07/23/14

IMLP7th

Ironman created quite a buzz earlier this week, accidently.  An error was made on the athlete packet that people could download from the website stating the total prize purse for IM Lake Placid was $75,000, instead of the advertised $25,000.  People quickly found out about this and Ironman quickly corrected the mistake.  But when Ironman makes a mistake, you can count on @TheRealStarky to jump at the opportunity to poke some fun. And did he capitalize on this typo!!  You can read is blog here (a fair warning for those that don’t know @TheRealStarky, he speaks about issues that need to be addressed in the multisport community… however they tend to be a bit vulgar.  This one isn’t nearly as bad):

http://www.therealstarky.com/blog/2014/7/22/imlpth-a-strange-twist

The issue here is obvious… many pros are forced into wearing multiple hats while still trying to compete in the sport.  I, for one, work a total of 4 jobs just so I can pay the bills, make it to races, and still be able to save a little bit of cash further on down the road.  I’m a nurse (RN) part-time, manage a rental property, coach 15 triathletes, and also race professionally.  This is way over 40 hours a week worth of work… and my wife and I don’t make anywhere close to the average Ironman athlete family income (last I heard the average income in a household of an Ironman athlete was about $175,000 annually).  Between coaching and training alone, I’m at about 40 hours a week.  Add in 20-25 hours a week for nursing and a couple hours for managing the rental property and I’m working 65ish hours a week and not getting any money at races… which I consistently finish in the top 10 at Ironman branded races.

How is it that Ironman has been around for 35ish years and the prize purse is smaller than a sport that is basically in the infant stage, such as crossfit?  I have friends that race bikes in Cat three races that make more money racing bikes as amateur than me racing triathlons professionally!  I’ve actually considered getting into bike racing next year so I can help cover my traveling expenses to triathlons.

On the flip side, Ironman has played all their cards right.  They have manipulated the market to make it so they don’t have to pay out large sums of money to the winners of Ironman races.  Why? Because bike companies, running companies, and swimming companies will pay top dollar to have a winner endorse their product.  Also, Ironman pays the athletes that have really big names “appearance fees” to just show up and do a short press conference and maybe a quick photo shoot.  I’ve heard that some of these athletes get paid $10,000 just to show up.  They don’t even have to place in the money and they are still profiting from the weekend.  Maybe Ironman should make the playing field a bit more even, by giving pros a travel stipend to get to races.  If you go over the amount, you pay the extra.  If you are frugal, and travel smart/cheap, you keep the extra money.  Hyvee Triathlon does that for all the pros that show up to their race… and at the same time, they had the highest prize purse in the triathlon world (they may not anymore… I’m not sure who does now).

Additionally, Ironman makes pros pay a pass to get into their events for the calendar year.  I believe I paid about $850 to race with Ironman this year.  In contrast, Challenge lets pros race free (I’m racing the New Albany race this weekend), and when Rev3 had pro races (very sad to see them no longer have them as I had a couple of their races on my schedule this year) they also let pros race free and did a lot to promote each athlete’s website/facebook/twitter.

I hope that @TheRealStarky and his group of people that organized this 7th place prize purse in IM Lake Placid bring some attention to the lack of money in the prize purses in the triathlon world.

 

07/14/14
photo 4

Muncie 70.3 Race Report 2014

Leading up to this race, I knew that the competition was going to be stiff.  The start list was posted on line 2 weeks before the race and I was shocked at the names on the list.  There was literally one of 10 or so people on the list that could have won that race.  Instead of concerning myself with everyone on the list, I picked out a couple names on line up I was aiming to beat.  Those names:  Chris McDonald and Patrick Evoe.

I picked these two out specifically because the last three or four years, one of them has won Ironman Louisville (my hometown race) and I felt that the progress I have made this year at least could put me in the mix of these two athletes.  I wanted to beat them to have a mental victory and confidence booster going into Ironman Louisville, which is now about 6 weeks away.  I shared this with a few people, so I could have some sort of accountability on my goals, but for the most part kept it quiet.

Race morning set up went like it usually does: hydrate, eat, set up in transition, get to the swim start.  The water was 75.5 degrees according to Ironman, but over the years of racing I’ve learned that if the water temperature is close, the numbers will be fudged a bit to make it wetsuit legal.  In Raleigh, I used my wetsuit and overheated in it during the swim in the same temperature of water.  So this time, I took out my TYR Torque swim skin and used it.  Did I put myself at a disadvantage not using the wetsuit when every other pro used theirs’?  Maybe… but a few of them said I was smart for doing it once we got in the water to warm up.  If I had to guess, I’d say the water was closer to 80 degrees or slightly under.

The countdown started and last minute nerves began to climb… the countdown, then the cannon start.  Off we go…

The last couple weeks before this race, the coaches at Lakeside Seahawks worked with me on my stroke.  After a few suggestions, and a video analysis, they came up with 2 or 3 three things for me to work on (as I’m sure there is more… but they didn’t want to overload me with too many things to think about).  I was a little anxious to see how doing this on race day with little time to get used of the new feel of stroke, but I gave it my best shot to maintain what they suggested.  It seemed to have worked.  I was in the chase pack (two or three guys were way ahead) for most of the swim.  I fell off the back with just 500 meters to go. I think this may have been because I still haven’t conditioned the muscles that are now being used more to last the whole swim, but I definitely stuck with the chase pack much longer than other races this year… so improvement has been made again.  I exited the water probably 20 seconds back from the group.  I got to my bike and saw Patrick Evoe’s bike still there and Chris McDonald was finishing up his transition and heading out on the bike, so I wasn’t too far behind him at this point.

I started out on the bike and was extremely thirsty.  I drank an entire bottle of Infinit before mile 10 and was still dying for more fluid.  I had to wait another 5-ish miles to get to an aid station.  I grabbed a bottle and put it in my bottle cage and grabbed another bottle of fluid and drank as much as I could before leaving the aid station and threw the bottle.  I felt better, but still not satisfied.  Still a little bit of cotton mouth.  I kept pounding the water and went through another bottle during the next 12-13 miles.  I’m not exactly sure why I was so thirsty.  I peed 3 times from the time I woke to race start.  Perhaps I should have had some additional salt tabs to help me retain fluid before the race and drink another bottle of water (that’s the plan next time.)  Started feeling better as the bike went on, but never great.  With about 8 miles to go in the bike, Patrick Evoe passed me.  We rolled into transition about 30 seconds apart.  I knew he was a good runner and it may take a while to catch him, but I was going to do my best to at least meet half of my goal (since I figured Chris McDonald had too much of a lead to catch him with just the run left to go.)

It took me three miles to make up that 30 second head start that Patrick had on me.  I was feeling smooth and with the help of some ice, cold sponges, and Infinit’s NAPALM the run was going well.  I passed Patrick just after the 3rd aid station and did my best not to slow down.  The turn around came and I knew I could catch one more person, possibly two.  I passed the next guy at mile 8-ish.  The sun started to come out and the humidity started to rise.  I did my best to stay cool to help maintain my pace, but started to slow down in the final two miles.  I could see 10th place ahead of me by about a 1/4 mile, but didn’t have enough steam or time to catch him (later I found out it was Guy Crawford).

I crossed the finish line in 11th place… but considering who was there, I’ll take it.  I know that if I could have biked to my ability, I would have been in the top 10, and possibly could have broken 4 hours.  But, there are some personal victories that I can come away with here:

  • Stuck with the chase pack in the swim much longer than normal and was only 30 seconds back from them (even with choosing to use a swim skin instead of a wetsuit).
  • Had a PR on the 70.3 distance by about 4.5 minutes
  • Finished just 3:45 back from Chris McDonald (3x IM Louisville champion) and 10 minutes ahead of Patrick Evoe (1x winner of IM Louisville), who are both coming to Louisville in about 5 or 6 weeks to defend/reclaim the title.  A major confidence booster going into the race knowing that I’m in the same ballpark as them right now.

Next up is the Challenge Race in New Albany on July 27th… looking forward to doing a non-Ironman branded race with a better prize purse… hopefully I can grab some cash at that race!

06/23/14
photo 4

Syracuse 70.3 2014 Race Report

Syracuse 70.3 is a great event. I’m a fan of races that take place more out in the country than the starting in the city. The roads are usually better, and the course is often much more scenic that races that take place around a big city. Syracuse fits this sterotype. The course is very scenic and makes the 70.3 miles go by rather quickly.

Last year I placed 4th in Syracuse 70.3. However, I knew that this year the times would be much faster to finish in the money. Big names like Andrew Yoder, Ben Collins, Jordan Rapp, Lionel Sanders, and Paul Ambrose were all on the start list, along with others I didn’t mention. I usually get a little worked up from looking at the start list, but this time is was different. I didn’t really care about the names on the list. I looked at it that I have nothing to loose and everything to gain from where I stand at this point. I felt physically great on the days leading up to the race… everything was clicking really well. I just was hoping that I would feel on top of my game come race day.

I woke up at 4:45 on Sunday morning and had a small (first) breakfast that included a serving of Energy Bits (use code MIKE502BITS to save 20%) to help give me sustained energy throughout the race. We headed out the door (the first time) ahead of schedule. About 5 miles down the road, I realized I had forgotten a crucial part of the day back at home. My two bottles of Infinit for the bike and my flask of NAPLAM for the run (use code MAVERICK to save 10%). We turned around and sped back to the house. We headed back out on the road for the second and last time, thankfully. It could have been worse… I could have left my front race wheel somewhere (but that’s a whole other story that happened in Galveston last year!).

We made it to the park in plenty of time thanks to guidance of my awesome homestay by taking the back way into the park from the south and avoided the 3 mile line of cars coming from the north. We pulled into the parking lot and headed to transition to get set up with about 75 minutes before the start of the race.

It was a wetsuit swim this time. 67 degree water… none of the fudging the number to make it wetsuit legal like they probably did in Raleigh a few weeks ago. I wore my TYR CAT 5 Hurricane sleeveless wetsuit. I had a 10 minute warm up. The pro men line up and “drifted with the start line” out into the swim course. The gun went off and the race had started.

I was looking for Jordan Rapp to swim on his feet. I had done some research on the top guys and thought he was my best bet to stay with during the swim. I couldn’t tell which one he was since he had a cap, goggles, and wetsuit on. So I missed the front group due to getting stuck behind a group of 4 slower swimmers. I realized the group I was in wasn’t swimming as fast as I could on my own, so I came around from the back and worked my way to the front of the group. By this time, the lead pack of about 12 guys was too far ahead to try to catch up. I focused on good body position/rotation, strong kicking, and grabbing as much water as possible with each stroke. I exited the water about 3:30 faster than last year and dragged about 5 other guys out of the water at the same time. I used the wetsuit strippers since I’m really slow at taking my wetsuit off on my own. Ran to T1 and got ready for the bike.

Less than a mile into the bike, we cross some railroad tracks. A guy two places in front of me crossed the tracks and then about 20 meters past them, he flew off his bike. I had never seen anything like it… it was like something kicked his wheels out from underneath of him. His bike went flying to the left and he flew to the right. I swung wide to the left to avoid the bike which laid in the middle of the road and got back into the aerobars and started trying to catch some guys and settle into my goal wattage of 300-310 watts.

Miles 2-12 is where about 1000 feet of climbing occurs on the course. From the top of these hills, we had a net downhill to the finish line, with at least 3 more climbs that required my granny gear. I decided to cap my wattage at 340ish watts while climbing these hills, because I didn’t want to build up a bunch of lactic acid early on in the race and end up bonking later in the race. When I finally got to the top, I passed a few more guys and then was on my own for the rest of the ride.

By about the 45 mile mark, I got within about a ½ mile of 2 guys, one of them was the winner of Ironman Australia earlier this year, but couldn’t reel them in. I finished the bike course just under 300 watts (probably because I spun out my legs a couple times on some of the down hills instead of just coasting down a few steep decents). I looked at my data from last year, and I averaged 275 watts…so nearly 25 watt increase!! I have to take a minute to thank my coach, Brian Grasky, who has really stretched me in my training his year. I’m gonna take another minute to thank Rotor power meter and their AMAZING Qrings that help me smooth out my pedal stroke and produce more power with their elliptical chainrings. Of course, the Argon bike was stiff enough to handle the watts, the ENVE wheels were light for climbing and super areo on the flats and decents. My John Cobb V-Flow Plus saddle was amazingly comfortable was well (use MAVMIKE to save 5%).

I got off the the bike in 11th place. I was wondering how my legs would handle the run for two reasons… crazy amount of climbing (one hill 1 mile one long, two other hills about ½ mile long) and attempting to run fast after pushing some watts that were much more than I had done before in a 70.3 race. With the exception of running up the hills that were like running stairs, my legs felt good. I would start to get into a good rhythm and then hit another hill that ruined my groove.

You threw off my groove!

When I could find that happy place, I was able to run some 5:50′s miles, but running a mile uphill took me about 7 minutes on the last lap. At the last turn, I saw the competition starting to gain ground on me from the last time we met there on the first lap. I figured I had about a 1/3 mile lead on them with 5K to go. No letting up now. I picked up the pace with what I had left and started to run out of steam in the last mile of the run and crossed the line just a few seconds over my goal time. I wanted to be under 4:10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over all, I was 10th male pro and 14 minutes faster than last year. No money… but I finished 1 minute behind Elliot Holtham (winner of IM Australia this year). I’m very happy with this result. I know that I still have lots of work to do to climb to the top, but I feel like I’m knocking on the door now. I think that I need to work on my swim the most. I have made big improvements already this year in the swim by swimming with one of the top 10 swim clubs in the nation, the Lakeside Seahawks, but I know I can get faster by working with them more.  I need to cut off another couple minutes in the swim to be out on the bike with the top riders and pace off of them. I know that I can run just as fast or faster than most of them… so I’m close. Very close.

Now it’s time to recover and get ready for Muncie 70.3 in 3 weeks. Primal Sport Mud is going on my legs again tonight (use MAVERICKPRIMAL14 to save 40% on your first order).

Thanks to Maverick Multisport for putting together a great roster of sponsors.  Thanks to Vibra Health Care for their support.  Thanks to my wife that traveled with me in the car all the way from Louisville to Syracuse to cheer me on.  Thanks to my family and friends that gave me words of encouragement the last 10 years when I first started racing triathlons.  I’m extremely blessed by God to allow me to race and do what I love.  It all would be impossible without Him.

06/2/14

Raleigh 70.3 Race report 2014

Raleigh has officially become one of my favorite races.  The atmosphere at the race is very energetic, the city gives it 100% support in it, and the event is run extremely well.  The water is clean (much cleaner than the Ohio River!), and the roads are in great condition.  Not to mention, the family that host me and my wife both years were very accommodating and already invited us back next year.

We arrived on Friday evening, and found out there were hosting another professional athlete as well, named Matt Chrabot.  I will be the first to admit, I don’t know a lot of names of even the fastest athletes in the sport, so I wasn’t really sure who he was.  But after talking to him for like 10 minutes, I realized he was a pretty big deal.  Just google his name and look up his results in the ITU circuit and be… ummm… amazed!  Anyways, I figured he would be either 1st or 2nd in the race on Sunday, but I still felt confident in my ability to race well.

Race morning is extra early in Raleigh. Mostly because of the 40 minute bus ride that all athletes and spectators must take out to the lake from downtown.  My alarm went off at 3:45 AM!  I had something small to eat, and grabbed more food to eat later on the bus ride.  My wife, Leslie, and I were out the door around 4:30.  We dropped my stuff off in T2, and hopped on the bus out to Jordan Lake.

The lake temperature was 75.6 degrees… conveniently just under the wetsuit line for athletes.  I brought both my speed suit and wetsuit from TYR just to be safe.  I used my sleeveless TYR CAT 5 Hurricane wetsuit this year.  I felt great in it while warming up.  The last few minutes before the race, we lined up in the chest deep water and waited for the gun.  I got behind some people I thought if I got on their feet, I could hang on. When the gun went off, I found myself in the lead pack and tried to settle into the pace.  But, just 600 meters into the race, I could tell I was above my sustainable effort and just hanging on to the group was a struggle. I slowly fell back and waited for the next group of people to catch me.  With the water temperature being so close to the wetsuit limit, I started feeling over heated in my suit. I found it difficult to maintain a good pace after that… guess I’ll know next time to use the swim skin with water temperatures close to the cut off for wetsuits.

Sunrise at Jordan Lake State Park

Once on the bike and out on the main road, I saw a group of two or 3 guys up the road about a mile or so. I picked up the effort to catch them, but with the wind already blowing right in my face, I knew that catching them would next to impossible.  I settled into my pace.  I passed a guy about 10 miles in to the race.  Then, a group of people caught me.  I went with the group.  We took turns at the front for the next 20 miles or so. I knew I was a stronger rider than these guys, but with the strong winds I couldn’t get away.  When in the front, I was pushing 300+ watts, but when 2nd or 3rd in line, my watts would drop to 250-ish, even at 10 meters back!  The last 15 miles I lead the group the whole time and pulled them into T2 in downtown Raleigh.

 

I made haste in T2 and was out on the run much quicker than the rest of the group I pulled in along with me.  The run is my strongest leg of the race, so in my excitement and hurriedness, I accidentally left my Garmin on my bike.  I realized it about 30 meters after leaving my bike, but I decided to leave it there instead of wasting time going back to get it.  I only like to have it on the run to gauge my pace by having it auto-lap every mile. But, I figured I would just run by feel this time.

I left T2 in 10th place. I caught 9th place by the 2nd mile and couldn’t see anyone else. Since the course was an out and back, I could see the competition as the headed back on their first return to downtown. From what I could see based on people’s gait, I assumed I could catch 1 or 2 more pros and maybe finish 7th.  At this point I knew that 5th place was more than likely out of the question.  But I wasn’t going to give up.  Keep running hard!  At the 7th mile marker, I could tell that I was making significant ground on 8th place.  I was thinking I’d catch him around the time we hit the final turn around.  I was a little off on my prediction.  I needed an extra mile. I passed 8th place with about 2 miles to go.  When I passed him, I surged a little bit to drive the nail in a little bit and discourage him enough to make him not to try to hang with me. I kept the pace high thinking I could possibly catch 7th place, but was unsuccessful in doing so.  I crossed the line about the same time as last year, but the bike times we significantly slower than last year.  The fastest bike time this year was just under 2:13… most times the fastest split for a 56 mile ride is 2:03-2:06 depending on the course.

I crossed the line in 8th place, beating everyone that beat me last year (except Greg Bennent, since he didn’t show up this year), and just 2 minutes behind Timo Bratch who placed 9th in Kona last year!

Even though I didn’t walk home with any money this year, I felt I accomplished a lot:  beating everyone  from last year (one guy beat me by 6 minutes last year).  I ran a 1:16 half-marathon off the bike (third fastest run of the day), which is a PR for me by 3 minutes, and finished relatively close to Timo Bratch.

Thanks again to all my sponsors for helping me break through old limits.  The Argon bike and Enve wheels handled the winds and hills on Raleigh magnificently, and my trusty Cobb Saddle was once again comfortable. Rotor/Q-rings for helping to give me an advantage with the elliptical chain rings  to produce more power.  And my Champion System kit was awesome.  I never felt hot in the race or had any chaffing.

Thanks again to Vibra health Care for supporting me and being such a great sponsor and believing in a new pro to help promote them.

I also used Energy Bits leading up to the race to help me get the nutrients I needed and recover from all the hard training to be ready for race day (MIKE502BITS to save 20%, www.energybits.com).

I exclusively used Infinit’s Go Far and NAPALM during the whole race for calories (no solid food at all), and supplemented extra sodium with salt stick. (MAVERICK to save 10%, www.infinitnutrition.com)

Molly Roohi and I, Maverick Multisport teammates, both finished top 10!

05/28/14

Raleigh race preview

Raleigh 70.3 is just a few days away.  This race was, in my mind, the race that was my breakthrough race last year.  I surprised myself with my best swim to date and my best run to date as well.  I wanted to come back this year, because of the good vibes that I have from last year.  But a few things are different this year.

With Rev3 dropping the pro prize purse, the field of pros won’t be as diluted this year.  This race happens to fall on the same week as Rev3 Quassy, which used to have a $100,000 prize purse.  With that race no longer pulling pros to it, a lot of them decided to do Raleigh 70.3 this year instead.  The field is much deeper than last year, so the times that won money last year more than likely won’t be anywhere near the top 5 for pay out.

At first this bothered me.  I was worried I would miss top 5.  But, one of the things I learned last year was how powerful the mind is when it comes to performing on race day.  I began thinking about the big gains I made from last year and what I did in the swim and bike in NOLA 70.3 (coming off the bike in 7th place).  I thought about the TTT I did in mid-May.  I was able to beat the teams competing in the event, a few of which consisted of pros from US Pro Tri team and some from Tri4Him.  None of them were big names, but I was able to beat two pro athletes working together throughout the weekend.  Suddenly, my mindset changed.  I went from doubting myself, to believing in myself.

Top 5 is going to be tough to accomplish, but not impossible.  I think that I can complete the race about 10  minutes faster than last year.  Goal time is at least a 3:58, but I think I could do it slightly faster if I have a really good day.

Additionally, I found a little more motivation yesterday after stumbling across a random video on facebook.  It had a picture of a girl falling during a race and another one hurdling over her.  I clicked the video to watch it.  Shortly into the race, I found out the race was a 600 meter indoor track race.  The girl was tripped and fell with just 200 meters to go.  She picked herself up and ended up winning the heat!  It reminded me of what my homestay in Raleigh told me last year the day before the race, “never give up… you never know how the race will unfold.  People in front of you may crack.”

That advice (along with a few other words of wisdom) really went a long way last year.  I got off the bike in 9th place.  I ran down 4 people and ended up in 5th.  I didn’t expect that to happen, but it did.  If I would have given up on the run and “just finished the race,” the result wouldn’t have been the same.  So that is the basic game plan this year… race my heart out! 

As I was thinking this while watching the video of the girl coming back from what seemed to be impossible, the screen went black on my computer and a short, simple sentence came up and really fueled the fire for the weekend:

“How determined are you to win your race?”

 

 

05/26/14

Energy Bits

As an elite athlete, I’m always looking for things that will facilitate recovery, help me perform better, and be faster.  About a month ago, I stumbled upon a company called Energy Bits.  This company makes, markets, and sells algae tabs as food.  When I first discovered them, I’ll admit to being a bit weirded out.  But after doing a little bit of reading about algae on their website and several independent websites that published the benefits of algae, I realized I would be stupid not to start incorporating algae into my daily routine.

Over the last month, I have taken them like pills, chewed them, or put them in some of my homemade yogurt based smoothies with fruits and vegetables.  I really like the taste that it adds to the smoothie as it mixes in with the other ingredients.  Immediately, I noticed several things:

1.  Shorter recovery time – The weekend I did a sprint, two Olympics and a 70.3 triathlon in 3 days (an epic event call the American Triple T), I took a serving of the algae tabs after every race.  When I woke up Sunday morning, I noticed I had more energy than I expected to have (and also in comparison to how I felt when I did this race before).  I had energy to race and race well on Sunday during the 70.3 race.  This is mostly due to two things about Energy Bits: highest concentration of antioxidants (gram for gram), and 65% of the calories are protein in amino acid form.  When protein is already an amino acid, it absorbs faster and the body can get 99% of the amino acid.  Translation… your muscles get the amino acids it needs much faster than ingesting animal protein.  Antioxidants also reduce inflammation and help in the recovery process.

2. Hunger satisfied longer – when I usually make smoothies with fruits and veggies in them, I get hungry really quickly afterwards.  However, after adding 1-2 servings of Energy Bits (30-60 calories), I was more satisfied for much longer.  This is probably due to the high concentration of nutrients in the algae.  When the body has all the nutrients it needs, it doesn’t trigger hunger.  Thus making it easier to stay lean and still perform well.   See image below for some nutritional information. Algae has 40 nutrients in it.  NASA has also found just 1 kilogram of algae to have the nutritional equivalent of 1000 kg of fruits and vegetables:

Algae has several other benefits, such as the ability to improve blood flow with the nitric oxide that is naturally found it in.  This means that blood can more efficiently care nutrients/oxygen to places and carry waste away.

These algae tabs are food, not supplements.  So that means all the nutrients can be absorbed.  When taking a supplement or multivitamin, most of the nutrients are in one form.  Many vitamins, such as vitamin C, are found in several different forms in nature.  But when put in a pill it is almost always found as ascorbic acid… and the body can’t absorb all of it when it’s concentrated in one amount like that.

Energy Bits algae tabs are 100% organic, 100% GMO-free, gluten-free, and WADA compliant.

Go to www.energybits.com and find out more.  When ordering save 20% when using code “MIKE502BITS”

 

05/18/14

Triple T Race 4

The last and toughest race of the weekend at the Triple T in Shawnee State Park, OH took place today.  I went to bed early the night before to try and get some extra rest.  I slept in the my 110%. Play Harder compression pants and took a handful of Energy Bits to help me recover as I slept on an air mattress just outside of transition.  I  was really hoping that the temperatures would be a bit warmer today after the cold temperatures yesterday.  However, mother nature had other plans.

I woke up to a balmy 37 degrees.  I was, again, worried about the temperatures.  Should I dress for the temperatures now and be hot on the back half of the ride or dress for the temperatures later in the morning and be cold/freezing for the first hour or so.  Would I pay for it more being hot, or being cold?  I didn’t know.  I do know that I hate the cold!

I got my wetsuit on and headed to the lake.  My feet instantly went numb walking on the cold, damp ground.  I opted not warm in the water with the water and air temperatures so cold.  I think the water temperature this morning was about 60 degrees.  The gun went off and the time trial start of the swim began.  I ran into the water and did a few dolphin dives to the first buoy.  Each one was slightly less of a shock to my body.  A few strokes into the swim, I managed to catch my breath and feel a little comfortable in the water.  It was a two lap swim for a total of 1.2 miles.  The second lap was a bit congested trying to swim around the swimmers that started later and were just getting into the water.  I managed to only run into a few of them.  It was hard to see them (and the buoys) with all the steam rising from the lake.  I managed to exit the water in 5th place and into T1.

The steam rising from the lake this morning.

I opted to wear more clothes and maybe be warm/hot on the back half of the bike.  I left T1 in 5th place including the teams and 1st in the solo division, maintaining my position.  My hands went numb within the first the mile.  But the rest of me was okay.  I couldn’t believe what some of the other riders were wearing that were ahead of me… just their uniform, arm warmers and calf sleeves.  I managed to catch the lead team about 10 miles into the bike… where a tree had just fallen over the road about 30 minutes prior.  We had to get off our bikes and limbo under the tree.  From there we descended down another windy and slightly sketchy stretch of road.  I pulled away from the lead team at this point… enough were on the straights I couldn’t see them.  It kinda surprised me, I began to wonder if they were okay.

About 20-25 miles into the bike, they caught me.  They had stopped briefly a while back because the guy without the jacket, Jarod, was getting hypothermic and his teammate, Colin, gave him his jacket.  I was feeling a little warm at this point and wanted to shed a layer, so as we leap frogged back and forth with lead over the next couple miles we decided to stop at the DIY aid station to give them one of my jackets I was wearing.  While we were stopped, the second place team passed us.

I got back on my bike, extremely happy to have one less layer and continued on the winding roads through the forest.  About 9 miles left to go, I approached a 2 mile climb.  I was in my smallest gear (28 tooth in the back) and had to stand up for portions of it.  My legs were getting a little upset at this point.  I knew if I made it to the top of this hill, it was a net downhill from there.  I made it into T2 about 3.5 minutes down from the lead team.  My goal for this ride was to ride at Ironman intensity… and was right on where I wanted to be… about 270 watts average power.  Now, just 13.1 miles of trail running to go.

The run was again on the same portion of trail, but this time instead of doing one out-and-back, each athlete had two out and backs.  I felt sluggish for the first two miles, and it showed based on my splits.  I finally found my running legs and was able to do a few miles at 6:20-6:30 on the way back the first time.  I had a comfortable lead on the rest of the guys in the solo division.  On the final lap, I could tell the my lead had grown since we last saw each other on the trail.  With about 2.5 miles to go, someone told me the lead team was less than a minute ahead of me.  I decided to try to catch them.  I came out to the road with just under a half mile to go and saw them probably just over 1/10th of a mile ahead.  I knew I couldn’t catch them.  I managed to finish just 2o seconds behind them and secured my win in the solo division.

This weekend was one of the most fun I have had since starting triathlons 10 years ago.  I camped out with the rest of the HFP crew (they happen to be the same crew doing the new Challenge race in New Albany, OH later this year), Michael Foland (founder and CEO of Infinit Nutrition), and they coach of Andrew Starykowicz.  I camped out the entire weekend (for free) and got to hang out with several other pros for the whole weekend and really got a chance to get to know them.

I had a chance to really test my equipment this weekend too:

Argon E-118 – the bike handled the tricky roads very well.  Stiff frame was great for climbing up the steep hills.

Rotor Power meter – helped my gauge my effort and dial in my expected wattage for Ironman distance this year

Cobb Saddles – lots of time in the saddle with wet/cold clothing and still no saddle soreness (use code “mavMike” to save 5%)

Vitorria Tires – Literally went through everything a tire could and handled them all extremely well (rain, cold, climbing, descending, cornering, etc.)

Champion System – my triathlon kit went through a lot of abuse this weekend.  Able to carry nutrition in the pockets and no chaffing.

Enve Wheels – fast and aero wheels that are also light for taking on some of the hardest hills.

TYR wetsuit and speedsuit – kept me warm in 60 degree water… what else do you need to know?

Occupational Kinetics – for keeping my body healthy and race ready.

Infinit Nutrition – gave the energy needed during the race to preform (use code “maverick” at checkout to save 10%)

Swiftwick socks – kept my feet warm and dry on the bike, and free from blisters all weekend

Primal Sport Mud – apply to legs after a hard workout and go hard the next day (use code “maverickprimal14 to save 40% on your first order)

Energy Bits – I took these algae tabs after every race and really felt good before each race.  They have 3x more antioxidants than gogi berries and all the protein you need in amino acids, so they are 99% absorbed  (use code “mike502bits” to save 20%).

110%. Play Harder – I wore these after every race and slept in them one night to aid in recovery.

Smith Optics – They kept the cold wind off my face and my vision clear going in and out of the shadows so I could see the details of the road better.

VO2 Multisport for having all my bike gear dialed in perfectly for racing.

Lakeside seahawks – for helping me get faster in the water

Maverick Multisport – thanks for putting all the above sponsors together!

Vibra Health care – For supporting me financially to help make racing possible.

Grasky Endurance Coaching – for the being the brains behind the operation!

 

It was a lot of work this weekend, but I managed to walk away with $1500.  God really has blessed me with a strong set of lungs and heart to let me do the things I love.  None of this would be possible without him!  Thanks also to my friends and family that support me.  But the biggest thanks to my wonderful wife that encourages me daily to give it my all.

05/17/14

Triple T races 2 and 3

TTT Race #2 The second race of The Triple T started today at 7:30. The air temperature was about 40 degrees. I hate cold. I will be the first to say that I don’t do well in the cold. So I tried to figure out how to stay warm coming out of the water and onto the bike in temperatures just above 40 degrees. Thankfully I brought a couple jackets and some 100%. Play Harder gear to use as a scarf. I was really concerned about getting hypothermia… but I figured I would do it, since everybody else was. A little of peer pressure, maybe??

Again the swim started in a time trial start. I opted to use my TYR Cat 5 Hurricane wetsuit since the water temperature dropped to 65 degrees over night. It was definitely a good choice. I felt smooth in the water and by the end of the swim, I felt warm. Good to know that my core temperature was a little warm for heading out onto the cold bike course. I exited the water in about 7th place. I took my sweet time in T1 putting on things to stay warm… 3 minutes of sweet time! But most people took about as long.

The bike course was very techinical. Most of the course was on paved fire roads. Winding and twisting up… and steep, fast, with lots of blind corners. I played the downhills very conservative. With all the hills and turning, I was maybe in my aerobars for about 50% of the 25 mile bike. But, the good news was I never felt cold. I rolled into T2 able to feel all of my body! T2 was much faster… strip off the two jackets and slip on some Swiftwick socks and my Newton MV3′s and out to the 6.55 mile trail run.

It took me about 1.5 to 2 miles to find my legs since it was mostly uphill on a two track path. Finally, my legs started feeling good.I wanted to finish in the top 5 overall (including the teams) to get a :30 time bonus at the end of the weekend. I eyed the competition as they headed back to the finish line (the trail is an out and back). I could tell that I could catch one of the guys, maybe two. I pushed the pace and with about 1.5 miles left to go, I closed the gap of about ½ mile from the 3 mile marker. I cruised into the finish at 5th place, securing my time bonus, but was the first of the solo division across the line. This race moved me into 1st overall in the solo division by about 2-2.5 minutes. Time to rest up for the next Olympic distance race at 3:00.

Race #3

Race number three isn’t your typical triathlon. Bike, swim, run. Another time trial start, but this time we tackled another hilly (but less technical) 25 mile course. I felt good… better than the morning race. The warmer temperatures seemed to help. I paced off the team that started in front of me (they were drafting off each other since they are allowed to) for the first 10 miles or so. I lost them on a very techinical descent with lots of gravel. I wanted to pace this bike about what I would do for a Half Ironman or slightly less. My power was right it needed to be. I never was passed by any of the teams that started behind me. In fact, I think I put about a minute or two on them.

T1 is interesting. People getting off the bike and trying to put on wetsuits. People like using wetsuits mostly to prevent cramping in the chilly water. However, I will be the first to admit that I am not fast at putting on a wetsuit. I probably would have a 10 minute T1 if I put on my wetsuit (on a good day). I opted to use my TYR Torque swim skin. I made up a lot of time in T1 on the team in front of me, because they opted to don their wetsuits. I ran to the water… which was probably 65 degrees still, or even colder since the high today only hit 60. I jumped into the water did a few dolphin dives before getting into my freestyle stroke. The water literally took my breath away. After a few dolphin dives, my body seemed to adjust to it enough and I now I had to swim 1.5K in freezing cold water, and hope that the compression of the swim skin would be enough to keep me from cramping. I actually made up some time on the team in front of me, and exited the water about 30-45 seconds behind.

Since taking off a wetsuit takes much longer than taking off a swim skin, I managed to exit T2 about :15 behind. My feet were numb from the swim, and the rest of me was very chilled. Out to the same trail for another 6.55 mile trail run. I passed the team about ¼ mile into the run. But swimming caused me to get a bit of a side stitch. I guess the advice of not eating or drinking anything for 30 or 45 minutes before swimming is true. I did a fair amount of burping to try to get the stitch to go away. Finally about 2 miles into the run, I felt that I start drinking some nutrition and running again. I had took a sip of Infinit’s NAPALM highly caffeinated and was looking for a pick-me-up. I felt it work a few minutes later. I made it to the turn around with a :30 lead on the team, and probably about 3.5 minute lead on the next solo guy. I kept a steady pace into the finish and managed to cross about 2-3 minutes ahead of the team, and about 10 minutes ahead of the next solo guy.

Tomorrow is a big day. We have a 70.3 to do tomorrow… so half of the distance happens tomorrow. Still anyone’s game at this point.

05/16/14

Triple T Race 1 Update

The American Triple T has officially started.  I seem to do it on the years that are cold.  People say that it is typically much warmer.  To make things worse, it poured for about 30 minutes just before the start of the race.  I did my best to stay dry by taking shelter under the food tent.  About 15 minutes before the race was to start, the rain let up and sun started to shine a little.

The air temperature was 60 degrees and the water temperature was 71.  With the swim being so short – only 250 meters – I decided to wear my TYR Torque Speed suit.  It was a time trial start.  With a low number, I was in the first group of people to start.  I lead the swim until the last 50 meters or so.

With the cool air and water temperatures, I decided to leave my speedsuit and just get on the bike and go.  5 miles on the bike… short, but one long, steep hill.  I didn’t have time to check my bike before the race.  The ride in the car caused the shifting to b e a little off and the front wheel was rubbing a little.  (I’ll be sure to fix that before tomorrow morning’s race.)  It was my first time attempting to ride in the speed suit, I felt a little restricted, more so in the breathing than anything else.  We came back down the hill we climbed up for the last mile or so.  The roads were still wet,  so I played it conservative and took the corners nice and safe.  I came off the bike in 6th and out to the run.

The run is only 1 mile, so I ran hard, but not too hard considering all the other racing left for the week.  My feet were numb from the ride, so I couldn’t tell if I even had my shoes on right.  About a 1/4 mile into the run I felt like I couldn’t breath.  I realized it was my speedsuit restricting my breathing.  I unzipped it and instantly felt better.  My pace increased a little starting making up some time on the leaders.  I crossed the line in 5th overall.  But only one of them were solo, so that means I’m sitting in second right now just by a few seconds.

Honestly, today’s race really means next to nothing.  There are still about 134 miles to go this weekend.  I’ll be sure to do what I can to recover between races with Primal Sport Mud, 110% Play Harder compression, and Energy Bits (use code “mike502bits” to save 20%).

04/22/14
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KDF Marathon Race Report 2014

This year the KDF would be my second time running the race… and it would also come just 6 days after NOLA 70.3.  I wasn’t sure how well I would do with still having a little bit of fatigue in my legs from the previous weekend, but I thought it would be a fun race to do since it is in my backyard.

On Wednesday before the race, a random cold sore showed up on my lip.  I was really confused to why it happened to pop up since I wasn’t sick, or even feeling a little under the weather.  However, Friday evening while I was at our Good Friday Service, I started feeling a little congested and a sore throat.  Now the cold sore made sense!  But, the timing to finding out why wasn’t the greatest.  I was hoping that I wouldn’t feel horrible in the morning and still be able to have a respectable race.  I didn’t sleep great the night of the race, but it could have been worse.

I woke up with a little more congestion and my throat was just a little more sore than the night before.  I felt good enough to race and decided to give it what I had.

I started the race in the A corral.  Not sure why I didn’t in the elite corral, but I didn’t really care.  I knew I could get really close to the front of the line regardless.

The start gun went off and I started out with a 5:22 mile and then settled into pace for the rest of the marathon.  By mile 4, I knew my goal time of a 2:35 wasn’t going to happen.  I didn’t have the energy I needed from being sick.  I actually contemplated just doing the mini marathon, but I felt like that would be “quitting” for no good reason, and didn’t want anything to do with that.

Just before the mini marathoner and the full marathoners split, we run into the Church Hill Downs, home to “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”  It’s always kind of fun running around the in field that in just a couple weeks will be crowded with people watching the first leg of the Triple Crown Races.  We then exited the stadium and headed for Iroquois Park, the hilliest section of the race (and probably all of Louisville).

Once getting to the park, I backed down the effort a little bit for the 3 miles through the park.  I didn’t want to push that section too hard and then pay for it in the final miles of the race.  Once we exited the park, we got back on Southern Parkway and met runners making their way to the park.  This part of the race is nice, a little bit of company to be had.  A few “good jobs” were tossed back and forth to/from the people I knew for the next few miles.  Then, about mile 17, I joined back into the group of mini marathoners.

For the next few miles, I had to bob and weave quite a bit to work my way through the crowd.  Getting to the aid stations was a bit a challenge since they were on the left side of the street and I was on the right side of the street.  I had to cross about 4 lanes of road/runners, grab my own drinks, and then zig-zagged back to the right hand side of the road where the least amount of dodging was required to make forward progress. I made a conscious effort to drink a lot of fluids during this race in comparison to last year since I felt that hydration was reason I didn’t close out the last 4 miles well… and it was a lot warmer this year.

Mile 21 came and that meant I finally was able to split from the mini marathoners again and have open road.  Still no signs of hitting the wall and struggling the last four miles like last year.  However, my slowest mile did some from mile 22-23, but it was mostly uphill.  I kept drinking water and taking small sips from the flask of Napalm (Infinit’s version of an energy gel) I carried during the entire race.  I felt good (relatively speaking) and closed off the last three miles with all of them just being a few seconds over 6 min miles.  No bonking this year!

I finished 7th over all and about a minute slower than last year, but I’m still happy with it.   Considering I was sick, raced a 70.3 the weekend before, and it being much warmer this year, I think I put together a good race.

Equipment/Nutrition during the race:

Newton MV3 running shoes

Napalm Highly Caffeinated (www.infinitnutrition.com) – use code “maverick” at checkout to save 10%

Salt Stick Electrolyte pills

Swiftwick socks

Champion System Tri Kit

 

I also want to  give a big thank you to Maverick Multisport for pulling all these sponsors together to help make training and racing possible.  And a big thank you to Vibra Healthcare for sponsoring me this year.  Without their support, I wouldn’t be able to race or train as much as I would like.

Also, I want to give a shout out to my wife and all my in-laws for doing the mini marathon this year.  It was a great to exchange stories after the race.  Huge congrats to all of them!