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%).