they can brave the training and RACE an Ironman is a different thing.  When you break down the race and the three portions that make it up you do not have to move fast (that is a relative term depending on your ability) to complete the distances.  Here is a break down of the time allotted to each discipline and the average pace at which you have to move to accomplish finishing an Ironman in 17 hours:
  • Swim: You have 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the 2.4 mile swim.  I swam what was the worst time of any of the Ironman races I have competed in at Ironman Texas 2013 with a time of 1 hour 48 minutes 59 seconds or a pace of 2:49/100 meters.  If you took up the entire time before they stopped you from racing you would have to swim at a pace of 3:37/100m.  This is not a pace that is unsustainable for a lot of people.  Yes some people don't make the swim cut-off but I don't believe it is because they are not capable of this pace, but more than likely the result of anxiety or an issue in the water that caused them to swim at a pace that would not allow them to continue.
  • Bike: On the bike you have 8 hours to travel 112 miles.  If you break this down into a miles per hour reading you would have to average 13.4 mph to finish in 8 hours.  Again this is not an impossible task if you have trained properly for the race.  If you just decided that you were going to hop on a bike and compete at a 140.6 distance race then yes it would be very difficult.
  • Run: The marathon may be the most daunting portion of this because a stand-alone marathon is hard enough but having to do one after you have swam 2.4 miles and cycled 112 miles makes it seem that much harder.  The difference between a stand-alone marathon and one at the end of an Ironman is that you are not racing in Zone 4 for 3 hours but instead working that steady burn in Zones 2 and 3.  In order to finish before the 17 hour mark you have based on the two scenarios of a 2:20 swim and 8:00 bike with 10 minutes in T1 and T2 combined, you will have 6 hours and 30 minutes.  At a pace of 14:53/mi or what you probably average if you walked the entire course you would be able to cross the finish line and call yourself an Ironman.
When you look at these paces it doesn't seem as daunting does it?  Can you do those things?  I say yes, but the difference between finishing in 17 hours and thinking that you can't is what takes place during training as well as during the race and it isn't in your legs.  The muscle that you are going to work the hardest during training and racing is the brain.  The brain will play mind games and tell you that you can't.  On rainy days, on cold days, on snowy days, on a Tuesday the brain will say stay in bed.  Staying in bed is not an option if you want to be called an Ironman and so you have to fire back and play mind games yourself. Another question I am often asked is why continue to race Ironman Texas or 70.3 Puerto Rico where the temperatures are like being on the sun and the humidity makes breathing seem like you are swallowing pea soup on every breath.  My answer is I am willing to suffer more than the next person.  I enjoy the ability to race in these conditions and it is because I know that others are not willing to do it.  I play mind games with myself that it isn't that bad and that I can push harder especially when I know that the person I am passing is thinking: What the f*ck is that guy doing? This year at IMTX the temps were in the mid-90s with a heat index over 100*.  Throughout the run I was given a you look great.  Awesome pace.  Keep up the great work.  That motivated me to keep going and those comments would get locked into a vault and when I felt like I couldn't take another step I would pull one out and think: what if that same person saw you now?  Get going.  Mind games are that simple to play.  Think about hunting down the next person with a number on their calf that is in your age group.  Nobody within eyesight?  Make them up.  Do whatever it is you need to do to keep moving and avoid walking.  The simples way to do this is to go into the race with a very well-studied strategy.  Since Ironman races don't always go according to your strategy you will have to adjust on the fly and this is where the mind games happen. I remember on the third lap that I was starting to have severe foot pain but I also knew that there was a corner with music playing and people cheering loudly. I made the decision that I was going to dance at that corner if for nothing more than to get a bunch of screams and high-fives.  Those cheers were going to lift me up and move me past the pain in my foot and I was proven correct.  Once I got past that point my paces picked up and the pain in my foot disappeared. The biggest mind game I am playing today is the 'get comfortable with the uncomfortable.'  As you read in my post about meditation I have high anxiety when it comes to the swim.  Swimming the 2.4 miles is not something I am afraid of, but rather the treading of water.  Sitting there waiting and waiting and then the thrashing and thrashing and my heart rate climbs into an anaerobic state.  This has a domino effect on my ability to push on the bike and run and so I am doing what I can to make sure that the anxiety is not negative at the start of the race but instead turned into adrenaline that can be used for good.  Visualizing a calm and efficient start.  Seeing my wife's face so that I can bring my heart rate into a steady zone.  All of these things are going into play because I know I can swim a 1:15 but will my mind allow me to is the question.  My answer is yes and I will overcome my mind by tricking it into believing that the uncomfortable is comfortable. At some point during an Ironman, or any race for that matter, you will have a conversation with yourself.  Your ability to respond and take your game to the next level is what is going to allow you to push to the finish line.  Conquer your fears and fight the demons that will undoubtedly show up.

Do You Play Mind Games?

Are You Willing To Do What Others Won't?

Published in Race

2013 Ironman Texas was raced on the surface of the sun or at least it seemed like it was.  Everywhere in America there has been a mild Spring and even here in Texas that can be said.  I checked the forecast every now and again and it showed a high of 89* and I was happy with that because last years Ironman Texas was raced in 93* heat.  A 4 degree cooler day was something to look forward to, but that never happened. I did not realize how hot it was going to get or had gotten until the race was over while Karen and I were talking to a couple near the morning clothes bag pickup.  Karen told me it was 96* and the couple we were talking to mentioned it got over 100* heat index with the humidity.  I then put it all together as to why I had some of the reactions I did during the race.  Here is how the 2013 Ironman Texas race broke down for me.

2013 Ironman Texas: Cramps, Cranks And Crying Feet The Story

2013 Ironman Texas Swim

I know what to expect at the Ironman Texas swim start having done it last year but even that did not prepare me for what was about to unfold.  The swim in Lake Woodlands is tight and when you have 2000+ athletes with anxious nerves waiting for the cannon to go off you have the makings of what is going to be a lot of contact.  Last year I was hit and was hitting for the first few minutes and then after that was always touching somebody but nothing compared to the 2013 Ironman Texas version. This year I was in constant contact with somebody until the 4th marked buoy.  It wasn't until then that I finally had some room to swim but I also know that I spent a lot of energy with a heart level that went anaerobic.  I wanted to get out of the scrum and the nerves and heart rate just kept climbing until I was able to settle into the swim.  At that point it was a matter of counting strokes to keep my head in the game and sighting on a normal routine.  The problem was that sighting was just as difficult as the water was choppier than last year.  It could have been that I was in the middle of the box or that the winds were whipping but either way I was swallowing water by the mouthful on what seemed like every breath.  This added to the anxiety as my mind wandered to whether or not the bacteria in that water was going to do a number on my GI later in the race. When I got to the first turn buoy I smiled knowing that 1/3 of the swim was over.  The 2nd turn buoy shows up quickly and I was in the middle of the 2nd third of the swim race and seemed to be able to settle a bit more.  It was then that the cramps in my calf muscles and toes decided to show up.  I have spoken with Maria a couple of times already to try to figure out what is going on since this also happened at Ironman Arizona.  I thought the problem at IMAZ was the very cold weather but the water temp in Lake Woodlands was 78* so there is no common denominator there. I brushed off the cramping as much as I possibly could but I could also feel that I was not holding the proper form in the water.  I decided to swim harder without much help from my legs to see if I could help shake off the cramps and by the time I hit the 3rd turn buoy my legs were no longer cramping.  The canal is a mind-f*ck as you think you are done but in reality still have the last 1/3rd of the swim to go and it just seemed like forever.  As I neared the end I was thrilled to know that I was finishing the swim and started getting the idea of transitioning into my head as well as the race strategy.  When I got out and saw 1:53 on the clock I was dis-heartened as I was way off my goal and saw nearly every bike gear bag gone.  I did not go into the changing tent as I did not want to sit down and reflect on the swim. I  changed outside of the tent, went inside and dropped off my bag and took some water and out to the bike rack I went.

2013 Ironman Texas Bike

I got on my bike as quickly as I could and started to focus on the race strategy as well as the nutrition plan.  Maria and John had given me a target HR of 140-144 with a cap of 150 and not to touch Zone 4.  My nutrition plan was to take in calories in the first 1.5 hours then water for the next 1.5 hours and switch back and forth.    When I started the bike I knew I was going to be in the back of the pack in terms of athletes and while controlling my heart rate removed the idea that I should also allow others to pass me on the bike.  In the first few minutes that mindset had to change and focus purely on my goals. I began passing a number of people and felt great on the bike.  My legs were not experiencing any effect from the cramping on the swim.  When my watch went off after 20 minutes I started taking in my calories.  I could start to feel the warmth and chose to take water at every aid station and drink as much as possible and pour even more over my head and down my back while inside the aid station area. When I reached the first aid station I also gave myself and internal fist pump.  At 2012 Ironman Texas I had to stop and use the porto-john and at 2012 Ironman Arizona I had a bike wreck.  Getting through that first aid station was a mental victory.  Time to settle into this race and see what the day brought me.  Then I heard what the day was going to bring me.  Something was grinding and rattling.  I could not tell where it was coming from but it reminded me of the noise I experienced at Rev3 Maine when the spoke on my wheel broke.  I made the decision right then that I was going to ride this until the wheels fell off, literally. The ride at Ironman Texas is fairly flat with only ~1600ft of climbing over the 112 miles but as I got toward the 2nd half of the ride I could feel my legs getting a bit more fatigued than I remember the previous year. I  was also drinking a lot more water at the aid stations then I could remember.  I didn't think anything of the temps until around the 100 mile marker when I ran out of my preferred nutrition.  It was at this point that I took 2 water bottles and a bottle of Perform.  I poured one bottle of water over my head, down my back and onto my legs. Approximately 5 miles past that last aid station I came to the realization that the temperatures had to be hotter than last year for me to take Perform off the course.  It is not something that I train with but I was willing to take the risk of GI distress as I knew I needed the electrolytes.  At this point of the race I had already consumed 750 calories of Herbalife24 Prolong and Perform, 400 calories of Huma Gel and 400 calories of EFS Liquid Shot and still needed the Perform. As I got toward the end of the ride I started to focus on the transition and the marathon.  What was I going to do in terms of putting on my shoes, my visor.  Where was my bike going?  What about my helmet?  What was my target heart rate for the run?  All of these thoughts were going through my head as I prepared to dismount.  When I saw the clock read 8:03 I knew I had just ridden the fastest 112 miles of my Ironman career and my energy shot up.  I had 26.2 miles between me and a 3rd IM finish. Having slipped my feet out of the cycling shoes on the bike and handed it off I started to run toward the Run Gear bags and I immediately knew something was wrong.  My feet were killing me.  The outside edges were in so much pain and every step sent a jolt up to my neck.  The confidence of the run seemed to be slipping away but I was not going to let this stop me.  If I had to walk the marathon then so be it. At the changing tent I decided not to go in again.  Having my feet out of my cycling shoes it was a matter of putting my running shoes and visor on while dropping my helmet and garbage from the ride into the bag and off to get these 26.2 miles done.

2013 Ironman Texas Run

The goal heading into this years version of Ironman Texas was to run a sub-4 hour marathon.  Having seen the clock at 8:03 and an ~3 minute transition I figured I had until 12:06 to get that 4 hour marathon under my belt.  Math is not a strong suit when it is 114.4 miles into a race and the temperatures are touching 95* but that was the last time I would think about that 4 hour marathon until toward the end but a lot transpired between those two points. When I started running I knew I wasn't going to stop at aid stations unless it was unbearable.  What I found out right away was that the pain in my feet was nearly unbearable but I was not going to start walking this early.  I had a goal and my feet would be able to rest when I was done.  That was my focus and I wasn't going to think differently.  Of course as soon as I think that the cramps in my ribs started and were exactly the ones I experienced at 70.3 Puerto Rico in March. As quickly as I could I pulled my rib out and the cramping went away.  Every step was causing an issue and I finally stopped to walk at the 5th aid station.  Once done there I started running again and did not stop until I hit the 8th aid station. At this point I had a routine going.  Each aid station I would grab two cups of ice. One cup would go into my top and the other into my shorts. I would also dump two cups of water over my head.  Every other aid station I would drink perform or water.  I also had EFS Liquid Shot in my top and would take sips of that every 20 minutes.  The routine was working for me and I was able to run. I kept checking my heart rate and it was barely getting into the 135 range when the goal was to be between 150 and 160.  The pain in my feet played a part in this as each step was more painful than the last.  Seeing the carnage out on the course I was inspired but also had to stay focused on myself.  If I spent one moment looking around I would have realized how badly I felt as well and I could not risk that.  I knew I had a cheering section around mile 6, 15 and 24 of the marathon with Michelle, Michelle, Erin and other Team Figjam members as well as Karen, Jeff and Annie and the Kingwood Tri club.  I was not able to show my emotion for having this cheering section as I focused on myself but I literally experienced chills on a 100* Heat Index day each time I passed them and picked up their energy. As I was passing the Kingwood Tri club Jeff ran with me for a few steps and I told him that my feet were in so much pain and his words back to me were the words I needed to hear:  This is your last lap.  You are doing something others don't even think about. Soak it all in.  Between those words and the words of Maria and John ringing in my head I started to run harder and the pain in my feet left.  I was all the sudden on cloud 9. Last lap to Ironman #3 in 12 months.  I WAS doing something others don't dream about. Ice, water, Perform, mantra.  Over and over.  When I reached Mile 23 and I heard the music playing I started to dance.  I knew that I was only 3 miles away.  I got passed the cheering section and was running harder than I had all night. I had 19 minutes to reach a sub-4 hour marathon as well as a possible sub-12 hour race.  I was going and when I made the turn to the finish line all the joy in the world rained down on me.  I was finished and I soaked up the finish line as I noticed 12:03 on the clock.  I raced to a sub-4 hour marathon as well as a sub-6 hour bike.  For a day that started out like sh*t it was ending on a super high note. I crossed and a volunteer grabbed me.  Then a stranger came out of nowhere to say I will take care of him.  It was Jon from Twitter who told me he was going to catch me and then the sight of all sites.  Susan Lacke ran up and gave me the biggest hug. I cannot tell you how much it meant to have her there at the finish line with a huge smile on her face. My words to her after I hugged her were:  That was the fucking hardest race I have ever run.  Her words right back: After seeing you run I will never tell you to man the fuck up again.  And with that all was right with the world.  Jon and Susan walked me toward the shirts and I saw Karen.  I grabbed her and hugged her as hard as I ever had.  Instead of crying like last year I was smiling and laughing having thought I broke 4 hours on the run.  I was thrilled. We left Susan and Jon and went to the food tent then sat down with Jeff, Annie, Lesley and the rest of the crowd. Reviewing my splits I realized that I ran a 4:06 and not a sub-4 hour marathon.  My math went wrong when I didn't factor in the 10 minutes for the pros and that killed some of the high but I checked the splits of M40-44 and realized that I ran the 15th fastest marathon of my Age Group.  Something to build on for the next one.

2013 Ironman Texas Thank You

Thank you for being as hard as you were.  Thank you for pushing my limits.  Thank you for making me question what I had inside.  Thank you for allowing me to look back and see that finishing your course is an accomplishment that can never be taken away. Thank you to all of you who supported me whether it was on this blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or just a silent prayer.  I truly appreciate it and can only hope to give back a fraction if what you have given me.

 

Published in Race Reports
[caption id="attachment_8131" align="alignright" width="259"]ironman swimsmart - triathlon - race - swimming Numbered Buoys Will Be A Big Help In The Ironman SwimSmart Initiative.
Source: DC Rainmaker[/caption] Ironman SwimSmart was announced recently and it seems everywhere I turn there are more and more opinions about it.  The opinions on this topic range from A to Z and it seems that not one has been the same.  I have put my own opinions into groups and discussed it on LinkedIn, but I also wanted to put it out here on the blog.  The Ironman SwimSmart initiative is a rather large change in my opinion but at the same time I wonder if people are making much ado about nothing.  The problem for WTC (the company that owns the Ironman brand) is that it is the lightning rod for triathlon and so when they make a decision the masses swarm to discuss it and the Ironman SwimSmart has been no different. If you don't know what the Ironman SwimSmart initiative is please read this link: IRONMAN Introduces SwimSmart Initiative in North America and understand what this initiative is all about and why it is a game changer for both the pro and con camps.  I am going to put what I think are the biggest changes in bullet form but recommend you read the post yourself for a deeper understanding. First, the Ironman SwimSmart initiative is not affecting all races but there are a number that are being affected and it could lead to a change in all races.

Ironman SwimSmart Initiative Changes By Race

  • Ironman Coeuer d'Alene, Ironman Lake Placid

    • Both will feature rolling starts in 2013. Athletes will enter the water in a continuous stream through a controlled access point, similar to how running road races are started. An athlete’s times will start when they cross timing mats under the swim arch.Athletes will be directed to self-seed on race morning based on their projected swim time. Volunteers and staff will be in the staging area with signs and will assist with this process. Self-seeding will not be mandatory, but will be encouraged. At both events, all athletes will have access to a dedicated warm-up area in the water located adjacent to the swim start.Age-group athletes will begin entering the water at 6:35 a.m. for IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene and 6:30 a.m. for IRONMAN Lake Placid, and will have the two hours and twenty minutes from the time the last athlete enters the water to complete the swim. An athlete’s time does not begin until he or she crosses the timing mat located below the swim arch.
  • Ironman Mont-Tremblant

    • IRONMAN Mont-Tremblant will feature a wave start based on age group. There will be eight waves with each wave entering the water five minutes apart, starting at 6:25 a.m. All athletes will have at least 17 hours to complete the entire event (subject to intermediate cutoffs). The two-hour and twenty-minute cutoff for the swim will begin when the final wave has started the swim portion of the event.
  • Ironman Florida and Ironman Lake Tahoe

    • IRONMAN Lake Tahoe and IRONMAN Florida will feature a mass start based on self-seeding. Athletes will self-seed into swim start corrals based upon their estimated swim finish time. All athletes will have the traditional 17 hours to complete the entire event (subject to intermediate cutoffs).

Ironman SwimStart Thoughts

  1. The idea that athlete's will self-seed scares me.  Have you raced a pool triathlon where they are self-seeding?  It can become a disaster and while this isn't touching a wall and going back there is a good chance, and a very good one, that slow swimmers may seed themselves toward the front to get as much time in the water as possible.  This could cause a situation where faster swimmers are swimming around slower swimmers because they did not seed themselves properly.  Races affected: IMCdA, IMLP
  2. Swim corrals can cause the same problem that corrals cause at running races.  People want to be with friends and family and line up in the wrong corrals and cause issues at the start of those running races.  Why would a swim start be any different?
  3. With athletes starting at all different times and having 17 hours to complete the race what happens to the countdown at the Ironman finish line?  Mike Reilly waving his towel encouraging people to finish as the clock creeps up on 16:59:59 yet that athlete started at 6:25am and has already missed the cut-off.  The finish line is a spectacle and is essentially taken away with the Ironman SwimStart initiative.
  4. Safety has been the reason most often stated and while I agree that the mass start can be crazy is WTC going to start making changes to other portions of the race because of safety reasons?  I crashed at IMAZ and luckily was able to continue.  What happens if an athlete cannot continue on the bike?  Will they shorten the bike portion at that point or put us all on spin bikes?  I read, not confirmed, that running deaths occur most frequently toward the end of races.  Does this mean that if that occurs at an Ironman event that the race will become 132.6 miles?  Where does the line get drawn?
  5. Why start the initiative this year?  Why not wait until 2014 and allow the athletes to choose what races they want to register for based on the new setting?  Athletes paid their money for a particular race experience and now in 5 of them that is being changed.  When the athletes pressed register, and when they go to the expo to pick up their bibs, they know what they are getting themselves into with the mass start.  We all sign a waiver regarding this and so we know the dangers heading into these races.  I am still not 100% sure, other than lawsuits, why the rush to change the start now instead of 2014.
I am sure there will be a comment made, maybe not typed in the comments section, about how if it saves one life that it is worth all the commotion.  I don't disagree with that theory that the Ironman SwimSmart initiative is worth it if it does save one life but I wonder about the change in the sport.  If people are truly concerned about mass starts or really the number of athletes at the mass start there are other races that don't have the start of 2,000+ all at once.  Ironman Louisville is a time trial start.  HITS and Rev3 have 140.6 races with less athletes starting and there are local races, such as Redman, that also have less athletes starting.

Ironman SwimStart Initiative Is Not All Bad

The Ironman SwimStart initiative is not all bad or controversial though.  I have yet to read anybody complain about the following swim course additions:
  • Numbered course buoys to assist in positioning of water assets/personnel and provide more accurate communication for locating and rescuing distressed swimmers.
  • Anchored resting rafts to be strategically placed along the swim course (please note that athletes will NOT be disqualified by resting on these floats).
  • Increased professional swim course personnel to enhance the overall athlete experience.
  • Additional rescue boat and personal watercrafts (PWC, kayaks, paddleboards, etc.).
As a person with OCD and the love of math having the ability to countdown the buoys is HUGE for me.  I love counting down as I know I am getting closer to finishing so the numbered buoys is a big lift.  Anchored resting rafts are also a big help as I know first hand what those kayaks and the volunteers can mean to an athlete.  Last year at the US Open Championships I was completely frozen.  I could barely swim and stopped at 4 different kayaks and along the way was encouraged to keep fighting.  If it weren't for the kayaks and the volunteers I probably would have pulled out of the race (probably should have considering IMAZ was around the corner and I was a popsicle but that is for another discussion.) Like anything else these days, the simple act of a press release with changes causes what seems to be mass hysteria.  This Ironman SwimStart initiative is no different and in a year from now we will all accept that it is the way it is and still plunk down $700 to race 140.6 miles.  This change does not affect my mindset to continue to live and race this lifestyle but it does make me wonder where the next line will be drawn.

What Do You  Think Of The Ironman SwimSmart Initiative?

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Published in Race
IMTX is 10 days away and that means.....well that means a lot.  It tells me that I am officially in taper mode.  It tells me that I survived overload weeks.  It tells me that the third chapter of Ironman races is coming to a close.  Having raced IMTX in 2012 and finishing off 12+ months of training for the 140.6 distance at IMTX 2013 means the world to me.  My body has survived the rigors of training.  My marriage has survived (sometimes barely) the stress that Ironman training can put on it.  Along this road I have found a lot of support as well as lost some friends and their support.  Life has changed, for the better, since the day I decided to do the first and it certainly has changed and will have changed when May 18, 2013 rolls around and IMTX is in the books. As of right now I have no races on my schedule for after IMTX and I like it this way.  I have no pressure to get back into training.  I have nothing to look forward to which means that my sole focus is to race IMTX 2013 as hard as I possibly can because there is no tomorrow.  I purposely setup my race schedule for this year in this manner because I think that the heavy race schedule of 2012 allowed me an out.  The mindset was oh, you raced IMTX 2012 in 11:59 but you can do better at IMAZ.  Oh you crashed and finished in 11:53 you still have IMTX 2013.  Same can be said for the 70.3 races I did.  There was always a tomorrow, but not this time.  This time there is no tomorrow and everything I have done for the past 5 months will be on the line and I like it that way. Some people will ask me what my goals are and to be honest with you there is only one goal because there is only one race.  Yes triathlon is a combination of three sports, but in the end it is one race and that is the only time that matters.  I have not finalized my race strategy with Maria and John but I can tell you that our goal for this years version of IMTX has been 11:15 or better.  How I get there I don't really care.  If I swim 1:15 then I have 10 hours to bike, run and transition between the sports.  If I swim 1:30 then I have 9h45m to do those activities.  My training has me pointed in that direction but no one knows what race day will bring and so I will go into this race knowing I have done everything I can to get to 11:15. Swimming: Swimming has been going extremely well.  I am very pleased with where I started and where I am today.  This is the one sport that could have been dramatically improved and it has.  When I started with Maria and John my 800 TT time was 14:50.  A few months later we did another because I could feel myself getting faster and I finished in 13:56.  The last 800 TT we did was a few weeks ago and I was down to 13:22.  That is nearly a 1m30s improvement since December over 800y.  Doesn't seem like much but if you break it down to an Ironman 2.4 mi course that would look something like this: 1:18:30 down to 1:10:30.  Also, keep in mind that when I finished that TT in December I was huffing and puffing and could have starred as the Wolf in Three Little Pigs.  When I finished the 3rd TT I was gassed but I could have gotten on my bike and put in a good start.  Can I swim a 1:10:30 at IMTX?  I have no idea but what I do know is that even if I swim that 1:18:30 I would have improved my time by 18 minutes over IMTX 2012.  I'll take that any day. Biking: This was the second discipline that the majority of the work we did in this training cycle went into.  There were days where I did not think I could get to 145bpm and hold it for an extended period of time.  There were days where I would go slightly above my target heart rate (John approved this!) and there were days where I just wished that I had a run instead of a bike session scheduled.  All the while the improvements were there.  Getting into specific heart rate zones got easier and easier and it made the confidence meter go up.  My last long bike ride I averaged 18 mph and that is with all the stops and starts that you get with riding outdoors in the Metroplex along with using stock wheels instead of race wheels.  The last component that cannot be ignored is adrenaline, which doesn't exist on those long rides by yourself but will certainly be there come race day.  I think that an increase of 1 to 1.5 mph is possible given the factors and having fresh legs for a race after a good solid taper.  At IMTX 2012 I averaged 18.4 mph and I do believe that 19.0 to 19.5 mph is something I am capable of but there are circumstances beyond my control that make this impossible to guess at.  If I finish at 19.0 mph I will be one happy athlete as I would go from 6:05 to 5:54.  I also can gain confidence in the fact that I raced a 6:02 after a wreck at IMAZ that probably caused me to lose 10 to 15 minutes.  Keep the rubber side down this time Jason! Running: The one discipline we did not focus on and yet the improvements have been drastic and quite scary.  I remember the day I hit 8:30/mi and was sitting at the bottom of Z2 and thinking to myself:  Is this for f'n real?  Am I really going nearly :30/mi faster than I would normally be for this HR?  It was bonkers to me because our focus has not been on the run but lo and behold with the fitness gains since December running gained as well.  I am really psyched about this because all along I have felt that a sub 4-hour marathon at the end of an Ironman was possible.  I believe the hardest part is going to be holding myself back from jumping off the bike and running as if my name were Roger Bannister (for you young'uns to the sport of running click here).   At IMTX 2012 I ran to a 4:09 and that was without a strategy.  IMAZ produced a 4:06 with a hanging arm so a sub-4 hour marathon is something I am certainly capable of.  My familiarity with the course and the total elevation gain of ~250 ft plays right into my strengths.  There will be pain on this run for sure as that last lap will be the bell lap and I'll be running and chasing down that 11:15 regardless of where I am after the swim and bike.  Embrace the pain for 8 miles and gloat forever about breaking 4 hours at the marathon of an Ironman......that is the dream. Outside Life: This has been beyond stressful.  I posted the other day on Twitter that if I decided to make lemonade out of all the lemons I had I could put Minute Maid out of business.  It just seems that one thing got piled onto the next and Karen and I are doing all we can to keep our heads above water.  The problem is that it is all the little stuff that drives you crazy.  We purchased new appliances for the house in the hopes of luring a buyer.  Since then we have had no showings, and about 10 minutes after the installation was done the power went out.  Karen thought it was the house but it turned out to be the neighborhood.  I then went to use the garbage disposal the next day and it wasn't working.  I went to Home Depot to get a handful of stuff but then Karen just pressed the reset button and voila the garbage disposal was working.  Little things always add up don't they. Some of the projects I have been working on professionally and personally have fallen through but because of triathlon I have been able to keep my chin up fight through it and figure out alternatives to getting those projects back.  I have to give credit to Karen for keeping me focused on IMTX as we get closer and keeping my arousal level to a 4.  Anything above that and I am putting undue stress on my body and mind and it just isn't necessary.  If anybody want to hire Karen to be their guide through taper let me know and we can figure out an hourly rate because her service has been priceless. [caption id="attachment_8096" align="aligncenter" width="553"]imtx - ironman - triathlon - texas - 140.6 IMTX Training Peaks Volume[/caption]

Are You Racing IMTX 2013?  If So, Leave Your Bib Number In Comments So We Can Track You (By We I Mean Karen!)

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

Boston Marathon 2013 Will Never Be Forgotten

Published in Race
Monday, 08 April 2013 11:44

Do You Trust Your Speed?

Speed is a relative term because my speed may be faster or slower than your speed but what is common amongst all athletes is the trust in their speed.  When I first started in endurance sports my first race was a half-marathon that I ran in 2 hours 18 minutes or 10:34/mi.  My speed that day was on display from the outset but soon bonked and fought the good fight to the finish line.  That day created my reference point or what I refer to as my speed line. Through lots of training I brought that time down to  a PR of 1:36 or 7:21/mi for a half-marathon.  My speed line was 7:21/mi but my constant base runs were around 9:00/mi which was held at a 140 bpm.  Since all of my training is based on HR I typically just draw a connection between my HR and my paces.  I run with my watch set to total time and HR and nothing else so that I don't focus on pace and try to hit those speeds. Running isn't the only place where I have seen my speed line move from one spot to another.  Recently my swimming speed line has been consistently in the 1:45/100y pace and not feeling as if I am going to pass out from swimming so hard.  When I started triathlon that pace was typically around 2:00/100y.  The speed line has moved fast in the past few months and this is now where my dilemma regarding my speed line comes into play. [caption id="attachment_7819" align="alignright" width="270"]speed - triathlon - swimming - ironman Source: Triathlete Europe Magazine[/caption]

Do I Trust My Speed In The Water?

I ask myself this question repeatedly these days.  When I  jump into the pool and swim a 1:39/100y and not feel exhausted I wonder where this speed came from and if I can trust it.  Can I hold  1:45/100y pace for an entire 2.4 miles?  Is this something that I trust myself to do?  I have routinely would have said yes but based on a few race times like Ironman Arizona and 70.3 Puerto Rico it is hard to trust my speed.  Yes the open water and race are a lot different from the time spent in the pool, but here is where I have a counterpoint. Last year while training for IMAZ I was swimming 32:00-36:00 per 1.2 mile swims in the open water.  If you extrapolate that to the full Ironman distance you are looking at 64 minutes to 72 minutes.  I finished IMAZ in 90 minutes or WAY FAR OFF.  I trusted my speed going into the water in November and that proved to not be a great thing to do as I didn't hold that pace. Can I trust my speed these days? I am fighting a mental war between accepting the new-found speed and what has happened in the past.  It is not usual for me to question my ability but the breaking of new ground is causing me to ask myself if I can trust this speed. [caption id="attachment_7817" align="alignright" width="260"]speed - running - swimming - triathlon Source: Running Magazine[/caption]

Do I Trust My Speed In Running?

In the case of running my trust in my speed is 100%.  I have seen that 9:00/mi pace at 140 bpm drop to 8:30/mi at the same heart rate.  While it hurts to maintain a Z2 pace these days I am fully confident that I can hold these paces for a long period of time.  For example, on Sunday I had a split workout where the first run was 1h15 minutes with the final 20 minutes at Z4.  The next set started nearly 3 hours later with a 1 hour spin on the trainer followed by a steady Z2 run for an hour. During the first run I was hurting big time during the tempo portion but that should be expected to be hard.  My HR for those 20 minutes never touched 160bpm and my pace was around 8:00/mi.  I was thrilled to see the pace when the run was done.  My overall pace for this entire run was 8:22/mi. Heading into the second set I had no clue what would happen but when I started running I thought there is no way I am going to be able to hold a 10:00/mi pace.  Since my Timex never picked up a satellite I couldn't even cheat to see the mile paces as the miles ticked off.  I ran with all my heart and my speed was just not evident.  It hurt so bad and the lactic acid was almost causing me to walk.  Downloading the data when I got home I saw a pace of 8:25/mi with an average HR of 143 bpm and a max HR of 160.  My speed line has been moved. I fully trust that if I follow a race plan at Ironman Texas that there is no doubt I will run a sub-4 hour marathon.  Why?  I am in the middle of build phase and holding these paces.  With a full taper I will have fresh legs to run on but as well all know it takes a smart ride beforehand.  I am not concerned about executing a proper race plan for the bike to set me up for the run. As you can see I have the mental ability to accept my run speed but not the swim speed that I have gained in the past three months.  I am not sure why this is the case but it is and the more I get in the water, both pool and open water, I will be able to gain the confidence in my swim speed.

Have You Ever Questioned Your Speed?

What Was Your Secret In Accepting Your New Found Speed?

 
Published in Train
Ironman Texas is coming up Fast And Furious (Karen loves these movies and I think we are slated to see #6 soon) and I am behind on my monthly progress report.  Let's also toss in the fact that the email I got from Maria this week with the subject:  Welcome To Build Phase leads me to believe that the monthly progress reports for Ironman Texas 2013 may not be as prompt as they were during the first two months.  That email kinda scared me if I am being honest. I had every reason to be scared as well when the Training Peaks email for today had the words:  **If it doesn't hurt, you aren't pushing hard enough :)  Well ok then. I knew I was walking, or swimming, into unchartered territory but I also knew that it was an opportunity for me to improve on my Ironman Texas swim of 1:36 from last year as well as the 1:30 swim from Ironman Arizona.  Both times are by no means horrible, but can certainly be improved upon.  During today's swim session I nearly puked which tells me that I followed Maria's advice and pushed hard enough. This build phase comes with the knowledge that I will be going on a lot of solo rides to help build my mental strength.  This is not a big deal as approximately 95% of my rides last year were all solo rides.  The beginning of this year I chose to ride with faster cyclists to help improve my speed and break the monotony of riding alone.  Now that I am going back to solo rides I am sort of excited to just let it all go out there with my own thoughts, speed and understanding of where my heart rate needs to be and not worry about keeping up with the group. Since my last Ironman Texas progress report a lot of things have happened.  I have raced 70.3 San Juan, Karen and I got the flu and now she has pneumonia, we also put our house up for sale, and I have been engaged in starting a project that I have been thinking about for the past two years.  I would love to expand on the project for you but the timing is not right just yet.  Once I have gathered more information and there is more to share I will be sure to let you know.  Until then please hold tight and enjoy the rest of this post regarding my progress toward Ironman Texas 2013.

Swimming:

This was my Achilles heal last year and it reared its ugly head at Puerto Rico.  I swam a 45 minute 1.2 mile race which is 4 minutes slower that last year.  While this year was much choppier the real reason I was that much slower has to do with my sighting.  I probably swam an extra 1/4 mile that day and that cost me time and energy.  At first I was disappointed in my swim but once I got back in the pool I found that my stroke and ability to keep the paces I had before the race were still there and maybe a bit faster. Maria will be putting some open water swims on the schedule so I can work on my sighting, but I will also try to improve my sighting in the pool.  While not the same it will help in the long run.  I believe that I can swim a faster pace than 1:36 for this years race.  If I swim the goal of 1:15 than Ironman Texas 2013 will have been 21 minutes faster and that is a lifetime.  For this month I would give myself a B in the swimming category because I am swimming faster but sighting has to be worked on.  The Ironman Texas swim course is not a straight shot so sighting is going to be imperative.

Cycling:

I found myself enjoying the ride in Puerto Rico immensely even with keeping my HR higher than I have in the past.  Our goal was to maintain a 145 heart rate and I was right there but the best part was that toward the end of the ride when the climbs re-surface I didn't get worried or bothered by them.  Last year I remember thinking that this was the worst possible place to have those climbs so over the course of the year I have improved my cycling.  I told Maria in our bi-weekly chat that I felt like I could have sustained that effort for another 56 miles and that made me happy.  I was not spent and was setup for a good run. This year I finished San Juan in 2:51 which is 5 minutes slower than last year but felt much better and being that this was not the A race of the season puts me i a good position to break 6 hours at Ironman Texas.  If I am able to ride a 5:40-5:50 for the 112 miles I will have knocked off 15 to 25 minutes off of my time.  That is an eternity at the Ironman distance.  For this past month I would give my cycling a B+ as I think I have done well but there is work still left to be done.

Running:

Oh, running how I have missed thee.  Not really but the miles are not piling up the way they have in the past and that is deliberate.  Our focus has been on swim and bike and I have seen positive gains there.  That doesn't mean I haven't seen positive gains on the run though.  This week after being recovered from San Juan I went out and ran a Z2 20 minutes off the bike and my pace was down near 9:00/mile.  Typically at the HR I maintained I would have been near a 9:30/mi pace.  That improvement tells me that I am more efficient on the bike and capable of putting forth a good effort on the run. At San Juan I was able to execute the race plan of picking up my heart rate/pace over the course of the 13.1 miles and while I was tired at the end I was not fully spent as I was a year ago.  I managed to come in only 2 minutes off my time from last year and was able to pick it up as the race went along.  Last year I did not have that effort or plan and blew up half-way through the race and just wanted to end.  Over the course of the last month I have seen improvement in my efficiency which leads me to believe that a sub-4 hour marathon is feasible at Ironman Texas.  A 3:55 marathon will have shaved 15 minutes off my time from last year.  Feeling strong to date I think my running has been on par and would say that I earned a B in this past month.  Again, nothing to be ashamed of but also know that there are improvements to be made.

Ironman Texas Is In 50 Days

If somebody were to ask me today how I would do at Ironman Texas this year I would tell them that I could race and finish at or around the same time as my Ironman Arizona race which was 11:53.  Knowing that I have 50 days to hone my skills and sharpen my ability gives me faith that the 11:15 goal that I have as a target is more than feasible.  With a 25 minute improvement on the bike and a 15 minute improvement on the run and nothing else changing the end result would be 11:19 based on Ironman Texas last year or 11:13 based on Ironman Arizona. My confidence in my ability continues to grow even as the muscles get more sore, the hunger pains grow sharper and my sleeps get more deep.  The build phase is upon us and unlike build phases of the past I am fearful but excited simultaneously as I know these are pennies in the bank to the results I want at Ironman Texas.  As John is fond of saying: stay in the moment.  That means that when I am swimming that is my concern  When I am cycling that is the only thing I need to think about and when I am running the only sound i my head is the pitter-patter of my feet.

Ironman Texas - I Got Your Number !

[caption id="attachment_7756" align="aligncenter" width="553"]Ironman Texas - monthly progress report - triathlon - training Hours decreased as we headed into taper and recovery for 70.3 San Juan[/caption]
Published in Train
Fueling an endurance athletes lifestyle is paramount to recovery and being able to get out the door to do the next day's or even the same day's workout.  I am a big proponent of food for fuel and that recovering properly is beyond important.  Fueling or also re-fueling gives your body the nutrients it needs to continue working your training regiment.  This weekend was a story of fueling and re-fueling properly and improperly, but as normal I learned a lot about what I need to do for next weekend's workouts. As I posted in my Ironman Texas - Monthly Progress Report I have entered into the build phase which means two things:
  1. Workouts will get longer.
  2. Workouts will get harder.
Clearly, fueling properly for these workout is going to be the key to executing the workouts so that I get the most out of them.  Ironman Texas is 48 days away and while fueling before and after workouts is important, I am also re-learning to fuel during my workouts.  I say re-learning because I am trying to avoid the HoneyStingers I have grown accustomed to using as I think that lead to some of my weight gain going into and after Ironman Arizona.  HoneyStingers also have wheat and whole wheat flour in them that I have been keeping out of my diet for the past 3 months or so.

Fueling Build Phase Weekend #1

Here is how I was fueling for the workouts on the docket this weekend and how I felt before, during, and after the workouts.  Keep in mind that this is the high intensity phase or Ironman training and is not typical of what an entire training cycle looks like.  If you have specific questions based on your training please leave them in the comments or use the contact me form and I will do my best to help you out.

Saturday:

  • Training:
    • 4 hour 30 minute bike ride with a progressive increase in heart rate from Zone 1 to finish with 1 hour in Zone 3.
    • 40 minute run while keeping my heart rate in Zone 1
  • Pre-Fueling:
    • A 90 calorie shake with homemade nut butter, honey and banana on corn this.
    • 410 calories, 68g Carbohydrates, 12g Fat, 18g Protein, 11g Fiber consumed two hours prior to the workout.
  • During-Fueling:
    • 1057 calories of sports drink that also had 236g Carbohydrates, 15g Protein, 0g Fat
    • I brought a ziploc bag of dried pineapple and raisins but did not consume any.
  • Post-Fueling:
    • Vegan Banana Bread With 2 Eggs
    • 788 calories, 111g Carbohydrates, 29g Fat, 34g Protein, 19g Fiber.
    • Made sure that I hit the all-important 3:1 Carb:Protein ratio for optimal recovery.
[caption id="attachment_7765" align="aligncenter" width="300"]fuel - triathlon - training - recovery meal Vegan Banana Bread With Homemade Nut Butter, Goji Berries And Blueberries.[/caption] During the ride I felt very strong and felt I had hit the fueling properly.  Of course, at Ironman Texas I will be going harder than this ride and thus the dried pineapple and raisins will come into play and is something I will have to work into my training to make sure that it doesn't cause any GI distress.  Post-training fueling was not only ideal in the carb to protein ratio but it also tasted great and when you can have both you are doing something right.

Sunday:

  • Training:
    • 1 hour 5 minute run with progressive increases in heart rate and finish with a 20 minute tempo run.
    • After a minimum of a 2 hour recovery rode the bike on the trainer for 1 hour with interval sets.
    • 55 minute run immediately after the ride while keeping a steady pace in Zone 2.
  • Pre-Fueling:
    • The same shake but this time with no food as it was only a one hour run.  I drank the shake about 1 hour before I started the run.
    • 90 calories, 14g Carbohydrates, 2g Fat, 10g Protein
  • Post Session #1 Fueling:
    • A whey protein shake within 30 minutes of finishing the run that I would use as a recovery drink and a pre-fueling for the next training sessions.
    • 140 calories, 16g Carbohydrates, 2g Fat, 17g Protein
  • During Fueling of all three sessions:
    • Water as I figured these were shorter sets but didn't think about the cumulative effect of the three hours.
  • Post Session #2 Fueling:
    • A 3:1 Carb:Protein shake within 30 minutes of finishing the workout.
    • Egg Tostadas which had homemade corn tortillas, eggs, sweet potatoes, olives, black beans and jalapeño peppers.
    • 781 calories, 104g Carbohydrates, 20g Fat, 48g Protein, 15g Fiber
[caption id="attachment_7766" align="aligncenter" width="300"]fueling - recovery meal - triathlon - ironman Breakfast / Brunch Egg Tostadas[/caption] The weather in Dallas has gotten warm but the humidity has gone through the roof and this may have caused some dehydration on the second run.  I felt as if my legs had lead in them and I was running in molasses by the end and quickly knew I made a mistake with my fueling both between sets and during the second set.  When I look back at it I would have been smart to have a banana between sets to help my fueling for the 2nd set as well as have an electrolyte based drink with me on the trainer at the very least. Fueling is very individual and even when you think you have it nailed down there could be changes that are needed.  Maybe you live in a cold climate but your race is in a warm (or hot) location and thus your water intake needs to be adjusted.  Maybe the amount of calories needs to be increased to avoid that dreaded bonk.  This is not an exact science, not even refueling is.  I mentioned the 3:1 Carb:Protein ratio as being optimal but I have also read where 4:1 is the perfect combination.  Suffice it to say that getting in at least 3:1 is important, but so is timing.  Typically, your optimal window is between 30 minutes and 45 minutes post workout as your body is ready to take on the nutrients to refuel your body for the next day's workout.

Do You Practice Your Fueling During Your Training?

Have Any Fueling Tips You Want To Share?

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[caption id="attachment_7934" align="alignright" width="300"]overload weeks - ironman - tips - training Cornmeal Pizza With Vegan Pesto And Eggs[/caption] Overload weeks are the time in training where a lot of athletes are broken.  They fear the weeks before they even start and then it quickly goes downhill from there.  The workouts get harder than they should be, the mind breaks, the calories consumption goes from healthy to eat anything and all the base building work can quickly be lost as well as the potential for injury.  I am going through my third set of overload weeks in the past 12 months and have learned quite a bit during that time.  Overload weeks don't have to be as hard on everything around you as the workouts are hard enough. The following overload weeks tips have been learned through trial and error and probably more error than trial.  When I first got started in triathlon the overload weeks for the Half-Ironman distance just seemed like regular training weeks as the bike rides never eclipsed 4 or 5 hours never mind 6.  The runs were never longer than 2 hours and certainly not touching on 15 or 16 miles up to 20 miles long.  The workouts seemed manageable because they were a continuation of what I had been working on the entire time. When the first overload weeks for Ironman Texas 2012 came on the schedule  I got very nervous.  My goal was to hit every workout to a T regardless of how I felt, regardless of what I ate, regardless of how I slept.  It was a test that I needed to pass to prove (to whom I have no idea) that I could be an Ironman.  I wanted to make my coach happy.  I wanted to show those following me on social media that I was capable of doing this but most of all I was scared out of my wits.  If I didn't hit this ride or run to a T what would that mean for the race?  I went hard on each session and what accompanied that (because for every action there is a reaction) was that the world around me seemed to not matter.  I was here to train for an Ironman and come hell or high water that is what I was going to do.  Laundry piled up (it still does but not for as long), dishes were scattered through the kitchen, tension in my relationship with Karen and anything else I touched was affected.  I was the anti-Midas during those first overload weeks.  Since then I have learned and I have put together a list of tips that can help you during your overload weeks.

Tips For Surviving Overload Weeks

Forget The 'Diet' And Focus On Recovery Your weight during the overload weeks is going to be all over the map.  You are going to have days when you are not hungry but need to eat to fuel and you are going to have days where you are always hungry.  Ignore the scale to the point that you aren't going so far out of your weight range but not so focused that you are skipping meals.  You will need all the carbs, fat and protein plus micro-nutrients you can handle during these weeks.  It is imperative to use food as your fuel to get you out the door the next day to execute the training plan you have laid out before you. If your goal weight is 140 pounds and you are at 140.5 pounds in the morning and know that you have a 6 hour bike and a 30 minute run brick that day do not come home after all of that and eat lettuce.  Fuel up with the proper 3:1 Carb:Protein ratio smoothie/meal within 30 minutes to 2 hours and get the glycogen back into your muscles.  Don't think that you just burned all those calories so if you don't eat you will be at 140 pounds the next morning.  What will happen is your body will not be able to function and that great workout you had will be lost.   [caption id="attachment_7935" align="alignright" width="300"]overload weeks - training - tips - ironman Red Velvet Cake Waffles[/caption] Let Your Family, Friends, Co-Workers Know When These Weeks Are Two weeks ago I informed Karen that my thought making process was going to be taxed in the upcoming overload weeks so she would have to take on some responsibilities I had been covering.  I had to do this because in the past I tried to do the overload weeks training and handle certain responsibilities and something had to give on certain days and more times than not it was the responsibilities and that led to tension in the house.  This way I let her know upfront as well as my business partner that these were coming so we could make arrangements.  Karen picked up the slack on these I was sure to forget and I took on other items.  My partner took over the blog writing I do for our company for two weeks so that I could get through this. It may not seem like a big deal but if those around you know that you are going to be going through these hard training weeks they are more likely to lend a hand and help you out.  Don't worry you can return the favor once the race is over and pick up more of the slack that you left behind. Get Plenty Of Rest / Sleep Rest is not the same as sleep but it is just as important.  We all know the benefits of sleeping and how it allows our bodies to get put back together but resting is just as important.  Sitting on the couch while watching nothing on television means your body is in a state of relaxation and not stressing.  This is key to allowing the tissues, organs and muscles to recuperate and prepare themselves for what is coming later that day or the next day. As we go through overload weeks we are stressing the body and one way the body deals with those stresses is to swell to protect the 'injured' area and by resting you are allowing the swelling to go down and return to normal.  You should also include anti-inflammatory spices in your dishes to aid in the reduction of swelling.  Spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, turmeric are all very important and are items I include in my diet on a daily basis.  The combination of relaxing with my feet up and anti-inflammatory foods allows me to wake up the next morning and get going again so that I am getting the work in that is necessary for a successful Ironman. Do Something Other Than Swim/Bike/Run/Sleep My first two rounds with overload weeks were only training.  I focused on swim/bike/run/eat/sleep/eat/sleep/swim/bike/run so much that I forgot that there were other hours in the day to do things with.  Last week I went to an amusement park with Karen the little one and his friend.  We were there for a few hours and I had a blast.  I was not the fastest at walking from one ride to the next but I certainly had more fun than anybody else.  Why?  I wasn't so focused on fueling properly for the go-kart rides or the mini-golf.  I was focused on making sure that everybody else had a good time and in combination I had a blast. We started with a visit to iHop where we had breakfast then headed to ride go-karts, play mini-golf and watch the kids jump around in the bounce houses.  While the kids were doing that Karen and I actually had an opportunity to talk to each other about the things going on in our lives with our (my) eyes open as opposed to half-open while falling asleep on the couch. Relish In The Moment Understand that not every training session is going to go as planned.  You are taxing your body to its limits and pushing the envelope the entire time during the overload weeks and if you are not getting the right amount of rest or re-fueling properly then you will pay for it on the next session and you are better off backing down instead of pushing it too hard and risking injury.  There is always tomorrow to get that workout that you 'need' in.  See how I put 'need' in quotes?  It is because we have this mindset that if we don't do it as scheduled that all is lost and this just isn't the case.  The overload weeks are not where you are going to gain a tremendous amount of fitness from a physical standpoint.  Your physical gains are done during base building and overload weeks are the sharpening of the sword.  The big gains are made mentally about what you can do but if you are laid up on the couch because of injury your mental fitness will get taxed. Drink Water And Lots Of It [caption id="attachment_7918" align="alignright" width="300"]Overload Weeks - Diet - Lifestyle - Healthy - Tips Falafel Waffle[/caption] I have a goal of drinking 100 oz of water before lunch on a daily basis and then another 65-80oz of water after lunch.  This keeps me hydrated and helps me to regulate my eating.  In addition to that it allows my muscles to function properly because I am flushing the lactic acid out of them.  The water is not always plain though as I will have a cup with lemons in it for at least 50% of the water consumption but also I will put Herbalife24 Hydrate Sticks in about 30-40oz of the water that I consume to make sure that I am getting the magnesium, potassium, sodium and other electrolytes into my system. Following these tips is easier than you think it is and it will set you up to enjoy the overload weeks as much as you can.  Not only that but you will get through with as little stress as possible while maintaining the ability to have a life outside of wake/train/eat/sleep.  I have also found that by following these tips that the taper weeks are not as maddening as they used to be.  Instead of having these huge hills and valleys created by overload weeks I manage to keep them fairly steady so when taper starts I am neither in desperate need of them but also not wishing I could keep riding for 5 or 6 hours because I need them.  I know the work has been done and I actually got to enjoy the work.

Have Any Overload Weeks Training Tips You Would Like To Share?

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