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)!

Mike's 2010 New York City Triathlon Race Report

By Michael Donikian, USAT Certified Triathlon Coach, NASM-CPT

Pre Race:
Coming into this race I had two weeks of hard training followed by a week of recovery. My goal time was sub-2:20 (almost 5 minutes faster than last year). I knew I was way fitter than last year but I'd also been struggling with some intense tightness running along my right leg and had not been able to schedule my usual ART sessions/treatments. I was hoping my improved fitness would be enough to hit that 2:20 but I was really worried I'd have an awful race experience like I did at the duathlon (2010 Long Branch Pier Du) where I backed out of it mid ride. NYC Tri was only a B race, but I was still nervously rolling and icing the day before until the evening before the race... it's never fun to suffer through a race for reasons unrelated to the race course. At one point I just decided there was nothing else I could do and I might as well enjoy the movie I was about to watch (Inception). The movie was AWESOME and put me in a pretty positive mood for the next day. Drank an extra 24 oz of nuun before going to bed and woke up feeling pretty psyched, well hydrated and not as tight as imagined. Walked over to the race area, got my gear on, drank another full nuun, took my Gu gel and headed for the start.

While waiting in the holding area for our wave to start I could feel the intense current wanting to shove us downstream. I knew this would be a fast swim...perhaps close to last year's. The gun went off and I sorta struggled in the opening moments with a) getting over the rope and b) hyperventilating until I got my swim breathing pattern under control. I have a tendency to forget to breath out under water especially in the chaotic first few minutes of the swim. Regardless after a few breast strokes I got in under control though lost my chances at "finding good feet". For much of the swim I was not drafting until maybe the last third where I found some feet and got my rhythm. I got out in about 18:07... and was totally pumped!
Nutrition: 1 Gu Gel & one water bottle with nuun (24 oz) immediately before
Time: 18:07 (last year 18:27 with a faster current)

Ok, I made the mistake of not taking off my wetsuit during the ~400m runup to transition. It made the run a bit harder than it should have been though 99% of people made the same mistake except for Sports Bistro co-founder "T1 Ton." Once in transition I see Ton so I knew he was barely a minute ahead of me. Sadly I forgot to take my wetsuit off before putting my bike shoes on (d'oh) and lost a few seconds there. NYC has a technical start to the bike course so most opt against keeping their bike shoes clipped into the bike.
Time: 4:39

Ok where's Ton, where's Ton... he was barely ahead of me and now I can't see him. I figured that I'd catch him pretty quickly given how close he was and my typically stronger bike leg... though this race was different. I knew Ton's bike had improved dramatically this year...ironically it was probably due to the more advanced training I had suggested for him. Ok... so no Ton but I see my friend and co-leader from the NYCC A-SIG Classic Jeff Terosky... we trade spots a few times but still no Ton. Unfortunately one of my water bottles had popped out early on the course so I had to make due with only one on this scorcher of a day. I come upon the Henry Hudson bridge (~1/3 way of course) where I figured I would catch Ton but still no sign. I come up to the Moshulu parkway and finally see him on the out-and-back section (~mile 11.5). My calculation was that he was about 1.5-2.0 minutes ahead of me... wow!!! He was putting some serious time on me today as I don't think I left more than a minute behind him. I was so wrapped up in trying to catch Ton that I didn't really notice right away how low my heart rate was this whole time. I was struggling to break 160bpm for most of the way and was often in the mid 150s. (I typically race Olympics in the low 160s) I decided it was on now and I had to push it a little harder if wanted any chance of catching Ton by T2. I had a few good stretches in the 160-163bpm range but annoyingly it kept dropping back to the 150s. My right leg was fighting me the whole way and I wouldn't say it was winning but it was putting up a really good fight. I end up not seeing Ton again until the second out and back section by ~55th street (mile ~23). I calculated he was about 40 seconds ahead of me here so I was happy I gained a little time on him... but still frustrated I couldn't catch him given the fact the bike course was almost done... Oh well... time for the run.
Nutrition: 2 Gu Gels & one water bottle with Gu Electrolyte Brew (24 oz)
Time: 1:12:43 (vs 1:15:13 last year though on a 0.6 mi longer course due to transition area)
Avg HR: 156 bpm (typically 162 bpm for an Olympic)

Ok... so I was behind Ton by hopefully less than a minute but I also really REALLY had to go to the port-0-john by this point. I was also annoyed someone also took the my spot on the bike rack and was barely able to get my bike in there. I also decided to run without my race laces today given some prior issues I had with them on this particular pair of run shoes so I wasted some time tying laces. Needless to say, this transition was not my best.
Time: 2:26

Ok... here's my strength and after a year of training my run was even stronger. This is where I usually put time on some of my competitors. I was on the run course at about the 1:38 mark and knew I was within striking distance of my 2:20 target if I could do a sub 42 run. Compared to last year, the bike leg was shorter but the run was longer (again due to different transition area I fell in) so I knew I had to be much much faster to make it within the time limit. Felt some tightness on the run like the bike but it didn't seem to affect my heart rate too much... though my heart rate easily could have been artificially high due to the high heat (80+ degrees now) and the lack of hydration I had on the bike. I didn't know what to make of it as I was running about 40-60s per mile slower than planned... and Ton was still NOWHERE in sight. Finally I see him at around mile 3.5 and he seems to be jogging along quite slowly. Now's my chance to blow by him and make my statement. I decide not to look back either and figured I left him behind though little did I know that Ton picked up his pace to match mine (I wasn't exactly running that fast). Shortly after mile 5 I look back behind me to confirm he's not there but I was shocked to see that he was maybe 20-30 yards back. I decide to pick up the pace and open up a larger gap--admittedly I was sorta lollygagging by this point knowing that I wouldn't come anywhere close to breaking 2:20. I figured if I could open up 100-150 yds it would be the end of this little chess match. Then on the last half mile right before one of the big downhills I hear Ton say something to the effect "let's see who's the better descender". Damn! He's literally right next to me now even though I picked up my pace. I decide to take a risky bet at this point and burn another match figuring that Ton probably burned a few himself to catch me and was perhaps redlining it at this point just to stay with me. It could easily have backfired though since if he passed me at this point I'd probably be too spent to chase. At the bottom of the hill there was a sharp right turn leading into the final 1/4 mile. I used this turn to look behind me and try to spot him to make sure my plan worked. It did. Ton was well behind me now and looked like he was losing ground with each step. I eased off the throttle again and just tried to glide into the finish as there were no records to be broken today. I came in at 2:25 or so. I barely beat Ton... just 16 seconds separated us. Wow. One false step by me and he could have taken it today.
Nutrition: 1 Gu Gel & drinks of on course sports drink at each mile (Ctyomax?)
Time: 47:30 (vs 43:26 last year though on a slighter shorter (by ~.2 mi) run course)
Avg HR: 164 bpm (typically 168 for an Olympic)

Total: 2:25:23 (vs 2:24:08 last year)


The Good:
  • Swim was faster than last year even though I think I had a slower current this year.
  • Faster bike leg at a lower heart rate--considering the course was slightly longer for me last year, it's only marginally faster but the HR was much lower.

The Bad:
  • Couldn't maintain target HR on the bike.
  • Gotta find a new pair of shoes that work better with my race laces as my current pair just doesn't "feel right."
  • What happened on the run? I just fell apart it seems.
  • Need to do my ART sessions more consistently. It works great, but it only works if I go.
  • About 1:15 slower than last year. Both races were B races but it seems I was just more prepared last year.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hot Weather Sports Nutrition Tips

Reposted from

Now that summer is upon us (at least in the northern hemisphere), it's time to start adapting sports nutrition intake accordingly.  This article will help you determine if you need to make a change in your nutrition and will provide some guidance on how to implement it.

Warning Signs You May Need More Hydration and/or Electrolytes
  • Muscle Cramps (especially calves) during workouts
  • Night time cramping
  • Elevated heart rate relative to your current effort level
  • Sloshy stomach
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability, confusion, vomiting, dizziness or low blood pressure (go to the medical tent!!)

Some Quick Tips
  • Drink a minimum of 1 L of sports drink per hour of activity.  Up to 2 L per hour may be warranted for very hot/humid weather and/or extended (3+ hr) training/racing.
  • Practice increasing your fluid intake slowly.  Don't start at 2 L per hour right away if you're only used to sipping small drinks at a time.
  • For workouts greater than 2-3 hours, don't drink just plain water as you may risk a serious condition known as a hyponatremia (water poisoning).  Use sports drinks like Gu Electrolyte Brew or Hammer Nutrition's HEED or drop in a nuun tablet or Endurolytes powder to supercharge any other "regular" sports drink.
  • If that still doesn't do the trick, or you suffer issues with muscle cramping or sloshy stomach consider using an electrolyte supplement like SaltStick (vegetarian friendly), Succeed S! Caps, or Hammer Endurolytes.
  • Choose SaltStick or S! Caps if your cramps or sloshy stomach is especially bad.  Hammer Endurolytes are less concentrated and appropriate for more mild cases.
  • If you suffer from night time muscle cramps or calf cramps, take one electrolyte tablet prior to bed time with plenty of water and see if that resolves it.
Don't Forget The Basics
Water and electrolytes do not contain any energy (calories) and is not a replacement for your usual intake of energy gels or chews to continue going strong on longer workouts.
A good sports drink containing electrolytes and calories and should satisfy most needs for moderate workouts in mild weather.  Follow the aforementioned tips for hot weather.
An average 140 lb athlete should target about 250+ calories per hour for intense endurance workouts or races.

Some Myths
There are also a couple of myths out there about how much you should or shouldn't drink.  I've heard some people say to not take in electrolytes/sports drinks and just use water because most people already take in too much sodium during their diets.  Unfortunately it doesn't work that way.  The body doesn't "store up" extra sodium for use during workouts1.   If you just take water to replace it then you end up diluting your blood to the point where you might trigger hyponatremia (hypo = low & natr = sodium).  In cases like this I like to fall back on the Sports Bistro Methodology where we draw a distinction between your daily diet (the foundation) and the performance fuels you take as part of your workouts.  Excess on one cannot compensate for a deficiency on the other.  The right answer is to take in a low sodium diet as part of your regular meals and then take in extra sodium/potassion/magnesium (electrolytes) before/during/after warm weather workouts/races.