Monday, May 30, 2011

Ironman Bike Preview

There are six organized bike rides that travel along the Ironman Louisville bike course. I joined in on one of these rides, which took place this past Saturday. When I say organized, I mean that there is someone (his name is Bob Baney) that designates a time and location for everyone to meet. He also sets water/aid stations up along the course to better simulate race conditions. Needless to say, the dude is awesome.

The ride this past weekend had three options. A 60 mile, 80 mile and full 112 mile course. My training plan called for a 80-90 mile ride, so I decided to do the 80 miler. The good thing about the 80 mile course that you get to ride every mile of the actual Ironman route. The full 112 mile course starts off with 17 or so miles of fairly flat roads, taking you out of downtown Louisville. Then you do a very hilly 10 mile out and back. Then it's just another 3 miles before you do two 30 mile loops of rolling hills through LaGrange, KY and some great farm country. For all the details, check out the official map here. The 80 mile ride that I did Saturday simply skipped the second loop, so I was able to ride the entire course in only 80 miles. 

I was expecting to have a pack of at least 2-3 other riders that I would be doing the entire course with, but within the first mile I realized that wasn't going to be the case. I let about half of the thirty or so riders that were participating go before I joined in. I was cruising along around 16 mph but was quickly passing everyone. I knew that I wanted to do the entire ride at or near aerobic threshold, so riding at an easy pace wasn't going to work for me. 

Before I knew it, I was out in front of everyone else. About 30 minutes in, I had to stop at a stoplight and was caught by one other rider. I rode about twenty feet behind him until we hit the first aid station at mile 27. We both stopped, I refilled my water bottle; he started snacking on some fruit and a Clif bar - so I headed back out on my own. This was the last that I saw of anyone. While I don't mind riding solo, it wasn't what I was expecting.

Earlier in the week, I installed my new Profile Design Aerodrink system on my bike. This water bottle installs between my aerobars, so that I can take a drink without having to move - pretty cool. I filled this bottle with clear water and had Hammer Perpetuem in my two bottles mounted behind my seat. I started with one of them mixed with water and the other contained just the powder, so that I could add cold water to it once the first one ran out. I put enough mix in each one to last three hours. I was only planning on being out there a little over four hours total, so between this and the 5oz of gel that I had in my flask, I had more than enough nutrition.

The next aid station was set up somewhere around mile 40...I missed it. I ran out of water around mile 42. I still had a little Perpetuem in my first bottle and fortunately, I had filled up and mixed the second bottle at the first aid station. So the only liquid that I had from mile 42 until I hit that first aid station on the way back at mile 61 was the Perpetuem mix...which I could only sip if I wanted it to last. On top of that, I lost my gel flask somewhere on the out-and-back between miles 17 and 27 - after taking only 1oz of the gel. So while I was pissed about losing the flask and missing the water stop, I knew that I had enough Perpetuem to get me the calories I needed. I was definitely getting thirsty (very bad sign) when I hit the aid station. I filled everything I had with ice cold water and hopped back on quickly to finish out the 20 or so miles I had left.

Ever since the Taylorsville Half-Ironman race a few weeks ago, I've been experiencing intermittent pain in my right glute (insert "pain in the ass" joke here). It comes and goes when I run and while it's nothing that I can't run through, it has the potential to become a big problem. I've been working with my Trigger Point foam roller at night, trying to loosen things up...without much success. About two hours into this ride, I was standing up, mashing up a hill and I felt a sharp pain. It's the first time that my glute has hurt on the bike. It was a dull pain for the rest of the ride. It wasn't uncomfortable, but any time that I tried to push it hard, I felt it. I think a trip to the Rudy Ellis Sports Medicine Center is on the schedule this week!

Overall, the ride was a success. Temperatures were in the mid 80's with no rain in sight. Despite the fact that I missed one of the aid stations, being able to refill on water twice was a huge help. It's really hard to pack enough water and nutrition on your bike for a ride this long. Here are my stats for the ride:

82.26 miles in 4:22:50
Avg Speed = 18.93 mph
Max Speed = 43.39 mph
Avg HR = 132 bpm
Max HR = 160 bpm

If you are doing Ironman Louisville and would like more info on these group rides (will also include swims and runs as we get closer to the race), leave a comment or send me an email and I'll get you the details.

I've been experimenting with different types of sunscreen and being out in the sun for more than four hours helped me find yet another sunscreen that DOESN'T work! I have a tan line on my arm from where my watch was, despite putting on a thick coat of water/sweat-proof SPF 50 before I left. I did some research when I got home and I think I found one that will work (fingers crossed). I ordered a bottle; I'll let you know the results in a future post.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Surviving Open Water Swims

The first two triathlon's that I competed in held the swim portions of the race in a pool. The third race that I did had the swim in a canal that was only 4 feet deep and about 20 feet wide, so I don't count this one as open water either. My first experience with an open water swim came in the fall of the Ohio River!

I'd been in lakes and rivers before, "swimming" and floating around on a Saturday afternoon - taking advantage of knowing someone that has a boat. I was not scared of being in a body of water that was too deep for me to touch the bottom or too big for me to safely swim to shore. 

I knew that during the 2010 season, I was planning on doing at least two races that had open water swims, so I decided to sign up for the Ohio River Open Water swim in August of 2009. This swim only event offered three distances, 1/2 mile, 1.2 miles and 2.4 miles. I opted for the 1.2 mile swim. Since it was August, the water was way too warm to even consider a wetsuit, and they didn't allow arm it was just a swim cap, goggles and some shorts for me.

They started everyone together, regardless of what distance you were doing. They had us all swim out into the river and attempt to tread water against the current for a few minutes before finally sounding the starting horn. I was more nervous trying to tread water than I was once the race started. The current was pretty strong that day and it took a lot of energy (of which I didn't want to waste) to try and stay in the same spot.

Once we were underway, I was almost immediately kicked in the chest by the heel of a guy in front of me. I quickly made a move to my right and was then hit in the face by an elbow - knocking my goggles off of my right eye. Fortunately, I had put my goggle strap UNDER my swim cap, so the goggles did not come all of the way off of my head and sink down to the bottom of the river! I flipped over on my back and began frantically kicking while using both of my hands to empty the water out of my goggles and get them back on my face. Once I had that taken care of, everyone else had pretty much gone past me so I didn't encounter any other body parts. 

I quickly learned one of the most important parts of successful open water swimming - sighting! I realized about 200 yards into the race that I swim very crooked.  You don't realize this in a pool - there's a line on the bottom and you correct yourself to stay over that line without realizing it. This is something that I've worked on a lot since that day. After what seemed like an eternity, I had finished the 1.2 miles in just under 52 minutes. For a little prespective, I did the 1.2 miles of the Taylorsville Lake triathlon two weeks ago in 36 minutes. 

I realize that I probably made my first open water swim experience sound pretty horrible; it really wasn't. I settled in, didn't panic and learned some invaluable lessons. Here's some tips for those of you that are new to open water swimming:

  • Try and practice swimming in open water before you do it in a race. Local triathlon clubs often hold open water swim practices - find one.
  • If you are new to open water swimming, do not start in the front. Start in the back or off to one of the sides from the main group. You are less likely to be kicked or punched.
  • Practice sighting in a pool. I will often stand a kick board at each end of the pool and practice sighting it as I swim laps.
  • Relax and maintain your stroke. If you panic, you are likely to raise your head up, or speed up your stroke. All this does is slow you down and wear you out. Trust your training, tell yourself to swim just like you do in a pool.
  • Follow the bubbles. When you kick, you leave a trail of bubbles behind you. If you can see even a few feet in front of you, find the bubbles from someone's kick and follow them.
  • Learn to breathe on both sides. During long swims, I end up breathing every other stroke. I have learned to breathe on both sides. This comes in handy during open water swimming. If someone is splashing water on one side, or the sun is hitting you right in the eye, switch to breathing to the other side.

I'm not going to lie. Swimming in open water is definitely different than swimming in a pool, but the more you do it and the better prepared you are - the easier it is. Good luck!

5/21/11: Brick - Bike (13.35 miles in 41:52), Run (4.00 miles in 30:18) 
5/23/11: Bike - Drills  (17.5 miles in 1:00:00)  
5/23/11: Weights - Round and Round - 3 sets 
5/24/11 Run - Long Aerobic Run (15.41 miles in 2:05:14) 

Friday, May 20, 2011

My 2011 Sponsors

This is my third full season of racing triathlons. I started with a single sprint distance race in 2008 and have slowly progressed since then to the pinnacle of the sport, Ironman, which I will do this August. For the first time, this year I decided to pursue some sponsorships to help supplement the cost of being a triathlete. I've thought about making a spreadsheet to see how much I spend each year to support my "hobby", but I'm honestly scared to see what the number is. Let's just say, it's way more expensive than stamp collecting!

Sure, I could have continued to do the sport with the gear I started out with...a cheap road bike (no offense White Lightning), a pair of running shoes and some goggles, but that's not how my personality works. If I'm going to put forth the effort to do something, I want to do it right. So naturally, as I continue to train more, I need to replace stuff. Some things are replaced due to normal wear and tear, such as shoes, goggles, swim shorts, bike shorts, etc. Other things have been replaced due to the desire to upgrade, such as watches, tri suits, bike shoes, sunglasses, and of bike!

You may have noticed my new tri kit in the pictures from last weekend's race. I have the logos of all three of my sponsors on this new kit and I'll be wearing it during my races for the remainder of the season.

My pursuit of sponsors started with a guy that I've known nearly my entire life...Swag Hartel. Swag opened a running shoe store out of small apartment on New Cut Road back in 1980. My Dad was one of Swag's original customers and I have memories of going into that shop as a toddler. My Dad would have Swag re-sole some of his running shoes. I'm not sure, but I think my first pair of "real" tennis shoes came from Swag's. My family and I have been loyal customer's of Swag's ever since. I have never purchased a pair of running shoes from anywhere but Swags Sports Shoes

In all honesty, I didn't pursue Swag for a sponsorship, my Dad did. Swag had always sponsored runners, but my Pops caught wind of Swag sponsoring a triathlete in last year's Ironman Louisville and the wheels started turning. Swag offered to buy me a new racing suit, supply me with running and training shoes, and some apparel to run my road races in. Swag is a great guy and he is without a doubt the most customer-friendly shoe store in town. I refer people to Swag any chance I get and will continue to do so.

The second sponsor that I have this season isn't really one that I asked for something from...they were already giving me their services, so I thought giving them some advertising in return would be the right thing to do. I've been friends with Kevin Reichmuth, a Physical Therapist at Dr. Rudy Ellis Sports Medicine Center for over 20 years now. We went to the same church when I was a teenager and we've remained friends over the years, playing in multiple softball, football and basketball well as a fantasy football league that pre-dates the internet!

Kevin has always offered to take a look at any injury I've incurred while training over the last 2+ years. He's nursed me back to health from a bruised kneecap, plantar fasciitis, runner's knee and most recently, a grade three ankle sprain. Being able to recover quickly from injuries is critical to endurance training and without Kevin's help, I would be in serious trouble!

My final sponsor for this season is the only one that I actually pursued. I mentioned that I was looking for some sponsors one day at work (yes, I have a real job), and the owners of the company said that they were interested. I was not at all surprised by their offer. I've worked for Air Equipment Company for almost 10 years now and I can't image that there's a better small business out there to work for. The owner's go out of their way to make it a great work environment and have always been very supportive of me in not only my professional development, but also any endeavors I pursue in my personal life.

The monetary sponsorship they have given me has gone towards lots of new gear and nutrition for this season. Without this sponsor, I wouldn't be able to buy the fuel that I'm using during races. Hammer Nutrition makes the best stuff out there, but it's not cheap!

Here's a look at my racing kit with all my sponsor's logos (yes, I know I look like a dork flexing, but trust me, I looked like an even bigger dork just standing there doing nothing!):

The shirt is a Pearl Izumi Elite Series Tri Singlet and the bottoms are Pearl Izumi Elite Series shorts. Logos were printed by Metro Promotional Services.

5/13/11: Brick - Bike (10.0 miles in 31:03), Run (2.04 miles in 15:36) 
5/14/11: Race - Taylorsville Half-Ironman (5:19:46) 
5/16/11: Bike - Recovery Ride  (17.4 miles in 55:01) 
5/17/11 Run - Recovery Run (3.60 miles in 30:46) 
5/17/11: Swim - Recovery Swim (1104yd in 20:14) 
5/18/11: Swim - TrainSmart Group Swim (2800m in 58:39) 
5/19/11: Bike - Spin Class  (18.0 miles in 57:19) 
5/20/11 Run - Easy Tempo Run (5.13 miles in 42:11) 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Taylorsville Lake Triathlon Report

I usually try not to spend much time worrying about things that I can't control. Despite my best efforts, I found myself checking the extended forecast as soon as this race was 10 days away. From the very first time I saw it, rain was being called for on race day. I checked it every day the week leading up to the race and it never changed..."scattered showers/t-showers". So I knew that I was going to be in for a wet day.

I printed out my race checklist and packed all of my gear on Friday night. I woke up at 5:15am on Saturday, heated up my sweet potato and started mixing my fuel/nutrition for the race. I put lots of care into what I was going to consume before and during the race. I've been experimenting with this for several months now and I knew exactly what I was going to use (full details at the bottom of this post). Once I finished measuring, pouring and mixing, I loaded everything into the car, kissed Jessica goodbye and hit the road about ten minutes after six.

As I pulled out of our subdivision I noticed the first drops of rain on the windshield. I was hoping that the rain would at least hold off long enough for me to get my transitions set up...but that wasn't going to happen. I arrived at Taylorsville Lake State Park around 6:45am and immediately took my bike over to grab a spot on the rack closest to the T1 exit. I always try and get this spot so that I don't have as far to run with my bike before exiting T1. Once I got my bike on the rack, I went back and sat in the car to try and wait out the rain.

After sitting in the car for about 20 minutes and rocking out some Def Leppard (yes, I have their Greatest Hits CD), I decided that I couldn't wait any longer and I needed to go ahead and get body marking done and set up my transitions. It was still raining pretty steady as I set everything up. Fortunately, I remembered to bring a few garbage bags and I was able to use them to cover everything up so that I could at least start out the bike and run with dry gear. See picture below, that's my bike and gear covered up with the garbage bags.

I normally have everything set up with lots of time to spare, but since I sat in the car for so long, I ended up cutting it closer than I like. By the time I got my wetsuit out of the car, everyone was starting to walk down to the water. I struggled to get it on while the race director went over the course and rules with everyone. A very helpful  race volunteer saw me struggling and kindly helped me finish zipping it up.

Once I had my wetsuit on, I went over to say hi to the family. Jessica was there wearing Adrian, with my sister-in-law manning the stroller where Kate (who didn't know what to think about Daddy's get-up) was sitting. My parent's had also made it down to see the start of the race. I have such awesome support from my entire family! I guarantee that I had the biggest cheering section (thanks goes out to my Mom and Jessica for the pictures!).

I started to wade out into the water and I was planning on going out into the water for a quick warm-up swim. I realized that wasn't going to happen when I heard the race director yell "Men's wave starts in 10 seconds!". Ok...I guess it's go time!

The race started the way that all open-water swim starts do...with a mob of people trying to get around, over and through everyone else. I stayed out to the left of the group and only had to tuck back into the crowd of swimmers to get around the first buoy. The swim was two loops of a 0.6 mile course in Taylorsville Lake. The large, yellow, 7 foot tall pyramid buoys were easy to see, even from a quarter mile away. I was able to get a good sight line right of the bat and looked up every 6-10 strokes to make sure I was still on line. I concentrated on keeping a good rhythm and making sure my pull was straight. I found myself all alone after I made the turn around the far buoy. I wasn't sure if I was going faster that most people or slower. I felt like I was keeping a good pace and I was smooth in the water. I looked to my right and saw lots of other swimmers that still hadn't reached the first buoy, so I was feeling pretty good about where I was. I reached the half-way point and took a quick glance at my watch. It was 17 minutes and some was fast! I put my head down and tried not to get too excited. I maintained a comfortable pace and didn't really pour it on until the last 200 meters or so. I exited the water and looked at my watch. I had done the 1.2 miles in just over 35 minutes! This is a very fast time for me. I guess all of the extra swimming and working with Coach Manuel and Train Smart MultiSport  group on Wednesday mornings is paying off! I did the swim over 10 minutes faster this year than last!!

Official Swim time (including run from the water to T1) - 36:28.6
3rd out of 10 in my age group and 16th fastest swim out of 76 total

I was excited about my swim time as I ran up the parking lot into T1. I was able to get my wetsuit unzipped and pulled down around my waist making it easier to run. I got to my bike, pulled my legs out of the wetsuit, put on my heart rate monitor, racing jersey, socks , sunglasses and helmet and I headed out of transition. 

I've started to clip my bike shoes into the pedals and leave them on my bike. I use rubber bands to hold them in place and keep them from hitting the ground as I run the bike out of transition. I then hop on my bike and pedal with my feet on top of the shoes, sliding them in once I get down the road. This worked well during the Shelbyville Sprint race last month, but for some reason, one of my rubber bands broke before I could mount my bike this time. My right shoe spun around, hit the ground and came out of my clip. I had to bring everything to a stop, get my foot in the bike shoe and then get me momentum back. Not a very smooth bike mount, but I didn't panic and actually laughed about how I must have looked like a newby to everyone that was standing around watching. (see picture to the right).

T1 time was 2:04.9 (40 seconds faster than last year)
4th out of 10 in my age group and 23rd overall

I'm completely comfortable on the bike. I've logged hundreds of miles over the last few years and now that I have Flash, riding is more enjoyable than ever. This course is a very hilly one, but one that I know pretty well. I've ridden it several times and I know when the big hills are coming and when I should conserve energy. I made it a point to keep my heart rate at my aerobic threshold of 140 for the entire 56 mile ride. Even on the climbs, I tried to ride in a gear that allowed me to keep my HR under control. It rained off and on during the entire ride. It actually didn't bother me too much and my only fear was dropping one of my wet bottles! My feet were soaked early on, and the sun never made an appearance, so I knew at that I was going to have to change socks in T2. 

The course has an out-and-back around mile 20, so I was able to see all of the riders in front of me. I counted 20 riders go by me in the other direction, so I was in 21st at this point in the race. Based on my swim, I honestly thought that I would be higher than that, but I didn't let it bother me. One draw-back of being a faster swimmer is that you don't get to pass as many people on the bike. I've enjoyed "hunting" riders down on the bike during races. I only passed 4-5 people during the bike and actually was passed twice...which doesn't happen very often. Based on coming out of the water in 16th and having the 21st fastest bike split, I guess I few people had quicker transitions.

My legs started to feel some fatigue as I headed up the last big hill (pictured above). I really had to relieve myself by this point, so I took this opportunity to stand up on the bike, stretch my legs, and let it flow. Yes, you read that correctly...I peed while on the bike (no picture available). It's something that I will have to do multiple times during the 112 mile Ironman bike, so I thought this was a good time to practice. I won't get into details, but everything came out ok. I sprayed myself with some water out of my bottle to clean up a little, pushed it though the last few miles and made it back to transition 11 minutes faster than last year!

Official Bike time - 2:45:26.5 (20.3 mph average) - Avg HR = 137
4th out of 10 in my age group and 21st fastest bike out of 76 total 

T2 was very smooth. I took my feet out of the shoes has I coasted into the bike dismount area. I hopped off the bike and ran it to the rack. I  pulled off my wet socks, put on a dry pair (glad I thought to bring these too), slipped my shoes on, took my bike helmet off, grabbed my hat and fuel belt and headed out.

T2 time was 0:58.60 (17 seconds faster than last year)
4th out of 10 in my age group and 10th overall

The run starts off with a nice little 100 foot climb over the fist 3/4 of a mile. It's straight uphill! Some people walk this, but I try to run it to get my legs moving off the bike. My heart rate jumped into the 160's by the time I reached the top of the hill and it took nearly another half mile before it settled down to 150, where I wanted to keep it for the majority of the run.

My quads started burning almost immediately. They were cramping and I was very nervous that the entire run was going to be a struggle. I stopped at the first aid station and filled up my fuel belt bottles with water (I put the powder in them at home). At this point, my quads felt like someone was sticking nails in them. Stopping to fill up the bottles made it 10 times worse. I gave my legs a few smacks and started running again. Thankfully, by the time I made it to the first turn-around, the quad pain was all but gone. The run course is three out-and-back loops from the lake to the park entrance, so you get to see everyone else multiple times. I knew several people doing the race, so it was nice to give and get some encouragement several times during the run. The rain continued off and on, but thankfully the sun never came out so I didn't get too hot. I had no idea what pace I was running, but based on my heart rate I was guessing around 8:30-8:40 miles. I made it to the half-way point in just under 58 minutes, so I did some rough math in my head and figured that I was running around an 8:50 pace. I was feeling pretty good at this point, so I decided to stick with my plan and allow my HR to go above 150 for the last half of the run. The rolling hills get to you at some point. It was up and down, up and down, over and over. The problem that I ran into was even when I tried to push it harder, I couldn't get my HR much over 150. My fitness was there, but my legs were done. I just tried to hold my current pace until the last turn-around...then I just went all-out during the final 2 miles or so back to the finish. My breathing was very labored and my legs were on fire, but my HR was only in the 140s! I sprinted down the hill to the finish and managed to run a negative split, doing the last half of the run in 56 minutes.

Official Run time - 1:54:47.9 (8:45 min/mile) - Avg HR = 145
5th out of 10 in my age group and 24th fastest run out of 76 total 

I had set a goal to do the entire race in 5:27:00, and I honestly had no idea how close to that I was until I scrolled through my watch during the last mile or so on the run. I was very excited to see that I was going to meet my goal easily and smash my Half-Ironman PR by over 38 minutes! I crossed the finish line and once I stopped moving I got light-headed and had to find something to lean against to keep from falling over. I truly gave it all I had and it's a good feeling to cross the finish line knowing that you gave your best effort!

Total Race Time - 5:19:46.5
5th out of 10 in my age group and 23rd out of 76 total 

I was only 83 seconds behind the 4th place finisher in my age group (incident coming out of T1 might have made the difference here) and less than 3 minutes away from a top 20 finish overall. I would love to get under 5 hours one day, which would have put me in the top 10 in this race. It's a lofty goal, but without goals, why would I even tri??

Gear used:
2XU C:2 wetsuit
Aqua Sphere Kayenne goggles
Pearl Izumi Elite Tri Top and Shorts
Tifosi Dolomite sunglasses
Argon 18 E-112 Triathlon bike
Asics Gel Foundation-9 shoes

Nutrition used:
  • Nathan Catalyst Electrolye tablet (1 in a 24oz water bottle) - sipped for the hour leading up to race start
  • PowerBar Energy Blasts - ate about 30 minutes before race start

  • Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem (6 scoops in one 24oz. bottle of water) - took two sips every 15 minutes
  • One bottle of clear water to start and then replaced at aid station at mile 26
  • Hammer Nutrition Gel (4 gels in one 4oz. flask) - one big gulp every 30 minutes
  • Millennium Sports Athlytes capsules (3 per hour - 9 total) - one every 20 minutes

  • Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem (1.5 scoops in each of the two 8oz. bottles on my fuel belt - mixed with water at first aid station) - two sips every 15 minutes
  • Clear water at every aid station
  • Millennium Sports Athlytes capsules (3 per hour - 6 total) - one at every aid station so that I could take them with water

Nutrition plan worked well. I didn't feel tired until the end of the run and had the urge to pee during just about the entire bike and run, so I was well hydrated. My stomach started to bother me during the last half-hour of the run, but I think this was due to the stress my body was under, not improper nutrition.

Next race is an Olympic Distance Triathlon on June 5th. I'll take it easy this week to recover, then get back at it next week!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Taylorsville Lake Triathlon Results

Here's the official results of the 2011 Taylorsville Lake Half-Ironman Triathlon:

Swim (1.2 miles)
36:28.6 (30:23 min/mile pace) - 3rd out of 10 in age group (16th out of 76 overall)

2:04.9 -4/10 (23/76)

Bike (56 miles)
2:45:26.5 (20.3 mph) – 4/10 (21/76)

0:58.60 – 4/10 (10/76)

Run (13.1 miles)
1:54:47.9 (8:46 min/mile) – 5/10 (24/76)

5:19:46.5 (5/10) (23/76)

Full race report coming in the next few was an exciting race!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Taylorsville Lake Triathlon Preview

Last season by training was broken into two segments. The first was leading up the the Taylorsville Lake Triathlon, the second was leading up to the Cardinal Harbour Triathlon - both Half-Ironman distance races. I went through a complete cycle of periodization for each. A Base Phase, a Build Phase and then a Peak Phase leading up to the race.

This year is different. All of my training is building up to the Ironman in August. I am currently at the end of the Base Phase and will start the Build Phase of my training next week. While this is not ideal for leading up to a race of this distance, I think I'll be fine. I feel like I'm in better shape this year than last and after some good long rides and bricks over the last few weeks, my confidence is pretty high.

Tomorrow's race will consist of a 1.2 mile swim in Taylorsville Lake (which is currently 37 feet above it's normal depth), a 56 mile bike ride with some serious hills around the lake and then a 13.1 mile run of rolling hills through the state park. The water temperature will be at or below 70° F, so this will probably be the only race this year where I will squeeze into my wetsuit. 

Here's a closer look at the bike course:

So as you can see, it's basically just a big loop around the lake - with an out-and-back at the halfway point. The real fun on this bike course is the hills. There are very few flat spots, so you are constantly shifting gears...making fueling a challenge. Here's the elevation profile:

I use a heart rate monitor literally every time I train...but I've never used one in a race. That will change tomorrow. The goal on the bike will be to keep my heart rate at aerobic threshold (around 140 bpm). It will get higher than this on some hills, but I'll try not to let it stay there long. If I can successfully keep my HR in check on the bike, then I should have enough energy left to avoid having to shuffle through the last half of the run like I did last year. I'll keep my HR at aerobic threshold on the run for the first 7 miles or so, then I'll open it up if I have anything left. The last 2 miles or so will be has hard as I can go...should be fun!

Last year's times:
Swim - 46:50
T1 - 2:49
Bike - 2:56:08
T2 - 1:15
Run - 2:10:33
TOTAL - 5:57:38

So with another year of training under my belt, I feel like I should improve on all of these times (maybe not the transitions). If I am able to do that, I'll be happy at the end of the day. My secondary goals look like this:

Swim - 41:00
Bike - 2:50:00
Run - 1:52:00
TOTAL - 5:27:00

Cutting a half hour off of my time is a monumental task, but if everything goes as planned, it can happen!

I just picked up my race packet and I'm racing with lucky number is 6 and I always seem to have good races when my race number has a 6 in it!

T-Shirt looks pretty awesome too. The design is by a local artist named Chad Waits.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Race Week Simulation

So if there's one thing that I know about trying to complete an Ironman Triathlon (or any race for that matter), it's not to try anything new that you haven't tried before, leading up to and during the race. Practice EVERYTHING before trying it on race day.

So with a half-Ironman race this Saturday, I decided to use this week to practice carbohydrate loading. While there are lot's of opinions and studies that show mixed results as to whether it actually works, I thought I'd give it a try.

So the idea behind carb loading is based on the principle of depleting the body's muscle glycogen stores, then refueling those stores and relying on increases from an "overcompensation" effect, so that the body stores more glycogen than it would under normal circumstances. The strategy that I'm following combines a period of intense physical activity (my tempo run on Sunday) with a lower percentage of carbohydrate intake over the first three days, followed by a gradual tapering of physical activity and gradual increase in carbohydrates in the three days leading up to the race.

So on Sunday morning, I did the workout, then limited the amount of carbohydrates I consumed the rest of the day. I'm using a website called to keep track of everything that I consume this week. On Sunday, I consumed a total of 2,039 calories (approximate), 713 of which were in the form of protein. My calories from carbs only amounted to 632. The rest was a mix of fats and other vitamins. Monday consisted of an easy workout and then another protein-heavy day (43% of my total calories). Tuesday was another easy workout and still more protein than carbs (33% of my total calories were from protein).

If you've ever tried a protein-heavy / low-carb diet, I feel your pain!  After just two days of low carb intake I was completely out of energy when I woke up Tuesday morning and I was sluggish and moody all day (very uncommon for me). I also had a hard time finding enough sources of good protein to make up over 700 calories for three days. I ate lots of chicken, pork, fish, and even some protein powder a few times. I can honestly say that after this morning's tough workout, my body was completely depleted of it's glycogen stores. Today is Wednesday and I will start to introduce more and more carbs into my diet over the next few days until Friday (day before the race), when 75-80% of my total calories will consists of carbohydrates. I was craving carbs like you wouldn't believe and the oatmeal I had this morning after my workout was awesome!

Looking forward to eating lots of this over the next few days!

I've also consumed between 500 and 1000 calories less per day this week because my training volume has decreased....which has left me pretty hungry before bed. If I continued to eat my normal 2500-3000 daily calories this week, it would only lead to weight gain (I'll save that for next week!).

So will this strategy lead to a super amount of energy come race day? I'll let you know in my race report!

5/3/11: Bike - Intervals (18 miles in 1:00:00) 
5/4/11: Swim - TrainSmart Group Swim (3000m in 1:09:37) 
5/5/11: Brick - Bike (55.47 miles in 2:56:00), Run (7.00 miles in 59:15) 
5/6/11: Swim - Easy Swim (1776yd in 32:34) 
5/6/11: Weights - Superset Series II - 4 sets 
5/8/11 Run - Tempo Run (4.41 miles in 31:52) 
5/9/11: Bike - Recovery Ride  (17.5 miles in 1:00:01) 
5/10/11 Run - Recovery Run (3.58 miles in 29:35) 
5/10/11: Swim - Recovery Swim (1200yd in 22:11) 
5/11/11: Swim - Speed Work (1300m in 42:13) 
5/11/11: Bike - Power Intervals  (13 miles in 40:01) 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Another Brick In The Wall

Building up a strong base in training is essential for triathlons...especially long course and Ironman distance races. A great way to build this base is with bricks (they are a "building" material after all). If you keep up with my training, you know what I do bricks of various distance and intensities about once a month. With my first long course (half Ironman) distance race coming up next weekend, I really wanted to get in a long brick (bike followed immediately by a run) this week.

I also wanted to use this brick to dial in my nutrition. At the beginning of the week, I looked at the extended forecast and determined that Thursday would be my best bet. I even got a glimpse of what it might be like to be a pro triathlete, as I took the entire day off of work so that I could get in this 4+ hour workout.

In order to test my nutrition properly, I treated the morning just as I plan to on race day. All I had for breakfast was a sweet potato around two hours before I planned to start my workout. I packed up all of my bike and run gear, prepared my bottles (all 7 of them) and headed out towards Taylorsville Lake (site of next week's race) a little after 8am.

The temperature was a cool 44° F when I got started, but I quickly warmed up. I did the 56 mile bike route that is part of the race. I've done this route a few times before (including the race last year), but it never hurts to get a refresher this close to the race. Even though I made a point of keeping my heart rate in aerobic zone (around 140 bpm), I was still able to get a good sense of which gears I need to use on which hills and how fast I could safely go down some of the huge declines...41.8 mph is the answer by the way!

Totals for the bike:
55.47 miles in 2:56:00 (avg speed of 18.9 mph)
Avg HR = 129 bpm
Total change in elevation = 5493' (including one hill that climbs 215 feet over 1.1 miles)

Nutrition on the bike:
(1) 24oz. bottle full of 6 scoops of Hammer Perpetuem (3 hours of mix)
(1) 24oz. bottle full of clear water
(1) 6oz. flask with around 4oz. of Hammer gel
(6) Millennium Sports Athlytes capsules

I took two sips of the Perpetuem every half hour, I squeezed out a mouthfull of gel once an hour (at 20 min., 80 min. and 140 min.), I took two Athlytes every hour (at 30 min., 90 min. & 150 min.). I drank the clear water after each gel and Athlytes.
Totals: 390 calories/hr, 603mg sodium/hr, 82g carbs/hr
My calories are right on the money, but in warmer weather I will need to up the sodium by about 200 more mg per hour.

Despite keeping my heart rate low on the bike, the last big hill at mile 47 zapped my energy. I sped up my cadence over the last two miles or so hoping to wake my legs up before the run. After an 8 minute transition (which included locking my bike up and a "pit stop" in the woods), I set out on my run.

I parked my car where the transition area will be for the race, so I simulated the bike and run start exactly. Both of which head right from transition into a massive hill. When I say massive, I mean a 100' climb in just 1/3 of a mile...straight up a hill. While this sounds horrible, it was actually a nice way to get the legs going coming off the bike. The hill forces you to run slow, so while it gets the heart rate a little too high, it's not all bad.

The run course for the race consists of 3 loops on the road leading from the park entrance to the lake. It's a course of rolling hills with hardly any flat areas. I ran one loop of this course, plus another few miles. I kept my heart rate in my aerobic zone (around 140 bpm) and settled into a easy pace. I felt surprisingly good and could have continued at this pace if I wanted to...I was nowhere near gassed at the end of the 60 minute run.

Totals for the run:
7.00 miles in 59:14 (avg pace of 8:28 min/mile)
Avg HR = 144 bpm
Total change in elevation = 1301'

Nutrition on the run:
Fuel belt with 3 scoops of Hammer Perpetuem (1.5 hours of mix)
(2) Millennium Sports Athlytes capsules

I took the two Athyltes capsules at the car right before I headed out on the run so that I wouldn't have to carry water with me. There will be water on the course during the race, so I will probably take 6 capsules with me on race day. I sipped the Perpetuem from my fuel belt every 10 minutes or so and had some left at the end. 
Approx. Totals: 270 calories/hr, 570mg sodium/hr, 54g carbs/hr

While this nutrition was enough to get me through a 7 mile run, I'll need more to complete the 13.1 on race day. I think if I use 4 scoops of Perpetuem in my fuel belt, along with 6 Athlytes, plus the water on the course, I'll be good to go.

Overall, I'm very happy with the way the workout went. Feeling good on the run was a nice boost to the 'ol confidence heading into a week of easy workouts before next Saturday's race. I'll have a race preview coming up towards the end of next week.

Monday, May 2, 2011

2011 Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon Results


Distance - 13.1 miles
Official Time - 1:37:27 (7:26 min/mile pace)
Overall Place - 408 out of 11,394
Gender Place - 346 out of 4,958
Age Group (30-34) Place - 61 out of 678

Race morning started with my typical sweet potato around two and a half hours before the start of the race, which in this case was around 5:00am. I had Jessica tape up my ankle and I was out the door around 5:40am. I picked up my sister-in-law Becca, who was going to finish a full 26.2 mile marathon before the day was over. My race, the half marathon was one that I wasn't placing a ton of importance on, but I wanted to do well...especially in this race.

We found a spot to park about 5 blocks from the start line and made our way down the streets. I left Becca waiting in line at the port-o-pots so that I could meet up with the local triathlon club before the race for a group photo. I went back to the port-o-pot line, but couldn't find Becca.

I was in corral B, but since corral A appeared to be about 75% empty, I went ahead joined the faster runners. I glanced down an noticed that my watch was in "biking" mode instead of "running" mode. So after frantically switching it just before the gun went was time to run!

The temperature was around 55° F and I felt great. Joining corral A was a good idea. As we started, I passed a few slower runners then settled into a group going around the same speed by the time we hit the first mile marker. I was running splits in the 7:15-7:20 per mile range for the first 3 miles. I thought about slowing down, but I felt great and decided to see how long I could hold this pace. Miles 4 and 5 were a little slower, but they were still under 7:30 pace, which was my goal pace.

Mile 6 ended up being slower, only because I saw a runner with a 2009 Ironman Louisville hat on and we chatted about Ironman during the whole mile. Once we hit mile 7 and I noticed that the chit-chat had slowed me to a 7:41 pace, I said goodbye and sped up.

Miles 7-8 took us through Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby will be run exactly one week from the day of this race. I held a steady 7:30 pace through Churchill and since I knew if was mostly flat the rest of the way, I decided to see what I had left once we turned back toward downtown. 

Mile 9 was a 7:21 mile and once I hit mile marker 10, I started to feel myself wanting to slow. I kept pushing, but my legs were getting fatigued. Miles 10, 11 and 12 were in the 7:33-7:36 range. I could tell that my heart rate, which had been steady all race, was climbing. I reached mile marker 12 and decided to empty the tank and finish strong.

I ran the last 1.1 miles in 7:48 (7:05 mile pace) and finished with an all-out sprint down the stretch (see how I through that horse racing phrase in?). I crossed the finish line and was happy that I had finally turned in a good miniMarathon. The dragon had been slain!

My average heart rate for the first 11 miles was 162, which is right in the middle of zone 3. The last two miles had average HR's of 174 and 179 - up into zone 4 and pushing zone 5.

I waited around after I finished and was joined later by my wife, infant son and mother-in-law. They had all come down to see Becca finish her Marathon. As we were waiting, I had the pleasure of watching hundreds of people cross the finish line. This isn't something that I get to see too often, but I wish it was. The amount of pride and happiness (and some pain) on people's faces as they are about to accomplish a huge goal is amazing to see. The people from Team Reeve were the ones that really had me fighting back tears. To see these people getting up out of their wheelchairs and walking the last 100 yards to the finish line with walkers, crutches or just the hand of a loved one was amazing to see!

We were all overjoyed to see Becca come around the corner and complete her 26.2 mile journey that had begun nearly six hours earlier. I know the mental and physical battles associated with running a marathon. I'm very proud of Becca and I'm sure that she will remember that moment forever! Here's a picture of me, Adrian and Becca after the race:

4/27/11: Swim - TrainSmart Group Swim (3000m in 1:11:03) 
4/28/11: Bike - High Cadence Ride  (16 miles in 46:49) 
4/28/11: Swim - Steady Swim (2400yd in 43:42) 
4/30/11 Run - miniMarathon (13.1 miles in 1:37:27) 
5/1/11: Bike - Recovery Ride  (37 miles in 2:00:01) 
5/2/11: Swim - 1000yd TT (1248yd in 25:36) 
5/2/11: Weights - Superset Series I - 4 sets 

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