Friday, June 7, 2013

Ingury update

It's been about two weeks since my last run. I'm pretty sure this is the longest time away from running since I started emphatically running in 2004, which is probably why I'm in this situation. I pushed and pushed for about 4 years trying to get faster and stronger with very little time off...maybe a week here and there during the year.

I'm at peace now that I can't run. I think the swimming has definitely helped and with helping my cross country girls with summer training. It does suck that I can't run with them or with the boys, but I do get to ride my green machine beach cruiser. Abby and I did get paddle boards!! Very stoked to get on the water this summer!

So hamstring is feeling a lot better. Very little pain in the butt anymore when sitting, but still a big difference when stretching the left hamstring between the good (right) and bad (left) hamstring. On another note, my right sciatic nerve is not improving.  The pain starts in the butt and travels to my hamstring, so no back pain and it's not traveling down the whole leg. The only way my SN feels better is after an activity like swimming, spinning, or even walking. Not really sure why. Could be blood flow increase? No clue.

What I am hoping is to start kicking more in the swim and do some leg strengthening that's not hamstring specific like bridges, calf raises, hip flexor raises. I've found this article on to be very helpful.

Summer is here so I hope everyone is enjoying the long days for training!

Next up...Rev3 Williamsburg...I'll be volunteering my butt off!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Summer is coming...

Hi all!!
Well this post is a little bitter sweet....

1) Summer is here!! Student's are finishing up their finals as I type. Summer brings rest, relaxation, and usually lots of training....but....
2) I'm not healthy.  I've had a nagging hamstring issue for the past month and it's slowly...slowlllllyyyy....sllooooowwwwwwwlllyyyyy getting better.

The issue is the attachment area in the upper hamstring/lower butt....literally a pain in the butt. Basically where the red arrow is on the picture. I haven't been able to run a lot, which is killing me because as you know I heart the running. I have been able to spin and swim. I haven't gone on any significant bike rides but maybe in a couple weeks. Abby and I did purchase some paddle boards so I'm excited to get out as much as possible in the summer.
So I've come to the realization that this summer in racing is going to be very little to non-existent. I've read various articles that this hamstring issue can be up to 4-6 months till one is back to competitive racing. I will miss the racing, but I think the biggest bummer is that I will not be running much with the cross country team. Running will the guys is one of the best things about summer...just going out and enjoying everyone's company while logging long miles.

I've been able to log many yards/meters in the pool, which has helped with my sanity, but it's just not the same. I've been getting into the yoga studio (bikram) a little more to help with my alignment and flexibility. I actually convinced three of my cross country girls to try it...not really sure if they enjoyed it or not

I've been seeing a chiropractor to help with my alignment. He said the major issue is that my glutes are not firing correctly...not really sure what that means, but I've been working on my bridges and core. I've done ART, which seems to help with breaking up the tissue to help heal.

Well...updates will be coming for sure but everyone out there...keep up the great training and enjoy the summer!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Staying busy...

Wow! Things are getting cray cray...yeah that's right, I'm using my student's language.

January is always busy with track starting and new semester at school plus the research course that I teach is winding down with county competition and University of Florida competition, but on a whim I signed up for running Ragnar from Miami to the Keys, continue training for Disney Marathon, and of course running the annual Ringling Bridge 4 miler.

Great month though....
Bart and I in the Keys
  • Ragnar - ran just under 20 miles with 6:35 average and met new friends from Zensah along with Bart Yasso. Plus many friends from Sarasota made the trip to run as well as my Rev3 teammate Jen Small who was running for Fat to Fit...awesome!
  • Disney Marathon - I felt I was in great shape. Training went well, but I came down with a little funk the Friday before, but pulled out a 2:53 to qualify for Boston. No coaches record...2:52.
  • 4 miler Ringling Bridge - great local race with over 2000 runners and the Sarasota High Cross Country team had to defend our fastest team title. I finished 4th overall with 22:22, but I was the fastest over 20 years of age! And of course, the SHS team takes home 1st again with runners finishing 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th in the top 10...that is right, I only lost to 2 of them!
  • University of Florida - I had a student who finished 5th in the research symposium who is going to Dayton in May!
  • Regional Science Fair - student's took home 9 1st places out of 12 categories!!
  • 4th place overall at Bridge Run
  • Revolution 3 Triathlon made new announcements of team members as well, which is very exciting and can't wait to meet them in Knoxville. 
Fastest team at Bridge Run!! Way to go SHS!
So very busy but exciting!

February so far hasn't slowed down...

Jackie and Shelby's snowman
Fun times at Boston Common
  • Track is in full swing with our time trail of the 1600 and 800 on Groundhog's Day
  • I'm getting back into triathlon shape with more biking and lifting.
  • Just came back from Boston for the national AJAS (American Junior Academy of Science) conference, which I took two of my student's who qualified last year to present their research. Very exciting trip and the student's had a great experience. [I was bummed that I missed the annual Scrub Jay 10K at Oscar Sherer (my training ground), which means I didn't earn any points for the MTC racing series. One of my goals this year is to win the series, which started off great with max points at the bridge run.]
  • First track meet is this Friday (22nd) at North Port for the Bobcat Relays where we have a shot for breaking the school record in the Distance Medley (DMR) for the boys and the 4x1600 for the girls!
Jackie at the site of Boston Massacre
Time to focus...

  • Back to regular training
    • Running isn't an issue since I have the track team at my disposal...they are definitely pushing me.
    • Good ole' trainer...most rides have to begin early before school.
    • Same old swim...I love swimming before school because I can just grab and my stuff half awake and get a great set in. Plus most times after track I can get a good 2000-3000 yards in since Abby works till 7:30.
  • Coming up in March...
    • Springfest 12k (MTC race series)
    • Gate River Run 15k (my favorite race...great crowds, great after party)
    • Benderson Mix Relay ITU super sprint! (Can't wait for this...myself with 3 others will be competing in a super sprint relay where all 4 people will swim/bike/run in a relay...$500 prize money!!)
Good luck to everyone's training and racing...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My 2012 top 5 products

The 2012 school year is winding down...right now I'm giving my mid-term exam and figured, heck I'll write a few thoughts on my blog.

First: My top 5 favorite triathlon/running pieces of equipment from 2012

#5 - PowerBar Double Latte Gel
My favorite product from PowerBar is without question their gels and specifically the Double Latte flavor. I love me some coffee!! The gels have maltodextrin which contains good amount of CHO and electrolytes to help replenish what was lost during exercise  But what I love most of all is the consistency of the gels. Like most gels, you have to take in a liquid to get the gel down, but with PowerBar, you can actually take it without any liquids...yes having water to flush it down helps, but in a pinch without any liquids the gels work!
#4 - SBR Trislide
Swim Bike Run Inc. is a great company out of Santa Ana, CA. They have great products for swimmers, such as specific shampoo, conditioner, and lotion for chlorine, and Foggle, which reduces goggles to fog up, and my favorite, Trislide! Trislide is a lubricant spray (so you can share) to help reduce shafing and help put on your wetsuit/speed suit. I don't go any where without my Trislide. It is great for your long runs!
#3 - Pearl Izumi IsoTransitions
As Triathlete Magizine wrote...PI Iso Transitions are the best shoe in the PI line-up! They are triathlon specific because of the elastic shoe laces built in and the lining is completely a single sock so you can go sockless. They are super comfy and took down my 13.1 PR at the Rev3 Venice Half with 1:28. The shoe is very flexible, especially the toe box. I am a forefront runner so the flexibility of the toe box is a must for me.

#2 - NormaTech Recovery
Any athlete will tell you that recovery is a must to perform at your best...whether at a race or training. NormaTech is a compression boot that not only compresses the muscles in the legs to aid in blood flow, but also introduces pulsing changes to help massage the muscles. I could not get through my full distance training without my NormaTech. They allowed me to consistently put in 20 hour weeks without fatigue and lower performance.
#1 - Blue Seventy Helix
 By far the greatest wetsuit I have ever used! I did many races over the year in different areas of the country (Portland/Knoxville/Cambridge, MD) and I got to use a wetsuit much more this year than previous years. The Helix gave me bounacy, range of motion, and most importantly...speed. I had a major PR 1.2 mile swim at Eagleman 70.3 with a 28.51.

Next Up...Second - Disney Marathon (less then 4 weeks)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Finally 140.6!

Ok, so this is a little long and if you don’t care about my thoughts leading up to Louisville and just care about the race, then skip all the way down till you reach bold print.

I’m not different than many, many other triathletes. We watch Kona every year and just dream about being able to start in that water and be able to swim, bike, and run with the best in the world. Less than a year ago that was my 2012 direction to racing and training. I wanted to be able to compete in Kona in one of the hardest age groups. I completely retuned my training to improve my weakest event (biking) by strength training and logging many hours in the saddle over the winter. It did come with a price. My running season was shortened and therefore little gains occurred, but in triathlons, it’s about 3 sports, not just one. I also challenged myself with competing in tougher events with the help of Revolution 3. I competed in the Knoxville 70.3 that had a lot of rollers with some short climbs and in the Portland 70.3 that had some steep climbs and fast, technical descents. Both races helped me tremendously. One of my big races…well, the big race of the year was planned around Eagleman 70.3, which has a small amount of Kona slots (2 for my age group). This was the reason for the focus on the bike and it paid off. I had the fastest 56 mile bike split of my life…2:17. I had the fastest 1.2 mile swim of my life…28:51. I had, well, a not so good run and fell off the back. Needless to say, no Kona slot for me. I came away from the race with complex emotions…race felt amazing till mile 4 of run. I was proud of my first 2 events, but confused on what happened to my body on the run. Simple answer could be nutrition, but I think it was more than that. I don’t lose body function by not having an empty stomach. Anyways, I digress.

I played around the idea of doing a full distance, 140.6 triathlon…the so called ironman. Yes, the evil empire, WTC (World Triathlon Corporation), copyrighted the term ironman, so no other 140.6 triathlon can use the term ironman. There are so many great full distance triathlons around the country such as Rev3 Cedar Point coming up on Sept. 9 and they can’t call it an ironman.

Last summer, the thought of 140.6 seemed a possibility and doing Louisville seemed to make the most convenient since it’s right at the end of summer and I would only miss a few days of school of the first week. I couldn’t pull the plug last year because well, I thought the task was daunting. I mean I’ve ran a marathon before (2:53 PR at Disney), but I can’t imagine running one after 112 mile bike, so I didn’t sign up last year and finished my season by competing in Vegas 70.3 World Championship.

XC trip to Cashiers, NC
When I heard the news about making the Rev3 Age Group team, I was ecstatic! The thought of meeting the great family of Rev3 and their athletes made me go out and train harder. I can honestly ask any question about anything (triathlon or nontriathlon related) and they would provide the answers and support in an instant. They are truly wonderful people! Then I realized I get free entry into any Rev3 race…sweet! First thought…Portland and beer! Second thought…I can do my first ever full distance triathlon…all 140.6 miles at Cedar Point. Then the cross country schedule came out (I coach the Sarasota High girls cross country team…which are prime for a great season) and we have our first meet on Sept. 8. Damn! When it comes down to my passions, the girl’s XC team is near the top with my other passion of teaching science research. I will do anything for my team and very protective of them (my inner Mama Bear akaCarole). So I felt disappointed that I couldn’t participate at Cedar Point. That left me with basically one option…Louisville.

So after my fail at Eagleman, I decided (mostly out of anger) to do my first 140.6. I needed to prove to myself that with all these challenges I made for myself of racing difficult venues that my season isn’t/wasn’t a bust. My first test before even signing up was a trip to Clermont in late June for lots of riding with my good friend Andy, who was training for Ironman New York. We had a little mini-camp of 180 miles of riding in 2 days. If I could survive this, I think I could survive full distance training. Even training for Eagleman, I would put in 15-17 hours of training, so I figured all I needed to do was to add a 5 hour ride and 20 mile run instead of a 3 hour ride and 12-13 mile run. I got home from the 2 days feeling accomplished and finally pulled the plug and signed up for Louisville. Another great aspect of Louisville is that nobody wants to do it…still open in late June.

8 weeks later…I toed the line in my first every 140.6!

I had a great 8 weeks of training except a few days I was sidelined with SI joint issue, but my work outs went great and very focused…even gain some running speed. Don’t know how that happened but I’ll take it.

My travel day to Louisville was very typical. My flight was out of Tampa at 11:45 am, so I was able to wake up and get a good swim in at the y before leaving for the airport. I arrived in Louisville and my bike made it without any problem and no damage. I was able to get my packet, put my bike together, and even get a 30 minute spin in Cherokee Park, which is an awesome park. The park has some hills and a huge separate lane for runners and cyclist.

Day off from everything, just NormaTech, massage, roll, stretch, and hot showers! I picked up Abby from the airport. Along the way I took in some of the run course. It was only 2 pm so a great time to actually drive the bike course. I pulled out my friend Shawn’s notes from last year and followed along the marked course. Abby and I both agreed that the course was very doable (compared to other courses this year) if you don’t pull a Knoxville. At Knoxville, I basically did a poor job of pacing the rollers. I would just hammer up them and didn’t care about the watts because they were short, but over 56 miles my quads were toast. The course confirmed my game plan to keep my watts around 260-280 on the hills and try around 200-210 on any flats. For the downhills, below 180 watts. After driving the course, we grabbed some dinner and called it a night.

Big day!...only because I had a lot to do. Abby and I headed down to the swim finish to get some practice in the Ohio River. Honestly, the river was not bad at all. The locals make it out like I’ll be swimming in sewage and waste. The temperature was a little cooler then the gulf about 84 degrees. I got in about 10-15 minutes of just loosening up and some sprints of 1-2 minutes. Just enough to wake up the body and get ready for tomorrow. Next up…bike ride! When we drove the course, I thought (and later confirmed by Shawn) the out-and-back section of the course was the most technical and steeper of the hills. Abby and I headed out to the out-and-back, which is about miles 15-25 of the course. This 30 minute ride is all about getting comfortable on the course and making sure you have no mechanical issues. [Side note: I had a HUGE mechanical issue with my Zipp R2C shifters for about 2 weeks and Tempo Cyclery took every possible move to get my bike ready to work and it finally came together the Wednesday for I had to leave…shifters were working! Thanks again Tempo!!] The out-and-back seemed tamed enough if I just focus on my zones and not get carried away on the up hills. I was more thankful going on the downhills to get me calm and ready for them on Sunday. Lastly…the run off. Easy 10 minutes with some pick-ups.  Now it’s time to just relax and visualize the race one last time and of course…NormaTech. We did pick up my parents at the airport. I am very grateful they arrived. I was so happy I could share my passion of triathlons with them.  The hotel we were staying at was awesome! Right across the street was a brew pub (Bluegrass Brewing Company). I also enjoyed that the hotel was about 1 mile from transition and not the host hotel so I didn’t have to be constantly surrounded by triathletes. Yes, I love the sport, but come on…it’s like 24/7 for some of these athletes. Yes, I get it, you’ve been to Kona 10 times and met Mark Allen. Yes, it’s great that your PR was 9:48, but I don’t think the massage therapist cares.  Ok back to the beer…my parents, Abby, and myself got in an early dinner and a few beers to just talk about the race and answer questions from my parents. It’s so amazing that whatever I do, my parents have always been there to support me. Whether it’s been golf, running, engineering, football games, teaching, cross country…whatever, they always have questions and dearly care.

Sunday (Race Day!!)
My race almost never happened. My alarm was set but I never plugged in the charger into the outlet, so my phone died. Luckily, Abby got up at 4 am because well she couldn’t sleep. So she came out and realized that it was 4:30 and I was still sleeping. I was almost screwed…only lost 15 minutes of planned eating. After realizing I still had plenty of time I just started to eat as fast as I could. Bagel with peanut butter, milk, mix1 chocolate, banana, coconut water, and half dark chocolate bar (thanks for the tip from Jordan Rapp…high calories and high fat in small package). I was so nervous…it was so hard to get the food down. Abby drove me down to transition, while my parents got a few more hours of rest.

Rocking the Blue Seventy and Rev3 
Transition went very smoothly. In and out in 20 minutes. Tires pumped. Wheel cover tight. Fluids together. Transition bags done. Special needs bag dropped off.

Abby and I made our way to swim start, which is about 1 mile from transition. The swim at Louisville is the only one of its kind in Ironman events. Most events have a mass swim start that athletes compare to being in a washer machine. Louisville is a time trial start, which an athlete jumps off the dock every second or so with two lines. The athlete does have a dilemma though, do you wake up early and wait near the front or arrive later and wait in line. I was planning on the latter and hopefully I can get lucky. how do I get out of this?
I already finished my bottle of Powerbar Perform mixed with salt tablets. Trying to get loose with leg swings and eagles. Finally, it was time to put on my Blue Seventy PZ3TX with some help of SBR trislide to reduce any chaffing. At 6:50 am the pro cannon went off and it’s game on! The line started to move and a group of guys invited me in so hells yeah! I know that’s not kosher but oh well. I gave Abby one last kiss and now I was even more nervous…almost freaking out. All I wanted was to be to see Abby one last time, but couldn’t find her. I finally realized that I’m doing this and I need to focus. My whole rationalization that morning was to just think of this as a training day. I’ve done the training; now just put it together for a long day. I don’t know if that is what you’re supposed to think about, but it got me through the morning. The line was moving pretty quickly. I had no clue if I was going in early or late so once I got to the dock…I was like damn I’m going to have lots of open water.  I got to the end of the dock and the clock read around 7:05…score! The swim is really basic. You go north for about 1/3 of the 2.4 miles and then turn around and head south for the rest. I’ve read that the current goes south so Louisville has somewhat of a fast swim. I really had little issue navigating around other swimmers, but I was passing a lot! 
I hear Abby...where is she?
The only bottle neck was at the turn buoy but once I made the turn I tried to pick up my pace. I figured I can pull hard and glide when heading south. I felt comfortable the whole swim. My heartrate and breathing was never out of control and I kept on picking people off. I was very pleased with my effort. I exited the water and the clock was at 8:08ish so doing a little math my swim was 1:03-1:04 and I heard Abby (couldn’t see her, but heard her)! Very respectable and within my goal time. I definitely could have gone harder but I probably only would have gained 1-2 minutes and probably not worth it.

19th in AG
104 Overall

Transition 1
For me, T1 was all about getting my legs awake and making sure I don’t forget anything in my bike bag. The run was a little rough into T1 but heck I just swam 2.4 miles. Also another benefit with very little number of swimmers around…volunteers were so eager to help. The guy was awesome! He rolled up my arm coolers and placed all my swim gear in my bag…the volunteers were so awesome throughout the day! Got to my bike and legs were awake

Coming out of T1
As mentioned before the bike plan was to basically keep watts at 200-210 and not go over 300 on the hills. I needed to constantly tell myself that I still have a marathon to run. My plan for the first 30 minutes was to keep the watts below 200 just to warm up. I was able to do this because basically the first 10 miles were flat and then you get to the rollers. My nutrition plan was to eat a lot in the first half of the bike and then keep topping off the tank with gels and perform.
2 bottles that had 400 calories of Powerbar Perform, 3 Powerbar gels (2 Kona punch and1 Berry blast), and 3 salt tablets.  
3 Powerbar Café Late gels
Flask of gels that contained  400 calories.
The first 30 minutes seemed like it couldn’t get here fast enough. I guess that was good because I was constantly checking myself to stay below 200 watts. The first hiccup of the day occurred when my flask slipped out of my pocket at mile 8. I knew things will go wrong and you just have to adjust. That is the reason for the 3 extra gels. I did get about 100 calories of it.

Other part of nutrition…staying cool. At every aid station, I wanted to get a water bottle to sip and cool my body by splashing my arm coolers and neck/back. This was very successful and I didn't miss one aid station.

I got to the out-and-back and was so glad I rode it the day before. I knew exactly where the bumps were and knew if I could get aggressive on the downhills. I stayed aero the whole time and picked up great speed. I took the uphills cautiously in my watt range and those 10 miles went by in a breeze.

Riding into Le Grange
The 2nd hiccup occurred: on the first loop I was pretty much alone with a few riders. One guy and I kept on going back and forth taking turns at the front. Not because we were working together but just because of the nature of riding with someone and not trying to draft. We were heading into an aid station at about mile 30 and he pulled ahead and moved to the right so now I am in his draft. He started to slow down so I begin to soft pedal. We were about 100-200 yards from the aid station, so I didn’t want to steam pass him and slam on my brakes, so I just waited behind him about 3-4 yards to get some water and perform. I got my goods and left the aid station. An official comes up next to me to show me a red card for drafting!
Me: “Where?”
Her: “Back there.” (she pointed back)
Me: “I was in the aid station.”
Her: “Right before it.”

At this point…I could keep arguing with her or just keep going. I decided to keep going and let this fuel me further. Yes I guess technically I was drafting but I think people need to realize the situation. I wasn't gaining anything going 15 mph for the 10-12 seconds I was behind him, but I guess rules are rules.

Any hoozle…the rest of the first loop went by without a hitch. Miles just kept ticking off. Then the 2nd loop! Oh my! What a mess! So many people. Talk about penalties. I’ve never seen so much blocking on a bike course than what I saw in Louisville. I was constantly passing people on the left and people passing people. I think the majority of the next 20 miles were 3-4 abreast along the road. I was heading into the special needs area to get another 400 calorie flask and 400 calorie bottle plus a small flat coke for a little extra caffeine boost. I yell out my number and I see the bag…the guy holding the bag was holding it very taunt so the plastic was very tight. I tried grabbing the middle but to no avail I couldn’t get a hold of it…hiccup number 3.
Coming into T2...112 miles down!

Now I was getting kind of worried about having enough calories, so I resulted in getting as much perform as I can and grab a bonk breaker at the next station on mile 80. I’ve trained with solid food at times so I knew taking a bar wouldn’t be an issue. I just needed to get fuel.

Things settled down and I got back in a groove with about 30 miles left. The last section of the course is pretty much downhill. I kept on drinking water and perform, and keeping cool with water. Once I reached 100 miles I did a body scan to actually find out how my legs and body felt. Overall, I was in good shape. Nothing too sore in the back and neck. The legs felt pretty good. For the last 8 miles or so I kept the watts below 200 and made sure my legs had good cadence. I saw the bridges in the distance, which means Louisville is coming up! I was ecstatic! Longest bike ride of my life and overall, I felt great! Now I just need to take care of my penalty.

14th in AG
49 Overall
Calorie intake: 2000 calories (380 per hour) [2.45 cal/hr/lb]
202 Normalized Power (spot on)

Transition 2
Once I reached the dismount, I found out that my legs were, well, funky…yeah let’s go with funky. Felt really weird trying to run, but once I got a few strides in the legs came back. I grabbed my run bag and ran into the penalty tent. I introduced myself to the nice ladies and started transitioning into my run gear. I am not sure if this was legal but it seemed to make perfect sense to me. Only mistake was that I forgot to put my salt tablets in my pocket; plus the Garmin crapped out on me. So I was running blind, which could turn out to be a good thing, just focus on breathing. I even got in some good leg swings while my 4 minutes were counting down.

Running strong at mile 2
I headed out of T2 with a good head of steam. Nice long strides to open up the hips and shake out any tiredness. The first few miles I felt really good. My breathing was controlled. I had no clue how fast or slow I was going. The first mile takes you over and back on a bridge, which on the way back I got to see my parents and Abby. Great encouraging words, which helped me pick up the pace a little. Once I got out the crowds I needed to remind myself that there will be ups and downs during the run. I might be feeling good now, but this will past too. I will have some dark moments, but those will past too. I got to talking with a guy who won a lottery slot for Kona and competing at Vegas. He does Louisville every year and I was just looking for some encouraging advice about the run. He basically said to just stay even and enjoy the finish.

Look! I have a police escort!
The first half of the first loop…basically first 8 miles felt really good. I was getting sponges and water to cool myself down, and taking in perform and coke for fuel. I took a few Powerbar gels during that time. Once I reached mile 11 or 12, my quads were just screaming so I had to change from my forefront running style to more midfoot with less stride length. I’m coming back into town and see Abby and my parents…great pick me up. Plus the pro winner, Patrick Evoe, was heading to the finish. So I was basically running the last mile with Patrick. Felt pretty awesome. Of course, assumed the cheers were for me. Before I headed to my 2nd loop, I gave him congratulatory fist pump and said congrats!

Run special needs went a lot better. The volunteer actually took out my water bottle filled with Powerbar Perform (210 calories) and 4 gels. At this point, I couldn’t stand taking another gel, so I left the gels and grabbed the bottle.'s for Patrick Evoe
After a few sips, I realized I couldn’t take anything sugary. The thought of sugar just made wanting to throw up. I’ve never had this problem before. It could have been from taking in a lot of perform on the bike, but not sure. So I reached Abby around the 14 mile marker and handed her my bottle. I tried to throw up, but nothing. She screamed to just keep going! Keep moving the legs! She believes in me so I need to believe in me. So the next few miles were rough. The only thing I could stomach was water. I would have some good miles here and there, but the 20 mile turnaround was a welcoming sight. I just kept telling myself 1 mile at a time…6 miles, 6 miles, 6 miles…then 5 miles, 5 miles, 5 miles. I finally could take in some sugar by taking in some coke, but I realized I didn’t need to go to every aid station. My breathing was great. My heartrate felt controlled. Maybe I had too much fuel. I don’t know but I started to pass aid stations and hitting them every other mile. I started to feel really good around mile 22 and just go as fast as my body could let me. I realized that I was in the home stretch and the only thing I could do was to smile. I don’t know why, but a smile was just stuck on my face. It gave me plenty of time for reflection on not just my day overall, but my whole training experience. I loved every minute of it. I think full distance is what I enjoy the most.

Don’t get me wrong…the 20 mile training runs are brutal, but the fulfillment I felt when I was running the last few miles and when I crossed the finish time was something I’ve never felt in any race. I know I can push my body to the limit and survive.  I know I can handle multiple 20+ hour weeks. Now if I continued my training for let’s say 4 months instead of 8 weeks, would I have the same feelings…don’t know, but at least I don’t need to cram 4 months of training into 8 weeks.

I finally reached the home stretch where hundreds of people cheering you on underneath glass/metal enclosure that makes the cheers even loader! I pumped my fist and now I just completed my first ever 140.6 triathlon! I completed every distance. It all started with a sprint triathlon that turned into a duathlon in the April of 2007 in St. Augustine and ended in 2012 in Louisville. I hugged my parents who were right after the finishing shoot and then hear Abby on the other side and we just balled! All the stress of leaving her alone while I ride my 5 hours, all the energy needed for training, and all the sacrifices she made…everything just left our bodies and sharing this moment with her makes all the hours spent worth it. I’m so proud of her strength and getting me through the tough moments
Finish line...
15th in AG
57 Overall
Overall time: 10:16:47

Had nothing left...
Final Thoughts
I learned a lot about myself during the race and through training. I think my bike and swim training was spot on to get me through the race. All my training rides were exactly the same wattage I put out in the race. This allowed me to specify my training. I would like to put in more specific long runs together but I just didn’t have enough time, which shows in my results. I probably could have gone harder on the swim and I should have pushed more on the run near the 18 mile marker, but that’s inexperience.

I couldn’t train and race as I do without the help of some sponsors. First thank you goes out to Revolution 3 for helping with lining up great sponsors, which include Blue Seventy, PowerBar, Pearl Izumi (which I raced in new tri bottoms because of my crash in Portland), SBR sports, NormaTech, and Swiftwick socks. I would also like to thank Tempo Cyclery for always hooking me up with great products and service (especially working on my shifters). Big thanks to Agense Butler for helping with my swim training, Shawn Johnson for his helpful hints of Louisville and full distance training, and of course Abby.

From Abby....

I (Abby) like this picture
As the saying goes "when you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either" - Leo Burnett

For John, his "star" for the 2012 season was Kona.  Although he may not have achieved it, he walked away from this season with little less than one accomplishment after another.  He defeated bike courses that cars may shy away from, he resiliently came back from an Eagleman race that he thought was the beginning of the end, and as silly as it may be he won the Englewood triathlon for the second year in a row.  When I first met John he was striving to place in an sprint triathlon locally, as of August 26th he not only finished his first ironman, but he did it in a time that even he could not be disappointed in, hiccups and all.  I can not recall a race that John has finished, that when he walked away he stated he wanted to do one again.  Kona may have to be placed on a backburner for one more year (or more), but John can say he did not walk away from this year with mud slipping through his fingers.  He has grown as a man, an athlete, a triathlete, and a coach.  His heart and his dreams are great, and time will only continue to tell his story.  My heart backs all his dreams and all his goals, I will always stand by his side, in bad races and in great.  All he has achieved he has worked so hard for, and I hope any dissapointments he takes from this year he uses as fuel towards greater things for next.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rev3 Portland Half Race Report

Portland Rev3 Half Race Report

When I first recived the great news that I was selected to be on the Revolution 3 Triathlon Team, the Portland Half was the race I was looking forward to the most. There are a few reasons for this: 1) I always wanted to visit the Northwest because of my running background...wonderful trails and the lure of Oregon distance running, 2) Portland is known for their craft beer scene (largest number of microbeweries per capita in Portland), and 3) challenging and beautiful bike course at the foothills of Mt. Hood.

Now, you're probably thinking...heck, this kid is from Florida, why would he want to climb and descend? Well, that is true, I'm not much of a climber and the descents were the demise of my race (but I'll get to that later).

Arriving in Portland:
First beer in Portland
Abby and I planned a vacation out to Portland because well, she loves her IPA's and camping, so convincing her to come to Portland didn't require much. We arrived the Thursday before the race (race was on Sunday). We got there pretty early because of the time change so what do we do...that's right, get a beer. After checking in to our hotel we took a quick nap and then hit up downtown via streetcar for some exploring. First stop was Deshutes Brewery for their Butte Porter, and then to Bailey's Taproom which right away I felt like I was back at Mr. Beery's with their rotating taps.  Only difference is Bailey's menu was electronic showing exactly how much was left in the keg. We got back on the streetcar (which Abby kept on saying the "T"). You can take the girl out of Boston, but not the Boston out of the girl.

I wanted to get in a bike and run. I got in a 30 mile ride along the river to Sauvie Island and back. Felt ok, my powertap crapped out on me because of low battery but it was nice to just open the legs up. Abby and I then went up the trails in Forest Park. I mean come on, when in Oregon, you have to run some trails. We ran the Leif Erikson trail (gravel trail that was pretty much a steady incline). Got in just under an hour run, about 8 miles. It felt great to just be able to run trails in the middle of the afternoon and not feel like you're losing gallons of water. Now, you might be wondering...damn 30 mile ride and 8 mile run two days before a race. Yes, normally Friday is my day off, but since Thursday was my travel day that was my rest day; plus recently I signed up for my first full distance triatlon...all 140.6 miles of it, so I needed to keep the training going and use this race as a training race (which makes Abby happy because then I have no expectations and I won't be as crazy the days before the race...hence more beer!) Also, on Friday we drove the bike the course. The bike course was the talk of the race. Some steep climbs and fast, technical descents. The course had everything...first portion mostly flat, then you get into the climbs and descents, a few rollers mixed in at the top, then last portion was flat again. Very fair course and I don't think it favors one cyclist over another. The quote of the day: "this course is a beast"-Abby. 

Saturday (day before race):
This year so far has been weird. It seems that every race there is something that goes wrong. Rev3 Knoxville: forgot my computer and goggles. Clermont Olympic: was in the blah funk. Eagleman 70.3: my seat clamp busted and had to search long and far for a good bike shop. What about Portland? As mentioned before, my powertap crapped out, so had to find a Batteries Plus and then find a bike shop to open up the powermeter because I forgot my wrench. After 2 bike shops, I got the batteries replaced and we were behind schedule to get to athlete check-in at Blue Lake Regional Park (which is about 15-20 minute drive from downtown). 

Thanks Rachelle for showing me the
Rev3 "gang" sign...RevItUp
We arrived at the check-in around lunch time, which by now I'm starving because we went all through town to get my meter fixed. No pre-swim practice at the park because of their regulations so I went for a 30 minute ride on the flat portion of the bike course and then 20 minute run from the start of the run. Legs were ok given the fact that I didn't really taper. They weren't shot so that's good. After pre-race, I got to visit with a few Rev3 team members (Joshua saw my bike kit and introduced himself) and hit up NormaTech for some recovery action. Bike is all set in transition so time get back to downtown.

That night we had a get together at Alisa's home to for some Rev3 team action, pizza, and beer. It was so awesome to actually meet some of my Rev3 teammates in person! Thanks so much for Alisa and her husband, Justin, to have us over. Great to meet Jordan, Heidi, Erin, and Alex. Alex, Erin, and Justin competed as a relay team for the olympic distance (1st place). Heidi finished 1st in AG and 3rd overall female in the olympic! Jordan, also racing the olympic, had a huge day by taking 2nd in AG and 5th overall!

Sunday (Race Day!!)
One of the best part of racing in the north is that it's freaking light out at 5:30 in the morning! No more head lights strapped to your hat or blind searching for a gel in your bag. We woke up at 5:10. I went down to the pool to loosen up a little. I felt I needed some more time in the pool since I haven't swam since the 4000 yards the day before we left with Agnese (swim extraordinaire). It was nice just to be alone for a few minutes to focus at the job in hand. A little hot tube action didn't hurt either. We got to the park and it was smooth sailing. I guess we got there just in time because there was no wait to get in and our parking was rockstar! Made my way to transition to set up (becoming a pro at and out in about 15 minutes [insert joke here]). I made my way to the pro's transition and tried to eves drop on any conversations about the course. Only thing I heard was Rappstar mentioning that some people might be over looking the flats because there is still about 20 miles of flat.

Headed back to the car to stretch and warm up with a little jog. I like to always stay clear from the masses during races. I do my own thing and it works for me.

The swim:
Rocking the Rev3 kit with
 SBR Trislide and Helix
The swim was wetsuit legal. I think they said 73 degrees. Never really thought it wouldn't be. Put on my Blue Seventy Helix with the help of SBR Trislide (the helix is amazing...I PR'd my last 1.2 mile swim at Eagleman with 28:20). Now, I wasn't expecting a 28-29 minute swim today since I'm not fresh, so I planned on swimming smart. I wanted to practice my drafting. I don't get to draft much in the Gulf. There a few times that the gulf is pancake flat and it's usually during a sprint race so drafting is pointless for 400-500 yard swims. So I started in the middle of the front start line, which wasn't too smart because I got elbowed before getting to the first buoy, The course was pretty simple-basically an out and back with the back being a little longer than the out making a form of a 'L'. So once I found some open water, I started into my pace, which felt very comfortable.

 Now it was time to find some people to do the work, so spotting ahead I would get on some guys feet until I felt the pace was too slow and then sprint forward to find someone else...that's right I was a leach. Once I made the first turn I found someone that was perfect and stayed with him until he dropped me at the last turn bouy. I was fine with that because he made the swim feel shorter since I was focused on his feet. In actuality, the swim was long and I came out just under 32 minutes at 31:56. I can't say I was disappointed at that moment...more like content. After the fact, when I found out that pro Meredith Kessler came out just under 29 minutes and at Eagleman she was out just under 24 minutes, where I did 28:20, my 32 minutes seem to be spot on and was the 3rd fastest swim in my age group.

Heading to T1
12th Overall
3rd AG

A simple run up concrete and grass to get to transition. Generally I can make up some time on people. I made out of T1 in 1:45, which I feel is great given that I had a wetsuit to take off and it was my 2nd time taking the Helix off during a race.

The Bike: (reason why this race course is awesome)
Recenntly I haven't ridden that great. My power numbers seem to be lower than previous months of traning and during Eagleman I finished with 224 NP but averaged 25 mph. So, even during the race when I would see my power in the 220's but riding 25-26 mph, I was like heck why do I need to reach my power numbers of 235-240. But even during traning, it seems my numbers are 5-10% lower then it should be. It could be from the increase in training load for Louisville or I'm losing power. Not sure. Any hoozle, I wanted to be a lot smarter on this bike course than I was at Knoxville. My power graph at Knoxville had more ups and downs than Lindsey Lohan at a New York club...wait is she clean now, oh well. So the first 1/4 of the course is mostly flats, I tried to go out conservative in the 210-220 watt range, with below 200 on the slight downhills. When I got to the meat of the course, I would try to hold 260-280 watts on the climbs and not try to kill the quads too much. And then the last 1/4 of mostly flats would be in the 230-240 range. The course had 3 major climbs that I considered to be rough with multiple switchbacks and changing grade percentages. I swapped out my 25-11 cassette for a 27-12 thanks to Jack Rich from Tempo Bikes! Top notch staff at Tempo. Thanks again Jack. 
Near end of bike course with tail wind
The course map was a basic lollipop, straight flat,  then the loop was the climbs and downhills, then straight flat again. I felt pretty good heading out, then got to the first climb and right then I knew I trained in Florida. I got passed by a few guys, but I knew if I were to stay in my range then my run would make up the difference. I couldn't blow my quads like I did in Knoxville. I got over the first climb (about 4 miles of steady climbing) and arrived at my first major descent. I knew I needed to go slow. Rev3 did a great job on their website and with signs warning that this course is very technical, especially on the downhills. I was doing well, but for one portion I lost focus at the job at hand, and took a spill around a switchback. Tried riding it out, but the road turned gravel and the bike slipped left and I went right. Bloody and pissed, I scanned over the body and bike and everything seemed fine.

Nearing finish...bloody hip!
Got back on the bike, trying to regroup and checking out the damage. The main sores were on the right forearm, which anytime I was in aero and hit a small bump, it made the pain even worse (choice words were screamed out), and the right hip, which was bloody with a deep gash. Anyways, back to the race with 2 more major climbs and downhills. I took the downhills more carefully and found myself getting passed. Once I got out of the loop and back to the flats I felt better and started to feel the legs open up. At that point I was 14th in my age group. Now I was in my element: flat and fast, and still angry from crashing. Even though heading back there was a head wind, I was still hitting my numbers at the lower end of my range, but averaging 23-24 mph with 227 NP. At the turn around point I now have passed several riders and now I got a tail wind. Even though it's harder to make up time during a tail wind I was holding 26 with 215 NP, which got me to 7th place in my age group off the bike.

Nutrition on the bike was simple: mixed in 4 Powerbar gels (Kona and Berry) into 2 water bottles with water [440 calories] + 1 gel of Powerbar Latte (110 cal) + 16 oz of gatorade perform (100 calories) = 650 calories total on bike

2:43 (225 NP) [Same power as Eagleman which I did 2:17...kind of funny and interesting]
22nd Overall (lost 19 spots!)
7th AG
Power graph from bike
Even simpiler than T1, flew off the bike and found that my legs felt like they did at Eagleman where I died on the run so I was a little worried. Got to my Pearl Izumi ISO Transition shoes (actually the first tri I got to wear them...a little hesitant for 13.1 miles, but oh well!) I did wear my Swiftwick socks for a little insurance. I've done plenty of runs with my ISO's barefoot, but nothing over 6-7 miles. I grabbed my garmin and orange hat (gift from the legend Dr. King) and headed out. [Note: King is my running buddy and coaching guru for Sarasota High Cross Country.]

The Run:
Into the first mile
So feeling a little worried coming off the bike, I started to just focus on my breathing and reassess my body after a mile or so. I got to the first marker and read 6:45 for mile 1. I was like "wow, that felt effortless." So, I kept going at those clips and I kept getting 6:4X's or so for the first 4 miles, and passing quite a few people. I thought those first 4 miles came easy. It could have been because of the shade or coming out of T1 or hearing the crowds at the intersection of Marine and the park, but reality set in and now I have 4.5 miles into the wind with just myself. I focused on my injured body and for some reason the anger or the pain of every step gave me strength to push harder. 
Heading out after first 4 miles

I was running angry! It was hard getting below 7 min pace. I think I got just a couple miles at 7, but I worked hard getting in the 6:50's. I know it's only 10 seconds but mentally those 10 seconds make you more confident. I got to the turn around and what a mate Rachelle Little (working the timing for the race) was right there, giving me more encouragements that got me moving faster. 

The way back is always glorious since you can smell the finish and getting nods and motivation from other racers. With 2 miles left I did some calculations and realized I could break 1:30, so I channeled my best Dr. King sayisms and started to push harder. I got to one guy that had cramps and started stretching and then on the last mile I passed another runner. 

Heading home...less then a mile
Those last 2 miles felt great with the crowds on Marine and of course my Abigail cheering me on. The end of the run follows along the same way as we leave the park, but makes a left turn into the finishing shoot-1:29! New PR!

Look at those PI ISO's
Nutrition on the run was mostly coke and Gatorade with one Powerbar chocolate gel, but every station I tried to get some water and ice to cool off.
Finishing photo
12th Overall (moved up 10 spots!)
5th AG (moved up 2 spots!)

Very pleased with race...probably
from the PR run.

Now to the med tent to get my cuts cleaned up and bandaged.

Wish I could have taken a shower in saline solution...
aka aqueous NaCl. Yes...I'm a nerd.

All better...Abby was itching to get in
and do it herself but thank you
medical tent volunteers.

5th AG (I actually get a 3rd place AG award because the top 2 finishers were in my age group)

I was very pleased with this race. I didn't have a taper so had little expectations, which generally a race will go well because you're not over analyzing everything and putting unwanted pressure on yourself.

I love how Rev3 put the course together. I thought it was a fair but tough course. The bike course had every element with flats, hills, and rollers. The run had some undulations, but pretty flat. The course tested everything a triathlete has.

I would like to thank everyone that can make this possible with Abby, Revolution 3 Triathlon, Pearl Izumi, Powerbar, SBR Sports, NormaTech,  Blue Seventy, Swiftwick Socks, and Tempo Cyclery

More to come about our shenanigans after the race in Mt. Hood....(camping, fire, and beer)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Florida boy not ready for hills...

My last race was my first experience at a Rev3 triathlon - Rev3 Knoxville Half. You hear from people, blogs, and other discussions like Slowtwitch that Rev3 is top-notch. Rev3 didn't disappoint!! I truely believe that Rev3 has the athlete in mind and not the dollar signs. The atmosphere is relaxed and athletes are taken care of from the awesome swag and personalized name on transition box.

I am truley humbled to be part of the Rev3 team! The teammates are so amazing and talented. It was so awesome to meet so many new faces!
The week started with drive up from Florida to North Carolina to stay at Abby's parents cabin in Maggie Valley. We arrived in the afternoon on Friday. Saturday morning, we made our way to Knoxville with showers and thunderstorm all the way to Knoxville. By the time we got settled in the hotel room that we are sharing with Marco and Hannah (so awesome to spend time with them since they moved to Colorado a few months ago), the rain has stopped and we got our packets and swag...great blue seventy goggles (there orange!!)!

Surprisingly, I was pretty relaxed during the whole day even though I really didn't have my stuff together or got to ride or run until later in the day. I contribute that to Rev3's atmosphere and that I had very little expectations for the race. I mean I did have a game plan...which went to pot, but that's later.

The best part of Saturday was being able to meet as many as possible Rev3 teammates at the swim practice, which we got our new Pearl Izumi racing kits!! They are very awesome! Super comfy! The shorts actually fit my butt...I have the Stevenson butt (big butt...skinny legs). Being new to the team, it was difficult to remember the names so hopefully by Florida I will have the face and name matching. I got my swim in (about 10 minutes). The water was good. Clean and easy to sight. Definitely wet suit legal at 66 degrees!

After getting a ride and run in, Hannah, Marco, and I headed to transition to drop off our bikes. Transition was a first for me...1st time transition was in a parking garage thanks to construction on the University of Tennessee campus and 1st time I got to rack my bike in a bike box with personalized name!! Rev3 does it right!! Now it's time to relax and get some food! Oh yeah, have a few beers!

Race morning started at 5:15 am! Had some breakfast and hydrated up...grabbed my transition bag and gear...wait forgot something, head back...ok ready to go...oh crap need my helmet, head back...ok ready to go..I think. At least I never made it to the elevator. Got to transition and got all set-up. Headed back to my room by run warm-up with drills. Realized I forgot to put my computer on my bike..oops, maybe I shouldn't be so relaxed. So I decided to have Abby hand off my computer during my transition run to T1...yeah, I know that's a penalty...oh well.

Got down to swim start which is up river about 0.5 miles from the finish. Gorgeous morning!! About 15 minutes till my wave I had a Powerbar Latte Gel and started getting my suit on! Thanks to SBR Sports for the trislide to help make the process flawless! I love trislide! Wave about to start!! So excited!!

The swim was great! Water felt waves like the open water we have in Florida! Had my Blue Seventy nero goggles, which were perfect going into the sun. I started in front middle and once the horn went off, I sprinted for about 100 yards to find clean water. There was a group of us, maybe 6 or 7 for about first 1/4 mile, then I found myself with another guy for the rest of swim...he did not swim straight! He probably swam into me about 7-8 times during my swim...come on!! For all the swim, I felt great. I wanted to have a solid swim that pushed the pace, so I was very happy when I heard I was around 30 minutes out of water... officially 29:50.

Transition 1 was a little longer run than usual, because of construction but it wasn't bad. I found Abby for my computer and headed to my bike. I did have issue getting my computer onto my bike quickly so I probably lost a minute or so...I guess I deserve that.

Ok so doing research, the bike had about 1500 feet of I made my training for Knox as I did for 70.3 World Championship in Vegas, which had 2500 feet of climbing. I figured I can handle1500 feet with similar training that I did for Vegas. I had a plan of watts to try and it keep around 240-260. I wanted to be aggressive. 10 miles into the ride...that plan went out the window. The climbs were not long but just a steady up and down...power up and keep speed up on the downhills...repeat...repeat...repeat!
The course was very beautiful with hills and countryside. I enjoyed it out there! I just was not prepared for the course...I'm a Florida boy with straight, flat bike rides. I didn't take advantage of the downhills being hesitant of the turns on the downhill. My nutrition was solid for the bike. Had two bottles with water/powerade/Powerbar Kona Punch gel dissolved in the water plus a gel of Latte Gel...about 350 calories for the ride. Not much, but I'm pretty efficient. Back to the no way the bike was only 1500 feet. After the fact, I found out a few numbers that made more sense...3000-3300 feet, which makes more sense. Marco and Hannah both did the olympic distance and got 1700 feet for just under 25 miles. I got my arse handed to on the bike! My power profile was spicky. Got back into town and finished the bike just over 2:30. Officially 2:32 with trashed quads!

Very simple reverse of T1, but had an issue finding my number since someone had their wet suit over my bright green shoes (always look for them) and had issue getting my wheel into the box because again someone's wet suit was over it...come one people...keep your stuff in your area.

Finally got my Swifwick socks on and my shoes...ready to rock! The run started out simple and flat...sweet...I was plugging along trying to find my running legs at 6:50-6:40 pace, until I got to the olympic turn around...hills...more steep, short climbs just feeding on my quads! I just trying to plug up the hills and try to turn over the legs on the downhills. This worked well for next few miles until I reached mile 10 or so just felt I had nothing left. My stride became shorter and less heel kick. Nutrition wise I felt it went ok. I didn't get any stitch cramps like I have in a few 70.3 races. I decided to stay way from gatorade and just use coke/water/gels. I actually love the 82GO water plastic bags because I could get 16 oz of water at each station to cool myself and drink some. Each station I would grab two waters and a coke. I had one Powerbar gel around mile 5 into the run. Muscularly, I just wasn't prepared. Weather wise I was! One advantage of being from Florida that the high 80 temperatures and high humidity was fine, like a normal training day. The last 3 miles were mostly flat except the final 0.2 or so to the finish, but I was in survival mode and just pushed as hard as I can. The finish was pretty awesome! Great place to have the finish. Groups of people cheering you on and huge jumbo screen! Officially ran 1:39...not very good, but with trashed quads then I'll take it.
 ( I was spent!)

 (I need fluids!)

 (Ok I'm ready with my bronze age group medal)

Overall I finished 3rd in Age Group and 12th Overall: 4:50 total time. Kind of disappointed but given the circumstances of the course and my training that I'll take it.

Now it was time to relax with some beers at Downtown Brewery and some time in Asheville. Abby and I love Asheville! We went zip lining then to Wedge Brewery for some IPAs! Zip lining was awesome! Great way relax after a race. I got to enjoy the North Carolina mountains before heading back to Florida on Tuesday.

Next up is one of my "A" races for the year...Eagleman 70.3...flat and fast (hopefully fast for me)! Lots of long intervals on the bike at power race pace and running intervals of 800's and miles!

Most importantly, I would like to thank so many sponsors....Rev3, Powerbar, Swiftwick, SBR Sports, Pearl Izumi, Blue Seventy, NormaTec, mix1, and Tempo Cyclery (best bike shop)