One of my goals in 2017 is to move to a more video blog. Here is a video on making a choice.
One of my goals in 2017 is to move to a more video blog. Here is a video on making a choice.
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.
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
The 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
There 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.
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.
It’s most Ironman triathlete’s dream to go to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Some triathletes are fast enough to qualify year in and year out, and others will do 12 Ironman triathlons and try to get into through the legacy program. Then there are the charity fundraising slots. It was my plan to age up into a slot where I could be fast enough to qualify and be an old guy who thinks he could race.
A good friend of mine ran it by me that I should try and raise $50,000 to race in Kona. That’s right, the Super Bowl of triathlon. He was able to raise it for his 2016 race, and immediately thought of me for 2017. My first thought honestly was, why me? As we spoke it became clear that my story is such an inspiration to many, and that I deserved it. As we spoke more I shared my concerns in that $50K is a LOT of money and that I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it without A LOT of help. I’m just not a good fundraiser. We spoke some more and I told him that I would think about it and get back to him.
SmileTrain is a charity that fixes cleft palate for children around the globe. I mean who doesn’t want to help kids smile? Shouldn’t everyone have a smile? Those of us without cleft palate take for granted what a smile does for us. A smile tells others how we feel without having to physically say anything. A smile that we see on others makes us feel better when we’re having a bad day. Personally, I love making people smile. It doesn’t matter what the age is.
The seed was planted. I immediately started to think about it, and weight out all my options. I questioned myself, cause my gut feeling was to do it. I was pretty much afraid of failing. It was a huge leap, but I couldn’t ignore my gut. I’m always preaching to my clients that they need to get outside their comfort zone. You can’t let the fear paralyze you from making a choice. I spoke to my mom about it, she’s always been my biggest supporter and she mentioned that I’ve always found a way to overcome every challenge that I’ve taken on. She was right. I’ve overcome obesity, alcoholism, self-confidence problems, and most anything that I’ve put my mind to or decided to accomplish. I’ve got a killer team helping me with this and plenty of support. I deserve the chance to continue to inspire others and embody the mantra of Ironman “Anything is Possible”.
So what’s next? Well, first will be a strategy pow-wow with my team. First though I still can’t believe what I just did.
First 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.
So I started this whole Metabolic Efficiency thing at 243lbs back on July 21st and since then I’m down to 226lbs. I knew the basics to it, burn more fat for fuel instead of carbohydrate. I knew that it didn’t include counting calories. I knew that it included the whole low-carb high fat diet. I had my doubts about it, because it went against everything that you learn from personal training and in terms of fueling the body during long endurance sports. I also know that 1 gram of fat equals 9 calories of energy and 1 gram of carbohydrate gives you 4. So you have more than 2 times the amount of energy in fat then carbohydrate. However, your bodies preferred method of energy is carbohydrate.
So how am I going to get my body to burn more fat and less carbs… well decrease the carbs and increase the fats! Been doing this for 2 weeks now, and surprisingly I’m eating more spinach, squash, zucchini, and kale then I ever have before. I’m eating more fish (I try not to eat beef, pork, or chicken), and I’ve reintroduced actually bacon and butter back into my diet! Little did I know that even though I’m eating tons of greens/carbs I never really knew how low value of carbs they were and filling. Stuffing my face with spinach and kale (about 2-4 ounces) every day is hard work. You can see from my MFP (My Fitness Pal) screenshot that I eat… a lot.
In doing so, I’ve actually started to become accustom to finding that I’m enjoying cooking more, and looking at more veggies, and the side effect is little to no sugar! So you can see that even with 80 grams of carbs I’m still getting most of my energy from “healthy” fat sources. You can see on there avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, and butter. Now keep in mind yes I’m under my calorie goal by MFP… I don’t count calories so I couldn’t care less about it.
So what about my performance during my workouts? Let’s just say that I can go 2 hours without needing anything besides maybe water and electrolyte salts on a hot day. How do I know this? Well I got a Metabolic Efficiency Profile test does that tells me what % fat vs carbohydrate I’m burning at various intensities. I now know that if my heart rate is cruising at 151 (Z2) I’m burning roughly 75% of my calories from fat… and with 2000 calories of stored carbohydrate I’m going to go for a while. If my HR is racing at 155 then I’m reaching that 50% cross over area where I’m getting half my energy from fat and from stored carbs. So since I’m a slow runner I can now start increasing my effort while trying to maximize my fat burning engine so I don’t need to worry about all those sugar based drinks and gu’s out there that could cause all those wonderful GI issues. So what do I take on those long training days that are 2+ hours? I hate Generation UCAN, which is a super starch designed not to spike your insulin levels so you can keep burning fat, and not sugar. Yeah it can get a bit goopy but so far, it’s working out great!
So now that the science behind it is out of the way, I’m 2 weeks into it. I haven’t felt any energy crashes. I raced Solana Beach Triathlon on nothing but water and felt great the entire time. Took 4th in my division, I’m ok with that cause once again I’ve been training for an Ironman, not a Sprint. I’m down almost 14lbs, mostly fat. I’m sitting at approximately 18% BF and I’m feeling like things are falling into place. Putting on some muscle to get some power back on the bike and I’ve never really ran at this weight for a long time so I’m going to be curious to see how my body adapts to being not just lighter but leaner.
Crossing the finish line of what is one of the most iconic triathlons in the world. I did it, I completed it, I escaped from Alcatraz. There is a certain allure about doing this race around the triathlon world that I exists in. I was told it’s a bucket list race and that everyone should try it. It’s a lottery style entry with 2 drawings. The first drawing for obvious reasons, but the second drawing is for the slots that the weren’t claimed by the first wave of people. So you really have 2 shots of getting in this race. Well I signed up for the lottery with ZERO thought about actually getting in. I’m pretty sure I was peer-pressured into it. Needless to say I didn’t make the first round but I did make the second round. You jump off a boat in San Francisco Bay right next to Alcatraz Island and swim to the shore by the Marina Green. This water is notorious for being cold and choppy and having a hell of a current that can sweep you towards the Golden Gate. Then you bike 18 miles through the Presidio and Golden Gate Park. It’s a very technical course with a lot of ups and downs and sharp turns. Then run is along the same course as the bike down to a beach and then up the notorious “Sand Ladder” shown to the left. Then it’s a run back down and through a long chute with lots of spectators to finish things off. The weather also plays a huge role in how this race goes as well. You didn’t know what you were going to get till race morning.
Pre-Race: I got into town Saturday morning before the race. I jumped a 7AM flight and landed at 8:30AM. After the public transportation and Uber to the hotel it was 10:30 so I had them drop me off at the expo. The line for packet pickup was incredible and was wrapped around for 2+ hours. There was a lot of excitement in the air as I ended up talking to several athletes and found my friends from San Diego and met some new Fil Am Tri Club members. I didn’t really pay much attention to the athlete briefing and in retrospect I didn’t really need to. There has been such a flood of information flowing through me from a lot of sources to where I felt really prepared. The day though was just go go go and I didn’t really have time to relax as much as I had liked to. Either way I felt really prepared for this race and was in bed by 9AM with a 3:30AM wake up time. We weren’t allowed to rack our bikes the night before so I followed my buddy Kevin and his friend to the transition time. We had to be on the shuttle to the boat by 5:00AM so we left the hotel at 4:15AM. Thankfully my girl made me my PB&Banana Bagel, and out the door I went. It was COLD that early, but once we hit transition there was a lot of excitement in the air as I got my transition setup. I was right at the end which was even better. I found Kevin who was wrapping up his transition and we got on the shuttle to the boat.
The Swim (35:50): At 6:35 the boat launched and we were on our way. There was no turning back. It was a one way trip for 2000 triathletes. The excitement on the boat was amazing and there was a lot of nervous swimmers out there as well who seemed really anxious. I felt confident, I had a game plan. Jump off the boat on the far left or to the far right and then sight for the 2 ugly apartment buildings and then follow the shore line. I figured worst thing that happens is that I undershoot the exit and swim down current to it. By 7AM I had my wetsuit on completely and was pouring water in it to get the water layer present and warmed up for the jump into the 60 degree water. I had my booties on, and I was outside on the deck warming up with Andy Potts who I’d met the day before. We wished each other a great race and then before I knew it, it was time for the National Anthem. The announcer then called the time it was 7:25 and the pro’s lined up first, the doors were open. The water temp was 60 degree’s with a current of 6 knots going towards the ocean, with minimal chop. The horn goes off and the pro’s jump off but then everyone jumped right behind them. There was no pause and I approached the right side and jumped in the water. It was a total rush. I could see the lead boat lights and I figured that now I’d just sight off that and keep it dead ahead of me. This worked the entire time till my goggles fogged up on me. After stopping and clearing them I was probably 1/2 a mile off shore and I cut the inside to swim right into the exit exactly as planned. I exited the water and then ran to the shoes I planned to run back to transition in.
The Bike (1:06:45): I spent 10:30 in T1 (which included the 800M run back to the T1 area. I really wanted to take my time and just enjoy the race experience. This was after all probably the only time I’m ever going to do the race. Once on the bike I knew what was coming, 2 miles of flat and then the climbs. I took the course very conservatively. Some of the down hills you could hear people slamming their breaks and you could smell brake pads in the air. I saw one person being taken away in an ambulance who appeared to go over the handle bars. The road conditions weren’t all that great either, so I felt I made the right choice to really play it safe and not over do it. I had my Base Performance Rocket Fuel (Base Aminos, Base Hydro, Base Electrolyte Salts, and Karbolyn) and a bottle of water for nutrition on the bike. I averaged 16.2 MPH on the road bike which I’m ok with. It was a technical course and crowded. Along the course you could see the fog just pouring in, and moving. It was thick as you can see from the picture. As I approached the bike in, I told myself I’m 2/3rds the way done. I got this and to enjoy the run. There are a lot of climbs, so take it easy and just enjoy the experience.
The Run (1:20:36): I spent 4 mins in T2 again just taking my time. By this time the crowd was really big and cheering for everyone coming in and going out of transition. I saw my girl on the way out, gave her a high five and went on my merry way. I was cruising a nice 10:30 min mile pace which for me, I’m happy with. Been dealing with some foot issue’s that limited my running but I also knew that the climbs were coming so I didn’t want to push it either. I hit the first hill and I just kept telling myself short steps and look ahead. Just like my coach told me. Outside of having to walk up some stairs because it was single file and there were people walking up at this point. I was cruising about an 11:30 min mile uphill which I felt great still. As I was going out I saw Andy Potts and Eric Lagerstrom battling it out for first. Of course I cheered Andy on. We ran down a trail to the beach and ran on Baker Beach for while. Then around mile 5 it happened, the sand ladder. I looked up and everyone was walking it. I was going to walk it. The wood beams were covered with sand and there was just no room to run up it. Everyone who was walking up it was joking around and we were laughing and just enjoying things. Little did we know that it was being filmed, so we all put on smiles at the top. From this point it was all downhill from here. I started cruising and then at some point right around mile 5.5 I slipped on some dirt and fell down. I recovered nicely but the body got a bit banged up. I walked it out a bit to make sure there was nothing mechanically wrong with me. The knee’s moved without pain and there wasn’t any tight muscles. I walked a bit more to shake it off and once we hit the flat final 1.5 miles I just kept up a constant jog. I saw some friends just coming out on the run and cheered them on. I took some time at the aid stations to wash off some of the dirt that I was covered in (have to look good for the pictures). As I approached the chute I looked around to make sure there was no last minute sprinters and I relished the accomplishment that I just completed as I crossed the finish line. My final time was 3:17:xx but all in all I don’t care. I had a lot of fun. The race is awesome and such a rush from start to finish.
Reflecting Back: Even with my fall, there was not a bad moment I had in this race at all. It was much better than I expected and anticipated. A race that I’ve heard several people say they have done it. It was a badge of honor type race. I’ve joined the group of athletes who have escaped from Alcatraz. I watched video on the swim, I’ve swam the distance before. My girl and I went out on a boat tour the day after the race and I looked at the swim from above the water verses being inside it. It makes the race feel like an even better accomplishment. It’s one thing to swim down here in San Diego where the water’s pretty darn clear and warm. It’s another to jump off a perfectly good boat into San Francisco Bay next to Alcatraz and swim to short. It wasn’t more than 4 years ago that I would have told myself I was insane to even attempt it, never the less complete the damn thing.
I heard about this race from a friend of mine Jeff, and something in me said that I had to do it. I fundraised to get into the race, $600 dollars to be exact. Let’s just say that this race wasn’t about winning. To me it was about being inspired by others, the athletes who have the heart but didn’t quite have the tools and that’s what makes CAF so great. The money we fundraised went to help getting them what they needed to compete.
The weekend started with a race simulation for IMAZ but once I finished I had to get to my packet pickup for the race. I really was not expecting anything but the usual expo with the usual packet pickup stuff. But who did I just happen to bump into right as I stepped foot? It was Karen Aydelott who brought me to tears watching her in the 2013 Ironman World Championships as she was struggling to cross the finish line. Talk about inspiration from the start. It was incredible. As I went through the process and watching all the people out here especially the kids it really brought things into perspective. How fortunate we are to be able to do what we can do. How many people don’t realize how good they have it and complain every single day about how hard life is to them. I grabbed this picture from a friend because this is what our packets came in. You can read what our fundraising efforts brought to these athletes. Now at every packet up there is the swag bag. I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to get either. At every other race we get a cheap bag with flyers in it and then maybe a super small cliff bite. Nope I turned the corner and there were rows of Xterra transition bags with CAF imprinted on the sides. When I got home I emptied it out on my bed and holy cow! The best swag bag I could have asked for. Converse, Hoodie, Flip Flops, Nutrition items, socks, running gear, shirt, and special rainbow socks in honor of Robin Williams. I need to find a way to get more involved with CAF.
I got there a bit early so that I could try and find decent parking. I figured it would have been a total mess seeing as the even is in La Jolla Cove and parking sucks there to begin with. I found awesome parking though and got into transition and setup right at the end with great real estate. I ran into Alexis, Pam, Audrey, and Erika who were volunteering so it was nice to see the friendly faces. I didn’t really get anything prepped like my stickers and such till I was in transition because I didn’t do em the night before and this wasn’t a serious race. I walked over and talked to some buddies also doing the race as always. The best part about racing is the amount of friends you see and cheer on. At 7AM they gathered us all up to the watch the jumbotron where they had the parade of athletes along with a tribute to Robin Williams who I didn’t know till he passed away they he loved cycling and gave back to the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Truly a selfless man who passed too soon. With that I got to see and speak with a little bit from some of the pro’s like Meredith Kessler, Luke Mackenzie, and Paula Newby-Fraiser. These are celebrities amongst the triathlete community and it was great to see them out here for a good cause. I will note that I got dropped on mile 1 of the bike by Luke… it wasn’t fair cause I got the red light!
Swim: 20 minutes unofficial… I say that because the stairs up to the timing mat was congested and took 1-2 minutes to get up it.
The horn went off and had a very smooth swim, however it was hard to site with the smaller buoys and the rollers coming through and I was off course by a lot. I was still making good time and rounded all the buoys in what seemed like a super fast swim (I was right). Water was blue and could see the sea life. As I was swimming past the other athletes missing limbs I was honored to be out there sharing the experience with them. In fact I wish I could pull them behind me. Coming out of the swim and up the steps was a bit congested but ran into Jeff and we chit chatted. Then I hear in the background from Bob Babbit… Chris Holley what a hell of a swim. I was 5th out of the water of 87 people.
It was a little odd with this bike because they didn’t close off the roads so we had to stop at all the stop lights and signs. Oh and there were hills.. hard ones. La Jolla Shores Dr was nothing but up hill and then on the way back we had Torrey Pines. Surprisingly though it wasn’t as bad as I had though… that training is really paying off but I need to train some more.
By this time the sun was getting to me and I just kept on moving. I tried to maintain the run 4 minutes walk 1 minute which worked for the most part but going up La Jolla Shores Dr took more out of me than I had though. I had to walk the 2nd half up. The upside is that there is a sidewalk there so it looks like I”ll be running up that street for a while now. The volunteers at the aid stations where awesome and at mile 3 and 6 there was this kid who was just amazing and brought a smile to my face. It was going down La Jolla Shores that I tried to open the stride up more but my legs felt like concrete blocks and I really didn’t want to fall on my face. At mile 7 I had a visitor who ran/walked with me the entire time and cheered me on. Then around mile 8.5 on the final hill upwards I walked it and we started talking with a guy named Dan. He was doing the individual race as well and I noticed he was missing his hand. We talked all the way through to the finish line. His legs were cramping and mine where blocks… It was a nice reminder that it wasn’t about winning. It was about having fun.
Post Race: Cookie’s
Carrie was there and I basically ate the rest of the cookies she had in her bag. Yup I’m a cookie monster. Rhonda was there which was cool, she had never seen me cross the finish line. My company helped me grab my stuff in transition and then I was chatting with Jeff and Brian. We talked about the race and IMAZ and how we’re both feeling really prepared for it. He then introduced me to Eric who was a challenged athlete who also did Kona with the refuel chocolate milk team. That was awesome since I watched his progress through the Got Chocolate Milk videos with Hines Ward. I will do this race again either as an individual or as a team. It was nice to go out there and not have the pressure about who’s first, second, or third.