Tuesday, June 24, 2014
I love this time of year. The days are long, the weather is finally warm, and there are tons of races to choose from. While it's a great time of year to get outside and participate in as much as possible, some caution is necessary. As a multisport athlete and coach, I see many people over due things. I stress proper physiological training with a balanced nutrition plan. This is a good time of year to have your blood work checked to make sure everything is in balance. I am a huge believer in working with professionals at every level. I continue to work with a coach myself and I have a professional nutritionist. A key supplement that I do incorporate into my daily routine this time of year is from Standard Process. It's called Vitanox. It has four main benefits that fit in really well with my needs: • provide strong antioxidant activity • support healthy circulation and vascular integrity • maintain healthy connective tissue • support and maintain cellular health Enjoy the journey!
Monday, June 23, 2014
I like to use the month of June to race as much as possible. So 70.3 Syracuse was my 3rd race in three weeks (70.3 Eagleman and Pat Griskus Olympic were the first 2). I was feeling some pretty good fatigue during the week, but I was hoping a couple of light days just prior to the race would do the trick to get my form back on track. I traveled up to the race with my friend, Chris Swift. We had a great weekend handing out Timex swag and talking to other athletes about all the multisport options that Timex watches offer. Race morning came with ideal racing conditions. It was in the mid 60's with just a slight wind. The temperature did not get above 80 degrees until later in the afternoon. My only concern was the fact that my swim wave was the 17th to start (3rd from last). I knew I would need to be extra careful navigating through 2,000+ athletes throughout the day. However, I was very excited to finally use my BlueSeventy Helix! Once my swim wave was released, I just focused on navigating the crowded course in the safest way possible. I had a relatively uneventful swim except for one of the guys in my wave that decided that he was going to spend the first 600 meters swimming back and forth in front of me. One minute he was to my left, then he came right across me heading to my right. I literally stopped in place as I was so frustrated. Finally I just decided to push as close to the buoys as possible. It was thicker with athletes there, but I was able to lose my off-course competitor. I came out of the water in 27:34 (53rd OA/3rd AG). My goal for the bike segment was to build my effort. The first 11 miles are pretty hilly and I wanted to make sure that I settled into my proper race effort. It's always very easy to spike the effort to high at the beginning of the bike as the adrenaline is flowing and the legs are fresh. My second goal for the bike was to take more electrolytes than I had at 70.3 Eagleman. So I really paid attention to my intake throughout the entire bike. The combination of the weather, a slight tailwind on the 2nd half of the bike, and patience netted me a 5 minute improvement on the previous year's bike split. I came into T2 in 2:18:06 and had moved into 15th place overall and 1st in my age group. The run course is a 2 loop out and back format. I had a similar run strategy, so I just focused on trying to get my cadence up and settle into my rhythm. I had to ditch my strategy as I was returning from the first turnaround (about mile 3.5). I was shocked to see Dave Slavinsky (2x ITU Duathlon World Champion) gliding up the hill towards me only 2:42 back. Dave is an exceptional runner. I knew that I would need to run really well to hold him off. I had made one big mistake at the beginning of my run. I had not taken any electrolyte tabs and my left quad started to seize up. I immediately bit into a salt tab and had the same wonderful experience that I enjoyed during 70.3 Eagleman, ugh. It did work again, fortunately. I knew that I would need to be very attentive to any future cramps but I needed to run as fast as I could. My first turnaround split had been at 6:49 pace uphill. I was able to drop my pace down to 5:43 pace on the return to the run start. When I saw Dave again, my spread was 2:29. The 2nd half of the run is always were it can all fall apart, so I just tried to stay within myself and keep my form together. I ran the out section at 6:17 pace this time. However, when I saw Dave my spread was down to 2:15. I had 5k left to run. I made a deal with myself that if he was going to catch me, he would have to run a sub 5 minute mile in order to do it. I ran the last section at 5:47 pace and crossed the finish line with a 1:20:41 run split. I had managed to hold Dave off and cut 5 minutes off of my previous year's run time. Final Results: 4:09:27/1st Amateur/10th Overall
Sunday, June 15, 2014
I am definitely a numbers person. I'm a big believer that heart rate and power data can make a big difference in how athletes execute their race plans. I love to get as much data as I can during a race and analyze that data afterwards. However, sometimes it's just nice to race. I headed down to Maryland to participate in the 70.3 Eagleman with my two friends: Chris and Jay Swift in a pretty nice ride: After hanging in these great digs, it was time to start some racing. There was an announcement race morning that the swim would be non-wetsuit. I was pretty surprised by the announcement. The spring weather had been so chilly that I had never thought that it could be a non-wetsuit swim. I had not even packed my Blue Seventy skin suit(rookie mistake). While I was disappointed that I would not be able to race in my Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit: , I knew my Castelli Trisuit would perform. Once our swim wave got started, I settled in quickly and found some feet to follow until the first turn buoy. It got really crowded around the buoy and I lost my escort at this point. So I navigated the remainder of the swim solo. I came out of the water at 29:55, which put me in 4th place in my age group. I was in and out of transition quickly as I had a method to my chaotic setup: My new Trek Speed Concept 9.9 is so much fun to ride and extremely comfortable. I quickly dialed in to my heart rate and power numbers. As the ride progressed, I had to keep reminding myself to stay in the moment. My thoughts usually wander during the bike segment and I tend to flake out a bit. Coach Paul Regensberg had called for a steady effort on the bike, without any major efforts, so my legs would not be smashed for the second half of the run. I kept this mantra throughout the bike and came off in: 2:13:01. I had moved up into 2nd place in my age group. However, I did not know this at the time. I came out onto the run and saw my friend Chris Swift: I asked him how I looked. He replied: "great". I mumbled, that's not what I'm asking, but it was to late. I was off onto the run course. My goal was to settle into the run and build my effort. I didn't want to push hard to soon. My legs were also feeling a bit crampy. I tried to focus on my cadence and rhythm, but my left quad seized up on me at mile 2. I quickly bit into one of my salt sticks and covered my tongue in the fantastic tasting powder, ugh. My quad released, but I shortened my stride to be safe. As I continued on down the road, the cramping came on two more times. I repeated the same pleasant experience with similar results. I always love seeing the older age groups out on the run course. They love the competition and always give me updates on my age group. As I ran past a 60yr old male at mile 3, he yelled that there was one in front of me and he was 41. I had no idea how far up the road he was, but at least I knew where I stood. I ran by my teammate Pierre-Marc Doyon at about mile 5 and he told me that the guy I was looking for was up ahead in orange. He seemed to have a decent gap, so I just tried to run steady. My cramps had subsided at this point, so I was looking forward to just racing. I hit the split on my Timex Run Trainer 2.0 as I saw him passing and then again at the turnaround. He had about 36 seconds on me. On the return trip back to the finish line, I could see the man in orange slowing at each aid station to get fluids. I felt good and just kept the same pace. I figured I was pulling about 10 seconds/aid station back on him. I saw my teammate Dave Harju running in the opposite direction at the 9.5 mile mark. He yelled that I was 25 meters back. It took me another .5 mile to close that gap. As I made the pass, we had a brief discussion about the number of Kona slots in our age group (there were 2 as we had 401 athletes in our division). I felt pretty good into the finish. I had managed to run 6 minute pace on the 2nd half of the run and I finished with a run time of: 1:20:03. Final Results: 4:05:43 (Course PB) 1st Overall Amateur/ 13 Overall - Heading back to Kona! Love racing with my teammates!
Sunday, April 20, 2014
I was really looking forward to opening up my 2014 racing season down in Puerto Rico. My off-season strength and training blocks had gone very well and I was eager to get outside and race. My one concern was the lack of outdoor training I had accumulated since racing Kona back in October. Due to our brutal winter in the northeast, I came into the race with one outdoor bike ride and four outdoor runs. So I was looking forward to some warm conditions and testing my indoor fitness gains. I was fortunate to have my support crew with me. Race morning started out very smooth with some beautiful conditions: 78 degrees and partly sunny Swim: 28:52 I made sure to get in a good warm up with my Blue Seventy skin suit: http://www.blueseventy.com/products/pz3tx. I was definitely ready to go by the time my wave went off. I was able to catch some feet to the first turn buoy, which helped set my tempo for the rest of the swim. I was happy to come out of the water with the 37th overall and 4th age group time. After a 1/3 mile run to T1 I was eager to test out my new Trek Speed Concept: Bike: 2:15:07 My coach, Paul Regensberg, had prescribed a gradual build in effort for the bike and run sections since this was the first race of the year. So my goal was to stay in the moment and just flow below my normal race pace. The combination of the slightly lower effort and my nutrition game plan allowed me to come off the bike feeling very fresh. I was able to move up to 9th overall and 1st in my age group. Run: 1:24:35 I felt fantastic heading out onto the run section. However, my coach's advise kept me focused on a smooth turnover. I managed to stay relatively cool and keep my internal temps low with the help of my Skins compression arm sleeves. . The only problem I encountered on the run was a bit of cramping that started 2.5 miles into the run. In hindsight, I had gone into the run a bit low on my sodium intake. So I shortened my stride and used my 4 salt tabs strategically. I was able to keep the cramping at bay and I crossed the finish line feeling the freshest I've ever felt after 70.3 miles of racing. Finish: 4:13:17/ 6th Overall/ 2nd Amateur
Monday, March 24, 2014
This is the time of year that I start to ramp up my volume on the bike and overall training. As a result of this increase, I start to deplete my electrolyte levels and I will get cramps in my legs during swims and sometimes at night when I'm sleeping. This can get pretty painful and frustrating. Last year I started to supplement with Standard Process Magnesium Lactate(http://www.standardprocess.com/Products/Standard-Process/Magnesium-Lactate). I found that this really helped to alleviate my cramping issues. I still need to use salt sticks while I'm doing longer duration workouts. I have found that if I stay diligent on the magnesium and sodium intake that I can manage my cramping problems.
Thursday, February 13, 2014
I wanted to write a quick recap of my 2014 Detoxification experience. As I stated in a earlier post, this was my fourth year participating in a healthy detox. Each year I have learned new things. This year I was able to manage my caloric needs much better. My energy levels stayed very high throughout the entire 21 days and I did not experience any caffeine withdrawal headaches at all. I did have the usual heart rate spike while the organs were detoxed, but my exercise heart rate levels quickly stabilized and even surpassed previous efficiency levels. I lost 10.2lbs and my body fat dropped 4.4% from start to finish. I'm now down at my race weight and my energy levels continue to stay very high. I was able to really dial in on my blood sugar levels this year. I now have better knowledge how to keep these levels more constant throughout the day. This was a very useful experience to kick off my year.
Friday, February 7, 2014
I love numbers and I love to break things down and analyze them. Each triathlon season I try to tackle a new variable and learn as much as I can as an athlete and coach. Over the past 14 triathlon seasons I've completed several VO2 max tests, sweat loss tests, threshold tests, wind tunnel testing, running stride analysis, and lactate tests. This season I decided I wanted to dial in on my metabolic efficiency. I have been very fortunate to have worked with the Korey Stringer Institute in the past. I've completed several of the above tests out at the IM World Championships and at the Timex Camp in the NY Giant's Performance Center under their supervision. Each time I have worked with the professionals from KSI, I have been very impressed with their attention to detail and their thirst for knowledge. It's a very friendly staff to work with. That can be important when you are being poked, prodded and hooked up to machines. Chris Thomas_1I have been very interested in learning about my metabolic efficiency ever since I returned to the Ironman distance in 2010. I have participated in over thirty five 70.3 distance races and I really have the nutrition aspect down for that distance and for shorter races. However, I have competed in the Ironman World Championship race seven times and I am still trying to figure out the best nutrition game plan for that combination of heat, wind, and humidity. Every athlete is unique. I see this all the time as a coach. Some younger athletes have lower heart rate thresholds than athletes ten plus years older even though in theory the younger athlete should have a higher threshold. There are athletes that can consume whatever they want during a race and their GI systems are totally fine throughout. While there are other athletes that have very sensitive guts. I, personally, fall into the later category. When I race, I triangulate three factors: heart rate, power, and perceived effort. I know my zones and I test frequently to make sure things are realistic and accurate. However, I have never identified my carb to fat burn ratios. My goal was to learn about several factors during the testing process. The first factor I wanted to determine was the intensity level that was the most efficient for training. The second factor I wanted to learn was how many carbs do I burn while at ironman effort and does my fat burn rate change as the intensity rises. We built my effort throughout the test until my carb to fat burn rates crossed over. At this crossover point, I was in between my 70.3 and olympic distance effort levels and my combined burn rate was up at twenty calories per minute. I was definitely ready to get off the bike at that point in the test as I had not been allowed to eat anything in over 6.5 hours. While I did have a few hunger pains by the end, I had another great experience testing with the KSI team and I have learned many things that I look forward to using in 2014.