Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kona 2011

I was much more at ease going into this year’s race with one exception (explained below). My body was in much better shape this year thanks to the Trigger Point Massage products and a very talented massage therapist, Sue Fegelman. Leading into the 2010 race, I had experienced annoying plantar fasciitis. However, by using the calf roller from Trigger Point and getting a weekly sports massage from Sue, this year I was able to enter the race injury free. My sleep was much better this year as well. My weight was much more comfortable this year. In 2010 I overreached a bit with my weight and I went into the race a little too lean for me. I had a solid final swim prep. I was swimming at my personal best times heading into the race. My bike build was very focused towards Kona this year. I felt very confident about my bike fitness. My run endurance was at my personal best level. Due to these factors, I felt very good heading down to the pier on race morning.
Swim: 1:00:17

The one exception to my pre-race comfort was my anxiety for the swim start. The swim start in Kona cannot be explained properly unless you have experienced it in person. It is truly one of the most chaotic moments in sports. If you want to swim well there, you have to line up in front. However, by lining up in front, you are guaranteed to get thoroughly throttled during the first 200-400 meters unless you can swim sub 2 minutes for the first 200(I can’t).
I lined up towards the inside of the front row (I’m a glutton for punishment). When the cannon went off, I went out as fast as I could, but I kept my head above water as there were a few feet in front of me and they were kicking vigorously. I did not feel like getting one in the face. Once I saw the water in front of me calm down a bit, I stuck my face in and got into a decent rhythm. This year’s start was actually better than I had feared. Then the remainder of the swim was rather enjoyable. In 2010 I had really pushed the 1st half of the swim. That extra effort had caused a decent amount of fatigue on the 2nd half of the swim. This year I felt extremely comfortable the entire time, maybe too comfortable. I exited the water in a little over 1 hour.

It was not exactly the time I was looking for, but it was not horrible either. I was really looking forward to pushing the bike harder than I had before.
Bike: 4:51:52
[caption id="attachment_7522" align="alignleft" width="199" caption="The start of a long day"][/caption]
I planned on being more aggressive on the bike this year. I had my Orbea Ordu dialed in for the day thanks to Doug Berner (Timex Multisport Team: Technical Director/Chief Mechanic/Keeper of the Truck/Rock Star). In addition, I had attended the Lifesport Wind tunnel camp in May down in Charlotte, NC. The camp really helped set up my position so that I was very comfortable and aero (we had picked up 24 watts from the position and helmet adjustment).
[caption id="attachment_7523" align="alignleft" width="199" caption="Trying to stay aero"][/caption]
The conditions were very good at the beginning of the day. So I wanted to take advantage and get up to Hawi (59 mile turnaround point) as fast as I could without redlining. In hindsight I actually road this section with the exact same average heart rate as I had the year before. However, I was able to average more power (6 normalized watts higher) and I ended up 10 minutes faster than 2010 for that section. My main focus on the bike was to stay on top of my nutrition, electrolytes, and keep as cool as possible. I managed to do all three better than I had before throughout the race. I grabbed 2 water bottles at every aid station. I dumped one over my entire body and I used the other for my fluids.
The winds were kind to us on the day. However, we did pick up a nice typical headwind heading up to Hawi. We also got a decent headwind once we got back on the Queen K heading back into town. While the winds did pick up as the day went along, they were nothing out of the ordinary for this race. My 2nd half of the bike was all about staying as consistent as I could. I did drop off a bit with my power, but my heart rate was staying very close to my 1st half average. I went through some lows over the last 30 miles, but I was fortunate to avoid the GI issues and cramping that I had experienced every other time I had raced in Kona. I got off the bike feeling the best I have ever felt at this race. Now, that is a relative statement. I was still fatigued and HOT.
Run: 3:09:37
I quickly moved through transition. I grabbed my Timex Global trainer, Lifesport hat, Nathan hydration belt, Native sunglasses, and K Swiss Kwicky Blade Light running shoes.
[caption id="attachment_7525" align="alignleft" width="199" caption="syncing my Timex Global Trainer"][/caption]
I headed out trying to focus on my form and cadence. The first thing that I noticed was I did not have the severe lower back pain I have had in the past. I was moving along at a decent pace while I was trying to do all of my checks and balances. I hit the first mile @ 6:30. I was really hot at this point and I was really looking forward to the 1st aid station. I felt that I needed a change to my nutrition. So once I got to the aid station I stopped, walked and grabbed water, ice, cola, ice, and water. Yes I grabbed it all. I put the ice in my hat, shirt, shorts, and the palm of my hand. This fueling/cooling strategy worked, at least temporarily. I picked up my pace and hit the 2nd mile mark in 6:46. However, I was getting really hot again. So I repeated my aid station strategy again. In fact, I ended up doing this for the first 24 aid stations.
[caption id="attachment_7527" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="walking the aid station"][/caption]
I had not pre-planned this at all. It would be easy for me to say that I could have run faster if I had not done this. However, I truly believe I would have blown up if I had tried to run through the early aid stations. I was having a very hard time cooling down my core temperature. The aid stations served as a mini-respite from the sun and humidity. I came out of every aid station feeling better then I went in.
During any marathon one will experience some extreme highs and some very deep lows. While I was the hottest during the first 10 miles along Alii Drive, I experienced my lowest points once I got up onto the Queen K highway. At mile 11 I went into a LOW point. Fortunately my friend Tim Diseppio was up on the Queen K and he gave my some great pointers and encouragement. I was really happy that I had my Timex Global trainer on at this point. I focused on my cadence. My only goal for mile 11 was to run @ 85 cadence or higher.
[caption id="attachment_7526" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="As I got more tired, the hat came down further over my face"][/caption]
This helped me to get through the low patch and by mile 13 I started to feel better. I rolled along until I got to the Natural Energy Lab. At this point, I started to feel some real mental fatigue. I hit my 2nd real low point coming out of the Energy Lab. It took everything I had to keep moving forward up the slight elevation. I was determined to only walk at the aid stations.
[caption id="attachment_7528" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="coming out of the energy lab"][/caption]
Once I got back up onto the Queen K, I saw my coach. He gave me some form cues and emphasized that it was only 10k back into the finish. Only 10k can be good or bad depending on how one is feeling. I was not feeling great at this point, so I went back to focusing on my cadence. Fortunately, I was not breaking down muscularly yet. In 2010, my quads were screaming at mile 16 of the run. This year they did not start to ache until mile 23sh. I made it to the top of Palani, about 1.2 miles from the finish. I saw my coach again and he told me that there were a few guys in front of me in my age group. I had an outside chance of a podium if I could dig really deep into the finish. Well, I gave it all I had. It was not much, but I definitely left it out there. I ended up crossing the finish line in 9:07:08. It was a PR for me. I felt that I gave everything I had on the day.
[caption id="attachment_7529" align="alignleft" width="199" caption="Finished!"][/caption]

Final Results: 8th M35-39 / 28th Amateur / 60th Overall
The highlight of any significant race for me is having my Timex teammates racing along with me. I got an extra highlight this year as I was able to race with my friend and teammate Tim Hola towards the end of the bike and along Alii Drive. While I was not exactly in the most talkative mood at the time, it was a huge lift to be out there with my teammate.
The strange thing about this sport is that one can always do something better. I still feel that I have a better day in me at this event. I learned more at this race that I can work on going forward. So the 2012 campaign will begin soon, ugh.

70.3 World Championships: Vegas

The new race venue for the 70.3 World Championships definitely lived up to the hype. The course just outside of Las Vegas offered heat, wind, and plenty of hills. This is a very fair course.
I was very excited to go out and race the new venue. Another bonus was having the opportunity to race with several of my Timex Multi-sport teammates. I always find it a huge lift to race with my teammates and have the support of our team management as well.

Swim: 30:12 Ouch!
I was in the 10th swim wave of the morning. The race organizers had all the athletes enter the water 10 minutes prior to their wave starts. While the water was 80 degrees, I still felt a bit chilled when I jumped into the water. I tried to warm up. I’ve learned that it is always better to do a few race start simulations prior to the actual start to get the body ready for the initial surge and hypoxic feelings. However, I did not do a good job of getting my intensity up prior to starting the race.
I lined up in the middle of my wave and focused on holding a good position to start the race. The horn went off to start our wave and I got boxed in right away. Then I got hit in the head and swallowed a nice mouthful of water. This is part of racing, but it affected me a bit more this time. I had a moment of high anxiety and thought about pulling off to the side. Fortunately I was able to get the anxiety under control quickly and I was on my way. The remainder of the swim I just focused on keeping a decent body posture (a little more important with the non-wetsuit swim) and staying consistent. I exited the water feeling good and ready to hit the bike.

Bike: 2:26:00
My goal for the bike was to build into the first 10 miles and then ride a little higher effort than normal. The bike course was set up to be much more challenging than the flat roads of Clearwater, FL. and it lived up to the hype. I felt like we were either climbing or descending the entire day. The course did not offer any real opportunities to settle in. I actually really enjoyed the challenge of the terrain. The landscape surrounding the course was very picturesque. My nutrition and salt intake for the bike worked well for the most part. I did not experience any cramping throughout. I felt very controlled for the first 35 miles. In hindsight I think I got a little behind on calories in the middle of the bike as I did suffer a bit of a lull during the last 10 miles. My heart rate dipped into low Z2 during this time. I tried to push a bit harder to get my heart rate back into Z3, but I just could not make it happen. I gave what I had on the day and I was not the only one losing steam at the end of the bike.

Run: 1:21:42
The run course is set up as a 3 loop course. The start is flat for the first .5 mile then descends for 1 mile. A 2 mile climb is next, then another 1 mile descent.
I sported my K-Swiss Konas with American flag colors. I love these shoes.
My legs did feel a little heavy heading out of T2. Fortunately the terrain helped to get my cadence up and settle into a decent rhythm. My heart rate was still running lower than usual. I ended up running the first 7 miles in Z2 and finally reached Z3 on the 2nd half of the run. I really enjoyed the profile of the run course. I felt that the 2 mile climb was all about keeping steady and strong, while the descent allowed for recovery and cadence. I was able to run without cramps and my energy levels stayed high. At the 10 mile mark I started taking cola for a little extra push for the last 5k of the run. I felt confident that it would not cause me GI distress that late in the race. I finished up as strong as I could. I will definitely try to participate in this race going forward. The logistics prior to the race were a bit messy, but the race itself was worthy of a championship course.
Final Results: 4:21:36 2nd M35-39 / 7th Amateur / 38th Overall
[caption id="attachment_7268" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Timex representing well in the 35-39 Age Group - Tim Hola and I on Stage"][/caption]

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pat Griskus Olympic Northeast Championship

The forecast was for a beautiful day, but as I drove up to the race the fog cover was severe. The fog seemed to clear while we were doing our swim warm-up. However, by the time we were ready to start the fog had dropped back down to the water’s surface. The decision was made to shorten the swim to under a .5 mile in order to keep things safe. Normally, I would be totally fine with this decision. However, I had tweaked my left calf while racing a sprint distance event the week before. I was actually looking forward to using the swim to loosen up a bit more and hopefully build up a decent spread to the stronger runners.
I tried to go out a bit faster, but the fog cover made it tricky to site. A friend of mine who was in the 2nd wave commented that it was a comical site watching our wave start. We were swimming straight out, then we spotted the first turn buoy and had to break hard to the right. It was similar to watching a herd of cattle. Oh well, the shortened distance made it a quick experience.
My main focus was to get out quick and be as consistent as possible. I knew that I needed to ride well so I could ease up on the run. My most important race was the following weekend out in Texas and I did not want to jeopardize that race by significantly injuring my calf. I was able to get up to the lead pace car by mile 6sh. Sometimes this can be an advantage and sometimes... well not so much. I was following the police car that had the lights flashing. A truck had pulled out in front of us from a side road. The driver of the truck, apparently, got a little confused and thought the lights were meant to slow them down. Fortunately the situation was resolved quickly as the police car sped up and forced the truck to get moving. I pushed the remainder of the bike as hard as I could without going into the red zone. I was able to finish the bike two minutes faster then the previous year.
I headed out onto the run in my K-Swiss Kona’s and my Sugoi Timex calf compression socks. I wanted to use the compression socks to keep my calves warm and prevent them from bouncing around to much. My calf was still very tender to the touch. I focused on shorter strides with good cadence. This approach helped to limit the impact on the downhill section at the beginning of the run. I was able to find a comfortable pace quickly. The run is an out and back two loop course. I knew I would be able to determine if I needed to push the pace after the turnaround. I hit the turnaround and realized that I could keep a consistent pace. I came in with a two minute slower run split than the previous year, but it was enough to hold on for the overall spot.

70.3 Rhode Island: Road Rash

The saying is: “If you ride a bike, it’s not a question of if, but when you will crash”. This was not my first crash and I’m sure it will not be my last crash. I have raced 70.3 Providence each year that is has been staged (4). I really enjoy competing in this race. It is pretty close to home at two hours driving distance without any traffic. The bike course is a fair, rolling course and the run is challenging. Coach Paul had instructed to treat this as a training race with a run emphasis. The best aspect of this race is that I was able to drive the Timex Ford Edge up to the race venue. This vehicle is SWEET!
Swim: 29:32
This year the swim was moved to a local lake that was closer to downtown Providence. The water temps registered at 84 degrees Fahrenheit, which meant that it would not be a wetsuit legal swim. This was not a big deal as I had my Orca skin suit ready to roll. The swim went really smooth. I had a good warm-up that enabled me to go out a bit faster to start the race without going hypoxic. Unfortunately I did lose contact with two guys at the start of the swim, but I was able to find my own pace while swimming solo throughout. My main focus was to maintain good posture with a decent catch. I was able to roll into T1 without any major incidents.
Bike: 2:25:36
I was really looking forward to the bike. I had visited the Lifesport Coaching wind tunnel camp at the beginning of May. My new Orbea Ordu, with Shimano DI2 and SRM power meter, had been lost in transit during the trip home. I had given up all hope of seeing my new ride again. However, on Thursday prior to the race (exactly 2 months after I lost it), I received an e-mail that Fedex had found my bike! They expedited it to me by Friday morning. I quickly built it back up and had it ready to roll for the race. This was only my second time riding the bike, but I knew it was fit properly. I headed out of T1, hit a bump and lost my water bottle(I ended up losing 3 during the entire ride). Oh well, I still had my calories and salt tabs. I knew I could grab a water bottle at the first aid station. I dialed in my effort by triangulating my perceived effort with my heart rate and power data. The Timex Global Trainer is a tremendous tool for tracking all the vital stats. I was rolling along well as I came into a 90 degree right corner at about mile 23. The volunteer manning the corner was yelling to slow down as we entered the corner. I clenched both my front and rear brakes aggressively. Then things started to move in slow motion as I was airborne. My rear wheel was sideways and I was about to hit the deck, hard. I landed on my left side with a few bounces and slid along for a little bit on my back. I quickly got up and tried to figure out what had happened. Fortunately the volunteer ran over and told me to move to the side of the road so I didn’t get run over. He said that my rear wheel had popped out(apparently the skewer had come lose: not really sure how as I try to keep it really tight). I looked down to see if there was any visual damage to my bike. It looked fine with the exception of the dropped chain, wheel off, and DI2 unplugged. I asked the volunteer if my crash had caused any deep cuts to my side or back. He said that it appeared to be only road rash, whew.. I quickly put my wheel back in, got the chain on, and plugged the shifter cable back into the cassette. I eased back onto the bike course as I wanted to make sure that the injuries were not to severe. I was happy to get back into the aero bars without to much discomfort. On the remainder of the bike section I just tried to dial the effort back up while monitoring my electrolyte and caloric intake.
Run: 1:21:48
This was meant to be the focus of the race. However with my crash, I was not 100% sure. I tried to build into the run. I started to feel pretty good at the 1 mile marker. I was able to find my rhythm and maintain a decent pace until the 4th mile where I started to cramp. Fortunately I had my salt stick tabs with me. I quickly bit into one and put it under my tongue. The cramp, grasping my inside quad, slowly faded. The rest of the run went well until mile 11 when I started to feel the cumulative fatigue of the day. I hit the cola at the next aid station and the simple sugars gave me a boost into the finish. I crossed the line and found out that I had placed 3rd Overall and top amateur for the day. I made a straight line for the medical tent to get the asphalt cleaned out of my side. In hindsight, I was pretty lucky that the wheel had not come out during one of the steep descents.

Griskus Sprint

The 25th year of the Pat Griskus Sprint witnessed 30+ Timex employees compete in addition to 3 Timex Multi-sport team members. This is such a great grass-root race. The event kicks off on a Wednesday night at 6pm. It almost always reaches the 500 athlete capacity. There are many first timers and families that are able to participate. It is a privilege to be able to race with my teammates and Timex employees.
I lined up to the outside of the beach start. This race seems to attract a lot of younger competitive swimmers that like to go out hard at the beginning of the race. I had experienced this first hand last year as I was literally swam over. My outside positioning allowed me to get open water this year and I had a very enjoyable swim segment.
I started the bike with the intention of trying to discover if there was anything left in my legs three days following 70.3 Rhode Island. I knew I would need to ride smart and safe.
We had a storm come through just prior to starting. There are several technical sections to the 10.5 mile bike course. My legs felt fine, but I wasn’t sure how I was going. There were several athletes that had exited the swim in front of me. I was not sure how many there were, but I knew I was not catching everyone. I ended up coming off the bike in 4th place.
I hit the run as hard as I could to try to catch the athletes out in front. I was able to catch the lead runner about a .25 mile before the turnaround. At this point I just focused on staying consistent and settling in. I felt really good on the run. My legs were able to turn over much better then on the bike. I crossed the finish line in 57:19 which was my 2nd fastest result. I cannot say enough good things about this race. It is so well run.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

70.3 Buffalo Springs

I headed back out to Lubbock, TX to try to get a coveted Kona slot. 70.3 Buffalo Springs is one of 5 half distance IM events that offer dual qualifying for the 70.3 World Championship and IM World Championship. I participated in this race last year and I really enjoyed the challenging course, hot and windy conditions, and high level of competition. I said after last years race that it was one of the hardest 70.3 races I have ever done. Well, after this year, I can say this is definetely the HARDEST race outside of Kona that I have ever done.
My travel out to Lubbock this year was similar to last year. I was delayed 5 hours trying to leave Newark airport and I missed my connecting flight out of Memphis. This meant I had scramble to find a hotel room at midnight (travel 101: if you are a distressed traveler and you get a customer service agent on the phone, do not lose that connection. I spent 30 minutes on hold after my first call got dropped). Once I got the room situation figured out everything else went smoothly. I got the first flight out the next morning and I was at my hotel by 11:30. Fortunately I had shipped my bike ahead of time and it was waiting for me at the hotel. I figured I had better odds shipping it then bringing it on a connecting flight. The remainder of the pre race schedule was very smooth. I was ready to roll for race morning.
Swim: 25:19
I have gotten thrashed more then usual this year in my first 3 races of the year during the start of the swim. This thrashing has caused me to go hypoxic and I have had to regroup for a bit, which has meant that I would lose contact with the people I should be swimming with. So I decided to line up a little to the left outside to start the swim then try to angle in to the first buoy. This strategy worked well for me as I was able to get a good start without getting the token elbow, foot, or hand to the head. I was able to get right up to a small group of guys that were trying to negotiate their way through the previous waves of swimmers. The remainder of the swim went well as I just focused on keeping high elbows and catching good water without digging to deep. I exited the water and went to unzip my suit, but I got a little surprise that it was already down. Someone must have grabbed my chord during the swim and pulled it down. However, I had not noticed it and my suit did not fill up with any extra water. This is another testament to the quality of our Orca 3.8 suits. These suits are excellent. T1 was nice and smooth.
Bike: 2:18:16
I was really looking forward to the bike for this race. I had a really good bike training build this year and I was excited to use my higher fitness. Coach Paul had given me the greenlight to really push the bike. This was also an excellent opportunity to test my new position that I had picked up at the Lifesport Wind Tunnel camp back in May.
I got right into my heart rate and power zones that I wanted to race in. I felt really good on my Orbea Ordu. I was very determined to stay on top of my salt intake. I have a history of cramping during hot races and this was the most extreme heat I had ever been in my life, with temps hitting 111 degrees. I started taking my salt pills early and often, but I still started to feel my hamstrings twinging around mile 30. At that point I was taking about 1,300mg/hour of sodium. I went to the emergency gameplan of biting on the salt capsule and moving it under my tongue. This does not taste great but it is extremely effective. My twinges went away and I was able to focus on my effort and aero position for the remainder of the ride. This was more important then usual because we hit significant headwinds over the last 10 miles of the bike. I felt really good on the bike and I was able to remain very aero without experiencing lower back pain. This enabled me to come into T2 feeling much fresher then I had during last years race. I moved quickly through T2 and out onto the run course.
Run: 1:27:50
Hot, hot, hot. I felt the heat right away as soon as I started running. The gameplan was to build into the run and to start out relatively easy. However, I was so hot right away that I couldn't get any cadence or rhythm going. My legs felt like two tree trunks and I was really overheating. I kept trying to quite my mind, but the heat was brutal. I struggled through the first 3 miles that run along the lake. Then we climbed out of the valley and the winds were noticeable. It was actually a bit refreshing for a little bit. I felt like I could finally take a deep breathe. A runner had gone by me at the 3 mile mark and I was trying to use him to pick up my pace. It worked and I noticed Jason Shortis right in front of us. At this point, I knew the run was going to be all about survival. He was really struggling. I knew if this Ironman champion was struggling then I better be very careful to not blow up. I was able to hold the pace of the runner who had passed me, but it was a struggle. Then as we went up the hill following the 4 mile aid station, he pulled off to the side and said he popped. My first thought was: "oh boy, just hold it together". I shuffled up the remainder of the hill and made the right hand turn onto the 2 mile out and back section. I was immediately met with a ferocious headwind. The heat-wind combo almost broke me. I was right on the edge. I gave myself the goal of just trying to run to the turnaround without walking. I was grabbing as much water and ice as I could hold at every opportunity. I made it to the turnaround and felt much better once I got the wind at my back. I realized that I had made my way to the front of the amateur race, but I was not sure where the other amateurs were. That question was answered 1.5 minutes after I hit the turnaround. I saw Chuck Sloan and another athlete running strong together. I knew Chuck was in the 30-34 age group but I was not sure about the other guy. I figured I would just try to be a consistent as possible and whatever happened would be fine. I felt halfway decent until I got back down to the lake a little after mile 10. Then I really noticed the heat again with the stagnant air. Chuck rolled by me right before the 12 mile mark. He was running really strong but he was by himself. At this point I tried to pick up my pace, but it was a real struggle. So I made a deal with myself that I would run one minute hard then one minute cruise for the last mile (I was trying anything and everything…). It was not pretty but I was able to hold it together. I ended up just barely holding on for the overall Amateur win (10 seconds) with a time of 4:13:43. I am now heading back to Kona which should feel relatively cool after this race. My nutrition was spot on for this race. I have started using Generation UCAN after experiencing severe GI distress in past years. I am extremely excited to use this product.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sprinting: Ouch!

Sprint triahtlons are a fantastic way to get involved in the multi-sport world. Trifitness puts on a very fun, safe event down at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, CT. I had the opportunity to race this year, which was a special treat. This is close to home, so my family was able to journey down to see the race. There is nothing like having your kids cheer for you as you race.
Although the distance of a sprint triathlon is relatively short, it can be quite painful as the effort is much higher.
I hit the swim and almost went hypoxic. I settled down and came out of the water ready to roll on the bike. I tried to hit the bike hard as I knew there would be fast cyclist behind me. I was able to hold 312 normalized watts for the first 5 miles, but I realized this was a bit too high to maintain. I brought it down to 300 for the remainder of the bike. I came through the 2 loop bike and headed onto the run. My legs felt great, but 100 meters into the run I had an issue. My left calf tightened up right away. I shortened my stride and tried to focus on quick cadence. I felt really strong but every time I tried to open up my stride, I could feel the pain in the calf. I was able to maintain a decent pace for the remainder of the run and crossed the finish line with a decent day. Now I need to focus on getting my left calf back to health.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

70.3 Mooseman

70.3 Mooseman

This was my first year attending this race. I was excited to kick of my 2011 racing season on a very challenging course. The morning of the race was a balmy 39 degrees. I tried to get my transition set up as quickly as possible so I could jump into my sweet Orca 3.8 wetsuit. My wave was the last of the morning. I jumped in the water 15 minutes prior to my start. The water actually felt refreshing at 60 degrees compared to the air temps.
Swim: 28:18
It was a rough start to the swim. I lined up in the middle and got boxed in at the start. I got whacked and almost lost my goggles. I went pretty hard at the beginning, but then went anaerobic and couldn't catch my breath. I literally had to do a couple of strokes of back stroke (very comical). I got it back together and felt good after that. This has not happened to me in about 6 years. I'm not sure why this happened, but maybe it was a combo of the cold water and my first high end effort of year.
Bike: 2:28:02
I was pretty chilled getting out on the bike. The first 5 miles are pretty flat and fast, which did not help to warm up. However, after that we hit the hills and I was immediately warm. This was a very challenging course with some major climbing. I had a very consistent effort and held back as Paul, my coach, had prescribed. My Timex Ironman Race Trainer was reading mostly low 140 heart rate range (low zone 2). However, my heart rate did climb into the 150s on the climbs. My race nutrition felt great! I did have one event on the bike that would come back to haunt me on the run. I dropped my salt tabs at mile 15 of bike after only taking 2 salt sticks (500mgs) I usually race with 800-1200 an hour. Fortunately I did not cramp at all on the bike. I believe this was due to the cooler temps and my reduced effort.
Run: 1:20:47
I felt really good heading onto the run. I did not take it out to hard but felt good as I warmed into the effort. Then at mile 3 I cramped really bad. I was very nervous. I was screaming for salt but all they had was pretzels. I grabbed a handful and stuffed them in my mouth. I almost choked. I decided to grab a Gatorade at every aid going forward and I stuck a pretzel under my tongue until the salt melted for the rest of the race. It was not ideal but it worked. I held it together with only a couple of cramps. I shortened my stride and just tried to run steady. I was a bit bummed because I think I could have put together a better run effort, but that’s racing.
I finished up in 4:20:13, which placed me as the top amateur and 7th overall. Once I thawed out on the course, I really enjoyed this race and would recommend it for anyone looking for a beautiful East Coast destination race.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Brick training: Benefits of Bike - Run Workouts

I will never forget the first time I did a run immediately after a bike workout. I could not believe the fatigue in my legs and how they literally felt like bricks. This feeling of deep fatigue is extremely common for beginner triathletes. There are also numerous stories of extremely talented runners entering into the sport of triathlon and experiencing less than optimal run splits following the bike section of a triathlon.

One needs to approach brick training just like they would their training for individual sports. There needs to be a prep (foundation) phase, then a build phase, and finally a peak (race) phase. In the prep phase it is critical to train the central nervous system what it feels like to run immediately following a bike session. The optimal goal is learn how to get the run turnover (cadence) up into the 90 foot strikes per minute as quickly as possible. These efforts should be completed as easy efforts. During the build phase of the training program, endurance bricks can be introduced. These longer brick sessions help the body to become more efficient. A few shorter, high intensity intervals can be added into some of these workouts to get a feel for race pace without taxing the body to much. Then as one is entering into the peak phase of training, it’s time to work into longer, sustained effort race simulation brick sessions. These steady state efforts help to sharpen the speed and power necessary to optimize the race experience. With the proper training, one should be able to run off the bike very close to their “fresh” (run race only) pace. The key is to stay healthy, have fun, and train smart. Enjoy the journey!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Race Day Nutrition

There is an overload of information and claims out there about proper race day nutrition. I have a very strong opinion on this topic. I completely understand that research shows that consuming fructose while exercising can improve performance. However, we all have unique digestive systems and just like anything else in life, one size does not fit all.
As I work with athletes and constantly try to dial in my own race day nutrition, I am constantly reminded how individually specific racing nutrition is. The simple truth is that what might work for Joe is not necessarily going to work for Jane. I, personally, have an extremely hard time taking any sugar while racing. I've found that it causes me extreme G.I. distress. I've tried everything and even bought into the idea of trying to train the gut to digest it while racing. However, I continue to struggle with the symptoms during longer (over 4 hours of racing) events.
If one is going to compete in races up to the 1/2 Ironman distance and above, then one needs to be practicing and testing their race day nutrition strategy frequently. This is so critical. You could be in the best physical shape of your life, but if you run into nutrition issues while racing, then all the fitness in the world will not get you to your potential results.
To summarize: develop a gameplan, practice that gameplan, and have a back-up plan in case things do not go as planned on race day. Try to simulate the conditions of your goal race while practicing your nutrition strategy. Enjoy the journey.