Triathlon Training and Traveling

It always happens.  You sign up for that big race, make a detailed training plan, and then mid way through training work sends you to a hotel for half a month, or you have to go out-of-town for 4 days to attend a wedding. Here are a few things that have helped me through life’s traveling curveballs when training can not afford to be skipped.

TRAINERS SAVE LIVES:…..literally

Cycling in a new area is not only complicated, but also unsafe.  New roads cause new hazards, new routes can get you lost, and hey sometimes just the weather alone can deter you from taking your wheels outside.  Have no fear, your indoor trainer is here.  for $100 you can get a decent indoor trainer that works great.  I have taken mine to many hotels, and used in the room without any issues.  Pair it with Netflix or a basketball or football game on the TV, and you have a great opportunity to do some very specific training.  All while being safe inside.

COMMUNITY CENTERS ARE YOUR FRIENDS:

I have had a ton of luck with community centers.  No gym no problem.  Many community centers (in my area at least) have pools open to the public for a small fee or even free.  The city next to mine has a yearly membership for $50 or a daily pass for $2 for all fitness facilities.  In a recent trip to Richmond VA, I was able to find a community pool free to use by the public.  Thats a whole week of swimming for under $10.  No need to pay the high price main chain gyms charge, and community centers are often much less crowded.  At least in my experience. 

RUNNING IS FREE:

Running is free.  Need I say more?  Wheather you run outside or in a hotels fitness center it is extremely simple to find a place to run.  What I will say is find a good place to run.  Sidewalks and streets are extremely difficult and hazardous.  Colleges, boardwalks near water, and even some apartment communities are all great places to run and many times have designated running paths.

All in all, safety has to be your main priority when traveling.  If it were me, I would avoid busy streets when cycling, running at night, and swimming alone in open waters you are unfamiliar.  

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My Worst Nightmare: Wife wants to go vegan

With a 7 month pregnant wife, everything matters.  And I mean everything.  Pregnancy brain is a real thing.  The overreactions, the forgetfulness, all of it.  My wife has even poured herself a bowl of dog food cereal.  Yup, hard dog food and milk for breakfast.  But no she didn’t eat it.

Health documentaries have become a norm in our household.  One in particular is the new talk of the town called “What the Health.”

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What the Health.  A book and Netflix documentary

The basis of this documentary is basically that all meat is bad for you, and everyone should become vegan, eating only plant based foods, and not consuming other animal related products like eggs, and dairy.  At least that’s what I got from it.

Well it worked.  Unfortunately.  My wife and mother in law are convinced that chicken gives everyone cancer, eggs cause heart disease, and milk is nothing but cow puss.  This has not scared me away from meat one bit, but my wife on the other hand is a much different story.  As a result, operation plant based is in full effect.

Now let me start off by saying I absolutely hate vegetables, and am extremely picky eater.  I dont even eat ketchup with french fries, or lettuce and tomatoes on a BLT.  Vegan, plant based, and vegetarion are the furthest things from my mind when it comes to a diet or healthy lifestyle.

So she took me to the store, and by that I mean I drove, and we stuffed every healthy plant we could find into our cart.

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A full cart of everything veggies for about $60

Tomatoes, cucumber, squash, potatoes, quinoa, chia seeds, onions, avocado, and everything else that you can think of a rabbit eating is what she paid for…with my money.  lol

We got home, put everything away and to my surprise, the fridge was completely stacked full.  Not full like “oh we have a lot of food, cool,” I mean full like “hey babe we need a bigger fridge because this door wont shut all the way.”  So first impression was we got a ton of food for not a ton of money.  That aside, in no way was I looking forward to the rabbit meal my wife was planning for dinner.

My wife made a sleu of roasted vegetables, and a power spinach smoothie for dinner.  I had half a baked potatoe, some quinoa, a mixture of broccoli, corn, asparagus, and squash, the same power smoothie, and a small peice of plain grilled chicken.  (I know I know, not exactly vegan)

Anywho, the results were great.  The next morning I was up at 430am with a ton of energy, I powered through the day with another combination of plant based meals, and was able to limit my meat consumption to a minimum.

Needless to say, I think my wife was right.  I know I will never totally go vegan/vegetarian just for the simple fact of flexibility, convenience, and enjoyment, but I cant deny the initial benefits.  Does it mean I wont get cancer?  Who knows.  But I could literally feel the difference, and that is good enough proof for me.

 

Life vs. Training: an update

Man. I haven’t posted in forever. It seems like every time I get rolling in a rhythm, life puts that to the challenge. As a result, in the last three months, I have traveled three weeks for work, two weeks for the military, got poison ivy, two sprained ankles, and a tooth pulled.  All to bring me within 45 days of my first full Ironman feeling completely unprepared.

Oh yea, my lovely wife is also now 7 months pregnant with our first child, so the road these last three has been nothing short of a rollercoaster on steriods.

With all of that being said, I am extremely motivated to train for, and crush Ironman Chattanooga on September 24.  I have a lot on the inside that I am sure will be driving forces come race day as well as a newfound respect for the whole “plant based” lifestyle which I have slowly but surely adopted that will be a driving force on the outside.

In the next few days, and moving forward indefinitely, I hope to be a lot more active in posting, but until then, safe training to everyone.

Ironman Chattanooga in my future!!!

So weeks ago, I believe sometime in March, I registered for Ironman Chattanooga, and with my only other race of the season out of the way, I am stoked to officially begin training. 

Chattanooga is a swim friendly race. It is an all downstream swim which is a huge plus to me. It’s kind of like just coast and let the current carry you. Hopefully this will be a great help. 

The bike is not a 112mi route and instead a 116mi route making the race a 144.6 instead of the traditional 140.6 which is super cool. An extra 4mi bike is minimal in the grand scheme of things. 

Week 1 is well underway and my training plan has shifted from just logging time and miles to actual work. On average every week will consist of two interval workouts and one endurance workout. So far so good. 

Hoping for the following splits:

  • 🏊🏾: 2hrs
  • 🚴🏾: 7.5hrs
  • 🏃🏾: 4.5hrs 

The real work begins now. 

Race Report: HITS Napa Half…a DNF

April 8 seems like just yesterday but in fact it was weeks ago.  Better late than never right?  Anywho, this race was awesome and completely sucked at the same time.  If you have read my other posts, then you already know this but if not, I am from Virginia.  About middle East coast in the U.S., we experience winters with snow, sub freezing temperatures, and all of the other cold things that people enjoy, but nobody wants on race day.  I traveled to Napa California (CA) where I thought some sunshine and warm weather would really make for a great race.  I WAS WRONG…..

I woke up in Sacramento CA race morning around 330am and arrived at the race site in Napa CA at approximately 5am.  Get this, it was 37 degrees when I arrived.  At race start, air temp was 39 degrees, and water temp was 57 degrees.  I myself was not prepared for such a cold day, and neither were several others.

The swim was not too bad.  About 400m in, my hands froze, and I was unable to put my fingers together for a proper swimming motion, and when exiting the water, I realized my feet were frozen as well.

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My T1 time was a whopping 12mins.  It was so cold, I could not put on my gloves, and struggled to get off my wetsuit.

The bike began pretty easy.  My body quickly warmed up, and even tho their were many hills, was able to get into a rhythm.  My hands and feet were another story.  They were frozen to the core.

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Rain started around mile 15, and by mile 20, it was a downpour.  Let me tell you, rain plus 30mph downhill, frozen hands, and 40 degree weather do not mix well.  At mile 44 of the bike, withdrew from the race.  My hands were so frozen, I became unable to shift the gears, use the brakes, or grab a water bottle.  My feet so frozen I was unable to unclip.  One small slip, and down I would go.  No brakes, and off the mountain I could roll.  It wasn’t worth the risk at that point.

I wasn’t the only one who made this decision.  In fact, after speaking to spectators, about 25% of racers were dropping out due to being just too cold.  In total, over 50 racers were treated for signs of hypothermia.

You live, and you learn.  No injuries, and I am here to race another day.

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One Day Out: Prep and Nutrition

So I made it to Sacramento CA, safe and sound.  Only a tornado warning in Hampton Roads VA where we flew out of, a tornado warning in Dulles Airport VA where we had a layover, and a torrential downpour in Sacramento CA when we landed.  But all is well, and all traveling was without major interruption.

I picked up my bike from the local FedEx this morning, reassembled her, and so far no worries.  No damage, bumps, bruises, scratches, or dings.  This was probably my biggest concern but BikeFlights took good care of her so I am a happy camper, at lease until tomorrow morning when I come to the realization that I have to swim in sub 60 water temp, 58 degrees air temp, rain, and 20mph winds.

For now, I relax in the hotel, load up on coconut water, and put together my hydration/nutrition plan for race day.

Race day nutrition is actually the most difficult part of triathlon for me to grasp.  The more you run the faster you get, and the same applies to swimming and cycling (in a general sense).  But not nutrition.  You need to know how much you sweat per hour, how many calories you will need to fuel your race, how you need to configure a plan to carry and/or receive those nutritional requirements on the independent race legs (swim, bike, run), and then practice this plan.  Too much fuel can lead to puking during your race, and to little will lead to cramps, loss of function, or what we triathletes call a “bonk”.

My setup for this race, and hopefully for future races is to take in about 80 carbs per hour in a combination of gels, sports drink, and carb chews.

I estimate the bike will take me three hours to complete.  Every hour I will take a Hammer Gel (Gatorade had some shipping errors with their gels so hammer will have to do for now) at 20mins and 40mins, and eat one carb chew at 0/60mins.  This along with one serving of Gatorade Endurance Formula energy drink will put my total to just over 80carbs per hour.  Since this race is not Ironman Sponsored, I will have one water bottle of a Gatorade Endurance Formula concentrate placed behind my seat to replenish my Gatorade through the race instead of using the race provided sports drink (I think it is HEED).  On my down tube, I will have fresh water to drink to thirst.  A rest stop every 15 miles will refill my aero bottle for Gatorade that I will be drinking and my downtube bottle for water.

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For the run, my main concern is hydration.  A rest stop every 1.5miles will focus solely on water.  I will run with a 12oz hand bottle that is filled with a concentrate of 5 Hammer Gels, 4 servings of Gatorade Endurance Formula mix, and water.  In total, it will  have around 200 carbs only to fill it up.  I will take a small sip every half mile to keep energy constant.  I should have about a third left at the end.

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In transition, I have a water bottle with a mix of Gatorade Endurance Formula and three caffeinated Gels.  A quick drink pre race, and during transitions for some extra energy when transitioning from one discipline to the other.

All in all, I am confident of this plan.  A very active bike in terms of nutrition in hopes of helping me power through the run.  The goal isn’t not to collapse, just to collapse after the finish line.

Race Week: Excitement and Concerns

So this is it.  It is race week.  A first of many things to come.  All of which will provide more material for me to post about in the near future.  This upcoming Saturday, I travel to Napa CA for the first race of the season.  HITS Napa 70.3.  I am very excited, but also very nervous.

Traveling for a race, at least to this extent (VA to CA) is a first.  As a result, last Thursday, March 31, I packed up, and mailed my bike to Sacramento CA where I will be staying for this race.  With BikeFlights.com I was able to ship my bike via FedEx ground for about $150 round trip. Another first for me, and an extremely nerve-wracking experience.  We will find out this Friday how it turns out when I pick up my bike from the local Sacramento FedEx.  Hopefully all goes well because I will lose it if my bike is not ok.

The reason I chose this race was because my wife has family in CA, and we have made a trip to visit around this time for the last few years.  So not only a chance to race, but also a chance to show the new/extended family a little more about myself, and what I am passionate about.  It will be their first time seeing me compete, and their first triathlon race overall, so hopefully the experience goes well for everyone.

First race with a wetsuit for me, and this is a big worry.  I have swam about 5 times in the wetsuit, but a fit is still something I am working to figure out.  Shoulder fatigue in the wetsuit is a killer at the moment so getting this thing figured out is probably my biggest concern.  Swimming is by no means my strength, so having a wetsuit and its benefits is a big plus.  These benefits won’t be a factor if my shoulders are dead after 500m of swimming in a half distance race.

The weather will also be a major factor.  It is predicted a high of 60 degrees air temp, 60 degrees water temp, and 40% chance of rain.  This is going to be awesome, and really suck at the same time.

All in all, like every race, their are concerns along with the excitement.  I feel very prepared, from a physical standpoint considering I have been training for a full distance race but their are many things that you cannot prepare for when it comes to triathlons.   Only time will tell how everything plays out.

One Month Out

So today marks one month from race day. April 8 is HITS Napa Valley 70.3. This will be my second half distance race and I’m looking to PR in a big way. Since I’ve been training for a full, I feel the half shouldn’t be too difficult a challenge from the distance perspective. As long as I can keep up the intensity I should be fine. 

My last time was 6hr 59min of straight hell!!!! Prior, I had never swam more than 1500m biked more than 50mi or ran more than 9mi. 

I’m anticipating a low 6hr race and aiming for a sub 6hr with the following splits 

  • Swim 32min
  • Bike 3hr
  • Run 2hr 15min

I think the difficult part here will be keeping the intensity up on the bike. I know that I can maintain 16mph for 100mi on a daily basis so keeping the intensity for half of that will be a challenge. 

I’ve swam in a pool 3000yds at 2min/100yds pace so I feel I’m prepared for the swim. This will also be my first race with a wetsuit which will be a huge plus. 

In my last race, I cramped off the bike and completely died the whole run. Couldn’t run half a mile before I cramped. Since, I’ve worked on my preparation as well as my race day fuel. I’ll be racing with tailwind nutrition so the combination of electrolytes and carbs in liquid form have been a great plus. 

All in all I feel prepared. This is only half way to the ultimate goal of a full Ironman later this year. Just a few more hard efforts left and the taper begins. 

🏊🏾🚴🏾🏃🏾

Update: March Madness 2 months in

I always see people posting their weekly, monthly, and yearly stats.  “100miles ran this month” and so on.  I figured what a great way to set some general long term goals, and keep my commitment up.  So in January, I decided to do just that.  Three goals for the year:

  • Run 1,000miles
  • Bike 2,000miles
  • Swim 100,000yards

So far, all things considered, I am doing pretty well.  Here are the distances as of March 1:

  • Run 28miles
  • Bike 83miles
  • Swim 19,600yards

So all things considered is the key term here.  I knew things would start off slow because its winter in VA, and I try to avoid the outside cold.  I also have 4hrs of cycling time that was done on a trainer that doesn’t record distance.  I have since graduated from spin class to Zwift which is a great experience.  I also missed about 10 days of training for my wedding/honeymoon, and was forced to take 3 weeks off from running due to a foot injury.

As it sits, I need to average the following to meet my goals:

  • Run 98miles
  • Bike 195miles
  • Swim 8050yards

Not too shabby.  I think the running will definitely be the most difficult.  25miles a week for a year is a tough task.  Either way, Im up for the challenge.  Sub 4hr marathon means a new tri bike (another goal I’ve set) so I guess thats just a little more motivation.

Bike Wreck….At Least I Remembered To Pause My Garmin

So here I was…minding my own business trying to enjoy a 77degree day on a bike ride at the beach. Intending on riding 40mi on an out and back route that I planned on riding twice. A route that I have ridden multiple times starting with the first 5 miles along the road with a bike shoulder and not too much traffic And the next 5 miles along the ocean strip with a good amount of people around depending on the weather but a designated share the road cyclist area. That’s the out. So 10 miles out 10 miles back and that’s one loop. 

Anywho here I am riding about 22mph with the wind in my favor. I’m on my tri bike so I’m aero bars and everything. Mile 13, and about 15 ft ahead of me a man crossed the street without looking my way to see for traffic. Behind him is his wife/mother (I am unsure but she is an older lady) who follows him to cross the steeet. 

Now, 15ft goes very quickly at 22mph so in the split seconds that I had I remember yelling “no no no no” standing up, hitting my breaks and trying to squeeze in between the two pedestrians. I would have been successful and avoided a collision if one thing hadn’t of take place. For reasons unknown to me, the older lady saw me, and instead of stopping in her tracks or stepping back towards the sidewalk, she took three quick steps forward closing the only gap that I had to attempt to avoid a collision. 

I slammed my breaks, locked my front wheel, un clipped my feet, and somehow managed to get my bike to stop just shy of the older lady, while my body flew over her. Unfortunately, I struck her in the head with my arm knocking her to the ground, but things could have been much worse. 

Afterwards, she was very apologetic, and while I personally was beyond upset for the lack of awareness while crossing the street, nobody was truly hurt, and people matter most. She got up, we shared some words, she was concerned for my well being and my bike, and I was concerned for hers.  Ultimately she walked down the street with the man who was with her back to her hotel and I continued my bike ride calling it short at 20mi. 

Aside from a few scratches and bruises, the only true “damage” is that the incident knocked my rear wheel to become completely out of true. Nobody was seriously injured, and I even remembered to pause my garmin. 

Stay safe on the roads everyone. You never know what life may throw your way.