Tuesday, 25 September 2012 15:09

Glycogen Depletion Training

Glycogen depletion training is a phrase that I heard from the Great MissZ about a month or so ago.  At the time I thought to myself:  Why would you do this?  Why would you purposely not use carbs to help fuel your workouts and races.  It wasn't much prior to that message from MissZ that Jeff Irvin said he was going into carbohydrate control so that when he took in the carbs on race day his performance would peak because of the extra energy. Both of these sounded somewhat absurd to me.  I am of the belief that if we take in carbohydrates on a routine basis that our bodies will be fueled for our workouts.  And by routine I mean eating a diet that consists of 60%-65% carbohydrates and not going for that midnight Snickers bar.  Routine meaning that you are getting your carbs on a consistent basis throughout the day so that you are burning what you need when you need it. [caption id="attachment_6518" align="alignright" width="300"]glycogendepletion_triathlon_ironman_training Proper Recovery Will Allow Me To Continue Getting Out For My Workouts.
Source: EAS[/caption] After reading MissZ's report about glycogen depletion training I decided to give it a go.  Last week was my first full week of doing it and I have to say that there was not a loss of performance during the training and maybe even a slight pickup.  The rules I laid out for myself were to have nothing prior to working out and only consume water during the workout.  The key rule though was nothing longer than 2 hours.  If I was going to go longer than two hours than I was going to take in my Prolong/Prepare mix during the workout.  The other rule was on a day with 2 sessions (1 in the morning and 1 at lunch) that I was going to eat lunch 1 hour prior to the workout.  Also, recovery was going to be key to this test.  Without the proper recovery all of this would be for nothing. After the second day of being on this newly discovered training plan I had lost 4 pounds and could feel myself getting stronger.  Now the change is not the only difference in my training, we also have to take into account the fact that I am getting stronger and faster because of the volume of training I'm doing.  The weight loss coupled with my body learning to use fat as fuel was a spark for me.  It has led me to be able to focus on my efficiency and not worry about the timing of the clock for when to take in a sip. Here is where the rubber met the road for me.  I decided to take this weekend as a race weekend.  This means that on Thursday night I am doing my big carbohydrate meal followed by a huge breakfast on Friday (1,000 calories of waffles, pancakes and toast) with tapered eating the rest of the day.  Saturday morning consisted of a typical race day breakfast (toast with homemade nut butter, sliced banana and honey along with granola and coconut milk) and then off to ride for 5.5 hours and run for 30 minutes. The results of the ride were great.  For 5.5 hours I felt terrific and never felt like I was struggling.  This was a training ride so we weren't going at race pace but I held an easy 18 mph ride in comparison to the week prior where I was around 17 mph.  In the end I rode 90 miles and in 15 minutes faster than the previous week (wind, terrain all play a factor of course) but I felt better.  The 30 minute run afterwards was 'easy' as I held 8:30/mi paces for the entire time whereas the week prior I came out at 8:30 but soon slowed down to close to 9:00/mile. On Sunday I had a 15 mile run with the first mile as a warm-up and the remaining 14 miles at tempo pace.  I ran the first mile in 9:30 and then held 8:15s until the last two miles which ended up closer to 8:30.  I ran the entire 2 hours and 5 minutes with nothing but water and two sticks of Hydrate, which is an electrolyte mix with only 4g of carbs.  I felt good the entire time and never had that feeling of this is just horrible I want it to be over. This type of glycogen depletion workout has worked for one week and I am doing it again this week to see how my body adapts to using fat as fuel and to make sure that I am recovering properly to enjoy my workouts.
Have You Ever Done This Type Of Training?  What Were Your Results?
Published in Train
Tuesday, 18 September 2012 14:49

Are You An Ironman?

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

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

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

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

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

Ironman Arizona Update

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

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

Published in Train
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 14:52

I Love Carbs

 I love carbs and I will not lie.  Carbs give me the energy I need to power through these workouts.  I hear athletes talking about avoiding carbs and it surprises me because I just don't know where they are going to get their energy from if they don't take in carbs.  A solid diet of 60%-65% Carbs, ~15% Protein and 20%-25% Fat is ideal for an endurance athlete. A couple of days ago I came across an article on Active.com talking about the 5 best carbs for athletes and it made me smile.  I didn't care what the carbs where I just loved the fact that it was saying that there were great carbs for us athletes.  I could list out the carbs for you and tell you why they are good for you, but rather than do that I am going to give you a recipe based on the 5 carbs.  Here are the carbs first:

  1. Sweet Potato
  2. Oats
  3. Wild Rice
  4. Banana
  5. Chickpeas

The recipe I am going to provide for you will be for a sweet potato burger with a side of rice and chickpeas.  Very easy to make and very good for you too. Ingredients: 1/2c Lundberg Black Japonica Rice, 1/4c Dry Chickpeas, 100g Sweet Potato, 100g Banana, 1/2cc Rolled Oats Nutritional Breakdown: 740 calories, 156g Carbohydrates, 8g Fat, 21g Protein Servings: 1   [caption id="attachment_6482" align="alignright" width="275"]cabohydrates_athletes_diet Source: Path For Life Food[/caption] Directions:

  1. Soak chickpeas in water overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 405*
  3. When ready to cook pour chickpeas and soaking water into pot and add another 1c of water and bring to a boil.  After water boils lower heat to low and allow to simmer.  Should take about 40-45 minutes for chickpeas to become soft.
  4. While chickpeas are boiling bake sweet potato for 30-40 minutes or until soft.
  5. Remove potato from oven and scoop out flesh.  Smash the meat of the potato with the banana and combine with oats.
  6. Form 2 patties with the mixture and place on plate and refrigerate to allow to set up.
  7. While the patties are setting up cook rice in a rice cooker according to manufacturer's directions.
  8. Remove patties from refrigerator and place in a smoking hot pan (cast iron preferably) and allow burgers to cook for 3-5 minutes on each side.
  9. Plate the rice topped with chickpeas and then sweet potato burgers on the side.
  10. Top with mustard and lettuce, red onion, avocado and spinach.


What would you make with these 5 great carb ingredients?

Published in Lunch Recipes
Thursday, 06 September 2012 15:19

Ironman 70.3 World Championships

[caption id="attachment_6460" align="alignright" width="300"]703worldchampionships_ironman_triathlon Source: Ironman[/caption] Ironman 70.3 World Championships are this weekend and I am excited.  The 70.3 distance is a distance that you can race.  Yes it is a long way to go but you can push the envelope at this distance and see what you have.  If you break it down into the three disciplines you are talking about a 35-40 minute swim, a 2:30-3:00 ride and a 1:40-2:00 run.  We have all done this and thus why I think that the 70.3 is a race more than an endurance event. This weekend the best of the best at this distance will toe the line in Las Vegas and the winner will be crowned the World Champion.  Unlike other sports where the only teams are in North America this race is truly a World Championship.  There will be athletes from North America, Europe, South America, Australia and Asia.  Every corner of the globe will be represented one way or another. Last year Craig Alexander proved that you can race both the 70.3 and 140.6 World Championships and win and he is out prove you can do it in back to back years.  Melissa Hauschildt is back to defend her title and continue to build on her reputation as a triathlete to be reckoned with.  The biggest problem for both of these athletes:  THE FIELD.  It is fully loaded.  Take a look at who they will be racing against: Men:
  1. Craig Alexander        39        AUS
  2. Michael Raelert 32        DEU
  3. Richie Cunningham    39        AUS
  4. Bart Aernouts          28        BEL
  5. Tim ODonnell     31        USA
  6. Joe  Gambles          30        AUS
  7. Tim  Reed    27        AUS
  8. Paul Matthews         29        AUS
  9. Paul Ambrose           28        AUS
  10. Matty Reed    36        USA
  11. Terenzo Bozzone          27        NZL
  12. Andy Potts    35        USA
  13. Greg  Bennett            40        AUS
  14. Filip  Ospaly 36        CZE
  15.  Trevor Wurtele            33        CAN
  16. Bevan Docherty         35        NZL
  17. Paul Amey   39        GBR
  18. Jesse Thomas           32        USA
  19. Matt  Lieto    34        USA
  20. James Bowstead         25        NZL
  21. Faris Al-Sultan         34        DEU
  1. Melissa Hauschildt       29        AUS
  2. Kelly Williamson       34        USA
  3. Linsey Corbin 31        USA
  4. Jodie Swallow           31        GBR
  5. Leanda Cave    34        GBR
  6. Heather Jackson            28        USA
  7. Emma-Kate Lidbury            32        GBR
  8. Angela Naeth   30        CAN
  9. Magali Tisseyre           30        CAN
  10. Mirinda Carfrae 31        AUS
  11. Natascha Badmann         45        CHE
  12. Meredith Kessler 34        USA
  13. Amanda Stevens            35        USA
  14. Melanie  McQuaid        39        CAN
  15. Heather Wurtele            33        USA
Originally from: Ironman.com My predictions and reasons for the race are as follows: Men:
  1. Craig Alexander - until he loses he will always be the favorite in my book.
  2. Andy Potts - coming off a solid 70.3 season with a tremendous win at IMLP he will be one of the first out of the water and at this distance that could be hard to catch up to.
  3. Tim ODonnell - he seems to do very well in heat and humidity and the athletes can expect that this weekend in Las Vegas
  1. Heather Jackson - Tremendous showings at 70.3 California and Wildflower which are both hilly courses shows she can handle the terrain in Vegas.
  2. Kelly Williamson - Has had a great season and seems to be getting stronger as the year goes on.
  3. Angela Naeth - It seems every where you turn Angela is putting up strong numbers at this distance and is my 'wild-card' podium showing.

Who Are You Picking?

Published in Race
Monday, 10 September 2012 14:40

It Finally Happened!!!!

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

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

What Did You Do About It?

Published in Train
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 12:57

Embrace The Suck

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

Can you say the same thing?

Published in Train
Monday, 20 August 2012 16:19

A Chance To Compare

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

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

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

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

Published in Race
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 11:14

The Process

The Process is something that people in the sport of college football refer to when discussing Nick Saban and his success at LSU and Alabama.  I was reading on CNNSI.com yesterday, this article, about The Process and I kept going back to the sport of triathlon.  I recently posted about Recovery and the lessons I Learned From Ironman training and for whatever reason this article spoke to me in triathlon terms and not college football terms. These first few sentences from the article are what really grabbed me:

Instead of talking about wins and championships, Saban speaks about the Process. In its most basic form, the Process is Saban's term for concentrating on the steps to success rather than worrying about the end result. Instead of thinking about the scoreboard, think about dominating the man on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage. Instead of thinking about a conference title, think about finishing a ninth rep in the weight room. Instead of thinking about graduating, think about writing a great paper for Intro to Psych.

Read that again and then apply it to triathlon or to marathon or ultra-marathon running.  Better yet if you found this blog because you want to get started in these sports then apply it to that as there are a lot of lessons to be learned here, and almost immediately.

We can tend to lose focus and see the big picture before really honing in on all the little things in the sport of triathlon, especially Ironman.  The distance itself is magical.  140.6 miles.  That is a lot of ground to cover and the only engine you'll be using is your own strength and will power.  When people see the distance they tend to think about finishing, but what about if you focused on taking the sport apart.  Focus on the swim while you are in the water, then the bike when you are pedaling and finally the run.  Why think about the finish line when you are in that mass of swimmers?  Isn't that a huge waste of energy?

In one of the many conversations I have had with Jeff about triathlon (as you can see our training camp was more than just working out but also focusing on the process) he said something to me that has stuck like a pasta noodle to the wall when it is cooked just right (sorry I am a foodie too!)  Jeff said the following:

  • When I go for my swim training I am a swimmer.  I do flip turns and I concentrate on being the best swimmer I can be.
  • When I go out on my bike I am a cyclist.  I do the things that cyclists do like wear a cycling jersey with sleeves.  Small and inconsequential but in the end I am a cyclist and so I focus on that.
  • When I am running I am a runner.  I carry a hand-held.  I think about cadence and form.  Mid-foot to fore-foot striking.
That is the process right there.  During the swim he is not worrying about getting on his bike.  He is living in the moment and I think that is something that we can take away from Nick Saban's philosophy.  Why worry about the scoreboard, or in our sport the finishing time, but instead focus on the sport you are in.  Let's break that down even further.  Why worry about what your swim time is going to be but instead focus on your stroke and sighting?  Doesn't that make more sense.  If you are focused on your form and sighting then you will get to the swim exit when you do and probably in a faster time than you originally thought. Further down in the article you come across this paragraph:

Every few years the game becomes enamored with a system or scheme, and it rushes to declare the birth of the sport's Next Big Thing. In 1991, Houston quarterback David Klingler clutched a lit bundle of dynamite on the cover of SI, suggesting the run-and-shoot would explode the old assumptions. It never did. In 2000, Virginia Tech quarter-back Michael Vick graced SI's cover and was featured in a story about how the dual-threat quarterback would drive the towering drop-back passer into extinction. That never happened either. 

The difference between Nick Saban's system and the spread or the run-and-shoot is that Saban's on-field schemes involve no gimmickry. 

The first sentence is really the one that I kept reading.  The new system or scheme could be referring to the new way to train for triathlon.  By this I'm referring to CrossFit.  I have no doubt that CrossFit will get me to become more fit, but it sure as shit won't make me a better triathlete.  You know how I become a better triathlete?  By riding my bike more, by running more and by swimming more.  Hitting a big tire with a sledge-hammer will make me a better what?  Tire hitter with a sledge-hammer but it won't make me a better triathlete.  Instead of looking for the short-cut to the result do the work.  Get on the bike for those 4-6 hour rides and embrace them.  Get the bike on the trainer and embrace the suck because it will pay off when you are at Mile 90 and mentally you are fatigued.  You will have something to fall back on because you did it already.

The article then goes on to discuss how Nick Saban has a grading system for each position.  How every player is graded and must fall within a certain guideline to even be considered as a recruit.  Here is the paragraph I am referring to:

While Saban has always surrounded himself with coaches whose X's and O's acumen allows them to make the right calls on game day -- just look at his budding coaching tree -- the true success of his system hinges on the selection of players and the way they are trained once they arrive on campus. That is why Saban's system can endure when schemes can't, and it is also why several programs have made big bets that it can be duplicated.

How does this pertain to triathlon?  He has a standard into which everything must fit.  The same is true for equipment as well as for selecting a training plan and/or coach.  If the equipment doesn't fit you could be facing injury which will derail your dreams.  If your coach is not right for you then you could be stalling your success before you even get to the finish line.  Make sure the bike is fit to you and not the other way around.  Test out the goggles in actual water and return them if they don't work.  Make sure you have your running shoes fitted properly at a running store and not at the nearest Dick's where the 17-year-old kid could give two rat's tails about how your feet will feel around Mile 22 of the marathon.  Take the time to invest in your equipment because this is an investment in yourself. I have seen lots of friends hire coach's and ultimately break up with them because the fit just wasn't there.  Just like equipment make sure that this investment is worth it for you.  Instead of just hiring a coach because somebody recommended them to you, do some research.  What are the coach's qualifications and I'm not just talking about being certified.  Does the coach have real world experience or is everything from a book?  Nothing wrong with that if that is what you want but regardless of what you choose make sure the fit is correct. These next two paragraphs speak volumes as to what it takes to complete an Ironman or any triathlon for that matter:

"There was a belief there that who you are mattered in terms of how successful you were going to be or how you played." Having tutors and an academic adviser made staying eligible easier for the players, and it made for fewer academic headaches for James. By the time Saban took over at LSU, many major athletic programs had an academic-assistance unit -- a group of advisers, counselors and tutors that support athletes -- but he considered LSU's inadequate. 

Saban took note of the sign Belichick hung in the Browns' complex. It said do your job. Saban loved it because Belichick clearly defined the expectations for every employee in the organization.

Though it may come as a shock to many, Saban is more comfortable than most of his colleagues in admitting what he doesn't know.

Where Nick Saban discusses that he has tutors and academic advisors I went to family and friends.  People there to support me throughout the journey.  This is an individual sport in terms of race day but if you think you can go at this alone you are sadly mistaken.  When I crossed the finish line the first person I thought of was Karen.  How she sacrificed for me to reach my potential and accomplish my dreams.  Today when we discuss the 2013 race calendar it is with her blessing and knowledge that I am going to be able to train and accomplish more at this sport that I love because of her.

The sign in the Browns' complex can be equated to your training.  Do your job.  Period.  Don't post on Facebook and Twitter how you HAVE to do this or that.  Just f'n do it.  Get out of bed when the alarm goes off and get that workout in.  You are not doing it for the here and now but you are building a machine.  A machine that will carry you through 140.6 miles and whether it takes 10 hours or 17 hours you still need to do it.  Stop wasting time saying how you wish you were still in bed because that is an option.  Get back in bed, but remember there is somebody out there getting faster and stronger than you.  Do Your Job.

When you don't know something about a piece of equipment or why you are doing a certain training block.....ASK questions.  This is a sport that will always teach you.  Whether it be the lesson of bonking or the lesson of crashing your bike or even how to fuel properly this sport is always teaching us, but you have to be open to learning those lessons.  If for one second you think you know it all then you have just been passed by many because they are exploring.  They are investigating and they are trying, sometimes failing but ultimately will succeed because of this.

Thank you for reading!

Published in Train
[caption id="attachment_6349" align="alignright" width="267"]experience_lessons_ironman_triathlon_endurancesport Source: New Media And Marketing[/caption] Ironman training has taught me a lot, and I am very happy with my decision to do two Ironman races in the same calendar year because of the lessons I have learned.  I am very inquisitive by nature and am always asking questions.  I am also a planner and like to know everything I am doing before I start doing it so that it limits the chance of surprise.  Lastly, I am a person with the ability to forget very quickly. With this combination of traits training for Ironman Texas and Ironman Arizona one right after the other has provided me the opportunity to understand what it takes to train for and race an Ironman, even two within months of each other.  We all see the pros and how they are able to train for 8 hours per day and take 2 hour naps and have their food cooked for them (although I'm not sure that Pro Triathletes have this going for them yet) but for us we have to figure it all out and in a limited amount of time. You see we have families, jobs, friends, and other responsibilities outside of the triathlon world. We will make mistakes during our training and hopefully we are keeping careful tabs on what we are doing so that we can avoid that mistake the next time we tie the laces on our running shoes, or buckle our chin straps on our bike helmet (you are wearing your helmet at ALL TIMES on the bike correct?)  The biggest mistake we make as age group triathletes is to ignore our bodies queues for rest, for food, for proper recovery.  We also ignore our training plans at times.  We have all been there when the plan calls for an 'EASY' 5 mile run and you get going and it feels great so you push it.  Big mistake because while you had a tremendous 5 mile run you have just set yourself up for a potential downfall at the next day's training session. When I started training with Coach C I would look at the schedule and laugh at some of the paces she wanted me to run.  It was practically walking, but today when I see an EZ run and I know it is a 10:00/mi pace I smile wide and love it.  It is those days that allow me to add volume to my training and that is the key to getting stronger and faster.  Volume.  When I was down in Houston last weekend with Jeff during our Triathlon Training camp we talked constantly about the keys to getting faster and we always came back to volume.  It was the ability to change the mindset from doing interval work all the time and running every run at 8:00/mi that has allowed us to get faster.  Jeff proved that by qualifying for Boston in his first attempt at the marathon distance this past February.  For me the proof was in the pudding when I ran a 4:09 marathon at then end of Ironman Texas.  My first stand alone marathon was a 4:29 back in 2009. When I see people posting on Twitter and Facebook about their workouts and it is repeatedly at top speed I wonder how long before they realize that doing that is going to cost them in the long run.  Experience is key in endurance sport, but so is asking questions of those experienced people.  I always email Kevin, Jeff, Jon and Matt about certain training techniques or equipment.  Why is something better than the other?  I have the benefit of being one year behind them (although I am older than all of them so you can teach an old dog new tricks) and I get to learn from them and their successes and failures. This past weekend I was scheduled to ride for 4 hours and 30 minutes.  I was going to start at 12 pm because of Karen's triathlon (race report coming soon) and so I knew that it was going to be extremely hot and that the key would be hydration.  I also got nervous that I would not have enough calories so I ate a lot prior to going out on the ride.  Upon leaving I told Karen that if it took me 4 hour and 15 minutes to do the loop then so be it.  If I rode between 16 mph and 17 mph then so be it.  This was experience taking over and knowing that getting the 72 miles on my legs was more important than doing those miles in 4 hours flat. Unfortunately I did not stick to my normal plan of eating and within 5 minutes of being on the bike I puked.  I knew that it was not from the heat but my concern was how long could this last and how would it affect me.  I kept pedaling and kept throwing up.  It wasn't liquid at all but the food I ate prior to leaving the house.  I could tell that my stomach was bloated and I wasn't dehydrated so I kept on going.  I also kept up with my hydration and nutrition plan of drinking every 15 minutes and a HoneyStinger every two hours.  This was working even though I did keep on puking until about 3 hours and 30 minutes into the ride.  It was at that point I stopped at a gas station (another thing I would not have done prior to this training cycle) and refilled my bottles with 2 liters of water.  I finished the ride about 45 minutes later and did my 30 minutes run and all throughout the run I felt great.  No stomach issues and no  dehydration as I managed to pee on the bike twice and once on the run. The lesson here is that I knew my body.  I knew what it could take and what it couldn't.  I knew that I would have to slow down and just pace myself and not try to set a PR in a training ride, which by the way means nothing even if you do.  The next morning I woke up and went for a 1.5 hour run and throughout the run I felt great but I knew I only wanted to run at an aerobic pace or what would be considered slow for me.  I wound up running a shade over 10 miles in the 1.5 hours and felt great the entire time.  Went to the pool later that morning and swam 3400y and then home for much-needed rest and recovery.  Recovery is not just putting your feet up, but also eating right and timing that eating.  It is also about getting the proper amount of sleep, of which I got plenty of. If you are just getting started in this sport or training for your first Ironman please be sure to ask questions of those that have done one.  Get the lay of the land and what is needed and not needed.  Everybody will have differing opinions on things but the more you ask the more you will be able to make a decision for yourself.  Listen to your body and even if that schedule calls for a swim but you can't just get your head of the pillow.....don't hit snooze reset the alarm and skip the swim at that time.  Maybe later in the day you will feel better and can get it in then. The lesson is to understand your body and listen to it.  I learned the hard way after training for the Las Vegas Marathon that every run cannot be done at projected race pace and still hope to race even better that day. Read this excerpt from this article in Inside Triathlon:  Even though the majority of hard training is below race intensity, it conditions the body, when rested, to sustain super-threshold intensity on race day because the body is more able to clear lactate. When you look at what the best endurance athletes have done historically, and I don’t care if you go back 50 or 100 years, you see a very high fraction of training done at slow and steady efforts, and they have always done more sub-threshold than super-threshold training. Keep this in mind the next time your training calls for an easy run and you want to push the effort.

What Lessons Have You Learned From Your Training For Endurance Sports?

Published in Train
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