Category Archives: Half Marathon

Ironman #3 Wisconsin

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Here it was…  Race Week!  The weeks leading up to race week were busy with the day job, coaching, swim lessons, and trying to plan a fundraiser for my Arizona 70.3.  It (race week) snuck up on me like Ashton on Punk’d.  This Ironman was different, I was having a hard time overcoming some nagging injuries and for the first time, my work really affected some of my long training days.   Anyways, we flew into Madison on Thursday and stayed with family outside of the Madison.  This was awesome because I rarely get to see family in the midwest.  It also kept me out of the excitement and I was able to focus on things for the race and stay off my feet for the most part.

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Sunday morning I arrived early and got everything situated with my bike and my bags.  My race support crew had already begun her plan for the day of spectating and supporting me.  What was cool about this race is that everything is inside.  That means no dirt or grass, but it was a long run UP to transition.  I got into the chute early so that I wouldn’t be just getting into the water as the gun went off.  As we made our way out to the start line there was a 9/11 tribute and the national anthem was playing.  I was getting ready to get this show on the road.

The Swim: 1:13:xx
56_m-100735778-digital_highres-1364_104123-3746856The cannon went off, and whoa.   This mass start was a washing machine the entire 2.4 miles.  From the start I had some people not just brushing my feet, they were grabbing them and holding (WTF?).  So I kindly kicked them in the face.  I’m sorry (#notsorry), but you don’t need to be holding onto someone’s feet when they are trying to swim.  It’s dangerous for them.  So for 1 hour and 13 minutes I endured a constant body to body contact sport.   Thankfully I am very confident in swimming and didn’t have any issue’s of panicking.   I can see how beginners hate the mass starts, it can get downright insane.  From the swim I had a nice run up the parking ramp up to transition.

The Bike: 6:26:xx
8_m-100735778-digital_highres-1364_022787-3746808There really isn’t much to write about when it comes to one of the best supported bike courses by the community other than, it was fan-f8ckin-tastic.   Getting out the doors and finding that a volunteer had my bike ready to go was awesome.   I rode it down the helix and got my Edge 1000 situated and my HR turned on.  The first thing I noted that was missing was my power was gone.  It wasn’t pairing or something.   So I took 2-3 minutes to mess with it, and then said F it.   I was to ride this old school by HR zone and feel.  Humming along at an avg 20 MPH my HR didn’t go above 141-150 much and I didn’t feel like I was over-extended which was good.  The hills were rolling and the climbs were easy since you had a really good downhill leading up to it.  There was only 2 hills that presenting a challenge:  Barlow and some other.   I had driven the course the day before with my family.   I knew what to expect so I tried to conserve leading up to it.   Then finally it where there.  Both sides of the climb were lined with fans cheering everyone up the hill.  There were people unclipping at the bottom and mid-way through.  As I approached the guy next to me looked at the hill and said F-This, and unclipped.  I powered up it out of the saddle and felt surprisingly good.   The other hill wasn’t as bad, but again it was Tour De France style cheering which helped out alot.  I got to special needs and as I was swapping out my bike bottles I was hit by another rider.  I went to the ground pretty hard and was totally unexpected.  Could tell that something was wrong once I started pedaling again and my entire right side of my butt started to really hurt.  Thankfully I didn’t have to ride up Barlow again, but loop 2 had more wind.  As I headed back to Madison, I was really worried about being able to run.  As much as I wanted to let the crash disrupt my race and get frustrated, I kept remembering what I tell my own athletes:  Don’t waste anytime worrying about stuff you can’t control, all it does is waste time and energy.   So I kept my head up and hit T2.

Run: 5:33:xx
As I set out on the run I didn’t really know what to expect since I did virtually no research into this course.   I wanted to be healthy enough to run it.  I was a bit concerned about my legs from the bike accident but I set out anyways.  At this point the course was very high in energy as we ran through the capital area and out around the University of Wisconsin campus.  Soon we were on the field of Badger Stadium which as awesome.   It’s been a while since I was on the field and it was great to relive some of the memories of being a football player under the lights.   I was cruising a 10-12 min mile as I was walking up the hills and had a positive mindset the entire time.   As I approached the first turn around I was able to see my family out there cheering me on.  This was a welcome sight since I’m normally doing these things with my main girl as my on-course support.  The Base Performance tent is always the life of the party out on the course.  Matt Miller and Tony Demakis always have the energy to get everyone going, and being a part of their team is a blast.  The 2nd loop I decided it was time to enjoy some of the scenery, so I walked the entire field of badger stadium.  When’s the next time I’m going to be on the field?  Here I was at mile 20 and it was still light out and I was feeling really good still.  Everyone has read stories about the finish line at Wisconsin, it’s what sucked me into wanting to do it.  As I approached mile 25, you can see the energy on both sides of the street.   As you’re running through it, you suck the energy in and you turn the corners to the chute and it’s nothing short of amazement.   The community there is fantastic and the best that I have encountered at any of my races of any distance.  As I was running down the finish chute I made sure that there was plenty of time between me and the next person.  I was pretty happy to have a 5:30 marathon time after everything.

I really recommend this race to any athlete who wants to do an Ironman.  I believe the course and the community really set this race apart from all the others.  Yes there are so many other races out there that have scenic courses and great community support, so what makes this one different?   In my opinion having Mike Reilly there and the transition being inside really bring it out, but what brings it over the top is the bike course support from the community.  Having them out there on those climbs kept us all going and lifted our spirits.

 

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Under 4 Weeks Till Oceanside 70.3

Well, it’s been 2 years since I last did this race.  I told myself I wasn’t going to do it again, yet here I am.  I don’t have the same feelings for the race that I did my first time around (I’ll read my race report later).  I know I can do it, there isn’t any doubt in myself about that.  I know the course, I know the people, and most of all I love the excitement and energy at the race.  I approached this race much differently than the first time.  I’m much more confident in myself.  I have no doubt in my mind that I’ll finish, and I’m looking to beat my 6:24:03 time as well.  I’ve trained a little bit differently, and my nutrition has been more dialed in then ever.  On race day back in 2014 I was about 245lbs and this morning I was 207 lbs at a 15% body fat.  I’ve been running easier than ever and I’ve been riding amazing.   I just got my bike MEP done and I’m burning primarily fat well around 190 watts.   I’m not doing any warmup Olympic distance triathlons and I haven’t done any OWS’ yet.  I’ll probably jump in the 19th for a nice swim from the shores.  We’ll see.

I’ve got the San Diego Half Marathon this Sunday, and I’m going to try and break that 2 hour mark.  I’m lighter, fasters, and I really want that qualification letter for the USA Half Marathon.  Even though I can’t race it, I want to know I qualified.   The previous 2 half marathons I casually ran them.  The first one I was cruising at nice 10:30 pace and felt great the entire time.  In fact I picked up the pace into the 9:30’s the last 3 miles.  It didn’t help that I rode a hard day the Saturday before that either.

On the weight loss side of life, I’ve been hovering around 205-210lbs which is pretty healthy.  I’m body fat % is still sitting pretty at 15% instead of the 10% that I’d like it to be.  I know why, I’ve been casual with some of my diet.  I’ve had the occasional dessert at dinner, or candy bar at the store.  I didn’t live and die by those macro numbers that I “KNOW” I should eat by to drop weight.   Am I angry about it?  No.  Should I be?  No!  The reason why I shouldn’t be angry about it is simple.   When I look back when I first started, I had a body fat % of 40, yes 40%!   I don’t let an of these numbers define who I am or what I can do.  Don’t you let those numbers define you either.  You are in charge of what defines you.  I let my actions define me, I let my accomplishments define me.  I am in charge of my life and who I am. When you say “I _____ ” you declare to yourself something.  If I say “I am in charge of my life and who I am.” I just declared to myself and everyone around me that I’m in charge, not them.

Metabolic Efficiency and the Plant-based Endurance Athlete – Dina Griffin @ eNRG

Metabolic Efficiency and the Plant-based Endurance Athlete
Dina Griffin, MS, RD, CSSD, METS II
Sport Dietitian
Certified Level II Metabolic Efficiency Training Specialist
Metabolic Efficiency and the Plant-based Endurance Athlete
Before we get into the “meat” of this article, let it be known that I am not trying to cause any controversy or debate as to whether vegetarian or vegan nutrition patterns are superior or inferior to omnivorous patterns.  There are many reasons athletes choose to follow plant-based patterns such as ethical, moral, spiritual, and/or health reasons; there are also many militant perspectives to try to persuade you one direction or another.  The purpose of this article is to highlight a few concerns for vegetarian and vegan endurance athletes from a sport dietitian perspective and to provide a short Metabolic Efficiency case study on a recent female athlete with whom I worked.
*Abbreviation you will see throughout this article:  PBEA = plant-based endurance athlete
For those who need a clarification on “vegan”vs. “vegetarian”, here is a brief description:
  • Vegan:  Avoids all animal foods, animal by-products and any food that contains any animal-derived food in it. This means no meat, poultry, dairy, fish, or eggs in any form or contained in any other food (such as baked goods). True vegan followers avoid honey, animal broths, and gelatin.
  • Vegetarian:  There are different “levels”such as those who permit eggs, dairy, or fish. All other animal foods are avoided.
Next, let us highlight some issues and concerns in the context of plant-based nutrition patterns.
Protein
While true there are ample plant-based sources of protein, I can report that many of the PBEAs with whom I have worked truly have inadequate protein intakes.  Following nutrition periodization principles, there are certain times of the training year (and within certain types of training blocks) where protein needs are increased based on the volume and intensity of training. This is a common area where I see PBEAs struggle or are simply unaware of their body’s needs.  This particularly holds true for athletes who are restricting their dietary intake to pursue weight loss. Protein intakes can range from 1.2-2.5 grams per kilogram of body weight (or 0.55-1.1 grams per pound of body weight) depending on health and training. This can be difficult to achieve for some PBEAs, especially if they have several food “dislikes”and are not a fan of cooking.
Tips:
  • Know your protein sources.  For vegan followers, these include the general categories of legumes (beans, peanuts, lentils, peas, etc.; try sprouting to improve the nutrient profile and digestibility), nuts/seeds, nut/seed butters, soy foods, whole grains, seitan, spirulina, sprouts and protein powders. Yes, there is protein in vegetables (such as leafy greens), but you must eat A LOT of vegetables. Vegetarians have more flexibility in protein sources if including eggs and dairy.
  • Vary your protein sources.  This may seem like an obvious one, but I see countless PBEAs who eat the same thing every day with little variety.  Know that not all proteins are the same, meaning the amino acid content can be quite variable. There are “indispensable”amino acids which must come from dietary sources since the body cannot make them. Supplementation of amino acids may be necessary, especially for ultra PBEAs or those in strength-building training blocks.
  • Keep it clean. It’s interesting how many PBEAs eat processed and refined foods for their protein sources, yet these items can be loaded with fillers and synthetic ingredients. Do the body better by keeping your protein sources as simple as possible.
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
 
If you are a PBEA who is an ultra runner, long course triathlete, or a female, micronutrient deficiencies are more common than you realize.
Tips:
  • Work with a board certified sport dietitian who can assess your nutrition intake and physical training patterns. Food choices can be optimized to enhance the micronutrient quality. Appropriate supplementation can be recommended as it fits your own specific needs.
  • Get regular blood work. The blood work you get with your typical annual physical is rarely adequate for PBEAs. Seek guidance from a board certified sport dietitian so that appropriate labs can be ordered.
  • Variety in food intake will help.  If you refuse to follow the above tips, then I strongly recommend you get into the habit of eating a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
A Metabolic Efficiency Case Study:  The Female Vegetarian Endurance Athlete
 
Many PBEAs assume that to improve metabolic efficiency (how your body uses fat and carbohydrate as an energy source at rest and during exercise), you have to convert to omnivore patterns and eat gobs of steak. While omnivores have more flexibility in food choices to facilitate metabolic efficiency, it is not necessary to begin eating animal proteins to make an impact on how your body uses its fuel sources. The underlying “trick”is to learn how to put together foods to stabilize blood sugar levels throughout daily eating.
Meet “Dee”, a female marathoner in her 50s who is a lacto-ovo vegetarian (no soy). Her goals were to find out her metabolic efficiency (M.E.) level and to lose weight.  Her daily nutrition resembled this prior to beginning the M.E. journey:
  • breakfast: coffee, bagel, cream cheese prior to run OR 2 eggs with wheat toast if no run
  • post-run: baked good from coffee shop
  • lunch: veggie dog on wheat bun with ketchup, mustard
  • snack: nonfat greek yogurt
  • dinner: “fake” meat with spaghetti or risotto or pizza
This is her M.E. test data before making any nutrition changes:
As you can see in the graph, Dee was unable to utilize fat as a predominant energy source in her running paces.  After the testing, we reviewed her food preferences and devised strategies for her to begin changing her food combinations to promote M.E.  Her new nutrition day resembled more of this:
  • breakfast:  oats/quinoa with walnuts + 1 egg before run OR eggs, veggies, cheese if no run
  • snack: full-fat greek yogurt with berries
  • lunch: wheat tortilla with beans, seitan, veggies, avocado or cheese
  • snack: almonds
  • dinner: roasted veggies or salad with a whole grain and protein source such as BeyondMeat or legumes
A blood workup found that Dee was headed towards iron deficiency anemia. She also had low levels of vitamin B12, zinc, and vitamin D. This explained some of the fatigue and sluggishness she had felt during her recent training runs. Dietary suggestions were made in addition to providing her supplementation recommendations.
Dee continued with her running program, which involved 4-5 days of training per week. When she returned to the eNRG performance facility for her second M.E. test 4 months later, she had lost 9 pounds. She reported feeling stronger for her runs and having good energy throughout her days.  Here are the results of her second M.E. test:
Through her training and her dietary changes, her Metabolic Efficiency Point moved to within her targeted marathon goal pace. She ended up with a new PR and reports feeling in great health with the M.E. lifestyle.
In summary, if you are a PBEA, I recommend working with a sport dietitian who can assess your needs (in conjunction with your goals) and guide you towards optimal health within your food preference parameters. Improvements in Metabolic Efficiency can align with your health and performance goals with further dietary and training fine-tuning.  To all of the PBEAs out there, give it a try!
-Dina

Nautica Malibu Triathlon & 3 Weeks to Ironman Louisville

12002488_10153709407493274_4471941097899110989_oFirst and foremost, sorry it’s taken me so long to blog.  I had a change of work laptop that I used to publish everything and the app that I used didn’t update with Windows 10 so I’ve had to try and find other ways, since I hadn’t used the website to write a post before.   Turns out, that it’s not that bad.   So since my last post with metabolic efficiency I’ve dropped down to 213lbs.  Then I remembered I signed up for Clydesdale at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon, so I had to actually put on some weight… funny I know.  Friday at packet pickup if they would have weighed me I would have been right at 225-227lbs since that’s what I weighed in at in the morning.   They didn’t and after the race I was probably 218-220lbs.   It’s the very last race I’ll race Clydesdale, or so it better be.

So this was an important race for me mentally, the other short races that I kind of laid the expectation that I need to be a podium finisher failed… I was 4th and 5th at them.  I thought to myself… great I’m not the fastest fat guy anymore.  It was to be expected though.  When you train for Ironman distance events you lose a lot of that top end speed and the sacrifice of endurance.  So while I couldn’t go as fast as they could in the sprint… I could certainly out swim, bike, and run them in an Ironman.   Anyways the Clydesdale’s here was a huge field for us, there was 21 of us.  I beat the 2nd place guy by seconds time wise…  I saw him pass me on the run around mile 2… he was already hurting and I cruising in my Zone 3 HR while trying to keep cool.  With the sun just beating down on me, I couldn’t risk injury or blowing up to early so I slowly reeled him in, and around mile 4.5 I finally passed him for good.  Not to mention I wasn’t really getting passed by anyone on the run other than some of the top females.  It was great to be able to run and not get passed by everyone like I had grown accustomed to.   It was also a great confidence booster for Ironman Louisville which is right around the corner.  Three weeks out and I’m feeling really good about it.

On the other non-triathlon racing side of life school has been crazy.  Between my Health & Wellness Coaching Class, Advanced Nutrition Class, and trying to finish up my Ironman University Test it’s been a mental challenge.   The upside is that I’m helping people achieve their goals, and slowly setting both my Health & Wellness Coaching and Endurance Coaching business.   More to come as I get close to Ironman Louisville and I get this website authoring squared away.

Starting the New Year

Well, 2014 was a blast of the year.  For the most part I’m 2 years into my lifestyle change from a fat bar hopper to a competitive triathlete.  I’ve been able to inspire those around me to achieve what they didn’t they could.  Been dating a great gal, and I finished my first ever Ironman.  I’ve been able to keep the weight off for the most part, I did put some back on after the Ironman and holiday season.  That’s how it goes though when you’re training 16-20 hours a week and eating 6-8K calories a day to almost nothing for a month.

So what do I have in store for 2015?  Well, I’m agreeing to another race a month of some form.  So that mean’s that once a month I’ll be doing anything from a 5K to an Ironman.  Swim, Bike, or Run race of some type.  I’ve got my first half Ironman in St. George, UT on May 2nd and a full Ironman 140.6 in Louisville, KY on October 11th.  On top of that I’m the proud Ambassador of SunRype!  SunRype is a fruit drink and snack company that uses 100% fruits and juice in their products.   I’m super excited to represent them in 2015 and hopefully longer.

Weight goal wise I’ve slacked a bit.  I’m not under that 220lb mark that I wanted to so this year, so I’ll be trying to get under that mark.  I’ve had quite a few people talk to me about becoming a life coach which I’m looking into along with finally getting my personal training certification.  Then look into what I need to do to become a life coach and possible pursue it a bit more when I’m not on my day job.

It’s The Small Steps That Create Progress.

WP_20140809_18_15_31_ProWhat a weekend.  I was a date for a friends High School Reunion which meant I had to go shopping.  I stayed away from shopping for a while because I was kind of afraid of buying nice clothes.  It was always an awkward experience for me.  I’d have to go the fat guy section and piece together parts of suits that fit.  I was pretty stoked that I could actually shop in the regular sized part of the store and that I actually put on a L shirt.   It was a huge moral victory for me.  I didn’t really realize how good I’d look in the till my sister happened to catch this candid shot of me talking to my step father.  It was for the first time that I honestly felt pretty damn handsome and people weren’t just being nice by telling me.  They honestly meant it.

I couldn’t say that it wasn’t without my challenges either.  in 2010 I had dropped down to 246 lbs and let the success get to my head and after a snow boarding accident that kept me from working out I let myself balloon back up to over 330lbs over the next 2 years.  My party lifestyle had taken over and I was unhappy with my job at the time.  Everyone loved the big drunk Chris except for myself.  Then in 2012 I had taken a vacation to Japan with my friend Gregg and it really hit me how big I really was.  I could barely sit in the airplane seat and it hurt to squeeze into the seat.  When I was at a baseball game I had to squeeze into those seats as well.  Yeah I know it’s Japan and all but it looked like I was going to spill into other seats.  So over the next 2 years it’s been a lot of small changes like workouts, diets, quitting the party life, getting serious about triathlons, and getting serious about my health that have all stacked up to where I am now.  It’s ok to take your time work hard for your goals.  It’s OK to set lofty goals and have high expectations.  Change doesn’t happen over night though.

When I first decided to lose weight and get healthy back in 2009 I had no idea that 5 years later I would have dropped over 170lbs, ran in over 10 half marathons, a half Ironman, and training for a full Ironman (140.6) miles.  I started small with just the 5K’s which at the time took me 50 minutes to complete and through the years my fasted 5K now has been 24 minutes.  My first half marathon back in 2008 took more than 3.5 hours to finish and now it’s a little over 2 hours.  It’s all those small runs that add up over time that has allowed me to get faster and stronger.  Just like weight loss, it’s the consistent loss of 1-2lbs over time that add up and before you know it that 2 lbs turns into 10 lbs and that 10 lbs turns into 100lbs.  The clothes slowly start to inch down from 4XL to a L.  You’ll notice all those little changes in your life that transform your passions and interest.   Your no longer living to work, you’re now working to live.  All those small changes add up and you’re progressing with each small thing.

Pic_14bf88d7-a1a8-4800-95ec-0149242f1833I also did a Transformation Tuesday picture on my athlete page since it had been a while.  As I was looking through my pictures and I found it incredibly difficult to look at my fat pictures without being completed disgusted with myself.  I kept asking myself why did I let myself get to that size?  What on earth was I thinking?  Why did I let myself get complacent with things?  I thought about them all for a couple seconds and thought to myself never again.   As I’m writing this out what I can see is that aside from all the small physical things adding up so did my confidence and my sense of self belief.  It’s the small mental changes to that add up and build that confidence in yourself.  There are so many small things working together that push you forward and progress you through your life to where you want to go and what you want to do.   Enjoy them, don’t be in a rush, cherish them, share them, and most of all be PROUD of those changes.

6 Months till IMAZ!… Holy HELL!

It’s been a while since I last blogged, I realize that.  It’s been a roller coaster of training ups and downs these past 2 weeks.  You can read and listen and watch everyone who’s trained for these longer distance races and they are all different.  You can think that you know what to expect but the truth is you don’t.  It’s different for you and that’s because everyone is different.  We might be the same in some physical aspects but it’s the mind that makes us completely different.    I’ve noticed that when it comes to my training and racing it’s go go go go, with little time to reflect back at my accomplishments.  It’s always been what’s next.

So today I actually took some time while I was driving to work to reflect back in the past year.  If I was to tell 90% of the nation my story they would not believe me in the least bit.  Going to a guy who pretty much drank every weekend and you could find passed out in his hallway or front lawn to a competitive triathlete who completed his first Half Ironman and training for his first Ironman.  While quitting the drinking and losing over 80lbs+ in 1 year.  Mentally though I’ve gone from someone who didn’t really have much drive or ambition in life to having a purpose and being an inspiration to others.  It really is something to be proud of and I am proud of my accomplishments.

My training has been high and low though.  I’m running a lot more and I’m hitting my bike workout power targets until they increased it!  I’ve been struggling to hit the last intervals but over all I am getting faster and stronger.  I’ve had to step away from swimming so much as I’ve been burned out with the pool and swimming in general lately.  Some people will say I need to suck it up and do it anyways.  I will admit that part of me says that too.  However it’s part of being a multisport athlete.  Sometimes you need to take a break from something to come back stronger.  Now thankfully I’m a fast swimmer and I do enjoy getting out there and swimming in La Jolla Cove and the BOWS group that I assist with.

Either way I just got done riding almost 53 miles this past Saturday which was the longest ride since Oceanside and I am doing 104 mile ride this Monday.  As I’m becoming a more confident runner and realizing that I need to get on that bike more I need to start upping the volume.  It’s been a constant struggle to not add too much too fast.  I’ll be using my actual road bike for this trip though so I better find those water bottle cages.

The best thing though is that I’m finding that the limits I once thought I had are no longer in front of me.  I’m going to fail, I’m going to get back up, and I’m going to succeed.