Monday, May 20, 2013

2013 Gulf Coast Triathlon

Best view in PCB!
My workouts leading up to the 2013 Gulf Coast Triathlon in Panama City Beach, Fl had been rocking. I trend through phases of peaks and valleys in training, and I was just off a really strong last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, that meant I was heading into the valley. Typically that zaps my confidence, but I've learned to trust the Accelerate3 protocol and just ride the waves. Sure enough, by race day I was chomping at the bit.
Always remember to brush and floss!

Breakfast (~850C)
32oz of coffee
1x Ensure plus
Blueberry muffin from Cracker Barrel

Typically I have two ensures and a lot more coffee, but that left over blueberry muffin was just too tempting.

Transition should have been totally uneventful, but I arrived to find my ever-so-perfectly taped bike number had begun peeling up thanks to the overnight temperature drop. Now the morning dew on the frame kept it from adhering. Fortunately, Dragon Sports had a bike service setup and some extra tape that rescued me. It may seem petty, but bouncing around in my noodle is the faint memory of reading an Ivy League grad student's study finding the effect of poorly placed bike numbers causing more aerodynamic drag than a fancy new set of wheels saves.

I'm the one in the black suit and blue cap.
Soon enough, I was in the Gulf warming up. Last time I tasted salt water was my terrible swim at IRONMAN Los Cabos. I have been banging out the yardage, and seeing Brian in Asheville two weeks ago gave him a chance to doctor my position and catch.

I had great expectations for the swim. My best was 37 minutes at GCT '11, and I was expecting a 35'. The swim was pretty uneventful. No cramps, no real contact, lots of open water, and a nice little push getting back to shore. I was shocked to hit the beach and hear Emily yell "33 minutes!"

Ejected my swim cap with a few hundred meters to go.
Em's favorite haircut was hanging over my goggles.

1.2 mile swim
Swim Split Time 00:34:06
85 overall out of the water

I've made it a rule to walk while in the deep sand, but as soon as my feet hit the wooden walkway, I started clicking through transition. I'm always a little surprised that I don't need more stuff in transition. I see other athletes' battle rattle scattered all about. It's just a helmet and a bike for me. I still get that uneasy feeling that I leaving something.

Transition 1 :
Time 00:02:13, 8th fastest T1

For the 3rd time in a row, I mounted my bike to find my quads were absolutely screaming. Its the oddest feeling. Almost as if my legs have gone numb and the sensation is returning. It starts as a distracting, painful stinging but fortunately wanes over the first hour. Aside from that, the majority of the bike was pretty boring.

My bike strategy was simple; I had 3 phases and three power targets. We had a nice little south wind going out, and I was pumped to see a 25mph average wrapping up the first 18 miles, the lowest power phase. From there, I got a little more slack in the reins and was able to crank away for ~75 minutes.

At this point, we started down the 2 out&backs along the course. These gave me a good opportunity to assess how far back I was from some of the competition. My fellow A3 athlete, Chad Williamson, has been antagonizing me for a rematch after beating the pre-A3 me last year at the RocketMan Olympic. I'm all for rivals; it makes for a much more interesting races. So the out&backs gave me a chance to gauge just how far back I was on him. I knew he'd out swim me, and I thought he'd out ride me. I was surprised to measure the same time difference on both sections. Chad wasn't getting away from me.

As we turned south for the final time on 79, I was passed by another guy that'd put a target on me, Austin Hardy. We've exchanged a few emails and compared training logs. I'm definitely winning the spreadsheet challenge with Austin, but he has a pretty impressive résumé including a TT and trail run win just the week before GCT. The other big kicker about Austin, being 35, he started 5' back. You can imagine my disappointment to find him so very excited to see me. Austin and I went on to play cat & mouse with each other right until the last few miles. The storm had began to roll in, and the roadway was ever so barely damp. As Austin began to bend it into a turn, he found some paint that sent him onto the asphalt with a spectacular explosion of his PitStop flat repair canister just in front of me. In a final attempt to deter me, he hurled a water bidon at me with exclamatory profanity (maybe he was frustratingly spiking the bottle, but as I tell the story he was using it as a RPG).

Then finally, as I approach transition and prepare to dismount, another athlete zooms by just before the line. I hadn't recognized him and still didn't at this point. I supposed that he was simply squeezing ahead of one more guy on the bike leg. I later find out, he was a ghost of Gulf Coast past. We had a very close race last year, and I am sure he had some cheerleaders out there pulling for him to absolutely crush me. More on that later.

Coasting in!
Recognize the pink photographer on the left of the frame?
56 mile Bike, 22nd Overall off the bike, Click for Garmin File
Bike Split time 02:19:59, 24mph average, 15th Fastest bike split
Calories: 850

Into transition, all went well except I forgot my precious Gu espresso, and I had double back for it. This has been a necessary evil for me in the past. I love having the extra caffeine, and I'm a fan of Gu over the alternatives, but it's repeatedly cost me time. Well, Gu espresso, it's been a great journey, but I'm one-with-the-course from now on. I'll live off the land.

Coming out of T2 so fast, the Moms missed me.
You can spy her still looking down the chute on the right.

Transition 2:
Time 00:00:59, 7th fastest

Onto the run course; I felt like death. Quickly, immediately, Austin trots up and is too comfortably chipper. He gave me a Mr. Rogers worthy friendly greeting and scampered away. Fortunately, I was getting updates from my cheer crew that I was 10' back on Chad.

Kenny giving me updates, and showing me
just how easy it is to run with good form
I had some chores to handle. I secured my run nutrition, and setup my tri top so I could dump ice into my makeshift man-kini top. Unfortunately, I immediately ejected my precious Gu Espresso and decided to donate it to the course. Hopefully those 3 gel packs found a home from an athlete in need.

Me barely hanging on to Austin early in the run.
Austin made it ~25 yards up on me, and we settled in to our pace. By the park (4 mile), I'd got an update that I was 8' behind Chad. He started in a wave 10' earlier than me, so that put me just ahead. At this point, Chad was waning and I'd closed the gap on Austin. I still felt like steamy brown pasture pie, but having Austin to focus on made the world a little brighter. We chatted as we looped through the park. He was first out of the water and lead his age group on the bike, and he still had 5' on me. All he had to do was cruise in. As we rounded into the final 10k, my legs were coming around, and I was beginning to feel brave. I wished Austin the best and told him I was going to chase those 5 minutes. I wasn't sure I could run five minutes into Austin; that's a pretty dang tall order for the last 6 miles of a 70.3.

I learned that shouting "GU!" at volunteers doesn't get any calories when the gel on course is Cliff Shots.
It took me 3-4 aid stations to finally get a gel and realize why the volunteers hadn't been feeding me.
Within a few minutes, I ran upon the dismount line guy. Only now, I immediately recognized him. As I ran beside him, he asked if I was "Borden" and introduced himself by the nickname I'd given him in my race report last year, Big Yellow. I'm not sure if he cared in the slightest if he finished ahead of me this year, but it absolutely motivated me to run harder. I ran for a few minutes thinking since I had closed the gap on Chad, ran away from Austin, and caught Yellow that I as long as was steady or faster, I would be in good shape.
Guess how I melt the ice?

I really wanted to know if I had any company behind me, but I wasn't about to look back. As a trailing runner, I really get a boost when I see a competitor checking his 6 to see if I'm still in the hunt. It's like a little glimpse into their mentality. I know they are suffering the decision to back off; it's just a matter of time. I wasn't afraid to look back because I didn't want anyone else to think I was hurting; I didn't want for me to think it was okay to back off if I was alone. After all, I'm not racing the guys behind me anyway.

I actually feel pretty dang rough at this point.
It's good to know I can fake it for a while.
I continued feeling better and better as the run went on, and I crossed the line feeling like I had more to give. I'm not sure if its a product of long course training, or if I just sandbagged a little. Regardless, I'm glad to know there is some more tics on the clock for me shed in the future.

I crossed the line and met the fam'. I'm so lucky to have so much support. I waited at the finish to see Austin roll in with 23 seconds to spare locking him into 8th overall just ahead of me. I congratulated Big Yellow on a solid finish. Chad found me in the massage tent and offered a big congrats. He went on to rock Memphis in May the following weekend with some absolutely ridiculous splits. I have no intentions of matching up with him at short course.

13.1 Mile Run Course (FYI, the course is long. 13.5-8 miles. I wish it were longer!)
Run Split Time: 01:30:35, 5th fastest run, click for Garmin File
Run Calories: 300 (1 Gu, 2 gels on course)

Official Time 4:27:48, 9th overall, 6th M30-34
Tough year to be 30-34!  

Finish Time: 04:27:48, 9th overall

Over all, GCT is an amazing race. The event is cheap enough, you can register up to the day before, beach front lodging is cheap, and the local restaurants are amazing. They have free beer and grub at the awards ceremony at Spinnakers and trophies 10 deep in the age group! This is my third year to do GCT, and I have no intentions of missing it next year, but I know 3 dudes' races I'll be following closely this season.

Chatting it up after the race with Austin and my friend Big Yellow (white suit)
Chad rocking a solid PR at the half distance.  4:31:10, officially

Can't say enough how much I love having a dedicated cheerleader!

Austin got me by 23" on his way to win the M35-39 age group with a very solid performance (04:27:25),
especially considering he tossed his bike just before the run.

uhoh, I've got him scratching his head!

Chad captured the win for the M25-29 category.  And I got the very "Meet the Fockers" 6th place wood for the M30-34.  

Glen Rickard heading on his way to his first tri ever!  Very ambitious start in the sport!

Me, Glen, and Kenny Marsh at swim start

Chad at swim exit looking much better than I do out of the water.

Mom, me, and my aunt Dewonna.  I'm so very blessed to have so many people that love me!

On my way to recovery with Salty Sea keeping me cool!
And thanks to Ruster Sports for sending me some casual gear!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Nutrition Strategy and Racing Weight

I'm a big fan of burning a hotter fire
instead of limiting the amount of firewood.
Nutrition is tough at first. For most people, there are lots of adjustments. If you're new, chances are a lot of what you do is not ideal. Its a different way of life starting out. There are a few tricks to ease the struggle, but once you really embrace the whole thing it gets easier. The food tastes better, you'll feel better, and you'll get tons of free speed as you shed weight.  It's important to see it as a way of life and not a "diet."  There are no shortcuts; you can't fake it for a few weeks and be successful.  It's a new lifestyle, and I promise its a worthwhile change.

This is when she first got me.
I don't worry about her leaving me if I get fat!
I loved this dude.
Still my favorite hair cut.
 I started out a "normal" 205-210 pound dude. At 6'0", I wasn't what anyone would consider fat. It wasn't uncommon for me to get asked if I worked out or how I stayed in shape. Ironically, I didn't workout nor stay in shape. I dropped to 185 easily (without diet control) by just being more active. Think on it, anything you do is better than nothing. And at first, anything works well enough.  I started hitting the gym and looked like a fitness magazine for a season going into our wedding. Emily wanted me less cuddly for the lake party wedding shin-dig we had.

That's all vanity muscles and doesn't make us any faster. If you want to look better in a bikini, go for muscle hypertrophy. If you want to be faster, think concentration camp refugee with cancer. From 185, the next 30#s made all the difference. If you love the training, just train and enjoy it. You can eat what you want, train hard, and be in better shape than 99% of people you'll see. But If you love racing, this ideal weight-speed will be payed for in "quality of life." Its worth it; it gives you huge advancements on race day. There is more to gain in nutrition and weight loss than in a season of training. At least, until you are close to to ideal weight.
Every wedding needs a pool!

FIRST!!! "Racing weight," by Matt Fitzgerald will be the source of a lot of this information. I think its an awesome book, but it gets a lot more in depth than you really need. I encourage you to invest in it, but you can get the middle school book report here.

Your first question will be, "What is my ideal racing weight?" It is the weight at which you reach your best performance, of course. Unfortunately, its difficult to pinpoint without a history of race results and pre-race weights.

So what is your particular ideal weight number? I cant say enough that it doesn't matter. You'll find it if you follow the diet. Its there, under that dude/chick that you are running to death. When you approach your race weight, everything gets easier/faster. When you get below it, you feel sick and weak, still fast at first, but then it falls apart. You'll know.

Yeah, but what is the number?

Nobody knows your number. At least until you find it by recording your race results and pre-race weights. But!!!!
Joe Friel (Triathlete's Training Bible, didn't love the book) says that pro male triathletes hit ~2.2 pounds per inch in height. That works out to be 156#s for me and I feel it is close enough. I have yet to get below this number.

The formula:
1.98[50kg +2.3(every inch over 5 feet)]
I do not know the source for this one, but it is popular on the Internet. Its at 150 for me and I am not sure I'll ever see that number. When I was 185, I thought 165 was unobtainable. At 158, I had a new perspective.

So what about the diet, right?

#1 most important part
The single most important part of your workout is proper recovery. That starts with a 4:1 mixture of carbs:protein within 30 minutes of finishing a session. You can get that any number of ways. Chocolate milk is an okay choice. I like Skim and Hershey's, but most often I just keep an apple and orange in the car and scarf them down in the way home. Then I have a normal meal as soon as I can get back. For long days, I use EnduroxRX. I chose this particular recovery drink because it is a "good start" for my 4:1, it has glutamine which has been supported by research to improve recovery, and its the #1 most popular recovery drink for endurance athletes. I used to try to blaze trails and find my own stuff. I discovered that if it works for most, it'll work for me. According to Brian, I'm not special.
Recovery breakfast!

4:1 carbs to protein? How much is that?
Honestly I don't remember the formula, but its based on body weight and at 155 lbs mine works out to be close enough to 25g protein and 100g carbs. Goggle is your friend if you need more specifics

That'll get you through 7am most days. Just 12 more hours to have a successful day. Yep, 12 hrs. Stop eating after 7pm. Think of it like this, you're fueling your body for activity. It's not a gas tank. If you choke down a bunch of calories at dinner, your body doesn't need that fuel. It just stores it as fat. Conversely, if you titrate your calories all day, it's like adding logs to the fire. You get more energy, and your body keep burning fuel, not storing it.

Remember that food pyramid crap from elementary school? Well, its mostly bunk. But, there are some nuggets in there about fruits and veggies. Fruits and veggies need to be the staple of your new diet. 4 fruits/day and at least 4 veggies. Honestly, vegetables are an "all you want thing" as far as your diet is concerned, but there are repercussions in evacuation for overeating.

1st, make sure its not a bull.
3 dairy products and 3 lean meats (chicken, fish). This is my vice. I love milk and red meat. You can indulge, but only in moderation. Make it a once/wk treat on the steak and cut down your serving sizes on the milk products.

*its been a while since I originally wrote this. I have since found that I get by with 0 dairy aside from from protein powder in my oatmeal, and often 1 meat/day. I err on the side of minimal and tend to be way too restrictive, but it works for me. One trick I learned early was to drop the dairy 2-3wks out pre-race. It's a significant chunk of calories and serves as a good final push.

Grains and fats. I wont address them beyond eating Whole Wheat/Whole Grain when you must have bread/pasta. I think we get too much of this and I try to minimize it as much as possible.  I do think it's a good idea to get healthy fats in (avocado, walnuts)

That's the framework of the diet.

The trick is to never get hungry. Eat 6x day. Eat less, more often.
Big breakfast, snack, appropriate lunch, snack, small dinner and a wee tiny snack if you must before 7pm.

So how do you avoid getting hungry?
That is where the fruits and veggies come in. You cant just wonder around hungry all the live long day. Don't think its a diet in the traditional, calorie restrictive sense. You have to stay full without loading up on junk, high calorie dense foods. 4 ways to do this is with vegetables, fruits, protein, and water. Vegetables and fruits have little to no calories but occupy a big part of your stomach contents. Protein has more calories, but they still are better choice than carb-loaded snacks. And water! Start and finish every meal with a glass of water. The goal is to fill your stomach. Don't starve yourself. Stay full by making better choices.
We feel full as stomach distention triggers hormone release. This worked for our prehistoric cousins because our food sources were calorically poor. We needed reinforcement to eat often. Now our food is loaded with calories. If we eat these foods every time we feel hungry, we end up "normal."

Keep lots of fruits and vegetables around to snack on. Not being prepared is not an excuse. You'll get hungry at work and in the car. Have a bag of grapes ready. Buy a sack of apples, 6 bananas, a box of grapes, and a few oranges every week and don't waste them. if you throw away even one piece of fruit because it rots, you have failed as a person. Take them with you to work. Eat one before you go to dinner.  Don't show up to a meal starving; you'll over eat.  Fruits and veggies are easy to choose if they are available.

Stop buying things you aren't supposed to eat.
nothing fried. forget it, its not worth it.
Dont drink calories unless its recovery, milk, beer
Dont drink beer, start to love wine.
dont drink whole milk. Who wants to drink more fat? within a week you wont miss it.
No fast food. Ever. Just stop. You know its bad. Subway doesnt count as fast food.
Cook/fix/prepare every meal you can. eating out is not healthy. See it as a treat or a necessary evil. It is not a resource.
dont eat after 7pm unless its post workout.

So what about calories and counting calories and BMI and body fat and that jazz?
Calorie counters are great. I recommend myfitnesspal for the iphone. Its simple and it keeps you accountable. Its not necessary. If you follow the guidelines, you can do the calorie thing later when youre down to the last 5#s.

BMI and body fat analysis are great too. But hard to measure, inaccurate, and hard to repeat at home. I recommend buying a cheap calendar and hanging it on the fridge. I said on the fridge. Below the calendar, place a scale (in front of the fridge). Every morning, take a dump, weigh, and record your weight. Screw the rest.

A sample day for me might look like this:

AM workout

big breakfast
Instant oats , 1 banana, raisins, scoop of whey protein, cinnamon
16oz milk, 1/2c vanilla greek yogurt, toss in any fruit, scoop of ice

10:30 snack
Grapefruit usually, but always fruit
Sliced cucumber with salt
Baby carrots

Brian says I get a donut if I make it onto
 the podium.
Lunch @ work
chicken fajitas (local mexican restaurant)
1 sweet potato in the microwave, punch holes in it with a fork, cook 5', add cinnamon
Chicken breast marinated in Lite Italian and tossed in the toaster oven
Chicken tenders & cream of chicken in toaster oven
Broccoli steamed in microwave
Serve over Uncle Bens 90" whole what rice
Subway Club on wheat, no mayo, all the veggies

3:00 snack
banana or peach, I like a higher sugar fruit for a wee bump.

4:00 pre-workout only
cliff bar/pop tart /Peanut butter and banana sandwich on wheat as a real treat.

PM workout

Dinner ASAP
Soup and Salad regardless of what else i eat.
Grilled chicken with lots of veggies grilled, baked, or steamed
grilled "your favorite fish here" with rice and asparagus
---combine recovery/dinner with a PM workout---

You'll find certain things you like that are easy.
My favorite go-to meals
grilled chicken on baby spinach salad and a can of Progresso soup. Yum. Add a home-stacked sandwich on wheat.
1/2cNo Sugar added Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate ice cream with 1/2c Skim milk-i could bath in this stuff
no sugar added jello instant pudding-quick and easy to make and keep all week for that post dinner snack
I eat oats ever single day. Lots of fiber and protein to keep me full.
post long workout I'll have a peanut butter with Nutela and banana sandwich. Thats a real treat. Crack on bread.

Late night cravings? Low calorie hot cocoa. You can get 1/2c Skim with water and low cal Cocoa for under 100c. Plus the warm milk tends to help you go to sleep AND has casein protein which is slow digesting and trickles protein into your system longer.

Hope this helps. There is a really high attrition rate. Pace yourself. Don't lose the fun. Think of it as a lifestyle. Make small changes at first; start easy and you'll finish strong.

Finally, here is a nice little summary from my coach.

By Desert Dude strict rules for eating while at the LHPTC. They are as follows: 
1. No eating after 7:30 unless coming back from a late evening workout over 30min. If under 30min you may have 1 gel and a piece of fruit or 1 energy bar. 
2. Dinner is all you can eat, as long as it fits on the coffee saucer the first time. There are no refills in this all you can eat establishment. 
3. Hungry at night? Tough - you should have eaten more throughout the day. Have a glass of water instead of whining. Whiners pay rent regardless if they trained that day or not. 
4. eat something within 20 min of completing all workouts. 
5. Insure you are taking in adequate calories during your day 
6. Eat a bigger breakfast or lunch if you feel you need more food 
7. Make sure you are fueling properly when in your training sessions. 
8. Still hungry? Pay rent for whining 

Send all complaints to the administator of the facility to the address below: 
Gabi K9 3546 Who Cares Dr. Stop Whining, AZ 85552 
Brian Stover


The bottom isn't very pretty.
Note the Sidi cycling shoe tan dots.
All the cool kids have them.
I wrote this awhile back.  My goal was to find the bottom and progress upward to my ideal weight.  I hit 156 lbs with a lot of sacrifice.  I initially had some big performance gains, but found that as I continued to make the sacrifices and my quality of life plummeted, so too did my training improvement.  My FTP on the bike plateaued, my 5k times actually slowed, and I was putting out a lot of mental effort into my training to just be stagnate.  At the very bottom, I got pretty sick and Emily snapped this picture to show me just how bad I had gotten.  Thankfully, I started getting some more calories in time to have a great race at IRONMAN Florida.  Now, I stick with healthy eating habits and a high training volume as my primary means of weight management.  I don't worry too much about the absolute number that shows up on the scales.  I typically hover around 165 lbs, then as races approach i'll dip down a few pounds.

Pursue racing weight but monitor your results in training.  If things start going backwards, through some calories at it!