Friday, December 6, 2013

I've Moved!

My blog will now be part of my new website.

Head on over to http://www.holisticathlete.net/ and check it out.

Please bookmark the new site, all new content will be located there. Thanks

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Holiday Eating Tips

It's pretty easy to go overboard and gain a few pounds over the next 5 weeks. It starts with Thanksgiving and then with the constant parties during December, there are way too many opportunities to either over-eat or eat junk that you normally wouldn't. Don't worry, I'm realistic - I know that completely staying away from sugars and processed carbs is not going to happen (if you can - good for you!). So with that in mind, here are a few practical tips for getting through the holidays...

  • Exercise - keeping up with your current workouts or even adding in a few over the holidays is never a bad idea. Sign up for a Turkey Trot race or even just take a walk with some family members before the big meal!
  • Focus on Your Fav's - Before loading up your plate with a little bit of every casserole and pie on the table, look at the options and decide which ones your really want. We all have our favorite foods that we want to eat during the holidays, so just eat those. Maybe put a little bit of Grandma's fruit cake on your plate so you don't hurt her feelings!
  • Make Your Own - If you know a healthy alternative to a traditional food, make it and take it. Then give it a little extra real-estate on your plate (did you enjoy the multiple rhymes?)!
  • Eat Slowly - This is one that I struggle with. If you take the time to taste each bite, you are less
    likely to eat until you are stuffed. Once you start to feel full, stop eating. 
  • Don't Take Left Overs Home - Try to eat your normal, healthy diet for all of your non-holiday events. If you take home lots of left overs of less-than-healthy food, that means that you will have several more meals in the following days that are doing damage. 
  • Don't Starve Yourself - Some people like to not eat at all before a big meal. Like skipping breakfast and/or lunch on the day that you know you will have a big dinner. Don't do this. In fact, I suggest that you eat a healthy meal or two before you belly-up to the table for a feast. Going long periods of time without eating and then stuffing yourself is a recipe for disaster.
  • Bitter Melon - Buy some Bitter Melon extract in pill form and pop a few before indulging in a large meal. It contains insulin-like properties and can really help in keeping your blood-sugar from spiking like it normally would after a meal full of carbs and sugars.
Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because they provide great products and services.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Off-Season

Some years I'm not quite ready for my triathlon season to be over. This was one of those years. I finished my 'A' race for 2013, Ironman Louisville, at the end of August. I had already begun to think about my 2014 race calendar and I knew that I was NOT going to be doing Ironman again, so I needed a big race to build my season around.

I had qualified for the USAT Age Group National Championship in 2012 and 2013, but for various reasons, I never actually made it to the race either year. So I decided that I would try to qualify again and actually race the Championships in 2014. The problem was...I hadn't qualified yet. So I started to look for a race that I could do in September or early October that would work as a qualifier. I did the Tri For Sight a few weeks after Ironman and with the exception of an embarrassingly slow swim, I was happy with my race. I was 12th Overall out of 290 people, but I was 4th in my Age Group...and I needed to be Top 3 to qualify for Nationals. So I thought that maybe going to Nationals in 2014 was just not in the cards and I would look for another 'big' race to do instead. Then I started talking with a friend about races and he mentioned a race he did once before near Columbus, OH. So I looked it up and it seemed like a fun race and based on the previous year's results, I thought that I might be able to finish high enough to qualify. After dragging the whole family up to the middle of Ohio, I felt some pressure to finish high and accomplish my goal of qualifying for the 2014 National Championship. Fortunately, I had a good race at the Deer Creek Fall Challenge and finished 2nd in my Age Group and 5th Overall - good enough to get an invite to the USAT National Championship!

So once I had that out of the way, my off-season official started. I took about a week off and literally did nothing. Then once I let my body recover a little bit, I stated into my off-season plan. My plan this year consists of a few goals:

1. Allow my muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and fascia to heal from the stress of a 9 month season.
2. Lift weights to increase strength and power
3. Work on muscular imbalances
4. Enjoy life and eat whatever I want (to a certain extent, of course!)

Goofy makes everything look fun and easy!

So while trying to keep number 1 in mind by getting more sleep and not pushing my SBR workouts, I've been working on numbers 2 and 3 in the gym over the last five weeks. 

My routine looks like this:

Squats* - 3 x 6 with heavy weight
Between sets -  60 count single leg jump-rope (30 on each leg)

Dead lifts* - 3 x 6 with heavy weight
Between sets - 20 count push-ups (vary between flat, raised legs, raised chest)

Clean and Jerk* - 3 x 6 with heavy weight
Between sets - 10 count body weight pull-ups

Hip Abductors - 3 x 10
Between sets - single leg box jumps

Cable trunk rotations - 3 x 10 on each side
Between sets - 60 to 90 second planks

*Do not attempt these lifts without consulting with a personal trainer to make sure your form is correct. You can seriously mess yourself up if you do these wrong!

I'm doing this whole-body approach to weight lifting/plyometrics routine twice a week. I'm only biking, running and swimming once a week and those are pretty easy efforts. I'll stay with this until probably the end of January and then I'll get back into a more triathlon-specific training plan. Hopefully I will notice some gains in my bike power and run speed once I get back into the swing of things...that's the plan anyway!

As for number 4 on my list...I've managed to gain around 15 pounds since Ironman (and not much of it is muscle), so I'm definitely achieving this goal.

I also wanted to say congrats to Carrie Brown and Aaron Roberson, winners of my Garden of Life vitamin give-away!

Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because they provide great products and services.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Reader Give-Away

Time again to give away some supplements to two lucky readers. One of my sponsors, Garden of Life has been generous enough to provide me with a few things to give away.

The first is a Men's Multivitamin. Their Vitamin Code RAW One for Men is a once-a-day supplement designed especially for men. As with everything that they make, Garden of Life uses premium, raw, whole food ingredients in this vitamin. The ingredients are all uncooked, untreated and unadulterated. No need to worry about fillers and binders that you find in cheap vitamins on the shelf at the grocery store. These are free of fructose, maltodextrin, magnesium stearate and corn starch.


The men's specific formula is designed to address and support prostrate health, a healthy heart, reduction in stress, optimal digestion, eye health and increased energy.

It's also gluten free, dairy free, non-GMO certified, and vegetarian. You can find more details here.

The second give-away is a bottle of Vitamin Code RAW B-12. Being deficient in B-12 is becoming more and more common these days, especially in women. The body uses B-12 to make blood and to maintain a healthy nervous system. Vitamin B-12 deficiency is characterized by anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss. People at a higher risk of being deficient are vegetarians and pregnant/lactating women.


The Garden of Life RAW B-12 supplement is made from raw food-created nutrients. And just like Men's Multivitamin, it is uncooked, untreated and unadulterated. No binders and fillers either. This is the best raw form of the vitamin that you can get aside from getting directly through a whole food source. You can get more info on it here.

I'll give the Multivitamin away to a male and the B-12 to a female. If you want your name to be thrown in the hat for the drawing, simply comment at the bottom of this post, comment on Faceboook or retweet on Twitter.

Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because they provide great products and services.



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

An In-Depth Look At My Ironman Run

In my last post, I covered the 112 mile bike leg of my 2013 Ironman Louisville race. This post will be devoted to the 26.2 mile run.

The whole reason I rode within a strict range of power was so that my legs would be in good enough shape to run a marathon. It was all theory as I had never actually done 112 miles at that Nominal Power followed by a 26.2 mile run. So I didn't know how my legs would respond. But I had confidence in my training and in what I had studied and read about other athlete's that had taken this approach...so I was ready to run a marathon once I came out of T2.

I gave a full report on the run in a previous post, which you can read here. So I will stick to dumping data on this post.

The whole concept of riding "easier" than you think you can so that you can run harder/faster is very hard for most triathletes to accept. I was one of the guilty parties in the past. I thought of the bike as my strongest discipline, so I would push it hard on the bike and then suffer through the run - ultimately slowing as I ran. This is pretty typical, especially in an Ironman distance race. I took the bike and run times for all 309 athlete's in my Age Group (M35-39) that completed Ironman Louisville this year. The chart below shows their bike time on the y-axis (vertical) and their run time on the x-axis (horizontal).

Click on chart to see larger image

Each red dot represents an athlete. Their dot is placed where their bike and run times intersect in the chart. The averages for the group are shown by the black lines. As you can see, most riders tend to overdo it on the bike and end up with a slower than average run time. These people are represented in the bottom right section of the chart. My day is the dot with the blue border. My 6:07:29 bike time was only slightly below average (5 minutes), but my 4:23:38 run split was almost an hour (53 minute) faster than the average. So by holding back the reigns on the bike, I was able to have a better than average run.

As I mentioned in a post prior to Ironman, the top finishers spend 51-52% of their total race time on the bike and only 35-37% of their total race time on the run. If you spend less than 50% on the bike, it likely means that you rode too hard and paid for it in the marathon. For my race, I was at 51.3% on the bike and 36.8% on the run - just how I had planned!

The other indicator that I had plenty of gas left in the tank during the run was that I didn't slow down too much as the race progressed. I looked at the top 100 finishers in my age group and broke their run split into the first 12 miles and the second 12.6 miles (this was the best way to do it based on where the timing mats were on the run). I also figured that most people run the last mile or two at a pace that is much faster than they ran the rest, which would skew the average. These top 100 finishers averaged 18 minutes slower on the second "half", which includes special needs. Finishers 101-200 also averaged 18 minutes slower on the second half, while finishers 201-309 were at 20 minutes.  As for me, I was only 11 minutes slower and I stopped and sat at Special Needs for 3 minutes. Running a negative split in an Ironman in nearly impossible for a non-elite athlete, but I definitely felt like I ran a steady pace the whole time.

The most significant way to judge whether my race strategy paid off is to look at my position as the race progressed. This is a time-trial swim start, so we were not all on the course over the same period of time. If we had all started at the same time in a mass start, I would have been 92nd in my Age Group out of the water (743rd Overall). I then would have been passed by 30 people in my Age Group and 52 total people on the bike, putting me in 122nd place in my Age Group and 795th Overall starting the run. This is where the tide turns. On the run, I would have passed 47 people in my Age Group and 261 total people! So while getting passed on the bike is not fun, reeling in all those people on the run sure is!

So after reviewing all of the data from my race, I think that my plan worked just as I had hoped. Even though I don't have any more Ironman races planed, I have a pretty good blueprint on how to conquer one if I ever do decide to toe the line again!

Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because they provide great products and services.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

An In-Depth Look At My Ironman Bike

So this is one for the geeks like me. If you love data, you will enjoy the next 10 minutes of your life.

I raced Ironman Louisville on August 25. It's hard to believe that it was 2 months ago! I talked about my experience during 112 mile bike portion of the race on a previous post, which you can read here. This post is going to be dedicated to breaking down the ride and looking at what I did right and what I would have done different if I had it to do over again.

HEART RATE

Before I dig into the data collected from my power meter, I want to look at my heart rate. Heart rate monitoring is much cheaper and easier to understand than riding by power. I would venture that say that the majority of triathletes and serious runners have a heart rate monitor and know their zones. There are lots of ways to find your zones and even lots of different zones that you can use. Before purchasing a power meter, I rode based on heart rate. For my 2011 Ironman Louisville race, I rode strictly on heart rate, never letting my HR get above 140 bpm for more than a few seconds. At that time, after several tests, I knew that my aerobic threshold was 140 bpm. During this years race, I didn't even have heart rate displayed on my watch. I was riding on power, so I didn't care what my HR was. I still wore my HR monitor, so the data is there. Here's a look at a graph of my heart rate during the race:

Click on image to increase size

So you can see that even though I wasn't riding based on my HR, I still managed to keep it in my aerobic zone. The one major exception is the spike around mile 45. This is a very short, steep hill on Old Sligo Road. For those of you that have ridden the course, you know the hill I'm talking about. Notice that on my second loop, I didn't let this spike occur. You may also notice that throughout the course of the 112 miles, my average HR decreased...which is a good sign of being aerobically efficient.

I like to break this course into 5 segments. The first is miles 0-18. This takes you from T1 all the way up US-42 to the out-and-back. For this segment, my average heart rate was 121 bpm. Segment 2 is the hilly out-and-back to the start of the loops. For this segment, my average HR was 120 bpm. Segments 3 and 4 are the two loops. My average HR for loop 1 was 118 bpm and 114 bpm for loop 2. The final segment is back down US-42 and River Road to transition. For this segment, my average HR was 111 bpm. You can't really compare any two segments other than the loops. So the fact that my average HR stayed about the same (118 vs. 114) for the two loops tells me that I was riding consistent. The four beat per minute drop is likely due to stopping for a few seconds at special needs.

NORMALIZED POWER

I won't spend too much time discussing my Normalized Power. I  talked a lot about this in my race report because this was the number that I was watching during the ride. I had a zone I needed to stay in and I was successful. 

CADENCE

My power meter also measures cadence. I really don't have a desired cadence that I try to keep while riding, other than trying to maybe increase it during the last 10-15 minutes to get my legs used to turning over quickly. Cadence may be something that I work on increasing this off-season. There are some studies out there that suggest riding at a higher cadence (85-90 rpm) can improve your running economy off the bike. My average cadence for the entire 112 miles was 76, but I don't put too much stock in this because of all the hills and the gear ratio that I was riding. I only came out of the saddle twice all day (that hill on Old Sligo Rd.), so I wasn't mashing the pedals, but I just didn't have enough rear to maintain a high cadence on the climbs.

QUADRANT ANALYSIS

When you combine power and cadence, you get a Quadrant Analysis (QA) chart. It is a way to measure the neuromuscular power demands of cycling. In non-geek terms, this means the actual forces and velocities that the leg muscles must generate to produce a given power output. The QA chart below has average effective pedal force (AEPF) on the Y-axis and circumferential pedal velocity (CPV) on the X-axis. If you want to know more about how these values are measured, you can read about it here or in the book "Training and Racing with a Power Meter" by Andrew Coggan.

The graph is broken up into quadrants. Each quadrant represents a different combination of force (how hard you push the pedals) and pedaling velocity (how fast you push the pedals).

Quadrant I (upper right) is high force and high cadence (sprinting)
Quadrant II (upper left) is high force and low cadence (hill repeats / big gear intervals)
Quadrant III (lower left) is low force and low cadence (aerobic zone ride)
Quadrant IV (lower right) is low force and high cadence (fast pedaling drills or spinning out at the end of a ride)

Click on image to increase size

The goal for a long course triathlon would be to spend the majority of your time in Quadrants III and IV. Anytime you are in the "high force" quadrants, you are going to pay for it on the run. As you can see in my chart below, I was in Quadrant III 66% of the time and Quadrant IV 25% of the time. With less than 8% of my time in Quadrants I & II, I would call this a successful Ironman ride!

VARIABILITY INDEX


The next key to a successful Ironman ride is keeping your Variability Index (VI) low. Your VI is simply normalized power divided by average power. The ratio should always be below 1.05 for long-course racing. In order to keep this index number low, it's important to avoid surges. This is commonly done when hammering up a hill, passing someone or when fighting a head wind. These surges, even though sometimes very short, sap your energy very quickly. Keeping your power steady, regardless of terrain or what other riders are doing is a sure way to have energy left for the run. So if I look at my VI for Ironman, it was 1.05 for the whole 112 mile course. If I break the ride down into the segments I described earlier - I was at 1.05 for the 1st segment, 1.06 on the out-and-back (which I've very proud of), 1.05 for loop 1, 1.05 for loop 2, and 1.02 over the final 20 miles. I'm happy with the 1.06 on the out-and-back because it is so hilly. With several long climbs, it would have been easy to spike my average power. Even though 1.06 is slightly higher than I would like, it's good for this segment.



EFFICIENCY FACTOR


Efficiency Factor (EF) is determined by dividing normalized power by average heart rate for the workout. By comparing my EF from the first loop and the second loop, I can tell if my aerobic efficiency was the same. For loop 1, my EF was 1.52. For loop 2, it was 1.53. Another thing that I can look at is my how consistent my EF was for the whole ride. If you can keep the efficiency factor from varying more than 5%, then it's a sign of good aerobic endurance. For Ironman, mine only varied -1.00%



TRAINING STRESS SCORE


The last thing that I want to look at is my Training Stress Score (TSS). This is a composite number that takes into account the duration and intensity of a workout to arrive at a single estimate of the overall training load and physiological stress created by that particular session. For comparison, one hour at functional threshold (as hard as you can go) would equal a score of 100. For Ironman, my TSS was 267.8 - which is a little low considering that a "well-executed" bike leg should result in a score between 275 and 310. But a TSS of 275 would have required me to ride at 68% of my FTP instead of the 66.1% that I rode. It's tough to say whether this slight increase in power would have been detrimental to my run. This higher power output would have probably cut about 8-10 minutes off of my bike split, but what price would I have paid on the run?


So there are other things that I could have evaluated, but that's it for now. I realize that has you read this, it might seem like I am "tooting my own horn" a lot. The fact is, I didn't know what this data was going to look like until I stated pulling it up for this post. This even further solidifies the fact that my minimalist approach to training can and does work for endurance events. This data also tells me that riding Ironman based on power can do nothing but give you an advantage on the run. I had a respectable bike split (top 39% in my Age Group and top 33% Overall) and came off the 112 mile ride feeling fresh and ready to run a marathon. As you will see in my next post when I evaluate the run split, most people did not feel the same way!

Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because they provide great products and services.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Bourbon Chase Race Preview

Last year was my first year participating in The Bourbon Chase. I had heard of the race and it seemed like fun, but I had no idea just how much fun it was! We had a great team last year and I couldn't wait to do it again. The only potential issue was that due it's high demand and the limited number of teams permitted, it's not easy to get in.


So back in January I threw down my deposit...hoping to "win" a spot. Lady luck was on my side and I was given a slot in the race. So I immediately contacted everyone from last year's team to see if they wanted to join me again. Most of the team is back together, and the 2013 edition of The Bourbon Chase is guaranteed to be a blast!

The Bourbon Chase is an overnight relay road race that covers 200 miles of the historic Bourbon Trail. The race starts tomorrow (Friday) at Jim Beam and sends runners past Heaven Hill, Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey, Four Roses and Woodford Reserve Distilleries while traveling along the beautiful back roads of central Kentucky before ending in Lexington on Saturday night. 

Here's the map showing the course route.

Each team consists of 12 members. The teams are divided into two groups of 6, with each group having their own van. My group will start and will run legs 1-6. Then the other van on our team takes over for legs 7-12. Then we are up again for legs 13-18. The process repeats until we have completed all 36 legs of the race...which will take us around 28 or 29 hours. Yes, you read that right...at any given time from 12:00pm on Friday until around 5:00pm on Saturday, we will have someone running.

Our team name is "Chafing A Dream" and we are in the Mixed Open Division. Meaning that we have a co-ed team of people that just want to have a good time!

So if it's still not clear - check out this video...



I am runner #6 this year, so I have legs 6, 18 & 30.

Leg 6 is lonely country roads - which I love to run! It's a 6.2 mile stretch that is mostly uphill and finishes at Maker's Mark Distillery (my second favorite bourbon) in Leroetto. This leg is ranked as the 14th most difficult out of the 36 legs. I will be running this one in the late afternoon tomorrow (Friday), so the weather should be perfect!

My second leg is # 18. This one starts in a small town called Junction City and ends in Danville. Danville is kind the heart of The Bourbon Chase. The city really embraces the race and has lots of spectators and things for runners to do as the pass through the town twice. I will be running this 5.3 mile leg sometime in the middle of the night, probably around 2:00am. It's a rolling route with a pretty big climb at the end, ranked 25th, so it should be easy...let's hope I'm awake enough to push through it!

My final leg of the race is # 30. This 6.4 mile trek will take me through some beautiful horse farms before ending at Woodford Reserve Distillery (my favorite bourbon). I'll be very excited to have my portion of the race finished and enjoy a little bit of the local spirits. I should be running this leg around 11:00am, so I'm looking forward to a crisp fall morning! This leg ranks 18th.

So I will run a total of 17.9 miles over the course of 24 hours. Why does this seem like a lot!

I'll be checking in on Facebook and Twitter during the race, so follow me if you want some updates along the way!


Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because they provide great products and services.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Happy Kona Week!

If you are a veteran triathlete, then you understand the title of this post. If you are not, you are probably thinking that I'm referring to coffee or a sushi restaurant.


This Saturday, the Ironman World Championship will be held in Kona, a district on the big island of Hawai'i. This is the race that will air on NBC on November 16th - the telecast with all the back-stories...and very little race action. If you are like me and want to actually see the race live, you can do so on your computer. Simply go to Ironman.com and you can view live streaming video starting at noon eastern time (6am Hawaii time).

This will be the 35th running of the IM World Championship - it's easy for me to remember because I am the same age as the race. You can find a full list of past winners here. If you don't want to go look at the list, I'll give you a brief history...

Mark Allen & Dave Scott
The first race was won by Gordon Haller in 11:46:58, just 9 minutes faster than I did Ironman Louisville this year. The men's race was dominated by American's Dave Scott, Scott Tinley and Mark Allen throughout the 80's and early 90's. From 1980 until 1995 one of those three guys won all but three of the seventeen races (there were two races in 1982). They progressively moved the winning time from around 9-1/2 hours in 1980 down to just over 8 hours in 1993. Once those legends decided to retire, the Championship jumped around between Belgim (Luc Van Lierde), Germany (Thomas Hellriegel), the US (Tim DeBoom), and Canada (Peter Reid) until 2004. That's when the Germans made a three year run with Norman Stadler taking the title in '04 and '06 with Faris Al-Sultan sandwiched in the middle. The last 6 years have been dominated by the Aussies. An Austrialian has won the race every year since 2007...with Chris McCormack and Craig Alexander each winning multiple times. Last year's winner, Pete Jacobs, became the latest Austrailan to win. An American hasn't made it to the podium since Chris Lieto finished 2nd in 2009. Before that the US drought went all the way back to Tim DeBoom's win in 2002. This can't continue!

On the women's side, it's been a history of streaks. Streaks, not streaking (unfortunately). South African Paula Newby-Fraser won the title an amazing 8 times in an 11 year span from from 1986 through 1996. Then Natascha Badmann from Switzerland went on her own streak, taking the title 6 times in 8 years from 1998 through 2005. Then it was Chrissie Wellington from Great Britan's turn. She dominated the sport from 2007 until 2011, wining every time she entered the race (a total of 4 Championships). So in the 34 year history of the women's race, there have only been 17 different winners...pretty amazing. As for the American women, they haven't been on the podium since 2006 when Desiree Ficker took 2nd. The last time an American won as way back in 1995.

So now that you are up so speed on the race, let's handicap this year's field.

You always have to start with previous Champions that are racing again. For the men, that list is pretty small - Pete Jacobs and Craig Alexander (Chris McCormack just backed out because of an illness). Obviously, either one of these guys could repeat, but I like to look at guys that have been close over the last few years. So that would be Andreas Raelert (2nd in 2010 and 2012, 3rd in 2009 and 2011).  So if you are counting, he has been on the podium for four straight years without winning. Here is where the mental part of the sport comes in to play. What has being so close but never winning done to his confidence. Has it put him in a good place or a bad place? My guess is that he will be in the top 5 again, but still won't bring it home. A very popular pick this year is Sebastian Kienle. He was 4th at Kona last year and won the Ironman 70.3 World Championships earlier this season. It seems like he's raced a lot this year and he has never won an Ironman race...so I don't see it happening at the World Championship for the first time. My pick is Eneko Llanos (pictured above) from Spain. He has finished in the top 10 at Kona three different times, including 2nd in 2008. He has two Ironman distance wins already in 2013 against tough competition. He hasn't raced since early July, so he should be rested and ready!

For the women, there seems to be three names that I keep hearing as favorites. Rachel Joyce (GBR), Caroline Steffen (SUI) and defending Champ Leanda Cave (GBR). Steffen was 2nd in 2012 and 2010, so she's definitely consistent. Joyce has been steadily improving over the last few years, starting off with a 5th place finish at Kona in 2010. She then won an Ironman race in 2011 and finished 4th on the big Island. Last year she won several 70.3 races and the European Long Distance Championship. Earlier this year, she won IM Texas in dominating fashion. She's definitely a favorite, but I'm going with Australian Mirinda Carfrae (pictured above). She is coming off of a win at IM 70.3 Muskoka and I like the way she structured her season. She started off with a 70.3 in March and then went for shorter races in the spring, including a race I did, Rev3 Knoxville (where she just barely beat me). She's a previous Kona Champion (2010) and she has been in the top three four years running. I think she'll stay close to the leaders on the bike and then dominate on the run!

As for the hopes and dreams of our nation, the best bets are Tim O'Donnell, Andy Potts and Jordan Rapp for the men and Meredith Kessler, Lindsey Corbin and Mary Beth Ellis for the women. Mary Beth might be one of the favorites if she wasn't coming off of a broken collar bone. The fact is that every pro in this race had to have a good season just to be invited. It all comes down to who has the best day out there!

Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because they provide great products and services.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Reader Give-Away

I have a gift certificate to give away to a lucky reader. It's good for five (5) classes at Pure Barre in The Summitt (aka Paddock Shops), on Brownsboro Road in Louisville.


If you are unfamiliar with what Pure Barre is, it's a studio where a woman can get a total body workout that utilizes the ballet barre to perform small, isometric movements, which burn fat, sculpt muscles and create long, lean physiques. Sorry guys, looks like this is a "no boys allowed" club.

According to their website, Pure Barre was founded by dancer, choreographer and fitness guru Carrie Rezabek Dorr. Carrie opened her first studio in the basement of an office building in Birmingham, MI in 2001. With no initial clients, staff, signage or even a bathroom, Carrie successfully grew Pure Barre into the dynamic company it is today.

In July of 2009, Pure Barre became a franchise and has exploded in popularity, due to its extremely effective technique (which transforms the shape of a woman’s body in record-breaking time); friendly, high-energy atmosphere; and fun, motivating music.

Pure Barre is more than just a workout; it’s a lifestyle. At Pure Barre, women share a sense of community, in which they are inspired and empowered by each other’s fitness and lifestyle goals. In addition to classes, Pure Barre also offers DVDs, equipment and exercise apparel.

So there you go. Simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post, on Facebook or Twitter and I will enter your name into the drawing for the gift card.

 Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because they provide great products and services.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Deer Creek Fall Challenge Triathlon Race Report

I believe it was Aristotle that said "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts". That saying is definitely true for this race.

This was my second "destination race" of the 2013 season. The first was Rev3 Knoxville, which you can read about here. That trip was fun for the family, but it literally rained for two straight days...so it could have been better. This trip up to central Ohio was full of "what else could go wrong" moments, similar to watching a National Lampoons Vacation movie!

It never got quite this bad...

If you follow my blog, you know that after the Tri For Sight race a few weeks ago, I had planned on packing it up for the season. I heard about this race from a friend of mine and with the goal of racing the 2014 Age Group National Championship, I still needed a race to qualify. I mentioned this race to my wife on Monday or Tuesday of last week and she said that I should look into it. So I checked it out and it looked like a race that was well organized and in a fun location, so we pulled the trigger. We registered for the race and booked a hotel on Tuesday afternoon.

The race takes place at Deer Creek State Park. The park/lake is about 45 minutes southwest of Columbus, Ohio. So the drive from Louisville is a little over 3 hours, straight up I-71. Of course, with three kids you have to allot for some extra stops on the way. We left Saturday around lunch time and made it to the race site for packet pick-up around 4:30pm. I was really impressed with the set-up. The transition area was set up with three rows of racks for the bikes and was well labeled with large inflatable arches at the entrance and exit. The swim buoys were already in place on the lake, so I was able to scout things out.

The closest town to the race is a little, and I mean little, town called Washington Court House. The town name is Washington Court House. Is it just me or is that a weird name? Why not just call it Washington? Anyway, it's about 20-25 minutes from the park. So after I got my race packet, we headed down to our hotel. Of course, as I try to take the most direct route to the hotel, out of nowhere the road I'm on ends. They are repairing the road and literally have a sign saying "Road Closed". The road just stops with no previous warning. So I had to turn around and backtrack about 10 miles to find another way. Corn field after corn field. Small farm houses and literally nothing else for as far as you can see.

Finally around 5:30, we made it to Washington Court House. With very few choices of places to stay, we settled on a non-chain place because they had adjoining rooms available. We planned to put the two older kids in one room and we would stay in the other with the baby. So we make it to the hotel and are immediately concerned because there is only one other car in the parking lot. We get checked in and are thrilled to open the door to the first room and be smacked in the face by the smell of stale urine. The AC wasn't on either and it was hot and nasty. The second room was in better shape. So we turned on our diffuser and pumped some essential oils into the air while we headed off to find some dinner.

Small towns have two options for food. Fast food or Mom and Pop restaurants. We opted for the local "steak house". Prime Rib special was only $16.99 (includes salad bar)! So we got the 8 ouncer and the kids got cheeseburgers. I lost my appetite when the meat showed up. It was probably 60% fat. I poked around it a little bit and decided that it would not be in my best interest to eat all of this the night before a race. So I just ate my green beans and some of the meat. The kids refused to eat their burgers and settled on some applesauce from the salad bar. This was the worst $50 meal we've ever had...by far!

After dinner, I dropped Momma and baby off at the hotel and the older kids and I ventured out to find a park to play for a while. I actually found a really great park. Twisty slides, see-saws, tire swings, rock walls, it was pretty awesome. They needed to get some energy out and this was the perfect place. Our two year old dropped a deuce in the diaper after we had been there a few minutes and since all of the diapers and wipes were back at the hotel, I decided to just let him play. Result? Horrible case of diaper rash. Parenting failure.So I had to make a run out to CVS to get some diaper cream.

Everyone finally got to sleep around 9:45pm. The urine smell was just about gone, so we settled in for a night of sleep on the lumpy beds.

I woke up around 5:45am and get myself ready before waking the kids up. We needed to be out the door at 7:00am to make it to the race site on time. My wave started at 8:50am, but transition closed at 8:30am. Jessica grabbed herself and the kids some items from the continental breakfast in the lobby and we were loading up. After strapping my son into his car seat I noticed some drool coming out of his mouth, which is unusual for a two-and-a-half year old. He had a distressed look on his face. I immediately thought that he was choking on something. So I did a finger sweep of his mouth - nothing there. Then he proceeded to vomit all over himself and the car seat.

We got him cleaned up and I wiped off the car seat as good as I could. He was acting normal, so we decided to head on to the race.

Despite the little incident at the hotel, we still managed to get there in plenty of time. I set up everything in transition, got body marked, and we headed to the port-o-pot line. Having only 5 port-o-pots for over 560 athletes and their families is unacceptable. The line was at least 100 people long and was moving slowly. We managed to get through the line and down to the swim start a few minutes before my wave.

I pulled my wetsuit on and jumped in the water for a quick warm-up. The water was probably in the high 60's, so I didn't really NEED the wetsuit. But since it was only a sprint, I wasn't worried about overheating. The swim was a beach start - which I was really excited about. I had never done a beach start before. My wave consisted of about 50 people (Males age 39 and under and Elites). I positioned myself right on the front row, edge of the water. I knew I wasn't the fastest swimmer, but I also knew I didn't want to get caught up in the craziness that would take place heading for that first buoy. So when the horn sounded, I ran into the water and started doing some dolphin dives. I've never practiced them, so I'm not sure how I looked, but it got me out into the deep water quickly. I was punched a few times and had my goggles hit once in the first 50 meters, but after reaching the buoy and turning to swim parallel to the shore, things thinned out. I went out very hard and was with the leaders for the first 100 or so. Then I couldn't keep up, but I kept them in sight. The swim was a 750 meter rectangular course. I was kind of in no-mans land for most of it, caught between the really fast swimmers and the rest of the age groupers. I exited the water about 45-60 seconds behind the lead pack. The swim time includes the run up from the beach to the transition area. Which is about 200 yards of uphill grass. Not exactly a fun place to attempt to get out of a wetsuit.

750 Meter Swim
14:39 (1:57/100m pace)
3rd out of 10 in my Age Group
18th out of 171 Overall 

Running up the hill from the lake to T1

T1 wasn't bad considering I haven't practiced getting out of my wetsuit in several months. It took me a few tries to get my feet out, but not more than a few seconds were lost. I put on socks and my helmet and headed out.

T1
1:27
2nd out of 10 in my Age Group
21st out of 171 Overall

As soon as I mounted my bike I felt a thud, thud, thud from my back tire. A flat?!? I pulled off to the side and unclipped my shoe. I check my back tire and it still had pressure. I lifted my bike up and spun the tire. There was just a piece of sticky plastic stuck to the tire. I flicked it off and got back on. I was relieved that it wasn't a flat. I'm pretty fast at changing a flat now, but a few minutes of time is a killer in a sprint. So I got settled in and started riding hard. I had looked at the course map, but I honestly had no idea where I was going. Even with four different races going on, the course was well marked and I had no problems. There were two stretches where the road turned to packed gravel. It was a rough ride and there was also lots of loose gravel in sections. I really had to slow down on the turns to play it safe. I pushed the bike hard (as I always do in a Sprint) with no regard for power or heart rate. It's basically red-line for the entire 20K. There were a few rolling hills over the last few miles that forced me to stand, but other than that, it was big chain ring and aero position the whole ride.

20K bike
35:01 (21.3 mph)
Nominal Power = 248W
2nd out of 10 in my Age Group
9th out of 171 Overall

As I rolled back into the park entrance, I pulled my feet out of my shoes preparing to dismount. I made the final turn and thought that transition was only a few feet away. I had already taken my right foot off of the shoe by the time I realized that I would need to pedal a few more times to make it to transition. I started to pedal and then realized that my shoe had already flipped over and was upside down on my pedal. This is kind of hard to explain unless you've had it happen, but when I went to pedal, my shoe hit the ground and went flying off my bike. I managed to keep control of my bike and rode into T2 with only one of my two bike shoes.

I racked my bike, took off my helmet and slipped on my shoes. I started to run out of transition and then realized that I was heading toward the wrong exit. I had to run all the way around the bike racks and back down to the other end to get to the run exit. So I lost another few seconds running around in transition.

T2
0:55
2nd out of 10 in my Age Group
20th out of 171 Overall

As I started the run, I went past Jessica and the kids. It's always cool to have them at races. I love to see the look on their faces as we lock eyes when I run or ride by. As I ran past I yelled to Jessica that I had lost a shoe. She of course immediately looked down at my feet. So I then realized that I needed to clarify that I had lost a bike shoe. I was hoping that she would be able to find it (which she did). I knew pretty early into the 5K run that my legs were not feeling it. During the Tri for Sight two weeks ago, my legs felt strong as I started the run and I was able to get faster as I ran. This was not the case on Sunday. They felt heavy and I was struggling to hold my pace under 7 minute miles. My breathing was very labored and I was constantly looking at my watch trying to force myself to run harder than I wanted to. The course starts on the road and then cuts over onto some grass as runners cross the dam. It was a cool view, but I wasn't able to enjoy it. I made the turnaround and then just started telling myself that it was only a little over a mile and a half. Then it was just a mile, then just half a mile, etc. I felt the urge to vomit as I sprinted the last quarter mile. I was frustrated that my run split had fallen off so much in just two weeks time. I was hoping that it was still good enough for a top 2 finish in my Age Group - which was the goal.

5K Run
20:57 (6:45/mile pace)
4th out of 10 in my Age Group
7th out of 171 Overall 

The family was waiting for me at the finish line and were enjoying some of the post-race snacks. The organizers had a trailer set up with several TV screens that were scrolling live results. I had a feeling that my poor run had cost me. I ventured over to the monitors and waited for the Sprint Race results to scroll by. I was pleased to see that I was second in my Age Group!

It's been a long time since I felt this bad at the finish line
Total Time
1:13:01
2nd out of 10 in my Age Group
5th out of 171 Overall

Overall I'm happy with my race. A podium finish in my Age Group and top 5 Overall are a good way to close things out. I know that my bike and run were better at the race a few weeks ago, but I think my body is trying to tell me to start my offseason and rest! Diminishing results are a good indication of fatigue.

Closest we could get to everyone looking at the camera

I loaded up the car and then I went back and convinced them to give me my plaque so that we didn't have to wait around for the awards ceremony. We needed to get back to the hotel so I could shower and we could get on the road!

We decided to hit up the good 'ol Bob Evans because it was about 100 yards from the hotel. We scarfed down some lunch and hit the road to Cincinnati. The plan was to get down to the Newport Aquarium and spend some time there before continuing home.

The drive down I-71 to Cincinnati isn't tough, but doing it in a constant rain isn't fun. We were only one exit from the Aquarium and traffic came to a stop. We crawled along and eventually made it to the exit. As we pulled down the ramp into the Aquarium parking garage, I remembered that the stroller was strapped on the top of the truck. As I pulled up to the parking ticket machine, I knew that we were not going to fit in the garage without taking the stroller off. So I had to back up the ramp and pull onto the sidewalk to remove the stroller...in the rain. I squeezed it in the back seat and we finally made it into the Aquarium.

We had a great time and the kids loved it. Sharks, turtles, jelly fish, penguins, tropical fish - all very cool stuff. After the Aquarium, we decided to have dinner at the Mitchell's Fish Market since it was right next door. Jessica and I were very excited to have some real food after eating some questionable stuff over the last 24 hours. We had ordered our food and the kids were coloring when I looked across the table and saw a look in my son's eyes...he was about to get sick again. I warned Jessica and she managed to turn his high-chair away from the table just in time. I won't go into details, but our "good" meal was eaten very quickly as we tried to get him out of there. I gave our server a little extra tip since he had to mop up puke...twice.

We decided to leave the stroller in the back seat instead of taking the time to strap it back to the roof after exiting the parking garage. We only made it one exit down the interstate and poor little guy got sick again. So I got off and found a Target. Jessica went in to try and find some Children's Anti-nausea medicine and some clothes (he had just gotten sick all over the last clean clothes we had packed for him). While she was inside Target, I was in the parking lot putting the stroller back on the roof, in the rain. We got him changed and got some medicine down him - which he immediately puked back up. We were kicking ourselves for not bringing all of our essential oils with us. We've had great luck with them for belly aches and nausea.

With the stroller back on the roof, Jessica was able to ride in the back seat and lean back into the third row to catch puke in a bag the rest of the way home...a very long hour and a half!

We made it home on fumes, but I was not going to stop for gas. By the time we got the kids to bed and I had unloaded the car and attempted to get the smell of vomit out of my truck, it was after 10pm. What a long day and a memorable way to end my 2013 Triathlon Season!


Gear used:
2XU C:2 wetsuit
Aqua Sphere Kayenne goggles
Pearl Izumi Select Tri Suit
Garmin 910XT watch
Argon 18 E-112 Triathlon bike
Bike Javelin aero helmet
Adidas Adizero Adios 2 running shoes

Nutrition used:
Pre-race:
  • (1) banana
Bike: 
Nothing
    Run:
    Nothing

    Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because they provide great products and services.

    Monday, September 23, 2013

    Blog 2.0

    My blog has transformed into much more than the training and racing updates that I was doing when I started this four years ago.

    I now also share lots of insight into my thoughts on eating and over health and wellness. So with this in mind, I've decided to change the name and layout of my blog.

    I'm hoping that this will help me reach a much more diverse audience.

    If you have any specific topics that you would like me to write about, feel free to leave a comment.

    It's hard to believe, but I just passed 60,500 all-time views and I'm now averaging close to 60 views a day! So thanks to everyone that stops by. I hope to keep you coming back in the future.

    Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because they provide great products and services.

    Wednesday, September 18, 2013

    Tri For Sight Race Report

    I was up at 4:00am and out the door by 4:30am. I arrived at the race site and checked in to get my athlete packet. Unfortunately, they lost my #28 bib number. So I improvised and cut the bike number sticker and cut some slits in it so I could put it on my race number belt. This is the reason I always take tape and scissors to races - you never know when they might come in handy.

    After I got all of that situated, I set up transition and then waited. It was only about 6:15am and the race didn't start for another hour. I kept my jacket on for a long time, but took it off so I could leave it in transition - and the closed it at 6:30am. So for the next hour, I was freezing! I literally had goose bumps and was shivering. The temperature was in the high 40's, which is great...if you are moving!

    After the pre-race meeting (which took what seemed like hours), we made our way up to the pool to line up for the swim start. I was #28, so I was 28th in line to get in the pool. I was trying to get my muscles loose while waiting in line. My hip flexors were particularly tight. I was jumping up and down, swinging my legs, doing squats, etc. But nothing was getting me warm, and they didn't allow anyone in the pool to get warmed-up.

    So needless to say, when I jumped in the water and tried to immediately swim at a fast pace - it didn't work out too well. I seriously felt like I was swimming in sludge. Every stroke was hard. I know that it normally takes me 200-300 meters to get loose during a normal workout (when I'm not freezing cold). So the fact that this was only a 400 meter swim didn't bode well. I was passed by someone about 150 meters in and I even had to abandon doing flip-turns because I couldn't catch my breath. I was passed by another two people in the last 100 and knew that my time was slow, but I was not prepared to see HOW slow. When I got out of the pool and started to run down to transition, I had to look at my watch three times to make sure I was seeing it correctly. It was easily a full minute slower than I thought I would do. Not a good start to the race.

    400 meter swim
    7:36 (1:54/100m)
    10th out of 25 in my Age Group
    75th out of 290 Overall

    I had a pretty fast transition. Socks on, helmet on, then ran my bike to the mounting line. Only issue was the visor on my helmet was fogged up from the dew. So I had to wipe that off as I started riding.

    T1
    1:23.8
    5th out of 25 in my Age Group
    19th out of 290 Overall

    The first mile of the bike course takes you out of the Spindletop property. I used this time to get my feet in my shoes and to get my visor cleared off. I then settled in once we were out on the main road and began setting my sights on riders up ahead of me. I picked them off one at a time. I was only passed once and I caught back up with this guy shortly after I was passed. The course is pretty flat with some rolling hills. I stayed in the big chain ring the whole time and stood up to push it over the hills (opposite of my Ironman bike strategy). I peddled hard and only let up on the turns. I was breathing heavy and my legs were burning. I forgot how much a Sprint race hurts. I was pretty happy with my bike, but I would have liked to been better than 5th in my Age Group.


    13 mile bike
    35:48.6 (21.8 mph)
    Nominal Power = 252W
    5th out of 25 in my Age Group
    14th out of 290 Overall 

    The second transition was very fast. I racked my bike, pulled my helmet off, slipped on my shoes, grabbed my race belt and was gone. No hat, no sunglasses. For a 5K, I can suffer with the sun in my face.

    T2
    0:34
    1st out of 25 in my Age Group
    7th out of 290 Overall

    The run was three out-and-backs. Since it was a sprint, I started out fast and kept pushing it. I passed a few guys early, then didn't get anyone else. The out and backs allowed me to see how far people were ahead of and behind me. I was gaining ground on the runner ahead of me in the last mile, but never did catch him. The last two miles of the run were difficult. My legs and lungs hurt. I just pushed through and counted down the quarter-miles until the end. My last mile was my fastest (6:27), so I was encouraged by the fact that I had enough left in the tank to push it to the finish line.

    5K (3.1 mile) run
    20:29.2 (6:36 min/mile)
    3rd out of 25 in my Age Group
    16th out of 290 Overall

    Copyright
    My goal was to finish in the top two in my Age Group. The bad swim kept this from happening. I didn't lose ground on anyone on the bike or run. A better swim and I would have met my goal and qualified for the 2014 National Championship. I picked a very competitive race to try and qualify. Finishing 12th Overall in a race with almost 300 people and only 4th in your Age Group is tough to swallow. 

    Total Time
    1:05:52.3
    4th out of 25 in my Age Group
    12th out of 290 Overall

    My swim times were slower this year than the last in almost every race...I need to get back into a weekly swim group and get my speed back!

    Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because they provide great products and services.






    Friday, September 13, 2013

    Tri For Sight Race Preview

    This Sunday I will toe the line for my last Triathlon of the 2013 season. I'm always a little sad when the final race comes around. I will have plenty of running races to occupy my time until the 2014 triathlon season starts, but it's still a little bitter-sweet.

    This will be my first time racing the Susan Bradley-Cox Tri for Sight. The race is in Lexington, which is the main reason that it hasn't made it on my race schedule before now. In previous years, the race was a Sprint/Olympic hybrid, consisting of an 800 meter swim, 19+ mile bike ride and a 4 mile run. This year, they've changed the course to make it a true Sprint Distance race (400m swim, 13 mile bike, 5K run).

    The race has a unique name and history. All proceeds go to eye research at the University of Kentucky and the race is named after the most decorated triathlete every to come from the state of Kentucky. You can check out Susan Bradley-Cox's profile here.

    I have to admit, I'm very impressed with how organized this race is. I haven't even been to the venue yet and I can already tell that there will be no issues with coordination or organization. I've recieved several emails from the race director this past week and they have even posted a list of participants online with everyone's bib number and age group/category. This is great info to have prior to race morning.

    The race starts 7:30, but I have to be there pretty early to pick up my packet (between 5:30 and 6:00). I like getting to races early, but seeing how this race is a little over an hour from my house, it's going to be an early wake-up call!

    So I obviously want to finish the season on a high note and do well in this race. Ultimately, my goal is to finish first or second in my Age Group. There are 27 athletes that have registered in the Male, age 35-39 category. Since the race is in Lexington, I don't recognize any of the names, so I'm not sure what the competition will be like. But it does appear that 3 of the top 4 finishers in the Age Group from last year are racing again, so it's going to take a strong race on my part to crack the top two.

    For most people, doing a Sprint distance race three weeks after an Ironman might seem sort of crazy. That would be true if my Ironman training had been traditional - consisting of lots of long, slow rides and runs. But since I did high-intensity, low-volume training instead, my legs are already used to the speed work. That being said, there's definitely going to be some pain involved in this one...I think Sprints are very demanding if they are done right. We'll just see what my mind and body have left after a long season of racing!

    Be sure and visit all of my sponsor's websites. I sought out these companies because they provide great products and services.







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