Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ironman World Championships 2013: 35th Anniversary

This was my 7th year racing in Kona. Sometimes that experience can be good and sometimes it can…well let’s just say you know what lies ahead. The Kona race is so unique for many reasons. The course is not the most challenging, but when you add in the heat, humidity, and level of talent it all combines into one challenging race. My preparation this year was quite good coming into the race. My coach, Paul Regensberg, and I had worked on a bike focus block early in the year. Then we set my season up to slowly build into fitness so I would be peaking later in the year. I started the race season off a bit behind on my threshold levels but I used the month of June to build into form. By the time of 70.3 Worlds in September, the early season bike focus was starting to pay dividends. We then used the five weeks following the 70.3 race to fine tune some aerobic fitness. My bike and run fitness were the strongest to date as a result of the season’s plan. My swim was a little behind my 2011 fitness, but not by much. I was healthy and excited going into this year’s race, no excuses. My average training volume was 13.5 hours/week, which is right in line with my previous years. Swim: 1:01:31
I am very happy to report that my swim was relatively uneventful this year. I usually dread the start of the swim due to the hand to hand combat that normally takes place for the first 400 meters. I was able to get out well and I got clean water right away. I was so surprised by this that I had to look around me to make sure I had not gone off course. The swim out to the turn was calm and quick this year with flat water. I hit the final turn buoy at 28 minutes. The favorable currents, that we had on the way out, slowed progress a bit on the way back. I was able to keep clean water on the return trip and I exited the water feeling fresh and ready to go. It was not one of my fastest swims, but it was sufficient to put me up towards the front of the amateur race. Bike: 4:53:46
I had made my way through the first transition without any delays. I hopped on my QR Illicitio excited for the bike course. I hit my Joule GPS to start monitoring my heart rate, power, and cadence. That’s when I experienced my first pitfall of the day. My heart rate was not registering and thus my Joule was not recording any numbers (It was set to start by heart rate). I had worn my heart rate strap during the swim as I always do. The salt water must have gotten in and fried the monitor. The end result was that I spent the remainder of the day without any heart rate and power information. I went old school with perceived effort. In any Ironman, athletes are always presented with challenges that cannot be foreseen. This happened to be mine for 2013. A former pro said to me back in 2004: “that’s racing” when I experienced my seat post collapse during a race. If you race long enough, everything you can imagine will happen to you. The key is to have a back-up plan and try not to get flustered by the challenge. I attempted to at least get my power recording to start by switching my Joule over to GPS activation, but after about 5 unsuccessful minutes of scrolling through the different screens I realized it was not in the cards. I had several athletes inquire as to what the heck I was doing as they rolled past me. Finally, I decided to put my head down and get back in the race. I do all of my training and racing with heart rate and power, so I know what the perceived effort should feel like. I rolled along the first twenty five miles feeling good. It was starting to get hot, but we did not have any winds. In fact, we didn’t hit any winds until we were almost up to Hawi at the 60 mile mark. Then we caught some of the usual headwinds before we crested the hill. However, the winds were relatively mild this year. My nutrition intake was going well and everything felt in order at this point. I had managed to move up 200 places to 177th place overall at the turnaround. I started my first dose of X2 Performance just before Hawi, then I took a 2nd one right before turning back onto the Queen K heading back into Kona. I knew that the ride back into town on the Queen K would be mentally challenging and I wanted to be ready for it. The winds started to pick up around the 80 mile mark. It is not uncommon to catch a headwind here, but we also were getting a side wind. This was the first time that I had to ride with a tilt this late in the race. It almost always happens on the way up to Hawi, but not on the Queen K. My energy levels started to dip at this point, so I went to the Powerbar Performance Energy Blends. I had put three gels into a flask that I picked up at the special needs area. I worked really hard into the winds to stay aero and move forward at a decent clip. One of the classic moments I had during this section was when an athlete rolled past me in the back of a large pack of riders. As he rolls by, he says “look at this peloton”, he proceeds to stay right on the back of the pack. However, a race marshall pulled up shortly after that and nabbed a guy in the group for a drafting penalty. I felt a little better after seeing that. It can get a bit discouraging, when you are working so hard, to see packs of riders ease past you. I crossed the timing mat at mile 90 having given back 18 spots since Hawi. My energy levels were starting to drop again. So I decided to go to Cola at this point. I was hoping that the simple sugars would give me a boost and settle my stomach. It worked for a little bit, but then I really started to suffer. I came off the bike in 218th place. I had been passed by another 23 athletes over the last 22 miles. I had managed to avoid cramping the entire bike ride until I tried to get my feet out of my shoes. Both of my hamstrings locked up on me as I was rolling into the dismount area. I was able to shake one leg out, but I had to have one of the volunteers hold my bike as I pulled my foot out of my shoe still attached to the pedal. I was pretty stiff as I ran through the 2nd transition. I was not feeling well at this point, but I was hoping that things would come around once I got out on the run course. Run: 3:15:01
The best way to explain how I felt the entire run was TERRIBLE. I am used to coming off the bike and not feeling great in Ironman races, but I can usually loosen up once I get settled in after 2-3 miles. However, I just felt terrible the entire run. I was shocked when I hit my splits for the first 3 miles on my Timex Run Trainer 2.0. I was seeing 6:40sh splits, but I felt so bad. My strategy was to run for 5k then walk the next aid station. I was able to hold this strategy until the 8 mile mark. At that point I had to start walking each aid station the remainder of the race. I had to go into survival mode. I knew it was going to be a long day and my goal had changed to just keep moving. I kept telling myself that I would come around. It never happened. I had to use my salt tabs and my peppermint-ginger pills as I was cramping and my stomach felt very queasy. My lowest point came as I was exiting the natural energy lab. My left hamstring locked up on me and my stomach felt terrible. I had to stop and massage my hamstring to get it to release. I shortened my stride after that and just focused on getting to the next aid station. Once I got to the 22 mile mark, I actually started to feel a little better. I was very fatigued, but it was probably the best I had felt the entire run. I made a deal with myself that I was going to run the remainder of the race. I was a little concerned when I got to Palani. I thought my hamstrings might lock up on the downhill section. So I kept it pretty easy until I got to the bottom of the hill. Then I opened things up a bit. I felt fine muscularly and I just wanted to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. Finish: 9:15:43 7th M40-44/ 117th Overall
In summary, I was very happy with how I finished the race on this day even though I did not have the race that I was trained for. I was carrying my best fitness ever coming into the race and the weather conditions were the best I’ve ever experienced in Kona. However, that’s Ironman racing. You never know what’s going to happen during a 140.6 mile race. I hope I am fortunate enough to continue racing for many years to come.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

70.3 World Championships: Every race is different

I always feel like the timing around the 70.3 Worlds is very chaotic. I came into this year's event fresh off of my biggest training week of the year at 21 hours. This, relatively, high training volume is necessary as I prepare for Kona five weeks after 70.3's. In spite of the high training volume, I was feeling really good after my 5 day taper. I had a condensed schedule on Friday leading into the race. I have to give huge thanks to two of my teammates: Bruce Gennari and Bo Parish for picking me up at the airport @ 3:30pm and getting me to registration by 4pm. I had a great weekend hanging out with both Bruce and Bo. 70.3VegasBruce_Bo It's always a privilege to spend time with my teammates at big events. We had a very nice team breakfast Saturday morning after our 70.3Vegasteambfastwarm-up swim in Lake Las Vegas. As usual Tristan Brown and Chris Davidson were fantastic in helping all of us prepare for the big race on Sunday. Tristan pointed out how my front tire was not properly glued to my wheel and would have rolled right off if I had tried to race with it. Chris managed to find and fix my bent rear derailleur. Ugh, so I guess I'm not the most mechanically inclined person out there. Rule # 1 is know your limitations. Once those minor obstacles were resolved we headed over to Whole Foods to pick up our race morning nutrition and a few snacks. I grabbed my usual breakfast foods and headed for the counter. As I was checking out, I thought that I might need a snack before dinner. I looked around and saw some fresh salsa and home made tortilla chips. I thought this would be the perfect pre-race snack. We then headed over to rack our bikes.70.3Vegasbikerack Then it was time to relax a little bit before dinner. This is where I had a bit of a scare. As we were walking over to dinner, I started to feel really dizzy and lightheaded. I ordered dinner but quickly realized that it was not going to happen. I was getting very nauseous. Maybe those chips and salsa were not such a good idea after all. I decided to head back to the room and rest. By the time I got back to the room I had the chills and I knew that I needed to try to get some sleep and hope for the best. It was 6:30pm, but I was feeling terrible and really worried about my chances of racing. I took my Standard Process supplements before I jumped into bed. Fortunately, I was able to get those down without any issues. I quickly fell asleep and did not wake up until 3:30am. Fortunately, I felt fine when I woke up. Bruce and I went down and had breakfast. I was able to get all of my normal nutrition in and I was excited again to race. I was really happy with how my race went. The conditions were quite different than anticipated, but they were the same for everyone. Here's a relatively short video recap of my race: Race Recap Swim: 30:05 / Bike: 2:24:23 / Run: 1:22:48 / 47th Overall / 1st M40-44 Vegasawards Thank you to Timex, Quintana Roo, Shimano, Blue Seventy, Champion System and all of our fantastic sponsors. A special thank you to Mac McEneaney for the Craps lesson post race. It would not have been a proper trip to Vegas without experiencing Vegas.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Timberman Double: Sprint/70.3

Wow, what a learning experience I had at the Timberman triathlon festival. This was my 10th year participating in the 70.3 Timberman race. So I decided to switch things up a little bit this year and race both days. I started the racing on Saturday morning with the sprint triathlon: .3 mile swim/15 mile bike/3 mile run. The swim and bike where a lot of fun. Sprints are all about high end efforts, but I was able to stay in control for both the swim and bike. Once I got onto the run, I had to switch things up a bit. I came out of transition with an athlete from the 1st wave (I was in Wave 2). He asked me if I wanted to run 5:30/mile pace. It was a little faster than I wanted to run, but I had to commit then. I went with him. We hit the first mile at 5:26 pace on a flat section. The second mile we went uphill a bit and hit that mile at 5:39 pace. The last mile was slightly back downhill at 5:18 pace. That last mile hurt a bit more than I had planned. Results: Swim: 7:04 / Bike: 37:31 / Run: 15:19 / 1st Overall I had my whole family up in NH with me. So we spent the rest of Saturday at the waterslides, bumper boats, go-karts, batting cages, and adventure course. The weather was perfect and we really enjoyed the Weirs beach activities. I made sure that I used my Standard Process Complete and Whey Protein shakes for recovery. I knew I would need as much muscle recovery as possible. What a difference a day can make. I was up early and ready to roll on Saturday morning before the sprint. However, I slept right to my alarm on Sunday morning before the 70.3. I was definitely tired, but excited to see how I could hold up on the 2nd day. My coach, Paul Regensburg, told me to keep the swim consistent but no kicking. Then he told me to hold back on the bike. He did not want me to push any hills and ride conservatively. He was concerned about the second half of the run. I followed the coach's orders and felt really good heading out to the run. In fact, once I got onto the run course, I was surprised how good my legs felt. I hit the first loop of the run at 6:06 pace. As I was finishing the first loop, I started to feel some fatigue coming on. Then I experienced something that I had never experienced in a 70.3 race. My legs just went. I couldn't believe it. I've raced some really hot and challenging races before and I've run slower due to those conditions. However, I've never had my legs just completely blow up on me with ideal weather conditions. The experience was so quick that I didn't know what to do. I wanted to just stop. My legs felt like lead. I plowed ahead as my running form fell apart. I decided to try grabbing cola at the aid stations. I had to walk the aid stations to make sure I got as much in as possible. I've never had to walk aid stations during a 70.3 race before, but I have used that strategy in my ironman races on a regular basis. I had to walk 4 aid stations in total, but managed to finish a very challenging final 10 kilometers. It's kind of ironic that the previous year I tried to take the swim/bike as hard as I could to simulate tired legs when I started the run. My coach had asked me to try that approach to simulate the tired legs that one feels when starting the run in Kona. Well, I achieved that feeling and more by racing the Sprint race the day before. What a learning experience. Results: Swim: 28:23 / Bike: 2:17:58 / Run: 1:24:49 / 14th Overall/ 3rd Amateur/ 2nd M40-44

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Kic-it Olympic

I had a good recovery week following 70.3 Syracuse. My legs were still feeling some fatigue from the hard course and conditions up in Syracuse, but I was excited to race. My goal was to hit the swim hard, then ride very aggressive and see what I had left for the run. Swim: 19:25 I started out in the 8 person elite wave. I thought I had a decent start, but I found myself behind several other swimmers immediately. I resigned myself to staying steady and figured I would need to work hard on the bike to catch up. However, after about 300 meters, several of the swimmers fell off their early pace. I passed two swimmers before the first turn buoy and I thought I had put myself into the lead. I stayed consistent for the remainder of the swim. I came out of the water and somebody yelled: "you're two minutes down". At first this did not register. Then it settled in. My thoughts were: "how could I be so far down. I didn't see anyone out in front". Then I looked down and saw wet footprints on the ground. I found out later in the day that I had been smoked by Pie Geelen by almost 2.5 minutes. I felt a little bit better about this beating after another athlete informed me that Pie had swam in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics for the Netherlands. Bike: 1:01:10 As I came through the transition area, I asked who the athlete out in front was. No one knew his name at the time. I had already planned on riding aggressively, but now I knew I needed to ride a little bit harder. I worked pretty hard to catch up. In fact, it was my first zone 4 heart rate ride of the season. I believe I caught up to Pie by about mile 14. I was working pretty hard on the hilly, technical course. Once I caught up I tried to stay as consistent as I could. I came off the bike with almost a five minute lead. Run: 36:20
My legs felt fatigued starting the run. I knew that I needed to find a good cadence and settle in. The hard bike and three weeks of racing seemed to catch up on me. I focused on my form and thought that I would try to build into my effort throughout the run segment. I actually stayed pretty steady for the first 4 miles, then built the last 2 miles a little faster. I was very fortunate to race so close to my home. My family was able to come out and watch the race and it was a thrill to be able to see them as I crossed the finish line. Finish: 1:58:59 1st Overall
This race is very well run and supports a wonderful organization. I was very lucky to be able to participate in the event.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Griskus Olympic-2013

I came into my 9th participation of the Pat Griskus Olympic triathlon feeling fantastic. I took the week leading into the race a little easier as I was recovering from 70.3 Eagleman 6 days earlier. I finally started to notice my fitness coming into form during the week. It was such an awakening to feel good and fresh again. I had not felt like that since before the Ironman World Championships in October. I was actually really looking forward to racing. Swim: 25:00 I had a great warm up before the swim start. I was able to work in some high end efforts. This really helped me once the race started. My swim wave consisted of all male athletes age 44 and under. I knew there would be some really fast swimmers. I focused on trying to get out as fast as I could. I had some decent contact during the first 200 meters, but I was able to settle in after that. I was able to push my effort right to my hypoxic limit without going over it. My Blueseventy Helix felt fantastic. I was really happy with my effort for the entire swim as I was actually able to bridge up to a group of swimmers in front of me on the 2nd half of the swim. I came out of the water and made my way to my Quintana Roo Illicito. Bike: 1:03:57 I headed out onto the bike and I was surprised that I was able to get the lead vehicle within the first 2 miles. Once I had the lead motorcycle, I focused on dialing into my effort. There was a course change this year during the first 5 miles that made things a bit more technical and slower. The roads were still wet in places from the heavy rains the night before. I was a bit more cautious as I approached each turn. Once I was back on the original course, I focused on staying steady on my pedals. I was pleased with how steady I raced the bike segment. My variability index(normalized power/average power) was only 1.02. This steady effort allowed for fresh legs coming off of the bike. Run: 34:21 My legs felt very fresh heading out onto the run. I usually have some cramping in my hamstrings as I dismount the bike. However, I have been using a product called Trace Minerals B12. I have found that this supplement has really helped me with many issues I would chronically experience during races. Once I got onto the run course, I settled into my rhythm. As the run course is a double out and back, I knew I would see where I stood shortly after the turnaround. My goal was to stay steady until I saw my first competitor. I used my Timex Run Trainer 2.0 to monitor my pace. As I was approaching the 2 mile marker, I saw the first 2 competitors coming the other direction. I figured that I had about a 6 minute lead, so I focused on my form for the remainder of the run. I tried to push the 2nd lap a little harder to bring my heart rate into zone 4. Final Time: 2:04:59 1st Overall This race is so well run. The race director, Tom Wilkas, and all of the volunteers do an exceptional job putting on a first class event.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Harriman Olympic Triathlon

Some days go better than others. However, there are no excuses. I made a promise to myself 10 years ago that I wouldn't show up to a race unless I was ready to race. I was hoping to use the Harriman Olympic race to dust off the cobwebs and kick start my racing season before my qualifying race at 70.3 Eagleman. I have been starting my racing season a little later over the past couple of years as I try to stay fresh into 70.3 Worlds in September and the Ironman World Championship in October. It's kind of a double edge sword. I'm trying to peak later in the year, but I'm having a harder time hitting high intensity efforts without racing. I was curious to see what I could put together at Harriman. It's a good odd distance race to prep for a 70.3. The swim is .6 mile long, while the bike is 28 miles with a couple of big climbs. The run is the standard 10k. Swim: 14:54 I thought the 59 degree water actually felt pretty nice. I swam well, but just was not prepared to hit threshold for the effort. I was by myself the entire swim and felt very comfortable. Bike: 1:19:11 This is where I started to really work out the kinks. I headed out onto the bike. My QR Illicitio felt great even though I had only been able to ride it outside a couple of times before the race. I got about 3 miles into the bike and realized that my Joule 2.0 had popped off of my handlebars. I didn't think it was a big deal. I figured I would be able to find it after the race. I then began the first minor decent of the course and I noticed that my handlebars were a little low. I didn't think much about it until a car decided to cross over the road right in front of me. I grabbed my bullhorns(brake pads) and the bars went right down close to my front wheel. I thought I was going to hit the car. Fortunately, I was able to miss the car and make the right hand corner with my bars down. Then I got into the aero position and pulled my bars back up. I spent the remainder of the bike pulling the bars back up as they would slip down on every bump. I had a very hard time bringing my effort up, but I tried to stay as consistent as possible. I came into T2 with some fresh legs. I saw two guys heading out on the run as I was entering. I figured they had about two minutes on me. So I tried to get ready to go as hard as I could and see if I could pull some time back. Run: 35:04 I was really happy with how I went on the run. I committed to running as hard as my fitness would allow me to. The leg turnover was good and I was able to get my heart rate up into Z3. This is not the most ideal for an Olympic distance race, but I was happy on the day. Finish: 2:10:23 2nd Overall

Sunday, June 16, 2013

70.3 Eagleman Race Report

This was my 6th time participating down in Cambridge, MD for the 70.3 Eagleman race. My fitness felt good coming into the race. My swim preparation was in line with 2012, but still a little behind my best fitness of 2011. I was really looking forward to seeing if my off-season bike focus would pay off on the flat roads. I knew that my run speed and form were a little behind normal, due to the bike emphasis. However, I still felt confident that my endurance was strong enough for a decent run effort. The biggest question I had coming into the race was to see if I was ready to suffer. My aerobic fitness is at the highest level it’s ever been, but I’ve been having a harder time hitting tempo efforts. Swim: 31:26 I felt very comfortable at the beginning of the swim in my Blue Seventy Helix. In fact, I was probably a little to comfortable. I started in the 2nd M40-44 swim wave. I noticed a couple of guys jump out quickly on the inside. I was positioned more in the middle of the pack. If I was swimming aggressively, I would have tried to bridge over to them immediately. This time I was just content to swim on my own and try to stay clear of the swim waves that had started earlier. I was able to stay clear of the masses. The remainder of the swim was very uneventful. I came out of the water feeling pretty good until I looked at my watch. I try to always stay calm about swim times until after the race when I can really analyze what happened. 2013QRIllicitio Bike: 2:12:03 I was pretty excited to race on my new QR Illicitio. I got up to speed quickly and focused on settling my heart rate down. The temps were much more accommodating this year, only reaching high 70s. I was rolling along pretty well until about mile 30. My main focus was staying consistent with my nutrition and salt intake. As I was riding through the marsh lands just past the half way point, I noticed that my heart rate was dropping into low zone 2. I like to race 70.3s at low zone 3, so I tried to increase my effort and stay focused. I have a tendency to flake out a bit in the middle of the bike leg. I put my head down and focused on staying as aero as I could. At about the 35 mile mark, Mike Gadzinski rolled up next to me and just about scared me right off of my bike. Mike had started five minutes behind me in the M35-39 wave. I had not been passed up until this point and I was not expecting anyone. Mike is a very good swimmer and strong cyclist. The scare turned out to be a perfect wake up call. I was able to get back into a decent groove. Mike and I went back and forth the remainder of the ride. I was happy with the effort I was able to put out for the remainder of the ride. I ended up averaging 3.8 watts/kg, which was 6 normalized watts lower than in 2012. My heart rate was 8bp lower than 2012s ride. However, some of that was due to the conditions. It was 10 degrees cooler this year and we seemed to have a tail wind during some sections of the ride. Also, I road a disc this year, which definitely helped. Run: 1:22:41 I was ready to run coming off the bike. I found my cadence and rhythm quickly. I did not want to push things to early as I had the previous year. I actually kept pulling myself back. I spent the first half of the run focusing on my form and making sure that I was not over striding. My Timex Run Trainer 2.0 showed me averaging about 6:20 pace while my heart rate was staying in zone 2. My main objective for this race was to try to secure a spot to the IM World Championship. I passed an athlete from an earlier wave at the 2 mile mark and I asked him if anyone had passed him from the 40-44 age group. He told me that no one had passed him. I wasn’t completely convinced, so I pushed on until I caught up to the next athlete. That athlete confirmed that I was the first 40-44 to pass him. At that point I just wanted to make sure I didn’t make any foolish errors. So I made sure I got fluids and calories in at every aid station. Once I hit the turnaround, I tried to increase my effort for the return trip. I was able to get my heart rate up into zone 3 and my pace quickened a bit. I ran pretty well until mile 9. Then I started to suffer a bit. So I went to the cola at the aid stations to get some simple sugars. This strategy worked well enough to get me to the finish line. This was my 32nd 70.3 race. However, as I crossed the finish line and saw my friend and former Timex teammate, Ian Ray, the first thing I said to him was “this doesn’t get any easier...” I was very happy that I did not have any issues with cramping during the entire race. I have been using a supplement from Standard Process called: Magnesium Lactate. This product has really helped me with my cramping issues as it facilitates muscle contractions. Finish: 4:08:34 12th Overall/4th Amateur/1st M40-44 My main objective, in any race that I compete in, is to race to my fitness level at that time. I felt that I gave everything I had on the day and I was fortunate enough to earn a ticket to Kona. Oh, I’m a glutton for punishment. Now I need to focus my training for 70.3 Worlds in September and Kona in October.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Year Healthy Detox

For the past four years I have used the beginning of the year for a healthy detoxification. I pick this time of year because it happens to fall approximately 90 days after my last race of the season. Research has shown that the body can take as long as 90 days to fully recover from an Ironman. I am also in my Prep phase of training during this time, so not to much stress on the body. I, personally, find that I do not start feeling balanced until January. In 2010, I went through extensive metabolic testing. The results were quite shocking as some of my toxicity levels were off the charts. I worked with a health care professional to determine an appropriate protocol to correct the issues. I use the Standard Process detoxification program(This is not a catabolizing juice detox): Here is an excerpt from Standard Process Why do I need purification? Purification, also known as detoxification, can help you remove natural toxins from your body and help maintain a healthy weight. We are exposed to external toxins everyday, including pollutants, pesticides, and chemicals. Internally our bodies produce waste byproducts as a result of normal metabolic function. Although your body is designed to rid itself of these toxins naturally, it can become overburdened. Purification offers your body additional support to expel natural toxins and minimize your weight, which is important to maintaining your health and vitality. Toxins can contribute to a wide range of conditions: • Stuffy head • Fatigue or difficulty sleeping • Digestion and other gastrointestinal problems • Food cravings and weight gain • Reduced mental clarity • Low libido This is not a juice detox.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Immune System Strength

This time of year I see many of my personal training clients and multi-sport athletes coming down with the cold and flu. It seems like everywhere you turn, someone is coughing or sneezing. I am often asked what I use to keep my immune system strong during the winter months. Two of my favorites are from Standard Process: Congaplex: Immuplex: Always consult a Health Care Professional before taking any supplement. Stay well.