Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Race Plan

So, now that I have all my packing done and I have a chance to take some deep breaths and simply relax, I thought it was a great time to give all of you an vague idea of my fueling plan, pacing plan, race goals, and race expectations for Kona.  Skipping all the pleasantries, let's start with fueling...

I've put together a nice spreadsheet a week or two ago that summarizes my race breakfast, bike fueling, and run fueling.  The cool thing about this was that I was able to look at what my calorie/hr intake will be with a range of bike speed and run pace that I expect (i.e. "for which I'm hoping!").  My biggest priority with fueling plans is SIMPLICITY!  I don't want to be doing math during the race, and I don't want to be concerned with how I'm going to bring all my calories with me on the bike or run... just keep it simple, and TRAIN LIKE YOU RACE (this obviously doesn't include level of effort, just fueling)!

The bike... quite simple really (surprised?)... every hour I will take in a Gu (carrying 2 Gu flasks with me) on the :15 and :45 minute marks.  Also, will be taking in about 20oz of Powerbar Perform (provided at each aid station) each hour.  This equates to ~370 cal/hr... a very good number for my stomach and effort level.  Because I like to get in just a little bit of solids early in the bike, for the 2nd and 3rd hour, I'll be eating a powerbar instead of taking in the 2 Gu's.  Maybe this can be viewed as slightly complicated with different plans for different hours, but when you've done every long bike ride with the same fueling... it's almost instinctive.
The run... maybe slightly simpler... I rotate this plan by every 3 aid stations.  Aid station #1: 1 Gu, 2-3 cups water --- Aid Station #2:  1 cup Perform, 1-2 cups water  --- Aid Station #3:  2-3 cups water --- REPEAT.    All in all, this equates to ~320 cal/hr depending on my pace

The swim... ha, just keep swimming really.  The first 100yds or so will be hectic and the adrenaline will be ridiculous, but after that I'll just look for my rhythm and maybe someone to draft.  Once I'm comfortable, I just stick it on cruise control and watch the camera-men underneath me... awkward. As many of you know, I'm not a strong swimmer and with zero-current conditions I hope to keep a 2:00 /100yd pace.
The bike... I really don't know what speed to expect with this discipline on this course... mainly because the there is such a wide range of conditions that I could face.  But, I do know this... I hope to build my HR through my zone 2 consistently throughout the 112 miles.  Effectively, this should set me up to be in good condition for the marathon.  If you ask me, there is not such thing as a strong bike with a weak marathon.  My bike plan is not to show off my cycling ability, but rather to set me up to run a good marathon.  One thing that I is a very valuable gauge for hydrating and fueling... if my HR is too high and speed not as high as I would expect, DRINK WATER!  If my HR is lower than expected and I'm pushing out a good speed, TAKE IN CALORIES!  These are two aspects of racing that can help keep you from a DNF... and it's applicable on the run as well.
The run... assuming my bike goes well... and this is a HUGE assumption...  I plan to keep myself in mid-upper zone 2, and eventually I'll be comfortable with pushing it into lower zone 3.  This pace can range from 8:00 to 9:00 depending on the weather, my race plan execution so far, and how well my peak/taper has set me up for the race.   No matter if I'm running 8:00 or 9:00+, my biggest concern at this point is to find a pace that I can carry through the entire marathon... if I start to hit a wall out in the Energy Lab, it's going to be a really tough return trip back to the finish on Ali'i Drive.  If I'm feeling like I have some room for extra effort when I'm coming out of the Energy Lab and onto the Queen K (about 8 miles remaining), then I'll possibly try to dig deep and push my limits a bit further.  At this point in the race, training can't prepare you for this test... all the racers are out there in the middle of nowhere with nobody around to cheer you on.  It's gut-check time and time to realize whether you've executed your race well.  It's the hardest point of any race, and the reason why you sacrificed all that time in training... and you never know what it will feel like or how you will perform until you are there in the moment!  It's the best part of every race!!!

All of this in mind... my EXPECTED (not a goal time, I'm not sharing my goal time :) ) finish time is 11:20:00.

Race Goals:
  • Execute the fueling plan (this was one of my major mistakes in IMFL last year, and the reason that I "bonked" on the run... slowed from a ~8:00 to 9:xx pace)
  • Don't walk the marathon
  • Enjoy the post-finish with my family, Allison, and Donna

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Guess Mike's Kona Time!!

Alright, so in the midst of updating the time slots I lost this entire post.  No worries, I reposted all the time slots below as they were before.  But, for those of you who didn't see the rest of the post, I'll try to update this tonight and have the rest of the other details that were up earlier.

Everyone and anyone can comment below or tell me on Facebook, to let me know what 5 minute interval they would expect me to finish Ironman Hawaii!  By doing this, I wanted to get all of you just a little more involved for race day and get you even more excited for the big day! Only one person per time slot, and the winning guess will get some things from my sponsors, as well as something from the race... I'll announce that once I know more specifics!

Seems like the biggest piece of information people are using is my 2010 IMFL time (10:33:35), in combination that the Ironman Hawaii course is significantly more difficult than IMFL.  Also, my fitness is better now than it was in IMFL.
I don't have any goal time for the race (I didn't for IMFL either), since I'm really doing this race to soak in the experience... while trying to get as good of a finish time as possible  :)

This is a lousy lead-in, but this will have to do until later today.

NOTE:   "10:05:00" means 10:05:00 to 10:09:59
(any earlier time... don't even think about it!)
9:45:00                                          DK
9:50:00                                         Barbara Conte
9:55:00                                          Gsoutiea
10:00:00                                        Rob Banfield
10:05:00                                        Momma B
10:10:00                                         Heidi Austin
10:15:00                                         Chris Lessmann
10:20:00                                         Allison Wolff
10:25:00                                         Erin Reed
10:30:00                                         David Lantz
10:35:00                                         Bini Kadwa
10:40:00                                        Kate Mitchell
10:45:00                                         Donna Adams 
10:50:00                                         Nick Stanley
10:55:00                                        Shannon Wright
11:00:00                                         Rubik Sheth
11:05:00                                         Jonathan Steudlein
11:10:00                                        Poppa B
11:15:00                                         Dustin Bernatovich
11:20:00                                        Sean Lillibridge
11:25:00                                         Kristin Deaton
11:30:00                                         becklegacy
11:35:00                                        Austin

(any later time... You never know!!!)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

"Are you strong enough...?"

If there's one lesson I'll take away from this training season, it's the absolute criticality of having people around you to support and stand by you through seemingly insurmountable challenges, like Ironman Hawaii.  Without my family and close friends, I could not even imagine making it through the past 4 months... their consistent and steadfast support has been nothing but amazing, and I'm extremely lucky to have that.  4 months ago, I would not have expected to be at the point where I'm at today.   I started this season with a 7 month "off-season"... really tho, I'd call that more of a "hiatus".   Of course this was due to grad school, so I don't regret any of it... but it was very intimidating to see Ironman Hawaii 4 months away, and my fitness level being ridiculously close to zero.  Now... I've worked my ass off day-to-day and month-to-month, I can say that I'm in the best shape of my life (again!  ...since I said this for IMFL as well), and every ounce of me just can't wait to jump in Kailua Bay and hear that cannon fire!!

In all reality tho, the support around you can only get you so far... it all comes down to your preparedness, tenacity, and focus to be ready for such a challenge as Kona.  Though these are all qualities that are left to the athlete himself/herself, there is still the simple and crucial element of a training plan!  You can be as determined as the world champion next to you, but if you don't know how you're going to accomplish your goal, then what good is your determination doing you??  I chose Endurance Planner to put together my training plan for this season, and I really couldn't be any happier with the results.  I've had some amazing short distance races this season, and have placed in my AG (age group) in some really big races, which I really didn't expect to do!  One of the unique elements of Endurance Planner is the manner in which it allows you to work alongside the co-owner and coach, Kevin Cutjar.  I've been emailing and Skyping with Kevin for the past few months about training progress, training plans, general triathlon questions, race pacing, race nutrition, what to expect in Kona, and this list can seriously go on and on and on!!!  The Endurance Planner system is unique because of how it is structured around the athlete rather than the coach or program... its sole purpose is to provide a wealth of information and assistance to every one of their athletes, elite pro and common age-grouper alike!  I've learned so much through reading the EP forum, chatting with Kevin, and looking through the Coach's corner on the EP website. 
In my most recent Skype with Kevin, we talked for a good 1.5 hours or so about everything I should expect in Kona and how the remaining weeks of training will flow before the race.  I can't even begin to mention everything we talked about because this would end up being a novel, but I do want to share one thing that I wrote down when he said it.  We were discussing my Kona pacing strategy and how it will feel when I'm actually in the race.  Kev said that endurance pacing comes down to one simple question... "Are you strong enough to go easy enough?".  And though my Ironman experience is rather limited, that was the best "one-liner" piece of advice that I have heard so far!  Once you nail down a nutrition and pacing plan, and you've trained your ass off for the past few months causing you to basically put life on hold, everything that you've done and planned comes down to EXECUTION! 

I don't know how well I will perform in Kona or how fast I'll be... and to be honest, I've come to the point where I don't really fret over it.  I want to go to Kona healthy and ready (mentally and physically), and I want to execute my race exactly how I've planned.  If I can finish the race and say that I executed my race plan well, then I can say it was a perfect race!  And I will owe it to everyone of you who have supported me along the way... THANK YOU!!!

Stay tuned for more information on the race and, if I have time, my pacing/nutrition strategy.  Also, I'll be posting a competition for YOU soon... all of you will take a guess at my Kona finishing time, the winner will get some fun sponsor swag and something(s) from Kona and the race

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Close calls... too close

As my training is reaching its peak phase now, I certainly haven't been lacking in putting some excitement into the mix lately... and I don't mean good excitement.  Short version... within 5 days, I was "hit" by a car on my bike and got myself into a solo bike wreck.

Longer version...

As for getting hit by a car... without going into too much detail b/c it will just get confusing... I decided to go for a 3hr ride (60-70 miles) before going into work.  After riding for a good 2hrs I was riding by an entrance to an office building parking lot and was hit by an SUV who was trying to beat traffic and didn't see me.  Fortunately, I saw the car about to hit me and was able to pull out of the aero position to become more stable before she hit me.  Additionally fortunate, the older (60s?) lady driving the SUV hit the left side (so, she hit me perpendicularly) of my rear wheel and frame... no contact with my body, but I'm guessing it was a bit close!  Some more good fortune was that I didn't fall after she hit my rear wheel... it simply pushed my bike diagonally and I did this "squirrel-ly" looking move to ride out of it without going down.
It's all hindsight, but if she were a 1/2 second earlier or I were a 1/2 second slower... I probably wouldn't be racing in Kona next month.  The few moments when I knew I was going to get hit, all I was thinking about was "You've gotta be kidding me!!  All these sacrifices, long hours, and hard work over the past 4 months are going to be thrown away b/c of one foolish driver... effin A!"
Anyways, after she hit me I checked my bike and gathered my thoughts... once all was well, I started walking over the her since she stopped at the parking lot entrance after hitting me... makes sense, right?  Well, that's when she sped off into the parking lot as I was walking towards her.  After tracking her down, she claims to have not even known that she had hit me (even though she has a dent in her front bumper from the incident).... ugh, whatever, I get frustrated every time I tell that part of the story, but I'm just thankful that my body and bike was completely unharmed by the incident.

Now it's time to share MY idiotic move recently... after finishing up a ~120-130 mile ride, I unstrapped my feet from my cycling shoes and was just rolling the final 1/4 mile or so to my apartment, where I was going to continue with a 30 minute run.  Well... to put it bluntly, I just got stupid and lazy... as I reached back for something out of my jersey with my left hand, I decided to put my right hand on my aero bar to take control of the bike (what I should have done: put my right hand on the handle bar, which has more stability).  For those of you who are familiar with aero bar systems, you're very aware of the lack of control authority you have on the bike from this position.  Next thing I knew, my bike sharply turned left and SLAM!  I went to the ground hard and slid for the next ~10ft or so.  It was a very hopeless feeling since it happened so fast, I couldn't even put my arm out to brace myself... which, is a good thing b/c I probably would have broken something in that case.  Fortunately, I walked away from it with no broken bones or significant muscle/tissue damage... but, I did sustain a bunch of scrapes on my left side and my right shin kicked into the big chain ring causing a sort of puncture wound... it was one for the books.

I was planning to post pictures of the wounds, but decided against it b/c they really aren't pleasant to look at... especially the puncture wound from the big chain ring.

Next post coming (pretty soon actually)... I had a long talk with my coach, Kevin Cutjar of Endurance Planner, the other day and I've made some last minute adjustments to my peak training and race fueling... I'll talk about that more soon b/c it really was some valuable information that may help those of you who are also doing triathlon, or similar.  I'll also elaborate on my new motto by which I train... "Are you strong enough to go easy enough?"  -Kevin

Till next time... thanks so much for everyone's support.  With the race coming so quickly, all of you are really making a strong showing for me with your kind and supportive words... I wouldn't be doing this well without such stellar encouragement from you!  I'm thriving on it, keep it coming!!!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Because you're my favorite fan...

... I'll share a few pictures and videos with you!!

Starting off is a couple very quick videos of my swim consultation about a month ago.  As you can see, I had a really difficult time getting used to the current pool and kept drifting to the right.  Because of this, I tended to have a very odd stroke than my usual... you can easily see this in the video as I use my left stroke to not swim into the wall.  But there's still a quick section in the beginning of the second video where I seem to stay within the stream... as you can still see, I had a very lop-sided stroke.  My right stroke was way too short, and my left stroke just went in circles like a windmill.  Fortunately, my stroke has drastically improved since then (or at least I think it has), and I hope to have a new video to show you soon...
Video 1:
Video 2:

Here's a few pictures from my aquabike at the Chattanooga Waterfront tri...

And here's a few more from the Tri the Mountains race this past weekend (check out the race report here!)...
 I can't figure out why I look like I'm falling over here, or looking for a contact lens (as Allison says)... but I thought it was a funny candid pic

 Early in the bike between one of the rolling hills...

 A close-up shortly after... nuun represent!!!

 This is actually pretty late in the bike near the end of a downhill... you can tell by how my knees are tucked in towards the frame
 Ok, so I couldn't think of anything else to do here... was trying to do something funny, and the best I could come up with was a flex, which apparently tilted diagonal  lol

 Here's me laughing at myself a few seconds later

 If you've read the race report, this was how I felt after that final push to out-run the "chaser"

Best part of every race!!!  Now to stuff my face with watermelon! (my fav post-race food)

That is all people... cheers, and take care!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Injury-free to Tri the Mountains!

Since my previous post, my calf/achilles injury has finally been settling down and becoming less and less aggravated through training.  Initially, I only noticed any pain when running, so naturally I thought this was the source of the injury.  Unfortunately, after taking a good 7-9 days off from running I was finally able to shake the injury... only to have the same pain return a few days later.   I tried thinking back to when the injury started, trying to make some sense of where from which this issue came.  Soon I realized that during the 7-9 day running hiatus, I also was not able to cycle much due to traveling to New Orleans and Houston.  Additionally, I remembered a slight discomfort in my achilles shortly after my bike fitting a loooong time ago.  After doing some research, I decided to try repositioning the cleats on my cycling shoes.  One of the more significant changes during my fitting was my cleat position... moving much further forward than previously.  In short, after repositioning my cleats to the furthest aft position as possible (this was my previous philosophy... Joe Friel's take), significantly less strain is being put on my calf and achilles... so far, NO MORE PAIN!!  :)  Stay tuned tho, because this is a pretty recent development and could quickly change...

I'll go on to a quick race report now from yesterday's sprint tri in Blue Ridge, GA called Tri The Moutains.  This was a 600yd swim, 18mi bike, & 5k run (I hate mixing units given my engineering background, but I've gotten over it through the years with triathlon) through the relatively hilly (not mountainous) north Georgia, Blue Ridge region that is very popular for hiking, outdoors, lake, etc vacations.  This was certainly a good sight-seeing race and caught myself admiring the views during portions of the bike.  Anyways, on to the race report...

BEEP BEEP BEEP... there goes another one of those annoying cheap hotel alarms that try to wake you up with a heart attack... I hate those damn things.  As many of my closest are aware, I have an obsession with being very early (or, in my mind, on-time) for all my races, no matter the distance.  I set my alarm early enough to easily be at transition around 5am (when it opens).  Turns out, I should have looked at the clock before leaving... I arrived at transition before a lot of the volunteers, around 4:40am.  In all honesty though, I liked it... I wasn't tired, I had the entire transition open to me alone, no line for the timing chip, and PLENTY of time for my pre-race prep and warm-up.  Ok... prep transition... stretch... warm-up... stretch... move on to swim start.
Swim  (11:03, 1:51 pace)
3..2..1.. GO!  And so begins the most violent swim start of the season so far... after being kicked in the side of the head once, constantly being shoved by the guy next to me (who couldn't seem to swim straight), having my goggles bumped multiple times till they filled with water (stop, clear, and get back to swimming!), legs getting tangled with other people's arms.... put simply, it was a very annoying and difficult swim start.  Eventually, I just said screw it and sprinted aggressively for the next 50-100 yards.... thank you Endurance Planner training for getting me ready for those speed intervals while still having enough juice for the long haul.  The rest of the swim went pretty smoothly, and before I knew it, I was spotting the swim out.  Swim as long as possible, get my land legs under me, and start running towards transition.
T1 (0:33)
T1 went very smoothly... not very much to say here.  Pop on the Rudy helmet and shades... get in, get out!
Bike  (48:14,  22.4mph)
Overall, the bike was my strongest discipline of the day... the course was filled with rolling hills and I've been working on my hill performance over the past 7-8 weeks.  I don't recall one flat stretch over the 18 mile out-and-back route, so I was very excited for this course. Starting the bike, I noticed I was immediately passing a lot of people on the first few hills, which really felt great as they seemed to be strong, well-fit cyclists (looking at bodies and their hardware... come one, we all do it!).  Also, I never knew this, but apparently, I am very strong at down-hills... I'm thinking that it's due to my weight compared to the other competitors (me = 175, others = ~140-150 generally).  On every down-hill I am quickly gaining on, passing, or increasing my lead on the other competitors.  Eventually, as I'm closing in on the mile 9 turn-around point, I noticed that there are only 2 other cyclists ahead of me!!  INASANE!  I was really excited to see this since I am not used to being in the position to compete for an overall top 3 finisher!  Eventually, I will learn that there were some guys in the second swim wave (>40 yrs male) who were ahead of me, time-wise.  On the return trip, a ridiculously fit 47 year old pulled slightly ahead of me, otherwise the final 9 miles went very quick and smoothly.
T2  (0:29)
T2 also was very uneventful... rack, de-helmet, slip on the Avia's, and off I go.  All in all, I had the overall fastest combined T1 + T2 time... which is very awesome in short races like this!!!
Run  (20:53,  6:44 min/mi)
Starting the run with a slight uphill sucked... especially with my lack of brick workouts (bike & run combo workout) so far this season (bricks start this week actually).  I felt very slow, but I knew that I had a long downhill upcoming... kicked up the cadence, shorten stride, and keep pushing towards the downhill!  From the start, the aforementioned 47 yr old was right in front of me keeping a good pace, so I decided I would keep with him unless he slows down or someone tries passing.  The downhill went fast, and was followed by a long gradual uphill... that sucked again, but I knew that I had <2 miles left and I had done hard run intervals longer than that under the Endurance Planner workouts.  Eventually, I saw the looooong finishing straight (~400 yards).  Feeling pretty spent by now, I looked behind me to see if anyone was closing and I saw a guy that seemed to be ~50-100 yards behind.  After thinking about this for a couple seconds and not knowing if he was closing quickly, I decided to pass the 47 yr old and pick up my pace to the finish.  Shortly later, I crossed the finish and learned that "the chaser" wasn't really chasing at all... in fact, I chatted with him afterwards and learned that he was quite exhausted as well and had no intention to make a last minute pass.

End result, I finished 7th overall, and 1st in my age group with a total time of 1:21:10.  I was hoping to finish in top 3 age group, but didn't expect to finish first and have my personal best overall place so far!  Before yesterday's race, my best overall finish was 10th.  Big thanks to Endurance Planner, Nuun, and Rudy Project for helping me in training and preparing for Ironman Hawaii in October.

Additionally, though details are still in the works, I have locked in another amazing sponsorship with Endurance Planner!!!  I've mentioned Endurance Planner in the past, but it is a self-sustaining triathlon training software that designs and guides you through a training program with the detail that is unmatched by most personal trainers.  I can go on and on about this program, but instead, I highly suggest all my triathlon friends and those aspiring to do their first triathlon to look over their website and seriously consider it as a future training upgrade that will last for years.  Let me know if you are interested in getting Endurance Planner and I'll share my 10% sponsorship discount with you  :)  :) 

I'll be very busy prepping for the Houston move, studying for finals, and training (of course) over the next two weeks, but I'll try to post something before I leave Atlanta.  If I don't... my next race is in Shreveport, LA at the River Cities sprint next Sunday, 8/7... I'll let you know how it goes!!!

Till next time......

Thursday, July 7, 2011

First Speedbump of the Season.... Injury #1

And so it goes... injury numero uno of the season makes a showing as an annoying, but very notable, pain where my calf and achilles connect.  The strangest thing is that by my research, it seems that I have "tennis leg"... most common amongst soccer and tennis players due to the sudden forward acceleration that's required in those sports.  Since I haven't been working on my speed lately, this doesn't make any sense.  Additionally frustrating is that I don't feel any pain until I start running (and additional soreness after running).  As I was explaining to my girlfriend recently, this is very risky with how my mind works.  I noticed that I was very tempted to push on with training and 'B' races as if nothing is wrong bc, well, it doesn't feel like anything is wrong!  Fortunately, I know this is stupid and selfish, so I'm not acting on this instinct.  Proof of my being responsible about this injury comes in the next tidbit  <insert emoticon patting himself on back>

Though timing of this injury is very convenient with respect to Kona (plenty of time to recoup and only minor adjustments to training), it is not convenient timing for my olympic tri in Chattanooga, TN this Sunday. I was really looking forward to this race bc:  1) it's a new race for me  2) it's one of the top olympic tris in the southeast, and I wanted to grade myself amongst some stellar athletes  3) it's my first race where I feel fit and ready to race.  Sure, all of that may seem to be insignificant reasoning... but, not to me... I was very much looking forward to competing!  Though I'm definitely bitter about this sudden turn of events, I have not loss sight of my goals for this season.  I'm in all this for Kona... every little thing I do this season is preempted with the question of whether it will affect my path to Kona.  If the answer doesn't allow me to do a race... well, I have to swallow my pride and deal with it... there will be plenty more important olympic tris in my future, but this could be my only chance at racing in Kona, ever!!  All of that may have seemed a little dramatic with my next bit of news, lol.   Fortunately, I don't have to cancel my registration for this weekend's race since they have an aquabike  (swim-bike race) category race as well.  So I just transferred my race number from the triathlon to the aquabike category  :)  This will be my first aquabike ever, and I'll admit, I'm pretty excited about it!  Though I'm looking at getting a swim PR, I won't consider my bike time to be a PR tho.  My reasoning for this is that I plan to go crazy all-out on the bike, since I have no reason to save room for a 10k run afterwards... this said, I don't think it's fair to consider that to be a true PR.

Other than my calf/achilles issue, training is going really well!!  I'll cut back on the running for about 5-7 days total and work my way back into running early next week... until then, plenty of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, & Elevation) and a foam roller to make sure I don't accumulate any scar tissue.  Endurance Planner is giving me the opportunity to modify my schedule iteratively until I like what I see... which is a huge help in times like this.

I said I would talk about bit about "finishing strong", but since this post is already a bit long, I'll wait till next time for that.  Until then... stay active, and enjoy each and every day to its fullest!!!  (sure, that's a bit deep to end with, but I think it's a good recommendation)

PS... hoping to have some pics from the race in my next post... get excited!