Monday, June 24, 2013

Lessons Learned from Race Day

I've already made this statement on Facebook, but I'll say it again.  It was bound to happen; yesterday, I had my career worst race to date (physically and mentally) at the Pleasant Prairie Olympic Distance Triathlon.  Instead of "blaming" this or that, I'm going to attempt to define "WHY" this happened.  I want to take the lessons I've learned and share them with you in the hopes that YOU don't make these same mistakes - or at least avoid them!

Before I start this review, I would like to say how awesome if felt to have a few new friends I met at the PP-Tri yesterday mention that this blog helped them!  I write this  in the hopes that my humble approach to training and racing will strengthen and motive people.

Back to the Pleasant Prairie Olympic Triathlon Review:

To me the race starts when your taper starts.  Tapering correctly for a race is imperative.  Your muscles need to recover the from the onslaught of training up to the race, but still be in "firing" mode when it's race day.  This was issue number one for me.  I was traveling, stuck in airports earlier in the week so I missed two key tapering workouts that I forced into later in the week as a "make-up". 
Two lessons I learned here:
1.) Don't force workouts the week of race week (you're body is trained, it doesn't need intensity).
2.) Sleep and rest should take precedence over a workout's during taper week.

Fueling for a race should also start the week of race week (for Ironman distance or Ultra's - I would start almost 2 weeks before).  Every person is different, I've learned that HEAVY carbs and high protein for dinner two nights before race morning as well as high quality carbs for breakfast/lunch the day before is key for me.  The meal the night before a race should be low fat, high protein, with medium/CLEAN carbs.  I failed to execute on this SIMPLE thing that I've done many times before.
Lesson Learned: Stick to the fueling plan!  Find what works for your body and stick with it like it's religious! You know what your body needs and how it reacts to fuel.

Racing sick is something nobody wants to do...but stuffed up sinus' isn't an acceptable reason to NOT race.  With all of that being said, here's what I learned and would do differently next time.  I've always gone into a race with an "A" goal (best case scenario) and a "B" goal (result I would be highly satisfied with).  With each goal was an appropriate execution plan.  What I didn't create was a "C" goal.  The "what-if" goal.  What if my legs felt flat, what if my lungs didn't feel full, what-if....  This race was wrong from the start of the swim, from how I executed the swim to how I attempted to execute the bike with dead legs.  I got frustrated during the swim, pushed to hard during the bike and bonked the run.  It's that simple and it's because I was racing sick, EXPECTING an "A" race.
Lesson Learned:  Develop the appropriate race strategy for THAT day and the conditions that are presented.

There are so many things I did wrong that probably added to my "bonk"....
1.) Tylenol Cold and Sinus Morning of Race - STUPID MOVE - IDIOTIC ACTUALLY.
2.) Drinking only 75% of what I should have during bike - POOR RACE DAY EXECUTION
3.) Not practicing open water sighting during the week of the race (for confidence and a reminder of what it feels like)  = POOR PRE-RACE EXECUTION
4.) Not listening to my body and pushing to a power wattage & running pace that my body didn't want to do - POOR RACE PLANNING
5.) Not getting enough sleep the 3 nights before the race - POOR PRE-RACE EXECUTION

All in all - you can tell that I learned a TON from this race.  I learned alot about myself; I learned a lot about racing. 

What I learned as well is how deep I need to re-learn to dig.  There are a few "reminder" workouts I'll be conducting in the upcoming weeks that will re-educate the pain threshold of coming off of a hard bike.  Digging deep while running only is methodical.  You hit a zone and you hold that zone.  Slipping from the zone you're in is easy, but if you've found the zone, it's easier to hang there.  Triathlon zone training is harder.  Finding the bike zone, stopping; then finding the run zone and holding BOTH is challenging.  It's something you must train hard for.  It's something I've done in the past that's excruciating - yet VERY beneficial.
Lesson Learned: Reminder of what it feels like to dig DEEP within 7 days of race day.

I hope a few items helped people out here.  I hope it acts as a warning/reminder for those racing in the near future!  If my mistakes/misfortunes stop just 1 person from bonking - then I'm VERY glad I wrote this!

I'll write and official race review in the next few days...until then...

Keep up the Endurance....Keep up the Intensity!


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Trailbreaker Half Marathon 2013 Race Recap

I'm going to start reviewing races moving forward, for a handful of reasons.  First, I think it's good to put my thoughts about the race in "ink" - I won't remember the details 1 year, 2 years, 5 years from now.  Second, I hope to think about any lessons I learned and put those thoughts out there.  Third, I'd like to give you all my thoughts about the race itself - location, course map, sponsors, etc.

That brings me to the Trailbreaker Marathon/Half-Marathon in Waukesha, WI on Saturday, April 6th.

This was a "training" race and wasn't meant to be an "A" race, therefore I didn't taper for it what-so-ever.  In fact, I had a hard "hill" session on the treadmill on the Thursday before the race.  My legs where in no way fresh.  I made sure to take my usual protein and vitamin supplements throughout the week, which I believe aided in my muscle and leg recovery.  I also hydrated with heavy water and UR - my performance fuel of choice during bike rides.  Since it has essential carbs and proteins - I believe it actually helped my muscles prepare for the onslaught. 

The race was a Marathon, Half-Marathon, 5K type of race.  The Marathon kicked off at 8am, the half at 9:30, and the 5K at 10.   I'm sure the marathon'ers appreciated the 5K and Half Marathon runners not running them over. 

I arrived at the Waukesha's Schuetze Recreation Center at 7:00.  There was plenty of parking either in the two lots or on the street.  The volunteers did a great job with traffic through-out the day - especially since it was cooler and people tended to huddle indoors. 

The marathon group was small - only 185, so the fan support was minimal.  If you're looking for a 'quiet' marathon - this would be it.  The Half had 589 participants - also small. 

As far as the course, the title "Trailbreaker" is slightly misleading.  Once you get out of "downtown" Waukesha, it's an out and back type of race.  The whole race is done on the paved Fox River and Glacial Drumlin Trails.  I expected an unpaved series of trails, but there wasn't - maybe on the marathon, but I would guess not.

The trails were very nicely maintained, even surfaced, and clear of all debreis.  There were 0 hills throughout the race.  If you're looking for a flat and fast race, this could be it.  They had water stations at the 4, 5.5, 7, 8.5 and 10 mile makers.  The volunteers did a great job in being prepared.  In an out and back style, I've been burned on the "back" because the volunteers aren't ready for the craziness....not this race. 

As far as MY race.  My goal was to start at 7:10s for 2 miles, pick it up to sub 7's for 4-6 miles, then judge how much is left in the tank and go from there.  I executed that - except a bit faster.

As in any race - it's tough to start out slow and run your own race.  I held back, but not enough.  Maybe it was the caffeine from the gel 20 minutes before the race, probably the adrenaline; my first mile was legs felt strong.  My breathing was calm - my heart rate wasn't rocketing up.  I was in a good place.  I continued to feel it out in mile 2 - 6:50 - oops.  From there, it was "sub-7" time.  Well, based on how my body was reacting, I decided to shoot for 6:45's.  I nailed the next 5 miles - 6:41 - 6:48's.  It was during this stretch I did my first Gel - 30 minutes.  I hit the turnaround feeling great.  I was tiring, but at over 50% of the race done, I felt like the tank was about half empty - I was confident I could maintain.   Then there came Mr Slappy steps.  This guy came up on me around mile 7, SLAPPING his forefoot strike.  I don't listen to music - I listen to my thoughts and my body when I I was subjected to his SLAP SLAP SLAP SLAP; I had to kick it down to get away from this guy!  I went for 6:35's for the next 5 miles and nailed them - and dropped that guy too!  I took my 2nd gel at 1 hour. I knew I executed on this race correctly when I got to mile 12.  At mile 12 I had to dig down for more.  My legs starting to get heavy, my cadence slowed.  I kicked into survival mode and beared down, I became a "sniper".  I honed in on two people about 1/8 a mile in front of me and focused on catching/beating them.  I ignored my Garmin, I ignored my cadence, I focused solely on NOT letting them beat me.  My last mile was sub 6:30.  As I ran through Waukesha towards the finish, my legs were on fire - my body ached.  I maxed out for the first time in 2013 and it felt AWESOME!

I finished 16th Overall, 6th in my AG.  1:28:11 (my watch said 6:44 minute miles).  A new PR for me!

Because of how well this race went, I'm interested to see what I can hold down for the Wisconsin Half Marathon coming up in three weeks.  My goal is to average between 6:35 - 6:40 miles.  Again, since this was such a successful race, I'm excited to see what I'm able to do! 

1-10 Scale (1 = bad, 10 = great)
Overall Review: 8
Course: 8
Fan Support: 4
Racer to Volunteer Ratio: 9
Traffic Management: 10 (the police force did a great job)
Water/Aid Stations: 10
Ease of Entry/Registration: 9
Goodie Bag: 8
Finisher Medal: 7
Shirt: 8

I would definately do Trailbreaker Half Marathon again.  I'm not sure if I'd run the marathon though - unless it was just for "fun"...that's sadistic, I know. 

I look forwad to writing a few more of these!  I hope everyone gleams a bit of knowledge with my race recap/review!  It had a blast.  Anytime you PR - it's awesome!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Moving Forward!

Last night, I was thinking about a discussion I had recently about focusing to much on the tactics to achieve goals vs focusing more on the overall strategy to achieve those goals.  I thought about this a bit more - it applies well to training - be it running, biking, swimming, ANYTHING that you've set a goal for.  In past blogs I discussed the importance of setting goals for yourself, your season, or for the year.  As with any ultimate goal, there are strategies to accomplish the goal as well as tactics.  Any tactics that you execute on or attempt to execute on should support the overall strategy or strategies.  So, with that being said - sometimes the tactics don't give you the "wins" you need. 

An interesting subject to focus on.  Some wins might be HUGE...Nailing a Personal Record (PR), completing a new distance, lifting a new MAX, doing a record new reps, etc.  Some are smaller though; a new speed, a run with great form, hitting the "zone" during a training session.  BUT...some wins can't even be quantified in size.  One win that we can't forget about is that we're blessed to be able to exercise in whatever medium we choose; we're able to compete, we're able to improve, we're able to spend time on something good for our health.   Focus on your wins, no matter how big or small.  Sometimes, just getting that workout in during the day is a win.  Sometimes choosing to let your body HEAL and being able to recognize the need for an off-day is the win!  Interestingly enough, celebrate that win and MOVE FORWARD; move on to preparing for the next activity, workout, etc.


When we write our workout plan for the week, it's often supporting an "A" race or maybe the ultimate goal of loosing 10 pounds...maybe there are multiple goals throughout the season.  Interestingly enough, the tactics that we put in place are exactly that - tactics.  If a tactic doesn't go as planned, adjust and move forward.  If you "bonk" during a bike ride, and feel off during a run and decide to finish with long strides instead of sprints...accept it and move forward.  One tactical failure will not make you miss your "A" race.  Recognize the miss, assess why it happened, adjust for the next round to assure you can accomplish it...and MOVE FORWARD!  I hope you're starting to see the trend....

I'm my worst enemy when it comes to "MOVING FORWARD"!  I dwell on a bad run, I dwell on sore muscles that shouldn't be sore, I constantly beat myself up for little or no reason.  One of the things I'm focusing on this year is to listen and learn from myself more.  Learn from this misses, learn from those wins, learn from all of my tactical execution and assure it enables progress towards my goals. 

So, as you continue to drive through each workout, each weak, each month...focus on the tactics and learn from them.  Focus on your Wins and learn from them.  Focus on your Misses and learn from them.  Listen to yourself, Learn from yourself...but lastly MOVE FORWARD! 

As always though:

Keep up the Endurance...Keep up the Intensity!


Monday, March 25, 2013

Team UR 2013!

Good Afternoon -

It's been a few months since I posted last on my blog here and have a TON going on, both in the Triathlon World and my personal life, but don't we all?

I'm officially in training for 2013.  My schedule has about 10 different races slotted in this year - a mix of Running and Triathlon with a few Biking and Swimming Events spattered throughout - but I'll speak to all of that later!

What's awesome about this year?  I'm officially being sponsored by UR Performance Fuel!  UR was the primary liquid fuel of choice during the 2012 training season and while racing Ironman Madison last year.  UR is a smaller company with a ton of potential, mainly because of the quality of product they're putting out there. 

UR is a liquid performance fuel (powder form mixed with water, juice, etc) like many other fuels on the market.  It's caloric count and protein/carbo ratio's are not that much different either.  I have used it to fuel from as "weak" as 1 scoop per 24oz of water up to as strong as 6 scoops per 24oz of water - whatever's needed for your taste and caloric needs.

So, you ask why do I use UR then?  First of all, the taste isn't to "sugary".  Some fuels are to sweet to consume over a lengthened period of time (Ironman, Century Rides, Etc.) - this was my issue main issue with Infinit and Ironman Perform.    UR has an average taste is palatable for long rides, events.  I use GU's as well (Strawberry Banana), but after 5 of the same flavor - it gets brutal!

Second - the ingredients do not cause GI distress.  I have never had a problem with bloating or GI issues while using UR.  I have discussed this with others as well, no issues with UR.  This was my main issue with Accelerade.

UR is an awesome product that is going somewhere.  I recommend you pick up a canister of this amazing fuel.

As always, Keep up the Endurance...Keep up the Intensity!