Ironman 70.3 Augusta

This past Sunday I completed my first half Ironman triathlon.  I’ve had a lot of people as me how the race went, or how it compared to my shorter triathlon a month prior.  So, like before, and since I know you all want to know, I’ll tell you how my race went.

THE SWIM

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This is a really cool picture of the swim start for this race.  You walk out onto a floating dock directly underneath the bridge.  As with many other races, the waves went off every four minutes.  The cool thing here, though, was that you could jump in the water and get acclimated, or sit on the dock until the horn went off.  Most people jumped in to adjust to the cool water.  It was really a cool start though, not only because of the scenery, but because you could also see your whole swim directly in front of you.

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This swim wasn’t as chaotic as Chicago, simply because the water was much more calm.  But, this is how you’re swimming for the first 200-300 meters of the race.  It takes a few minutes for the faster swimmers to separate themselves, and until they can, you’re stuck kicking and punching the rest of your competitors.  I was definitely on the receiving end of a few kicks and punches, but believe me, I handed out more than a got in return.

I got in a really good rhythm in the water and was able to separate myself (along with a handful of others) from the majority of the group within a couple of minutes.  The swim was downstream, which helped, but I will say I had a good day in the water.  Going in a straight line, as opposed to pushing off a wall 80 times, or worrying about rounding multiple buoys, makes it much easier to concentrate on just swimming.  And that’s what I was able to do.

Off to a great start!!!!

THE BIKE

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Being that my fiance didn’t want to/couldn’t follow me for 56 miles (don’t blame her), this is the only photo of me on my bike.  After getting to the swim finish and getting out of the wetsuit, it was time to get a quick snack, some water, throw on the helmet and cycling shoes, and get to it.  As you can see, the sky was pretty overcast, which made for absolutely perfect weather for a long bike ride.

It always takes me a few minutes to get into a good flow on the bike.  I’m not sure why, but the first couple of miles seem to be somewhat of a nuisance for me.  But, once I got settled in and into a solid speed, it was a great ride.

There were a few people who I spoke with before the race that told me the bike ride would be a little hilly, saying there were some pretty solid rolling hills here and there throughout the course.  My initial reaction was that I’m from central Kentucky, where every single hill is very rolling and very long, but I didn’t want to be overconfident heading in.  I prepared myself accordingly, and planned to pace around 16-17 MPH.  I’m not sure if the course was flatter than what had been described to me, I psyched myself up too much for it, or I just felt good, but I had an awesome ride (It was probably a combination of the three).  My goal was to finish the 56-mile ride in 3:30, and ended with a time of 2:59.

Keeping up a good pace and have an awesome time after the bike!!!

THE RUN

Let me precede this part by noting how important it is to be fueled up before you get to this point in the race.  Water, electrolytes, and just some overall substance in your stomach cannot be stressed enough.  You’ve got anywhere from 2:00 to 4:00 on the bike (depending on skill) to get some nutrition and hydration in you, and you have to take advantage.  I took advantage, but not nearly enough, as I would come to find out very quickly.

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This is a little before the mile 4 marker, and also one of the last times I was seen with a smile on my face until the race was over.  After getting back to the transition, hopping off the bike, grabbing a banana and some water, I was off on the run.  The first three miles felt fine.  I was in a pretty decent groove – albeit a slow one – and looking forward to the rest of the run.  Then mile five hit me like a ton of bricks.  This time it wasn’t the weather (I don’t think it got above 80 degrees) or the course (flat as an ironing board).  It was my nutrition, or lack thereof.  I could tell around the mile five point that I was beginning to get a bit dehydrated.  I have a pretty sensitive stomach during races, and didn’t really want to try anything new during the race, so I stuck with water and the occasional half banana.  But, it was simple too little too late.  Around the eight or nine mile point, the cramps started setting in.  I hate to admit, but this is when the run/walk method came into play.  I don’t like to walk during races, but honestly that’s the only way I was going to finish this race.  And there’s no way in hell I wasn’t finishing this race.  I’ve got too much pride, and too many ass hole friends that wouldn’t let me here the end of it (I’m looking at you Jon Messick and Scott Bender).  I managed to finish the last four/five miles and cross the finish line with a time of 2:30 for the run.  It was much slower than my goal time, but, being a rookie in this event, I won’t complain.

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I may look like hell, but I finished.  I earned that damn medal.

I have to say, after a little time to reflect, this was unlike anything I’ve been a part of.  By far, without any doubt at all, this was the hardest race I’ve done.  The three events individually, sure, they’d be very manageable.  But putting them all together, and you’re looking at a whole new beast.  And when I say that I went through about every emotion possible, I’m not exaggerating.  Starting the race, I was feeling great.  I kicked the swims ass and beat my goal on the bike.  But then it all came full circle on the run.  The course setup did me no favors either.  It was a loop course that we ran twice, and had plenty of turns throughout.  Those turns resulted in passing the finish line FOUR times before actually crossing.  Pairing that with the shutdown mode that my body was going into made for a lot of different emotions throughout the run.  This was the closest my body has ever come to physically failing – due to inadequate nutrition – but I was able to stay strong enough mentally to see it through to the end.  And let me tell you, nothing is more demoralizing that watching others finish, knowing you still have seven or eight miles left to go.  It tests your will and determination.  But that’s what an Ironman is all about!!!

Overall, even with my struggles on the run, it was a great weekend.  I set a goal of 6:30 and, even with my struggle on the run, finished with a time of 6:10.  It was challenging, miserable, inspiring, fun, frustrating, and completely awesome all at the same time.  Immediately after the race I told myself I would stick to shorter distances for a while.  But, after a few bottles of Gatorade knocked some sense back into my brain, I know I’ll be back again for more.

Difficult, but Simple

I get asked something along the lines of the following question on almost a daily basis:  What’s the best way to improve my nutrition?

It’s a question that doesn’t have a straightforward answer.  Every individual that I come into contact with is different, from their exercise habits, diet, to lifestyle.  Each person is unique in their own way.  But, that doesn’t mean that nutrition can’t have some universal rules that should apply to everyone.

If you follow sports at all, or pop culture, for that matter, you might have noticed a rather significant transformation of one of the world’s most famous athletes.  Lebron James has dropped quite a bit of weight this summer, and he has done it exclusively through healthy eating.  I understand that Mr. James has unlimited resources.  He has the money to buy healthy food, the money to pay somebody to cook it, and access to his own personal menu at restaurants.  So he undoubtedly has an advantage on most of us.  But, take a look at the article.  Notice how many days in a row he at clean.  67 DAYS!!!  The only foods he ate for 67 DAYS were meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and some nuts/seeds.  That’s discipline right there folks.

Here’s what I’m trying to get across to you.  Keep your diet plan simple.  Include real foods – things that you can grow or kill (Yes, somebody does in fact have to kill the meat or chicken you eat.  Get over it).  Your diet shouldn’t have a huge variety in it, especially for those who are new to it.  The fewer options you have to choose from, the less likely you are to stray. Fruits, vegetables, animal proteins, and some nuts/seeds.  It’s difficult, yes.  But it’s not complicated.  And more importantly, IT WORKS!!!!  Eat right, stay disciplined, and you will see results.

If Lebron can eat clean for 67 days in a row, can’t you eat clean for a week at a time???  I think so…

The Power of the Nap

No wonder I’m so good at remembering facts, faces, and names….

I actually saw this picture, of all places, on my Twitter feed the other day.  I thought it was a pretty interesting diagram.  For a long time people have looked at napping as something for lazy individuals.  Granted, there are a lot of lazy people who take napping to the extreme.  I won’t argue that.  But, in recent years, there has been much research showing that there are actually some legitimate benefits to napping.

I found a really informative article on why you should nap more, and you can read the full thing here.  It breaks down not only the types of naps and their own unique benefits, but describes the stages of the sleep cycle as well.  And as if we needed any more motivation to get in a quick sleep session, the article presents different everyday situations that could be improved by a quick nap, ranging from improving alertness or stamina to pulling an all-nighter for work or school.

Don’t get me wrong here folks, I’m not saying we should all sleep the day away every day.  But, if you’ve got a little bit of free time and feel like you need a quick pick-me-up, find a comfy spot and stare at the back of your eyelids for a little while.  Go on, you won’t regret it.

A Surprise Fix

If you’re any type of runner at all – competitive, recreational, distance, sprint, or just the occasional trot around the block – then you’ve probably experienced pain in your Illiotibial (IT) Band at some point or another.  The IT Band is a very long tendon that is attached the the tensor facia latae muscle.  This muscle/tendon combination stretches all the way from your hip to the lateral portion of the knee joint.

One commonly prescribed “treatment” for IT Band pain is to foam roll.  You’ve probably heard it coming from running buddies, trainers, and doctors, and everybody in between.  There is certainly nothing wrong with this prescription.  In fact, there is much research showing the benefits of using a foam roller.  But, it isn’t the “cure-all” that some make it out to be.  A client of mine sent me an article this week that gets to the root of the problem, and does a very good job of explaining just what is happening to most runners.

The article comes from Breaking Muscle, a website with articles and forums covering any and everything related to muscles and their activities.  It’s a very informative and easy-to-follow explanation, one that you can read here.

Make sure the read the entire article.  It provides not only a good lesson in anatomy and physiology, but provides a good video description toward the end.  Also, read the first two comments in the comment section.  A reader brings a good question and the author offers a pretty good explanation of the article.  Hope you learn something!!

In Defense of Beer

Looks delicious, doesn’t it….

As most of you know, we here at Bodyfit like beer.  Actually, let me rephrase that…. we LOVE beer.  What can I say???  We like to have a good time.  And nothing helps you relax after a long day quite like a cold beer.  Now I’m not advocating for heavy drinking 5 nights a week, but there isn’t anything wrong with the occasional brew.  In fact, I’ve got some information to back that up…

Here are a couple of articles I have recently come across regarding the consumption of beer and exercise, running in particular.

  • This article deals with the physiological effect that beer has on running performance.  Although it is a very small study and sample size, it does provide some interesting results.
  • Here we get to see a professional runner’s opinion on the hoppy beverage.  You may be quite surprised by his take.
  • Lastly, we get to see the actual health benefits of beer.  Now, it certainly isn’t going to be considered a “health food” by your nutritionist, but beer does have a few beneficial components that may be of interest to you.

So, now you’ve got some scientific and some not-so-scientific information regarding your favorite beverage.  The question is now… To drink, or not to drink????  If you’re a regular at our gym, I think you know the answer!!

Getting Out of the Rut

If you’re reading this article then there is a good chance you have found yourself in a rut at some point or another. You’re just like every other person out there. Maybe you can’t find the motivation to get back to your workouts after a break. Maybe you’re having trouble beating a certain time limit with your running. Whatever your issue, you’re waiting for that breakthrough to come, but it just isn’t. Don’t worry my friend, you’re not alone. It happens to even the best of us. Here are some tips to help you deal with and hopefully come out of your slump.

DON’T PANIC. Many people think of plateaus as roadblocks, or something that they will never be able to get around. This type of approach does nothing but add fuel to the flame. Instead, look at whatever struggles you’re going through as a challenge. Remember that nothing happens overnight, especially when it comes to exercise.  Compare your challenges to finding the right piece to a puzzle, or cracking a safe. It’s something that you’ll have to work toward, but with patience and persistence, you’ll find your way out.

DON’T GIVE YOURSELF A REASON TO FAIL. You’ve struggled for a bit, sure. But that doesn’t mean it has to continue forever. Just like you didn’t see this plateau coming, you won’t know when a breakthrough is going to come either. Keep your focus, because your next workout could be the best you’ve ever had.

GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING. Get back to doing some “easy” workouts. Your all-out effort workouts are great, but sometimes you just need to get back to the basics. Doing these easy workouts will typically get you back into a routine without feeling extremely out of shape.  They will keep your from being as sore as you would if you went back at your normal pace, as well.  Getting back into a routine is tough enough as it is, so start with something simple.

CHANGE YOUR WORKOUT. If that cardio workout just isn’t doing anything for you anymore, then quit doing it. There is nothing wrong with changing a treadmill workout into, say, a kickboxing workout, or vice versa. Not only are you getting a new physical challenge that your body will adapt to, but mentally you will be refreshed. Changing your training and focus often is very beneficial. It keeps things fresh, prevents boredom, and produces results.

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. This may be the most important aspect of breaking through a plateau. All of these things listed are great, but if you don’t believe that it will happen, then it won’t. The mind is the most powerful tool that you have, so use it! You can do so much more than you think you can. Once you truly understand that, you will be amazed at your results.

Plateaus happen to everybody. If you exercise at all, then you’ve experienced one on some level. Some last longer than others, but they are out there for all of us. But stick with it. Your breakthrough may be tomorrow. It may be a year from now. Or it may be in that race that you’re training for. It doesn’t matter where it is, but that you know it’s out there. Now get up and go find it!!

Workout of the Week

I’ve got a cardio workout for you this week.  It’s a pretty simple workout, but one that will nonetheless require a lot of effort.

3-5 minute light jog to warmup.  Followed by:

Your work:rest ratio this week is 1:1, and your time period is 1 minute.  That means you’re going to run for 1 minute, then rest/walk for one minute.  It’s about as simple as it gets.  I want the speed on the run to be as fast as you can maintain for a minute.  The walking speed can be pretty slow in order to recover.  I want 15 sets, which will take you 30 minutes to complete.

3-5 minute light jog to cool down.

This is a very simple and straightforward workout.  But, that doesn’t mean you get to slack off.

 

WORK HARD!!!