Increasing Distances to 70.3 California

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I signed up for my first ever Half Ironman also known as a 70.3 this month.  I have been wanting to and the best way was to sign up when registration opened.  I’ve found that when you don’t register for something it really doesn’t become a priority and then you back out of it.  I remember growing up I saw Kona televised 1 time and thought man those guys are absolutely nuts and to a degree I’m sure they are. In the back of my head though I wondered what it would be like to finish.  So why a Half Ironman (70.3), am I crazy?

I did my first triathlon back in September 2010 as a sprint triathlon.  The first ever Tri-Rock San Diego.  The excitement, the nervousness of not knowing if I could finish it since I couldn’t run 3 miles back then.  I had a LOT of fun and enjoyed it and said I wanted to do one every year there on out.  I didn’t think of doing anything but a sprint distance, it was short and fast.  I had to skip the 2011 Tri-Rock because the Minnesota Vikings played the Chargers in San Diego and I chose football.  I kind of regret it a little bit now but I ‘m not dwelling on it.  I made the choice to watch my favorite team get spanked by the Chargers.   The Tri-Rock 2012 came around and I thought it would be fun to do a relay.  I did the swim, Josh did the bike, and Jojo did the run.  I knew I could do the bike and the swim but I still dreaded that run.  I was 310lbs and running just was not fun (it still isn’t).  So I swam the 500 (No wetsuit) in around 10 minutes and I felt really good like I could have gone more.  It set the seed of a possible Olympic distance triathlon in the future, I didn’t know when.

ITU – International Triathlon Union happened in April.  That race changed me, and I didn’t plan on even signing up.  My friend Diane sent me a message about the race in mid March cause of a buddy signup package she wanted.  Once I found out that we didn’t have to do the same distance I was in.  She was doing the Olympic distance with her husband Dave who signed up before she did (Diane is an animal she puts me to shame when it comes to races).  So I decided to do the sprint distance.  750M swim, 12.5 mile bike, and what seemed like a 4-5 mile run instead of the a 5K.  It was late April, I didn’t have a wetsuit, my bike was not tuned up, and I wasn’t sure I could run the whole thing.  I prepped everything the night before but forgot my 1 thing that no athlete should ever forget… the timing chip.  So come race time I just had my arm watch going.  I completed it in 1:32 minutes.  I did have to walk some of the run because I wasn’t really confident in my running as I am now.  I felt really confident on the bike as I was passing people the entire way.  But overall for no training I felt that I could really do an Olympic distance with the right training.  That is when I finally felt confident that if I trained for an Olympic distance and got the right gear i.e. Tri-bike, actual wetsuit, and such I can do it.  So I changed my Tri-Rock distance from the Sprint to the Olympic distance.  I am actually more nervous for that race than I was for the Rock N Roll 13.1 and the Utah Valley 13.1.  I’m hoping to place in the Top 5 at the Tri-Rock.

So now comes the 70.3, I set my goal high and still attainable.  My swimming has improved and my running has improved by beating my PR’s on back to back 13.1’s in June.  I just need to keep it up, and shed some more chub!  The bike though is going to be the roughest for me now so I really need to focus on that a bit more.  56 miles is a long way and there is killer hill starting at mile 31 and going through mile 36 that lots of athletes have had to walk up.  Maybe this might be a stepping stone to attempting a full Ironman 140.6 before I turn 40.  Only time will tell.

Negative Factors.

Everyone has them around, and they will all have an impact on what you do.  How do you identify them when you’re training or when you’re trying to accomplish something?  The hardest hurdle anyone faces while reaching their goals is negativity.  It can be in the form of work, friends, family, significant other.  They are always trying to derail you from accomplishing your goal and sometimes it’s hard to avoid them and it’s even harder to overcome them.

I hear from people all the time that I can’t possibly have any negative factors cause I’m single and that I don’t have the burdens of a family, or that my job isn’t demanding amongst other things. Well, first and foremost those are excuses for them not do do what they want to do.  I know and see many people who have a family with 2-4 kids who are out doing triathlons, 13.1’s, and full IM’s so that can be a factor but it can be overcome.  Work is a little harder but again it’s an excuse to not go do something, and we rationalize skipping a workout because we have to work late, but it too can be overcome.  Yes, I am single so I don’t have the burden of not having a non-supportive significant other, and thankfully my family is very supportive.  So then what negative factors do I have to overcome?  Well, I do have friends who are Debbie Downers on my choice to stop going out drinking all the time and grow tired of my Facebook check-in’s at the gym’s or races, or even they get tired of me talking about eating healthy.

How do I deal with my negative factors?  Well, I try to avoid them as much as possible through planning.  I used to workout in the evenings after work, but during my consulting years I would end up missing workouts cause I’d work late and I used the excuse that I wasn’t a morning person because I’d wake up at 8AM to be to work by 9AM, but I was also going to bed at midnight or 1AM.   So I adjusted by going to the gym in the morning cause I couldn’t use the excuse of work made me miss a workout cause I got it done in the morning.  So with that adjustment I couldn’t be staying up till midnight if I was getting up at 5AM to workout before going to work at 8AM.  So I started going to bed around 9PM/10PM to give me a good 7-8 hours of sleep.  Sure, I couldn’t watch TV or play on the internet like I used to but what what is my priority, health or TV/Internet?  Took about 3-4 weeks to adjust to the new schedule and to this day I have not missed a workout cause I had to work late!

How do I deal with the friends who are upset at me for deciding to put my health above their friendship or expectations of me.  Well, I simply ignore them.  It is my life, it is my money that would have to be used to pay my medical bills, it’s my body, it’s my time, and it’s my failure if I don’t achieve what I want to.  See the trend?  Some people will call that being selfish to your needs, and frankly it is because after all is said and done they are your needs not theirs!  If they do not like the changes you are making in your life then that is their problem that they need to deal with and adjust to.  They will make a couple of choices in their life, and that’s either to support you, or to forget you.  You have to accept that choice and work to your goals, sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it is very very hard but you have to remember that if they are going to stay a negative factor on your road to change they will only bring you down and make it even harder.

So in closing you just have to remember that it isn’t easy and sometimes you need to prioritize your life and stay focused on your goals.  There is nothing wrong being called selfish when your health is at stake.

Back 2 Back 13.1’s and New PR!

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Little late on this blog entry since I try to do them every Sunday.  But the Utah Valley Half Marathon took place June 8th which was 6 days after I ran the Rock N’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon.  Going into the race I knew I was dealing with a big elevation change from running in San Diego and I have never ran 13.1 miles in back to back weekends so I expected to bonk hard in this race and end of walking most of it.  I really didn’t mind if I did either the run was extremely scenic compared to running along the beach or around buildings all the time.  Little did I know that I would bring in a total time of 2:27:53 which is a new Personal Record in the Half Marathon and it blew me away.

Going into the race I have been reading the Triathletes Training Bible (TTB) which a friend of mine Scott, who does full Ironman’s recommended. It just so happens that I got to the portion of pre-race, and race day nutrition.  My race weight that day was 260lbs, and most people immediately think of the knee’s and all that pounding.  But the hardest part is staying properly hydrated and the proper fuel during the race so you’re stomach doesn’t shut down and you bonk during the race from not being able get the nutrients to the muscles that keep going.  So what was different compared to last week?  Ensure, yes the drink you see in stores.  Before races I would have a light meal that was high in carbs but low in fiber.  But in the TTB he mentions drinking Ensure because of the nutrients in it and it’s liquid so your digestive system doesn’t have to do much of anything for it to get into the system.  So I changed it up and went with it.  I know you’re not supposed to change things up on race day, but I have found that training and race days are separate things and sometimes you just don’t feel like you normally do on training day, so I did it and it paid off. 

Through out the entire run I was running a faster pace only a 30 second faster pace or so.  I started off behind the 2:30:00 Pace Runner but quickly realized how fast I was gaining on her and I settled in right behind the 2:25:00 Pace Runner throughout most of the race only slowing down by the aid stations cause some of the people would come to a complete stop and walk which congested the entire area.  I didn’t want to use a higher intensity to catch up, but I didn’t see that 2:30:00 pacer come by anytime so I sat comfortably and enjoyed my surroundings.  The final mile I happened to glace at my watch and realized that at some point I stopped it so I had no clue what my actual time was going to be but as I picked up my pace in the final mile and the gun clock came into view I saw the time under 2:30:00 and I felt completely energized and picked up my pace even more until I crossed the finish line right at 2:30:28 seconds which I was completely overwhelmed and I rang their PR Bell that they had at the finish line and I felt accomplished.  I actually felt awesome, I drank my chocolate milk that they gave us, skipped the solid foods and a chocolate fudgeicle cause frankly I felt like it!  Got back to the hotel and drank another Ensure and took a quick nap before heading out to see Kristen who I went to high school with and it my Long Distance Training Partner (LDTP).  So after all was said and done proper race day nutrition is very important!

13.1 Miles Down, More To Go!

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I’ve been doing 13.1 Half Marathons on and off for the last few years but I’ve always cramped up in the later miles.  When you’re 6’4” 260lbs that’s a lot of energy to expend.  I did the Rock n Roll San Diego Half for the first time Sunday and I had 1 main goal which was to finish under 3 hours.  My first 13.1 I finished in 3hrs and 20mins with cramping at mile 9 so I had to walk the last few miles but I did not quit.  As the years went by I did a few more and my time went down with my fastest ever was 3:07 last December in Las Vegas.  I started cramping at mile 10 and walked the rest in.  I was really let down I had trained for this one I had changed my diet and really put some focus into it.  Then revisited my training and my diet and my race day nutrition and it paid off with not only my fastest time ever at 2hrs and 38mins but I was able to actually run the whole thing the only times I had to walk was around the hydration stations from other people slowing down.  I didn’t come into this race expecting it to be an A race it was a C race for me.  My A race is Saturday in Utah, but I set the stage for an even better race I hope I just have to recover properly.  My next A race will be in September at the Tri-Rock San Diego doing the Olympic Distance triathlon with another B race 13.1 in November in Las Vegas.  I’m excited to see where my training takes me for those races.

So what possessed me to start doing a half marathon (13.1)?  Well it dates back to 2007 when I first started to lose weight.  I said that I wanted to run in the Rock n Roll Marathon, that was my goal.  I started doing some 5K’s and realized that I needed to do a 13.1 at some point so my first ever was the Carlsbad 13.1 which I described my experience above.  I was very humbled with it cause mentally I hit the mental wall around mile 7 I really questioned myself and what was I thinking.  Had I set my goals too high and too fast?  Then the cramping set in and I had to walk the final miles.  The moment I crossed the finish line and I realized I did it the overwhelming sense of accomplishment I felt was amazing.  Weeks afterwards I questioned my goal of running a full 26.2 miles and I abandoned it.  Mentally I don’t think I have what it takes to stay in a run that long before getting to that really dark place.  So I decided to stick to 13.1’s and try to improve my times and be able to actually run an entire 13.1 without stopping to walk.  I reached that goal this past Sunday and I am hoping it’s a building block of more to come and maybe I will revisit a 26.2 at some point. 

So what changed in 6 months for me to turn a 3:07:00 finish into a 2:38:00 finish?  Well aside from running 15lbs lighter, I started running 3 days a week and much longer distances and I brought my leg training back into the picture.  My usual training consisted mainly of running for 4 minutes and then walking a minute for a set amount of miles.  On my HR monitor I noticed that at the start my HR would be around 130 BPM and inch upwards towards 168 BPM towards minute 3-4 and then I’d recover during the minute back down to 130 BPM.  I’d rinse and repeat this process mile after mile.  On distances longer than 8 miles I knew I needed my hydration belt cause of the sheer amount of energy I would expend.  Then 1 day I decided to try and run a full 5K and see if I could do it.  Sure enough I did it and felt really good about it.  When I looked back at the HR monitor I noticed 1 thing, my constant HR range of 150-155 BPM which really seemed a key range for me.  So I started to look more into HR training and right around the same time my Personal Training Coach Spencer Aiken was going through intensity levels and HR rates and like a light bulb it all went off that if I’m going to run the entire 13.1 miles I need to keep within that HR Range which was about 60% of my capacity and at my current fitness state that’s right around my Lactic Threshold (LT) as well.  Now that I have that figured out I needed to focus on race week/day nutrition.  In 13.1 miles at the 12:00 mile pace I burned through a whopping 4310 calories on top of what my body needs for minimal function.  Upon reading several race day diets and nutritional needs articles from pro’s I also realized 1 critical error that I had made in every single race.  I gulped everything down mostly water and Gatorade.  The GU pack’s that you got I quickly devoured several of them as fast as I could and kept on running.  Every article I read had 1 common factor and that was the runners would drink through the race such as through the next mile and they would take small bites of whatever they had sips of gel.  I brought all this together and low and behold I had a very good 13.1 by my standards.  So now I can really focus on what I need to do to increase my run times in preparation for my next 13.1’s and new goal 70.3.