08/16/14

Primal Sport Mud and Occupational Kinetics

Getting injured is not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.

A week ago, I was spending some quality “framily” time in Destin, FL.  It also happened to be my last big training week in preparation for IM Louisville.  By the end of the week, my running shoes have taken their final beating.  After my last run, I felt a little soreness in my right knee.  I knew I had to change out my shoes once I got home.

On Tuesday, my coach, Brian Grasky, scheduled race simulation for me.  1 hour OWS, 50 mile at IM wattage, followed by and hour of running at IM pace.  As I started my run, the pain in my knee was back.  I cut the run short, but managed to hit my goal pace despite the pain.  I immediately went to VO2 Multisport for some new Newtons.

I gave my knee some rest and then tried a run on Wednesday. I made it 15 minutes in and the pain in my knee was so bad I knew if I kept going I would possibly put myself on the sideline for IM Louisville. I bagged the run and limped back to the car and drove home.

Once home, I put some Primal Sport Mud on my knee and applied a heating pad to it for about 20 minutes. I felt a lot better afterwards, but still had some slight pain.

The next day, I called my friend Mike, who works at Occupational Kinetics and asked if he thought an ultrasound treatment would be beneficial.  He said yes, and stated that we should do the treatment with Primal Sport Mud instead of ultrasound gel. I got the treatment Thursday evening.

The difference I felt the next morning was very significant. No pain. I gave my knee another day of rest and tried to test it out today (Saturday). 2 hrs at IM wattage then 30 minutes at IM marathon pace.  No pain during the run.

Why does Primal Sport Mud work so well? There are lots of antiflammatory properties in the product that absorbs through the skin. Additionally, Primal Sport Mud has a property called the Black Body Effect. To put it simply, that takes all the energy and pin points the energy and makes it more intense… which is why using the ultrasound with Primal Sport Mud works so well. The ultrasounds healing is intensified through the Primal Sport Mud.

This is the second time this year that Occupational Kinetics has used Primal Sport Mud on me with an ultrasound. And both times it took just one treatment to get rid of the pain.

So, if I were you, I would buy some Primal Sport Mud to always have on hand. If an injury occurs and you need ultrasound treatment to heal up faster, schedule an appointment and bring the Mud with you. It will save you time and money by decreasing the number of treatments you need.

So… big thanks to Mike with Occupational Kinetics and Primal Sport Mud for being in my corner this year and getting me healed up and ready to rock in Louisville.

MAVERICKPRIMAL14 saves you 40% on your first order.

08/3/14

IM Louisville, Kona Slots, and Pros

Ironman recently announced that several races will no longer offer pro prize purses, and the money from those races will be reallocated to other races to increase the prize purse and also pay 10 deep.  I can’t say for sure how this will affect the pro race fields, but I’m guessing that now the races left with pro prize purses will be very hard to place top 10.  It will be just as hard or harder for pros that are starting out in the sport to collect enough a money from the races to cover their traveling expenses.  Those at the top will be making lots of money, while the ones getting started in the sport are at a disadvantage due to covering their expenses by working another job, coaching, etc.  I am not saying that every professional triathlete should be making a ton of money (just like starting quarterbacks should make more money than the back up), but I think their should be some sort of travel stipend or something.

I also read Eric Limkeman’s blog and agree with a lot of what he said there.  The term professional triathlete is a very loose term. Very few triathletes can actually make a living doing it, and the value of a professional triathlete is hard to quantify.  Pro’s do their best to represent companies and companies do their best to promote their athletes.  We don’t make a ton of money off of them, and they don’t make a ton of money off of us either, so the compensation is probably fine from the companies.  I’m not asking to make millions, or even be considered rich.  I just think that Pros need to reconsider chasing points for Kona and not getting paid, or not getting paid enough to cover traveling expenses.  I know I plan on doing more Challenge Races next year as a business move to help me collect more money at races… and because I don’t think Ironman is a company to support right now.  Plus I know that at least this stage of the game for me, Kona is out of my reach.

Speaking of Kona, there has been lots of talk about having equal representation of male pro and men.  IM also talked about cutting the number of pro men slots down and increasing the number of pro women.  I don’t think this is right due to the proportion of male vs. females in the average Ironman race. From the pro start lists that I’ve looked at over the last few years, their is usually between 2 and 3 times more men than females.  Currently, 50 pro men and 35 pro women get to toe the line in Kona.  So even though there is 2-3x more pro men vs pro women, men only get about 1.5x more slots at the pier in Kona.

Some people think that equal slots on pier in Kona would send a better message to young women getting started in the sport.  However, I think that is not the case.  If people think that the pro men and pro women should have equal slots, you could argue that the F18-24 (the AG with the least amount of participation in IM races) slots should have equal representation in Kona as the M40-44 (the AG with the one of the highest representation in IM races).  If for some reason women out numbered men (which they probably do in comparison of F40-44 vs. M18-24) then the women should have more slots in Kona and be in proportion to the number participating.

At the end of the day, we (triathletes) can make a difference a vote with our money.  If we continue supporting IM and their poor decisions (at least in my opinion), they will continue throwing their weight around and screwing both AG and pro athletes.  Be vocal and speak out… don’t just be complacent.

07/28/14
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Challenge New Albany 2014

Challenge New Albany was my first Challenge Family event… it was also a first year race that HFP racing teamed with Challenge Family to produce the event. When I saw that Shanmon Kurek and his team at HFP were managing the event, I knew it would be well managed. The race started at 6:30… so just a little earlier than most other 70.3 races, but the wake up call still wasn’t bad at 4:15. My wife and I arrived at Alum Creek park and I got set up in the first of two transition. The bike was a point to point bike so I had dropped of my gear bag in T2 the day before. The water temperature was 75ish degrees. No wetsuits since the wetsuit line for pros at USAT sanctioned races is 68 degrees (WTC follows their own rules).  I was happy that we went by the 68 degree rule, because I think anything over 72 or 73 degrees is way too warm for a wetsuit.

This race had a few fast swimmers, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay with the very front pack, so I decided to try and stick with the second pack of swimmers.  Over the last month or so, I’ve been working on changing my stroke with the Lakeside Seahawks and it has made a noticeable difference.  Instead of barely hanging on to the second group of swimmers, or being spit out the back, I exited the water with people in it that beat me out of the water earlier in the year consistently. In fact, I actually lead them out of the water with another guy.  I exited the water knowing I had already set myself up for a good bike ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out on the bike I was feeling great.  The group of swimmers I came out with broke up on the bike as I and another guy were pushing the pace.  15 miles into the ride, the group of 8 had splintered into a group of 3 in the front (that included me), and group of 2 a minute or so back, and a few stragglers behind them.  I was working my way through the group of 3 slowly as the lead guy was slowly pulling away because I didn’t want him to get away from me.  Since the rules are different for pros in drafting in USAT races compared to WTC races, I had literally all day to make my pass.  However, you have to be outside of the draft box, which in the pro meeting was explained to us as a 2 meter by 10 meter area.  I understood this as being 1 meter on both sides of the rider and 10 meters back.  I was about 1.5 meters to the right of the guy as I was making my pass until the race official came up to me and told me to stand down for a penalty.  Apparently the race official interpreted the rule for drafting as 2 meters on both sides of the rider and 10 meters back.  I served my time and with every “whoosh” of aero wheels I became a little more discouraged.  I finally had a good swim and was killing the bike course and had splintered the group.  And I hadn’t even gotten to my strongest event yet… the run.  And then the penalty.

While I was waiting for the longest two minutes, I did drink a bunch of fluid figuring it would help me as opposed to just waiting.  I remounted my bike after loosing about 5 or 6 positions on the bike determined to catch the group I had lost.  I rode hard for the rest of the ride.  I passed the group of two that passed me about a minute into my penalty about 10 miles up the road.  I caught a few more people that I think beat me out of the swim before the end of the bike.  After the race was over, I was told by my wife the two guys that I was with on the bike when I got the penalty were only a minute ahead of me exiting T2.  That means I rode solo for 40ish miles and was still able to make ground on them.  I wonder if I had been able to ride with them how much further ahead I could have gotten from them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The run course was essentially on a walking/running path around a horse farm, golf course, and neighborhood that the half distance racers had to complete twice.  The course had a lot of sharp corners at the bottom of hills and then a short and steep (think climbing stairs) for about 5-10 yards to go up with no momentum after taking the corner.  I definetily slowed down the run course a little, but I think it was a fair and honest course.  It was also a very scenic course. Plenty of aid stations… my only thing I would change about the run would be having ice on the course.  I know it wasn’t hot, but even on days in the 70′s, the ice can help keep the body temperature down a bit and increase the speed I can run.  On the first lap, I was on pacing about 5:50 per mile, which would be about a 1:16 run.  I still hadn’t passed any runners yet, which really surprised me, but when you’re racing against people that are fast already, it can take a long time to catch them, even if you’re running under 6 minute miles.  I finally passed another pro… but then another one passed me.  His name is Adam… and he ran a 1:12 in Racine 70.3 the weekend before, so when I saw him behind me at one of the out and backs, I figured he would catch me eventually.  With about 1.5 miles left to go, I passed John Kenny from the US Pro Tri time and cruised in the rest of the way for the 8th place finish.  I was happy and mad myself at the same time.  I knew that mistake on the bike cost me a big chunk of change (I think I could have finished 5th if I didn’t get the penalty)!  On the other hand, I had a PR by about a minute at the 70.3 distance for the second race in a row… and I didn’t even taper for this race.  I had 28 hours of training from Thursday 7/17/14 to Tuesday 7/22/14, and one of those days (Monday) was a day off!

My biggest fan and encourager, my wife, Leslie, always waits for me at the finish line!

 

Why did I not taper for this race?  Simple answer… hometown race, Ironman Louisville, is about 4 weeks out.  I’m going to go ahead and say it… I’m going for a win this year at Louisville.  The training that I’ve been doing over the last couple weeks is showing tremendous improvement from last year.  I did the calculations on what I think I can do, and it puts me between an 8:30 and 8:40 finishing time.  If things go well, I should be closer to the 8:30 mark than the 8:40 mark… and that time has won it in years past.  So, I decided I’m going for it.  Why not?  It’s my dream to win my hometown race!

Thanks again to all my sponsors that made this possible.  Be sure to click the sponsors tab and consider using these great companies for your own training and racing.  Some of them have coupon codes to save yourself money and support me and/or Maverick Multisport in the process!

 

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
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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
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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.