08/23/14

Keep Our Pros

This week has been very bittersweet for me.  Ironman Louisville will be running its last pro race in just a few hours from now.  And, because of that, it will be the last time I participate in my race… my hometown race.  The decision by WTC to cut the prize money from half of the full distance triathlons they host in the USA has literally hit home!

Over the course of the week, I was on 3 different pro panels.  Every time someone in the audience asked the question what we thought of the decision.  Of course, all the pros thought it was a horrible decision for several reason.  But here are just a few:

1.  New pros will have a harder time getting recognition from sponsors (and therefore money).

2.  Foreign professional triathletes used to come to the USA for the summer because of the abundance of races to choose from.  With that not being the case anymore, these pros may stay in Europe for the summer.

3.  More traveling costs to get to races since only one might be within driving distance now.

 

I started thinking about how we (as pros) could come together and make a movement against WTC.  Something needed to be done, because if we just sit back and take it, WTC will keep throwing their weight around.  I had an idea to use social media to start a movement that will hopefully spill over from IM Louisville into IM Wisconsin, IM Lake Tahoe, and IM Florida:

#KeepOurPros

Myself and two of my teammates will have a petition to sign at this event at Makers Mark located at 4th Street Live right by the IM Louisville finish line.  (For some reason, I can’t insert a hyperlink, so copy and paste this to your browser: https://www.facebook.com/events/266504916873694/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming)

We will also be going around at the awards ceremony collecting signatures.  We will then publicly deliver the petition to Ironman with your signatures… age groupers, spectators, pros, family, friends, anyone that feels the need to keep the pros at EVERY Ironman race to help keep the race special.  What other sport out there can you participate in right along side some of the best athletes in the world… none!

Also, I would challenge you that if you don’t agree with the decision by WTC to cut the races with pro prize purse, don’t sign up for WTC races.  Choose other ones like Challenge Family.  Every time you sign up for a race by WTC you are casting a vote… a vote that agrees with what they are doing.

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?”

 

 

04/10/14

NOLA 70.3 2014 pre-race

The first triathlon of the season is almost upon me, New Orleans 70.3.  I have had such a weird mix of emotions leading up to this event.  Excitement.  Anxiety.  Nervousness.  Confidence.  Stress.

Excitement – I’m always excited about a race, but the first one of the season and IM Louisville always get me the most excited.  NOLA, being my first race of the season, will give me an opportunity to test my fitness gains made in the off season.  All those countless hours on the trainer watching things on Netflix and Hulu.  The countless laps in the pool swimming with the Lakeside Seahawks.  Braving the frigid temperatures outdoors this winter to run training in.  It’s all coming to a big test.  Tests and good competition always gets me excited.

Anxiety – So, I just said the good competition gets me excited.  Well, it also causes a bit of anxiety.  Going against those that have proven themselves to be world class time and time again makes me anxious.  Especially when there is a whole slew of them.  I became anxious after looking at the start list and saw names like Trevor Wurtele, Andy Potts, and Chris McDonald to name just a few of them.  These guys are super fast, but also a good way to see how I stack up against the best in the business.

Nervous – Some nervous energy is good.  It means that you care about what you are doing.  However, too much of it will drain you.  I am doing my best to not let things get out of control.  There are a lot of variables out there that can happen on race day.  I can only control myself, nothing else… so why worry about them.  I have a game plan for Sunday, and if I can execute the plan (especially during the swim portion by coming out with some of the lead guys), the result I desire will happen.

Confidence – There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.  I hope that I never cross that line.  But, after doing a lot of work in the off season in the pool, the bike (almost entirely on the trainer to gain maximal improvement), and running, I know that I have improved.  I am confident in that, and can’t wait to see how these improvement will effect my time and place in the 2014 season.

Stress – Similar to nervousness, stress can be good and bad.  Stress is a motivator, but it can also cause the body to be withheld from its potential.  Being an athlete for a “living” naturally brings with it the pressure to perform well on any given day.  I think a lot of the stress I place on myself and therefore can either create more stress or lower the amount of stress I feel.

NOLA 70.3 is just a few days away.  And the work has been done.  The plan of execution has been developed.  Now it’s time to put it all on the line and see what the new limits are for 2014 after a long off season of hard work.  If you want to follow my progress on race day, go to www.ironman.com and click on live race coverage.

My bib number is 10.  Thanks to everyone that has already done so much to help me get to the start line.

09/28/13

Augusta 70.3 Race preview

The last month has been a complete blur.  Just over a month ago, I raced IM Louisville.  13 days after that I did my first 50 miler.  Needless to say, I spent a large majority of the last few weeks recovering from these races.  Add to that the patient census has been down at work, forcing to make up my hours that I lost by picking up night shifts (gotta pay the bills somehow… and triathlons are definitely not doing that!).  My routine has been rocked a little with organizing, packing, and moving everything from my house to my fiances to get everything ready to move in after our honeymoon.  I found some sore muscles I didn’t even know I had from all that.  However, I’m very thrilled (and a little surprised) that I feel good going into my last race of the 2013 season.

The starting line will be packed with several 70.3 and 140.6 winners as several people try to get a jump start on some points for next years 70.3 Worlds in a (more) attractive (to me) location, Mont-Tremblant Canada.  One thing I’ve learned this year is to not psych myself and shoot myself in the foot before the race even starts.  You never know what race day will hold.  I feel that this course plays to my strengths.  Long gradual hills to power up on the bike, and long straightaways on the run which will make finding a rhythm and pushing to the finish line more of a mental challenge.

The course is also very similar to that of Raleigh 70.3, where I scored my first podium finish.  I am going to keep that in the back of my mind and know that I’m capable of another surprising performance (mostly to myself).  I’ve also decided to try to push the bike harder than normal for a HIM race.  I don’t know what’s going to happen, but the only way to find out is to give it a try.  I’ve go nothing to loose.  This is the last race of the season and I’m going to give it all I have tomorrow and maybe find that my limits aren’t where I think they are in racing.

No matter what happens tomorrow, this season has been a huge success for me.  I know that when I look back on the season I can see progress being made from last year, and even from the beginning of the season.  As long as I keep making gains, that is a success.  Thanks to everyone that has supported me with words of encouragement, and my sponsors that have helped make this “career” a reality for me.   And also, for everyone that has been so willing to host me this season as I traveled around the nation racing, having a home stay for races is incredibly helpful.

Cya at the starting line…

08/20/13

Ironman Louisville 2013 Prerace

A week ago I was in Florida living the life of a professional athlete that has “arrived” (with no thoughts of working at the hospital being the biggest difference).  I was surrounded by salt water, lots of open roads, and some really fun people.  I haven’t had a real vacation in over a year.  But it wasn’t until after the race was over that I was able to enjoy myself in Oregon.  This time, the stress levels were non-existent.  My only worry was how big the waves would be in the ocean the next day.  As my vacation was nearing an end, I realized how close Ironman Louisville was and a few nervous chills went down my spine.

Racing in my hometown always brings a bittersweet feeling.  I love not having to travel, being able to eat food that I have in my house and from my garden, sleeping in my own bed, and not having to deal with unfamiliar location.  I love the energy that friends – both on and off the race course – give off during the race.  It’s also a bit nerve wrecking because of all the friends that are on and off the race course.

I know that people track me when I’m out of town racing, but, to me, it’s much different when they are in person.  Whenever I start thinking that way, I need to convince myself that I’m not racing for anyone else.  I’m out there to have fun, enjoy myself, and race in a manner that brings glory to God.  But it’s not just the race that matters, but all of the activities leading up to the race.

So far, I’ve had the honor to speak a youth group meeting at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Louisville.  I spent some time making a coorelation of figuring out what people’s goals were in life, the sacrifices needed to get there, and how (often times) we need help to achieve that goal.  I made a spiritual connection of how people try to reach Heaven on their own, but will always fall short.  It’s not until they reach out for help (Jesus) that they will make it to Heaven.  I then spent some time talking about how to intregrate faith into their daily lives as they chase after their goals.  I thought it went well, and was pleased to even get some crowd participation from the youth.

Wednesday, I’ll be talking in an informal Q & A with last year’s IM Louisville winner, Patrick Evoe, at the Presbeteryian Center downtown.  We did this last year and was very successful.  And on Friday, I’ll be in my first pro panel hosted my Ironman.  I doubt that anyone outside of Louisville will know who I am, so I don’t expect to be asked very many questions, but it’s a step in the right direction.  I’m very excited about these opportunities.  But nothing is more excited than trying to redeem myself from last year.

Last year, I got sick about three days before the race, and, as a result, my race suffered significantly.  Thanks to support from sponsors and my new coach I’ve been with since mid-February (Brian Grasky), I’m feeling very confident going into this race.  I’m not overly exhausted going into the event, have had positive thoughts, and have had played portions of the race in my head over and over again.

My goals for the race are to place top 5 (even though I’ll take 6th because it pays out  to 6th).  However, I know that goal is very dependant on who shows up.  So I’ve got time goals in mind as well.

Swim – depending on the current in the Ohio River, the swim times could vary.  I would be happy with anything from a 53 to 55 minute swim

Bike – I want to hold about 250 watts on the bike.  This should put me around 4:50-4:55 bike split.

Run – break 3 hours on the marathon (anything less that a 6:50 pace).

With some wiggle room, if everything goes well, I’d like to be between 9 and 9:15 on race day.

Now with my two work days behind me for the week, I have nothing in the way of me and crossing that finishline, except 140.6 miles.

Cya at the starting line…

05/31/13

Raleigh 70.3 Prerace

This year has presented me with several different challenges.  Some of them physical (Achilles tendinitis off and on for a couple months), race nutrition as I’ve had to adjust to racing at higher intensities, and even some mental challenges.

I’ve talked to a few people recently about my mental struggles for this year.    Just a little over a year ago, I was racing age group athletes and always finishing toward the front of pack.  Depending on when my wave started, I was constantly passing people.  It gave me a constant motivator to keep pushing it.  A simple game of cat and mouse – just pick off the next person.  Now my races always start with the first wave of professional athletes.  I can usually hold my own somewhere in the middle of the pack during 1.2-mile swims.  After getting out of the swim, I can typically pick off a couple riders, but over the course of 56-miles, it does make it mentally tougher to stay focused and keep the effort going.  The run is the same way.  Maybe pass a couple people, but for 13.1 miles, the loneliness really starts wearing on me.  Keeping my head in the right place, pushing the negative thoughts out gets harder and harder as the race goes on.

This next part may seem irrelevant at first, but it will come full-circle at the end.

A few days ago, I watched a documentary called “Hungry for Change.”  It talked about people need to redefine their definition of “sugar,” start reading the ingredients on the foods they buy, and start eating foods with antioxidants.  The point being made was that your body will start feeling better and even looking better to others.  They even mentioned the importance of “self-pep talks.”  One person on the documentary said to put something in the mirror and say words of affirmation to yourself.  These words of affirmation will come into play and prevent those negative thoughts of even forming in your head.  Where the brain goes, the body goes.  Thus making the body perform better.

The last couple days, I’ve pictured myself swimming long and lean, biking with the wattage in mind and seeing my feet pedal in a fluid circular motion pushing and pulling through the full pedal stroke, and running with a forward lean pushing sub-6 minute miles.  I’ve pictured my bike nutrition positioned on my bike and how often to take in the calories.  I’ve seen the hills in my head on the bike and powering up them and tucking to maximize the downhill sections.  And most importantly, I’ve pictured the finish line finishing strong.  I’ve also made a point of mentally telling myself that I’m fast, powerful, and lean… over and over again.  And, as cheesy as it sounds, it seems to be working.

I also talked with my host for this race, Brooks, about the thoughts in my head.  He has a few athletes he coaches, some of which are elite, and has had the same talk with them.  He agreed that there needed to be a mental shift, grit the teeth, and do the work.  If someone wants it bad enough and puts in the work, the results will come.

I am feeling good about this race on Sunday now.  A few days ago, negative thoughts were in my head.  I wondered why I even try to compete to against some of these guys.  I realized, though, that improvements are being made since last year.

So when race morning comes around, I will be listening to the voices in my head that are positive and watching a preview of a spectacular race.

05/8/13

Ironman Texas Prerace

A little less than two weeks out from my first Ironman distance race of the season.  10 days to be exact.  I feel good… almost eerily good.  I’ve never felt this way before an Iron distance race before.

Looking over the past few years of racing Iron distance events, I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t physically and mentally exhausted before going into the taper for a the 140.6 mile race.  The last couple years, all I wanted to do the entire month before the race was sleep.  My training those years was forced.  I very rarely felt good for the long training rides and most of the running workouts were a struggle to just get through within the intensity that I needed to be doing them as prescribed.

This year is different… for a few reasons.  I think the two biggest reasons are my reduced work load at the hospital.  Last year I was working 3 days per week.  Now I’m doing 2 days per week and doing some personal coaching for fellow triathletes (Progressive Endurance).  The other big change is the coaching that I’ve been under since the middle of February.  The workouts seem to be much more tailored to me with specific wattages to hold, and race specific training… and even some race simulations to build some confidence before going into the race.  Of course, there are many other reason to why this year is different.  A big thanks to my sponsors to making it much more affordable to do this triathlete business by donating product, money, and various other services.  Pure Fit has helped with my strength endurance and overall fitness level by getting me in the gym twice per week to do some strength training, which I have never done before.

Instead of being worn down and physically exhausted and completely drained mentally, I’m feeling great… and the confidence of doing well is there too.  My wattages are up significantly from last year and I feel comfortable holding them for duration needed to complete the bike in good shape.   Hopefully about a 4:45 bike split.   About 10 days ago, I raced the Derby Marathon in my hometown of Louisville, and ran a 2:39.  I am hoping that after getting off the bike, I’ll have have endurance and will have fueled properly to get me through the run around the 3-hour mark.

A month ago, I swam a 26 minute 1.2 mile swim  in Galveston.  I am hoping for a 54-ish minute swim, add in 5 minutes for transitions 1 and 2 and it puts me right around the 9 hour mark for an Iron distance race.  I would love to hit that time… in my mind it’s a huge bench mark.  A sub-9 hour Ironman!

Because I feel so good about this race, I’ve decided to change my original plan for the race.  I was going to use it as practice run for Ironman Louisville and stop after the bike (or after 10K of running).  I’ve decided to go for it.  All in.  Leave nothing on the course.

Cya at the starting line…

04/23/13

Marathon Nutrition

It’s Derby Festival in Louisville, KY now.  And that means all sorts of fun activities for the family and tourists that come to this great city over the next couple weeks.  It all starts off with Thunder Over Louisville, and before finishing with the infamous Kentucky Derby there are several of family friendly events such as parades, hot air balloon shows, concerts, the chow wagon (full of carnival food such as elephant ears and corn dogs), and several other activities.  The one that attracts one of the biggest crowds is the Derby Festival mini and full marathon.  About 17,000 athletes run in the mini and full marathon, and then add all the family and friends lined along the course and the number probably triples.  This coming weekend, I will be taking on the full marathon.  It will be my third stand-alone marathon that I’ve run.  I’m looking forward to running the streets of my hometown and feeding off the local support.  But, just with any race distance longer than 90 minutes, nutrition is key.  It can make or break the race.  The longer the race, the more important in-race nutrition become more important.  A marathon is no different.

So how does one fuel for a marathon race.  There are several schools of thought, but they all boil down to taking into consideration how much someone weighs, how fast they run, and their goal time.  Of course, one will never be able to completely replace the amount of calories they are burning at an equal rate.  The key is damage control with adequate caloric intake and pacing.  The formula that I’m going to present isn’t perfect because it can’t take into account a person’s running economy.  For example, two people weighing the same amount may not run with the same efficiency at their marathon race pace.  One of them may bound more (up and down movement) or possibly over stride causing the brakes to be put on slightly with every step.  That being said, it should give an athlete a rough idea of how many calories to consume during their marathon race.

Step 1: Determine running calorie expenditure per mile
0.63 x body weight (pounds)

Step 2: Determine goal race pace or how many miles per hour you’ll cover
Example: An eight-minute miler will cover 7.5 miles/hour

Step 3: Calculate hourly expenditure based on goal race pace
Example: An eight-minute miler would multiply 7.5 by the figure from step 1.

Step 4: Determine hourly calorie replacement needs
0.3 x the figure from step 3 (Note: Research shows runners can physically absorb about 30 percent of what they expend.)

Here’s an example:  A 175 pound athlete wants to run a 3.5 hour marathon.  To determine the amount of calories needed to complete the race this athlete would start calculating his caloric needs after 90 minutes into the run since he/she should have eaten an adquate enough breakfast to fuel his body for this portion of the race.  The athlete would take 0.63 x 175 to figure out how many calories per mile they will burn.  It comes out to about 110 cals/mile.  Since he’s wanting to run a 3:30 marathon, that comes out to an average pace of just under 7.5 miles/hour.  So multiply 110 calories by 7.5 to get your cal/hr burned.  That comes out to about 825 cal/hr.  Since we can only absorb about 30% of the calories we burn while exercising, multiply 825 by 0.3 and the hourly requirement for after 90 minutes til the end would be about 250 calories/hour.  So for the final two hours of racing, this athlete would need to consume about 500 calories in order to give their body the correct amount of calories to make it through this race.

After figuring out my goal time, weight, and pace, I will need to consume about 300 calories per hour for the final 1:10 of my race.  However, I’m planning on taking some calories in about 35 minutes in and again at the 1 hour mark.  I plan on using NAPALM by Infinit for my calorie intake during the race.  a 6 ounce flask will carry 300 calories.  So if I supplement with some one course nutrition to get some additional calories, I should be fine.

Be sure to supplement with water and electrolytes if needed if it’s going to be hot.