Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Some Thoughts on the Off-season

By Mike:

With the marathon over and no plans for another race for the rest of the year, I've been getting a ton of questions about what I've been up to for the last few weeks. I've been taking it pretty easy and many folks have been surprised by that. Easy's a relative term however so to give you an idea about just how easy is easy I did a Turkey Trot 5K at a pace slower than my recent marathon.

The off-season (for me at least) is a time to recharge and to explore other things I like doing such as strength and conditioning work in the gym or snowboarding or just plain downtime. To make sure I don't lose too much fitness, I do some maintenance work such as easy runs or trainer rides with a good DVD or TV show. I know some people will preach that there is no off-season but if you're like me you may want to allocate time for other non running/cycling/triathlon things as well and this is a perfect time to do it... well at least for the folks on the northern hemisphere! Unless you're a professional though it's hard to imagine going through multiple back-to-back seasons without some sort of respite and even then most folks probably still need some sort of "vacation."

But anyway... there's no right or wrong answer... fundamentally I think it comes down to the priorities in life.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Like Father, Like Son

By Ton:

Today, December 5th, is Thai National Father’s Day, so this post is in honor of Mr. Pongsatorn C. (aka “My Dad”) for proving that age is but a number. Refusing to be outdone by his son’s racing endeavors this year, Mr. Pongatorn put in the training and finished his very first 10k race in Bangkok a couple weeks ago. CONGRATS!

Next up… his first half marathon before turning 60.

Here's to inspiring each of our loved ones to find their own finish lines in 2011. Their achievements fulfill us much as our own. Cheers!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NYC Marathon Race Report, Nov 7, 2010 - Ton C.

By Ton:

2010 ING NYC Marathon Race Report, Nov 7, 2010 - Ton C.

For those of you who are aware of my history with the marathon, you’ll know that it’s my trickiest event by far. In my two previous attempts, I failed to hit my sub-4 hour goal, something that many people, including myself, are surprised by based on my (perceived) level of fitness. It's been like an annoying monkey on my back. This year, I was able to string together 6 personal records in triathlons and running events at various distances, including a 2:24 olympic distance triathlon, a 5:24 half ironman, two 1:38 half marathons, and a 4-miler at a 7:06 pace. One would naturally believe that, especially now, I should be able to confidently go out and snag a sub-4 hour marathon… riiight?

Well, that’s the problem with “should” (aka, the bastard child of “could” and “would”). An elusive goal haunts you even more when you’ve thoroughly convinced yourself that you are capable of attaining it (regardless of whether you truly are). This is especially the case when there are other people who you believe are less fit than you who have accomplished this same goal on their very first try. I believe every athlete, at some point in their racing career, will struggle with the concept of “should” with varying degrees of frustration.

Anyways, on to the race report

What a beautiful morning for a race. A bit cold (in the 40’s) and windy but the skies were clear on this nice fall day. I was fortunate enough to have a good friend who lives literally 5 minutes from the race start offer me a couch to crash on the night before. Whereas I had to wake up at 4:15am the year before and stand out in the cold in Staten Island for 3 hours, I didn’t actually wake up til 7:00am this year and didn’t leave for the race start until 8:30 am. Most importantly, I didn’t have to endure the pre-race porta-johns. AWESOME. My breakfast consisted of some toast with peanut butter and bottle of GU Electrolyte Brew.

Gun goes off for my wave at 10:10 am, and we’re off!

Nothing to report from the first 13 miles of the race other than that I was in complete control. I held my heart rate in the mid/upper 160’s and was pretty much gliding. My mile splits were pretty consistent, and I had a lot left in the tank.



At the half-way point, I looked down at my watch and it showed a 1:52:xx and I thought “I’m feeling great, and I know I can cruise to a 3:4x marathon finish.” Then I thought to myself… how far away is a 3:3x marathon?!” knowing very well that this would require negative splits in a race with a much tougher second half.

At mile 15/16, as I cross the Queensboro bridge heading into 1st Avenue in Manhattan, where the crowd support is simply insane, and I decide to ramp up the effort. I’m at about 170 BPM average at this point and decide that I will stay at this effort until I hit Central Park at Mile 23. The crowd is roaring and I get amped up when I see the Chilean miner up ahead. The crowd is going wild for him! I pat him on the back, and say “good luck!” before I pull off. (He looked like he was hurting BAD, but he would eventually finish the race in 5 hours and 40 minutes with ice wrapped around both knees.)


At Mile 19, Rachel (my girlfriend) and Alex (my friend and former roommate) jump in and run with me. I’m so happy to see them! I utter these words:

“I’m a few minutes off of a 3:40 finish. I’m going to try to maintain this pace and then go for broke when I get close to Central Park. Whatever you do, don’t let me slip slower than this pace!”

In hindsight, this was way too tough a goal, but I was feeling too amped to realize it. I would’ve had to make up 3 or 4 minutes in 7 miles, meaning I would’ve had to average slightly below 8 minute miles during the toughest part of a race, whereas I had been averaging about an 8:30 pace up until then.

At mile 21, Alex pulls off and I’m running with Rachel. Less than 200 yards later, I suffer a really bad right hamstring cramp that pulls me out of the race for a couple minutes. (I had dropped my SaltStick tablets at around mile 12. Damnit!) Not sure what was more painful – the cramping itself or seeing hordes of people pull away, along with marathon goal. I start to panic a bit and stand up, only for my hamstring to re-cramp and send me back to the ground. Rachel runs to get me a bottle of water from a spectator nearby. I take a drink and say to her, “We have to keep going!”

For a while, we walk as I shake out my leg. Then we start to jog lightly. We hit the next mile marker, and my heart drops to the floor when I see the agonizing 11:10 time split for mile 21. OUCH!!!

* Ouch!!!

It’s at this point that I really started to panic because I knew damned well what was on the line. I knew I would not be able to return to an 8:30 pace again, and maybe not even a 9:00 pace, but…. what was the slowest pace I could afford to maintain to break 4?! Clearly, I had to pick this up, but… when? How? And would I cramp up again?! So many thoughts racing through my mind that everything around me seemed to disappear. What a complete mind screw!!! To go from chasing down a 3:40 to risk not even breaking 4:00!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

The next few miles felt longer than the entire race leading up to that point. I decided that my mind was too scrambled to do any more math on pace and predicted finish times, and I simply had to coast along as fast as I could while staying just a twitch below cramping. The only thing I can think of to describe this experience is walking a tight rope. Anything that triggers another cramp will effectively end my day and put me through the LONGEST off-season ever. I had to hover below that cramp threshold.

My only source of comfort at this point comes from Rachel running beside me, encouraging me to push on. I stay silent the entire time, and she knows I’m hurting.

At mile 23, Rachel pulls off and I’m running by myself. The thought of not breaking 4:00 (AGAIN!) really struck a lot of fear and anxiety in me that I began to cry for a moment. (In hindsight, I’m quite surprised at how emotional I become out of nowhere. I guess I just knew I couldn’t bear the disappointment.) My heart rate drops significantly, down to the mid/low 160’s, and I’m upset that my muscles won’t let me hammer a 180+ BPM effort. Cardiovascularly, I probably had enough capacity to be smoking a cigarette at that point, but my muscles were shot.
At the beginning of mile 25, I make a decision to make one final push, praying that I wouldn’t cramp within a couple hundred yards of the finish. (I’ve heard stories of this happening all the time at marathons, but I never thought that it could be me!) I hadn’t looked at my watch in a few miles and decide at this point, I don’t want to know my time because it's too late to do anything about it. The last 400 yards felt like an eternity. I let out a scream and finish strong, not letting anyone pass me in the final dash…

Finish Time: 3:53:36

YEEEEEEEEEEEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


(HUGE sigh of relief.)

Tears in my eyes, I’m practically ready to fall to the floor. I walk over to the medals table, waving off this dude trying to give me my medal, saying “No! I want HER to give me my medal!” (pointing to the girl wearing a sash that says “Miss New York 2010”). Alas, as this girl puts the medal around my neck, I’m already thinking about Rachel, who’s waiting for me at the steps of the Museum of Natural History about half a mile away. I relish every moment of my “Walk of Pride” to see her, all the while feeling very light, especially with the sub-4 hour marathon monkey finally off my back.

Summary
Avg HR: 167 beats per minute
Time: 3:53:36 (vs. 4:02:40 in 2009 and 4:12:36 in 2007)
Pre Race Nutrition: Toast w/ Peanut Butter, 1 bottle GU Electrolyte Brew, 1 Gu Roctane packet (Blueberry Pomegranate).
During Race Nutrition: 1 Gu Roctane every 5 miles, 2 SaltStick tablets (until I dropped my pouch at mile 12), Gatorade Endurance at each aid station.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The holidays are here! Gu Vanilla Gingerbread Review

There are a few ways to tell if it's nearing the end of the year:

1.  It's the offseason (yes, as of yesterday)
2.  It's dark before I leave school at the end of the day (definitely)
3.  Gu Energy releases their special holiday flavors!

Yes, Gu Vanilla Gingerbread and Mint Chocolate are now available in the seasonal 6 count boxes.  While Mint Chocolate was made a regular flavor this year, in my mind it just goes with the winter months.  It's thick and creamy and I really really like it!  I don't think it does well in the August heat, but it is great for a winter run.

Vanilla Gingerbread remains a holiday-only treat.  It comes out in November and is usually sold-out by the end of December.  It's totally different from the other Gu gels.  I think it actually has a bit of a kick from the gingerbread flavoring, as crazy as that sounds.  So it's tart and a bit savory, which is great for those who think the other Gu flavors are too sweet. It is also caffeine free (Gu Mint Chocolate has only a little bit of caffeine).

The packaging is festive for the holidays, they make a great gift for a coach, teammate, or loved one in their stocking.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mike's 2010 NYC Marathon Race Report

By Mike

Pre Race Babble
Wow. What a race. In my earlier blog posts you may have seen that I predicted a 3:10 for NYC Marathon this year. In July I did a marathon check-in and felt that I was close with several months of training to go. I was really happy with how things were going. Then in late August things fell apart and I didn't find my running legs again until October with just weeks to go to the marathon. I gave up on any predictions and just figured I'd go out and do what I could.

Well if things couldn't get any worse they did. I went home early on Thursday (3 days pre race) with a migraine and some early cold/flu symptoms. Friday was slightly better and Saturday was slightly worse. On Sunday morning (marathon morning) I woke up with a progressively worse sore throat. I considered bailing on the marathon altogether. Still I got up, had some breakfast and hot tea and felt a little better. Bought some cold medicine and took a dose at about 6:15am (race start 9:40am) and another at about 9:00am--felt better. Standing around a cold race start for a good 1.5 hours too (NYC Marathon logistics are a pain!) didn't help though. I decided this would likely be my last NYC Marathon for a while -- not a fan of the cold at all! I took my pre-race Gu Roctane with 20 minutes to go, downed it with some water and prepped for the race to come.

Race Start
The 1.5 miles on the Verrazano were cold and windy. My feet felt like frozen cinder blocks about to smash in pieces. Luckily it was sunny out. Things improved once off the bridge and onto the upcoming "flat" section. Felt surprisingly good despite the cold and sore throat and pace on the flats came out to a comfortable 7:40-7:45 range. But by mile 8 I started to feel that the pace was unsustainable. Legs felt tired and heart rate kept dropping well below target. I took my third Roctane at mile 9 (previous at mile 4) and had to put in a lot of mental effort to watch my pace and heart rate and to motivate myself to make sure I didn't slow down too much. Not a good sign with not even 25% done. It felt like it was the cold taking its toll.

Still, I managed to keep a good solid pace. I clocked in at about 1:43:xx at the half but struggled to go up the bridge leading into Queens. I was definitely starting to fade and was just hoping some mental toughness would get me through the day.

The Queensboro Bridge was a slog (as expected) ... the downhill part was no relief either as my ankles were really starting to kill. Shortly after I turned onto 1st ave I felt something unexpected... someone jumping on my back and stepping on my shoes at the same time!?!?!? My left shoe nearly popped off and I almost hit the ground face first. I saw the guy who did it and I started to yell at him with some pretty severe expletives. He had nothing to say in response... not even a sorry. That could have ended my race right there but luckily my mildly "ninjistic" balance skills kept me on my feet -- whew! :)

With my legs starting to feel even more fatigued I decided I would take my next Gu Roctane a mile early (mile 18). Amazingly within a few minutes I felt this surge of energy. My average heart rate went up a few bpm and the perceived exertion went down a bit. This stuff works (note to self- take them every ~32 minutes next time). For the next few miles up first ave I managed to keep a low 8:00 pace. I slowed down in the section in the Bronx (everyone does) but brought it back to a low 8:00 pace upon re-entering Manhattan. I realized I was dangerously close to not breaking 3:30 and realized I needed to up the pace and give it all I had in the last 5 miles.

So that's what I did. I pushed myself to my absolute limit knowing I'd be incredibly frustrated with not breaking 3:30 two years in a row. It felt good to pass the other runners and only motivated me further. With 800m to go and a sub-3:30 within reach I imagined myself running a Yasso 800 interval. It worked. I crossed the line at 3:29:38! Then the wave of pain came over me.. aching ankles, left plantar fascitis pain, tight right hip flexors... it's amazing how you can block all of that out during the race... though you pay for it 10-fold post race. It felt impossible to even walk properly right after crossing the line. Still... pretty happy all things considered.

Summary
Avg HR: 159 (158 in 2008 and 161 2009)
Time: 3:29:38 (3:43 in 2008 and 3:30 in 2009)
Pre Race Nutrition: 1 can redbull, 1 Gu Roctane packet, and about 20 oz of Gatorade Endurance, as well as some light breakfast about 3 hours prior.
During Race Nutrition: 1 Roctane every 4-5 miles, ~5 Hammer Endurolyte tablets total, water and Gatorade Endurance at each aid station (almost every mile)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

One more week!

One week to go!  The 2010 New York City Marathon arrives next Sunday.  I'm ready.  Although I've been going through the requisite self-doubting during this taper period, there's nothing I would have done differently.  I've done about 20% more mileage than last year.  My race pace feels nice and easy.  I've maintained 5x a week running routines.  I've had 2 sports massages.  I'm resting well.

So what's next?  The last week is always the hardest, what to do?  Here's my plan:
Saturday:  10 mile run.  Ideally race pace (7:50 minute miles)
Sunday:  3 mile recovery run.  Foam rolling, stretching, ICING!
Monday:  5 mile run.  Race pace.  Roll first, ice after.
Tuesday:  6 mile run.  Race pace, icing!
Wednesday:  Off day. 
Thursday:  Last real run.  5 miles.
Friday:  Hit the expo, pick up number and get a small t-shirt (they go quick!).  Wear comfy shoes!  Water bottle with nuun tablet for hydration.  Then dinner with the family who came in for support.  Ideally a pasta/meat dish for some carbs and protein.
Saturday:  Rest, rolling, light run (<4 miles).  Nuun water bottle.  Dinner a light mix of carbs, protein, and veggies. 
Sunday:  RACE DAY!  Early wake up (5am), get to the race, and go!

Here's my nutrition plan for the race:
Breakfast:  Bagel, orange juice.
Pre-race: 1 Gu Roctane Blueberry Pomegranate, 15 min before (in corral)
Mile 5:  Gu Roctane
Mile 8:  2 Succeed! S! Caps
Mile 11:  Gu Roctane
Mile 12:  2 S! Caps
Mile 16: Gu Roctane, 2 S! Caps
Mile 20:  2 S! Caps
Mile 22:  Gu Roctane
Mile 24:  2 S! Caps
plus alternating sips of water and sports drinks from the aid stations (always taking water with the Roctane).

Post race:  immediately take 1 water bottle of Fluid Recovery Drink (I will give a water bottle with the mix to my family so I can add water and take at the finish).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Beauty of Sports Massage

Ah, the taper.  I'm now 2.5 weeks out from my marathon and am immensely enjoying my taper.  I'm cutting back the miles and will be running every other day, more or less at race pace (7:45-8 minute miles).  I've done a lot more miles than in the past, but I looked at prior years' data and realized my long runs were actually slower than year.  Hmm.  I still feel in much better shape so I am just doing the runs now at race pace to make sure I know what that feels like and to train my legs and HR to peg there.
Another critical aspect of the taper is to make sure my body stays well enough to get to the start line in perfect shape.  I've done the training, now it's time to go after those nibs and nabs that rear themselves in every marathon training cycle.  For me, I've been blissfully injury free (knock on wood), but I do get calf issues when the mileage creeps up.  Tightness on the inner calf, especially on my left leg, has been the bain of my marathon training.  I've more or less been able to train through it, but last Thursday I thought my legs had just about had it with me!

So the next few weeks are all about foam rolling, icing, stretching, and getting the muscles back into race form.  Yesterday I went for a sports massage with Betsy.  It had been my first massage since I started training for the marathon (I had two over the summer in Seattle during triathlon season).  But I knew I needed it- badly!  It's 60 minutes of blissful pain. 

I told her in advance about the calf issue and she focused on the legs for most of the session.  Some spots hurt when she works them, but I think it's good because that means she's finding areas that need work and can focus there.  She could feel exactly what I had described and was able to get some of the tension out.  I'm taking it a bit easier the next few days to allow the muscles to heal from that "'trauma" (which, yes, deep massage can be) but hopefully they'll be looser as a result.

I already have a follow-up session scheduled for next week, 9 days out from the marathon, to be sure my muscles are good and ready.  For me this makes a world of difference and if I could afford a massage every other week I would do it!  There's a reason the pros get them so frequently.  And, of course, it's relaxing and the 60 minutes tend to fly by!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

NYC Marathon - 4 weeks to go

by Lindsay

The NYC Marathon is fast approaching on November 7.  Personally I'm thrilled that the race is no longer held on Halloween weekend!  It also gives me an extra week to train (not really, but it feels like it).

So far, I've kept up my training plan pretty well.  I've got a good routine with running before school starts in the morning and doing my long runs on Saturday mornings to get them out of the way so I can enjoy the rest of my weekend.  With 4 weeks to go, I am up to 40 miles per week and a long run of 17 miles.  My average pace has been around 8:30 min/mile for the longest runs and 7:30 for the shortest ones.  My goal pace remains around 8:00/mile, for a 3:30.  If I can get down to 7:45 that would be ideal, but maybe not realistic.

What gives me hope is that I have not yet mentally burned out.  I've suffered from this in the past as I try to up the mileage and time right at the end of the season when I need a break most.  My forced break at the end of the summer following my bike fall perhaps let me start this marathon season fresh, both mentally and muscularly.  But the fact that I am not dreading my runs and just wishing the marathon were over is a huge improvement over 2008 and 2009. 

I've also put on a lot more mileage this fall.  I am up to 238 miles since August 1.  With an expected 120 miles to go (45 and 50 the next 2 weeks, then a 2 week taper), I should have 358 pure training miles for this marathon.  In contrast, I only did 264 in my training last year.  So I'll be up 35% over last year, and for marathons the miles is the most important part.

The thing that worries me are weather and nutrition, as usual.  I plan to stick to taking Gu Roctane every 45 minutes,  taking sips of water and sports drink (alternating at every fluid stop), and taking Succeed S! Caps electrolyte tabs liberally throughout the race.  This is usually just enough for me.  But I've never run a marathon in heat and after Chicago (again) I am a bit nervous.  The good thing with a later marathon is that heat is less likely to be a factor.

I have a 19 mile run this Sunday (Saturday doesn't work this weekend).  I'd like to run it a bit faster, around 8-8:15, and still have it be conversational.  At that point I'll really know where to pinpoint my final goals for the race.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sports Drink Review: A Comparison

Reposted from SportsBistro.com

In this article I’ll be reviewing and comparing some of the most popular sports drinks on the market including old favorites such as Accelerade, HEED and Perpetuem as well as some of the newcomers on the market such as Gu Electrolyte Brew and PowerBar Ironman Perform. I’ll also throw nuun into the mix as an ultra low-calorie sports drink option.

Why take a sports drink over just plain water?

Water has its place for certain workouts (30-60 min / low intensity); however, once you start cranking the intensity or duration you’re going to need something a little more “heavy duty.” Sports drinks include calories + electrolytes which are critical for endurance athletes. The electrolytes will help you in absorbing and retaining water (preventing dehydration and hyponatremia) while the calories will help you go the distance.

What about protein in sports drinks?
Research results are inconclusive; however, here are some general guidelines. Taking a protein-carb sports drink during a workout can reduce performance for that workout but may improve your ability to recover from that workout. In effect it starts the recovery process early but can sacrifice current workout performance. That being said, protein in sports drinks is probably a good option for training, but a bad option for racing. The one exception may the long course races (ultra-distance running and Iron-distance triathlon). Your best bet is to experiment and find what works for you.

Chocolate Milk?
While there is some research that shows chocolate milk can serve as a good recovery drink alternative, there is very little evidence to support that it works as a sports drink. It is low in electrolytes, has risk of spoilage, and doesn’t sit well with most athletes while exercising.

Sports Drink Comparison Table













Accelerade
Pros: Great taste, mixes well. Has protein to assist in recovery and endurance.
Cons: Low in electrolytes. Uses whey protein concentrate which is not as effective as the "whey protein isolate" variety.
Ideal For: Long endurance (3+ hr) workouts.

HEED
Pros: Low in sugar. Kosher certified. 80 serving tubs are a great value!
Cons: Stevia taste may turn off many athletes. Low in electrolytes
Ideal For: General purpose sports drink, those looking for low-sugar option. Lack of protein makes it ideal for racing.

Perpetuem
Pros: A blend of carbs, protein, and fatty acids make this a great option for ultra endurance type events. Very high quality ingredients. Kosher Certified. Cafe Latte flavor is caffeinated.
Cons: An acquired taste. Tends to “spoil” if left unrefrigerated or if left in the heat for more than a few hours. Slow to be digested when compared to other options so it may not be a good option for most races*.
Ideal For: Long endurance (3+hr) workouts as long as it can be kept cold or in powder form.

Gu Electrolyte Brew
Pros: Light taste that goes down easy. Kosher. Blueberry Pomegranate flavor has 2x the electrolytes.
Cons: Doesn’t dissolve as easily. Tip: mix the powder initially in bit of warm water until it dissolves. Then pour in cold water whiel continuing to mix.
Ideal For: Racing. Take the Blueberry Pomegranate flavor if you’re susceptible to cramps or other effects of dehydration.

Nuun
Pros: Low calorie option with lots of electrolytes. Tubes are amazingly convenient to carry—turn any water source into a sports drink. Kona Cola flavor is caffeinated.
Cons: Lack of carbs mean it’s not the best option for longer workouts or races. Some people may be turned off to the taste.
Ideal For: General purpose exercise / fitness or rehydration.

Ironman Perform
Pros: High sodium sports drink with great light taste.
Cons: Could use more potassium or other electrolytes.
Ideal For: Long distance workouts or races, especially where warm temperatures and high humidity conditions are expected.

Summary
Hopefully this comparison shows you there's no "one best sports drink". It largely depends upon the event or workout. Personally I like Gu Brew as my main sports drink for most races and workouts. I use nuun for most of my off season training or for shorter workouts. Ironman Perform appears to be a great option for it's namesake races and other hot weather / long course events. If you like the taste, I think the Hammer products are great choices as well though I am confused why they are light on electrolytes. I think Accelerade needs a "product update" to replace the cheaper whey-protein concentrate with whey protein isolate. Keep in mind that sports drinks with protein are not necessarily going to result in better performance, but may aid your ability to recover and take on tougher future workouts.

*If you’re competing in an ultra distance event or multi-day where a major concern is “will I finish” then this is a great option. It's hard to recommend it for other types of races and I haven't seen any published research on it. Each circumstance is different so please consult your coach for further guidance.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Finding my running legs again

By Mike

The NYC marathon is only 4 weeks away and I'm due for another check-in on my training. In my earlier posts I mentioned I was targeting a 3:10 and was in about "3:20 shape" and some point in the summer with months of training still ahead.

The last few weeks have been tough though. Training has not gone well since the end of August. Up until then it was great. I had absorbed about as much training as training as I could have and was due for 2 weeks of rest leading up to my half-iron race in Sandusky, OH (Rev3 Cedar Point). The only problem was that I had to move my apartment. We hired movers of course (no way I was planning on doing that kind of physical labor during my taper) but as luck would have it, our movers were shall we say... less than competent. I ended up doing 9 hours of physical labor on a Friday two weeks before a half-ironman. Needless to say I was completely fried. My legs felt like dead weights and I was unable to complete even basic recovery workouts for the 12 days that followed.

I still had a great half-iron (5:06) but it was about 10 minutes slower than I planned, losing most of that time on the run (actual 1:41 vs planned 1:32 run split). What seemed to kill me was my ankles... there was just no bounce or spring in my step. With each step I felt like my foot would "stick" to the pavement. I felt like I was at risk of falling on my face if my back foot would have taken just a millisecond more to come forward and support my forward body lean.

Since then I've been trying to get back into running... to find my running legs again. Of course getting sick with this cold/flu thing that's been going around has not helped. I ended up having to back out of a half-marathon tune up race I was planning on doing last weekend. I've probably done no more than 30 miles since Rev3 (4 weeks ago), with ~8 of those miles coming from today's "long run". I had to stop and turn around at about mile 4. My legs couldn't take it any more and the 4 mile return trip was a definitely a slog.

Yes, I admit the last 6 weeks have been tough. The positive thing is that at least my heart rate was low (relative to pace) during these last few runs so I don't think I've lost much cardio fitness. I've just been unable to maintain an effort higher than zone 2 or do anything more than 4 miles without great discomfort. I have 4 more weeks so who knows what will happen but I am very doubtful of my achieving the previous goals I set for myself.

I'm probably going to just continue training by feel and trying to put on as much mileage as my legs can comfortably handle rather than following any sort of training plan. We'll see what that translates to come race day so at this point I won't be making any predictions.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ironman... now in 5150

So the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), owner of the Ironman brand and Ironman and Ironman 70.3 race just recently launched a new race series... the 5150. The 5150 represents 51.5km which is the cumulative distance of the very popular Olympic distance triathlon. They've already branded a number of popular races with the 5150 moniker including the following:

US Domestic Races - 2011
March 13 Miami International Triathlon (Miami, Fla.)
May 1 St. Anthony’s Triathlon (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
May 15 5150 New Orleans (New Orleans, La.)
May 22 Memphis in May Triathlon (Tunica, Miss.)
June 19 Washington D.C. Triathlon (Washington, D.C.)
June 25 5150 Provo (Provo, Utah)
July 10 Boulder Peak Triathlon (Boulder, Colo.)
August 7 Nautica New York City Triathlon (New York, N.Y.)
September 4 Hy-Vee Triathlon/5150 U.S. Championship (Des Moines, Iowa)
September 11 5150 Lake Lanier (Gainesville, Ga.)
October 2 5150 Lake Las Vegas (Henderson, Nev.)
October 23 5150 Galveston (Galveston, Texas)
November 12 5150 Clearwater/5150 Series Finale (Clearwater, Fla.)

International Races - 2011
June 5 5150 Frankfurt (Frankfurt, Germany)
June 12 5150 Klagenfurt (Klagenfurt, Austria)
July 9 5150 Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland)

Seems like a brilliant business move on the part of the WTC (which itself is owned by PE firm Providence Equity Partners) to take advantage of the growing sport of triathlon. It's the latest in a series of steps the WTC (and Providence) has taken to leverage the value of their investment and Ironman brand. Just this summer they teamed up with Powerbar to launch a new line of sports drinks and recovery drinks--this on top of countless other products bearing the Ironman brand. It seems smart that they didn't actually combine the words Ironman with 5150 for fear of diluting the Ironman brand with a shorter and "easier" Olympic race format--as an Ironman finisher I'm actually quite glad they're keeping the terms separate.

Hopefully the move won't affect race fees as they're already rather expensive for some of these races and that the races continue to be run in a high quality manner. More information is available at http://www.5150.com

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Does stretching prevent injuries?

By: Michael Donikian, NASM-CPT, USA Certified Triathlon Coach

The short answer is no. There has been a great deal of research on the subject including a recent study conducted by USA Track & Field (USATF). For the most part, these studies show that a pre-exercise stretch routine provides no injury-prevention benefit (nor does it cause any harm).

Does this mean you should stop stretching? No, for two reasons:

1) The USATF study showed that athletes who had a stretch routine but were then randomly assigned into a "no stretch" group for the purpose of the study were more likely to develop injuries than those who did not switch regimens. The study implies that any drastic changes in routine can lead to injuries (not surprising at all). When starting any new training program be sure to gradually build up to it.

2) It depends on the type of stretching routine used. Most studies use a static stretch routine which is considered the least effective type of stretching. In addition they use a very broad stretching routine that targets all muscles equally whether they need stretching or not. I see stretching as a precision tool designed to be used on tight muscles or muscles with limited mobility not as some sort of generic warmup. You know that saying.. when your only tool is a hammer you tend to see all problems as nails.

I would like to propose a study as follows. Create three randomly assigned groups. One group will be assigned the "no-stretch" warmup, one group is assigned a generic stretch routine as a warmup, while the final group is assigned a coach who will design a custom stretch/warmup protocol for each athlete using a combination of dynamic stretching, PNF* stretching, and light cardio warmups. The athletes in the latter group will also conduct regular check-ins with their coach who will modify the warmup protocol over time to meet the stretch needs of the athlete. The coach will provide no other guidance.

The aim of my proposed study will be to not only show the merit of stretching vs non-stretching but to also show the merit of a targeted stretch/warmup protocol designed by a trained coach.

Absent this proposed study, my general recommendation for injury prevention is to begin every workout with a light cardio warmup and some foam rolling. I then like to throw in some dynamic stretching or other dynamic warmup drills before beginning my workout. I like to end all workouts with a light cooldown followed by some icing. Avoid heat as it promotes inflammation, which will only further aggravate any injury. As always please consult your coach before making any change to your workout routine.

*Dynamic Stretching and PNF Stretching are two types of more advanced stretching protocols that involve movement through the stretch. Both these types of stretching have extensive research searchable on www.pubmed.gov

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rev3 Cedar Point Half-Rev Race Report - Sept 12, 2010

By Joe:

Rev3 Cedar Point - Half-Rev (1.2mi Swim, 56mi Bike, 13.1 mi Run)
Sandusky, OH
Sept 12, 2010

Taper
Heading into this race, I was taking a few risks with an atypical taper. I was still doing hard intervals on the bike and swim (not on the run though, since this year I didn't do run repeats, except for the one time I did a 10x800 yasso). All other workouts were either short or very easy. On the three days heading into the race I biked, ran and swam once per day to make sure that no rust stuck. 9 workouts total for Tue, Wed, Thurs before driving out on Friday. I prayed that it wasn't overkill.

Pre-Race
I was careful to not over eat heading into the race. As much as I wanted to execute a good carbo-load, I didn't feel confident enough that I knew how to do it well, so I opted to just eat enough to keep my glycogen supplies topped off and no more.

There have been very few races that I've tapered so carefully for, and executed the lead-up so well. As a matter of fact, I've NEVER held back on eating on account of a race... this was the very first time I made that sacrifice. There were no lingering injuries and no loose ends. In my opinion, I had made no mistakes and was lucky enough not to get hurt or sick in those last few weeks. I've seen how a well executed swim taper can result in massive time drops at pool races, but I've never truly experienced that kind of physical leap on a triathlon taper. This race was about to change that for me.

Swim
34:21 (58/591 overall)
Nutrition: 2 Gu gels and an S-cap tablet

I found feet early and stuck to it past the two turns. The guy didn't have a beautiful swim style and I had to slow down every few strokes in order not to run into him. As a result, I kept an eye out for other feet to switch off to. Finally as we started to head back towards the finishI saw another pair of feet about 15 yards up and I made the decision to try to surge onto them.

30 seconds later... not really much closer.
1 min later... arms getting a bit of lactic acid... still not much closer.
2 min in... breathing a bit harder now.... wtf... why is that guy still 15 yards away?!

I start mentally beating myself for abandoning my original set of feet, when that dude cruised up along side me! I said a prayer of thanks to the open water gods and slid back behind my familiar flailer. The rest of the swim was relatively uneventful for me. Behind this guy, I was able to pretty much swim a cool down pace the rest of the way. I knew it was risk I was taking by not going harder, but I figured that I'll be as fresh as anyone coming out of the swim. This IS a Half Ironman after all.... which means the swim is nothing more than a footnote. :)

Overall I'm slightly disappointed with my time, but I think the relaxed swim allowed me to get on the bike fully charged.

T1
Felt great coming out of the swim. Didn't notice the Team Sports Bistro super-fans until I was right up on them... but yea, they were screaming! :) It was awesome.
This is the one section of the race I didn't win.... Sports Bistro Ton beat me by 10 seconds!! And I was flying through transition...

Bike
2:28:25, 22.64 mph (11/591 overall)
Nutrition: 540 calories from Perpetuem. ~ Gu Gel. ~45 ounces of water. 3 S-caps.

The start of the bike was a bit gnarly. The road wasn't perfect and I was worried that my bottle on the aero hammock was going to fly. It was a bit tense for awhile, but the good news was that my legs felt great. Right off the start I passed this guy in EVO team gear. He re-passed me pretty soon after that and barreled down the road. (We'll get to him later.) Soon I got into rhythm and stayed at a draft legal distance behind a guy in a Team Canada jersey. We were blowing by a ton of athletes doing the Ironman distance race, and my wattage remained relatively steady around 200-250, and my legs were feeling great. The only thing I was worried about was of getting a flat. Deep down, I felt that everything was going too perfectly. (The thought of Sports Bistro Chris getting 2 flats at last year's SBR sprint triathlon gave me chills.)

The other thing that I really focused on during the bike were the signs/directions. After my last experience of missing turns at the Bangs Lake Triathlon, I knew that this race would not be as forgiving... nor would I be if I made that mistake again. I was surrounded by athletes doing the Ironman distance race, and I realized if I blindly followed people into turns, I may end up going 112 miles.... which would be a nightmare. As a matter of fact, I got so nervous at one point that I considered riding up to Team Canada and ask him if he was doing the half-Ironman distance race as well. We finally passed the half-Ironman split off, I felt a bit of relief, only to realize later on that we would converge courses with Ironman distance athletes again. Ughhhh...

I remember hitting the halfway point (mile 28) right around 1:13. I knew I was killing this bike course!! If I kept this pace up I would come in under 2:30, which would be much better than I expected.

At some point I ended up behind the EVO guy again. Somehow I had managed to reel him back in. I remember feeling sprinkles and looking up .... not a cloud in sight. Then I looked forward to see that guy with one leg up off the side and pee spraying out. I immediately surged past him and told him he got me pretty good. That was the last I saw of EVO, at least on the bike leg.

With about 10 miles to go I realized that I was feeling absolutely fresh. I picked up the pace a bit and was able to move up the overall position by a few spots in the last few miles. No cramps, no hunger, not breathing hard, legs felt strong. Everything was just right heading into T2.

Best thing about the bike was that I beat Sports Bistro Chris's split. :) He got me pretty good at our last race (the Evergreen Triathlon in Illinois) so this was very satisfying indeed.

T2
I leaped off the bike to the screams of the Team Sports Bistro Super Fans. :) T2 was blitzing, and I was able to take this 'event' from Sports Bistro Ton because he had to stop and pee.

Running out of T2, I saw that the Team Sports Bistro Super Fans had made their way from "Bike In" to "Run Out" and were waiting for me. They're at opposite corners of the transition, so I was being somewhat surprised to see them there before me... especially because I was BOOKING it through transition. Either way, they were already lying in wait cheering me on. As I ran past Sports Bistro Rob, he said something to me that sounded awfully like "You're in 7th place... OVERALL". I was a bit confused because that was, in my mind, quite impossible.

Run
1:33:44, 7:09 min/mile, (19/591 overall)
Nutrition: 2 Gu Gels, 5 S-caps, 1 cup of water every station. Lots of Team Sports Bistro support!

Right away, I set off to a steady pace. This was it. To me this WAS the race. My whole race strategy was based on getting to the run as fresh as possible. My whole training was geared towards building that fitness. I've executed everything perfectly till now, it was just a matter of seeing if the plan would work out.

I passed two guys right out of transition, and saw no one ahead of me. That made me a bit nervous but I kept my head down and focused on my turnover. I knew my feet and lower calves were the weak links for me, so I kept my strides as light as possible. I finally caught sight of a guy far ahead. I was hoping to reel him in, but was never able to. (After the race I found out that he ran 7:07 pace, which was 2 seconds per mile faster than me... thats why I always saw him from far off). There were parts of the race where he'd disappear and I was running alone on empty city streets. Even though I knew I was on the right course, the fact that there was noone in sight, ahead OR behind me, made me feel very uneasy. I couldn't wait until the course looped back on itself so that I could see other racers. That happened around mile 9 I think... and boy was it refreshing. A lot of the people passing the other way were incredibly supportive, cheering me on. At that point I think I was in 7th ot 8th place. (I had asked some volunteers earlier what position I was at, and they said 7th, so I knew what I heard from Sports Bistro Rob was correct).

Unfortunately, I started to feel the beginnings of a cramp at around mile 11. That's when EVO and another dude passed me. I tried to pick up the pace but my quads tightened up immediately. Deep down I realized those positions were out of my reach. I decided to just dig in and maintain my pace until the finish. And boy, was the finish chute something. We ran through the back of a trailer or some alley way to get to it... I had to admit I was a bit disappointed at first, then as I turned around the corner I saw the glory of the Rev3 finish chute. People were cheering and clapping, there was a jumbo-tron, but right away I was able to hone in on the Sports Bistro gang cuz they were SO MUCH LOUDER than everyone else. :)

Overall, I was very happy with the results. I've been planning for this race since last winter, and I've put a lot of effort into making sure the pieces come together on race day. With a bit of of luck, I was able to get through the race unscathed. This whole experience has allowed me to shore up one of my weaknesses- endurance. Next year the goal is to work on my 10k run speed and getting down to a 22-23 min olympic swim, in preparation for Team Sports Bistro's first international showing… The Olympic Distance Triathlon National Championships of Thailand!

Final Result: 4:38:15 / 10th Overall / 4th place Age-Group

Monday, September 6, 2010

Marathon Training: Weeks 3 and 4

Week 3 got off to a good start with a 4 miler, 6.2 miler, and 5.9 miler Monday - Thursday, but unfortunately that ended up being it for the week.  I moved apartments on Friday and after that marathon session (no joke) spent all day Saturday cleaning, unpacking, and setting up and Sunday was a deserved day at the beach.  So much for a big training week- I only got 16.1 miles in over 3 runs!  As a side note, moving is tough work, but a great quad exercise!

Week 4 I got myself back on track.  The heat and humidity were killer last week and I was NOT used to this after having spent the summer in Seattle (unlike my NYC teammates who are more than accustomed to working out in the oppressive conditions).  That said, Monday I got in a 5.6 mile run and then Tuesday did my first bike ride in over a month.  Wow, have I lost a lot of biking fitness!  It's amazing how the two sports are so different and fitness (other than cardio) really doesn't translate that well.  But I was happy to be on the bike so that was a good day.

Wednesday and Thursday were two harder 7.7 and 5 mile runs.  Friday was a planned off day then Saturday morning I set out for my 11 mile run.  7.7 miles was the longest I had run since mid-July so I didn't want to push it.  I ran an out and back along the Hudson River path and the first 5.5 miles were at a super easy pace.  When I got to the turn around I felt great, but didn't want to be out there forever.  I picked up the pace about 1:15/mile and just ran home.  End time:  90 minutes for 11.2 miles.  I was very happy to have finished so easily, with no residual soreness or fatigue.

I had planned on running an easy 5 miler on Sunday but I woke up late, did stuff around the apartment, and had to run out the door for brunch.  But that's okay because I had hit my goal of 30 miles for the week so now I am back on track!

Goals for the coming week:
Last first week of classes ever!  I get back on a routine so this should help my training.   My plan is 35 miles over 5 runs with the long run of 13 miles.  With classes not starting until 2:15pm 3 days a week (and Fridays off!) there should be no excuses...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Our Team is Looking to Expand!

Sports Bistro is looking to sponsor 10 non-professional athletes for the 2011 season.  We don't care if you've done a dozen events or a thousand!  If you have a passion for your sport and are a regular user of sports nutrition, you could be a great fit.  Runners, cyclists, skiiers, swimmers, mountain bikers, triathletes, hikers, etc are all welcome to apply.  You are free to choose from any of our products and we will never force you to use anything that doesn't work for you.  We carry all the major brands (Gu, Hammer, PowerBar, Clif, nuun, Succeed!, Pacific Health, Fluid, and SaltStick) and can help devise the right nutrition package for you.

Sponsored athletes receive benefits such as:

1 - Discounts on www.sportsbistro.com
2 - Quarterly store credit grants
3 - Store credit bonuses for placing well at qualified races
4 - Free coaching/advice from Team Sports Bistro coaches and athletes
5 - Other flexible benefits (financial and other) to be discussed with each athlete

In return, we expect that sponsored athletes will:

1 - Represent Sports Bistro well at all times and serve as an ambassador to your respective sport(s) and to Sports Bistro
2 - Provide helpful advice on how Sports Bistro and sports nutrition has helped you in your athletic endeavors
3 - Be able to intelligently discuss the benefits of sports nutrition with fellow athletes/enthusiasts
4 - Wear the Sports Bistro team uniform during training and racing
5 - Maintain an online presence and write a blog (or join ours!).  Posts should mention what sports nutrition you use, how you use it, and how it has helped you.

If you are interested in becoming a part of Team Sports Bistro as a sponsored athlete email us at info@sportsbistro.com for more information and an application.  Our deadline for receiving applications is September 30, 2010.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

NYC Marathon Training - Week 1

This past week I did (almost) exactly what I planned to do, which is all I can hope for.  Daily results:

Tuesday- 4 mi in 30:30 (7:37 pace)
Wednesday- 5 mi in 37:30 (7:30 pace)
Thursday- 4.3 mi in 31:00 (7:12 pace)
Friday- OFF!  Last day of work, celebrations, dinner, etc
Saturday- 7.4 mi in 1:02:35 (8:27 pace)
Sunday- nothing, all day travel

I had planned on doing 8 miles on Saturday and would have liked that to be 30 sec/mi faster,  but I got lost, had a lot of traffic lights, wandered around, had my watch stop, etc etc.  I'm not concerned this far out, but this is the only thing that didn't go as planned this week.  Other runs were just fine.  I don't need much more speed, but certainly need to increase the mileage!  I am just very cautious about doing too much, too fast.  The week's total of 20.7 miles is a 13% increase over last week.

Nutrition on the runs:  nothing, but I did take a Gu gel before the 7 miler (my only breakfast) and always followed my runs with a Fluid recovery drink (it was warmer than usual in Seattle and felt I needed the electrolyte replacement).

This coming week I am back in New York (after spending the summer in Seattle)!  Most of my runs were in Myrtle Edwards park, along the water.  I will certainly miss the view!  And with the water temp around 50 degrees and the wind off the sound, it was like natural air conditioning.  I'm excited to be back in New York, but will certainly miss the running in Seattle. Luckily the heat wave seems to have broken back east, since I am NOT acclimatized to that!

Goals for the coming week:
25 miles, including 10 miles as the long run next weekend.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Marathon Training: the plan

I am just beginning my training for the 2010 New York City Marathon, to be run on November 7.  This is my third time doing this race and it might be my last for awhile so I want to make it good.

I have the dubious luck of being able to focus solely on my running now because I hurt my arm in a bike accident (see previous posts) and am unable to bike or swim.  So this gives me 12 weeks of continuous, uninterrupted run training to prepare for the marathon.  I have no interim races planned (though I may add a few shorter running races in just to mix it up) so this should be a very dedicated training block.

Until recently I didn't really have a goal for the marathon.  I have already qualified for Boston (from NYC Marathon last year) and there is no major time threshold that I am near.  I consider myself a competitive runner, but I am nowhere near elite and so going for a top place isn't remotely realistic, even within my age group (I was 196th in F25-29 last year).  But to train without a goal is hard for me, so here it is:  run a 7:45 pace (3:23 finish time), negative split (run the 2nd half faster than the first), and feel GOOD doing it.  I also have a not-so-secret wish to take the Team Sports Bistro crown at the marathon distance.  6 of us are competing for it this fall!

So let it be known that I am in full-on marathon training mode.  I will check in here weekly, if only to keep me honest.  I'll also be experimenting with some different sports nutrition so I'll review that as well.  I'm starting fresh (I had 2 weeks exercise-free in recovery from my accident) and am still building mileage and speed, but I know it will come quickly enough.  I want to run 18, 19, 20 milers, get up to 50 miles per week, and complete a few trials of Yasso 800s.  Let's see how I do!

Plan for this week:  21 miles, including a long run of 8 (hey, I said I'm still building up!)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Clif Shot Bloks - Product Review

I recently got the chance to try Clif Shot Bloks while in training (bike and run).  Part of Clif's Shot line of products (including Shot Roks which are a protein recovery bites), Shot Bloks are chewable 33 calorie cubes meant to be taken during exercise.  The are like a semi-solid gel and quickly dissolve in your stomach to release carbs and electrolytes (sodium and potassium).  While I don't mind the texture of gels many athletes don't like it and find energy chews a more palatable choice.  In addition, energy chews like Shot Bloks allow you to monitor your caloric intake even more finely, so you don't have to take 100 calories all at once like you do with individual gel packs. 

I tried the Cran-Razz flavor which is caffeine-free (Black Cherry and Orange have 50mg of caffeine).  The flavor was good- not too strong or sweet but definitely there.  On my bike rides I took one cube every 15 min or so an hour into the ride and coupled with my regular sports drink they lasted the duration of my 2.5 hour ride.  The chewing was easy (I hate when I have to chew something forever) and the Shot Roks went down easily with gulps of water. I didn't notice an energy spike with these but neither did I crash, it was just a constant release of energy.  The only downside is I had to remember to take them frequently, as I am so accustomed to taking gels every 45 minutes.  I have to remind myself to keep these readily accessible so I can consistently take them.

I particularly liked the tube ("fastpak") rather than the regular square packages which made getting the chews easier to get out of the packaging.  They fit will in a bike jersey pocket, but might be harder to fit in pockets on running shorts or tops.  I have a hard time running and chewing so I stick to gels while running, but these will make their way into my bike nutrition rotation, especially when I just get sick of gels and need some new textures and flavors!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Changing Race Priorities

by Lindsay J

I have a Half Ironman triathlon coming up in just under 3 weeks, Lake Stevens 70.3  I'm out in Seattle just for the summer and really wanted to try the premier race out here.  I've only done one other Half Ironman- Timberman 70.3 last summer, but Team Sports Bistro is making this distance our team priority for the year and I really wanted to be competitive at Lake Stevens.  My not-so-secret goal was to hit 5:15 and be top 5 in my age group.  This is what I accomplished at Timberman, but Lake Stevens is supposedly a harder course so I felt it would be a successful if I got the same result at Lake Stevens.

The training had been going decently, but I will admit I am now not prepared to hit my goals.  The race is a 1.2 mile swim. 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run.  However, I have not been able to do more than 2 rides over 50 miles (55 and 60 miles) and my run hasn't gone longer than 10 miles yet.  And this isn't back to back!  I've also only swum once, but that's to be expected.  I can't pinpoint where my training plan went awry.  I guess things came up here and there and all of sudden the race came up and I'm not ready!

I know I can finish the race, my longer runs and rides have felt comfortable and I had been adding more hill work in recently (a necessity for Lake Stevens!).  But I don't like to just finish events- I like to race and compete.  If I'm not able to do what I know I was capable of then that will feel like a defeat.  I also don't want the day to turn into a predictable sufferfest due to undertraining.  

Adding to my woes is that I had my first topple on the bike this past weekend, midway through my 60 mile ride (but luckily was less than 2 miles from home).  I was swerving to miss a car turning left across me, but as I was veering right to miss them the lane I was traveling in ended and I went into some unused railroad tracks.  Down I went, predictably.  I literally ran myself off the road!

The good thing is the tracks were off the road and not in use, so it was mostly dirt and grass (not even gravel, thank goodness).  I didn't hit my head, went down at fairly low speed, and got right up.  So no big deal.  Or so I thought.  I bumped and scraped my right knee, shoulder, and elbow pretty good.  The knee and shoulder are bruised but fine, but unfortunately an x-ray confirmed that I put a small fracture into my elbow.  While no surgery or cast required, it will heal itself in 6-8 weeks, it is just one more thing I don't need right now.  Swimming is out until I get more mobility in the arm and of course I have to be super careful biking, lest I fall again or put too much pressure on it in the aero position.  Today I thought I'd go for a light jog and my knee is still swollen for that to feel good so I stopped.  So now less than 3 weeks from the race I am not able to do any of the 3 disciplines!

Clearly Lake Stevens is not likely to end up how I intended it to.  But that's okay.  I'm now just looking forward to enjoying the race, regardless of time or place.  I know I can finish it, so why push it only to hurt myself?  It's actually a bit of a relief to not have to stress about the race.  I can enjoy the triathlon for what it is- a great Pacific Northwest race!  Game on  :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Marathon Check In

By Michael Donikian, USAT Certified Coach, NASM-CPT

A while back I made a bold statement.. 3:10 or bust for NYC Marathon. I thought it was time to make a post about how that's coming along. In short, it's coming along. I was a little bummed about my very recent run performance at NYC tri where I ran slower than last year, despite improved fitness. Ok. A LOT bummed. But there were good reasons for that and I take it as just a one off.

Today I did a brick which included an 8 mile run. Within the run, I chose a hilly 10K section to attempt to run steady state at about marathon pace. I ran it at a pretty steady 7:24 pace (a little slower up hill / a little faster downhill). I maintained roughly the same average heart rate I did in NYC marathon last November despite the 93 degree temperature today so I think it's a good preview of what's to come. Assuming I maintain the same pace, that's puts me at about a 3:13... so I'm not terribly far off and I still have many weeks of training ahead.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem Review

By: Chris

I have a little confession to make: I haven't drank an official sports/energy drink in over a year. After a couple of bad experiences with Gatorade that left me in bad shape, I swore off all pre-mixed drinks unless I made it myself. In preparation for some longer races, though, I've been rethinking this and looking for something new.

I picked up Hammer Nutrition's Perpetuem Orange-Vanilla last week and tried it out in a couple of training runs as well as an Olympic-distance triathlon. My first impression (and I've continued to think this every time I've used it) is that it has a very mild flavor. I was surprised when I took my first sip at how under-powering it is, which I found very refreshing. Not only does it go down easily, but this also allows you to mix concentrated bottles for long rides without the taste becoming a problem.

It has a mixture of carbohydrates, electrolytes, protein, and a little bit of fat that are perfect for long endurance sessions. I probably should have looked this up before I bought it, but Hammer recommends Perpetuem for workouts lasting longer than 2 hours. For events lasting less than that, something like Hammer Nutrition HEED or Accelerade may be a better choice. The electrolytes minimize the amount of supplements you have to take during the event, the protein aids in rebuilding muscle for a quicker recovery, and apparently the fats kick-start your body into burning it's own fat stores for energy.

I found this to be true during my 2 1/2 hour triathlon this past weekend. Not only was it a good source of energy during a very hot bike, but I feel like this was one of my quickest recoveries ever. Now I'm planning to drink it exclusively during the bike leg of my upcoming 70.3. I'll be mixing a concentrated batch of it in one bottle and combining with additional bottles of plain water received throughout the race.

Overall I'd recommend this for long rides, runs, or races, so if you're looking for something to sustain you through the grueling hours, give it a shot.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Seattle Seafair Sprint Triathlon - Race Report

by Lindsay J

I moved to Seattle for a summer internship and wanted to get in touch with the local racing scene here.  I've signed up for Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens, about 45 min north of Seattle, but I wanted a tune up (and fun!) race to do in the interim.  The Seafair Sprint is that race.  With almost 1,000 local racers, both elites and beginners, it's the race for Seattlites.   And it's only 7 miles from where I'm staying- being able to bike to the race is a huge bonus! 

The race is short- 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run.  But that doesn't make it easy- you just have to go harder!  There is an elite wave, but I wasn't sure how competitive I would be and signed up for age group to be safe.  I wasn't going for any particular time or place so it didn't really matter.  Looking over prior years' results, my goal was a 1:14, which is generally good enough for top 3 in my age group.

I woke up at 5am, got down to the race site at 6, and sipped some Accelerade and ate bits of a Clif Luna bar to get the juices flowing.  The race started at 6:55 am, but my wave didn't go out until 7:20.  Transition was closed and I was standing on the beach waiting when I realized I forgot to grab my go-to race nutrition, Gu Roctane energy gel.  I thought one of these babies would be enough to kick start the race and last for the 1:15 duration.  I wasn't planning on any nutrition other than sips of water in transition since the event was short and it wasn't hot out, and I wanted to minimize weight on the bike (no bottles).  However, starting with nothing was not my plan and I just reminded myself to take the Roctane on the bike with me to take then.

My swim was so-so.  I was hoping for close to 13 minutes but I got out of the water at 14:19.  Although better than previous races, I still struggle to find good positioning at the front and I never seem to find decent feet to draft.  I clearly need to do more open water swim training (or just swimming at all- last time was the Harriman Olympic in May!).  More work to be done here.

Tripped and fell coming up into T1, awesome, I hope Brightroom Photo caught that.  Transition was not speedy, but no major issues.  2 min ish.  I remember to take my Roctane, but not a water bottle to wash it down with. 

The bike course was pretty flat, with lots of open sections.  It was a bit windy, but I don't feel it slowed me down at all.  We had the now familiar route of up Lake Washington Blvd and then over the I-90 bridge (and back), although this time I got to use the express lane and not the bike lane!  Luckily I didn't have problems with congestion and all of the slower people were diligently staying right; perfect!  I only got passed twice and caught one of the guys back.  I took my Roctane right at the start, but really wish I had a swig of water as I could feel it sitting in my throat and stomach.  Time was 34:30ish, catching up what I "lost" in the swim. 

My run was both great and terrible.  I felt pretty good starting out and was in the mid to uppers 6s on the first mile, which for me is a very solid pace.  After seeing no one from my age group all race, I finally caught a girl about a half mile in.  I could tell I had the stronger pace as I caught her, but she saw my age on my leg and tried to stick with me.  I was worried about being neck and neck throughout the race, but luckily I broke her pretty quickly and that wasn't an issue.  I was still running solid, seeing no one else in my age group.  I figured the top places must be well ahead of me (or I was first, which I didn't think was possible since I saw a lot of people beat me out of the swim).  Just past the 1 mile mark I started getting stomach cramps- I took water in transition and now the Roctane was starting to digest, just when my HR was sky high and my stomach just wasn't having it.  Drat- this is what I was afraid of, and why I wasn't planning on mid-race nutrition.  But I only had about 15 min left so my intent was just to push through.  The run was flat and pretty and I was passing people, so otherwise I was doing great! 

And then I turned a corner.  Oh wait, we're not just doing a flat circumference of the park, no we're going to got STRAIGHT uphill!  Noo!  My stomach, legs, and mind were not ready for this.  My HR was already uncomfortably high on the flats (I was pushing it, assuming I had 1.5 miles of flat left) and I was forced to slow to barely a run going up.  It was pretty bad.  I crossed the 2 mile mark almost at the top, so at least I knew that the last one mile would be downhill and flat.  But that 1/2 mile or so up was pretty brutal.  At the turnaround I saw a girl quickly gaining on me, and sure enough she flew by me on the downhill with a 28 on her leg.  Damn.   But she was really moving and even at a good pace for me I couldn't keep up.

The last mile was fine, felt good, looked ahead and saw that girl pulling away but otherwise no one (female) and just cruised in,   5K time 21:39.  But then I see that one of the people who finished just ahead of me was girl with a short haircut, with a 29 on her leg!  Nooo!!  I totally could have caught her, and would have had this been a 3.2 mile run.  So I knew I was at least 3rd in AG, possibly lower.

It turns out I was 3rd.  The girl with the short hair beat me by 5 sec (and had a 2 min slower run- she's a fish who I should have caught) and the 1st place winner was the fast runner who ended up about 20 seconds ahead.  It turns out she just did IM Coeur D'Alene 2 weeks ago (and qualified for Kona there) so I don't feel so bad giving up the win to her.  But to be so close!  Final time, 1:13:45, right on schedule!


I finished racing at 8:35am, but the awards ceremony didn't go off til after 11:30!  A full hour after they said they would, and even that would have been a long time.  Plus it was really cold, we were freezing waiting around, and the only ones left were the ones who won awards.  I liked the race, but this was a major downer. 

So in general I am happy with my bike and run, but learned I really need to switch focus to hills!!  On both the run and bike (wasn't tested on this course, but will  be at Lake Stevens).  And I am going to hunt for OWS opportunities, or at least find a pool.  I'm not so secretly hoping for a top 5 age group finish at Lake Stevens and can't afford to give up 5 min on the swim (or have to walk the run)!