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!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pictures!! And a quick training update!!

Everyone likes pictures... probably b/c it's easier and more fun to go through as compared to reading!  Now, if only I could put out a 3-D blog....  :)

F.I.S.T. Bike Fitting @ Tri Your Best (aka Decatur Bikes)
 Finding the exact point of rotation on my hips...

 Pre-fitting, as he takes a long look at my pedal stroke and body positions....

 Mid-fitting... I think he was trying to find my hip rotation points while in the saddle

And... FIT! (check out that leg extension!!)

After this fitting, I gained about 1 mph on average, but the most valuable gain from this fitting was confidence... I feel so much more power going into each pedal stroke and my long rides are MUCH more comfortable.  Huge thank you to Dave Wilson from the Tri Your Best shop!!

A few pics along my bike route (Silver Comet Trail)...

As for what's new with my training with Endurance Planner... I've finally nailed down a potential nutrition (calories, water, & electrolytes) plan for the IM world championship, and it turned out to be a little insane on the water side!!  I'll be taking in 2-3 cups (depending on the size of the cups) on each mile of the marathon... this equates to ~90-96 oz/hr, or 1 large water bottle every two miles!!!  Fortunately, my stomach is finally becoming accustomed to taking in so much fluid every mile (yes, that means I have to drink 1/2 a water bottle every mile!), so I'm getting very excited to concentrate more on building my speed for each discipline... gonna be awesome!  As for calories... I'll be taking in ~350 cal/hr on the bike and ~280 cal/hr on the run via Hammer Perpetuem.  And electrolytes... entirely thanks to nuun!!!  I couldn't finish long workouts without my nuun.... I've recently learned this from experience when I forgot my nuun tube for a 4.5hr bike ride... long story short, I got (what I think was...) the beginning stages of hyponatremia (too much water, not enough salt... LINK).  What it feels like.... I felt lightly cross-eyed w/ blurred vision, sense of balance was a tad off, and I couldn't get thoughts into words very efficiently.  If you've ever seen "the crawl" (video) or many other dramatic videos of people stumbling to the finish line, hyponatremia, insufficient calories, or dehydration are the leading contributors to this state. 

As for performance, I'm certainly feeling a little quicker this year in the bike and run.  This is primarily a result of working on my cadence (pedals strokes or strides per minute) and overall form. My swim is still sub-par... but, I recently went to see Tracy Palmer with The Sport Factory for a brief swim consultation and I'm beginning to get some hopes for some moderate gains in my swim performance.  So far, I'm definitely seeing improvement only 6 days later!!

I threw that out there in a bit of a ramble b/c I'm hungry (as usual) and it's getting late.  Later, I really want to talk a bit about some thoughts I had recently on what it means to me to "finish strong"... this seems to be very popular amongst most people, but I am not much of a believer in the common practice of sprinting to the finish.. but, that's just me  :)

Till next time...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hard Work is Necessary for Success... But, Planning is Vital

Certainly, the most exciting part of the sport of triathlon is the morning of that goal, or A, race when you're full of butterflies and overwhelmed with a consuming sense of euphoria.  Nothing can beat this, it truly is something that can't be entirely portrayed through words, but rather, has to be experienced.  Possibly the second most exciting part of the sport... the beginning!!!  When your season goals can be limitless (within reason!) and you have the unique capability to foresee exactly how the next 3, 4,..., or 12 months will play out for you... or so you hope!!  This foreseeability comes in the form of planning your entire season training plan and races. It can be a long, drawn-out process as you second and third guess every week, but when it's complete, you're in a unique position to envision how your fitness will progress for days, weeks, and months at a time.  Whether you're just starting out or several years (even decades!!) into triathlon, you have to be very very careful about knowing your body's progressive limits and when to give your body some rest.  Creating your own training program can be amazingly rewarding, but if you're too ambitious you WILL get injured and end up in worse physical condition than when you started.  Do research, feel your body's limits, know when to sleep/eat/relax, do more research, discuss/learn with people who are very experienced, do more research, and keep in mind that your training plan will not go as planned... unfortunate, but guaranteed.

This whole preface is in prep for nearly this entire post.  I'd like to share a few things that I've learned from training over the past few years, and give more details about this season's training plan (which was essentially adapted from my previous Mark Allen Online (MAO) plans... I am not even close to having the knowledge to build my own plan from scratch, but I did tweak it slightly).

Disclaimer... everything below is my interpretation of what I've learned and experienced.  It is certainly an art, rather than science.  And I am giving you my perspective... feel free to add more input in the comment section!

Most importantly, there is a simple framework that is most popular (can be considered the rule-of-thumb) for starting a training plan called Periodization.  I briefly described this approach in a previous post, but in short, it's a way of breaking up a training plan that is meant for your peak fitness to occur for your A race.  My favorite picture to portray how these periods are organized and how they differ is below....

Ok, let's skip a LOT of technicalities because I'm already elaborating more than I planned... if you want to learn more about Periodization, check out this link.  This will help you visualize why my training volume (total time) progresses the way it does for my plan overview below... this goes from last week to October 8 (A race day!).

I won't spend time pointing them out, but in my plan is 2 base periods, 2 build periods, and a peak/taper.

So... why a taper?  Why not just build as high of volume and intensity as possible and use it for the race?  Put simply, the taper is solely meant to give your body a chance to repair itself in preparation for the A race.  Effectively, by building training volume and intensity over a 10-15 week period, you are damaging your fast (via intensity) and slow (via volume) twitch muscle fibers (see another link) over and over again while giving them just enough rest to barely repair before the next hard workout.  Finally, when you reach the peak phase of training and taper begins, your body finally gets a chance to fully repair all this damage which results in a large and sharp spike in fitness/performance!!  Keep in mind, as pointed out in the earlier figure, training intensity will not taper until the final week or two.  Without a taper, you're simply not taking full advantage of the hard work through which you put your body because your muscles aren't fully ready. 

What do my weeks look like?  Well, I was able to put together a consistent schedule adapted from one of my previous MAO programs in the ever-so-awesome Endurance Planner software.  Seriously, can't say enough about how amazing this program is and how helpful it is with building and maintaining your own program.   Each week generally looks like the week shown below (which is actually this week)...

Beyond setting each discipline to have at least one day between consecutive workouts, I also set my day-off for the very end of the week.  My thought in doing this... it allows me for more flexibility in case I'm feeling very fatigued and need some rest earlier in the week.  If I took the day off on Wednesday, I would not have any flexibility to adjust the schedule for the rest of the week without sacrificing workouts.

I had planned to give more in depth information here, but this got long fast... my bad for those who are interested in hearing more.  But, please don't hesitate to drop me a line on Facebook or email if you want to talk more about something specific.

Some other amazing news to share!!  I have added a new sponsor to Team Bernatovich, and I can't express how excited I am about this one!  I've used their product since my first triathlon and have used it as a crucial element for fueling ever since.  Welcome, Nuun, to Team Bernatovich!!  And thank you for this great opportunity... I'm really looking forward to sharing this season with you and spreading the word about such an amazing product.   Whether you use Nuun already or you're interested in giving it a try, let me know and I'll throw a tube your way!!  Yes, free compliments of me, but I'm not going to ship one tube, so those of you in Houston will have to wait a bit (still let me know tho).   Consider it a thank you for keeping up with my blog and dealing with my incessant rambling at times when I get excited.   Here's to Nuun!!

Next time I'll talk more about cadence... bike and run... since it's my main area of concentration this season.  And, of course, I'll talk more about my progress with training for Kona  :)

Till then... stay healthy & be happy!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A hint of bitter, and oh SO SWEET

Times like this make me wish cliches weren't... well.. cliches.  It's so common for people to use the phrase "it feels like a dream", and I'm not saying it's always fake or misplaced when people use it... but sometimes, and this time included, I wish I came up with the phrase myself because it captures exactly how I've been thinking and feeling since this past Friday.

Short story time (for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, this should help clear it up). So this past Friday, after finishing up the last class of the week I was taking my daily ~1.5mi walk back to my car... checking my email on my phone I see something that starts with "Congratulations Ford Ironman World...".  After a thousandth of a second worth of excitement, I get over it and realize that it's probably an announcement of who won this year's highly coveted Kona lottery spots.  But wait... they didn't send out a similar email last year... <big smile> hmmmm.  Still walking, I press to open the email while controlling every ounce of me to just wait a couple seconds before going crazy... I mean, there's no reason for me to torture myself over suspicion.  I swear it took minutes for my phone to open the email (realistically, a couple seconds)...  sure enough, the rest of the email subject  "Conrgatulations Ford Ironman World Championship Lottery Winner!".  Stopping in the middle of the walkway, I'm still skeptical... I have to read every word of the email before giving in to this surge of excitement... after seeing my registration password and some more intricate details, I gave in!  Immediately, I start calling the people closest to me to tell them this truly unbelievable news... first on the list was my double Iron crew  :)  Most of my crew didn't even know that I submitted for the lottery... you can call it superstition or whatever, but mostly, I knew the probability of getting a lottery slot on my first try was miniscule to next-to-nothing... so I didn't want anyone to deal with the hope of getting this outcome, except me.  Also... I simply didn't want to jinx it (call me crazy, but whatever... it worked)!  I'm still not entirely sure what was going through my head when I submitted for the lottery because I had previously decided not to waste the money ($40 I think)... it was really a spur of the moment thing, where I saw an Ironman email and simply decided to buy the lottery "ticket" a few days before the deadline.

Since that afternoon, I've been feeling like I'm in a dream... I'm literally waiting for this agonizingly teasing dream to end.  One of the first things I did when reading that email was pinch myself and count my fingers on each hand (I've read that if you do this in a dream you'll count something other than 10... and I still have 10!).  I cannot get over this amazing stroke of luck that I've had, and I plan to take full advantage of it.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that thousands of others would give anything for, and I am not going to take that for granted!!  I may not have earned this spot with a top-3 performance (i.e. traditionally qualify), but I am going to train as if I did!!  Here's to what will hopefully be a perfect training season!

The double?  Well... you do the math.  With the double Iron starting on the same morning as Ironman Hawaii, I simply cannot do both races... for this sole reason, the Ironman Hawaii news does come with the slightest, minute hint of bitterness.  I'm trading off a once-in-a-lifetime feat for a once-in-a-lifetime dream... for every (or, nearly every) triathlete, the ultimate success is lining up in Kailua Bay and getting your swim on at the sound of a cannon.  Even for non-triathletes, this is a huge deal... it is THE Ironman race about which everyone knows!   This said... it sucks to have to cancel my double Iron registration, but I didn't have to think twice about this decision.... I'm Kona-bound!!  (wondering what will happen with the blog now... we'll see)

Oddly enough, I'm more intimidated by Ironman Hawaii than the double Iron in Virginia... speaking with a good friend (a while back) who has podium finished in Hawaii, he said that this race is the ultimate Ironman challenge.  Every race has it's unique challenges, but very few (if any) contain the brutal combination of challenges that only Kona provides.  There's a reason why it is the championship race for the best of the best.  It's going to be a day of ultimate pain that I'll thoroughly enjoy and never forget... I'll simply cross my fingers for an injury-free season!!

This changes my training plans, but not in a devastating way... training for a double is not entirely different than training for an Ironman.  The most notable difference is the long weekend workouts are longer for a double, and there are less tempo (anaerobic) workouts for a double.  This said, no major changes there... but there are always unique challenges with every training season, so we'll see how that goes.

I'm not entirely sure how this blog will change... this was initially set up to share my unique training experience for my first double Ironman.  Since there are a good amount of regulars for my blog and a bunch more sporadic readers, I'll continue the usual updates with a change in destination  :)

One more thing, my brother found a quick description from Ironman about typical weather on race day...
"What is the weather typically like on race day? 
Temperatures on race day range from 82 to 95 degrees, with the humidity hovering around 90 percent. Crosswinds on portions of the bike course sometimes get as high as 60 mph."

And more course descriptions... definitely a good read, in my opinion!!
Ironman Hawaii Course Description 

Till next time... Stay healthy & be happy!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Don't be the best, just keep getting better

Before I get into the more obvious good news, I realize that it's been way too long since my last post here and several things have happened since then.  So to keep this to a reasonable length, I'm going to split all these updates into two separate posts

About a week or two ago, I got an opportunity to get some medical advice from a friend-of-a-friend podiatrist over the phone, Dr Shelly Levulis (  Obviously this advice was in regards to my bunion issues.  My biggest worry with those issues was the risk of the unknown... I simply couldn't get consistent and detailed information through my online research, so I couldn't come to a conclusion if there was the chance of long-term risks of running with advanced bunions.   Some of my research hinted that there was significant risk of irreversible damage by pushing through the pain of advanced bunions.  Fortunately, by talking with Shelly, I first learned that my bunions are not in the advanced stage, but rather light to moderate.  Additionally, (and definitely the best piece of news from the discussion) I have no reason to be worried about irreversible foot damage... irreversible, meaning not surgically fixable.  This sounds like a run-of-the-mill piece of good news, but this was really a turning-point in my mindset for training for the double Iron... at this point, I was 100% certain that I had nothing in my way to do this race!!  This was such a big deal with my mental preparedness that I remember the date and marked it as a major benchmark... Monday, April 4  :)

Now this doesn't really mean that I'm completely out the woods yet though, since I do have to find ways to manage and reduce the pain that I have to deal with on long runs. To help with this part of the problem, I had to take several steps that include new wide running shoes, wide cycling shoes, and (per Dr Shelly's advice) orthotics.  Fortunately, I already got new running and cycling shoes, but still need to make my move on getting orthotics.  After trying on several pairs of running shoes at Academy, I decided to go with Mizuno's Wave Rider 14 (wide)... I cannot express this enough, but I finally know what a good-fitting shoe is supposed to feel like!!  I never realized that my previous shoes were a bad fit until I put these new kicks on... AMAZING!!  And as for the running feel of the shoe,  after getting used to the added weight and different shoe construction... my gait has become very consistent and controllable.  I've always been a huge fan of Mizuno, and these shoes definitely get the Bernzy Stamp of Approval (BSA)!  I also bought a few other goodies, as you can see in the pic below.

And, though you might not remember from my last post, but I was going to try to get a pic of the Rudy Project backpack that I got recently.  In short, if you're looking for a good-looking, low-profile bag that stands up the mother nature's elements well... this gets a several BSA's!!  Thanks Rudy, for putting out some really great products and standing strong to the big corporations!!  For those who don't know Rudy well, it's a relatively small company that puts out some great eyewear and athletic gear for triathletes, golfers, shooters (aka gunmen?), etc etc... let me know if you're looking to by any Rudy gear and I'll likely be able to share my 40% discount  :)

Now... let's move on to the OTHER big news...  :)

Till then... Stay healthy & be happy!!!

edit:  One last thing... for those of you in PA, if you're ever in need of a great, friendly podiatrist that takes the time to make sure you're well informed about what exactly is going on with your feet... I HIGHLY suggest giving Dr. Shelly & Co. a call/email  --->

edit #2:  I forgot one product review... the fuel belt that you can see in the first picture was something I bought since I knew I would need it for my very long runs planned for the HOT summer months.  In short and to be honest, I wasn't impressed with this.  I've always avoided buying fuel belts bc of concern that it would bounce too much for comfort causing chafing... also, I had a feeling it would make me feel sluggish bc of he extra weight.  Turns out, both of those concerns are true... oh well.  That said, some people LOVE these things and won't run without it... if you want to try it out, anyone is free to borrow mine.  Just let me know

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Fate is what you make of right now

Since I was trying to keep the most recent post short, I didn't include something that I've wanted to start including in most, if not all, of my posts.   After thinking about it some more, I should have included it because it's an important addition to this blog, in my opinion.

So what is "it"?  I'm going to start giving shout-outs to family, friends, and others for making athletic accomplishment(s) big and small...  unfortunately, this blog doesn't get enough hits to make their accomplishments well-known, but every little bit counts and they deserve every bit of recognition.  I already had a few people in mind, so here it goes....

Shout-out numero uno goes to Allison&Avery for the Galveston beach 5k I mentioned in the previous post.   Avery took the beach 5k like a champ and finished in 45 minutes-ish.  Yea 45 minutes may seem like a slow time for the common runner, but with Avery being 6 and the run being on sand??  That's bad-ass... she'll be a marathoner in no time  ;)

Number two is preemptive (and I apologize for that, Donna) goes out to Donna Adams who will be competing in her first 70.3 (1/2 Ironman) in just two weeks.  This is the New Orleans 70.3 that Dustin and I did last year (the same 70.3 I said was my hardest race) and though it is a very flat course, mother nature sure can bring the HEAT!!  Good luck Donna, and enjoy a good ole Miller Lite after the finish... it's delicious!

Another shout-out must be given to my friend Andrew Brodbeck for a very impressive finish at the Dallas 1/2 marathon last weekend. I think he finished with a ~8:40 pace, which needless to say is pretty awesome.  This race was a build-up race for his first marathon later this season (sorry man, I already forgot the race specifics).  Keep up the good work man, I know your times have improved dramatically from your earlier 1/2 marathon this season... and in my opinion, improvement is VASTLY more important than actual performance.  Keep it up buddy!!

Finally, one more shout-out will go to Jen Vogel.  Jen got 1st female and 4th overall at the recent Florida Double-Iron triathlon... what else can I say to that??   Very awesome performance and amazingly consistent effort through the entire race.... welllllll done!!

Alright, that's all the shout-outs for today... if I've missed anyone or if you have someone who deserves a shout-out, please feel free to do so with a comment below!!

Also, if you are interested in buying anything from Rudy Project, please let me know and I'll give you my sponsorship code for 40% off.  I'd rather not post it for all of the internet to use, so just text me or send me a message on Facebook and I'll give you the gold!  I recently discovered that this can be shared, and I like to share

Stay healthy & be happy!!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Argue Your Limits

Finally an update... my apologies for being late with this update, but it's been a few weeks and my goal was to come back here with some good news.  Fortunately, that is actually going to happen!  Though it's a long, twisty road up ahead, I'll take any amount of positive thoughts that I can get, especially with the feet issues I was having!!  Honestly, I have a few things I want to get out there and I don't know when I'll have some free time again, so I'll just touch a bit on everything... without going into encyclopedia mode

First, my feet... so the last update I gave all of you was simply the fact that my bunions could be a major upcoming issue b/c of the pressure/pain they were causing on my middle toes was significant.  Though I still am not positive as to what will unfold over the next few months (seriously, who does in this sport?), I was able to make some changes that have significantly mitigated the pain issues I was having.  In short, the biggest benefit came from one of the purchases I made during a $35 CVS trip (yes, $35 in ONLY bunion "fixes" with which to experiment).  I bought these little gel "wedges" that are placed between the big toe and the "index" (?) toe... effectively, this soft gel-like wedge helps absorb the pressure that was causing all the pain in my middle toes.  The result?  Several runs greater than 8 miles (one being 14 miles) with NO pain whatsoever!!   Additionally, I've just purchased a new pair of training kicks that will likely help a lot (Mizuno Wave Rider 14, wide).  Of course, I'll keep updates rolling with this, but it's looking MUCH better now and it's showing in my training performance!

As for my issue of not having a lot of time for training due to school... recently, this has changed dramatically so I'm keeping a very stable and consistent training schedule lately.  Though I know this will not continue for the remaining semester, I do expect this summer to be a lot different and I'll certainly be able to make up for the time lost!!

My 2011 season officially began this past weekend with the Eco Duathlon (sprint) in Galveston, TX.  Though I am not in any form of anaerobic shape right now, I was able to squeeze out my first ever overall podium finish with 3rd place.  It was a very new and good feeling to go through the transition area and see only a few bikes racked up from those who were in front of me... usually enough are racked where I just don't notice how well I'm placed at the moment.  I ended up passing the (then) 3rd place guy on the final run, which was a really cool feeling!  I've had success with age group placing in the past, but it's such a great feeling to make that final pass in the final stretch!  Additionally, Allison and Avery competed in the 5k race and did awesome!  A 6yo doing a 5k (in the sand, btw) is always an impressive feat.  And they did just as well with cheering me on during the duathlon :)

It's been an interesting month with regards to meeting more and more of the ultra-distance community and I've made some really great friends all around, with NO exceptions. These people are at the highest aerobic fitness you could imagine and they love what they do. Before I go on, I cannot stress that enough... I loved meeting every single one of them and I could not think of a better race community with which to become involved.  However, I did notice that there tends to be a bit of extreme pride, verging on arrogance, with their mindset on the distances that they are able to accomplish.  This is by no means all-consuming for the ultra-community, but rather something of which I've noticed a slight presence.  And to be fair, on some level, I don't blame them.  I think you need to have a large amount of confidence in the endurance events, in order to keep yourself motivated and to keep a strong mental toughness during those grueling long training days and races.  The only part that stood out for me in a negative light was when this confidence transitioned into arrogance.  For instance, someone who is competing in a double-Iron triathlon must have a good amount of confidence to succeed in such a daunting feat... but, that does not entitle them to talk down about shorter races such as 5k's, marathons, or any triathlon of Iron distance or less.  This does not entitle them to doing so because these are races that a large number of people are very proud to accomplish and deserve every bit of respect that an ultra-distance athlete deserves.  To refer to these races as insignificant, purely b/c you're competing in an ultra-distance race, is just plain non-sense.  ALL races have their unique challenges, no matter the distance!  To be honest, the hardest race I've ever competed in was either New Orleans 70.3 or the Wilkes-Barre olympic (note, it wasn't IMFL).  Just because one race is longer than another, does not mean it is more challenging... and anyone who feels otherwise, can certainly bring up the debate to me... but you'll lose, so be prepared for that  :)  (remember, the confidence thing?  ;) )
Sorry... that was a bit of a rant, but if one person takes a positive thought from it, then I'll consider it well worth the effort.    Feel free to ridicule me in the comments!

Alright, I'll wrap it up with a quick product review from my sponsor Rudy Project.  I recently bought their backpack b/c I was in need for a new bag for school, and race-days.  In short... AMAZING!  Seriously, I am always impressed with the quality of their products in that they seem to stand up well to the toughest elements... and they do so while looking good and having some great features.  If you do become interested in one of their products, I strongly suggest signing up for their emails and waiting for a sale (they happen quite often!).
Sorry I don't have my own picture... may be upcoming
Rudy BackPack

That's all people, nothing else to see here.  Keep checking back for updates, otherwise I'll try to keep you notified on Facebook.

Stay healthy & be happy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Simply, wait and see...

So this post will be relatively short.  Mainly since it's not one that I'm particularly excited about putting out here... but, I know there are a lot of you out there who are interested in following my progress with this adventure, so here it is...

As most, if not all, of you already know, I'm currently in grad school at Georgia Tech to earn my masters in Aero Eng.  Over the past few weeks, I've gone through an exceedingly busy phase of this semester due to multiple projects and homeworks being due around the same time of an exam.  Of course this busy schedule won't continue at this rate the entire semester, but when it does happen, it is severely detrimental to my training... as low as 4 workouts per week, which should be upwards of 10-12.   In the beginning of the year, I made a few promises to myself when setting out on this adventure of training for a 281.2 (double Iron tri).   One of the top promises being that I would put a very high priority on my education and not allow for training to get in the way of my success on that.  It's come to my realization recently that, with the amount of time dedicated to my education, I cannot train for this race to the extent that I had planned.   This sucks, but I'm OK with it since I'm holding to my priorities.  This said, I am not giving up on what I set out to accomplish this year.  But, I am questioning whether I will have enough hours in the week to do everything that needs to be done in the long run. 

What now?  Simply, wait and see.   I'll try to keep my invaluable supporters updated as things progress, but (as you can tell from the previous long silence here) I will not be posting here as much as I would like. 

On a lighter note... follow this guy, Dean Karnazes, who is running across the country!  You'd think he'd be satisfied with a simple West-East path... but no, he's going from LA-ish to NYC.  What an incredible inspiration!!!
Dean Karnazes... going to distance, and then some

Till next time... stay healthy, and be happy!!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Terradactyl Claws

Lately, I've consistently been impressed with so many things about the ultra-distance community.  I am always running into more and more people who are part of this community, and every single one of them have the common trait of wanting to help in any way possible.  For me right now, this is usually limited to just answering a few questions, which usually lead into more questions, and more and so on and so forth.  One thing I've learned is that there is an infinite amount of information to learn about triathlon... and for every race distance, comes a whole new set of information to learn and challenges to test yourself as a person and athlete.   I'm not attempting this new distance to "go bigger" or "take the next step"... I'm attempting a double Ironman in a quest to challenge myself in a new way, it just so happens to be a challenge with a longer distance.  I've learned this through a discussion I've had with someone recently, and it's stuck with me ever since.  Every race has its unique challenges... I'm going to find the mental and physical challenges that come with training for and racing a double Ironman, and hopefully (in one way or another) someone else will benefit from my experience.

The past couple days have been pretty busy between school, training, my mom visiting, and a trip to a podiatrist.  One challenge/injury I ran into when training for Ironman Florida was intense pain in my 2nd & 3rd toes when running distances greater than 10 miles... which, when running 30-35 miles per week, was unavoidable.  I never found out the source of this pain... till now.  I went to a podiatrist to find out what caused this pain, and why my feet look the way they do... not necessarily ugly, but certainly very odd feet! Since I'm a typical guy, I didn't really care that my feet had a very odd shape so I never had it checked by a doctor.  Best way to describe it, they look like I grew up wearing my left/right shoes switched to the wrong feet.  I took a pic of the x-ray at the podiatrist for you...

See the odd big toes that sorta look like a terradactyl claws?  Yep, that is due to advanced bunions on both feet... thank you family genes!  Now, why is this bad for running long distance?  In short, the joint becomes inflamed when running and causes additional pressure on the two neighboring toe joints.  After about 8 miles, it feels like all three toes have swelled to twice the size of a regular big toe... it's very painful and greatly affects my gait (the manner in which the foot impacts and leaves the ground w/ each stride).  Potential solutions... anti-inflammatory meds before long runs, shoes w/ a bigger toe box, orthotics, and/or big toe splints/wraps.  It's an on-going issue and, for now, it's already becoming a problem, as it began hurting on my ~8 mile hill run today.  Before I begin to increase my run volume, I HAVE to fix this issue... cross your fingers for me

One more note... I got a new toy the other day from my sponsor, Rudy Project  :)  See pics below, and... 

Till next time... stay healthy & be happy

 --Rudy Noyz w/ Photocromatic Clear (on), Racing Red (for contrast), and Laser Black (sunny sunny days)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Week 1 Has Begun!

Week 1 has begun in my quest to earn a prefix to my Ironman title... DOUBLE!

I've been working out for a few weeks now, but this week marks the start of my peak training program  for the double.  Everything is feeling really great right now... my body is really waking up from a long, easy off-season.  One of my favorite feelings that comes with the early stages of this type of training is how my legs feel!  It's a hard thing to describe (some of you may know what I mean though), but my legs are beginning to feel like they have springs in them... it's mainly due to the increased bloodflow when recovering from a workout, but as I sit here typing this it seems that my legs are yelling at me to go for a run!

I won't be talking about every specific detail of my workouts, but I had my first BAD swimming cramp last week.  Quite literally felt like someone reached inside my thigh and pulled on my hamstring as hard as they could!!  My leg instantly locked up, and that was the end of my workouts for that day.. fortunately, it's been feeling just fine since then.  Didn't have the best diet or drink enough water that day, so that's likely the cause.

My base training is well underway now, and I'll be starting my first of four build phases of training in late February.  With that said, and as some of you may know, I got my Endurance Planner training software and it is proving to be a great tool!  The capabilities and control that you have with it is definitely the biggest benefit... I'll be tracking everything from body weight to gear usage to various performance measures (such as, heartrate and capable endurance pace with each sport).  The quick snapshot below outlines the training volume (time) for each discipline.. you can see some of the build periods and low-priority races in different spots.

This will be tweaked quite a bit eventually though, since I'm not quite happy with how I designed a mid-season peak (seen as the sharp dip in volume in the middle). The last "mini-build" you see at the end is after the Double Iron, acting for my final race of the season, the Iron-Star 1/2 Iron. 

As promised, here's a list of my most-definite/definite races for the season.  I'll likely have 3-4 more races mixed in there somewhere to keep it exciting and mix up the training.  Hoping to be in Houson for the Clear Lake olympic as well!  Who's with me?!
  •  Spring Fling sprint  (May 1 - Gainesville, GA)
  •  West Point Lake olympic  (June 12  - LaGrange, GA)
  •  VA Double Iron  (October 8-9  -  Lake Anna State Park,  VA)
  •  Iron Star 1/2... apparently renamed to Oil Man Texas  -  (Nov 6  -  Conroe, TX)
One more note, I went to get an early massage by Eileen Steil last week... she'll be my masseuse for this season, and an amazing one at that.  I strongly recommend her to all of you in Atlanta, especially if you're physically active and need some quick muscle recovery and/or fixing.  Equally important as the massage, I had a great chat with her regarding ultra-distance (longer than Ironman) training and races and got a wealth of information... keep in mind this is a deca-Iron finisher (the ONLY American woman to do so, btw), so she knows a thing or two to say the least.   One of the best pieces of information I got from her was the need for external support and motivation.  It's going to be a painstakingly trying 9 months, equally physical and mental.  With the unfaltering support from my parents, brother, Allison, David, workout partners, and all the rest of you interested in my progress... I don't think I could be in a better position with support and motivation.  I genuinely appreciate you, and hope that you enjoy following me through the best and worst of it!

Till next time... stay healthy & be happy

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Carry the flag

So it's already been a little while since my last post... my bad if you've been on the edge of your seat since the most recent  :)    I spent the 3-day weekend in Houston... while Atlanta experimented with an ice rink on city streets, which failed beautifully.

I didn't workout while in Houston, so I don't have much to report on that front... besides for a decent 2000 yard swim this morning and going for a lift after posting this.  While on my drive to Houston though, I finally came to a point of having a dedicated "mental connection" to doing this race in October.  It's really difficult for me to describe what I mean by "connection", so I'll sacrifice a man-card and some internal thoughts by trying to explain through my experience with Ironman Florida.  First off, I don't know if other people go through similar feelings as I had with IMFL, so this could be similar to what others experience... I'm not relating IMFL as a life-altering event, but it certainly affected nearly every thought and action of mine for the 365+ days that I trained for it.  I set a goal and decided that nothing was going to get in my way... I became wholly invested with finishing this race.  I'd watch Ironman (IM) videos on youtube and would become choked up by some of the clips, as I would imagine myself doing the same thing.  I would have dreams about finishing the race... as the race got closer, these dreams turned more to nightmares of me sleeping-in through the race start, but that's a different topic... these visions of finishing the race become a small obsession.  I would get choked up by simply envisioning my first Ironman finish.  It becomes the reason to wake up at 4am for a 2+hr swim, or ride your bike for an entire Saturday with your college football team in a rivalry game, or to strictly discipline yourself to eat well for (ideally) every meal... it acted as a filter for every thought that went through my mind.  If I failed at one of these things just once, that's not terrible... but, I always had to be cautious because it can become the snowflake that started the avalanche.  A quote from a great movie, Vision Quest... the main character Louden was trying to lose weight to wrestle and, against all odds, defeat a well-known state-champ. Louden was offered a cheeseburger from a friend.  When Louden refused, his friend said,  "It's one burger, it won't put you overweight".  Louden replied, "Yea, but it'd be a good start".  I probably messed up the exact wording, but the general message is clear.  To succeed in such daunting goals, you have to stay disciplined.  If I wanted to beat the odds and dedicate myself to doing IMFL, I had to find that state of mental preparedness to stay on path to do it.  This mental preparedness "took shape" in me envisioning myself crossing the finish line and hearing the words "You are an Ironman".
How this relates to now, with the double Ironman...  Given it's short list of competitors from across the globe, a tradition at the Virginia Double Iron is to carry your country's flag for the final 1/4 mile across the finish line (you can see this in the limited double Iron videos on youtube). When driving to Houston, I had to catch myself a little bit when I began envisioning myself finishing the race.  While imagining myself carrying the US flag across the finish and having my support crew there for me, I (once again) choked up a bit and realized that I have the mental state and am ready to meet this goal... I WILL carry the flag!

This all might seem very trivial on the surface... but it really does mean a lot for the mental aspect of training, which is more than 1/2 the battle.

I'll get my Endurance Planner software in the mail very soon, and I can't wait to set up my 35+ weeks of training!!  The engineer in me is excited to fool around with the software capabilities, and the athlete in me is excited to schedule all my workouts for the year :)   When I have my schedule worked out, I'll let you know all the other races I plan to do this season!  Oh, and before I head out for some weight training...... DA BEARS!!!!

Till next time... stay healthy & be happy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Just keep pushing

So training has been very limited the past few days bc of the ice storm that came through Atlanta a few days ago.  Which is an interesting note in itself... long story short, the city has been crippled for 3 days since it doesn't have nearly enough equipment or experience to handle a moderate snow/ice storm.  Nevertheless, I've been doing everything I can to keep working up to a base fitness for this season... mainly a lot of indoor cycling on the trainer, weight training, and core exercises.  So far... I'm feeling very out of shape and slow... but time and repetition is the only way out of this funk, so I'll just keep pushing. 

To quickly elaborate on what I mean by "base fitness"... Most triathlon training programs are designed in a very structured, progressive manner that is organized by periods (aka  periodization).  Just take a peek at this picture to see how each of the periods are typically designed...
Sometimes, you'll have two build periods, but no need to talk about that here.  Currently, since I took a very long off-season to give my knees a break, I am working through the prep period till the end of next week or so.   After that I'll begin my base period of training on a schedule that I'll tailor using Endurance Planner (EP) software (  Previously, I've used Mark Allen Online for training (which gave me AMAZING results... I have nothing but praise for MAO), however, I'm trying to save more money this season... so I decided to go with EP.  Only time will tell if this was a smart decision, but after talking with the EP owner/head coach (Kevin), I'm very confident that this was a great move.  Also, Kevin is a multi-time Ultraman champion... sooo, definitely a great source for information.  To conclude, during the final period (peak), you have anywhere between 2-4 weeks of tapered training volume (time) with an increase in intensity... by doing this, you're body goes into a strong recovery mode, which equates to a significant spike in fitness over a short amount of time.  

Why am I giving you all this information?  Some of you might actually find it interesting, but for those who don't... knowing this information will help you follow me through the coming months, and makes it much easier for me with posting the upcoming training extravaganza.

Till next time...  stay healthy & be happy

Monday, January 10, 2011

And, so it begins...

Well hello there! Thanks for checking out my double Ironman blog.... hopefully you'll find it interesting (on any level) and will come back every now and then to see how my story plays out.  I don't plan to post here everyday... that'd get a little old... but I'll keep you posted every now and then with my training progress and race results

The purpose of this blog is purely to share a few of the countless experiences and thoughts that I'll have over the next 39 weeks... concluding with the largest physical challenge I will attempt in my life to date, the Virginia Double Iron Triathlon (consisting of a 4.8 mile swim, 224 mile bike, and 52.4 mile run).   The race will take place on October 8-9 in Lake Anna State Park, Virginia.  Each discipline is done straight through and consecutively, with an overall time limit of 36 hours.... yea, I'm not denying that it's completely insane... I'm still wondering what the hell I'm thinking

On that note.... why do it?  I've been thinking about doing this race since Ironman Florida (Nov 7) and have gone back and forth on the decision.  In the end, I'm attempting the challenge to test my limits and prove to myself that I can do it... also, I don't know how many more years I'll have the knees capable of it!    How will I do it?  Through an obscene amount of training, and surrounding myself with great people who will keep my head up during tough times.

Before I clock out... it's going to be a very trying 39 weeks with highs and lows, any support you want to send my way can be done through Paypal to my gmail address, OR just post some comments below... hint, I prefer comments  :)

Plenty more to come!  Till next time... stay healthy & be happy